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Trip Report Trip Report and Photos - 10 days in Switzerland (September 2010)

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OK, I am taking the advice of fellow posters and doing the entire trip as one thread. I'll include the two days I have already covered, add day 3 now, and then add on from there. If someone knows how to delete the first two reports, please let me know, so that things will be less confusing. I've included the itinerary at the beginning so that those who might only be interested in a particular city or excursion can scroll down to read only that part.

Switzerland September 17-27, 2010

I’ll begin by posting a review of each day of our trip, along with photos and other links. When I’m done, I’ll pull it all together into one long post of the entire trip. That way, if someone is interested in reading about a particular place or excursion, he or she can read just the individual post without having to “dig” through the entire journal. The posts will include:

Luzern, with the Mt. Pilatus “Golden Roud trip”

The Berner Oberland – Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Wengen, Interlaken, the Jungfraujoch, Lake Thun, Thun, Lake Breinz

Montreux, including the Castle of Chillon; Vevey, Lausanne; the Lavaux vineyards cruise

Zermatt and the Glacier Express

Zurich and Stein-am-Rhein


Planning for the Weather, Packing, and Money

A friend had traveled to Switzerland in late September and said the weather was wonderful, and this was seconded by many posters. We had beautiful sunny days for most of the trip, with only a little rain and even a bit of snow! Summer flowers were still blooming, but we also saw a few trees decked out in their autumn colors.
I checked several forecasts right up to the time we left and packed accordingly, but instead of the predicted highs in the 50-60’s F., most days the highs were in the 70’s, and I wished I had brought at least one short-sleeved blouse as much of the time I ended up wearing just the T-shirts that were my first layer. I did take an all-weather coat with a warm zip-out lining, gloves, and a warm headband to cover my ears, but only needed these on the trip to the Gornergrat in Zermatt. The coat (without the lining) was needed on chillier mornings and evenings, and on some lake cruises when sitting outside. I was glad that I packed two small umbrellas as we encountered rain in Zermatt and Zurich. We each had a 21-inch rollaboard suitcase and a small backpack. My husband took his laptop so that we could check schedules along the way and communicate with family and friends, and we had the special Swiss adapter for plugs (different than the one used most places in Europe), though we seldom needed it. All of our devices were dual voltage, so we did not need the converter. I printed out portions of recommendations from message boards and maps with directions from the rail station to the hotel in each city, and we took a map of Switzerland on which we marked our route, and our guidebooks. We each had a cell phone and signed up for a one-month plan that allowed us to make long-distance calls at a cheaper per minute rate. Each of us carried a passport, credit cards, and some cash in a money belt under our clothes. We took along 500 chf, which we ordered from American Express before we left (and later exchanged about $50 cash for Swiss francs toward the end of the trip), and charged hotels, more expensive meals, and the Swiss Pass and supplements for excursions to one of two credit cards. We no longer shop or buy souvenirs (except for small items for our children) when we travel (though we did when we were younger), and we don’t drink alcohol or many soft drinks, so we don’t spend a great deal above the cost of the airfare (for which we used points), travel within the country, hotels, meals, and excursions. We packed several energy/fiber bars (which came in handy on trains and boats) and carried our own refillable water bottles. We figure that the less we spend on each trip, the more trips we can take!

A Little Background

We are a couple in our early 60’s, married over 40 years, who love to travel. We have visited some wonderful places in North America, the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa, though not nearly as many we would have liked. As we move out of the time of our lives when we were focused on rearing a family and developing our careers and approach retirement, we see ourselves as being at the beginning of our “traveling years,” during which we hope to see as many places as time, money, and circumstances will allow.
We prepared for our trip to Switzerland (or I should say, “I prepared…” since I am the family vacation planner) by reading threee Switzerland guidebooks and spending MANY hours on their travel forums, as well as scouring Tripadvisor (mostly for hotels) and other web sites. For me, planning the trip is half the fun. (Well, maybe not half, but it does create and sustain my excitement during the months between booking the flight and traveling.) We chose not to visit museums or castles (except for the Castle of Chillon and the Schloss Museum in Thun) and to visit only a few highly recommended churches as we wished to focus on the scenery and simply walking through the towns and villages. We didn’t have time to “get in shape” for hiking and climbing, as we had hoped, before the trip, so hikes were not included, although we did a lot of walking up and down the hilly cities we visited. We each took two pairs of shoes, a light weight walking shoe and a heavier “casual hiking” shoe.

