Our month in Switzerland

Jun 13th, 2019, 07:11 AM
  #1  
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Our month in Switzerland

We are currently in Montreux and I’ve decided to do a live trip report. Sending a big thank you to anyone who patiently answers questions here.

Uploading my photos as I go, here is the link

https://flickr.com/photos/[email protected]

Again, we are so grateful to the many contributors to these forums, for their advice and ideas, and our itinerary is all the better for it.

Our most recent trip to Switzerland was in September 2017

here is my trip report (and link to photos) on Fodors from that trip:

Switzerland (and a bit of Italy) trip report

….we are returning to some favourites in June 2019, and have added some new bases.

Priorities are mountains, lakes, forests, charming villages, farming hamlets, small cities with walkable old town, generally look for pleasant walks in addition to village/ town strolls. For example, on our previous trip we visited Soglio/ walked Sils to Isola and Maloja along lakeside / Solothurn walk to Verena Gorge/ St Ursanne along river. We are more into gentle strolls, no hard hiking for us.

We prefer smaller places, but Swiss towns and cities are really lovely, too.

Switzerland has such diversity in culture and language, the regions feel like they could be different countries. We were very keen for a stay in French speaking Switzerland choosing Vevey for its’ obvious natural lakeside beauty as well as charming architecture and the variety of nearby excursions. I love those buildings with shutters and cobblestone alleys in the old town. (Considered Estavayer Le Lac initially, much of interest in western Switzerland, too ….that will have to be on a future trip)

But…. luckily the collective wisdom of Fodorites (thanks ‘Hambaghale’ and ‘suze’) re the Vevey vigneron festival construction had us change plans (I had booked a hotel right on the square, yikes) and switch to Montreux and ‘swandav’ found me a quietish lakefront hotel instead.

Had a perfect 8 night stay in Wengen in 2017, great hotel and excursions on that trip, so adding in a short visit. We had a day in Thun that trip, found it charming and noted it for a future base. So another 8 days in the Bernese Oberland (but split bases between Wengen and Thun). I’d considered spending a week in Meiringen or Brienz, which might happen another time.

And we loved the Upper Engadin, so included both Upper (so happy to go back to Sils Maria - ‘Engadiner’ is a local wealth of knowledge, she posts on TripAdvisor) and Lower Engadin (a week in Scuol - thanks ‘Melnq8’ and ‘Ingo’).

The Engadin villages architecture is very distinctive (not the wooden chalets seen elsewhere, but really solid buildings with thick walls and tiny windows, often beautifully etched ‘sgrafitti’), and the landscape is really striking.

The Upper Engadin valley is a high, wide valley with gorgeous lakes, the Lower Engadin is narrower without the large lakes or the volume of tourists.

From Scuol we travel to Thusis, our gateway to Zillis and the Splügen pass (thanks ‘neckervd’), taking us to Chiavenna for a taste of Italy before looping back to Sils Maria via the Maloja Pass.

Language: Moving from French speaking Montreux, to German speaking Bernese Oberland we then head to the Engadin. The Graubünden (German) / Grisons (Romansh), canton in eastern Switzerland, is officially trilingual - Swiss German/Italian/Romansh speaking (and then there are several dialects of Romansh)

https://europeforvisitors.com/switza...h_language.htm

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/culture...ssure/36273340
Adelaidean is online now  
Jun 13th, 2019, 07:14 AM
  #2  
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We varied our routing a bit to see more on the journey. Didn’t necessarily choose shortest option from A to B.

So, our 30 night itinerary became:

Montreux 5 nights

Wengen 4 nights (repeat visit)

Thun 4 nights (then Glacier Express)

Scuol 7 nights (Lower Engadin) …..heading to Sils Maria via….

Thusis 2 nights

Chiavenna (Italy) 2 nights

….we are taking 4 days to get to Sils Maria rather than a quick ride down the valley, hence the 2 night stays.

Sils Maria 5 nights (Upper Engadin) repeat visit

Zürich 1 night (we quite like the city, would stay longer if Switzerland didn’t have so many other great places to see).

Swiss train line routes map:

uebersichtskarte-sts.pdf

I bought the ½ fare card prior to departure (120 CHF each) and printed it out at home. That way we had a spare copy each, and stored it in a protective plastic sleeve (recall it being quite dog eared during last trip) and saved us a stop in store after landing.

Plus had the SBB app loaded for ticket purchase/ trip planning.

Anyone looking for tips from this report, just note we are slow travellers. We like strolls, coffee and cake time, an hour or 2 of reading on our balcony, sitting on a park bench. We could definitely ‘fit more in’ if we’d wanted.
Adelaidean is online now  
Jun 13th, 2019, 07:16 AM
  #3  
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So- day to day:

Arrived Zürich after a 7 hour flight to Singapore, a 9 hour layover, then another long (over 12 hours) flight. So, we’re always a bit shabby on arrival.

