Palenque's Scenic Swiss Trains

Old Apr 7th, 2008, 01:01 AM
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Old Apr 7th, 2008, 12:29 PM
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marie - thanks for nice comments

i'm sure you'll love the area as much as i do - can't help it - the most beautiful place in europe IMO no matter where you stay

I guess i'll get back into the original purpose and describe more scenic trains as well as boats, cables, etc.

And i'll start with the BOB Berner Oberland up from Interlaken as well as the Interlaken area.

Too bad you only have a few days as this area offers a cornucopia of appetizing excursions of all different types - pinpointing one is hard so i'll duly describe several - BTW i love Interlaken though many others prefer a Wengen or up in the hills base.
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Old Apr 19th, 2008, 08:44 AM
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<what would be your recommendation for a scenic day out. We would be happy to do some light walking, trains or buses and lake cruises. Thanks>

My favorite excursion in the area is to take the train from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen, then a thrilling large aerial gondola up the cliff a few thousand feet to Grtuschalp where you board a mountain train that hugs the cliff, yielding sweeping views not only down into the deep Lauterbrunnen Valley and also of the awesome glacier-girdled Jungfrau Massif across the valley - there is no more scenic view from a train in europe IMO.
The train takes you to Murren, a famous mountain resort once catering to a British crowd decades ago and today a spiffy resort with scintillating views of the Jungfrau Massif - no cars here - only reached by this cableway-train route.
then take the cableway from Murren down to Gimmelwald, a remote farming hamelt that has gained a lot of fame laterly for its unique atmosphere - out in the midst of glaciers a few miles away and old farm huts, local hotel and hostel, etc.
From Gimmelwald you swoop down to the Lauterbrunnen Valley in a thrilling or from some hair-raising large gondola down to Stechelberg for postal buses back to Lauterbrunnen.
If you have a Swiss Pass the whole transportation from Interlaken and back is 100% covered.
TBC
Mixing in walks on this jaunt
a detour to Stechelbergand more on Gimmelwald, Trummelbach Falls, Lauterbrunnen and Murren.
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Old Apr 19th, 2008, 08:30 PM
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Old Apr 21st, 2008, 01:10 PM
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MORE ON LAUTERBRUNNEN-MURREN-GIMMELWALD-STECHELBERG-LAUTERBRUNNEN LOOP

MIXING IN SOME EASY WALKING
Not hiking but walking. One of the most dramatically scenic walks in the Alps follows generally the course of the Grutschalp-Murren train line - just a few miles from where the gondola from Lauterbrunnen dumps you off - along the cliff's edge but from a very safe distance - fairly flat and good surface you'll often see more folks hiking than taking the train

Winteregg is about half way and is the venue of a renown Alpine hotel and restaurant - known for his Alpine Farmers Breakfast - esp on weekends. You can at least sit on its sun terrace and have refreshments with an intoxicating view of the glacier-girdled Jungfrau across the deep Lauterbrunnen Valley.

NEXT - THE STECHELBERG-TRUMMELBACH FALLS - STAUBBACH FALLS - LAUTERBRUNNEN EASY WALK TO FINISH THE LOOP
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Old Apr 23rd, 2008, 09:46 AM
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After swooping down to the Lauterbrunnen Valley at Stechelberg there should be postal buses waiting to whisk you the few miles back to Lauterbrunnen's train station (for trains for Wengen and Interlaken-Ost) but this makes a lovely and very easy stroll also to end this loop

I've down it a few times and the paved path and side roads follow a gurgling stream and go by farmhouses where folks still cut hay by scythe and cow bells tinkle - you can go by Trummelbach Falls, the torrent of water that is said to be the only drain of the Jungfrau glaciers and the torrent is inside the cliff here

A huge waterfall inside a mountain - well worth the several franc admission fee (though i believe Swiss Pass on the 100% covered days covers the fee in full)

And then you pass on the west side of the valley Staubbach Falls - a terribly high falls coming from the Murren area that could be a torrent or just mist depending on seasons and rainfall, etc.

And of course you could do the whole loop in reverse - Lauterbrunnen - bus or walk to Stechelberg, cable to Gimmelwald - walk or cable to Murren - the Schilthorn detour - walk or train Murren to Grutschalp and cable down to Lauterbrunnen. Really makes no difference i think.

