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Melissa5 in SWITZERLAND: A Riot of Wildflowers - Berner Oberland June 2010

Melissa5 in SWITZERLAND: A Riot of Wildflowers - Berner Oberland June 2010

Old Jul 21st, 2010, 04:58 AM
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Ah - so it is a difficult one! I am not sure my knee knew what had happened - and I have never ever had even a little twinge or problem with knees or legs before.

I have learnt my lesson - but I was rather carried away with the whole experience and mountains and the like. Still - the wildflowers were wonderful.
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Old Jul 21st, 2010, 06:02 AM
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Ah yes, some of those trails coming down from the top of Schynige Platte get a bit tricky! Last time we were there, we got to a point where we actually had to cross over a chained sign that said something like "not a trail", but there was no other way to go -- well, except back up and that wasn't going to happen .

Seems interesting that you chose to visit Lauterbrunnen from Wengen rather than from Murren.

Nice report, Melissa5.
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Old Jul 21st, 2010, 01:35 PM
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Melissa, we are booked into the Hotel Eiger in Muerren for two nights in August. Do you thik we should try to change to the Bellevue? Your review sounds wonderful. Thanks for any comments.
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Old Jul 21st, 2010, 04:43 PM
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<b>Gariem:</b> We were delighted with our stay at Hotel Bellevue in Murren, and next time we are in the Berner Oberland we definitely plan to ask for the same room, and spend at least 4 nights in Murren. As to your question...should you change from the Hotel Eiger to the Hotel Bellevue? Well, tell us more about why you chose the Hotel Eiger. What is important to you? The Hotel Eiger is near the train station. (The Eiger Guesthouse is also near the train station.) Now that I have been to Murren, we wouldn't want to stay near the train station, because most of the things that we wanted to be close to weren't near the train station. We liked the location of the Hotel Bellevue because its close to the Allmendhubel cable car, which takes you up to access great scenic hikes amongst the wildflowers and the Alps. We also liked being so close to the Coop grocery store and to other restaurants. To me, both the Eiger Guesthouse and the Hotel Eiger felt like they are on the far side of town. (However keep in mind that Murren isn't that big, so no matter where you stay in Murren, you can still walk to everything else in Murren.)

I think the Hotel Eiger has a pool and maybe a jacuzzi or sauna? If that is important to you, that is something to consider. We don't need a pool...but even if we had wanted a pool, our hotel gave us free passes to use the nearby sports center which does have a pool.

I selected the Hotel Bellevue because I prefer a cozy b&b or smaller family-run guesthouse. I prefer not to stay in places that are big enough to accommodate tour groups. I prefer someplace that is smaller and cozier. But that's a personal preference. I also liked the value of the Hotel Bellevue...we had what was probably their best room, with a great view of the Alps, for 210 CHF including all taxes and fees and breakfast. That was the best value we found in Switzerland. I think some of their standard rooms cost even less. We had a "superior" room with a small balcony for the best mountain view. The funny thing is that this was the cheapest hotel on our trip, and I thought of it as the money-saving hotel. However I didn't expect that it would become our FAVORITE hotel on our trip! I also didn't expect to see the Alps from our bed, and if you are tall enough you can see the Alps while sitting up in the old-fashioned country bathtub!

Consider all of your factors. Choose what feels best for you.

Do you have any specific questions about the Hotel Bellevue which I could answer for you?

Have a great trip! I do think you have chosen a nice hotel, although I've never stayed there, the reviews on tripadvisor look good. But as I mentioned we were so happy with the Hotel Bellevue, we want the same room next trip.

