Trip report Aug 2017, good & bad about Switzerland

Trip report Aug 2017, good & bad about Switzerland

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LazerMa
LazerMa
4 posts
new member
Aug 18, 2017 - 7:43 PM

Good:

  • I got good advise from the Forum on what type of Travel Pass to buy. I purchased a Half Fare Travel Pass and got the email response in a day. Made 3 copies to be safe ( I lost one on the last day!). Make sure you always have it with you when purchasing a train ticket and while on the train.
  • If you make your plans and itinerary in advance, they are truly useful. Even though you might not be able to follow it perfectly, it is mandatory to plan ahead.
  • As mentioned in the Forum, you don't need a map for hiking: signs are strategically located and quite intuitive.
  • Trains are almost always on time, be sure to check the schedule.
  • Best coffee everywhere: in the hotels, restaurants, even with the Nespresso machines. Hot Chocolate? That, too.
  • Switzerland is amazingly beautiful! The small towns are so pretty, there are flower beds and plants in their backyards. The Luzern Promenade by the lake must not be missed. That's better than the famous bridge.

Bad:

  • It is a known fact: Switzerland is expensive! If I didn't purchase the Half Fare Card, the train fares would be astronomical!
  • The hiking difficulty described in the Forum are not as accurate as they appear to be: Easy was not really easy; so be aware that an "easy" trail can have pathways that are steep and rocky.
  • Restaurant food is expensive! Search and look around the small alleys and streets to find a less expensive place to eat. Make use of the Coops and Migros: they have the cheapest items and food.
  • Flies are all over the place! Cows grazing on the mountaintop are so picturesque but it also means cow poop!
  • Train service is not 24 hours. I thought my itinerary was perfect. Luzern to Zurich is just one hour on the train. Only to realize that the earliest train leaves at 4:55 AM. My plane leaves at 7:25 AM. My wife and I decided to take the last train at 11:00 PM and stayed overnight in Zurich airport. Forget the taxi; it will cost you CHF 240; there is no Uber. What a bummer!
  • Not all hotels have air-conditioning or fan. My hotel at Lauterbrunnen had neither of these. Because of the flies, we have to close the windows when sleeping. Guess what: the room became hot. Pick your choice: hot room or flies?

Over all: good experience. Worth the memories. I always learn something new from the countries I have traveled to. Enjoy your trip!

Arno
Arno
10747 posts
expert &
moderator
Aug 19, 2017 - 4:58 PM

Many thanks LazerMa! Very useful tips and observations for future travelers. I think there's Uber in Switzerland, although I never used it and don't think I ever will. Public transport is amazing and servicing nearly all places.

AlanPrice
AlanPrice
193 posts
active member
Aug 19, 2017 - 9:01 PM

Thanks for the report. I was surprised to hear you had a problem with flies. Insects aren't something I've had a problem with in Switzerland before, but I guess it comes down to time, place and weather.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4716 posts
expert
Aug 19, 2017 - 11:58 PM in reply to AlanPrice

Hi Alan-

In 37 years of traveling to Switzerland, averaging 2.765598 trips per year ( approximately, ;-) ) I have run into objectionable flies about a half dozen times.

The locations did not seem to be willing or able to use chemical sprays to deal with the issue. Most common in villages near barns and farms. Once at luxury hotel, in the countryside ,near meadows with cows. Twice at an inn very near cow barns.

And, as LazerMa noted, cows leave cow poop. On the trails that I walk through meadows, such as those in the Emmental or other dairy regions, it is usually not an issue, but once in a while...very rarely...it has been significant. More common on hiking trails in the countryside that permit you to walk through farms and homesteads, right by their barns. Many people think that milk comes from plastic containers and do not realize the reality of food production. Certainly noticeable on roads where cows go back and forth from fields to barns on public roads. That's the way it is; cows convert grass to milk and cow poop.

That does attract flies.

Slowpoke

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4716 posts
expert
Aug 20, 2017 - 12:16 AM in reply to LazerMa

Hi LazerMa-

<<"The hiking difficulty described in the Forum are not as accurate as they appear to be: Easy was not really easy; so be aware that an "easy" trail can have pathways that are steep and rocky.">

The trail marking system shows a set of trails that do not require good boots and hiking staffs. It does not say that they are not rocky, or that they don't have climbs or descents.

By Swiss standards, these can be easy, because a bit of a climb is "normal." And, many hikers are in good enough physical condition to consider those trails to be "easy." It is very hard to define "easy" for the range of hiking capabilities brought to Switzerland by various visitors.

Only partly joking, I often say to my fellow visitors from the USA -

"Walking is a legitimate form of public transportation in Switzerland."

And,

"in Switzerland, a "level" trail can have substantiaa ups and downs."

We routinely link to trail maps and topo map sites that give extensive details about topography, steepness of climbs, etc. They can inform you about the details of any trail in Switzerland. I'm sorry that they did not come to your attention. And, there are frequent posts in the Forums addressing this issue. We routinely ask about the experience level of hikers. On occasion, we end up "talking down" to hikers who think nothing of climbing 1000 meters or so from Wengen to Maennlichen, something I am not capable of.

Is there something that you would suggest to be added, for example to the section on hiking, that would help with this problem?