TBC More on Excursions in BOB by public transport


other way
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Old Apr 24th, 2008, 08:34 AM
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LAKE THUN STEAMER CRUISE
One of my favorite excursions in the BOB (which is much more than the high mountains) is to hop the steamers that leave from behind Interlaken West train station and do a float on placid Lake Thun (one of the two lakes the Inter-Laken lies between, the other being Lake Brienz, which also makes a great but quite different nice cruise.
From Interlaken-West the boat goes out the long canal to the lake and then stops at a few small lakeside resorts (kind of the Florida of Switzerland it seems) including one where you can visit the famous BEATTUS CAVES (sp?) before heading to OBERHOFEN where i suggest making a port call to see this cute flower-bedecked chaleted seaside town with the castle of your dreams hovering over the boat dock.
Have lunch or wander up to the castle or even go for a swim on the town's beach and then board another of the, in season, about 1.5 hourly boats that then take you to THUN.
Thun is a bustling regional town with a fine pedestrian shopping zone and a river gushing thru it and some quaint wooden bridges over it.
You can either return by train from Thun to Interlaken in a few minutes or hop the boat or do a nice hike to nearby SPIEZ, whose awfully dreamy castles caps a vineyard-clad hill looming high above the boat dock.
Spiez is a charmer - though much smaller than Thun and it does require a steep climb to reach its castle. Lots of nice cafes and restos here for lunch or dinner. There is a marked hiking path between Thun and Spiez that traverses lush meadows and follows a ridge overlooking the lake far below
From Spiez again you can hop one of the twice hourly trains to be back in Interlaken in a few minutes or again hop another boat.
Though the towns and cities the boat goes to and by are cute the best thing about this cruise is that on a clear day the awesome Jungfrau Massif towers in all its glacier-girdled majesty high above the idyllic lake - refelcting even in its mirror-like waters. I especially enjoy a late afternoon cruise on a warm day - bringing on some wine and picnic supplies and getting intoxicated on both the wine and the scintillating views of the Jungfrau Massif. A very relaxing way to wind down your day IMO
Boats are covered in full by Swiss Passes.

TBC
The Boats
Lake Brienz
Meiringen, Reichenbach Falls, Ballenberg
Lucerne
Bern - rainy day excursions
Kandersteg
Interlaken itself
Jungfraujoch Train and Experience
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Old Apr 25th, 2008, 09:37 AM
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There's a whole lot more in the BOB (Berner Oberland Region) than the high mountains that are a magent drawing tourists here - especially on days when weather or muddy trails are not conducive to hiking or taking gondolas up to mountain tops. And

LAKE BRIENZ
Makes a simply wondrous day out - in fact this lake has even more fine sites on its shores than Lake Thun does - and that is something! (Actually there is so much around it that you could spend 2 or 3 great days exploring the area.) So it's easy to hop from the likes of Wengen or Grindelwald down to Interlaken to Interlaken-Ost train station and walk under the tracks thru the passageway that leads to the usually waiting boat that will then head east via a canal to Lake Brienz, a fjord-like body of water with on its south banks steep rocky sides and cliffs.

Boats first seem to head to GEISSBACH FALLS, where from the dock you can either do a short but steep hike or take an antique funicular train up to the famous falls and the equally renown Geissbach Hotel (not sure of name of hotel) and then boat the next of the about every 90 minutes boats in the tourist season (Easter thru mid Oct i think)

and steam over to BRIENZ, a cute city known for its wood-cutters and wood-cut chaleted flower bedecked houses strung along the lake.

From here the boat heads back to Interlaken-Ost stopping at some more cute lakeside resort towns.

But from Brienz there are several great options, such as taking the train to MEIRINGEN and REICHENBACH FALLS or train from there onto INNERTKIRCHEN to traipse thru the famous GLACIER GORGE or from Brienz hop a postal bus to the internationally renown BALLENBERG OPEN-AIR MUSEUM,ubiquitously listed as amongst the world's finest Folk Museums and one that is lovingly set in a meadow overlooking the lake. And finally from Brienz you can take the BRIENZER ROTHORN BAHN, a vintage steam train that chugs up to the Brienzer Rothorn peak, one of Switzerland's renown Alpine outlook points.
And instead of taking the boat back to Interlaken-Ost you can hop the frequent trains that, going along Lake Brienz and with the glacier-studded high peaks looming over its southern shore, one of Switzerland's most scenic train rides IMO/

TBC - Elaborating a bit on each of the Brienz area sights and more on the boats.



