Palenque's Scenic Swiss Trains

Old Sep 18th, 2006, 04:37 PM
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I live in Australia and as at todays rate the 15 day consectutive pass 2nd class for 2 people is $854 AUD which is $644 US from Railplus in Melbourne.
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Old Sep 19th, 2006, 06:26 AM
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BETS home page (www.budgeteuropetravel.com) lists current Swiss Pass prices for 15-day pass saverpass at $274 p.p. or $548 for 2 - Figuring that U.S. prices are about 10-15% lower than in Switzerland it seems the Australian price would approximate what you'd pay at stations in Switzerland.

Why U.S. prices are lower is a mystery as prices here are set by RailEurope i think, which is 30% owned by the Swiss Railways. I'll hve to check www.sbb.ch to see if the discrepency still exists as it did a few months ago and throughout the past few years.
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Old Sep 19th, 2006, 07:27 AM
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sbb.ch web site keeps throwing me off so i can't check current prices in Switzerland - a rather finicky site in my case and computer to use.
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Old Sep 19th, 2006, 03:50 PM
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Well I guess we don't have much choice but I think I would be inclined to get the pass here before we go - one less thing to have to worry about and pay for along the way.

Thanks again.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2006, 09:14 AM
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FOR MAUDIE - BRIENZ AREA
Brienz is a great base for some nearby sights:

Lake boats - be sure to hop these to Interlaken - get off at Geissbach Falls stop and either walk or take the antique funicular up to the famous hotel overlooking the lake in a forested surroundings.

Meiringen - a few minutes by train from Brienz - neat little town - Sherlock Holmes Museum in tiny old church - Conan Doyle based some of his adventures here and especially at nearby Reichenbach Falls, a few miles from town - this is where Sherlock Holmes arch-enemy Dr Moriaty (sp?) met his fate by falling into the roaring falls. A funicular goes up to the falls from the valley. The train station at Meiringen is full of action. Rail buffs will salivate at watching the trains from Lucerne via the Brunig Pass and those from Brienz reverse here - unlike most trains in Europe that can go both ways when reversing in dead-end stations, these trains must have their engines uncoupled and reattached - trains from each direction often do this at the same time.

Bus to Grindelwald via Reichenball Falls - one of the finest Swiss postal bus rides, goes up a gorgeous valley via Schwendi (?) - famous for its flocks of cows - thru the boulder-strewn valley to crest over into the Grindelwald amphitheatre at Grosse Scheidegg, from where unfolds an incredible view of the whole Grindelwald/Jungfrau area. Bus ends in Grindelwald and then you can take train down to Interlaken-Ost station and from there back to Brienz - or hop the boat right from the station back to Brienz. You could do this in reverse - boat to Interlaken, train to Grindelwald, bus to Meiringen. (I think this bus however is one of the few not valid with a Swiss Pass.)

I actually once walked from Grindelwald to Grosse Scheidegg and all the way down via Reichenbach Falls to Meiringen - a long arduous hike but one of the most thrilling i've taken in this area. For an easier hike take the bus part way.

BALLENBERG OPEN-AIR MUSEUM
Perched right above Brienz, on a lush meadow overlooking the lake is one of Switzerland's most popular museums - Ballenberg Open-Air Museum to which many old time rural and farm buildings have been relocated to re-create old time Swiss farm life. Lots of demonstrations, etc. Swell setting overlooking the lake. Remember that your Swiss Pass, but only on days of 100% covered travel (must use a day on a flexipass) acts as a museum pass and gives you free entry here too (probably a $15 or so value) - may do the day you use a flexipass to get to Brienz.

BRIENZER ROTHORN BAHN
From Brienz itself a steam train chugs up to the Brienzer Rothorn, a 7.310 foot summit overlooking Brienz and Lake Brienz - super views and there's the ubiquitous mountain top cafe/restaurant up here. Again i hiked up here but the ascent is arduous - can take train part way. (Train not covered in full by Swiss Pass; 50% off - remember on flexipasses for the whole one-month validity period you get 50% off everything - no need to use a day of travel.)

Oh and Meiringen is where the word Meringue comes from - look for this concoction in local shops!