A round of applause for Swiss efficiency - we were landed and disembarking around 8am, passport control and baggage collection took about 10 minutes, we bought tickets to Montreux and a great baguette for our rail journey lunch and were at the platform by 9:05am.

A 3 hour journey, we chose this route as there is only 1 change, given how tired we were.

Zürich airport to Montreux via Lausanne CHF 42 each (half fare card)

Nice long chat to our Zürich resident travellers alongside us, haven’t spoken German since my trip to Bavaria last year, so a bit rusty. They were about 70, and walking part of the Jakobsweg (25 km day over 2-3 weeks, fantastic).
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Jun 13th, 2019, 07:26 AM
  #4  
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Stunning gardens along the promenade

Montreux 5 nights

Where we stayed:

Golf-Hotel René Capt Golf Hotel René Capt in Montreux - Golf Hotel René Capt Montreux

It is a 10 minute walk from the station, along the lovely promenade.



Lakeview double room and half board pre paid (CHF 1355) kind of old world grand, mixed reviews, ‘lake view’ rooms have a gorgeous outlook but the ‘city view’ rooms are more train track and road views and noisy. Some reviews state it is dated and worn.



Lakeside room views


We liked it, pretty fancy for us, actually. Lounge, terrace, gardens, fronts lake and is on the outskirts of town near the Territet station. Another 20 minute walk to Chillon Castle further along the lake.



Lakeside promenade


We were given a Riviera card, which provides free local transport, among other benefits, eg 50% off Chillon entrance fee.

Half board is perfect for us, no searching for dinner options, quality and good value.

We arrived just as their restaurant service was ending, so we had chicken soup with shrimp tortellini and crusty bread rolls, and very welcome cappuccinos, sent to our room. With a scotch whiskey for hubby, this came to CHF 52.50 (this is not room service price, but their normal restaurant price, and is a reminder of how half board represents a significant saving).

https://www.thefork.com/restaurant/g...ene-capt/38589

Hubby slept through the afternoon, while I walked the promenade in the rain, watched some colourful Bolivian dancers in the old market, and just did a loop back to the station. Being a Sunday, there were local families walking with children and dogs, joggers and amblers, and a lot of tourists. But it wasn’t crowded, and the rain so fresh, so just delightful to wander. The mountains across the lake shrouded in cloud, the huge trees lakeside are really impressive.

Some very grand looking homes and hotels along the promenade, with lush gardens.

Our set menu dinner for tonight was creamy pumpkin soup and crusty bread rolls, salad with dried beef and Parmesan, a turkey curry, and a Paris Brest. We then walked to Chillon, the rather spectacular elevated road above a feat of engineering. It was a beautiful night, but I was smashed, bed at 11 pm, slept through until 4am.

Ideas for Montreux… https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Trave....Montreux.html

My personal list had 2 columns : wet weather options and dry weather options.
Adelaidean is online now  
Jun 13th, 2019, 07:44 AM
  #5  
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Montreux

Day 1: forecast wet day today.

So, wet weather option list….visiting lakeside towns.

But first, breakfast in one of the hotels gracious dining rooms, high ceilings, tall windows. We enjoy slow breakfasts, and love Swiss buffet options with muesli, nuts, fruit, egg, crusty rolls, sensational cheeses and yoghurt.

Walked along the promenade to ‘town’. Lovely! Drizzling, though.



Stunning trees on promenade, Montreux


Train to Saint-Prex (CHF 8:30 each one way). A few teaser minutes of blue sky and mountains, then rain again. Saint-Prex hides its delightful medieval old town with a rather ugly station and factory, but a few steps towards lake there is a shopping centre, which we retreated to during an epic thunderstorm, to find a Christian Boillat cafe inside.



Delicious!

So an excellent coffee and cake while waiting out the worst of the rain, then we headed to the significant historic church and old town.



Saint-Prex church



Wonderful. A clock tower, town gate, charming houses, tiny pockets of gardens. A few dog walkers and another tourist, so pretty quiet. I love this kind of wandering, and it’s tiny, so an easy visit.

https://www.lake-geneva-switzerland....n-lake-geneva/

Met a French local walking her dog, so ‘talked’ about dogs (ha, I think) for a few minutes. Our little doggo at home apparently forlorn without us, boys say she is moping on our bed.



View from the church


So, where are the tourists? This village is so gorgeous, and a ‘living’ town. Easy to get to. No souvenir stands.



Charming streets



Quiet village


We had bought smoked salmon rolls for lunch, but it was too wet for a picnic. And we were flagging, so opted not to stop in Lausanne (have visited many years ago) or Lutry, instead returning for a picnic in our room.