What’s Included in Each Post

I’ve included links to our photos, and took photos of the hotel rooms, bathrooms, and balcony views, as well as photos of some of our meals, to provide an idea of what to expect when budgeting for hotel and food costs. Many photos are linked to Google maps so that you can see where they were taken. I’ve also included links to the hotels and to some restaurants, and as much information as I have available on the cost of hotels, meals, trains, boats, excursions, and in some cases, travel times, for those who are interested in knowing the details to help in planning YOUR trip! I’ve also included comments on changes we would make to our plans were we to do the trip again.

Be aware that this is a very busy itinerary designed to see as much as possible in the time we had available ~ not a leisurely vacation! (For those we take a cruise or head to the beach.) We view travel as a way of learning about new people and places, and we try to maximize our exposure to new experiences. If we see something we love, we hope to return later for a more in-depth encounter. We know that this fast-paced style of travel is not everyone’s preference, but it works for us. We did intersperse busy sightseeing days with more leisurely days or half days of riding on the train or cruising on the beautiful lakes ~ both highlights of our trip. We loved the transportation system in Switzerland and regret that we are so totally dependent on cars at home.

So buckle your seat belts ~ here we go!

Off to Switzerland! (Friday-Saturday) From Home to Toronto to Zurich

We caught our departing flight at 7:40 am on Air Canada and arrived in Toronto just after 11:00 am. After a confusing passage through a surprisingly small airport, we found our way to the international area, where we had lunch at Coyote Jack’s, which served a better-than- average-for -airport-food burger and fries. (2 burgers, 1 large fry to split, 1 drink, 1 water for $15.44 Canadian). Our flight to Zurich was pushed back, so we had a 10-hour layover! We spent it rereading our guidebooks and getting in some exercise walking around the airport before the overnight flight. Dinner at the Bacardi restaurant was a shrimp salad for me and a Cuban sandwich for my husband ($30.53 Canadian, with tip), both, again unexpectedly good.

Day 1 (Saturday) Arrival in Zurich; train to Luzern

The Air Canada flight to Zurich (7 hours) was comfortable - more leg room than on many international flights – and for the first time ever, I was able to sleep until we were awakened for breakfast. We arrived in Zurich at 10:55 am and planned to head quickly for Luzern, but I felt very nauseated (this has never happened before!), which slowed us down quite a bit. We bought our 15-day first class Swiss Saver Pass ($1188 for the two of us) at the rail station (conveniently located right in the airport) and headed off on the train for Luzern, just over an hour away. We had our first introduction to the wonder of Swiss rail travel, and our first glimpse of the lovely Swiss countryside.

Note: Had we thought about it in advance, we could have gotten by with an 8-day pass and paid separately for travel from Zurich to Luzern on the first day and from our hotel to the Zurich airport on our last. (Doing a major home remodeling project in the months before the trip interfered with my usually meticulous planning!) We enjoyed traveling first class in part because there was more room (fewer and wider seats) but primarily because it was less crowded than second class. On one leg of the trip we had an entire car to ourselves for most of the trip! This sometimes allowed us to move from one side of the train to the other to get a better view of the scenery and to photograph it. It also allowed us to ride on the upper deck of the boats, which provided a nicer view, and was also less crowded. That said, we did ride second class on the Glacier Express from Zermatt to Chur because we left our last two days flexible and didn’t know when we would leave Zermatt. By the time we booked our seats, all of the first class seats had been booked. It was quite comfortable in second class but very packed, and we were unable to get window seats, so taking photos was difficult.

Luzern – What a Jewel!

Link to Luzern photo album
http://picasaweb.google.com/chrisnbill
Control + Click to view the album, or copy and paste URL.
The organization of the photos generally follows the narrative.
Watch as a slideshow to see the captions. Click on the album map to see where these photos were taken.

