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Advise for first trip to Switzerland

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Jun 20th, 2012, 10:51 AM
  #1
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Advise for first trip to Switzerland

Hi, this is my first time using Fodors..I've read great advise here so I hope you guys can help me out!

My husband and I are going to Europe for the first time in September. One of our destinations is Switzerland. We are both in our late 20s and our main interest is nature and scenic places.

Since this will be our first time to Switzerland, I have a few doubts that I will highly appreciate if someone could answer for me.

We will arrive at Geneva on a TGV from Paris on Sept. 17th at 3pm. We are trying to decide whether to stay in Geneva or head to Montreux for the rest of the day, which do you recommend? It's only for one afternoon, but we'd still like to make it special.

On the 18th, we are planning to take the Golden Pass Panoramic train to Interlaken. We have already bought the 2x1 promotion for a Swiss Pass. I have also already booked VIP seats on the train from Montreux to Zweisimmen. Here comes my first doubt: I believe the Swiss Pass covers the Golden Pass Panoramic train, and since I booked the VIP seats, do I need to buy or reserve anything else for this train ride? What about from Zweisimmen to Interlaken, do I also need to book a reservation? And lastly, should we stay a couple of hours in Zweisimmen or head straight to Interlaken (I believe it is only a 6 minute time lapse for changing trains, is this enough??)

Once we arrive in Interlaken, we wish to go up into the mountains for 3 nights. Which town should we stay at? Murren, Wengen or Gimmelwald? Can you advice on this as well as acommodation?? And does our Swiss Pass cover the trip to either of this towns?

After 3 nights in the area, we are heading to Venice and would like to take the Bernina Express. I believe taking a regional train will get us from Interlaken to Chur. And from there, we can get on the Bernina express (which I think we need reservations, right?). Once arriving at Tirano, how can we get to Venice? One last question, do the trains have food service? Can we have breakfast or lunch or snacks on board? And I also read about having to pay extra for luggage, is this correct?

Does this entire plan sound good to you guys?

I know there are a ton of questions, but I am a little lost in this area right now. I would love if someone could clear things up for me.

Thank you so much!
gracegv is offline  
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Jun 20th, 2012, 11:00 AM
  #2
 
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I would bypass Geneva and go directly to Montreux; you can catch a train right in the airport terminal.

In terms of taking the Bernina Express from Chur to Tirano and then traveling onward to Venice: you will need to catch a train from the Trenitalia rail station which is a short distance from the Rhaetian Rail station where you will arrive (you can see one from the other).

The "problem," if any, is this: you need to take a train from Tirano all the way to Milan and change there for your train to Venice. Those regionals out of Tirano only run about once every two hours so you may have to prepare yourself for a LONG day.

You will need SEAT reservations if you are going to travel in one of the First Class panorama cars on the Bernina; your pass will cover the basic fare but seat reservations are extra.

There is NO cost for luggage on that train.

You can get further info and schedules here:

www.rhb.ch
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Jun 20th, 2012, 12:35 PM
  #3
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Thank you Dukey1 for your very fast response!! I have to think about that very long day doing the Bernina Express and then onto Venice. Perhaps we should stay a night in Tirano or Milan.

I will defenitely go straight to Montreux.

About the Jungfrau region, I am leaning towards a stay in Murren at either Hotel Eiger or Eiger Guesthouse, I am still waiting to hear their best price in a room with a view. Is this the right way to go about visiting this area?
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Jun 20th, 2012, 01:22 PM
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I, too, would go directly to Montreux. It will only take about an hour by train. Montreux is a special town on the shore of Lake Le Man with the French Alps in the background.
The promenade along the lake is a wonderful walk. A visit to Chillon Castle is very interesting. I believe it is free entrance with your Swiss Pass and the local bus #201 (takes about 10 minutes) is also free with your Swiss Pass.

Staying in either Murren or Wengen is fine. Murren looks over the Lauterbrunnen Valley onto the Monk, Eiger and Jungfra Mts. Wengen sits mat the base of the three mountains and faces numerous waterfalls cascading into the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Be sure to take a trip up to Jungfraujoch. On a clear day, the views are out of this world. The whole area is made for cable cars, hikes and beautiful scenery.

