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Our two week car trip through Switzerland

Our two week car trip through Switzerland

Oct 1st, 2006, 06:14 AM
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Our two week car trip through Switzerland

Our two weeks in Switzerland--September 2006

Husband and I spent two weeks in Switzerland in September 2006. I would like to offer a few suggestions and thoughts on things we enjoyed and places we stayed. I will not mention every place, only those that stand out—good or not so good.

Day 1 Washington Dulles to Geneva via Newark
Excellent flight with Continental Airline (or as good as it gets in Economy!)
Rental car through NOVA Rental car (better rate than even Autoeurope)

Day 2 Geneva to Montreux
Pleasant drive along the north shore of Lake Geneva.

Took a small detour to the lovely town of Celigny to search out the grave of Richard Burton, who spent his last years in this town. Trying to find the cemetery took us on a pleasant walk through corn fields to the edge of a forest. Sometimes an off beat destination will lead to interesting discoveries or just a nice walk.

Took the pretty Vineyard Road or sometimes called the Corniche road from Nyon to Lausanne. The beginning of the road through vineyards and small villages was hard to find (not signed well) but it was definitely worth doing.

Accommodation --Hotel Masson, in the hills above Moutreux. It was one of my favorite places that we stayed and I wish we could have stayed more than one night. The innkeeper and staff were so nice and made our stay pleasant in every way. The view over Lake Geneva to the mountains across was nice too.

Enjoyed the walk from Masson down to Lake Geneva waterfront and to the Chateau
Chillon (about 30 minutes of pleasant walking).

Day 3-4 Montreux to Chateau d’Oex

Accommodation—Hostellerie Bon Accueil—Our room was in the new part of the chalet and while nice, was a bit removed from the village and seemed remote. One thing that happened here was that one afternoon we looked out our patio door and found a large cow trapped in the garden there. He finally bolted down the steps and away. He must have escaped from a pasture up the hill. Anyway I would not stay there again or in Chateau d’Oex, other towns seemed more interesting.

We did day trips from here to Gruyeres (still full of tourists) walked around the castle then headed up a narrow road to Moleson to visit a cheese farm. Another pleasant find. Ate our first fondue on the patio with views across the mountains with the tinkle of cow bells. The baby goat wondering around our table was cute too.

Visited a chocolate factory in Broc, Caillors-Nestle. The tour and movie were okay but the unlimited free samples of the things they make was so good.

Another daytrip to Gstaad down through Les Diablerets through Aigle and back to Chateau d’Oex. The outstanding thing here, besides the wonderful countryside views, was the visit to the Aigle castle, located amongst the vineyards. Interesting castle and display of wine labels and other wine things. I found that the wine from the Aigle area was the best we found in Switzerland.

Day 5-6-7. Chateau d’Oex to Lauterbrunnen

The drive took us through the Juan pass where we were held up for about ½ hour while some cows were marched down the road to a new pasture. We stopped in Spiez for lunch in the harbor on Lake Thun—beautiful, sunny, and with a lovely castle nearby.

Accommodation—Hotel Staubbach. We really liked this place and felt right at home. Had a wonderful view down the Lauterbrunnen valley to the snow capped mountains.
This place was an updated hotel with cost saving features—no TV in the rooms (but there were 2 lounges with TVs where guest could gather in the evening to exchange stories about their days hikes and explorations). The hotel did not have a restaurant (but did have a breakfast room) so we ate 2 nights out of 3 at the Hotel Silberhorn on their “winter” patio. Very good food. The gondola ride from behind the Silberhorn (Lauterbrunnen to Murren) was in progress but we never heard anything as they only seemed to work on it in the daytime.

I’ll be back later with the activities around Lauterbrunnen then on to Locarno and Zermatt.




