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Trip Report DangerGirl's epic LONG Swiss Trip Report

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This forum was INVALUABLE in the planning of my trip to Switzerland. I did not post a lot of (any?) questions myself but I exhaustively read any threads I thought might help me. I realize in retrospect that this does not really contribute to the community—if nobody asked any questions there would be no answers for me to read—but it does seem as if plenty of questions get asked already! I hope this trip report will be useful for others who are planning trips and that will be how I pay it forward.

The back story: one of my cousins works for a food conglomerate in the US and was offered the chance to spend three years in Switzerland. He and his family are renting a house just outside Lausanne. Consequently, everyone they know is visiting Switzerland between now and 2013, including me and DangerMom (DM). I am in my mid-forties and my mom is, well, she’s old enough to be my mother. DangerHusband had a special trip of his own last fall, so it’s just me and mom.

I will spare you all the early iterations of my itinerary. Suffice it to say that Zermatt, the Glacier Express and most of the Graubunden got dropped in favor of not changing hotels as often.

Rail Travel: What kind of pass should I get? <thundering chorus> “DO THE MATH!” Oh, how I did the math! Every possible trip, day trip, side trip, reservation fee and class upgrade went into the spreadsheet. After a brief flirtation with several varieties of Flexi- and regional Passes, it came down to either a 15-day Swiss Saver Pass or a Half Fare Card (and P2P tickets). I opted for 2nd Class Swiss Passes and that turned out to be the right decision. Unless I have completely messed up my post-trip analysis, we saved about $125-$150 over the Half Fare Card option for what we did. About $100 of that is due to the fact that the exchange rate moved from $1.05 when I bought the passes to $1.20 when we were there, so the actual cost of the HFC option was about 15% higher in USD as it wouldn’t have been largely prepaid like the pass. We really liked being able to go to a museum and not feel like we needed to see EVERYTHING to get our money’s worth; we got about CHF 90 worth of museum admissions with the pass. We never bothered with seat reservations, upgrades to first class, or baggage services and that turned out just fine.

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    We flew Delta via Amsterdam, arriving in Europe on June 15. We had a tight connection, and missed it because our plane was late out of Seattle. (Side note: I can’t believe they can’t make up 45 minutes on a 9 hour flight!) KLM re-booked us with no drama whatsoever (even our luggage made it), and we spent the extra time having a coffee and buying stroopwafels. Upon arrival in Geneva, we got money from an ATM, had our rail pass validated, and jumped on a direct train to Lausanne. We did have to corner an SBB agent-at-large to do the validation, as the person in the travel office was doing an involved hotel and transportation arrangement for a customer.

    The weather forecast for the next day was great so we scrapped plans to return to Geneva and instead took a boat ride from Pully to the Chateau du Chillon (about 2 hrs), toured the Chateau, rode the bus back to the Montreux Casino, walked along the promenade and caught a train back to Pully. We really enjoyed the Chateau, and the morning boat ride with not a lot of walking later made a nice low-key first day. I had train schedules and all sorts of information in PDF form on my iPad so we were able to check possibilities while on the road. We always looked at the posters in each rail station to double-check and get the track number.

    The next day also looked fine, so we rode the train to Bulle, Broc-Fabrique and Gruyeres and did a day of cheese and chocolate. The chocolate factory tour was fun, but all the chocolate I can eat turned out to be rather less than I expected! I had gathered the information for a possible walk from Broc to Gruyeres, but abandoned that plan when we saw the hill between the factory and the rest of the valley. DM would never admit it, but she’s a little more fragile than the last time we went on vacation together, and her arthritis is worse, so I dialed back my walking plans just a bit. We toured the demonstration dairy, and although they were not in full cheese-making mode at the time we found it interesting. And with free admission with the Swiss Pass, we didn’t feel let down. We walked up the hill to Gruyeres and had lunch before heading to the castle. DM was thrilled to have fondue, which we washed down with a crisp white wine at the Café-Restaurant des Remparts. There was a classic car show of some kind going on, which was a bit funny in the cobbled streets of a medieval town. We liked the castle although the modern art paintings and sculptures installed in various places are quite incongruous. Chillon “wins” in my book mostly due to that.

