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whitey Nov 21st, 2005 04:56 PM

Ingo's Switzerland pics have altered my itinerary
My evolving, tentative itinerary for May 26 - June 10, was to fly in and out of Paris, and to rent a car to explore a little of France on the way to Switzerland where I was to spend a few days around lake Geneva and a few days in the Berner Oberland. But after seeing Ingo's fabulous pictures ( I just have to fit in the Engadin somehow. Scenic drives are my thing, and this area looks fabulous. If Ingo or some of the other gracious Swiss fans could suggest a 6 to 7 day driving tour of Switzerland, with stays in scenic, smaller towns, it would be much appreciated. Thanks again..Whitey

jmw44 Nov 22nd, 2005 02:37 AM

Ingo's pictures are indeed a temptation. May I ask if you're still planning to fly in and out of Paris? J.

swandav2000 Nov 22nd, 2005 03:13 AM

Hi whitey,

Hey, join the club! Ingo has "upset" quite a few Swiss itineraries -- !! In fact, he was the prime mover behind a Fodorite GTG in Zuoz a few years ago (which he then had to miss due to work!).

But well your itinerary is a tough one. First, if you are still intent on driving, I recommend you rent your car in Switzerland, not France, to avoid that hefty drop-off fee. There is a high-speed train that goes from Paris straight to the Lake Geneva area (most go to Geneva, some to Lausanne, and a few to Montreux) or to Bern or to Basel. Let's say you take the TGV to Montreux, a trip of about five hours. I would pick up the rental car there and spend the night. Then I would procede down the Rhone Valley, doing the Glacier Express route and hitting Martigny, Sion, Brig,& Andermatt before getting to Chur. I think this will take four to five hours. From Chur, of course, you can easily drive down to St Moritz and meander down the Inn Valley to Scuol.

But having said that, I must also tell you that I've only driven in Switzerland twice, and never in this area. I have no idea what the route is really like or how long it will really take.

Just for comparison, I tried this route by train, and it's not showing up; it's routing you back to Bern or to Zurich. I've heard that the GE routing is going through repairs, so that must be it. If the repairs are over and the trains are running in May-June, I would strongly consider doing the whole thing by train.

Soon Ingo will see this and chime in --


ps, Hi jw!

Nicol Nov 22nd, 2005 03:20 AM

I am another great fan of Ingo's pictures and of the Engadin. (Ingo has a picture of a slice of Engadiner Torte taken at the Hotel Albris, which is totally irresistable. Having eaten this famous pastry, the picture makes me drool!!)

My favorite spot in the Engadin is Pontresina. It is across the valley from St Moritz, and has the feel of an actual lived in village, rather than simply a spot for tourists passing through. The Hotel Albris is excellent, with great food and of course the famous bakery. It is worth spending a few nights there, as there are excellent walks in the area. Have you considered taking a rail journey rather than driving? The mountain roads require a lot of concentration for the driver, and I always think the view is best appreciated from a train. Indeed, my favorite view on the planet, the Landwasser viaduct is only available from the train. Furthermore, the train journey from Pontresina to Poschiavo, near Italy goes over the Bernina pass...a truly memorable journey.

jmw44 Nov 22nd, 2005 04:15 AM

Any chance you could depart from Zurich? If so, you could follow S' lead fast train to Lac Leman, then the Oberland, then the Engadin, and back up toward Zurich. Confessing that I'm a devoted train traveler, too, hi S. J.

whitey Nov 22nd, 2005 07:57 AM

Thanks for all of the replies. My plans are pretty wide open, I can fly in and out of any city. I had initially chosen Paris to fly into so the flight could be nonstop and also to see the city again, as I haven't been there in 7 years. I mostly wanted to have an open plan, whereby depending on the weather, we could spend the 7 sunniest days in Switzerland, and the other 7-8 days visiting elsewhere. I had planned on using a car throughout thinking that we'd have more freedom to stop and explore that way, but maybe we could mix in a few of the scenic specialty train trips.