Gotta run...I'll be back later!
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Old Jul 21st, 2010, 08:33 PM
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<b>love_travel_Aus:</b> I'm not even sure I would blame the child for being grumpy on the hike. I think I'd blame his mother for her lack of imagination. She was indeed "just" walking with him. When we took our young children on nature walks, we would stop and show them little treasures...such as a butterfly, or a lady bug, or an interesting shaped rock. Spotting treasures kept them occupied and attentive on the walk. We would also use imaginative games...didn't a spaceship land here? After all, who likes "just" walking? My husband the biologist would always spot things no one else saw on the walks...so the kids learned to do the same...he showed them things like owl pellets, caterpillars, etc. In fact, my husband is still a little kid in a mud puddle at heart, and I love him for it. No one else noticed there were newts mating in water the size of a puddle on one of our hikes in the Berner Oberland. Everyone else saw only a mud puddle and passed right by it.

love_travel_Aus, I totally understand what you mean...when you say you became somewhat inspired by the scenery, so that you walked all the way back to Wengen! I can relate to your sore knees as you walked all the way down...and to your discovery of the amazing spread of wildflowers...which you wouldn't have discovered if you had taken the easy way out. Inspiring mountain scenery just draws you onward...and you test your own limits and go beyond them. You begin to wonder if this is such a good idea as your knees hurt and your feet are slipping...and you have to go to the bathroom (my story now)...and you are hungry...and then OH JOY! You come upon an incredible sight like the wildflowers blooming in all their glory under the snow-capped Alps...and the light keeps changing...its magical.

<b>melnq8:</b> I wonder why going down seems harder than one anticipates in the mountains? Everything is up and down...not too much level ground...so having the right shoes is even more important. I actually had to buy a new pair of hiking shoes in Switzerland. The ones I had brought made my feet hurt (capsulitis flaring up) and didn't have enough tread for the hikes we couldn't resist. The new pair I bought in Switzerland was great. But they don't sell them in the USA...I want to order another pair if I can find them online. Mammut hiking shoes made with Gore-tex.

<b>swisshiker:</b> Ahhh no...you actually came to a sign that said "not a trail"?! Now, that's an adventure. You said it seems interesting that we chose to visit Lauterbrunnen from Wengen rather than Murren. That's because the first place we stayed in the Berner Oberland was Murren. We had good weather, and who knew how long that would last. We decided to go walking in the Alps for as many days as we had good weather. And that ended up being for most of the days we were in Murren (5 nights in Murren). Plus we just fell in love with the trails above Murren with the glory of wildflowers and the views of the alps. Therefore when we left Murren and stayed in Wengen next (6 nights in Wengen), we were ready for a change and decided to go down and see Lauterbrunnen as well as explore some more mountain hikes.

<b>What hiking shoes do you wear in the mountains?</b> And where did you buy them? What kind of materials are your shoes made of? Are they high or low at the ankles? I like the low shoes because I have tender feet. Do you have any foot problems? I have capsulitis (tender swelling on bottom of foot) plus a tendency to get blisters between my problem toes. This makes it hard to wear shoes and I had gotten to the point where I couldn't walk in any shoes longer than an hour without getting sore feet. THEN I found the perfect pair of hiking shoes in Luzern...for me...they are Mammut brand, and made of Gore-tex. They are water resistant, and since the material is flexible, it helps my tender feet. It also has the right support on the bottom of the shoe so that my weight is better balanced, so there isn't so much pressure on my capsulitis. They also have plenty of tread on the bottom. MAGIC shoes! I accomplished a 5-hour hike in these shoes in Switzerland! That's great for me, as I've had a lot of foot problems over the past 2 years.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2010, 08:05 PM
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Melissa, thanks for your response. I think we will put in a request to the Hotel Bellevue, but we may be too late. We would also rather be further away from the train station. Thanks again so much!
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Old Jul 25th, 2010, 12:31 PM
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<b>Gariem:</b> I'll look forward to hearing about your trip when your return! Enjoy!
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Old Jul 25th, 2010, 12:34 PM
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<b>ZURICH</b>

<b>RADISSON BLU HOTEL, ZURICH AIRPORT</b>
www.radissonblu.com/hotel-zurichairport

We enjoyed our last night in Switzerland at the modern Radisson Blu hotel right in the Zurich Airport. This is a very comfortable hotel in the same complex with the airport, train station, and shops. It is so convenient!