Margo is offline  
Oct 1st, 2006, 07:49 AM
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Thankyou Margo,

Montreux, Gruyeres, the chocolate factory, Gstaad, and Zermatt are some of the places we plan to visit during our two week stay in Kandersteg in May/June. We look forward to your Zermatt and Lauterbrunnen.
ronkala is offline  
Oct 1st, 2006, 09:06 AM
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Margo,

Thanks for the trip report! I'm noting for my own first Switzerland trip. Looking forward to the rest!
Dayle is offline  
Oct 1st, 2006, 11:43 AM
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Lauterbrunnen proved to be a excellent homebase from which to do daytrips. We just drove our car to the Hotel Staubbach, parked in front (no charge), and left it for two days taking trains to where we wanted to go. It was just a short walk to the Lauterbrunnen train station. The town itself is small, just one street really, along a river: some shops, mostly for hiking and sports, 4-5 hotels with restaurants, and one laundramat which we used. Sort of expensive, 5CHF for wash, 5CHF for dry: about $8.

One afternoon we took the Postal bus from around the corner from our hotel to the Trummelbach Falls: 11CHF to go in. Took the elevator up into the mountain then walked up more steps to see the water fall roaring through the mountain at various places. We then took the walk back through the Lauterbrunnen valley to our hotel—about 45 minutes of great scenery.

Another clear day we took the train to the top of the Jungfraujoch doing the circular trip from Lauterbrunnen to the top, then down through Grindelwald, to Zweilutschinen, back to Lauterbrunnen. The cost of the trip was $132.36 on my Visa card. We did not have any other railpasses as we did not expect to take any other (or many other) rail trips. Anyway, it was a lovely day to be at the “Top of Europe”. We viewed the ice palace and went out on the snow and in all spent about 3 hours there then caught the train down through Grindelwald. All went well until we got to Zweilutschinen where we had to get off and catch the train back to Lauterbrunnen. At Z. the incoming train divides and one part goes to Grindelwald and the other part goes to L. Well we got into a car, settled in then realized that we were headed back to Grindelwald from whence we had just come. It seems that the train decouples after leaving Z. and we did not go far enough forward to be in the part that went to L. We got off at the first stop to reverse the course and while we waited for the next train there was a restaurant right next to the tracks that was playing oompah music so we had entertainment while we waited. The moral of this story is to look at the sign on the side of the train car to make sure it is going where you are!! This whole trip took all day from 9am to about 5pm—the wrong train ride took only about ½ hour. Of course we rewarded ourselves with a nice glass of wine (me) and a beer (husband) on our little deck at the Staubbach.

The next day we were going to do the famous walk from Kleine Scheidegg but decided instead to go to the other side of the valley to Murren. We took the Postal bus from around the corner to the Stechelberg station to catch the cable car to Grimmelwald then the gondola to Murren. We then walked through town to another cable car (can’t remember the name) where we started the best walk of our stay in Switzerland. It was the North face walk, well signed, with about 4 small farm restaurants along the way if we got hungery. Let me tell you that this was a wonderful walk, not too difficult, but about 2-3 hours long. I cannot describe the beautiful scenery. After all this walking we made it back down to Lauterbrunnen. I can see how the gondola from Murren to Lauterbrunnen would have saved us some time but all told it was a really good day.

Day 8-9 Locarno (Hard to believe that this is still Switzerland)

More later
Margo is offline  
Oct 1st, 2006, 12:38 PM
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Left Lauterbrunnen, back to Interlaken, turned east, headed through the Susten Pass, caught the motorway to Andermatt, then through St. Gotthard Pass, another motorway into Locarno. More amazing scenery.

Accommodation in Locarno—Hotel du Lac. Recommended in Fodor’s! I spent much time trying to decide which town to stay in, Locarno or Ascona or even Cannero Rivera in Italy but all the time the answer was right in Fodor’s. The Hotel du Lac was really convenient to the town center and across the street from the dock at Lake Maggiore. It was also air-conditioned which was so nice as it was warm, also allowed us to sleep with the windows closed. We ate one nice meal at a restaurant a short walk away in the old part of town called Cittadella.

Next day we decided to take the olive trail from Lugano to Gandria. This required us to drive to Lugano which was terrible to drive through—no main streets, no street signs, just a mess. To take this walk required us to park in a lot or garage along the waterfront in Lugano. Well we found the waterfront but never found the garage—just kept driving along the waterfront looking for a turn around. It was another narrow road winding though very nice villas, through tunnels, more narrow roads, another tunnel, and then we shot out into Italy. That was enough, we stopped in the village for lunch and discovered another cute town. Then back through the tunnels and eventually made it back to Locarno.