    The next morning was Saturday and we were hoping the weather would permit us to enjoy the market in Lausanne or Vevey. The forecasts kept predicting sun even as the rain was falling so at mid-morning we went to the Olympic museum. This was interesting, more about the history and the “movement” of the modern Olympics than the athletics, with just a very few examples of artifacts from each sport. We liked it, found the audioguide commentary useful, and loved the sculpture park. We got a short tour of Lausanne from my cousin, visited the cathedral, then met up with his family for some strolling in the old town as the weather had improved slightly. We had fabulous thick hot chocolate (although if pressed I’d say Angelina’s in Paris is better) at a café just below the cathedral called Le Barbare. This is really the only day of the vacation that I’d like a chance to do over. If we had realized the rain was really going to continue all morning, we probably would have gotten an earlier start and gone to Geneva to visit the Red Cross Museum and the UN. The Red Cross Museum is the thing I’m most disappointed not to have seen on this trip. Sunday we went to church in Vevey, then down to Lutry for crepes and ice cream on the waterfront. We walked through the town, which we loved, and later my cousin drove us through some of the vineyards. This was not a very sightseeing-and-activity-intensive portion of our vacation; we were spending time with family and getting over jetlag. The only meals out were the fondue in Gruyeres and the crepes in Lutry. Monday morning June 20 my cousin’s wife (my cousin-in-law?) drove us to the Pully train station so we could head to Montreux to catch the Golden Pass train to Interlaken on our way to Wengen.

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    The train ride was beautiful. It was amazing how quickly we climbed away from the lake after leaving Montreux and I can see why the Panoramic VIP seats would be such a bonanza coming in to the city. We arrived in Wengen just before 4pm. I had rented the apartment Drei Tannen through Chalet Services. DM & I don’t need much space or fanciness, so I chose it based on the rustic-looking interior (I knew my mom would cry if I took her to Switzerland and made her stay in a place with orange IKEA furniture) and the view. The agency was very helpful and professional, and everything about the arrangements and the contract went perfectly smoothly. However, Wengen is HELLA STEEP below the train station, and once we had descended to the chalet, we still had to walk back up the equivalent of at least two stories of uneven stone stairs to get to the door. As the crow flies it was quite close to the train station, but only a crow—not even a mountain goat—could have gone directly. Maybe we should have taken a cab, but would the driver have hauled our suitcases up? That was the worst part. I was literally in tears because I was afraid DM would not be able to manage the stairs and the hill for the next five days. I am sure there is an element of user error involved; all could have been prevented if I had thought about it and managed to properly interpret a topographical map. (Note that I am accepting some responsibility, please don’t feel it’s necessary to post to tell me I am a [email protected]$$.) We did go back up the hill to buy groceries for breakfast, and to join the Monday night guided walk around the village. This was fun, the guide was charming, and it gave us something to do right away instead of squabble over the location of the chalet. DM wanted to try all Swiss mountain cheese dishes so we sought out raclette at the Hotel Bernerhof for dinner. She got a kick out of the raclette oven, the wine was good, and the waiter was charming and spoke French, which was good because I kept forgetting we were now in German Switzerland. The chalet was fine, of course. The view from the deck made it all worthwhile, the main rooms were adorably Swiss and DM loved it. We took it slow going up the hill, and even going back up the day of our departure with our suitcases was not bad. We definitely planned our days, though, and only on one day did we make the climb twice. If I go back, I will probably choose to stay above the train station. Please note that I was happy with the agency and I’m not saying NOBODY should EVER stay in this chalet. Fit walkers or hikers who know they want to self-cater almost exclusively would enjoy it and I felt the price / amenities / space equation to be very good. But oh my God, the HILL just caught us off guard.

