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Switzerland trip report for early Dec 2018


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Bernielee68
Bernielee68
21 posts
new member
Jan 3, 2019 - 3:48 AM

Trip report – early December 2018. Just a quick summary here first, then for those who are interested, details by day below! Our trip covered Lucerne – Wengen – Zermatt – Zurich. We bought the Swiss Half-fare card, and also included a Family card as my girl is below 16. Travelling by train was smooth (and not crowded perhaps because it was off-peak). Nearly all parts of the train journeys the staff will check our tickets and fare cards. There is always a ramp and stairway when you need to get to another platform / exit the station – so look for the ramp if that’s easier!

Day 1 – Lucerne. Took advice from experts in this forum and went straight from Zurich Airport to Lucerne. We arrived Zurich before 7am after a long flight, so we had breakfast before taking the train to Lucerne. At Lucerne, we booked an apartment which was about 7 minutes’ walk from the train station on the old town side. The apartment had a nice view of the river and was facing the Jesuit Church. It was a Saturday and there was a market with stalls lining the river. We bought some food to cook for dinner, BUT – it was quite a rip-off. We should have stuck to buying from the Coop near the apartment (which we did after learning our lesson)! It rained a bit, but we still went for a walk around the place and it was quite nice.

Day 2 – Lucerne. Rainy day again! So we abandoned plans to take a boat trip and went to the Glacier garden instead. Took the free bus ride (Lucerne tourist pass which was provided by the apartment – and also by most if not all hotels I heard). I actually enjoyed the Glacier garden and the mirror maze was quite fun. But the best part was when I saw the Lion monument from the side of the Glacier Garden! It was nearer than what you’d see from the front of the Lion Monument. I don’t know why – my heart went out to the somewhat ‘sad-looking’ lion! We then went back to rest and only went to the Christmas market for a walk after a home-cooked dinner.

Day 3 – Lucerne to Wengen. Took the train which had 3 station changes – 1 on a bus as there was some engineering work in progress for 1 part of the trip. But it was seamless – informed by the staff about the bus, which was waiting for us and departed/arrived at the next station timely. In Wengen, we rented an apartment too. It was a lovely apartment with nice view of the mountains, but an uphill walk from the station. As it was off-peak season, there were not many people. Co-op again (we visited the Coop countless times in this trip to Switzerland!) to get food for cooking! We went ice-skating and had the whole rink to ourselves – as it was off-peak season. And they didn’t charge us anything as a gesture of ‘apology’ that not many activities and shops were open at that time of the year!

Day 4 – Wengen to Jungfraujoch. This was supposed to be one of the highlights of our trip. The forecast was cloudy and I know the advice was to check the weather via the webcam before going up. However, we only had that day left and so, we went up in hope that it was clear somewhat if we wait a bit. Alas, it was not to be. It was snowing and windy, so the plateau part was closed. And from the observatory, we couldn’t see anything beyond, even after loitering around there, going to the ice palace, etc…. We left, disappointed. Back in Wengen, our spirits were lifted after seeing a wonderful view of the valley from the Church (as recommended by the staff at the tourist information centre). We had a fun time at the 18-holes mini-golf course – and guess what, free of charge again as they said it was less than an hour to getting dark!

Day 5 – Wengen to Zermatt. 4 changes this time via train!!!! It was a long journey but easy enough to move from one platform to another for the changes. Our apartment in Zermatt was just across the train station in Viktoria Centre (it’s called Haus Viktoria A) – wonderful! We settled our ski equipment rental at Bayard (which was in the same building) for our ski the next day. As we had only skied a few times, we signed up for a private group lesson with Summit ski school – which is also in the same building! (Note: this was all researched and planned ahead).

Day 6 – Zermatt, skiing at Sunnegga. Even though the apartment offered space for putting our ski equipment, we left them at the rental’s lockers instead. Changed to ski boots there then walked to the Sunnegga station, about 10 mins walk. Only my husband and 2 kids were going to ski, but I bought the single pass just to go up Sunnegga to see what I could do while they skied. But – Leisee was frozen and covered with snow, there was nothing much to see/do – but it snowed off and on, and I had my hot drink whilst enjoying the view a bit. Had lunch with hub and kids at Buffet Bar Sunnegga before I went down to have my own time whilst they continued skiing. After a home-cooked dinner, all were tired and rested.

Day 7 – Zermatt – Gornergrat. After the disappointment at Jungfraujoch, I just had to do the Gornergrat, what more the station is just next to where we stayed! Luckily, this time weather was good and we snapped many pictures. We could hop on and off along the way at the various stations. We chose to go all the way up first. Spent a good time waiting for the clouds covering the Matterhorn to clear before taking more pictures. One the way down, we stopped at another station just to have a look. In the evening, we took a lovely walk around Zermatt (and found out it was much bigger than I thought!)

Day 8 – Zermatt to Zurich. We were nearing the end of our trip. Arrived in Zurich and checked-in to our hotel (Hotel Bistrol). I like this no-frills hotel and the staff were friendly and helpful. There wasn’t any kettle nor cups in the room, but upon asking at the reception, we were given a tray with kettle, cups, coffee/tea sachets! It was raining and windy, so we just went shopping for chocolates to bring home and bought some food for dinner from one of the Christmas markets.

Day 9 – Zurich, then home. We had a couple of hours after breakfast, before heading to the airport. It was a good 2 hours of walking the old town (and partly the new town) just soaking in the sights, stopping by the riverside, and snapping pictures of course!

Conclusion: I think Switzerland is beautiful… loved all the scenery along the train journeys, and the cities, each with a river running through… I do think, however, that if you’re not there for skiing, it might look a lot prettier in other seasons, when the lakes are not frozen, and more hiking trails are open. Having said that, I do love to see falling snow! If only I didn’t live so far away……..!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
7567 posts
expert
Jan 3, 2019 - 9:11 AM in reply to Bernielee68

Hi Bernilee68-

What a great trip report! Thank you.

You give good descriptions of what it is really like to get around and of practical things. An example- how easy it is to change trains. You also mentioned a few examples of the kind of hospitality they I find when I travel in Switzerland. Small things, but they let you know that the Swiss are glad to have you there.

You mentioned a couple of my favorite views in Switzerland. I have attached images of them taken in the best clear weather selected from several trips, so you can see what they are like in warmer weather. And, you are right, the hiking is nice in the Summer. ;-)

Slowpoke

Attachments
Lucas
Lucas
10495 posts
top member
Jan 3, 2019 - 9:15 AM in reply to Bernielee68

Hi Bernielee68,

Thanks indeed for a very nice trip report! I am a little surprised some activities weren't open in December...I suppose another week or two in the mountains. At least the Christmas markets were open.

Glad to hear you had a good trip (I am partial to winter travel even when not skiing as long as there is snow)!

Hope you get a chance to return in the summer. :)

Last modified on Jan 3, 2019 - 9:17 AM by Lucas
Bernielee68
Bernielee68
21 posts
new member
Jan 3, 2019 - 11:32 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Thanks! I have almost exact photos except in winter!

Bernielee68
Bernielee68
21 posts
new member
Jan 3, 2019 - 11:34 AM in reply to Lucas

Ya.. i like snow too.

Hmm.. why is it always summer or winter mentioned? What about springtime and autumn?

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
7567 posts
expert
Jan 3, 2019 - 12:47 PM in reply to Bernielee68

I go in May-June and September, these days.

Slowpoke

Arno
Arno
15677 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 3, 2019 - 6:09 PM in reply to Bernielee68

Any season is great, but summer and winter offer most activities. This page goes into detail: www.myswissalps.com/be sttimetovisit.

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