Good Stopovers on Train Milan->Basel?

Old Apr 4th, 2001, 03:55 PM
  #1  
Steve Curry
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Good Stopovers on Train Milan->Basel?


We're travelling on the train from Venice through Milan to Basel, Switzerland on the way to the Alsace-Lorraine region of France.

Our question: Are there any particularly fun cities, towns or villages along the train route where we should stop & spend the night?
We're looking for a good 'Swiss experience' -- as I remember, Basel is nice.

This stopover would cost us a Eurail day -- so it needs to be worth it.

Thanks to all who contribute to the Fodors site!
 
Old Apr 8th, 2001, 03:42 PM
  #2  
Steve Curry
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Anyone?
 
Old Apr 8th, 2001, 04:18 PM
  #3  
Bob Brown
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Train comes into Swizerland by way of the Simplon Tunnel to Brig.
Then it goes through the tunnel at Goppenstein to Kandersteg and on to Spiez, Thun, and Bern before reaching Basel. The best travel time is 5 hours.
Given the caveats, er ah warnings, that you postulated, I am reluctant to make any recommendations, although I could make quite a list. But my idea of a fun city is probably not your idea of one.

Besides you did not say when you were going!! That can make a difference.
 
Old Apr 8th, 2001, 05:07 PM
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Steve Curry
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We'll be there Mid-may.

I guess we're looking for anyplace that's interesting and pretty -- with nice people, good food and affordable accomodation.

Any suggestions are welcome.
 
Old Apr 9th, 2001, 09:48 AM
  #5  
Bob Brown
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I'll pass.
Not knowing what you like to eat and not knowing what you call affordable, and not knowing what you like to see, I really cannot comment. I like to explore the mountains, and have invested 4 weeks of my life doing that enjoyable activity. Swiss hotels in the more scenic areas are not cheap, and the restaurants are fair to good, by my standards.
So if you want an answer to your question, I think you will need to define a few parameters.
If someone wanted to know where to go to see the mountains, I would say Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, or Zermatt.
(Assuming it is for 1 night only.)If more than 1 night, I would through Mürren and Wengen into the mix.
 
Old Apr 9th, 2001, 10:44 AM
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dan woodlief
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I don't know whether to recommend cities or natural areas without knowing which you prefer. I have spent a little time in Basel and a day or so in Bern. I am guessing you would like Bern. What I like about that spot, for your needs, is that the train station is quite convenient, and you can explore the historic section fairly thoroughly in a day. I thought Basel was pretty nice, but Bern is a beautiful city. An unresolved question is what you mean by "Swiss" experience. To me, the true Swiss experience, as most people define it, is small mountain villages. Of course, that may be the same as someone from Switzerland saying the true Swiss experience is a dude ranch out in Texas.
 
Old Apr 9th, 2001, 10:47 AM
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dan woodlief
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In my last post, I meant to say the American experience defined by a dude ranch in Texas. I don't know of too many Swiss dude ranches.
 
Old Apr 9th, 2001, 12:21 PM
  #8  
Steve Curry
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Thank you for your suggestions.

It's hard to define my parameters -- not knowing what to expect in a place I've never visited!

I always appreciate the advice from Fodor's forums & look forward to visitng the Swiss dude ranches.

Steve
 
Old Apr 9th, 2001, 04:59 PM
  #9  
Bob Brown
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I go to Switzerland for the mountains.
I have found that for me the best time is the first week in September because the weather is still nice.
I also go to Switzerland because I find the small villages enjoyable.
From our apartment in Lauterbrunnen I can hear cow bells ringing in the distance all day. But if mountains do not appeal to you, then a lot of the main reason to be there goes out the window. The city of Luzern is my favorite, but it is not on your route.
Given the frequency of Swiss trains to Bern and Basel, you could stop off at Kandersteg and take the lift up to the
Öschinensee. If you don't like that view, then continue on your way to Basel. If you do like it, then you might consider continuing on to Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald for a better look.
 