We arrived in Luzern at about 2 pm, and our walk from the station across the bridge to the Hotel des Alpes was less than 5 minutes. We’d booked a lake view room with a balcony (room 457, I think), and like many hotel rooms in Europe, it was rather small but comfortable, with a small but modern bathroom. We were more interested in the view than the room, and when we opened the curtain and stepped out on the balcony, we were more than pleased. We looked directly onto the Chapel Bridge and could see the Reuss River both east and west, and on to Lake Luzern and the mountains beyond.

We checked in (the entrance is on Furrengasse, not on the river front), dropped our luggage, grabbed our guidebooks, and began our walking tour of old town Luzern. Our first encounter was with the cheese vendors, who were either there for the regular Saturday market day or perhaps a special festival. We sampled several cheeses, and on our return to the hotel later in the day, bought a wedge of a wonderful variety, the name of which I have unfortunately forgotten as I would have liked to search it out at home.

Crossing back over the Seebrucke (bridge) that connects to the rail station, we began our exploration of Luzern on the south side of the Reuss River, following the Bahnhofstrasse, which was lined with stalls selling fruits, vegetables, sausages, sweets, and flowers. We passed the Jesuit Church and the Reuss River water spikes, a mid-19th century dam used to control the flow of water and prevent the flooding of lakeside villages. Spikes are added or removed as needed to control the level of the river. Farther along the south bank, we encountered the Mill Bridge (Spreurbrucke), built in 1407 and restored in the 19th century, and home to original 17th-century paintings (The Dance of Death) commemorating a plague that swept the city. This bridge carried us across the river to the Muhlenplatz (Mills Square); the Weinmarkt (Weinmarket), home of the Hotel des Balances with its beautifully painted façade; and Hirschenplatz (Stag Square), filled with more historic buildings with painted facades. A sign painted on Goldener Adler in Stag Square, announces that writer and philosopher Goethe stayed here in 1779. (His best known writing is the drama Faust.) From there we continued walking about half a mile to the exquisitely moving Lion Monument, commemorating the Swiss Guards who died in the Tuileries Palace in Paris while defending Marie Antionette during the French Revolution in 1792. Hurrying to the boat docks near the rail station to catch an early evening cruise on Lake Luzern, we found that we had misread the schedule and that the only departing boat was a fully booked dinner cruise. (The cruise we had wanted to take was available only Monday-Friday) Sated by our sampling at the market stalls, we returned to our hotel, where, later in the evening, the cheese we’d bought and a loaf of deliciously nutty bread from a local bakery served as dinner, eaten on our balcony overlooking the beautifully lighted Chapel Bridge and water tower.

What We Missed in Luzern

We could have spent another day exploring this beautiful city, and perhaps could have managed to see most of what we missed had we arrived in Luzern in the early morning, as our original flight schedule would have allowed us to do. We considered returning to Luzern on a day-trip from Zurich the following Sunday but chose instead to see someplace new.

Hotel

We stayed at the Hotel des Alpes (a 3 star hotel), built in 1740 as an inn for travelers. On the north bank of the River Reuss, it fronts on Rathausquai 5 but the entrance is on the other side of the building, at Furrengasse 3. The hotel is a 5-minute walk from the Luzern rail station. We paid 254 chf for a double room, lake view, with balcony; free Internet, wireless; delicious breakfast buffet with meats and cheeses, fruit, cereals, breads, jams, juice, and coffee. Frommers classifies it as a moderately priced hotel. Was the balcony and view worth the extra 50 chf? That depends on one’s priorities, but in our judgment, it provided a wonderful beginning to our tour of Switzerland (and some of our best photos!). www.desalpes-luzern.ch/

Food

We ate freshly baked bread and cheese, a takeaway sandwich, and a sweet of some kind from a street vendor. We didn’t keep track, but probably spent less than $20 on food. We took our own water bottles with us and filled them in the hotel, then refilled them at public fountains to cut down on the cost of buying water and other drinks.

Day 2 (Sunday) Luzern ~ Mt Pilatus; Golden Pass train to Lauterbrunnen; Murren

Link to album
http://picasaweb.google.com/chrisnbill
Control + Click to view the album, or copy and paste URL.
Watch as a slideshow to see the captions. Click on the album map to see where these photos were taken.

