Alps Questions

Old May 16th, 2007, 08:05 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 174
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Alps Questions

Background: My wife and I (late twenties) have 3 nights to spend in Switzerland en route from Italy to Salzburg. We aren't yet sure whether we will be coming from Milan or Venice. Nothing is in stone, but we will probably be traveling by car. As far as time of the year, we are probably looking at mid May 2008.

In Sept 2003, I spent three nights in Switzerland and loved it. My college roommate and I drove from Salzburg to Andermatt (1 night) and from Andermatt to Zermatt (2 nights). I know that most people recommend the train in Switzerland, but I truly enjoyed the drive. In Zermatt we spent 1 day on the lifts and wandering around the village and the next day we hiked from Zermatt up to the gonergrat (sp) and took the train down. From Zermatt we drove over the the St Bernard pass and through the tunnell to Chamonoix. My wife has never been to Switzerland.

Questions:

Having never been there, I want to show my wife the very best of Switzerland. I loved the mountains around Zermatt, but am always reading the recommendations of the Bernese Oberland. Is there that much difference? Do you recommend one over the other? I know that Rick Steves recommends staying in Gimmelwald...

How does the time of year impact our trip? Will the mountain roads be drivable in May? Will there be too much snow to do any hiking?

Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
tyler is offline  
Old May 17th, 2007, 02:36 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 2,707
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Do come from Venice (not Milan) and be sure to include time in the Dolomites!

Then visit The Engadin on your way further into Switzerland.

For the (high) Alps, September would be the safer bet but in May, the Alpine flowers are beautiful...
TuckH is offline  
Old May 17th, 2007, 02:43 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 2,707
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I now realize you're headed to Salzburg and that you only have 3 nights.

All the more reason to come from Venice. Switzerland is too far out of the way - concentrate on the Austrian Alps. Or the Berchtesgaden area of Germany close to Salzburg.
TuckH is offline  
Old May 17th, 2007, 06:10 AM
  #4  
DAX
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 2,833
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
While I like Tuck's suggestion of driving through Sued-Tyrol from Venice to Salzburg, it seems that is not what tyler wants. If you absolutely want to visit Zermatt & Andermatt, then Milan makes sense. You can always put your car on the train to Zermatt if the road is a problem. I've only been to Andermatt to ski so I had no idea that it's also nice in May.
DAX is offline  
Old May 17th, 2007, 04:06 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 5,179
Likes: 0
Received 8 Likes on 1 Post
Hi Tyler,
Just my opinion, I definitely prefer the Berner Oberland (stayed in Wengen) over Zermatt. I really liked Zermatt and seeing the Matterhorn, Gornergrat trip, etc., but the Berner Oberland was just...amazing. You can leave your car in Lauterbrunnen, but stay in the mountains!

Then again, and I realize it's not what you're looking for, but I have to second TuckH's suggestion...the Dolomites are something else. Me, if coming from Venice, I'd stay 2 nights in the Dolomites and drive the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse (it opened end of April this year) toward Salzburg.

Paul
pja1 is offline  
Old May 17th, 2007, 06:03 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 174
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
How do the Dolomites compare to the Berner Oberland? How about the Austrian Alps. We live in Seattle and spend a good deal of time in the mountains, but I was quite impressed with the Swiss Alps. Are the Dolomites and the Austrian Alps as impressive?

As for May, will any of the areas be hikable?
tyler is offline  
Old May 17th, 2007, 06:29 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 5,179
Likes: 0
Received 8 Likes on 1 Post
Hi Tyler,
Hard to compare the Dolomites to the Swiss Alps (B.O.). Not similar at all. The Dolomites are quite unique, in my opinion. Since we first went to the Dolomites in Oct. 2003, we've been back 2 more times. To me, they are just amazing. The Austrian Alps, in my opinion, are similar to the Swiss. Very hard to compare. I will say that my favorite area now is the Dolomites. These sites may help...

www.val-gardena.com
www.alpedisiusi-seiseralm.com/index.html
www.altabadia.org

http://www.dolomiti.org/dengl/Cortin...ate/index.html

www.grossglockner.com

Our recent photos can be seen at:
www.worldisround.com/home/pja1/index.html

Sorry, I can't really help with the hiking suggestions.