Really enjoying the promenade walk to and from the station, it adds to our experience of slowing down and absorbing the beauty of the gardens.





Hubby has a cold and promptly fell asleep, skipping dinner. Tonight’s set menu was a lovely cream of carrot and zucchini soup, a chanterelle quiche and salad, bacon wrapped chicken and veg, and an almond apple tart.

The weather meant we abandoned our plans to walk Romainmotier to La Sarraz (the gorge and waterfall trail). But we had a fantastic first day.

Adelaidean is online now  
Jun 13th, 2019, 08:40 AM
  #6  
twk
 
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Enjoying the report.
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Jun 13th, 2019, 09:03 AM
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Day 2: rain and storms forecast. This then changed to “cloudy but mostly dry” early in day, then rain in afternoon. Good news!

(Awake at 2:30am - body clock not yet reset; so figured we would do half day activities, lunch, then rest).

A few glimpses of the surrounding mountains, but mostly we have had low cloud.

Walked to Chillon Castle, arriving about 9am. Discovered where those tourists were that we missed yesterday. Busloads and boatloads arriving, one after another.

Chillon Castle https://www.chillon.ch/en/GP765/history

was a toll station, a fortress, a prison, an armoury, a residence; interesting to explore and we spent a few hours there. CHF 18.50 entry and 1 audio guide (discounted entry with Riviera card).



Short walk to Chillon from our hotel





On photos - I crop out the cranes and highways from my photos, hubby is in construction and includes them! These steep hillsides must create some serious building challenges.

Then wandered up to the Territet funicular and took a ride to Glion (thanks ‘kja’), but opted against the Chauderon Gorge walk, likely to be slippery on that track. Great views from the church (we are below cloud line)



Church on the steep hillside at Glion



View from Glion


Lunch was at an Asian restaurant Yu Xiang Yuan (we’d passed it yesterday, and intended to visit), sharing excellent vegetable spring rolls, cabbage and pork dumplings, vegetable fried rice (CHF 60).

Both exhausted from our lack of sleep, wandered slowly back along the promenade to hotel to rest.

Tonight’s set dinner was a cream of green bean soup, Greek salad, duck and veg, creme brûlée. We skip a course or 2, generally dessert.
Adelaidean is online now  
Jun 13th, 2019, 09:04 AM
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Thanks, twk, I remember reading about your trip, too.
Adelaidean is online now  
Jun 13th, 2019, 10:43 AM
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Day 3:

Awake at 4:20 am. Can’t read my iBook as it makes me giggle (The Rosie Project). It’s raining and windy.

Dreary outside, but forecast assures us of some sun today. Decided on a long slow breakfast and a wander through Vevey until it clears.



Breakfast room


Took bus 201 to Vevey, a nice routing along lakefront, passing grand buildings, with lake and mountain views all the way. A short wander in the lovely historic core and lake promenade, and the Fête des Vignerons preparations.



Vevey old town



Vevey lakeside promenade

The sun was out! Missed the Chexbres train, so jumped on the train to Saint Saphorin.



Saint Saphorin

Gorgeous little village, on the steep hillside, with paved walking access through the Lavaux vineyards. So pretty on this sunny day. Very quiet, surprisingly. Met a dog walker and a few cyclists.



Village rooftops, heading up to the vineyards



Vineyards


Lunch back in Montreux at Zurcher, toasted sandwich and salad, and divine cake (food artistry), beer and coffee (CHF 60).


Delicious!

Food art

Quiet afternoon reading, sitting in the sun on our balcony.

Dinner was tomato soup, salad, pork with mustard crust and potatoes, skipped dessert.

Evening stroll along the promenade, so relaxing.


Adelaidean is online now  
Jun 13th, 2019, 10:48 AM
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Beauty! Looking forward to this! That dessert looks fabulous!
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Jun 13th, 2019, 04:27 PM
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kja
 
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Originally Posted by Adelaidean View Post
Then wandered up to the Territet funicular and took a ride to Glion (thanks ‘kja’).... Great views from the church (we are below cloud line)
Isn't Glion a pleasant little place? I really enjoyed that little church, and the views from it. While I appreciate the shout-out, the thanks should go to swandav, who mentioned Glion to me. (Thanks, swandav!)
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Jun 13th, 2019, 04:47 PM
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Really enjoying your report, Adelaidean! Your photos are beautiful! Will eagerly await further installments.
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Jun 13th, 2019, 09:28 PM
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Hallo Adelaidean!

Loving your report, of course! Love walking along and enjoying those sights!

But this:
"Really enjoying the promenade walk to and from the station, it adds to our experience of slowing down and absorbing the beauty of the gardens. "

Perfect. I always suggest that folks walk along the promenade rather than take the bus...to me, the promenade is the best thing of Montreux.