We wheeled our luggage between the train, the hotel, and the airport. You never need to go outside because inside there are free luggage carts and escalators plus elevators both of which accommodate you and your luggage cart. We were impressed with such Swiss efficiency!

Zurich is efficient and modern. It is a busy bustling city, and its a tremendous contrast to the Berner Oberland and little Murren and Wengen. We saw the unattractive side of Zurich from the train. We strolled through the charming old town area near the river. We stayed alert and wary in the train station area, where there is a collection of drug addicts and various suspicious looking characters like you see in any big city.

For us, 1 night was plenty in Zurich. We didn't feel drawn to stay any longer. (Although my husband might like to see the Zurich zoo on a future trip. He is a biologist.)

The Radisson Blu is a great choice for a first or last night at the Zurich airport. However I personally wouldn't recommend this hotel for families with children or teens, because of the atmosphere in the lobby created by the wine bar. There are attractive young women harnessed on display, dressed to look sexy, and they get hoisted up to select bottles of wine. The problem isn't the women. The problem is the men who sit in the wine bar lounge staring at the women. Its a little bit seedy. I wouldn't want my children or teens to be exposed to this very adult scene. (I think there is a similar problem in many big hotels with bars...such as in Las Vegas...it just isn't a wholesome atmosphere for children or teens. But in this case, you cannot get to your room without passing the women on display, and when you pause to push the elevator button you are close to the wine bar.)

Be cautious if you find yourself in the Radisson Blu lobby. While you are staring up at the women in amazement, the first time you see them, a thief may be watching you! While my husband and I paused to observe the wine bar, I noticed a man had stopped to observe us. Then I got in the elevator ahead of my husband, whose attention was still captured by the women, but the strange man followed me and peered into my purse, observing my cash while I was pulling out my room card. I felt a warning flash that this was suspicious behavior. By this time my husband had entered the elevator.

I said “wait. I forgot something” and exited the elevator. The man followed us and said he didn't have a card for the elevator and he wanted to go up with us. My husband told him he couldn't ride the elevator without a card. He said he left it in his room. My husband pointed towards the front desk and told him the front desk would help him and give him another room card.

The man didn't approach the front desk. Instead he followed another guest into another elevator. Keep in mind even if he had a room he wouldn't get to his floor without his room card as the elevator knows which set of floors your room is on. Furthermore, he wouldn't get into his room without his room card!!! We think he was up to some mischief. Perhaps he would tell the housekeeping staff that he had left his card in a room and persuade them to let him into someone else's room. Who knows what he was up to.

Belatedly we thought about reporting him to the front desk but we weren't sure what floor he was on. Our instinct was that he was up to no good, but we didn't know exactly what he had in mind. I have learned the hard way in life to always trust that quick instinct when something “feels” suspicious.

Our room at the Zurich Radisson Blu had a real King bed, which is luxurious for Switzerland. It had a nice shower which oddly flooded the bathroom floor, but there were 2 drains in the floor and we asked for extra towels so it was easy to dry up the water. They were big thirsty towels. It was a small inconvenience. We recommend the hotel for convenience, and they have a helpful professional staff.

<b>COMING UP NEXT: DINNER IN ZURICH & OLD TOWN WALK
<i>PLUS Tips on Traveling in Switzerland</i></b>
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Old Jul 25th, 2010, 04:25 PM
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Melissa -

Glad to hear the Radisson worked out okay despite the strange man. I found the Wine Angels a bit bizarre, but certainly not seedy. They were fully clad in white body suits. Has that changed?
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Old Jul 25th, 2010, 05:21 PM
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Melissa - those shoes sound great - and I looked them up - not quite as terrifyingly expensive as I imagined.

And - oh dear - I sound like a really grumpy old lady saying I have a low tolerance for whining and loud conversations.