Sunday morning began with a delicious breakfast eaten on the terrace of the Hotel des Alpes, overlooking the Reuss River and the Chapel Bridge. It was a beautiful day, and we decided to take the Golden Round Trip to Mt Pilatus and back to Luzern. We caught an early boat from the dock near the train station, and were able to travel on the upper deck, where we met the only other first-class passengers on the cruise, a lovely couple from Australia. It turned out that he and my husband had once worked for the same company (though continents apart!). We cruised on crystal clear water past the Hofkirche, the grand Schweizerhof, the National Hotel, and other Luzern landmarks, and then on into Lake Luzern (Luzernersee), surrounded by verdant foothills dotted with picturesque villages. (The boat made stops at St Niklausen, Kastanienbaum, and Hergiswill.) As we began capturing images of the hills and villages, we discovered one of the negatives of using a new camera purchased for the trip when we ran out of batteries long before the manual indicated we should have. Unfortunately, we hadn’t brought any of our extras with us that morning, so our photos of Lake Luzern are few. Ninety relaxing minutes later we arrived at Alpnachstad and were able to find a small gift shop that sold batteries (9 chf for 6 AA’s, at least twice what we would have paid for them at home, but we were glad to have them at any price!). After that, we carried a spare set with us each day so as not to miss capturing pictures of what we were seeing, as they evoke much richer memories than I can recall without them.

At Alpnachstad, we caught the world’s steepest cog railway and climbed for 40 minutes, up past the clouds, to Pilatus Klum, from which are visible 73 Alpine peaks, although some were hidden by clouds the morning we visited. There is a hotel and restaurant, and hiking trails for the fit and hearty. After enjoying the view and the crisp mountain air, we caught the 5-minute aerial cableway to Frakmuntegg, where we would have enjoyed the toboggan run were we not eager to make sure that we arrived in Lauterbrunnen early enough in the afternoon to do some exploring. From Frakmuntegg, my husband and I had a panorama gondola to ourselves for the 30-minute ride down through the clouds and the trees to Kriens. I felt so free, gliding down the mountainside suspended in mid-air! In Kriens, we walked several minutes to the bus stop (not as well marked as we would have liked, but there were others going the same way, thank goodness) and caught bus no. 1 for the 15-minute ride back to Luzern. We gathered our bags at the hotel, which held them for us since we had checked out that morning, and caught the Golden Pass train to Interlaken Ost (2 hours) and then on to Lauterbrunnen (20 minutes). After an exciting morning, the time spent relaxing on the train as we rolled past calm green lakes and rugged mountains framed by clear blue skies provided a tranquil transition to the Berner Oberland.

Lauterbrunnen

Link to album
http://picasaweb.google.com/chrisnbill
Control + Click to view the album, or copy and paste URL.
The album includes photos of Lauterbrunnen, the Hotel Staubbach, Murren, and the Hotel Blumental Restaurant.
Watch as a slideshow to see the captions. Click on the album map to see where these photos were taken.

Exiting the train, we found ourselves enveloped by the steep cliffs that hug the slender green ribbon that forms the Lauterbrunen Valley, considered by many to be the most beautiful valley in Europe. A 10-minute walk along the main street of Lauterbrunnen led us to the Hotel Staubbach, where we were greeted in a friendly, helpful manner that set the tone for our 3-day stay here. We were shown how to use the elevator that took us to our 3rd floor room (no. 18) and were immediately pleased with what we saw - an appealing room that had been decorated with care in inviting woods and fresh fabrics, with a sparkling, roomy bathroom and a wide balcony that provided a direct view of the cascading Staubbachfalle. When making our reservation, I had mentioned that we were celebrating our anniversary, and we were surprised to find on the table in the sitting area of the room a card printed with anniversary wishes, accompanied by a red rose and a bottle of wine! What a perfectly welcoming touch! We sat on the balcony taking in the amazing scenery and thinking how blessed we were to experience such a beautiful and peaceful place. Suddenly, though, our feeling of tranquility was broken by a cacophony of bells from the little church nearby that went on for about 15 minutes! Fortunately, this happened only twice a day, and otherwise each quarter hour was marked with a brief and cheerful chiming.