Day 10-11-12 Locarno to Zermatt via the Simplon Pass in the rain!
Margo is offline  
Oct 1st, 2006, 12:50 PM
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Thanks for your report!

Sorry to hear about the parking situation in Lugano. It's a mess when it comes to parking. We usually park near the public swimming area in a parking lot although you have to know where it is. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the drive.

Did you like Locarno? I find it's a beautiful area but lots of traffic. We are going to Ascona next week for a week stay. I hope the weather will be better because this week it's rain every day!
kleeblatt is offline  
Oct 1st, 2006, 01:27 PM
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Woke up to the first rain of our trip, not only rain but total fog—could even see the lake. We were going to take the scenic way from Locarno past Intragne and the Centovalli but no way with the poor visability so we followed the road long Lake Maggiore through Verbania then north through the Simplon Pass. Fortunately for us, we had taken this road several years ago and could remember how scenic it was. It rained off and on the whole day to Zermatt. In Tasch, we were looking for the parking garage of Christophe who has inside and outside parking plus runs a taxi service to Zermatt. It did not take us long to decide to take Christophe’s taxi to Zermatt and park our car at his garage-7.50CHF/day plus 30CHF for 2 each way. He called ahead to the Hotel Daniela and we were met by their pickup service at the taxi drop off. Couldn’t have been easier, especially in the rain.

Accommodation in Zermatt—Hotel Daniela. This was another of our favorite hotels, well located off the main street with wonderful rooms and beds and a view of the Matterhorn from our room.

We had visited Zermatt a few years ago but never saw the top of the Matterhorn and it didn’t look like we would this time either. The first day it rained some and was cloudy over the Matterhorn. By this time on our trip, husband had a nasty cold so it was hard to get him to go out at all, but we did walk around a bit and had lunch near the Kleine Matterhorn gondola when the sun came out briefly but not at the top of the mountain.

We did enjoy 2 nights meals at the Whymperstube, one of the older hotels in town. We had wonderful fondue and raclette and enjoyed talking with a couple from Canada seated next to us.

The next day I left huband in the room watching an old Lauren Bacall movie and went out walking—the sun was out and the Matterhorn was there!!!! I walked up one side of the town and down the other, took about 1 hour to do this. Zermatt is mostly for tourists and except for the Matterhorn there isn’t much else to see. We had taken the Gornergrat train trip to view the Matterhorn years ago so I wasn’t needing to do that—just walked all over town. The big church in the middle of town has a cemetery where many people are buried that have fallen off the mountain over the years. One grave had a stone that said “I chose to climb” or something like that.

Day 13 Zermatt to Villars in the rain.

Raining again so the drive was “not so good”. I did pursued my husband (with a bad cold) to take a sidetrip recommended in the Karen Brown Switzerland book into the Val d’Annivieres to a fantastic Swiss village called Grimentz. It is one of those towns clinging to the mountain ridge that requires driving twisty roads with no guard rails for about an hours drive and in a light rain. The town was so cute with lots of flower boxes and many old Swiss farmhouses now changed into second homes. If you have time, this is a nice detour.

Back down in the valley we were headed for Villars where we had reservations at Hotel du Golf where we had stayed years ago. It was raining and foggy so it wouldn’thave mattered much where we were, we couldn’t see a thing.

Day 14 Villars to Geneva via the southern shore of Lake Geneva through France

It was still foggy leaving Villars but was starting to clear as we went into France. We went through Evian, Thonon, and were headed for the medieval castle town of Yvoire, one of France’s “most beautiful town” and it was. We had lunch and walked around and it was like being in some other century.

Then it was a drive through Geneva to the airport to drop off the car and stay overnight at the Ibis. Then home the next day.