Of course from Brienz you can easily take the train or boat to Interlaken-Ost and then go up to either Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen - to me one of the greatest day trips is to take the train to Lauterbrunnen, then the postal bus to Stechelberg (or walk the two flat miles here), at the end of the narrow Lauterbrunnen Valley, then one of Europe's most thrilling aerial cable cars straight up the cliff to Gimmmelwald, take a look at this isolated farming village with some of the most stupendous views in the Alps, then either walk or take the aerial cablecar up more to Murren, a swank popular resort (can hop world's longest (?) aerial cableway here to Schilthorn and its famous revolving restaurant out in the middle of ice fields with fantastic views - James Bond film On Her Majesty's Service (? hope i got right one) was in part filmed here - you can walk on the ice. From Murren take the electric train that goes right along the edge of the cliff to Grutschalp and then plunge down to Lauterbrunnen via the new aerial cableway that replaced the antique funciular (due to open in November 2006) so currently you must retrace you route via Stechelberg to do this excursion. The whole route- every component is covered by a Swiss Pass in full (Not Schilthorn cable; 50% off) and would warrant a day of use on a Swiss Pass, especially if coming from Brienz. A FANTASTIC EXCURSION!

BRUNIG PASS ROUTE - As mentioned also from Brienz you can take the Golden Pass rail route via Meiringen over the Brunig Pass to Lucerne, one of Europe's most beautiful cities - the whole Brunig route is tremendously scenic - it's the only Swiss Federal Railways line to use cogs at points that are so steep cogs are needed to help it up and down - it's also a narrow-gauge train line so has a toy-like character. You may want to use a day on a Swiss Pass if in Lucerne you want to take a boat ride on Lake Lucerne - certainly one of the finest lakes around - or if you want to visit the Swiss Transport Museum on the edge of Lucerne - one of world's finest transport museums and free with Swiss Passes on 100% travel days.

ENGLEBERG- Another day trip from Brienz would be taking the Brunig Pass line part way to Lucerne and switch to the Engleberg mountain train that goes to Engleberg, one of Switzerland's most famous Alpine resorts and perched at the foot of glacier-girdled Mt Titlis - a conveyance goes from Engleberg to Mt Titles.

MT PILATUS - Also on the Brunig Pass line to Lucerne is Mt Pilatus, one of Switzerland's famous mountains, both for its looks and sweeping views from the summit. Get off at Alpnachstad and take a thrilling mountain train up to the summit then come down the other side via a long aerial cableway tp Krens, where you can bus the few miles to Lucerne for trains back to Brienz. (Pilatus train and cable 50% off with Swiss Pass.)

THREE PASS BUS EXCRUSION
Another unusual day excursion is the Three Pass postal bus excrusion that begins and ends in Meiringen - going up and over three famous Alpine passes and returning to Meiringen (transferring twice to different buses) - these buses can also be used to take a novel route out of Meiringen - one bus goes to Goschenen, a stop on the Gotthard rail line (north to Lucerne or Zurich; south to Lugano and Italy (Milano)- at Goschenen you can take the short railway up to Andermatt to join the Glacier Express route.

So there is a myriad of fine excursions to do from a Brienz base.


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Old Sep 22nd, 2006, 04:13 PM
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What can I say, you have come through for me again. You should write a book! I hope everyone going to Switzerland reads this thread.

Sounds like Brienz is going to be the perfect base for us to explore all of your wonderful suggestions - we won't be still for a minute.

Again my humble thanks for your time and patience.
Maudie

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Old Sep 25th, 2006, 06:34 AM
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Maudie - thanks a lot but it's just something i enjoy a lot.

A bit about the Alpine Pass buses - though free with Swiss Passes there is an "Alpine Ticket" required to use these buses, unlike most postal buses which are 100% valid with pass - this ticket for passholders costs SF 10 last time i rode them and i think it's only for buses that go up and over passes.
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 01:21 AM
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That's good to know, I will add that to my notes.
I think we will use the "fast baggage" from Pontresina to Lugano and pick it up the next day then we can take the train to Andermatt then onto Morcote or we could try the bus from St Moritz...... oh the decisions!!!! Just too many choices.

And it shows how much you do enjoy helping people - I would nominate you for a Fodor's award if I could.
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 06:24 AM
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Maudie - too too kind! More about the buses - i had read reservations were required and went to the post office in Interlaken and they told me no so i just turned up at the Meiringen bus depot, where these buses start, and went to the ticket window and got a ticket. I don't even know if reservations are required or not, but anyone taking these buses should stop by a post office, which runs these buses, thus 'Swiss postal buses' and ask - or in Meiringen go right to the bus station ticket window and ask.
A possible short day trip on these buses would be to take one part way - up to the top of a pass, get off and take another bus back.
Also these buses don't run usually in winter and can be cancelled even in September - i was once planning to take the three passes tour and twice was told that passes were blocked by snow and they were cancelled.
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 03:34 PM
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I looked at the three passes tour but it doesn't run while we are there which is a pity but I am sure we won't have any problem filling our days.
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Old Sep 27th, 2006, 06:35 AM
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Maudie - a rainy day day trip possibility - hop the train to Interlaken Ost and then train to Bern, one of the finest looking cities in Europe in my opinion.