Murren

We unpacked and quickly set out for Murren, perched on the slopes above, by walking back through town to the aerial cable car just behind the train station. We whooshed quickly up to Grutschalp, waving to the hikers and the cows below, and continued the 2 ½ miles to Murren via the Bergbahn cogwheel train, with beautiful views of the Lauterbrunnen Valley below and the snow-capped mountains above.
Murren is small town, with a road that circles through it, past the hotels, restaurants, and homes. We found it quite appealing and VERY quiet on the Sunday afternoon/early evening we were there. One resident’s sense of humor was apparent in the choice of items that decorated the house, including a small table set for tea, with an accordion-playing gnome to serenade the imaginary guests! Having only had our bread and cheese for lunch, we were famished by this time and went in search of dinner, reading each menu we passed and hoping to find something a bit less expensive. We were still in shock at the cost of food in Switzerland – about 2 to 3 times what we would pay for dining out at home in the US. At last we came to the Hotel Blumental, and were drawn to it by the red geraniums tumbling from the window boxes and the pots of colorful flowers that graced the front porch. Outside was a sign reading “Recommended by Frommers and Rick Steves!” An endorsement by both, accompanied by a tempting, not-too-costly menu, sealed the deal, and we entered the (in our imaginations) quintessentially Swiss restaurant, with comfortable wooden chairs, starched white tablecloths with floral toppers, sheer curtains sprinkled with flowers, and wispy bows gracing the candles and lighting. A smiling wooden bear (the symbol of the canton of Bern, in which Murren lies) greeted guests entering from the hotel. In one room there was a display of steins above the hearth, and in another, cow bells of graduating sizes lined the ceiling beam. The service was gracious, and the food was exceptional. I enjoyed red snapper with grilled vegetables and noodles on the side, while my husband dined on venison accompanied by spaetzle.

As we walked back to the train station, we were thrilled by the sight of an almost full moon perched just above a snow-capped peak. We captured sight of it again on the short train ride to Grutschalp, and then once again enjoyed the swift cable car ride to Lauterbrunnen below. Settling on our balcony at the Hotel Staubbach, we shared stories of our day with the American couple next door as we took in the beauty of the illuminated Staubbachfalle and the little church next door.

Expenses for the Day

Travel
Mt Pilatus Golden Round Trip http://www.lakelucerne.ch/en.html
Reduced fare with the Swiss Pass was 33 chf per person. As holders of a 1st class pass, we were able to ride on the upper deck of the boat, either outside (which we chose) or in an enclosed area. Full fare for 1st class without the Swiss Pass would have been about 100 chf; 2nd class, about 90 chf. The bus ride from Krienz to Luzern was free with the Swiss Pass.

Lauterbrunne to Murren. Both the aerial cablecar and the train were free with the Swiss Pass. Without it, the round trip would have been about $25 each.

Hotel

Our lovely double room with a view at the Hotel Staubbach was $495 for three nights (or $165/night), the least expensive of our trip. I wish we had had time just to linger at the hotel and enjoy the sumptuous breakfast in a more leisurely manner, or to join other guests playing chess in the lounge at night. But the beauty of Switzerland was a siren calling us forth early each morning and keeping us out until almost bedtime. Ah, next time….
http://www.staubbach.com/en/index.htm

Food

Lunch – We finished off the bread and cheese from the night before.

Dinner at Hotel Blumental. Redsnapper with grilled vegetables 24.50 chf; venison with spaetzle 29.50 chf; noodles 3.50 chf. Total with tax 57.50 chf. This was one of our least expensive dinners, and was really delicious. The ambience of the restaurant was a delight, and the service was friendly and efficient.
http://www.muerren.ch/blumental/seiten/frame-e.htm

Note: We were surprised to see that there was no difference between prices of entrees at lunch vs. dinner at most restaurants. Often when traveling, we try to have the larger meal at lunch, when it is usually less expensive. In Switzerland, we depended on takeaway sandwiches and pizza as our mainstay for lunch so that we would be willing to spend a bit more for dinner.