    The next day was possibly going to be our only really nice day in the area, so we were prepared to get an early start and head up the Jungfrau. We woke up to clear skies and sun on the tips of the mountains so we caught the first train from Wengen and continued right on up. We saw lots of train cars and extra trains reserved for groups (in fact we accidentally got on a train meant for a group of Germans and had to get back off—oops). We were in the new train cars between Kleine Scheidegg and the Jungfraujoch, which was cool because they had the monitors with information about the mountain and the railway line. At the top we headed right up to the Sphinx observation terrace. The day was FANTASTIC, a few small white clouds but we could see quite a ways in the distance and the mountains were stunning. On the way back in I saw a sign for the “Prosecco Bar Sphinx”. Prosecco? I LOVE Prosecco! So I had a glass of bubbly at 9:30 in the morning at 11,782 feet. And not even the most expensive glass of Prosecco I’ve ever had, unless you count the CHF 115 train ticket to get there. We went outside at the base of the Sphinx and checked out the little sledding slope and watched people heading out to the Monchsjochhutte. We walked through the Ice Palace, and I went out to the viewing terrace on the snowfield but it was too windy and slippery for mom. By 10:30 or so everything was getting more crowded and we were ready to wrap things up. There were just a few people waiting to go down on the trains but all the trains coming uphill were standing room only with individual travelers and tour group after tour group. At Kleine Scheidegg we had rosti (chicken, mushroom and cheese for me and spinach and cheese for mom) and really enjoyed it. We sat in the sun for a bit, people watching and watching the trains climb up and down the mountain. When we went back down to Wengen, we picked up a few more groceries for the chalet then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening enjoying the balcony. Some clouds did roll in and seeing them move around the Lauterbrunnen valley was fascinating.

    Wednesday we took the cable car to Mannlichen and walked to Kleine Scheidegg. The day was not as clear so we made sure to have our rain jackets, but it didn’t rain while we were on the trail and it was actually nice that it was not hot. We rewarded ourselves with the Apple cake with whipped cream, which we were ALMOST too early for! Yum. Back on the train all the way down to Lauterbrunnen, then cable car and another train over to Murren. Grutschalp-Murren was one of the things that before the trip I thought we might walk, but had to adjust to DM’s general mobility. We had just a few sprinkles right as we arrived but we were now ready for more food so we waited out the rain in the restaurant at the Edelweiss hotel. We had a really good Four Seasons pizza and a mixed salad (which surprised us with the corn and beets but was fantastic). We asked for tap water for our first and only time, because it was FIVE FRANCS. I knew that they were likely to charge for water in German Switzerland, and I know they have to pay for the water, and the person to wash the glasses, and blah blah blah, but for a town that has water running into a trough every hundred feet, 5 francs SEEMS A BIT MUCH. We kept our water bottles full after that. (Collapsible ones we brought from home—possibly the most practical thing we packed.) We took the cablecar to Gimmelwald where we walked through the town. The day was getting a little long for DM, so we proceeded pretty directly back to Wengen by cable car, bus and train, with a brief stop in Lauterbrunnen to stroll the main street and photograph the falls.

    The next day we took the train to the Ballenberg Open Air Museum. This was a lot of fun and DM and I both really enjoyed it. We saw loaves of bread rising, sausages being smoked, a cheese making demonstration, wood carving, pottery, a turkey, goats and PIGLETS! We tried to concentrate on areas of Switzerland that we wouldn’t be visiting so we made a point to walk through the Jura, Ticino and Eastern Switzerland. I LOVE that the covered pavilion for picnicking is ALSO ONE OF THE MUSEUM BUILDINGS, built in the early 1900s and brought to the museum like all the others. The old pharmacy was also really interesting, and of course the chocolate shop. We came in the West entrance and left from the East; the house near the West entrance with the costumes, musical instruments and other objects was a good place to start. We watched the chocolate makers for a while and bought ourselves a bar. We had thought about incorporating a boat ride into the trip back but opted for a slightly faster train ride in the rain rather than a boat ride in the rain. We had dinner in the chalet and the weather cleared just before the Wengen Folklore Show was scheduled to start so we made our one and only SECOND trip up the hill to the tent in the middle of town. The folklore show was a lot of fun; we especially enjoyed the lace-making and spinning demonstrations going on in the back of the hall. We also really liked the cowbell chorus. They also had a small village band, a folk-dancing troupe, and an alp horn player (just wish there had been more than one for the harmonies).