Slowpoke

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4716 posts
expert
Aug 20, 2017 - 12:47 AM in reply to LazerMa

Hi Lazerma -

<<"Train service is not 24 hours. I thought the itinerary was perfect. Luzern to Zurich is just one hour on the train. Only to realize that the earliest train leaves at 4:55 AM. My plane leaves at 7:25 AM. My wife and I decided to take the last train at 11:00 PM and stayed overnight in Zurich airport. Forget the taxi; it will cost you CHF 240; there is no Uber. What a bummer!">>

I agree. We caution travelers to use the timetable to lay out there schedules, and offer to review them. Indeed, the train service is not 24 hours per day. And, indeed, cabs are expensive.

Your note is a very good caution for other travelers to check out their planned train schedules..

Thanks for the heads up!

Slowpoke

rockoyster
rockoyster
3688 posts
expert
Aug 20, 2017 - 3:07 AM in reply to LazerMa

Hello LazerMa,

Thanks for sharing your wonderfully candid report. Maybe the fly situation has been exacerbated by a very early and hot summer? Must remember to pack the Aerogard! www.aerogard.com.au or cork hat (see attached) 🤠

Please login to see the attached documents
Adelaidean
Adelaidean
106 posts
active member
Aug 20, 2017 - 8:41 AM

Hi LazerMa,

There were a lot of flies in our apartment in Ortisei (Italian Dolomites) last summer, we had an attic apartment that overlooked a farm, no flyscreens on windows. But I loved watching the farm activity, it was really lovely to see small scale farming and a respect for the land - and it paled in comparison to the blowflies of my childhood in Andamooka ( outback Australia) and our long drop toilet on a 40C day.....😀

jlovda
jlovda
38 posts
active member
Aug 20, 2017 - 1:47 PM

A comment about cow poop. Every time I travel out of the US, on my return, Immigration/Customs is always worried and asks questions regarding being on farmlands or near farm animals. They must be worried about bring in Mad Cow and other "foreign" bovine diseases. I really don't know what they do if you say yes. Make sure your boots are really clean when you return.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4716 posts
expert
Aug 20, 2017 - 2:05 PM in reply to jlovda

Hi JLovda-

I always clean my boots, and they often inspect them. Especially if you say that you have been on a farm or near livestock on the entry form.

Some years ago I pursued the issue a bit. The border controll agents have "book" with information about every country. At tha ttime, the book noted that there was hoof and mouth disease in Switzerland. They showed me the page about Switzerland.

That indeed is a major issue, if true. Hoof and mouth is wildly contagious.

I suspect that it is or was out of date information, but, they follow those rules , for good reason.

Mad Cow was taken off the list when Europe introduced compulsory inspection of animals to be slaughtered. The USA still has not taken that desirable step, insisting that it costs too much.

Perhaps the Swiss should inspect our boots? On the other hand, how many visitors from the USA have been on a farm? ;-)

Slowpoke

theTutor
theTutor
23 posts
new member
Aug 21, 2017 - 6:23 AM in reply to LazerMa

Thanks for the report, LazerMa. Two weeks before my trip and already put some fly-repeller on my shopping list...

LazerMa
LazerMa
4 posts
new member
Aug 21, 2017 - 1:54 PM

Many thanks for the replies/comments/views. Didn't realize my post on flies would create a fuzz.

Hiking:

  • I am an amateur to this but has been a runner all my life (42 K and 20 K marathoner). But I was prepared: hiking boots (ankle length, waterproof), hiking long pants, hiking stick, wide-brim hat. I noticed a lot of "hikers" wearing slippers (!) and sneakers: these are not suited for the trail (rocks and gravel). So, the steep and rocky terrain in some pathways was new to me.
  • The Bernese-Oberland region is the best for hiking. I stayed in Lauterbrunnen, which has a more charming ambiance than Interlaken (recommended by most people). We moved to Luzern for the remaining 4 days.

Zurich: although a nice city, I wouldn't recommend it as the base for your stay. My wife and I had a one-day visit just to explore the Old Town.

Luzern is definitely better: you have the shops and Mt. Pilatus nearby to marvel the view and a hiking trail. My wife and I hiked down from Frakmuntegg to Krienseregg. Then continued with the gondola to Kriens. Perfect!

Lucas
Lucas
7127 posts
expert &
moderator
Aug 21, 2017 - 4:18 PM in reply to LazerMa

Don't you mean you didn't think your post on flies would create such a BUZZ? :)

Thanks for the report! Your points are spot on I think!

It will be much appreciated for our members and future visitors!

Lucas

Last modified on Aug 21, 2017 - 4:20 PM by Lucas
jlovda
jlovda
38 posts
active member
Aug 21, 2017 - 4:45 PM

A little comment about Migros and Coop and cheap souvenirs. Both of these stores sell a generic brand of chocolate bars that are fantastic and cheaper than Herseys in the US. The bars are in generic wrappers and sell for about 0.55-0.60 SF. All the Lindt bars are at eye level. These are on the shelf near the floor at shoelace level. Every year on my last 10 trip I have brought back at least 25 bars and handed them out. I may be mixed up which store is which but I believe the Migros ones are call Budget bars and come in a green and white stripped wrapper. Migros also sells Frey bars which are their house brand but they are more money. Don't let the price fool you. These bars are GOOD.

By the way, they both have an aisle selling cheap little Swiss trinkets that are a lot cheaper than regular souvenir stores.

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