Day 3 (Monday) Jungfraujoch. Wengen, Murren, Gimmelwald, Lauterbrunnen

Link to album
http://picasaweb.google.com/chrisnbill
Control + Click to view the album, or copy and paste URL.
Watch as a slideshow to see the captions. Click on the album map to see where these photos were taken.

Our second day in the Berner Oberland dawned bright and clear, and we were off to the Jungfraujoch! From Lauterbrunnen, the train carried us to Wengen and then on to Klein Schedegg, where we transferred to another train that carried us to our final destination. For most of this leg of the trip, we traveled through long tunnels, with 5-minute stops at Eigerwand and Eismeer to peer through windows for a glimpse of the glaciers and peaks that would be revealed more fully at the top. Travel through the dark tunnels was made more interesting by the videos shown on screens in each car describing the construction of the tunnels, the conquest of the peaks by mountain climbers, and other information about our destination. It was also interesting watching the large group of Chinese tourists on the train with us.

We overheard many of the passengers saying that they were heading immediately for the ice palace, so we decided to go directly to the Sphinx, perched atop the mountain. One of the guidebooks suggested not going to the top until some time passed to allow acclimation to the higher elevation so as not to develop altitude sicknesss, but I had been taking aspirin since we’d left home, as I’d done when we went skiing in Colorado, and I never felt either light headed or nauseated.

We navigated the tunnel from the rail station to the elevator that took us up through the mountain to the observation terrace and exited to see mountains covered with glistening white snow against the most incredible blue skies. The Aletsch Glacier, surrounded by Alpine peaks, stretched out before us, and vast banks of fluffy white clouds lay in the distance beyond the furthest visible peaks. We had expected to feel cold atop the mountain, but the sun shone so brightly that, even though the temperature was near freezing, it actually felt warm, and some people were lounging in big inner tubes, sunbathing. We walked down to one of the trails that led to another observation point but found the surface a bit too slippery and decided not to brave it. There was a large recreation area with so many ways to have fun in the snow - snow tubing, snow boarding, zip lines, helicopter rides, parasailing, and other recreation. The dog sleds were not around, or I might have taken a turn at that.

We then took the elevator back down to the Ice Palace, a series of rooms carved inside the ice atop the mountain. There were several rooms, with ice sculptures along the paths, and various places that provided good photo ops. Those braver than I skated from room to room, while I held onto the handrail and walked slowly and carefully. We checked out the various restaurants and settled on the cafeteria, where my husband ate a warm bowl of vegetable soup and I had the worst spaghetti I’ve ever eaten in my life. Rather than the usual tomato-based sauce and meat, the noodles were covered with meat in thin brown gravy that was very salty. The portion was very large, and I couldn’t have finished it even if I had liked it! The cafeteria was crowded, so we invited a couple from England to join us – and ran into them again two days later on the train to Montreux!

After lunch, we trekked out to yet another viewing point that provided a different view of the peaks and a look down into the valleys below. There was a Swiss flag that everyone took turns having their picture made under, and a sign that warned visitors not to fall off the side of the mountain. It was a VERY long way down!

Time passed so quickly and we enjoyed ourselves so much on the Jungfraujoch that the two hours we had planned to stay turned onto four! Was this experience worth the expense? For us, it was worth every penney! It was one of those probably-once-in-a-lifetime chances to laugh and have fun in the snow, and to view the grandeur and majesty of a part of God’s creation that is far outside the realm of our everyday lives. While we were a bit poorer in the pocketbook for having done it, we would be much poorer in memories and spirit had we chosen to miss it.

Wengen
On the way down from the Jungfraujoch, we stopped in Wengen and walked around the town. It seemed larger than either Lauterbrunnen or Murren, but based on our brief visit, seemed to have less charm even though there were many lovely hotels, shops, and restaurants. While the view of the mountains is dramatic, we preferred being nestled in the valley below. Being in Lauterbrunnen reminded me of the early years of our marriage when we lived in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, which I likened to “being held in the bosom of God.”