    Friday, our last day in Wengen, the weather had improved but there were still quite a few clouds moving in and out of the valley and mountains. DM was suddenly interested in the Schilthorn so we did the train-cable car-train to Murren again and checked out the weather cams. Kind of iffy, plus we had a wait before the next cable car so we took the funicular up to Allmendhubel and did the Flower Trail walk. Not many of the flowers were blooming yet. We had seen some nice ones on the Mannlichen-K.S. walk so I don’t think it was strictly the elevation. We did see a couple of flocks of sheep being called or herded together up on the mountain; hard to explain but it was interesting to see the streams of sheep gathering and hear their baaing and bells. It was chilly and cloudy up there so we didn’t spend a lot of time. Another look at the weather cam and luckily we both agreed that we did not want to go up the Schilthorn if it was going to be cloudy and cold. We took the cable car and bus back to Lauterbrunnen, then took the train over to check out Grindelwald. The train change at Zweilutschinen and the change at Bulle to get to Broc Fabrique were the only times our travel on the Swiss trains didn’t run “like clockwork”. In each of those places we had to wait about half an hour to get a train where we wanted to go. Mind you, I’m not COMPLAINING. Just commenting that, especially at Zweilutschinen, it seemed odd to have to wait for a train to get to Grindelwald when every other transfer seemed to involve just walking across a platform and getting right on another train! They are working on the sidewalks in Grindelwald so it was crowded and trafficy, and we weren’t even there in full tour-bus season. The clouds were pretty settled on that side and the north face of the Eiger was about half-covered. We were really grateful for the beautiful weather we’d had earlier in the week. We took the train back to Wengen and had dinner at Pizzeria da Sina; we split a gorgonzola-walnut salad and Parma ham pizza. And wine, of course.

    The next morning we got up and out of the chalet earlier than I expected and we got our suitcases up the hill without too much difficulty (each of us had a carry-on size rolling bag and a daypack-size backpack). The checkout with Chalet Services was quick so we got on a train bound for Luzern a couple of hours earlier than I had planned. This was good because the Luzern Old Town Festival was Saturday June 25th (I knew this when I made the plans) and the city was pretty busy!

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    We arrived in Luzern around noon and walked to the Hotel des Alpes. I had reserved a river view room and requested a balcony. Happily the room was ready (I saw the “rooms available” sign all weekend so even with the city festival they weren’t full) and we got settled in. We were on the first floor (2nd floor for Americans) and had a really large balcony; room for a table and two chairs and space to walk all around them. I have to say that ALL WAS FORGIVEN (as regards the chalet) when DM saw the balcony overlooking the river. So glad I planned the trip in this direction! We had been texting my cousin, as they were planning to come to Luzern for a couple of days to see the city. They were walking across the Chapel Bridge and we all saw each other and waved. We met up and walked from the old town, visiting the Hofkirche on the way to the Lion Monument. I have vivid memories of visiting the monument while in college twenty-six years ago. It was just as beautiful and moving as I remembered.
    We decided to visit the Glacier Garden as we thought the boys would like it, and me and DM too! This was a fun, quirky exhibition / museum. The historical and geological information was really interesting, the house full of antiques was beautiful (including a wood inlay picture of the oath in the Rutli meadow), and then all of a sudden we were in a hall of mirrors laughing as we tried not to run into the walls! Kind of random but a mix of things that would interest all the members of most families! We walked back to the old town and walked along the old city wall. We did not climb up in ALL the towers that are open to the public but did go up to see the clock tower. The last flight is 14-inch stone steps, so we were glad we had left DM and my cousin’s 4-year-old youngest waiting. At the end of the wall we met up with the river and walked to the needle dam to check out this interesting and low tech water management system. The old town was full of people drinking beer and listening to the music from the bands playing in squares all over. (We could hear several different ones from our balcony.) There were also food stalls all over, most being run by civic groups to raise money for their organization or charity. We found a place selling wursts and fajitas, and had a very cute 10-year-old boy super excited to practice his English taking our order. (As an aside, most of the time I would try to stumble through ordering things in something vaguely approximating German—I can count and point—and then would get whole sentences back apparently asking me if I wanted the salad and pizza to arrive together. I would think “Seriously? Is it not COMPLETELY clear that I don’t really speak German? ” :-) That’s when I wasn’t lapsing into French.) We took our street food back to our hotel and all stood on the balcony to watch the air show. (I got ONE picture that actually has planes in it.) My cousin and his family left but DM and I were happy to spend the evening on the balcony, having a glass of wine, people watching, listening to the music, and watching the fireworks show over the lake. This was great fun, a very impressive show set to music and lasting quite a while. There were several fireworks that we hadn’t seen before and again, the balcony was the perfect place to be.