Used to have thru boats
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Old Apr 25th, 2008, 12:00 PM
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Swiss open-air museum Ballenberg | Welcome
Ballenberg Switzerland as it once was ... Swiss open-air museum Ballenberg | Phone 0041 33 952 10 30 | [email protected] | Impressum | Disclaimer.
www.ballenberg.ch/en/Welcome
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Old Apr 26th, 2008, 06:05 AM
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If you are doing the Ballenberg things as part of this day trip on Lake Brienz and you have a Swiss Pass then be sure to show the pass at the museum as then you can enter free and not pay the 18 franc entry fee or about $20 at today's exchange rates. And the Swiss Pass covers all the components of this trip - say from Wengen or Grindelwald the train to Interlaken, the boat on Lake Brienz, the bus to Ballenberg and back to Brienz and then either train or boat back to Interlaken and train back to the hills.
folks with 3-day Swiss Flexipasses which are usually the best option (vs Half-Fare Cards, Swiss Cards, Swiss Transfer Tickets and buying regular tickets) if coming to the BOB by train from say Zurich or Geneva or other Swiss border points, etc. this would be a good day to use your 3rd flexi day as it would also cover the $20 museum fee (no other of above options cover museum entry)
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Old Apr 27th, 2008, 07:05 AM
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A BIT ON THE BOATS
These boats are often called 'paddlewheel steamers' and have a paddlewheel that helps propel the boat

(perhaps in show only in many cases, though some are advertised as authentic vintage steam-driven paddlewheel steamers - like on Lake Lucerne i think)

Anyway these steamers have two decks - an open-air upper deck with chairs and a lower deck with the ubiquitous bar-restaurant (some have regular restaurants with table service - others a kiosk) - the bottom deck has small open-air areas in the front and back usually

The upper deck is usually IME reserved for 1st class ticket or passholders only

(As usual on any Swiss train or boat if you have a 2nd class pass or ticket you can pay onboard the difference between the ordinary cost of 1st class vs 2nd class as an upgrade in case you want to move up to 1st class. -Good on trains sometimes where 2nd class is surprisingly mobbed - rarely though.)

Railpasses IME just flash the pass while boarding - or just board if no one inspecting and the conductor will come around and glance at your pass later (and inevitably shoo 2nd class ticket or passholders out of 1st class!)

Boats run fairly frequently in season - Easter thru mid-Oct and lesser in off season - really a skeletal service in winter, if any at all. (the lakes don't freeze but it's because of a lack of tourists as these boats mainly run for tourists, including Swiss resorting on these lakes.)

It seems, with the exception of dinner party-cruises there are no reservations possible and everyone seems to squeeze on - though i rarely see really packed boats.

www.swisstravelsystem.com has more on Switzerland's boats.
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Old Apr 28th, 2008, 12:07 PM
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Questions About Using a Swiss Pass are covered here as well as Bob Brown's comments on Jungfraujoch trains and various passes. (bob is an expert on the BOB-Jungfrau area - google his name for lots on hiking, transports, etc in the area.)

http://www.fodors.com/forums/
threadselect.jsp?fid=2&tid=35126662
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Old Apr 29th, 2008, 08:22 AM
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Swiss Passes are rising in price about 8% may 1 so if planning to soon purchase a Swiss Pass you can save by booking your pass before Apr 30, 2008 and be guaranteed that price for six months, the time you have to activate a Swiss Pass after its issuance (and then use a flexipass for one month after that)

sample savings - the popular 3-day flexi saverpass is currently $165 p.p. and will rise $179 or $14 p.p., meaning a savings of $28 if bought before May 1.
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Old Apr 29th, 2008, 11:32 AM
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LAKE BRIENZ DAY TRIP CONT - THE MEIRINGEN COMPONENT

Actually Lake Brienz is too much for one day to see everything of interest

but anyone can enjoy the boat trip to Brienz and then from there either do Ballenberg, the steam train Brienz up to the Rothorn or from Brienz just head to Meiringen by train (a few minutes)

MEIRINGEN, home of Meringue i guess, is an interesting town just off the lake and is esp known for two things - SHERLOCK HOLMES and a tiny old church in the town square is not a Sherlock Holmes museum - Conan Doyle i guess spent time here when Meiringen was popular with English folk.
And Doyle used the nearby REICHENBACH FALLS as a venue for the deadly tangle between Holmes and arch-enemy Prof Moriarity (sp?) - their fight on a ledge overlooking the huge cascade of water and rocks.
From Meiringen you can hop a bus to the falls or walk the mile or so and then hop an antique funicular up along the course of the falls to the ledge near the top.

