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Trip Report Just back from 15 days in Switzerland

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My wife and I have just returned from 15 days in Switzerland, and even though there was more rain than we have experienced on previous European trips, we had an amazing time. I am not going to go into the same amount of detail many of the posters here do but I hope my comments will be helpful.

A couple of general comments. Many people have asked whether or not a Swiss Pass is worth it. We purchased a Swiss Saver Pass (two passengers traveling together) and used it a lot, although there were three day trips we didn't take because of the rain. When we got back, I compared the cost of the lowest priced first class ticket for all the trips we took that were covered by the Swiss Pass (trains & boats) but did not add in the value of the museum tickets and trams that were also covered by the pass. Based on this analysis, we saved approximately $300 by buying the pass (+ what we saved on museum tickets and tram fares); if we had not had the rain and taken the trips that we decided to cancel, we would have saved about $550+.

We also used the Fly/Rail Baggage and Fast Baggage programs and they were just as advertised. The Fly/Rail Baggage program allowed us to check our baggage at our US airport and have it delivered directly to the train station in Luzern. This eliminated the need for us to pick up our bags in baggage claim at the Zurich Airport and schlep them to Luzern. We then had the bags sent from Luzern to Wengen and then from Wengen to Zurich using fast baggage coupons bought on the Rail Europe site. The bags had to be dropped off at the train station by 9:00 AM and delivery was guaranteed after 6:00 PM the same day, although in both cases I picked the bags up at about 5:00 PM. We loved the convenience of not having to carry our bags from train to train.

We had planned to spend 5 days in each of Luzern, Wengen and Zurich but ended up cutting our stay in Wengen to two days and extending our stay in Zurich to eight days.

Luzern.

We loved Luzern. The weather wasn't great during most of our stay, but we still managed to see the sights and had some great meals. It was here that I discovered my new favorite chocolate. Laderach has a milk chocolate filled with Calvados - the combination of two of my favorite foods! We also reconnected with a Swiss friend who was an exchange student in high school with me over 40 years ago. I had last seen him many years ago when I stayed with his family on my last trip to Switzerland. He looked just like I remembered him - ok maybe with the exception of the grey hair. He and his wife escorted us on a trip to Rigi Kulm by boat. The weather was beautiful on the trip to and from Rigi Kulm, but, unfortunately, was cloudy on the mountain top. It was still a great trip with an excellent meal at the Rigi Kulm hotel and the best company imaginable. Our favorite restaurants during our stay in Luzern were Opus, Rathaus Brauerei, the restaurant at the Rigi Kulm Hotel and the Pfistern (fabulous fondue). We stayed at the Renaissance Hotel which was an excellent choice. We had a full breakfast included and ate at the Thai restaurant there which was very good. The service was exceptional and the bed very comfortable.

Wengen

Next, we traveled to Wengen, which is a small, car free village in a perfect setting. We stayed at the Alpenrose Hotel whcih has been in the same family for six generations. The service here was warm, friendly and very efficient. Our room had a beautiful view of the mountais. We chose to have dinner included with the room for just an additional 25sf each, which was an exceptional value. The dinners consisted of an appetizer, full salad bar, main course, cheese course and dessert. Our room was large with dual sinks in the bathroom and a great shower. The bed was very firm, which I liked, and covered with the customary duvet. Unfortunately, my wife had just come down with a bad sore throat and was miserable. Adding to her misery was the bed, which was too hard for her, a pillow that was too soft and a duvet that was too hot. She got no sleep the two nights we were there, so we made the decision to leave early and headed to the Marriott in Zurich three days early. The staff at the Alpenrose was very understanding and could have charged us the full amount for the three nights we cancelled there. However, they were very fair with us which I greatly appreciate. I would highly recommend the Alpenrose with the caveat that the bed might not be to everyone's liking.

The first day were in Wengen, the weather was good, which gave us the opportunity to walk through town and take some beautiful pictures. We also took the cable car to Mannlichen. It was clear enough to see for many miles and down into the valley. Unfortunately, the long, cold winter meant the Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg trail was closed so we did not get to enjoy the hike that so many people have raved about. The next day was a perfect day in every way. The weather was clear - not a cloud in the sky - so we took the opportunity to go to the Jungfraujoch. What a trip. BTW, the Swiss Pass saved us 25% on the cost of the ticket to the top of the Jungfrau. The trip was worth every penny! What a gorgeous view in all directions. We had champagne from the little bar on the upper level to celebrate! On the way back we ate in a restaurant next to the train station in Kleine Scheidegg (sorry can't remember the name) and then headed to Grindelwald. I was a little disappointed in Grindelwald for reasons I can't really define. It had a beautiful view if the Eiger but otherwise wasn't what I had expected.

To be continued.

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