Most of the streets in the shopping area there are covered with arcades, giving it a most unusual look and dry cover in wet weather. If you use a Swiss Pass for 100% coverage day you can also use it to go into the highly acclaimed new museum in Bern - the Paul Klee Museum, acclaimed not only for its art but for the unique building built to house the art.

In Bern there is also the Parliament Building, nice walks along the swist-flowing Aare River and the famous Bear Pit, housing several Bears, the symbol of Bern.

The Bern train station is smack in the middle of town and only about an hour or so from Brienz.
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Old Sep 27th, 2006, 03:42 PM
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Now that sounds like a good plan, thanks for that.

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Old Sep 28th, 2006, 01:29 AM
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PalenqueBob,

here is another few scenic trains for your next visit here:
-Appenzeller Bahnen from St.Gallen up into the hills of Appenzell. A very beauiful stretch is actually getting from Altstätten in St Galler Rhine valley up into Appenzell using the cog line (most AB rains can run both on adhesion and cog lines);
-Rorschach - Heiden cog railway: beautiful views to the Lake Constance far below and into the Alpstein massiv
-Trogener Bahn: runs like a tram through St. Gallen, then through the hills and for a quite long stretch along a hill ridge with beautiful views in both directions (Lake Constance and Alpstein). Access to a lot of easy hiking.
In St. Gallen, don't forget to visit the monastery precinct and especially the library - it used to be one of the richest monasteries north of the Alps and it shows. The interesting thing was that most of Kanton St. Gallen is protestant, while the monastery had for a long time a special status of a "state within a state" like Vatikan.
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Old Sep 28th, 2006, 06:40 AM
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high wall (altamiro?) - thanks a lot for these suggestions as this is one area of Switzerland i have not really explored as to such trains. Appenzell has long been high on my list - the others are news to me and highly appreciated and will be ridden in the future! Thanks for the input that others may benefit from as well.
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Old Sep 28th, 2006, 07:48 AM
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Maudie - you can and perhaps should consider taking a boat trip on Lake Thun as well - it's a whole different experience as a lake and views of the Jungfrau Massif are much more striking than those on Lake Brienz IMO.
Here i've copied something from an old post:
Author: Bob
Date: 10/08/2001, 02:50 pm
We are staying in Lauterbrunnen next September, and will take the approximately 20-30 minute train ride into Interlaken for a sight seeing trip. I understand your can take cruises on Lake Brinezersee and/or Lake Thunersee. If so, we would like a cruise of a few hours including lunch. Is anyone familar with these cruises and approximately how expensive are they?

Author: Bill
Date: 10/08/2001, 03:35 pm
Don't know of any "few hour" long cruises on Brienzersee (or Thunersee). Both take only an hour for a trip from Interlaken to Brienz (or Thun). Meals are available on many of the more or less hourly sailing schedules on both lakes. Between June and about September 25 there are a couple of steam-operated services daily, including one at lunchtime.

For schedules on Brienzersee use Interlaken Ost BrS as the departure station and Brienz BrS as the arrival station.

On Thunersee use Interlaken West ThS and Thun ThS. If you have a SwissPass the boats trips are included in coverage. 2nd class fare is less than USD20, and less than $30 in first class. On a nice warm day I'd strongly recommend first class, and I believe you can only dine in the restaurant with a first class ticket. Food is unremarkable, but like most all meals in Switzerland, tasty. Meals are not inexpensive, though prices are not much different from the average restaurant in the area.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Author: PalenqueBob
Date: 10/08/2001, 06:19 pm
Not sure which lake is nicer but both are spectacular, but only on a clear day when the backdrop of ice-bound high Alps girdling both lakes is visible. On Lake Thun, boat Interlaken-Thun (actually is a 2-hour cruise) and return from there by train. This boat goes via Spiez, 45 min from Interlaken, a cute town with a romantic hilltop castle ensnared in vineyards; the train station here however is a steep uphill walk; and Merligen, considered to be the cutest lake town, where many folks get off to walk around its inviting lakefront or castle protruding into the water and hop the next boat to Thun. Besides the train, you can also return to Interlaken from Thun via Swiss postal bus (railpasses valid) which hugs the lake's north shore most of the way. Lake Brienz probably has more dramatic scenery, with sheer cliffs and waterfalls on the lake's south side. Interlaken East-Brienz is about 1 h 15 min; the popular stop-off on this lake is at Giessbach See, from where you can take a funicular or hike up a steep trail to the famous Giessbach Falls, before going onto Brienz, a picture-postcard town of wooden chalets known for its woodcarving tradition. From here a steep steam-operated cog train climbs to the Rothorn summit, one of Switzerland's celebrated alpine viewpoints. Train back to Interlaken from Brienz, or train from it to Merlingen, a few minutes away, and visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum and ultra-famous Reichenbach Falls, scene of i think Dr. Moriaty's fatal fall into the falls. And a mile away is the awesome Aare gorge you can walk through on catwalks. There's also the celebrated open-air museum just outside of Brienz, re-creating the rural Swiss of old in a verdant setting ovcerlooking the lake. In any case both lakes present wonderful excursions - plan a whole day and get off the boat en route. If don't have a Eurailpass, Europass, Swisspass etc., which gives free passage on both lakes, fares are reasonable as stated by fellow above.

