Itinerary - Another try!

Mar 21st, 2010, 06:03 PM
  #1  
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Itinerary - Another try!

Here's another try at an itinerary. Our goal is to get an overview of Switzerland (except the southeast, which we'll try to pick up on a trip to northern Italy). We are at the beginning of our "serious travel years," (nearing retirement) and want to see as much as we can the first time through and then perhaps return for longer stays at places that we especially like. We are primarily interested in natural beauty and not very interested in the big cities (like Geneva and Zurich, though we will see a bit of Zurich since we fly in and out of it), though Bern does sound interesting if we can fit it in. We can't do long or difficult hikes but can walk a mile or two on relatively level ground or a little incline before taking a break. We aren't interesting in shopping, nightlife, or fancy restaurants. We would prefer to spend more than one night in a hotel whenever possible. We will have a Swiss Pass and want to do the Golden Pass between Lucerne and Montreux and the Glacier Express from Zermatt to Andermatt, or all the way to Chur if time allows. (I know the trip is long but it sounds scenic and relaxing.) I had not originally included Stein-am-Rhein, but someone suggested checking Google images of various places, and I fell in love with it. I know this sounds rushed to those who spend a week exploring the Berner Oberland but I THINK it's doable. Comments on tweaking the itinerary would be appreciated.

Are both Lake Brienz and Lake Thun worth seeing, or is one prettier than the other? Since Lake Thun is so long, which are the prettier parts? (I'm thinking Spiez to Thun.) Is the castle at Oberhofen worth a visit? We do enjoy viewing scenery from boats on pretty lakes, but will we see significantly different things on Lakes Lucerne, Brienz, and Thun?

If we don't do the Gornergrat in Zermatt because of weather, what else is there to do there? Are there easy short hikes? I would almost forego this part of the trip if we make it to the Jungfraujoch but my husband wants to include it and he chose Switzerland as the destination for this trip.

Hotel suggestions for any of the towns where we are staying would be appreciated. Note that I am pretty sure we will saty in Lauterbrunnen but have not ruled out Murren, Wengen, etc. Lauterbrunnen seems to be very convenient in terms of connections.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

Day 1 Zurich – Lucerne (Saturday)

Overnight Lucerne

Arrive Zurich 8:05

Train to Lucerne about 9:30; arrive about 10:30; luggage to hotel

Lake Boat

Walking tour late afternoon and evening 2 ½ – 3 hrs

Day 2 Lucerne – Lauterbrunnen (Sunday)

Overnight Lauterbrunnen

Lucerne – Brienz 1:40 hrs

Ballenberg Open Air Museum (10 minute bus ride from Brienz)

At Ballenberg til about 2 pm

Lake Brienz Boat 1:15 – 1:45 hrs

Or

Train from Brienz - Lauterbrunnen 1 hr.

Check into hotel about 6 pm

Day 3 Berner Oberland

Overnight Lauterbrunnen (Monday)

Junfraujoch (stopping at Kleine Scheidegg and Wengen on way down) or Schilthorn or Lauterbrunnen Valley Walk, depending on weather

Or switch with Day 4, depending on weather

Day 4 Lauterbrunnen (Tuesday)

Overnight Lauterbrunnen

Morning – Murren or other town(s)

Or Switch with Day 3, depending on weather

Afternoon – Train to Bern or parts of Lake Thun by boat; return to Lauterbrunnen in the evening

Day 5 Lauterbrunnen to Lausanne/Montreux/Vevey (Wednesday)

Overnight Lausanne/Vevey/Montreux area

Lauterbrunnen to Montreux, Vevey, Lausanne 3:40 to 4:07 hrs (Golden Pass route)

Boat on east end of Lake connecting Lausanne, Vevey, Montreux; visit Castle of Chillon

Walking tour of Lausanne (2 hours)

Day 6 Lausanne, Vevey, Montreux area (Thursday)

Overnight Lausanne/Vevey/Montreux area

Continue in Lausanne/Montreux, Vevey area; if time, trip to Gruyeres, Fribourg, or Bern if we didn’t make it when staying in Lauterbrunnen

Day 7 Zermatt (Friday)

Overnight Zermatt

Lausanne to Zermatt 2:54 – 3:10 hrs

to Gornergrat if good weather

Day 8 Glacier Express, Zurich (Saturday)

Overnight Zurich

Zermatt to Zurich via Chur (on Glacier Express) 7:20 hrs

Or

To Gornergrat in early morning if unable to go on Day 7, then

Zermatt to Zurich via Andermatt (Glacier Express to Andermatt) 5.30 - 6:30 hrs

Quick walking tour of Zurich

Day 9 Rheinfalls, Stein-am-Rhein (Sunday)

Overnight Zurich

Train (1 hr) to Schauffenhausen; walk or train to Rheinfall

Train to Stein-am-Rhein (30 min); tour Stein-am-Rhein

Train to Zurich (1 – 1:30 hrs)

Evening in Zurich

Day 10 Monday

Depart Zurich 11:55 am
drchris is offline  
Mar 21st, 2010, 06:38 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2004
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You will be disappointed with the Rheinfaelle (Rhinefalls)at Schaffhausen. They certainly are NOT worth giving up time in the Berner Oberland.