LLindaC Nov 22nd, 2005 08:18 AM

Ingo has messed up my travel plans for next June. Flying into Zurich.We had to tack on 2 extra days and add Soglio as well. We're taking train to Guarda, heading south. It's gonna be quite a trip, but after 5 days in Engadine, we're taking train to Sierre and hiking the Val D'Anniviers and the quaint villages there. Loved the BO last year and want to do that again, but want to see different parts of the country this time.

pinkylou Nov 22nd, 2005 12:14 PM

I just wanted to say Wow! Ingo's pics have me re-thinking my plans too. I might skip Varenna on lake Como, and spend a few days around St. Moritz instead.

swandav2000 Nov 22nd, 2005 01:16 PM

Hi whitey,

Why don't you try to do an open-jaw? That way, you can fly into Zurich (there's a train station right at the airport), spend time in the Engadin, take the train to Andermatt or Brig or Kandersteg for a day or so, then continue on to Montreux. From Montreux, you can take the TGV to Paris and fly home from there.

I think it'll be tough to fit in both the Engadin and the BO -- it'll mean a long day of travelling between the two. If you're enchanted by the Engadin, and rightly so, go there and enjoy being off the beaten track!


LLindaC Nov 22nd, 2005 01:22 PM

swandav, we did that as well- flew into Milan and out of Geneva for a cost of only 65 more per ticket! (However, I'll avoid Milan in the future, that was a nightmare) You can see and do a lot if you travel by train. Spend the days with a backpack and a train pass and hop on and off when you find a village you like!

whitey Nov 22nd, 2005 02:11 PM

That's a good idea about the open-jaw. The extra cost in the ticket would be offset by the time saved in not having to backtrack. The only downside is that I would have to commit to particular days in each region, and if the weather was awful, I might end up missing out on the best places to see. It's always a compromise somewhere... I've never priced out the trains in Switzerland; what would be a ballpark price for a 7 day pass? Thanks, Whitey

swandav2000 Nov 23rd, 2005 03:12 AM

Hi Again,

Usually an open-jaw ticket isn't too much more than a regular round-trip, something like $10 or $20 only. The airline just takes the two roundtrips together and halves 'em; it's not two one-way tickets.

Anyway, I usually don't do the math for travellers on this board because, well, I'm pretty math-averse. But I did some basic figuring for you, and here's what I found:

Point-point tickets are: Zurich airport to St. Moritz is 70chf; St. Moritz to Brig is 96chf; Brig to Montreux is 34chf; and Montreux to Paris is $94 (note this one only comes in dollars . . .). The total is 200chf + $94 (this is for 2005 prices). Using the Half-Fare Card, it comes to 199chf + $94.

The passes you may want to consider are the 3-day Swiss Saver FlexiPass for 200chf, the 3-day Swiss Saver FlexiPass for 249chf, or the 8-day Swiss Saver Pass for 298chf.

These costs are per person; a "Saver" pass is the discount you get for two people travelling together. The "FlexiPass" means you can travel on non-consecutive days, and the straight "Pass" means the travel days run consecutively once you validate the pass.

You can get all this information at Use the timetable to find the schedule you want, then click on "bookings" to get the fares. The passes are listed under "International Guests" (at the faaaaar right of the page), then under "Swiss Travel System."

Also know that whatever journeys you take locally must factor into your figures -- unless you take the straight Swiss Saver Pass.

Good luck!


whitey Nov 23rd, 2005 04:59 AM

Thanks Swandav,
I've been checking out the Swiss website; It seems pretty straight-forward, easy to navigate and not too cluttered. The scenic train trips seem very interesting; my wife likes the sound of the Swiss chocolate train trip! Have you ridden most of the scenic routes?

swandav2000 Nov 23rd, 2005 06:00 AM

Hi whitey,

I've done the Golden Pass Panoramic (between Montreux and Gstaad or Interlaken) a few times, and I've done the Bernina. To tell you the truth, I'm not a huge fan of scenic trains -- unless I'm going in that direction anyway. I would much rather be out ON the mountain instead of just passing through it, seeing the scenery through train windows as if I were watching tv.

The chocolate train is only a trip to the chocolate factory in Bulle, near Gruyeres. I've been to Gruyeres twice from Montreux, and the first portion is the route of the Golden Pass. Here's a link to it:

There's a thread here written by Palanaqe Bob (sp???) with extraordinary details about each of the Swiss Scenic trains, but I can't locate it for the life of me. I wonder if it's been indexed yet -- Anyway, look for that thread (or maybe someone will find it and post it) and read through it for information on the scenic routes.