    The next day we took the train to Fluelen, at the southern end of the Vierwaldstattersee, or Lake of the Four Forest Cantons. I think. We got on a boat and rode it to the landing right near the Willam Tell Chapel, about 30 minutes. We checked out the chapel and re-familiarized ourselves with the story, then walked this section of the Swiss Path to Sisikon. I had read about the Swiss Path in a book and thought it would be a fun way to combine some history with a boat ride and scenic walking. It’s a 35km path starting in the Rutli meadow and winding around the bottom arm of the lake (Urnersee) to Brunnen. It was completed for the 700th anniversary of the confederation and each canton has a section, proportional in length to the size of the population, and in the order they joined. At the time it was said that each ½ cm of the Path represented one Swiss person! I picked a short, flattish section that we could easily reach within the strictures of the boat schedule. There was a bit of a climb towards the end, but it was in fact the second-flattest section and generally a very nice walk along the lake. We passed from the Argau section to Thurgau during the walk. At Sisikon we got on the paddle steamer Uri for the next leg of the trip. It was a beautiful Sunday and many boats, windsurfers and kiteboarders were on the lake. We sat in the sun repeatedly applying sunscreen and enjoying the beautiful lake, mountains and each charming town where the boat stopped. At Vitznau we disembarked and rode the train up to Rigi Kulm. The views as the train was climbing away from the lake were incredible—the speed of the elevation gain is impressive. After a little look around, we took the train to Rigi Kaltbad and the cable car down to Weggis. We got on another paddle steamer, this time I believe the Stadt Luzern, but it was really crowded as many people were returning home from a great day in the outdoors. We had dinner at an outdoor table at the Italian restaurant at the Hotel Zum Weissen Kreuz in the old town; we split a salad and then pizza Margherita for DM and very good pasta carbonara for me. Also perhaps our only non-Swiss wine of the trip.

