Traveling without hotel reservations April 2018

Traveling without hotel reservations April 2018

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Posts: 9
JohnD
JohnD
3 posts
new member
Nov 11, 2017 - 4:31 PM

Lucas
Lucas
3375 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 11, 2017 - 5:50 PM in reply to JohnD

Hi JohnD and welcome to MySwissAlps!

Your message didn't come through on your post - could you try again?

JohnD
JohnD
3 posts
new member
Nov 11, 2017 - 6:21 PM

I plan to travel Switzerland with my wife in early April for seven days. I will be renting a car in ZHR on arrival and tour all over the country. I am thinking of not making hotel reservations and just stop each afternoon in a place we find interesting. Is this wise? It seems that we will be between the ski & summer seasons and most hotels won’t be full, therefore finding accommodation won’t be a problem. Your thoughts are appreciated.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
3758 posts
expert
Nov 12, 2017 - 2:34 AM in reply to JohnD

Hi John D-

<<"Is this wise?">>

Definitely "wise" from a reservations perspective, even though many but not all hotels in the most scenic regions will be in their "between seasons" holiday.

Unwise because you will not be able to "tour all over the country.."

In April all of the high mountain passes will be closed by snow. Any place above about 1500 to 2000 meters will be problematic for a car. Not by rail.

And, of course, many of the most scenic parts of Switzerland are accessible only by train... No automobiles permitted.

www.myswissalps.com/tr avel/inswitzerland

www.myswissalps.com/ca rversustrain

www.myswissalps.com/ab outswitzerland/nature

www.myswissalps.com/be sttimetovisit

If you can give us a bit more detail about what you want to see or do, we can perhaps offer some more specific guidance.

In general, however, April is not a very scenic time to visit Switzerland, except at low altitudes where the beginnings of Spring are appearing through the frequent rainy or cloudy days. With luck, you could have some magnificent clear days, even at high altitudes. If you get them, they can be stunning. Not to be expected, however.

Slowpoke

Lucas
Lucas
3375 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 12, 2017 - 8:28 AM in reply to JohnD

HI John,

My own two cents - and it doesn't apply to just Switzerland or any one country... I love the idea of just stopping where it looks nice! But

  1. I hate the idea of wandering around a town looking for a nice hotel that I would like to stay at.
  2. Hotel prices are usually better pre-booked rather than booking on the spot (I hate to think I could have gotten the same room for 15 or 20%). But perhaps they will give you a deal even at that time of year!

Hotels will be quiet at that time of the year so it shouldn't be an issue finding a place to stay but as Slowpoke notes it isn't the best time of year to visit nor is it that good a time to drive - that would be late June to September usually.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
3758 posts
expert
Nov 12, 2017 - 9:22 AM in reply to Lucas

Hi Lucas-

<<"I hate the idea of wandering around a town looking for a nice hotel that I would like to stay at.">>

One thing to be said for driving....if you are wandering around a town looking for a room, it is easier to do with a car than on foot. ;-)

Another- one car holds several people; on the trains, each would have to pay.

Parking costs:

I looked up some parking costs in Luzern, for an example.

www.parking-luzern.ch/en/Parktarif rechner

24 hours parking at the Bahnhof garage costs CHF52.50

It is cheaper at the Altstadt Garage, just off the express highway as you enter the city from the north. 24 hours for CHF39.50 . What a bargain! ;-)

300 to 400 meters walk to the old town about 700 meters to Schwanenplatz.

From the Bahnhof to Schwanenplatz is about 250 meters.

I picked those two because they are very large and rarely fill up completely. There are a few smaller places scattered around the city.

Slowpoke

JohnD
JohnD
3 posts
new member
Nov 12, 2017 - 12:41 PM

Dear Lucas & Slowpoke - Thanx very much for your replies, especially concerning driving the passes in April. We are Yanks, therefore addicted to the independence a vehicle gives you. But in this case, a vehicle sounds like a detriment. My problem with taking the train is hauling all of our luggage that we brought from the US with us, everywhere we go! We are in our sixties, if I spent my energy hauling bags, I wouldn’t have any to enjoy the sights!

Lucas
Lucas
3375 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 12, 2017 - 1:23 PM in reply to JohnD

Hi John,

Hopefully you aren't changing trains too many times each trip! Which helps you avoid lugging, luggage issues. :)
Another option is to have your luggage sent ahead on the train to your final destination.

Read more about luggage options on the train on our website here.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
3758 posts
expert
Nov 12, 2017 - 5:00 PM in reply to JohnD

Hi John -

Lucas mentioned the luggage services.

I use them routinely, as long as I have two or three days in one location.

Often I use the "Basic" service.

Once in a while I use the "Express" services. Too expensive for me most of the time, but once in a while it is worth it for me.

The SBB website gives a few more details, including price, the stations where "Basic" works, and the limited number of stations where "Express" service is available.

For any service to work, you have to deal with manned stations.

Many small stations in the countryside are no longer staffed...just a ticket machine.

One way to deal with that is to set up a base or two and make day trips.

The country is quite small....roughly the size of New Hampshire and Vermont combined. Pennsylvania has about 3 times the area. So, a train trip to most places from a central location isa good day trip. Some of the most scenic routes are a bit remote, but time spent with the timetable:

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

and this map:

map.search.ch/

will help you figure it out.

www.sbb.ch/en/station-services/services/lugg age-and-flight-luggage/luggage.html

Make sure to read the introductory page for the timetable at that link.

On the map, zoom in far enough and you can see the train lines.

I have reached the stage in life where I don't pinch pennies on my trips to Switzerland, except that I do try to stay at less expensive country inns with good kitchens and wine cellars. I have developed a travelpattern that works for me.

I don't spend a lot of time in the famous places unless I am going in June or September. Sometimes May, but then I don't go up in the Alps. Too early.

So, my pattern is to fly into Zürich from the USA, spend a day or two in Zürich on day trips by train while recovering from jet-lag, rent a car ( not at the airport because of the surcharge) and drive to a countryside destination with low tourist density. From there, I may take a train to meet a friend from Geneva, or to Bern, or take the car to a trail head and hike to the other end, then catch a bus or train back to my car. The car may sit for a day, or may be used for some local sightseeing to places for good photography. At the end, I return to Zürich, I dump my luggage at the hotel ( I have memorized the complex car route needed to get me there through the maze of one way streets in Zürich) and turn in the rental car a few days before my departure. On those days, I frequently visit a friend near Luzern. If we meet in Luzern , it is less than one hour by train, and the ride has nice scenery.

Just for examples, I stay in Sumiswald in the Emmental, and in Ligerz on Lake Biel ( der Bielersee) on the French-German language border. I've attached some images.

The Bären in Sumiswald is a famous old well run inn, with a good kitchen and a astorng wine list.

www.baeren-sumiswald.ch/home.html

The website is in German, but you can look at the pictures. The staff speaks English.

Gasthof Kreuz in Ligerz is a small inn, with very nice rooms and an elevator. The kitchen has a limited menu, emphasizing fresh fish from the lake, and Herr Mettler is an excellent cook. Several of the wines come from a family vineyard nearby.

Their website is down at the moment. The Mettlers worke in Vermont or a few years.

I did not attach images from the high Alps, but there are plenty of those around.

I carry a half-fare card, and do not find it inconvenient to buy tickets for each trip. The machines are fast and easy (unless you get into complicated special tickets in cities and surrounding zones).

Slowpoke

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