Gimmelwald

After arriving back in Lauterbrunnen following our Jungfraujoch excursion, we decided to make a late afternoon visit to Gimmelwald, thinking that any place Rick Steves devotes 8 pages of his Switzerland guidebook to shouldn't be missed! We took the cable car and train to Murren, walked to the opposite end of town (it was bigger than I had thought on our first visit), and then another cable car to Gimmelwald. I suppose it represents an “unspoiled” Swiss village, and perhaps there is more to see during the tourist season, but my husband and I failed to understand why Rick Steves is so enamored of this place. I did take a few nice photos that document parts of his tour through the town, but I think we could have skipped our visit here, especially after such a long day. We did enjoy the aerial cable car that took us from Murren to Gimmelwald, and a second one that carried us down to Stechelberg. When our cable car arrived in Stechelberg, the bus to Lauterbrunnen was waiting to take us "home" after a long, busy day. The ride through the valley was lovely, and we were able to see some of the falls cascading down the cliffs along the way.

Back in Lauterbrunnen

After a very busy day, we had dinner at the Hotel Oberland in Lauterbrunnen, sitting outside snuggled into chairs covered in warm, wooly sheepskins. My husband had grilled salmon with golden rosti (grilled shredded potatoes, somewhat similar to what we call hash browns), and I had rosti with a fried egg on top. It was good but very rich. We enjoyed chatting with the young Japanese couple at the table next to ours, whom we later met on a train. Small world, this Switzerland!

Comparing Lauterbrunnen, Murren, and Wengen

People have definite favorites among Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, and Murren, but each was delightful in its own way. Wengen seemed a bit more "developed" than the other towns while Lauterbrunnen and Murren had more of a "small village feel" to me. Of those two, Lauterbrunnen is the more central for taking excursions, and I loved being in the valley. Having to take the aerial cable car and train to Murren would make day trips from there more complicated, given that the cable car closed around 8 or 8:30, I believe. And without a Swiss Pass, there would be the added expense of about 25 chf round trip between Lauterbrunnen and Murren.

What We Missed; What We Could Have Left Out

Our time would have been better spent in Lauterbrunnen than making the trip to Gimmelwald, although we did enjoy the aerial cable cars and the bus, which we would not have taken otherwise. Perhaps we could have managed to see Trummelbach Falls, although I’m not sure that I could have done the required climbing of the many steps I had read about.

Expenses for the Day

Travel

Lauterbrunnen to Jungfraujoch - 1st class 112 chf per person with Swiss Pass; full fare without Swiss Pass 161 chf 1st class; 96 chf 2nd class
http://www.raileurope.com/activities/jungfraujoch/index.html
http://www.eurorailways.com/products/scenic_trains/jungfraujoch.htm
http://www.myswitzerland.com/en/travel/getting_around/traveling-by-train/railways-of-the-jungfrau-region.html

Without a Swiss Pass, prices for the aerial cableway to Grutschalp and train to Murren would be 10.20 chf per person; aerial cableway Murren to Gimmelwald to Stechelberg 10.20 chf; postal bus Stechelberg to Lauterbrunnen 4 chf. All of this was free with the Swiss Pass.

Food

Lunch in the Jungfraujoch cafeteria: 1 spaghetti Bolognese 16.50 chf; 1 gulaschsuppe (vegetable soup) 12 chf; Total with tax 28.50 chf

Dinner at the Hotel Oberland in Lauterbrunnen: 1 grilled salmon rosti, 1 rosti with fried egg, 2 drinks – 60 chf with tax and tip. http://www.hoteloberland.ch/

Next report and photos - Lake Thun, the town of Thun, Lake Brienz, Interlaken!

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  15. 15 Malmaison - how to get there from Paris
  16. 16 Travel from Split to Zadar
  17. 17 Transportation from Airport in Reykjavik to downtown hotel
  18. 18 Trip Report Madrid and London
  19. 19 Three days in Spain
  20. 20 1 week in Croatia
  21. 21 Trip Report I Go to Pieces — An Italy Trip Report
  22. 22 Trip Report Trip to Iceland
  23. 23 Amsterdam Berlin Bus companies BestBusTravel
  24. 24 Has anyone visited Tinos?
  25. 25 Picasso Museum-Paris
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