Aug 30, 2010 - 11:34 AM
Yes, you can buy the Half Fare Card when you arrive in Zurich. Just follow the signs to the train station (downstairs at Zurich Airport) and buy one (for each traveller) from the ticket window. Ask the staff to print you out a timetable for your first trip so you are clear on connections and transfer times. You should get a timetabel for all journeys you are not familiar with, saves you the stress of trying to figure it out when you arrive on platform and need to make a switch in a very short time.
The only way you can know for certain that the Half Fare Card is the most economic choice is to "do the math" (i.e., plot out/price all your journeys at www.sbb.ch
and evaluate prices of various discount cards), but I think that is crazy-making to say the least. In the fourteen years I've been coming to Switzerland (I happen to be in Wengen right now), the Half Fare Card has always turned out to be the best deal.
If I may offer an unsolicited opinion, I'd like to say that I think you are trying to do way too much in 10 days. When you think about the fact that everytime you change locations you lose half a day to a day with all the packing/unpacking, checking in/out, etc. you will spend alot of times with the overhead of switching and much less time doing/seeing. And, depending on where you are coming from, you will have jet lag to take into account. My recommendation for ten days is to limit to two spots as "base camp". If I am reading your post correctly it appears you currently are planning on four.
BTW, I've always found September to be the best time in Switzerland, weather-wise. Good choice!