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First time to Swizterland - please critique my itinerary!

First time to Swizterland - please critique my itinerary!

Old Jul 19th, 2003, 02:48 PM
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First time to Swizterland - please critique my itinerary!

Hi all,

I'm planning my first trip to Switzerland for next May and would appreciate any comments on my itinerary and hotel selections. I've used many of your comments (thanks!) posted here to draft this plan - what do you think? We'll have a car, so is it reasonable to expect to drive the distances between each in one day (or less)?

Zurich - 2 nights (hotel not yet set)
St. Moritz - 2 nights Hotel Laudinella
Lugano - 2 nights Hotel Lugano Dante
Zermatt - 2 nights Hotel Biner
Montreux - 2 nights Hotel Masson
Grindelwald - 3 nights Hotel Fiescherblick
Lucerne - 2 nights Hotel Baslertor
Zurich - 1 night (fly out next day)

Anything I should change?
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Old Jul 19th, 2003, 03:49 PM
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Since you did ask, I feel that is way too much travel. I would pick 4 destinations and spend more time at each. I would fly into Zurich but not stay. The train leaves from the air terminal, and I would start in Luzern.
Here is my choice:
Luzern--3
Lugano--3[with day trip to Lake Como]
Zermatt--2
Grindelwald--5
Zurich--1
The hotels in Lugano and Grindelwald look great--I would do Des Balances in Luzern. I must admit I do not know Montreux so cannot judge it. I do know that changing hotels 8 times in 2 weeks is not my idea of a vacation.
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Old Jul 19th, 2003, 11:00 PM
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I agree that that's way too much hopping around (for my taste). My best girlfriend lives in Montreux so the area along Lac Leman is the only part of the country I know (and LOVE). Lausanne, Vevey, and Montreux are all great towns to visit. I spend at least 2 weeks just there each trip, then usually venture on to one other destination for another 5 days (Venice or Paris). In Montreux be sure to see Chateau de Chillon, a cool and very old castle. And if you're in Vevey on a Saturday morning the open air market in the town square is a wonderful truly local colorful (and delicious) experience.
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Old Jul 20th, 2003, 02:18 AM
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CleoB,

I wouldn't take such a trip before early June (mid to late June is probably best), because the mountain towns would essentially be shuttered tight in May and the vegetation will not be in springtime mode yet.

Since you're driving, I think your itinerary is good if you just want to get a "taste" of each place. I would NOT attempt this by train however.

All drives are doable, with the most arduous being Zutich to St. Moritz, St. Moritz to Lugano and Lugano to Zermatt (mountain roads).

You will get to put your car on a ferry (Varenna to Menaggio) and on a train (Goppenstein to Kandersteg) - fun stuff.

I would stay only 1 night in Lucerne and add 1 to Zermatt or St. Moritz, but others will disagree.

If your trip dates aren't flexible, I would swap Grindelwald for Interlaken , skip St. Moritz and spend more time in the swiss/italian Lake District.

Hope this helps,
Andre
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Old Jul 20th, 2003, 02:20 AM
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Oops, correction: you would not be using the "car-train" between Goppenstein & Kandersteg as you have planned a stop in Montreux between Zermatt and Grindelwald.

Andre
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Old Jul 20th, 2003, 06:07 AM
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Hi, CleoB, If you're a tour-by-car devotee and don't mind settling (well hardly) in every third night, then your itinerary sounds dandy. My only experience of that sort of trip was through Germany, France, Belgium, and southern UK about ten years ago -- sort of a whirlwind drive designed to satisfy the must-see's of four very different people. We stayed only two nights in each place, and as much as I would never do that now, at the time it didn't bother me. I guess I must have thought "well here's a trip to see bits of a variety of places, with longer returns someday".

Anyway, the places you've listed are all different scenically, linguistically (well a few), and architecturally (oh and different foods, too). Have fun!!! J.
 
Old Jul 20th, 2003, 07:57 AM
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Personally, unless you really like driving I wouldn't do any of this by road since it is all easily doable by train. Just a thought.
 
Old Jul 20th, 2003, 08:36 AM
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Thanks for the feedback - we do like to drive and see different parts of a country. Your comments on this aspect are well-taken. I will re-think some of the hopping, though, as you all suggest.

Thanks again!
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Old Jul 20th, 2003, 11:26 AM
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Hi Cleo...I hope you have a great time on your first trip to Switzerland. I definitely have a few comments but I am sure I will get blasted for them. Oh well, here goes. I would leave out Lucerne and Lugano and substitute them with more time in the Grindelwald/Wengen area. Lucerne is just a big city by a low-altitude lake and though it has charming shopping and of course the Pilatus tour, it is not an Alpine Swiss experience. Our first trip to Switzerland was to Wengen and it is such an astonishing experience that we will never forget it. Lucerne has traffic, graffiti, lots of McDonalds and huge crowds of people. We were intensely disappointed. Wengen is a traffic-free village hanging on the edge of a glacier-carved valley and it has got to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. Also, a previous poster was correct...skip Lugano and stay in Varenna instead. You can take a ferry easily to Menaggio and then a bus to the very unremarkable Lake Lugano for the day if you wanted to. Sorry to make you question your plans but I just got home from some of these places and I think you can do better, especially since it's your first time.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2003, 07:52 AM
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Hi there: Just a comment on Zermatt hotel. We stayed at the Romantik Hotel Julen for 2 nights in June and I was very happy with it. We got it for a great price. They have an INCREDIBLE spa and pool that guests may use, the spa has a "wondershower" sauna, two gorgeous aromatherapy rooms which are domed and completed in mosaic tile and marble. Lovely suites. Since you are doing so much travelling (we did also) and hour or two in the spa and pool were incredible. Have fun. Here is the website.