Author: richard j vicek
Date: 10/08/2001, 09:20 pm
Good evening, Bob
Information can be found on
www.thunersee,ch/
www.brienzersee.ch/
and the Swiss Old village is Ballenberg
reached by a ten min bus trip from the
Brienz station/dock.
For steam running on either lake there
was a 5 SF upcharge per person.
Richard of LaGrange Park,Il..

Author: Ritardo
Date: 10/10/2001, 06:41 pm
Boats about every hour on both lakes in summer - June through late September, scaled down service other times, or none some winter periods, especially on Brienzersee. Need no reservations, in fact don't think it's possible to even book except for nighttime dinner cruises perhaps. From Lauterbrunnen take train to Interlaken East (Ost) station, walk through underground viaduct to boat dock for Brienzersee boats, or walk or hop train one mile to Interlaken West station, where a similar viaduct leads under the tracks to the Thunersee boat dock.

Author: Patrick
Date: 10/10/2001, 09:45 pm
We have taken boats on both lakes (and numerous others) several times. We usually have a Swiss Pass and as mentioned above -- the boats are free with that. Assuming you have a first class pass, you use the top deck of the boat -- much nicer than downstairs. We usually just hop on and off boats going from town to town, and enjoy walking around a hour or two and possibly having lunch on shore before catching the next boat. Palenque Bob's suggestions are all very good ones.

Author: dirk
Date: 10/14/2001, 03:24 pm
We took a cruise on Lake Thun on a warm sunny day and the panorama of glaciers and Alps around the lake was stunning, one of the best things I've done in europe. don't know about Lake Brienz but suppose it's the same. Take the cruise!

Author: davis
Date: 10/14/2001, 03:28 pm
Brienz is a bit smaller, and a bit less surrounded by 'civilization'. Both have gorgeous blue (green?), glacier-fed waters. Don't know that I can think of a glacier that can be seen from either lake. One can, on a clear day, though seen snow-capped peaks.

Author: Russell
Date: 10/16/2001, 12:37 pm
If you decide to "cruise" on the Brienzersee, the boat of choice is the Lotschberg. The area around the Brienzersee is less populated than that surrounding the Thunersee, but it is well worth the trip. Last summer, we stayed in Iseltwald, which is about halfway along on the south side. The village has a marvelous setting and exceptionally pretty harbor. We stayed four nights and could have easily spent a week there as a base for visiting throughout the Oberland. Giessbach falls and the Grandhotel Giessbach are also on the south side and are of interest. Brienz, too, especially the Brienzer Rothorn, which you can reach by a steam-powered train. These are the websites for the Grand Hotel Giessbach and the Brienzer Rothorn Bahn.
http://www.brienz-rothorn-bahn.ch/e.html
http://www.giessbach.ch/default.html
Also, for ideas about these and other possibilities in the area, see
http://www.pilotonline.com/travel/tr0405obe.html
Enjoy.
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Old Sep 28th, 2006, 03:29 PM
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Thanks again Bob, our week in Brienz will go fast - but we will have to make time to sit on the balcony of our chalet and enjoy the view.
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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 06:10 AM
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Maudie - that's my number 1 suggestion -be sure to take time to sit on the balcony and get drunk on the surely intoxicating views - a glass of Swiss wine in hand. Again thanks for your nice comments and be sure to report here on your trip when you return! Happy trails toyou.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 07:29 AM
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While talking about Swiss Postal buses, here's a sight with timetable info:

PostBus - Time TableHome Swiss Post. Services. > Extra trips. > PostBus-Shop. Copyright Swiss Post - For more information please contact us. ...

http://www.postbus.ch/en/index_pag/p...g_fahrplan.htm
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Old Oct 5th, 2006, 05:05 PM
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Thanks for the PostBus site, that will be handy to have.
Just another question, we are thinking of taking the Palm Express to get from St Moritz to Lugano, on 4th June, do you have any idea how far in advance we would have to book?
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Old Oct 5th, 2006, 06:35 PM
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Wow! what a great thread...bookmarking!
Great job PalengueBob!
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