Paul
pja1 is offline  
Old May 17th, 2007, 08:43 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 6,514
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
tyler,

The Dolomites are nothing like the Swiss Alps. I, like you, live in Seattle, and I spend a lot of time hiking in the Noth Cascades. I have been to the Bernese Oberland and the Dolomites for hiking, several times each. You can't compare them---each is unique. The Bernese Oberland Alps are all massive amounts of rock and ice, with green meadows below. The Dolomites have no ice (in summer), but the rocks are incredible---highly eroded pink and white limestone springing vertically from lovely green rolling hills. I have hiked extensively in the Sierras, the North Cascades, and the Wasatch, and I can think of nothing that compares to the Dolomites.

In mid-May, this area is much more likely to offer good hiking opportunities than the higher, and more northerly, Swiss Alps. Go on-line and check some webcams right now----you will see the difference.

Google photos of the Dolomites and perhaps you will be convinced. I can make hiking suggestions if you like. If you are heading north from Venice to Salzburg by car, this is much more right in your path than Mürren, Zermatt, or anywhere else in Switzerland. And I do love Switzerland--- we are heading there in a few weeks---but Paul has given you a wonderful suggestion.
enzian is offline  
Old May 18th, 2007, 06:32 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 174
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for all of the great info everyone, as well as the links and photos Paul. I must say, I am certainly intrigued. Part of it is just getting over the notion of Switzerland - it just seems to hold a little magic. Nonetheless, can you guys gve me some more information about the Dolomites. Specifically, what towns would you recommend staying in? Are the towns actually in the mountains or are they near the mountains?
tyler is offline  
Old May 18th, 2007, 07:27 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 2,707
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
tyler, have you seen this recent thread?

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34537043
TuckH is offline  
Old May 18th, 2007, 08:36 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 6,514
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If Switzerland is the magic place for you, then that is where you should go.

If starting from Venice, you will have to head west---either to Milan and then up through Bellinzona to Andermatt, or north (through the Dolomites) to Innsbruck and then west to Switzerland. I don't know the roads (we always take trains there), but I think the Milan route would get you into the heart of th Alps more quickly. From Andermatt, your route depends on whether the Grimselpass is open in May. If it is, there is a nice route via Innertkirchen to Interlaken and then into the Berner Oberland Alps. We like the Lauterbrunnen Valley and the high car-free villages above---Wengen, Mürren, and yes, Gimmelwald. You would have to leave your car in a carpark below to stay in any of these.

I've never been there in May, so I can't say about the hiking. But people who have been give it a good report. Soome of the lifts, however, don't run until late mMay---they take a break after skiing and before hiking season.

I checked webcams this morning and it looks like Wengen is snow-free and green (although it's a bit early for wildflowers). Zermatt was snow-free in the village, but all the areas above---Schwartzsee, Gornergrat, Rifflealp, etc.---are still covered in snow. And this was a "low snow" year.

To answer your original question---there is no "best" of Switzerland---it's all lovely. Some areas are more peaceful, less touristy; some offer rolling green hills and lakes instead of dramatic peaks and glaciers. Rick Steves has fallen in love with Gimmelwald; I have fallen in love with 3 or 4 different places, and expect to find more on our next trip.
enzian is offline  
Old May 18th, 2007, 06:01 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 5,179
Likes: 0
Received 8 Likes on 1 Post
Hi tyler,
I have to repeat enzian, if Switzerland is that special, go.
As for your request of further Dolomite info...
I can only suggest the two areas we stayed in, Val Gardena and Alta Badia. Are they "in" the mountains, say as Wengen, Murren, etc....no. They are surrounded by mountains though. We loved staying in La Villa, Alta Badia, although Val Gardena has more restaurants, hotels, etc., but the scenery in Alta Badia is much better, again that's just my opinion. Actually, the only thing seperating the two valleys is the Gardena Pass. It takes about 45 min. to drive over the pass from valley to valley. I'll list a website of the place we stayed in La Villa.
www.montanara.it
Oh, and we really loved staying at the Ederhof in Heiligenblut (at the beginning of the Grossglockner road).
www.ederhof-heiligenblut.at

I'm not trying to influence you into changing your plans of seeing Switzerland. If it's "magic", you should go. I'm glad I got to see Wengen and the B.O., it's amazing, but your getting advice from someone who really likes the Dolomites. Maybe I really just like driving all the mountain passes there?

Paul
pja1 is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
tbrenk
Europe
8
Nov 22nd, 2015 06:27 AM
garyincary
Europe
7
Nov 7th, 2013 12:46 PM
Glady15
Europe
16
Jul 17th, 2008 03:55 PM
Jameg
Europe
8
Jan 4th, 2008 12:52 PM
jkidoniefs
Europe
12
Jul 24th, 2005 02:23 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information