    Monday we headed to the train station and bought our tickets for the Pilatus Silver Round Trip. At Alpnachstad there was a crowd of people already waiting to get on the train. I was a bit surprised; of course there were earlier trains from Luzern and no doubt other places but we did arrive before the first Golden Round Trip boat. But they just got another couple of cars onto the correct side of the track and everybody made it up. I kept trying to take pictures that would demonstrate how STEEP the track is! The lake and surrounding mountains are beautiful. We did a couple of the shorter walking trails at the summit, including the Dragon Path that has the various stories of the dragons that inhabited the mountain and the lake. When we bought the ticket we must have gotten some special excursion fare. I still haven’t been able to find the price we paid anywhere on the Pilatus or SBB website and I may have paid for a bus ticket that we didn’t need, but we got two 10 CHF vouchers to use in the restaurant so we had a bargain lunch of bratwurst, rosti, sauerkraut and apple pie with vanilla sauce. I have seen people recommend going up the gondola / cable car from Krienz and then down the train to Alpnachstad but I deliberately took us to Alpnachstad first, because I knew there was the summer luge run and ropes course at Frakmuntegg on the way down, and I wanted to be there later in the day when there was a greater chance of people actually DOING those things. There were in fact quite a few teenagers (as far as we could tell) on the ropes course and it was really fun to watch them make their way through the trees by all the various crossings and ziplines. DM insists that if there had been even one person my age (let alone hers) she would have gone up, but I said just because we HAVE medical evacuation insurance doesn’t mean we need to USE it. After the gondola descent and bus ride back to Luzern we got on another bus and rode to the Transport Museum. This was on my short list and I really enjoyed it. I especially liked the working model of river locks, the demonstration in the automobile building that used a giant automated hoist to get cars out of a huge display, and the outside of the automobile building, each side covered in different colored road signs. Especially in the automobile, air and space travel sections, there are a lot of high-tech interactive displays. My cousin’s family had gone there the day before and they said the boys (4, 8 and 10) LOVED it. Back in the old town, we walked around looking at all the beautifully painted buildings on the various squares before a picnic dinner on our balcony.

    As I was planning the trip I kept asking DM to tell me what she wanted to do. I said “You have to tell me what is going to make you feel like you have been to Switzerland. Zermatt is not on the itinerary. If you are going to feel like you didn’t really go to Switzerland if you don’t see the Matterhorn, TELL ME NOW.” She had no comment on the Matterhorn but as we talked about the trip I came to the realization that she wasn’t going to feel like she had been to Switzerland if we didn’t go to Maienfeld and visit Heidiland. I had been glossing over this—I was taking her to the Berner Oberland, after all! But she wants to see Heidiland. So I decided we should go to Maienfeld and didn’t tell her this was my plan until the last day. We took the train via Zurich, with a change in Sargans to a local that stops at Maienfeld. You need to REALLY want to see Heidi’s house to make this a day trip from Luzern, but the trains are really comfortable and the scenery is beautiful. DM was probably not capable of spending any more time on her feet each day than we did, so I don’t feel bad about all the train rides—we saw a lot of stuff and didn’t get sick or hurt or exhausted. Anyway. It was REALLY HOT that day and the walk to Heidi’s house, while scenic, is a pretty good uphill. Looking back I should have asked if the Heidihof would come collect us at the station if we ate lunch there, and then we would just have had to walk back down. But we made it, and I bought some goat food so that DM could feed Peter’s goats. We toured the house, and DM remembers a LOT more of the story than I do! It was fun and I’m glad we did it, and this is the thing that DM is telling all her friends about. On the way back between Sargans and Zurich we happened to get on an Austrian “Rail Jet” fancy train that had started that morning in Vienna. They have several classes, like a plane, including Premium with special reclining seats and free food and drinks. It was kind of fun to see that and we just happened to catch it as part of our trip back to Luzern. For our last night we had a nice dinner at our hotel’s restaurant, at the outdoor tables right beside the river. Despite the heat, DM had fondue one more time, and I had schnitzel with mushroom cream sauce and frites. We asked for tap water (free! probably because we also ordered wine) and saw our first ice cubes in two weeks! We fed the swans and ducks a bit of mom’s fondue bread. The swans really put on a show, fanning out their wings and paddling around.

    June 29, our vacation is over. We caught the direct train from Luzern to the Zurich Airport (it stops in Zurich but we didn’t have to change) with the last day of our Swiss Pass.

    Congratulations and my condolences if you are still reading this! Thanks again to EVERYONE who provides such valuable information on this forum. The trip was so successful because of all the information I was able to gather and have the best ideas about what to do.