You made me think back to when our children were younger and we went out bush walking (quite a long way away in our 4 wheel drive) with them.
I am pleased to reflect that we did actually make it an engaging exercise what with building 'waterfalls' (very little ones that our youngest would always want to go back and look for the following trip), counting kangaroos and seeing how far the CB radios worked for! Not a lot of small creature spotting - I preferred to not see if the snakes could see us! Only one occasion I think they were ready to escape was when we were in the gorges near Kalbarri in West Australia and it was 47C - but they hung in there for the short walk need to see the most spectacular scenery.

Sorry -got off the topic there - but again thanks for a fantastic report and lots of really good information.
I am still pondering as to how we might manage 3 or 4 days in this region in mid September. Here's hoping we can.
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Old Jul 25th, 2010, 06:05 PM
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I also found the Radisson Blu very convenient for an early morning flight, and yes the wine tower is a bit bizarre. Our room was nice, but there was a large window in the bathroom, at the bathtub that opened into the room side. That was also also bizarre. What was even more bizarre, was the curtain on it was on the bedroom side. Make sure it's closed BEFORE you decide to take a bath. Very odd indeed. The breakfast was something like 35F so we opted for coffee and a donut in the food court.
I would stay there again if I had an early flight, but it certainly isn't the Kempinski at Munich airport.
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Old Jul 26th, 2010, 10:11 AM
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<b>Melnq8:</b> Well it's difficult to discuss the wine angels without being inappropriate on the forums. Let's just say yes they were dressed and harnessed and clearly appealing especially to the men sitting in the bar lounge area who were staring up at them. Clearly they are put on display. It is my opinion that when you put women on display and then add men and alcohol, that isn't the best place for children and teens. The wine bar is right by the elevators so its in a public place that you can't avoid.

<b>love_travel_Aus:</b> I do hope you get your 3 or 4 days in the Berner Oberland in September. It sounds like you made it interesting for your kids, when you all went bush walking. You said you looked up my hiking shoes that I got in Switzerland. I'm trying to find the same pair on the internet as I'd like to have 2 pairs. They don't sell them in the USA I don't think. They are Mammuts made with Goretex, which is water resistant and breathable. I thought I could look up the numbers and get a 2nd pair.

<b>TravMimi:</b> Yes some people complained online about the window between the bathroom and the bedroom at the Radisson Blu Zurich airport. We didn't have a bathtub, only a shower. The front desk did warn us about this and asked us if we would like them to fix up a curtain for us. We didn't think we needed one. As I traveled with my husband the window didn't bother me, although I had to use a mini flashlight at night because if I turned on the light in the bathroom at night it would have woken up my husband because of the window. But I always travel with a mini flashlight. So for us this wasn't a problem. I prefer not to turn on any bright lights if I get up at night, because if I flash my eyes with bright lights, it can keep me awake. Its easier to get back to sleep if I just turn on a mini-flashlight.

I'm eager to finish up this trip report with our dinner in Zurich, and our impressions during a stroll in Old Town Zurich. But I actually have to get ready to go to a conference this coming weekend so I'll be back to fill in the trip report as soon as I have time.

<b>COMING UP NEXT; DINNER IN ZURICH AND OLD TOWN STROLL Plus Travel Tips for Switzerland</b>
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Old Jul 26th, 2010, 07:16 PM
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Melissa5,

Love, love, love reading your trip report! From someone who also enjoys writing, your prose is poetic and lovely, and you paint the most beautiful pictures with words. I am now soooo excited for our trip in just three weeks!

I have much more to read, but since we only have around 4 days in the BO region, I have this question. You have sold me on the Schilthorn . Since we're staying in Wengen, is it reasonable for us to plan a day that looks like this: train early to Lauterbrunnen, do the walk to Trummelbach Falls, then gondola to Murren. Spend time in Murren, probably lunch there, then back on the gondola and up to the Schilthorn. We would definitely linger at Piz Gloria but maybe just for a snack and/or drink...have not heard great things about the food. At the end of our day, gondola back to Lauterbrunnen and train back to Wengen. Even writing it I know it's ambitious, but I don't think we've included any ambitious hikes and I would really, really like to be able to include Trummelbach...Murren...and the Schilthorn in this day. Even more ambitious would be to continue on from Trummelbach Falls to Stechelberg, then post bus back to Lauterbrunnen before continuing up to Murren, but I'm guessing that would be just too much. What do you think?