Thun: I would take thge train fromn Lauterbrunnen to Thun. Then return by train to Spiez, and pick up the boat to Interlaken from there. Train from Interlaken back to Lauterbrunnen. Thewalk from thger Sopiez train station to the boat landing is about 2km, but all downhill, on a well maintained footpath.
treplow is offline  
Mar 21st, 2010, 09:22 PM
  #3  
 
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Hi drchris,

I haven't yet been on it, but I've heard that Lake Brienz is prettier --

Have fun!

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Mar 22nd, 2010, 07:17 AM
  #4  
ira
 
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Hi dr,

>...want to see as much as we can the first time through and then perhaps return for longer stays at places that we especially like. <

Typical newbie mistake.

That way you run a very high risk of observing that Europe is nothing more than a series of trin stations interspersed with some occasional interesting scenery.

>Are both Lake Brienz and Lake Thun worth seeing, or is one prettier than the other?<

Are you plannlng on crawling on your knees from one to the other? You can see both.

Since you are not interested in cities, why are you spending so much time in them?

Go to the Berner Oberland and enjoy yourself.

Stein am Rhein is worth visiting, if you are nearby. So is The Bodensee.

You might find my trip report helpful:
Ira Returns From 22 Loverly Days in Europe - Sep, 2009
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-in-europe.cfm

Slow down and listen to the cow bells.

Enjoy your visit.
ira is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2010, 12:45 PM
  #5  
 
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"Are both Lake Brienz and Lake Thun worth seeing, or is one prettier than the other? Since Lake Thun is so long, which are the prettier parts? (I'm thinking Spiez to Thun.) Is the castle at Oberhofen worth a visit? We do enjoy viewing scenery from boats on pretty lakes, but will we see significantly different things on Lakes Lucerne, Brienz, and Thun?"

They're so close you will find it hard to see one without the other. Having said that, I thought Brienz was the prettier lake, but there is more to see on Thun's shores. I loved Oberhofen.

Your day 2 : imho Ballenberg is a full day rather than a half day. In your position I'd wait to get the last boat (after 5). You'd still get to Lauterbrunnen in time for dinner.
Nonconformist is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2010, 12:56 PM
  #6  
 
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Lakes Thun and Brienz - the two lakes that bookend Interlaken are very different from each other and each merits a whole day if you have time. If i had to chose i would be hard-pressed as to which one though Lake Brienz offers more varied type things and places - like Giessbach Falls the boat docks below and you take an antique funicular up to the falls proper and famous hotel near them. And then you have Meiringen - a short train ride from Brienz, the terminal port at the far end of the lake. Or Brienz itself - know for its wood cutters - a steam train here climbs to a summit - Brienzer Rothorn Bahn - i took the train up and walked back down. Then there is Reichenbach Falls near Meiringen - where Sherlock Holmes and Prof Moriarity faught to the death - on the middle belvedere - a funicular takes you up there. And there is a Sherlock Holmes Museum in Meiringen, who gave its name to a sweet candy Meringue - and just a short train ride beyond Meiringen is the Glacier Chute - a roaring river cascades thru a narrow casm - boardwalks let you walk thru it (at Innerkirchen) - so even if you do not go by boat Lake Brienz has lots and lots to do.

So does Lake Thun
Palenque is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2010, 05:24 PM
  #7  
 
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I agree with Ira. IMO, this is way too much moving around. Five hotels over nine nights! You've noted the train journey times but not the time eaten up checking in/out of the hotels and getting to/from the train stations.
Jean is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2010, 05:37 PM
  #8  
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Thanks to everyone for your comments and suggestions. I wish we could do ALL of the major lakes in Switzerland by boat as we find it so relaxing.

I know that Ballenberg needs a full day but I don't think we can spare it and would rather spend a few hours there than none at all. I have seen it compared to Colonial Williamsburg, which we used to live near, and while one could spend days there seeing everything there is to see, I would tell a visitor that even an hour's stroll down Duke of Gloucester Street would be worth the stop and leave an indelible impression rather than skipping Williamsburg altogether.