Old Apr 9th, 2001, 05:28 PM
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Tony
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So far you are on the wrong track - literally. Most trains from Milan to Basle don't go anywhere near Brig or Bern etc. They proceed northwards through Como, Lugano, Brunnen, Lucerne and Olten to Basle.
Between Lugano and Brunnen the trains cross the famous Gothard Pass, which in itself is worth the trip.
Your main options for a stopover are Como (for the lake), Lugano and Lucerne.
Of the three Lucerne probably offers the most to do, by way of lake cruises, trips up mountains on rack railways and gondolars etc.
If you are looking for a quieter Swiss town/village experience, then Brunnen could be a good stopover, offering cheaper lakeside hotels, and some very pretty lake cruises. To catch a train that stops at Brunnen you would probably have to change from your express from Milan at Bellinzona, to catch a slower train over the Gothard pass to Brunnen. Or you could alight at Fluelen, and catch a lake steamer for the last leg to Brunnen - a very easy transfer and pleasurable boat ride.
In conclusion, probably Lucerne for activities, Brunnen for the quieter experience.
 
Old Apr 9th, 2001, 06:04 PM
  #11  
Steve Curry
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Ahhh -- now we're getting somewhere!

Thank you for the insight & advice.

Steve
 
Old Apr 9th, 2001, 08:40 PM
  #12  
Al Godon
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Hold a second there Tony. Lets not be telling people they are wrong when they are not. While it is true that a majority of the trains from Milano to Basel go by way of Luzern and Arth Goldau, there are at least three daily departures from Milan that use the tunnel at Goppenstein to go via
Kandersteg, Spiez, and Thun to Basel. These trains leave Milano at 8:10, 14:10 and 17:10.
I checked the journey details on the Swiss Rail web site before I wrote this.

So if S. Curry wanted to stop over in the Grindelwald - Lauterbrunnen area, it would be very easy for him to do so.
At Spiez he could change for a train to Interlaken Ost, and then take the BOB train to either Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen.

So before you start telling people they are on the wrong track, you should check your own details first.
 
Old Apr 9th, 2001, 08:52 PM
  #13  
Elmo Bristlecone
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Oh goodie. A squabble to liven up this dead board. For the record, not counting trains that involve 3 changes, I counted 7 trains daily from Milano to Basel that go via Kandersteg through the tunnel. I used the rail ferry train once to go through it. The ticket seller gives out a little cartoon of a creature named Lotschey or something.
True a change in Brig is required on some of the runs. But the point is that a person can go to Basel by way of Spiez on the train 7 times in a day.
 
Old Apr 9th, 2001, 09:36 PM
  #14  
Steve Curry
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Is this a conspiracy to get me to skip Switzerland altogether?


If so, it may be working!
 
Old Apr 10th, 2001, 04:59 AM
  #15  
s
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S. Curry,
I thought I answered this yesterday, but apparently my reply got eaten by the errors monster.

Anyway, I was suggesting Luzern because, to me anyway, it seems to be on a more direct route for you. In Luzern, you can spend a day investigating the myriad streets of the old town as well as its bridges, town squares, and Jesuit Church. You can also spend either one day or a half-day on a ferry ride across the lake, then stop at a village along the lake and walk along the posted routes lining the lake. Finally, you can take an excursion to one of three nearby mountain peaks, as these other posters have suggested. You can investigate these options at www.luzern.org or www.lakelucern.ch. You can get a great overview of Switzerland and some personal views of these spots at www.twenj.com (click on "Switzerland"). If you want to see why Bob Brown prefers the mountains, check them out at www.grindelwald.ch. To check the journey and various routes also, check out www.rail.ch (click on "Travel/Timetables."

Bottom line, you'll probably love wherever you end up in Switzerland. It's pretty much a can't-lose destination.

s
 
Old Apr 13th, 2001, 05:18 AM
  #16  
Bob Brown
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I think Steve should know that if he goes to Switzerland and takes a side trip into the mountains, there is a good chance of rain, sleet, and snow.
I can give him some good pointers on how to slosh through a sleet thunder storm.
First, you pull your hood up, then you ...
I do have one question. Steve, do you really want to see Switzerland? You must take into account that the cow pastures are also full of what the cows calling cards, and they graze everywhere there is a patch of green.
 
Old Apr 13th, 2001, 11:25 AM
  #17  
Steve Curry
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S -- thanks for taking the time to repost your message & for the tips on Luzern. It does sound like a good variety.

Bob -- thank you for alerting me to the possibility of extreme weather & cows. My wife & I are looking forward to visiting Switzerland anyway. Damn the Torpedos!
 

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