All in all it was a good trip though we could have had better weather the last 4-5 days and husband could have done without the cold. Switzerland is beautiful and I’ll bet tourism is their number one income producer. Driving is easy and everything is expensive by US standards. Oh well----
Margo is offline  
Oct 1st, 2006, 01:31 PM
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Schuler--Locarno was nice. We enjoyed walking around the old town and long the lake. It was so different from the rest of Switzerland--I still don't know how it became part of Switerland.
We did find the swimming pool parking lot on our way back through Lugano but were done touring at that point.
Never went into Ascona.
Margo is offline  
Oct 1st, 2006, 01:49 PM
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Margo,

Parts of your trip report:

Took the pretty Vineyard Road or sometimes called the Corniche road from Nyon to Lausanne. The beginning of the road through vineyards and small villages was hard to find (not signed well) but it was definitely worth doing.

We just drove our car to the Hotel Staubbach, parked in front (no charge), and left it for two days taking trains to where we wanted to go

This required us to drive to Lugano which was terrible to drive through—no main streets, no street signs, just a mess. To take this walk required us to park in a lot or garage along the waterfront in Lugano. Well we found the waterfront but never found the garage—just kept driving along the waterfront looking for a turn around. It was another narrow road winding though very nice villas, through tunnels, more narrow roads, another tunnel, and then we shot out into Italy. That was enough, we stopped in the village for lunch and discovered another cute town. Then back through the tunnels and eventually made it back to Locarno

In Tasch, we were looking for the parking garage of Christophe who has inside and outside parking plus runs a taxi service to Zermatt. It did not take us long to decide to take Christophe’s taxi to Zermatt and park our car at his garage-7.50CHF/day plus 30CHF for 2 each way.

Raining again so the drive was “not so good”.

Then you say, “Driving is easy . . . “

I don’t think you agree with yourself!!

Another part of your report:
“Took a small detour to the lovely town of Celigny to search out the grave of Richard Burton, who spent his last years in this town. Trying to find the cemetery took us on a pleasant walk through corn fields to the edge of a forest. Sometimes an off beat destination will lead to interesting discoveries or just a nice walk.”

Yes, I’ve done this too; twice, in fact. Love the lovely town and walked its little paths into the woods and out again to the station. I find that trains give more opportunities for "interesting discoveries or just a nice walk."

s


swandav2000 is online now  
Oct 1st, 2006, 02:23 PM
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Swandav--I guess nothing I said was hard driving except the drive through Lugano. We purposely stayed out of big towns, having visited most of them over the years. Besides, I think Switzerland's treasures are their small towns and villages. I find trains to be okay for some things but I do not like having to watch my time and search the train schedules when I am on vacation. We have discovered many places just by accident and also wished to stay a bit longer in others. The motorways in Switzerland are easy to travel and I was amazed at how quickly we could get between large towns--like Interlaken to Locarno. If we hadn't stopped so much to enjoy the view or have coffee in a cute town we probably could have made that trip in 3 1/2 hours or so. It is hard to get the train to stop for a photo!
Margo is offline  
Oct 1st, 2006, 03:21 PM
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Hi again,

I'll never be persuaded that cars offer more freedom or flexibility for travelers in Switzerland. I've never been inconvenienced at all by using trains, and I mainly go to villages & small towns. It's a nice way to force yourself to slow down, actually spend *time* where you are, and enjoy the place. I also enjoy seeing and meeting folks on the trains --

Aren't train schedules pretty easy to download???

I guess I would consider a car to be more convenient if travelers had children and a lot of luggage --

But after 14 trips to Switzerland since 1995, only two of them using a car (mistake both times), I remain convinced that there's no reason for visitors to use cars --

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Oct 3rd, 2006, 04:28 AM
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Hi you all. I'm bemoaning my lack of time to really savor this report. I'll top it next weekend. Thanks, Margo!

Schuler, I'm so envious. Wave to my little Panorama across the lake from you. I take a look at its webcam from time, but the resolution is a bit broken up. Still . . . . Have a wonderful time!

Hi, S! You know I agree re trains. But I'll mention one tiny bit of Margo's narrative that did point out a benefit of the drive. She was able to approach the chateau at Aigle from the countryside and the vineyards! I arrived by train and approached it through the town's backstreets. It was interesting, but I missed the vineyard approach.

Got to get back to work. Affectionately, all, J.
jmw44 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2009, 08:52 PM
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bookmarking for planning - thanks
see_the_world7 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2009, 11:01 PM
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ttt
oneday is offline  
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