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    Loved your report. We're just back home after two weeks in Switzerland and reading your report brought back some great memories. For people visiting Lucerne in the future, I'd like to recommend a visit to Bourbaki Panorama. We didn't mean to visit (really looking for a toilet) but with our Swiss rail passes we had free entry and were glad we visited. We found it fascinating and extremely well done. It's near the Lion Monument.

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    Yes, terrific report! It's a lovely little vicarious visit to some of my favorite places!

    I hope you don't mind if I add a few notes for those who may be planning a similar trip in the future.

    One thing a traveller can do is let the hosts/potential hosts know of any disability or difficulty you have. I think that Chalet Services could have found you another apartment that is rustic and yet easier to access.

    Another thing would be to ask your host for assistance when arriving. Most hotels have an electric cart or van to pick you up at the station; the Chalet Services might have had some arrangement to offer -- and then they probably would have helped you on the stairs as well.

    But how wonderful that you were able to rise about these drawbacks and still enjoy your time in Wengen, such a great place!!


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    Enjoyed your report. It brought back some fond memories of staying in Hotel des Alpes in '09 with a great view of the bridge from the top floor. Had a hard time getting used to manually opening the elevator door! Our transfers at Zweilutschinen were not long at all. Must be the construction. Thanks!

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    Thank you so much for the wonderful report. I have literally taken notes, as we are following the same path at the end of August. Your trip report was fantastic. How lucky you and your mother were to enjoy such a dream vacation together. Thank you DangerGirl.

    I'm going to look into the Ballenberg Open Air Museum and not order tap water if there's a cost associated with it! All the rest of the items up to the 2nd night in Lucerne are on my schedule. (We're 4 nights in Montreux - day trip to Zermatt and 2 nights in Lucerne then flying to Copenhagen for a Baltic cruise.) I too received valuable information on this site, especially the Montreux tip, as I had never heard of it prior to asking questions on this site. Where there's a Fairmont, I'm there (or the hotel next to it)! The only difference is that we're driving - husband insits on it. I spent a lot of time researching the trains, but lost the argument.

    One last thing...I truly miss icecubes while traveling in Europe. I'm sure it's been discussed many times on this site, but really, doesn't anyone outside of the USA know how wonderful these things are?

    Thanks again.

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    Dear Dangergirl: Your report is turning out to be quite helpful..and I must say I am little concerned with my apartment choice for next month based on your review of Wengen. From Aug 15-Aug 20 we rented an apartment in Wengen. We have a 18-month toddler and so I am thinking its not fun to climb a steep-steep hill everyday if our chalet is located like yours. Would you suggest that i reconsider my decision and try somewhere else (if we get lucky, most places if not all are gone!)? From Aug 20- Aug 23 (our last day!) we are thinking of living in Lucerne but haven't booked hotels yet.

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    I would contact the agency or the owner, give your specific concerns, and ask exactly where the apartment is if you don't already know. If it is fairly close to the train station but not immediately below it, you should be fine as that was the steepest part of the town as far as I can tell. Also ask about stairs if that is an issue. In the chalet we were in, if I had a toddler I would almost be more concerned about the stone stairs to the main door than the walk up and down--you can't push a stroller up or down stairs.

    There's no getting around hills in Wengen. The stunning views are because of where it is located.

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    We too had challenges with Chalet Drei Tannen. While it is a fabulous retreat, cozy and warm, furnished in Swiss Alpine decor, the chalet is in a difficult position—just 400 meters from the bahnhof. But the little road has some steep climbs. The challenge of 56 (we counted) awkward steps up to the chalet was something else.. Not recommended for oldsters. At 82, I had much difficulty making the climb, especially with luggage. Because of the somewhat remote location, our group decided to make only one trip away per day.
    We used the local taxi a few times. Frau Wegmüller would take us the 400 meters for CHF 18 (about $20 American). We always used her service when moving luggage from and to the station.
    We are just home in Sacramento area after a glorious time in Switzerland and Bavaria.
    I loved your report, even read it before going abroad. But I thought the steps at Drei Tannen would be OK. Wrong was I.

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