First of all, thank you for this platform and thank you, Lucas, for answering my queries the first time I posted a thread a few months ago.
Our vacation started in London first for four nights, then to Paris for four nights, and from Paris, we took the TGV Lyria train to Zurich. The ride was comfortable.
We reached Zurich at almost 1700 hrs. We went to the ticketing counter to buy our Swiss Travel Pass for 8 days unlimited use... After checking in, we decided to go to Zurich HB area to have our dinner at Bombay Karachi (halal) and to take a stroll along the lake. The weather was good, the food at Bombay Karachi was delicious but kind of pricey for a simple meal. We paid CHF 72 for four rice meal and just one soft drink as we have our plain water bottles with us... FYI, we did not buy a local SIM card because the one we bought in London could be used all over Europe.
Day Two in Zurich... We took the train to Uetliberg, to go to the Top of Zurich. Beautiful view. There is a hotel there; Uto Kulm. If you want a quiet stay, away from the hustle and bustle of Zurich city, yet, still be close to it, Hotel Uto Kulm is the place to go. But please do not bring big luggage with you as it is quite a walk up the hill from the train station... After spending some time at Uetliberg, we took the train back to the city. We went to Oerlikon to have lunch at Original Kebap Haus, and then to Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich’s shopping area, and to the Xmas market at the Zurich Opera House.
Day Three... We checked out from our hotel and began our journey to Zermatt by train. It just began to snow when we reached Zermatt. After checking in, we strolled to the one and only halal eatery; a kebab shop (cannot remember its name). Zermatt is a very small and cosy town. Everywhere is walkable. We spent the rest of the evening walking and before calling it a day, we went to Denner supermarket which is near to our accommodation.
Day Four... The weather was on our side. We took the train up to Gornegrat. Seeing Matterhorn up, close and personal was the highlight of our Swiss holiday. It is majestic! We spent a few hours there. The sun was up, hence, the cold weather was bearable. Our kids were frolicking in the snow in their water-proof attire. We brought a big pack of Toblerone to take the “compulsory” photo with Matterhorn in the background. Haha... We went back to our accommodation, cooked a simple lunch and rested for a while before taking our kids to the ice-skating rink. After skating for two hours, we went to McDonald’s nearby for dinner.
Day Five... We checked out and took the train to Interlaken. We checked in to an Airbnb apartment (whole apartment) this time instead of booking a hotel through Agoda or Expedia. The host, Mathias, was welcoming and friendly. His apartment was clean and spacious, within 7 minutes’ walking distance to Interlaken West train station but at night, the street leading to the apartment is quite dark and quiet... We had dinner at Napoli Pizza (halal). Friendly staff but unfortunately, none of them could speak English, so we just pointed out to them our order. After dinner, we strolled along the shops. As most of them closed early and some did not open at all (it was a Sunday), we decided to go back to our apartment by 2000 hrs and have an early night.
Day Six... We had wanted to go to Jungfraujoch but the weather up there from the “live” camera did not look too good, so we changed our plan and went to Murren instead. From our apartment, we took a leisurely walk to Interlaken Ost, where we took the train and the cable car and train again to Murren. What a lovely and cosy village! We got to see the stunning Lauterbrunnen valley from Murren. It is so picturesque. We had wanted to go further up to Schiltorn, a filming location for one of the James Bond movies, but Schiltorn was closed in that period we were there... After spending a few hours walking in Murren, we went back to Interlaken Ost to eat in a kebab shop and took the train to Grindelwald. Mount Eiger view from Grindelwald at dusk is magical... There was nothing much to do in Grindelwald at night, so we took the train to go back to our apartment.
Day Seven... We checked out and went to Lucerne. Lucerne is different from Interlaken. Upon exiting the train station, we were greeted by the sight of the big arc to welcome visitors to Lucerne and a lake. After checking in, we went to Old Town. We ate at Tandoori (halal). We strolled in and around Old Town. We crossed the iconic bridge back to the side where we came from and went to the Xmas Market. It was just a night’s stay in Lucerne. We could not go to Mount Titlis the next morning due to the weather up there.
Day Eight... We checked out and headed back to Zurich; to the same hotel where we first checked in for Day One and Day Two, as we kept two big pieces of luggage there. This was a free-and-easy day. We went to Bahnhofstrasse again to go to Coop City, a big department store, to do our final shopping for souvenirs. There was an offer for big packs of Toblerone chocolate. Two for CHF 11.60 instead of CHF 14.50. With the word “Toblerone” on one side of the triangle and “Switzerland” on another side, it was a great gift to our loved ones at home.
Day Nine... We checked out and headed to the airport for our flight home. We paid CHF 5 per person for the shuttle service to the airport. It is free-of-charge if coming from airport to hotel, though... At the airport, we had to check in first, got our boarding passes and got our bags tagged. Two of our bags which contained our shopping goods went with us to the Customs counter to do our tax-relief claim. The bags would then be sent by a porter to join the rest of our bags in the secured area after the Customs went through our shopping receipts. The Customs officer could not stamp on our London and Paris shopping receipts because she explained that Switzerland is not an EU member. She said we should have gone to Basel train station from Paris as it is the border and there is Customs there to stamp. We did not know about this. We thought as long as we were leaving a Europe country to go back home, we could just get stamps on our London and Paris receipts. There is not much information on this tax-relief claim matter where multi-city shopping is concerned. I did do a search online but really, not much information was found and even if there was, it was vague. The Customs officer advised me to call the British and French embassies when I got home, to ask for their Customs stamp. I called British embassy first. The person I spoke to said she was not aware of such arrangement to stamp on receipts in the embassy. I did not call the French embassy as I guess the answer would be the same. So, I will have to send an e-mail to Global Blue, the tax-relief facilitator, and see how they can help me.
Nine days in beautiful Switzerland. We did not manage to “conquer” the famous Jungfraujoch, Mount Titlis and Mount Pilatus, hence, we know that we will definitely come back to Switzerland again someday; perhaps, during summer.