NEXT - INNERTKIRCHEN AND THE GLACIER GORGE WALK AND THE GRINDELWALD BUS VIA SCHWRZERALP (SP?) OVER GROSSE SCHIEDEGG TO GRINDELWALD
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Old Apr 30th, 2008, 10:01 AM
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INNERTKIRCHEN - GLACIER GORGE
From Meiringen you can hop a few-car tram-like train a few minutes to Innertkirchen and the famous Glacier Gorge - a long narrow chasm that you walk thru on boardwalks over a roaring river with the gorge's walls soaring up above you.
Or from Meiringen you can take a postal bus up along Reichenbach Falls and then up a dreamy Alpine Valley to Schwarzwaldalp, a renown dairy farming village - with famous festivities i believe when the cows go back to higher grazing climes in the spring, to return to shelter here during the winter.
This is a wonderful large boulder-strewn valley that stretches up all the way to Grosse Scheidegg, the top lip of the Grindelwald Valley.
The Grindelwald Bus in non-snowy seasons runs a route from Grindelwald via Grosse Scheidegg and Schwarzwaldalp to Meiringen and back. (Railpasses not valid on this bus - but are valid in full on regular postal buses Meiringen to Schwarzwaldalp.
I once spent a long day hiking from Grindelwald up to Grosse Scheidegg and down via Schwarzwaldalp and Reichenbach Falls to Meiringen - and all parts were great so it's easy to mix in some hiking with the buses - the Grosse Scheidegg to Schwarzwaldalp is especially fantastic, with large pine trees and huge boulders and cows, etc.

NEXT THE 3 PASS BUS TOURS
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Old Apr 30th, 2008, 12:57 PM
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INNERTKIRCHEN GLACIER GORGE

PostBus - 4-Pass Tour (round trip)
Aare Gorge over thousands of years the waters of the young Aare gradually eroded a passage into the rock between Innertkirchen and Meiringen, ...
www.postbus.ch/en/index_pag/pag-nat-freizeit/
pag-rf-schweizer-alpen/pag-bern-vier-paesse-rundfahrt.htm
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Old May 1st, 2008, 07:22 AM
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Reichenbach Falls - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Reichenbach Falls (Reichenbachfall) near Meiringen, Switzerland, have a total drop of 250 m (820 ft). At 90 m (295.2 ft) the Upper Reichenbach Falls is ...
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reichenbach_Falls
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 07:50 AM
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TO SEE WHAT MUSEUMS ARE INCLUDED IN THE SWISS MUSEUM PASS AND THUS FREE TO SWISS PASS HOLDERS ON DAYS OF 100% COVERAGE:

http://www.museumspass.ch/
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Old May 4th, 2008, 07:33 AM
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BOAT SCHEDULES FOR LAKE THUN AND LAKE BRIENZ:

http://www.bls.ch/schiff/fahrplan_e.html
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Old May 9th, 2008, 11:46 AM
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Another fantastic (but time consuming) day trip from the Interlaken area is the Three Pass Bus Tour (or whatever it's called) that starts from Meiringen's post office with a postal bus that goes over one famous pass - the Susten Pass to Goschenen and Andermatt where you change buses to go over the Furkha Pass to Oberwald then another bus over the Grimsel Pass back to Meiringen.

While this is an all-day marathon of dramatic Swiss postal buses it can be also done in parts or as a novel means of leaving the Grindelwald-Interlaken-Meiringen area if going on to places like Zurich, Lugano, the Glacier Express Route, etc.

In the next few posts i'll try to outline how these buses can be used for day excursions and also as a means to get to the Interlaken-BOB area without going the way nearly everyone else does - by car or train to Interlaken from the east, west or north - you can indeed go south from the BOB via these bus routes (or drive as well)
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