Our other two days look (loosely) like this: one day to do the Schynige Platte trip, and another to somehow fit in Jungfraujoch/Mannlichen-Kleine Scheidegg walk. If I understand correctly, that would involve going early from Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch...then if we have enough steam left, when we arrive back in Kleine Scheidigg we could take the gondola up to Mannlichen and do the walk back down before heading home to Wengen. Does this sound right?
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Old Jul 27th, 2010, 03:39 AM
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Hello caseyhen

Your plans are ambitious but certainly doable. Be sure to have a Plan B, however, in case of weather problems. Afternoon clouds, which cover the peaks, are not at all unusual.

<i>"...when we arrive back in Kleine Scheidigg we could take the gondola up to Mannlichen and do the walk back down before heading home to Wengen. Does this sound right?"</i>

There is no gondola at Kleine Scheidegg, only trains, going either to Grindelwald or to Wengen (well, also the Jungfraujoch excursion train).

The way to Mannlichen from KS is (a) walk, which many folks do this way. You'd have your back to the mountains for a big part of it, but you can always stop and look around. Then from Mannlichen you'd take the tram down to Wengen.

Or (b) from KS take the train back down to Wengen, then take the tram up to Mannlichen, then walk Mannlichen-->KS, then train back to Wengen from there.

It all depends on how long you spend up at the Jungfraujoch. I can spend hours up there, especially if the day is clear and bright.

Instead of the KS-->Mannlichen hike, you may want to consider hiking down from KS-->Wengen. Much less crowded and just as spectacular.

Happy travels!
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Old Jul 28th, 2010, 12:06 AM
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caseyhen: I'm actually headed out of town for a conference in LA. So I'll be back on the forums next week. My head is spinning with all of your wonderful plans...good for you! swisshiker is a great advisor and has more experience than I do in Switzerland. I suggest that you prioritize your itinerary...do the most important things first...since you might run out of time...or the weather could change. I suggest you try to figure out when is the best and clearest weather...and head up for those gorgeous views of the Alps when the weather is clearest and best... In June/July we always consulted the locals for the weather report, but it was invariably wrong though! (-; Nobody can really predict those mysterious Alps. We found that if we ended up at the right place at the right time...for example gorgeous weather up at the Schilthorn, and food visibility, sunny and gorgeous wildflowers on the north face trail...we wanted to stay there as long as we wished, and wouldn't have wanted to hurry away.

Have a great time!
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Old Jul 30th, 2010, 06:05 AM
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Hi all,

I've been caught up for a few days in life here at home, but I jus a love arriving back here to such helpful (and friendly) responses. Swisshiker, that's exactly what I was trying to figure out about the Jungraujoch day, how to get up to Mannlichen afterward, so your response was just perfect. Good to know that the KS to Wengen walk is just as spectacular as the more popular Mannlichen to KS walk everyone raves about. Would you say it's any more strenuous?

Melissa5, great advice. I know that this is a ridiculously tough question, but if you had one clear day, would you head straight for the Schilthorn (doing the falls and Murren on the way, or maybe dozing the Schilthorn first and doing the rest on the way back in case it clouded over)? Or would you be more inclined to prioritize something else - I already know it wouldn't be the Jungfraujoch over the Schilthorn for you!, but what about Schynige Platte?

I have to force myself to move on to doing a bit more research on the Cote d'Azur and Provence portions of our trip (less than 2 weeks away now, yikes! And so much to do before we leave...). But not having even set foot in Switzerland yet, I find myself already obsessed! Guess I've joined the club, thanks to all of your enthusiasm!

