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Fine Tuning 18 nights in Switzerland (July/August 2014)

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Thanks to all of you who provided such fantastic input on my draft itinerary about a month ago. We've incorporated your great ideas and have come up with an itinerary and some daily activities and would love additional input.

Briefly, here's some information about my husband and me: We love to hike and bike and believe in "less is more" when we travel. We like to "dive deep" into an area versus moving fast. We spent two weeks in Switzerland in 2001 and hit many of the typical highlights (i.e., Lauterbrunnen Valley, Lucerne, Lugano, Zermatt and Gstaad). We'd like to target mostly new destinations within Switzerland. We also plan on renting a car for most of our time in Switzerland but will utilize the local trains and post buses if we need them to complete a hiking loop.

18 Nights - Tuesday, July 22 – Saturday, August 9, 2014

1 night- Basel hotel near airport (we arrive at 10 p.m.)
- pick up rental car Wednesday a.m. and explore the southern Emmental area around Langnau on the way to Bern
2 nights – Bern (full day exploration of Bern and rent bikes)
1 night – Outside of Interlaken - hike the Schynige Platte
3 nights – Ascona
- Explore village of Sonogno and hike Valle Verasca
- Train to Intragna in the Centovalli and hike to Rasa
1 night – Soglio in the Bregaglia valley (or stay 5 nights instead in Sils?)
4 nights in Upper Engadine Valley – Leaning towards Sils (is that the same as Sils-Maria?)or possibly Celerina
- Hike part of the Via Panoramica Val Bregaglia perhaps from Röivan to Soglio
- Another possibility - walk from Soglio to Castasegna and then through Bondo to Promontogno (we may need to skip this walk due to time)
- Walk along the lakes near Sils to Silva Plana (I remember someone raving about this but I can’t find details)
- Hike Muottas Muragl to Alp Langual
- Take scenic regional train ride to Poschiavo???
- On the way to Upper Engadine Valley, drive scenic route through Mustair Valley and visit Convent of St. John
4 nights – Lower Engadine Valley - Tarasp
- stay at Schlosshotel Chaste
- Hike to the village of Vna and Hof Zuort
- Bus to Sent and walk back to Scuol
- Walk from Guarda to Ardez
- Visit Schloss Tarasp,
2 nights in Basel

Questions:
1) From Basel to Bern: Is there a good hike in the Langnau/Emmental area?
2) I’m not sure about the Schynige Platte. We stayed 5 days in Lauterbrunnen and a few days in Grindlewald years ago and I’m looking for one night in the Berner Oberland on our way to Ascona from Bern just to be able to enjoy the scenery unique to that area for one night. I’d like to incorporate a hike but I don’t really want to stay in the heart of Interlaken. I have the most questions about this night. Thoughts?
3) Is it worth it to hike in the Swiss National Park on our way to the Convent of St. John and the Mustair Valley?
4) It looks like we’ll be heading south through the Gotthard Tunnel to Ascona on a Saturday. Is this going to be challenging with traffic? I also heard that driving through the Grimsel and Furka Passes is beautiful. Are we crazy to do it? Via Michelin says the most direct way would take 3 hours and going through the Grimsel and Furka Passes would take just under 3 ½ hours.
5) Depending if we stay in Soglio or Sils (maybe skip Soglio and stay in Sils for five nights?) is it worth the scenic drive from Ascona along Lake Como through the Bregaglia Valley or go the more direct route. It looks like we would be travelling on a Tuesday. Or maybe 4 nights in Sils and 5 nights in Tarasp....
6) Kja – I noted that you did the following while in Ascona – any tips or highlights?: "Enjoy the views from Cimetta, hike from Lavertezzo to Brione in the Valle Verzasca; take the train through the Centovalli as far as Verdasio and roam around Rasa." You also did the hike from Soglio to Castasegna and then through Bondo to Promontogno – worth it?
7) Any other great hiking leads? How about favorite hotels for our destinations?
8) Other input on our itinerary?

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