Firstly, can't thank MySwissAlps enough for the info generated and particularly the answers by the experts, especially Anna, who always for me responded so quickly and accurately. It amazes me how professional she and Yolanda are with the same questions being asked over and over again. Now that's patience!
We stayed over 15 days in Wengen/Interlaken/Zermatt/Menaggio/Luzern with SPECTACULAR blue skies and 75 to 85 degree (20 to 27C.) days until our very last day in Luzern which was slight rain and cloudy. Amazed us how hundreds of people still went up to Rigi Kulm with no views but to each their own.
Switzerland is so majestic there are almost no words to describe the beauty of it. We were in utter awe for the entire trip. I planned this trip for a year and it was worth every minute of that planning. We booked hotels around a year out as well as our flights (Iceland Air from Detroit $800 ea. round trip). The people were always eager to help. We went nowhere where English was not spoken. And we never had to use cash although we brought 300chf just in case. The Swiss are a lucky people and it is no wonder it is so popular a destination. We smiled non stop for those 15 days so to Switzerland, our heartfelt thanks!
Just a couple notes as others have described their trips in such incredible wonderful detail, I will not attempt our details as we did almost all the tourist attractions, mountain tops, paragliding, helitours, hiking trips etc. Anyone wanting more detailed info may contact me separately:
1. Swiss are just people, too, so things can and do go wrong. Our train was cancelled from ZUR to OST between the time we left Reykjavik and arriving ZUR 3 hours later, leaving us struggling for another route. An additional route was also cancelled making it a bit more complex. We were trying to get on the IC81 which needs no train changes through to OST and could use the BO pass from Bern to Wengen free. We worked it out. Point being like others have mentioned, have a plan B when things go awry.
2. We saved maybe $50 or so using the BO pass for 8 days along with the half fare card. Without it, we would have spent $525 to $550 dollars total for two of us just on gondola/cable car/etc. BUT the real benefit came with never having to get in line for a cable car/gondola/funicular etc. Just scan our plasticized card (one side BO; one side half fare) before boarding. Incredible convenience and we loved that.
3. We decided to go car rental for the last half of the trip and loved it. No problem parking; one tank of gas, etc. While I've read so many on this site try to convince everyone to only use a train, I believe they are missing some major advantages to a car as follows. Really it's a matter of personal choice. :
a. you can stop when and where you want at anytime - simple cannot do that with a train - you can take that unknown road to see where it goes and what village may lie there.
b. if you love photography while many trains window are clean, some are not and the reflection can ruin photos. With a car you just stop to take the shot.
c. from Zermatt to Menaggio, it would have taken us 4 (I think) train changes and hours more time. At 75 years of age, moving even our smaller carry on suitcases and two backpacks on and off trains and moving to connecting platforms, some up staircases was a hassle we avoided. One Swiss told us there are always ramps between platforms, but frankly, when you're new to this and rushing to get to that next platform it is not always obvious where they are if they are.
d. I loved driving the mountain passes. Just exhilarating, BUT if you are nervous on hair pin turns, don't even think about driving a car through them.
4. we found the ZUR airport a bit complicated to get around. The airport travelerwifi person where we picked that up felt the same way. On our way into Switzerland we could not find a single person to help answer questions there but you do find out so it's not the end of the world. PS: Traveler wifi worked everywhere!!! But if you want it for Italy you have to arrange that beforehand.
Well, "das is alles" for now. Have a wonderful trip - you will never forget Switzerland!