Caseyhen
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Old Aug 3rd, 2010, 10:50 PM
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<b>Caseyhen:</b> To answer the question you posed above...since you are staying in Wengen, if you had 1 clear day...I would suggest that you make either the Schilthorn or the Schynige Platte your #1 priority. For me, my #1 favorite was the North face trail above Murren, accessed by taking the Allmendhubel cable car up from Murren and then walking to the start of the North face trail (best described in the Rick Steves guidebook as far as finding the start of the trail from the Allmendhubel cable car staion....then hike the North face trail, which took us twice as long as posted on the sign...because we kept stopping to look at and photograph flowers & Alps!) However, I love the North face trail because of the flowers at the end of June, and also the gorgeous views of the Alps...so I don't know how many flowers are blooming for the remainder of the summer. Also, since you are staying in Wengen, the North face trail isn't quite as convenient as it was for us, staying in Murren. So I would take that into consideration when choosing your priorities. Also, since you have limited time...I forget how much time you have?....I wouldn't go from Wengen over to Murren just to see Murren...not unless you have time to continue on from Murren and do the North face trail which is above Murren. Hope this helps. Enjoy the fantastic Berner Oberland! Oh yes...I would put the Trummelbache falls as a lower priority if you run out of time...because even though yes they are unique and beautiful...you can see various different types of waterfalls in many places on vacation...but for me it seemed like a more unique and rare experience to get to be up on top of the Alps, as high up as Schilthorn or Schynigge Platte...that seemed a more unique experience to me... Also, I thought the Lauterbrunnen valley was much more impressive while up high and looking down upon the valley...actually being IN the valley wasn't as amazing to me... In Wengen there are a coupla spots where you can get an amazing view of the Lauterbrunnen valley...don't miss that view...In Murren of course there are also amazing views of the Lauterbrunnen valley... But if you do the Schynigge Platte on a clear day, you will have plenty of great views too...ok now I'm starting to repeat myself!
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Old Aug 13th, 2010, 04:55 AM
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Melissa5, I realize that I have forgotten to thank you for your wonderful, entertaining, moving, and thorough trip report, not to mention all of the time you've invested in answering my myriad questions. Having "traveled" with you on more than one occasion now, you never disappoint! Things have gotten crazy here, as they often do in the days leading up to departure. We have someone seriously I'll in the family and have scrambled get a cell phone from Call in Europe (thanks to Fodorites' recommendations), investigated baggage check-through to Wengen but have waited too long to avoid huge shipping fees, have worried over choice of outerwear and footwear, and have spent countless hours - as I know you did - to learn all I could about "our" region of Switzerland. Too bad I've given the Cote d'Azur and Provence such short shrift! However, we'll have the iPad, documents sent to us by "friends" from Fodors who are so generous with their travel wisdom, a cell phone, and our own travel savvy, such as it is. We'll be fine!

I always try to keep good notes and insist that I will most definitely post a trip report...then we arrive home, the school year begins, and we're off and running. My vow is to follow through on this this time. I seem to be a little more reliable with downloading and editing our typically 1,000 photos. Maybe I'd be better off figuring out a way to post the captioned photos online and share our travels in that way...something new to research!
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Old Aug 15th, 2010, 11:30 PM
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<b>caseyhen:</b> I hope your ill family member is well and in good spirits soon...it sounds like you and your family will benefit from your trip to beautiful Switzerland! When I look back on the past 10 years, I have many fond memories that include family trips. Why don't you try posting a short trip report? Just post a couple paragraphs about your most special, favorite moment in Switzerland. I'd love to hear about it! I have discovered that the sooner you post after your return home...the more likely you are to post anything at all...

Don't feel like you have to make a complete exhaustive trip report. That's not everyone's cup of tea, I know. I happen to love writing after my trips, but not everyone feels the same. Still, we'd love to hear about what you loved most!
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Old Mar 15th, 2013, 08:13 PM
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What an amazingly inspiring and informative report - thank you so very much!

I came upon it while trying to decide whether the "Mountain View" trail would be worth my time -- I think you answered that question! I'm looking forward to it.
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