Ira, I understand where you are coming from in your encouragement to "slow down and listen to the cowbells." We are 60 and 63, and hardly newbies to travel, having made multiple trips to Europe, the Caribbean, and Mexico, as well as going on safari in South Africa and Botswana. We have spent long stays in London and Paris, and having gotten a taste of Cozumel on a cruise, returned the next year for a week-long visit. Were we only seeking beautiful mountain scenery, we could go to Colorado at a fraction of the cost of Switzerland; or for relaxation, could return to the beaches of the Emerald Coast of Florida, to a Caribbean island, or to Mexico. Perhaps it is cruising that has taught us that one can get a flavor or impression of a place in a very short period of time and decide which to revisit for a longer stay. We are nearing retirement and hope to be able to live in various places around the world for weeks to months at a time (Cape Town is definitely on our list!), so relatively fast-paced trips can be useful in scoping out places of future interest. A primary interest for this trip is the train travel itself. Remember that, sometimes, the journey is the destination; we eagerly await the opportunity to do a long repositioning cruise so that we can simply enjoy the pleasures of the cruise without having to get off the ship at a new port each day - though that can be fun in its own way, too! As for your question about why we are spending so much time in cities - we live in a city of over 4 million people, so places with only several thousand or even hundreds of thousands seem like "towns" to us. And when one confines oneself to visiting the "old town" section of even a large city, it feels like a visit to a smaller village. I trust the guidebooks, posts, and travel shows that the Berner Oberland is lovely, but I think that it appeals primarily to those who enjoy long, rigorous hiking, an activity that is beyond our capability at this point in time. (I am open, however, to being proved wrong once I visit!) I hope that you will come to see that there are many varieties of and purposes for travel, and that all have validity at a given point in time. Nonetheless, thank you for your heartfelt response.
drchris is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2010, 09:12 AM
  #9  
 
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DrChris, what about deleting Zermatt from your itinerary, and adding a day to either the Berner Oberland or the Lausanne area? You could still catch the Glacier Express in Visp, leaving from Lausanne, if the trian journey is real important to you (it is to my husband, so I can relate).

I think my concern for your trip is that you have the real long journeys, and are moving around a lot, at the end of your trip. Reversing the trip might make it a bit easier for you. I'm planning our first trip to Switzerland, as well. We are not hikers by any strtch of the imagination, but even so, I'm giving us three nights in the Berner Oberland, primarily so we can see the Jungfraujoch, which seems to be a day long adventure, plus see the waterfalls and all the great mountain villages. There seem to be several 1-2 hour walks that are fairly flat, and I think we can manage that, combined with a nice cup of tea or wine in between.

Good luck with your travel planning. I envy you being so close to retirement! You have me intrigued by the Ballenberg -I hadn't really considered that before, but now its signing pretty good. Thanks!
annalynn is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2010, 09:19 AM
  #10  
 
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Hi again,

A quick note.

Many folks go to the Oberland, not for the long, rigorous hiking -- but for the long, leisurely cable car ride to a mountaintop and then the long, leisurely lunch at a mountaintop restaurant!


You'll see soon enough!

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Mar 23rd, 2010, 10:55 PM
  #11  
 
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Entirely too much moving around IMO. I wouldn't bother going all the way to Zermatt unless you can spend a few days. Lots of mountain excursions and easy hikes, but you've not left any time to do any of them.
Melnq8 is offline  
Mar 24th, 2010, 08:18 AM
  #12  
 
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Some folks go to Zermatt only to glimpse the world's most recognizable mountain - thanks to Disney folks - the Matterhorn. And to see it from Zermatt, majestically dominating the high end of the valley redefines the meaning of the word AWESOME. But the mountain can always be shrouded in fog - for days sometimes so if only going for Matterhorn you could be sorely disappointed.
Palenque is offline  
Mar 25th, 2010, 07:41 PM
  #13  
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Palengue - I share the concern about Zermatt and the Matterhorn being shrouded in fog, but my husband really wants to go. If it is, perhaps we will just scoot on out of town and head off somewhere else. Thank goodness, Switzerland isn't like Texas, where it takes forever to get from place to place.

I have considered turning the itinerary around, so if Zermatt washes out, we could add another day elsewhere.

Perhaps I'll do some more research and tweaking. It seems we have done more on previous trips than I have scheduled on this trip without feeling too rushed. I have tried to factor in hotel check-ins, etc. but perhaps I'm underestimating. That's why I'm posting!
drchris is offline  
Mar 26th, 2010, 08:41 AM
  #14  
 
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drchris - Switzerland does a great job of providing current weather reports for every mountain top it seems - so check the day before and see what the pattern is - i am sure there is a weather cam pointed at the Matterhorn you can access or a tourist office or hotel desk clerk could if you have no access. And i agree with your hubby - seeing the Matterhorn, perhced in its majestic ice-girdled valley redefines the word awesome.
Palenque is offline  

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