Have fun!


swandav2000 Nov 23rd, 2005 06:09 AM

Sorry, chocolate factory is in Broc, not Bulle!


swandav2000 Nov 23rd, 2005 06:14 AM

Found the thread from PalenqueBob:;tid=34707687


jmw44 Nov 23rd, 2005 06:26 AM

Hi. S' always gives great advice, whitey. I've been looking at her most recent suggestion; if you make a stop in Andermatt, you can daytrip by train to Ticino to see Italianate Switzerland, to Lucerne to see, well, Lucerne and its magical blue-green lake. Of Brig, Andermatt, and Kandersteg, Andermatt is the shortest trip from the Engadine (I think). Kandersteg is quite a bit farther, but it would provide the possibility of a daytrip to Spiez or Thun or even Murren, if you don't mind riding the rails through beautiful countryside. But this brings me to your initial statement about 'scenic drives.' I've got friends who love to travel by car, and they find train travel claustrophobic because they can't just open that door and hop out whenever they wish. So you've got to really think about your preferred mode of travel. We don't want to pressure you into train travel if you're going hate not having control of the wheel. I'm sure someone here can sketch out a driving trip for you. Ingo probably can, but speaking of Ingo, he must be stuck in an important meeting. J.

whitey Nov 23rd, 2005 06:55 AM

Thanks again everyone... JMW, if they'd just let me drive the train, I'd have the best of both worlds!!

Ingo Nov 23rd, 2005 11:08 AM

Hi all,

am I a bad boy, eh? My pictures soooo famous? Thanks for the compliments on the pictures! Sorry for popping in so late, but I responded to all the other "short" and "easy" threads yesterday ... and then it was too late :-) Now I am back from work and glad to add my two cents.

Whitey - if you are into scenic drives, so rent a car and *drive*! Like s and jmw I prefer to take trains, but I have driven some scenic pass roads where the trains do not run to. So my first suggestion is a driving itinerary (given that you fly into Paris and out of Zurich):

Drive to the Bernese Oberland and stay in one of the mountain villages for two or three nights (Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, Wengen, Mürren). Then drive to the Engadin via: Meiringen, Susten Pass, Andermatt, Oberalp Pass, Disentis, Reichenau, Rothenbrunnen, Paspels (smaller roads), Tiefencastel, Bergün, Albula Pass - Engadin.

It's a very scenic drive, quite long but doable in one day without pressure. Enough time for photo stops and lunch/coffee break. In case you are a quick driver (and do not drive on a weekend when the bicyclers are on the road) you might opt for the Grimsel Pass - Furka Pass in spite of Susten Pass. Please check if passes are already open (Susten most likely, not sure about Furka/Grimsel, depending on snow).

Stay 3 nights in either Sils (if you like lakes and a wide open valley) or Pontresina (if you like a narrower valley with peaks towering right above the village) - these are IMO the two nicest villages to stay in the Upper Engadine/St. Moritz region (Celerina is a close 3rd, Zuoz is beautiful, but a bit too far from the main attractions for a short stay).

Drive to Zurich via Susch (with a short detour to Guarda for a 1-hour-stroll) - Flüela Pass - Klosters - Landquart - Sargans - along Lake Walensee - stay somewhere on the shores of Lake Zurich or near the airport for a night before departure.

A scenic train itinerary would have to be different - take Swandav's suggestions. Lake Geneva would make sense for completely different scenery - vineyards, french "savoir vivre" etc. I don't think a saver rail pass like the Swiss Pass makes sense. Better purchase a Swiss Card or Swiss Half Fare Card for one month.

I guess you must have more questions now :-) Feel free to post!


whitey Nov 23rd, 2005 12:12 PM

Ingo, thanks for the reply. The itinerary sounds great. With 2-3 days in the Berner Oberland and 3 or so in the Engadine, I still should have at least another 3 days of vacation left to visit in the general area of Switzerland; what other areas should I consider most: Lake Geneva, Zermatt, Chamonix, upper Italian lakes region, lake Konstanz ? Thanks....Whitey

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