As for riding the Swiss trains...they are like clockwork. Six minutes in Zweisimmen is OK. Most of the time the trains are right next to each other. Just have your luggage (which you do not pay extra for) closer to the exit. Some trains have food service, but we always bring our own on board. It is no problem to bring food on board. Consider it a rolling, scenic picnic. Oh, if you have a Swiss Pass, it overs trains to Wengen or Murren (along with all Post Buses and local buses in Montreux). It also gets you discounts on all the cable cars.

You will love Venice. In the evenings, it is soooo romantic. Expensive (so is Switzerland), but romantic.

Have a great time.
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Jun 20th, 2012, 01:30 PM
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FORGET about staying in Tirano IMO. There aren't a lot of places you'd probably want to stay in. I would go on to Milan and find a place there for the night. Admittedly more expensive.
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Jun 20th, 2012, 01:59 PM
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Wengen, Murren....tomato, tomaato. Either way you'll think you're in heaven. I've been fortunate to stay in both. Wengen is a bit more lively (although dead compared to any typical city) but Murren is more dramatic. There are several hotels that actually sit right on the edge of the cliff. We stayed at Alpina Hotel and loved it.
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Jun 20th, 2012, 03:00 PM
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Wow, thank you so so so much for your advice!!!! It really helped me get things sorted out, as I was beginning to get a bit frustrated with all my doubts.

We are now for sure going to Montreux for our arrival night, then taking the Golden Pass Panoramic train to Interlaken and on to Murren.

We are for sure gonna try to have breakfast at the Piz Gloria and try to go up the Jungfraujoch.

Wekiva, as for the hotel, the Alpina Hotel looks absolutely stunning!! The views from the pictures I've seen are spectacular. I will defenitely try to get a room there!

As for the trip to Venice, I'm thinking a night at Milan (not Tirano!) will make the trip a bit easier, and then we could just catch the earliest train to Venice, since we will only have 2 full days there.

BarbAnn, do you have any suggestions for accomodation in Venice?

I cant thank you guys enough for giving me your advice!!
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Jun 20th, 2012, 03:42 PM
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Update on my thoughts..

I realize if we're spending the night in Murren, then sadly, the Bernina Express is not a good choice. We'd have to get from Murren - Interlaken - Chur, which seems to be around a 3.5 hr trip before doing the BE. Perhaps we should save this for a future trip to Switzerland, and continue on the Golden pass from Interlaken - Lucerne, then go onto Zurich and take a flight for Venice. Thoughts?
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Jun 20th, 2012, 03:57 PM
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Last time we were in Venice (1.5 years ago) we stayed at the Al Ponte Mocenigo. It was fabulous. Small, 2 star hotel that has charm, a great breakfast (chocolate filled croissants were to die for)and owners who went out of their way to help you with anything. Location was right on the vaporetto line from the train station and convenient to walk to all the sights, but out of the touristy areas.

http://www.alpontemocenigo.com/description.htm
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Jun 20th, 2012, 10:08 PM
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Hi gracegv,

I would consider staying the night in a town on the BE route -- either St. Moritz, Pontresina, or Poschiavo. Poschiavo is a small village with Italian flavor, and both St. Moritz and Pontresina are in the mountains. Staying there would give you a good contrast with the Oberland region and would break up that loong day nicely. More information:

www.engadin.ch
www.valposchiavo.ch

However, staying in Luzern is also a good idea -- neat town!

Good choice to go right on to Montreux -- spend your time walking on the flowered lakeside promenade and visiting the Chillon castle. If you have time, enjoy the tangled streets of Vevey's old town, too, and take a cruise on the lake.

For the trip on the Golden Pass, you say you've "booked" the VIP seats to Zweisimmen. Does that mean you've paid for the reservations? If so, then you don't need to buy or reserve anything else.

Have fun as you plan!

s
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Jun 27th, 2012, 09:31 AM
  #11
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Sorry it took me so long to get back here. I was having some troubles with my computer.

Thank you all for your wonderful advice!! I have booked a night in Montreux, followed by a Golden Pass train ride with VIP seats to Interlaken. From there we will go to Murren, to the Eiger Guesthouse and spend 3 nights there exploring the area before heading to Venice for another 3 nights (using regular trains which will get us there in aprox. 6 hours via Milano).

Thanks again, you were so helpful!!!
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