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"Our Best Trip Ever! Travels to Switzerland

"Our Best Trip Ever! Travels to Switzerland

Sep 27th, 2010, 09:58 AM
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"Our Best Trip Ever! Travels to Switzerland

Traveling to Switzerland-a wonderful place to visit
Posted 9/27/2010 1:30 PM EDT
Hope our eight day trip to Switzerland may give others some ideas if they are planning such a trip. We had a wonderful time! We arrived in Zurich and proceeded to go to Mt. Rigi mountain summit outside of Luzerne for the night. We took a boat ride and then a cog train to the summit of about 6000 ft. where the hotel, Rigi Kulm was located. We had fantastic sunset views and a good dinner. We had a great view of the mountains from our room. Interestingly, there is a marker on the summit where surveyors base their calculations for the entire country of Switzerland. The next morning, we left the hotel and heard a Alpine horn being played. With the cow bells and the horn, I felt we were definitely in Switzerland.

The next day we traveled by train about 2 hours to the traditional town of Appenzell. We had lunch in the town and were thrilled that the annual tradition of bringing cows down from the mountain for the winter took place during our visit. I had contacted Appenzell tourism before leaving and they said the festival is determined by the cows and there wasn’t an actual date but that it was usually in September.The young children and adults were dressed in traditional outfits and the cows, many had flower headdresses. It was a beautiful event to see. We also said two other such parades from the train at two other stops along the way. We then traveled back to Zurich area by train and then by boat and stayed with my cousin in her village of Richtersvil. Johanna Spryi wrote the story Heidi in the nearby town. Went for dinner at a local restaurant , Restaurant Freihof,and ate on the terrace.

The next morning, we took the train to Luzerne and did a walking tour of the city. We climbed up to the old bell tower and walked a bit of the old fortress wall. We went through the old city, buildings dating to the early 1300s,many with paintings on them, and saw the lion monument. Stayed at the Hotel Waldstatterhof. It was expensive but due to a classic music festival, most hotels were booked. It was a very beautiful hotel, but then, again for $280 for the night...it should be. Great location, across from the train station.

The next day we went by train for the town of Andermatt to board the Glacier Express for the town of Zermatt. This was the only really cold day, glad we packed our winter coats. There were snow flurries in the air. We had coffee at a cute bakery as we waited for the “red train” to arrive. The hours on the train went fast as the views were spectacular as the train weaved around up and down valleys and into the mountains. Arrived in Zermatt and our hotel, the Hotel Butterfly. With flowers everywhere, Zermatt is a beautiful place to visit! Very touristy but you can see the Matterhorn as you walk the streets. The hotel, a Best Western was great.The meals were reasonable for Swiss standards where everything is expensive. Four men were playing Alpine horns so we stopped to listen to two of their songs.

Another beautiful day, and we went up to the Gornergrat summit, around 10,000 ft., by way of a train that hugged the edge of the mountain. Amazing feat of engineering to build this railway! I was a bit dizzy until I acclimated to the heights.The views were amazing. Glaciers, Matterhorn....just spectacular! Decided to hike down some of the mountain. We traveled down one train stop, Rotenboden, and meet a German couple that helped get us on our way as there were no actually paths down the mountain. We stopped at a lake and the man told us that this was a famous place to take a picture of the Matterhorn as it is reflected in the water. I got a great shot. As we walked down the mountain, we were glad we had our winter coats but quickly shed them as we got warmer. We were able to yodel at one point and both of us said we loved the other to hear an echo. As we continued down, I heard “cow bells” but we came upon a bunch of black goats with white backing wearing the bells. They were so cute and friendly, I got up close and took some great photographs. We felt that we’d had enough walking and stopped at the next station to get the train back to the valley. The train was broken and not running so we had a rest and decided, the weather was great, so why not continue walking down the mountain. We went to the next station and got the train, having walked for a couple of hours. Later in the day, we took a cable car to a village called Furi and walked(yes, again) about 50 minutes to the village of Blatten. Black wooden buildings, the traditional Swiss village look, with nothing but a couple of houses, a tiny church and a small restaurant. We treated ourselves to some ice cream and I found the Ricola Herb Garden, one of several around Switzerland where they get their natural ingredients to make their cough drops. Walked all the way back to Zermatt, another 50 minutes or so. We were exhausted.