Yes, I love Glion (thanks kja) -- have stayed there 3x (I think) at the wonderful Hotel Victoria. I've enjoyed sharing that funiculars down to Territet with some hotel staff in the mornings. Did you stop by the church in the old town to see the views from its terrace?

Thanks so much for writing!

s
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Jun 14th, 2019, 02:07 AM
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I hope you are enjoying your stay at René Capt. I remember a friend use to tell me René Capt is one of the few, if not only, of its category located on the lake still managed by the family. My friend was born in Montreux and went to a local school with the son of then the owner. ( My friend is now about 77 or 78 years old now I think ).
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Jun 14th, 2019, 02:51 AM
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Following along. Thanks for sharing your travels and photos - superb,
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Jun 14th, 2019, 03:49 AM
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Woo Hoo! It's Adelaidean's trip report! I've been anxiously waiting and will be following along with you. Your pictures are extraordinary as always. AND, I love the slow way you travel taking time to savor the journey. Thank you for taking the time and effort to share with us!
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Jun 14th, 2019, 07:04 AM
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Day 4:

Another leisurely breakfast, and sunny skies!

Used SBB app to buy tickets to Gruyères CHF 10, opting for bus via Chatel-Saint-Denis (a 2 hour journey) and return via Montbovon (1.5 hours).

Picturesque bus ride, and filled with chattering school children. Elevated views over lake and mountains, sweet villages, velvet green hills, pockets of forest, farms. Bus terminates directly at the train station in Ch tel-Saint-Denis, almost empty train! Guess most tourists take the MOB from Montreux. Left our hotel about 9 am, arrived Gruyères at 11am. One of those many Swiss excursions where the journey is as much a part of the outing as the destination.



Beautiful countryside


It is a 10 min walk from the station to the village and castle. A tiny village and interesting castle with furnished rooms, probably a 2 hour visit without lunch (CHF 12 entry).



Castle


The Knight’s room



Village

View from church



The return train to Montreux via Montbovon is lovely, really stunning mountain views and the descent into Montreux is gorgeous.



Countryside

Descent into Montreux


Our faux pas at the dinner table, we used the incorrect spoons for our soup (we used the dessert spoons) so a second serve of soup was delivered to the table. Wait staff must note cutlery to keep check of where we are up to - but we are too bogan to know that, ha.

Dinner was minestrone, a quinoa tabbouleh with prawns, turkey roll stuffed with mushroom, veg, mashed potatoes, a Grand Marnier and chocolate ice cream. Really great and we ate it all, as we’d only had sorbet and a dry roll for lunch. I detail dinners for people considering half board versus dining out. A glass of wine at dinner is CHF 6.50.

Final walk of the promenade, watching hang gliders, enjoying the moment.



Beautiful in the sunshine

Lovely evening light

Last edited by Adelaidean; Jun 14th, 2019 at 07:08 AM.
Adelaidean is online now  
Jun 14th, 2019, 07:07 AM
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Thanks for your comments and interest.
We did enjoy the hotel, thanks to ‘swandav’ for suggesting it. Great location, too.
Adelaidean is online now  
Jun 14th, 2019, 09:18 AM
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Thanks very much, Adelaidean!

Even most Swiss people don't know St-Prex, despite the stop of the Lausanne - Geneva steamboats. And there are tons of similar (or nicer) villages all around, like Orbe or Aubonne, for example.
The Vevey - Chatel-St-Denis bus replaces a old narrow gauge railway which was built some 120 years ago in order to bring the milk from the Gruyeres county to the Nestle factory at Vevey. The travel from Vevey via Chexbres - Palezieux to Chatel is more scenic, however.
Thre are more than 30 small mountain lakes in the Engiadina Bassa, most of them can be surrounded on foot in 5-15 minutes. The most poupular (for hikers only!) groups of lakes are Lais da Rims (not to be confounded with the bigger Lai de Rims in Val Mustair) and Lais da Macun.
The bigger lakes in the area are just about 2 miles outside the Swiss border, namely Lai da Res-cha/Reschensee, Lai da Silvretta/Silvrettasee, Lago di Livigno, Lago di San Giacomo, Lago di Fraele.
IMO there isn't a big difference between Chiavenna and the Soglio area. People speak all the same dialect and eat all the same food from Chiavenna up to Splugen Pass and up to Maloja Pass. The whole area (up to the Northern end of Lake Como) was part of Grischun until 1815 anyway. It became then Austrian according to a decision of the Congress of Vienna and finally Italian after the battle of Solferino (1860).
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Jun 14th, 2019, 10:06 AM
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I'm so happy to see another trip report from you, Adelaidean. I love the detail you include and your pictures are stunning! Bookmarking for a closer look. Thank you!
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