http://www.zermatt.com/julen/romantikjulen.html.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2003, 08:47 AM
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CleoB,

Did some more thinking about your itinerary and have the following suggestions:

1) flip it around: start in Lucerne - you can easily drive the Zurich-Lucerne leg after landing, thus saving a night in Zurich, which you will see at the end of the trip. 2 nights in Lucerne then make sense.

2) Even though I'm a major Lake Geneva fan, you might consider skipping Montreux. That would give you 2 extra nights, which I would use in Zermatt & St. Moritz (1 each). To get from Grindelwald to Zermatt, you load your car on a train through the Lötschberg tunnel (from Kandersteg to Goppenstein). Info at:
http://www.bls.ch/autoverlad/goppenstein_e.html

Again, I would only take such a trip in (late) June, not any earlier!

Intrepid doesn't realize what the use of public transportation would imply for your itinerary... the Lugano-Zermatt leg alone would involve taking 4 separate trains with long layovers!

IMO, an itinerary with 16 nights in 7 hotels is perfectly doable - you just have to enjoy (mountain) driving! If you do, the drives will be among highlights of your trip. This would be a fun but not an especially relaxing journey - it would give me the impetus to return to the place I liked best for an extended stay at a later date.

Hope this helps,
Andre
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Old Jul 22nd, 2003, 11:23 AM
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I think your itinerary sounds good if you don't mind a lot of packing/unpacking, check in/out etc.

Like Andre I consider May to be too early in the year for mountains. So I am a bit unsure if you should skip Montreux and add these days to Zermatt and St. Moritz. Don't you think you could play it by ear, say not booking hotels in advance and see how the weather turns out?

I have been on a day trip to St. Moritz once mid May and it was awful: I stuck in clouds, rests of snow everywhere, drizzling and absolutely no views. That would be wasted time. Same problem in Zermatt.

Also, I am not sure about Hotel Laudinella. Have stayed there a couple of times (due to good rates), but think it is somewhat unpersonal atmosphere, not charming and too big for my taste (300 beds). What about 3star Hotel Waldhaus am See in St. Moritz? Open all year and good rates in May, too.

Ingo
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Old Jul 22nd, 2003, 12:55 PM
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Sorry that not everyone agrees with my rail recommendation...it does take some planning and I am VERY aware of the changes, etc..however be aware that when you drive to Zermatt you'll be parking away from the village itself which isn't a problem and taking the train into the village itself. Whatever you decide I hope you have a wonderful trip.
 
Old Jul 23rd, 2003, 05:53 AM
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Hi CleoB, I've been revisiting your thread with interest. A couple of thoughts: First Ingo and Andre know Switzerland and if they think May is early for the mountain tops, I think I'd believe them (of course, it might make a difference if you're thinking late vs. early in the month). That doesn't mean I'd leave them out; just don't extend.

Second, if you're concerned about teacherlady's dislike of Lucerne and Lugano, you might want to consider staying in a small lake town nearby -- like Gandria on Lugano or Weggis near Lucerne. I really think that if this is your first taste of Switzerland and you want to sample its different "faces", then you must include those two cities and their lakes, as well as Lac Leman and its Lavaux vineyards.

Third, I'll have to agree w/Intrepid that Swiss train travel is a wonderful experience. However I have driver friends who won't even think of it. Different strokes for different etc.

I'll close by saying again that your itinerary is varied and very interesting, if tiring. It might just be perfect for you, so picture yourself actually doing it, and if it feels right, don't let anyone scare you off. J.
 
Old Jul 23rd, 2003, 08:44 AM
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Just to clarify:
I'm not against train travel by any means - it's just not convenient for a "touring"-type itinerary such as this(unless you're backpacking).

The main advantages to driving are that you can stop wherever you want along the way and avoid the struggle with suitcases when changing trains. Also, you are not constrained by fixed schedules.

However for travelers to Switzerland who use a central base (or two) and take day trips from there, the train is definitely the way to go.

Andre
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Old Jul 23rd, 2003, 09:01 AM
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My wife and i will be spending a couple of nights at Hotel Masson in September. I'll give feedback when I get back in early October. It looks great.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2003, 09:11 AM
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I agree with Andre, only for THIS tour train travel is not perfect I think.

maitaitom: Have stayed at Hotel Masson for a week in Sept/Oct 2001. Loved the charming hotel and the breakfast buffet and the service, but recommend against the half-board option. Four courses but no choices. Quality was fair. I am anxious to read your hopefully posted trip report!
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