Left by train from Zermatt to Montreaux(French area of Switzerland by Lake Geneva) and took the Golden Pass, on a classic train, with wood paneling, to Interlaken. Although a beautiful ride, I wouldn’t recommend it, suggesting going right to Interlaken from Visp, saving a couple of hours of travel time. I am sure that the other train’s route was also beautiful. Got to Interlaken and we took a cable car to Lauterbrunnen. From there, we took a small train that hugged the mountain to the alpine village of Murren. Think traditional Swiss village and this was it. I pinched myself a few times as I walked around the village, listening to cow bells and staring at the Jungfrau Mountains, Eiger and Monch. Spectacular views. I would definitely come to Murren again! The Hotel Eiger was wonderful.What a picture perfect Alpine community. The price is about what we paid at other hotels(around $250 a night with a view of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau)-less without the view but isn't that why you want to stay in an Alpine village? There is a pool and the rooms are a nice size with a modern bathroom(robes/slippers, too).The owners were wonderfully helpful and friendly. They offered a reception for all the guests once a week, champagne flowing freely with the owners coming to speak with all the guests. Dinner is an experience with the staff coming to show the meal for your inspection before serving it.We had a large portion of a chicken dish, with Swiss potatoes and veggies AND, then,we were offered-seconds!!!!! (All for about $28 dollars per person). You could get a complete meal for $50 but we didn't wish all the different courses. Breakfast was included in the price with lots of choices AND more champagne!

We hiked down from the mountain village of Murren, to Gimmerwald, a very small village. There was an honesty store, where you leave the money for items purchased. A small school was recently closed(only about 12 students) and I was told Murren’s school was closing, too. Kids will have to take cable car/train to the school in Lauterbrunnen Valley.It was fun walking down the mountain, stopped to see some construction men working on building avalanche barriers. Took the cable car to the valley where we took a bus to the Trummelback Falles. Ten glacier water falls(water from the glaciers of the Jungfrau, Monch and Eiger Mts.) are found INSIDE the mountain! It is the only such place in Europe where you can still go inside the mountain to see the falls. It took 15 years and workers using only pickaxes to build the inside walkways. Walked more to another falls where I went up to see it(traveling up stairways and through a tunnel). Met up with a base jumper(the Lauterbrunnen Valley is THE place to base jump). He had “wings” that he used to glide through the air before releasing a parachute.Walked the rest of the way to Lauterbrunnen and then took the bus back to the cable car to Murren. Bed was turned down and a chocolate was on the pillow when we came back after dinner at the Hotel Eiger Restaurant.

We had thought to take the cable car to the Schilthorn, about 12,000 ft. but the video showed the summit was cloudy and you couldn’t see anything. And, for about $100 per person, we decided to pass. Instead, we sat and watched hang gliders take off from a running point in Murren. We also had fun watching a parade of cows(two wearing pine tree hats with colorful flowers) come down from the mountain as we had seen in Appenzell. A couple of goats came, too. The men weren’t dressed in traditional clothing. Funny, the entire parade of men/animals boarded a cable card down to the valley! Spoke in length to a couple from Great Britain and another couple from the states(they hiked 4 hours to a place for the night without electricity or plumbing! Yikes!) One of the wonderful things about traveling is the meeting of people from all over the world. Interestingly, I read that only 20% of Americans have a passport! The world is a much smaller place when you don’t experience the world around you and the people that help make up that world!

Make sure to get a Swiss Pass. It makes traveling by trains so much easier,not having to worry about getting tickets. With the pass, boat rides are free as are many cable cars(others are 1/2 price!).

Gail Hennessey: http://www.gailhennessey.com
GailHennessey is offline  
Sep 27th, 2010, 09:59 AM
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I am glad you had a great trip and I hope NOBODY gets on this thread and scolds you for "traveling too fast."
Dukey1 is offline  
Sep 27th, 2010, 11:24 AM
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What a nice trip !
bobthenavigator is offline  
Sep 27th, 2010, 01:51 PM
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What a great trip! Thanks for sharing. We, also, experienced the 'cow parade' in Appenzell. What fun! CJ
CarolJean is offline  
Sep 28th, 2010, 08:15 AM
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marking for later digest of something that is loaded with great stuff.
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 28th, 2010, 08:38 AM
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Make sure any traveling to Switzerland includes the Alpine community of Murren! It's wonderful....
GailHennessey is offline  
Sep 28th, 2010, 09:12 AM
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It was a great trip, and the way you describe is great! Thanks for the memories, I want to go back!! Beautiful country.
Dayenu is offline  
Sep 28th, 2010, 11:42 AM
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The loop up to Murren from Lauterbrunnen and then down via Gimmelwald - yeh you can take the cabelway but like Gail said a sweet easy enough walk - and then the thrilling cableway back down to the valley floor at Stechelberg and postal bus or another easy few-mile hike back to Lauterbrunnen - this is my favorite excursion in the Berner Oberland - and if you add the detour - though pricey as said above - to the Schilthorn you have every type of terrain and adventure.
PalenQ is offline  
Nov 6th, 2010, 06:50 PM
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bookmarking
rpowell is offline  
Nov 7th, 2010, 12:49 AM
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Wonderful trip report. You experienced the magic of Switzerland. I've participated in a few "cow parades" myself. Most farmers don't make a colorful parade out of it, like you saw in Berner Oberland. However, it's always a delightful day as long as nobody or nothing gets hurt.

Glad you saw the Appenzell "cow parade". Now they enjoy going all out and it really is magic to watch and experience.

Thanks for posting!
kleeblatt is offline  

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