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Money, Food, WCs, Trains

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5 posts
new member
Jul 22, 2014 - 5:21 PM

Here are some practical tips for your trip-

Trains- Before you leave, go online to sbb.ch to get an idea of the schedules and fares.

As you know, there is alot of discussion on this forum about which train pass to get. Although it was tedious, we plotted out a reasonable itinerary and used sbb.com to get the prices for each leg of our trips. For us, we decided to pay full fare for the ride from Zurich to Lucerne, then buy a 4 day Berner Oberland Pass, then pay full fare for our trip from Lauterbrunnen to Brig and on to Venice. We could have used a 5 day pass, but you can only get a 4 day or a 6 day pass. For us the Berner Oberland regional pass was a good option because we did not need to buy tickets every time we wanted to hop on the train. We also sprung for 1st class because it was not much more expensive, but the cars were much less crowded. A Jungfraujoch Pass would have been our second choice. We bought the BO pass at the sbb office underneath in the basement of the Luzern train station.

We knew we wanted to stay in the Berner Oberland area for several days, because we wanted to makesure we had a clear weather day to go up to Jungfraujoch. As it turned out, that was an important decision because it rained EVERY day (7 days straight) except for the 2 hour window that we were at Jungfraujoch. We paid careful attention to the weather forecast to find this window of opportunity.

Often you will find yourselves amidst a large crowd of Asian tourists. Try to just wait until they pass by. Often they will have dedicated train cars, so don’t worry about crowding onto the same train cars.

Capital One credit cards do not charge foreign transaction fees. You can use any ATM to get currency for the country you are in. The ATMs ask which language you want to use. You need to be sure you know the PIN number of your credit card to use the ATM. We left our bank debit cards at home, and used a dedicated card for this trip. As a back-up, we both had separate cards, plus yet additional back-ups.

Be sure to have the phone number of the credit card company, and the credit card number in a separate place so that you can call if it is lost. Call the credit card company, or go online, to let them know that you will be out of the country so that they do not stop the card transactions for suspicious activity on=verses. Credit cards are widely accepted, and we only used about 100 CHF for small incidentals.

In a small shop, if you pay attention to prices as you order, you can estimate the amount of the bill, hand over the money and get the right change. Restaurant prices include the tax and tip, but it is nice to leave a few CHF in coins on the table. You do not add a tip onto the credit card bill, you just sign for the exact amount.

WCs- toilets are easily found at the small train stations and are very clean. The toilets at the Lucerne station, however, are downstairs and require some coins. As always, try to use the toilets whenever you can when traveling, so that you are not stuck looking for one in desperation.

Food If you walk into a bakery or sandwich shop, pay attention to different prices on the food, depending on whether you are taking it out or sitting down to eat.

Many restaurants, especially those in the tourist regions that you are likely to be in, have English translations (sort of) right on the menu. We were adventurous enough to just go ahead and order something that seemed reasonable without knowing exactly what we were getting.

Sometimes we bought drinks, cheese and crackers or sandwiches at small stores. Bars of chocolate were also necessary additions to our diet. We found fruit in the Coop grocery stores. BTW- you need to weigh the fruit and put on a price tag before you get to check out.

Language- I speak and read German, so that part was pretty straight forward for us. However, the Swiss speak a distinct dialect of German to each other which is not at all what you learn in school. The receptionists at the hotels spoke English, but many of the shop keepers and restaurant help did not. We did have a translation app for the phone, but it required Wi FI connection. I suggest you use a phrase book, or at least some sort of a cheat sheet to get terms like “hello, please, thank you, I would like this one” into your vocabulary.

Hope these help, and Have a great time!!!

7180 posts
expert &
Jul 23, 2014 - 12:40 PM

These are some very good practical tips. Thank you for taking the time to share them with the other people on MySwissAlps who are preparing for their holidays!


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