Swiss planning questions

Old Dec 19th, 2007, 03:08 AM
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Swiss planning questions

I am in the process of planning a trip to Switzerland for next September (mid to late). We'll be flying from Philadelphia into Zurich and will figure on making use of the fine Swiss transportation system.

My thinking so far is to arrive Zurich, travel to Weggis for the first three nights, move to the Bernese Oberland (probably Wengen) for three or four nights, and then find an interesting place to go for two more nights. Our last night will definitely be near the Zurich airport, since we have a morning flight home.

Where to go for the third destination is one of my questions now. The Engadine sounds really special (but is probably too far to be practical), or my other thought would be to go to Stein-am-Rhein for two nights, putting us in a good position for return to the Zurich area.

I should mention that we are a couple in our mid-sixties, have traveled frequently to Europe (usually driving, but hubby is becoming less interested in doing this), and we have traveled to Switzerland about ten years ago and did an all-inclusive tour with highlight train trips, etc. This time we will be interested in enjoying the beauty, the walks, boat trips and the challenge of using the public transportation system.

I have spent alot of time on this board and know that many of you have such good experience with Swiss travel and will probably steer me in the right direction with my planning. Thanks in advance for your suggestions and comments.
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Old Dec 19th, 2007, 04:01 AM
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Hi FergusM,

You've certainly done your homework, and your plan looks very good so far. Yes, I agree that you ought to save the Engadin for another trip, maybe when you can spend an entire week enjoying the valley.

My first thought for your third stop is the Lake Geneva area; you can take the Golden Pass route from the BO to Montreux and stay there for your few days. Montreux is a good contrast with your other stops -- it is a French-influenced city in a beautifully mild climate on the lake. You can spend your time there strolling the flowered lakeside promenade, exploring the vineyards of the Lavaux (between Vevey and Lausane), or exploring medieval cities like Murten, Nyon, Yvoire (in France), and Avenches.

You can get from Montreux to Zurich in about three hours with a direct route via Lausanne & Bern.

Good luck!

s
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Old Dec 19th, 2007, 05:25 AM
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Montreux makes a lot of sense because of the contrast with your other stops as Swandav says, but I have to say that my husband and I loved Stein-am-Rhein particularly late afternoon and evening when the day-trippers left.
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Old Dec 19th, 2007, 10:07 AM
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Just checking in as another fan of the Vevey/Montreux area along Lac Leman. Lovely towns. You could include Gruyeres. Don't miss Chateau de Chillon.
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Old Dec 19th, 2007, 12:00 PM
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Thanks Swandav, Ruff and Suze. I'm getting out the books and will do some research on the Montreux area.

On the tour we made ten years ago, we did the Geneva area and visited the lovely Castle de Chillon. We have not been to either Lausanne or Montreux. I agree that visiting this French-speaking area of the country might offer a nice bit of contrast to our itinerary. Any hotel suggestions for these or surrounding towns?
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Old Dec 19th, 2007, 12:09 PM
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Hi again,

Here is some further information about activities and excursions you can make from Montreux:

Montreux old town
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR...reux_Vaud.html

Lavaux
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR...reux_Vaud.html

Promenade Fleuri
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR...reux_Vaud.html

Morges
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR...rges_Vaud.html

Gruyeres
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR..._Fribourg.html

Saanen
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR...wiss_Alps.html

Gstaad
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR...wiss_Alps.html

If you tell us what level of hotel you're looking for (3-star? 5-star?), we can give you specific recommendations. In Montreux, I've stayed at the Eden Palace au Lac, the Victoria, the Royal Plaza, the Ermitage,and the Auberge des Planches; if you want info on any of those, let me know!

s
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Old Dec 19th, 2007, 06:09 PM
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Hi,
Montreux sounds quite interesting. I know we would enjoy the lakeside promenades, boat trips on the lake, and visits to some of the nearby towns. Should I be concerned that some have considered the town a bit "seedy"?



I've been doing some checking around, including Tripadvisor. They give a good rating to Eden Palace au Lac and also to Hotel Splendid and Grand Hotel Excelsior. Any comments on these hotels? We would probably want a fairly moderately ($250 or less for a double) priced hotel with a convenient location (to train) and with lake views.
Thanks for your input.
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Old Dec 20th, 2007, 03:30 AM
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Hi FergusM,

You can tell that I go to Montreux a lot, so I obviously love it there; however I can concede that some parts do come off as undesirable -- though tourists rarely see those parts.

The main street of the city is a busy thoroughfare with teeming traffic, blaring horns, busy shoppers, and barking busses. There are also a lot of dreary modern buildings and a few high-rises forcing themselves into the Edwardian-style city blocks. So, all of that is not wonderfully lovely, yet it is a fact of life for any city anywhere.

The good news is that you don't have to spend a lot of time on the main drag. You may want to head up there to visit a few shops or a restaurant or two, but you can avoid all that hustle and bustle if you stay on the lakeside promenade, which is separated from the main street with a wide strip of Edwardian buildings. You can't even hear the traffic.

Now, there are some really undesirable areas, but you truly have to search for them by going beyond the hotel strip and then going inland. There are poorer people in Switzerland, and there are some in and around Montreux too. I rented an apartment in August and found that I had rented right smack dab in that area -- there were rows and rows of modern apartment buildings; my own building and my apartment were dirty, dark, and smelly. IBut don't think that you'll come to see this area unless someone tells you where to go.

If you think you'd like to visit but would like to avoid Montreux, then consider Vevey. While Montreux is mainly a resort city, Vevey is still mainly residential, with far fewer modern buildings intruding on the atmosphere. The old town is larger and more vibrant, filled with interesting shops; it is also right next to the lake (rather than up a hill as in Montreux).

As for the hotels you mention, I think the Eden Palace is the best; I've stayed there two times. It's probably the priciest of the three as well, and you may have trouble finding a double for $250. The location is absolutely the best, right on the promenade and right in the center of town. You could walk there from the train station, but you might also want to take a taxi (may cost around 10 chf). The Splendid is across the street from the lake, and I think it's a 3-star. It is just downhill from the train station, an easy walk. The Excelsior is right on the lake, a bit of a walk from the center of town (I wouldn't walk it with luggage). It is also part of a treatment center, which always puts me off.

Hope this helps!

s
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Old Dec 20th, 2007, 03:40 AM
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All of the places mentioned above would be good...BUT to help you keep this in perspective, distance-wise allow me to offer a couple of bits of info.

The transportation system you want to use is very efficient. You can literally cross the entire country in about 4.5 hours. Switzerland is about the size of West Virginia.

I disagree that being in the Engadine is "too far to be practical" so please don;t discount that entirely.

And as to Montreaux..if you want an absoluetly spectacular few hours...take the rack railway from Montreux up to Rochers de Naye.
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Old Dec 20th, 2007, 04:44 AM
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Thank you Swandav and Dukey. My research continues, and I am not inclined at this point to eliminate Montreux from consideration. The photos I have seen have been gorgeous.
The links you provided, Swandav, were helpful, and we certainly would not run out of things to do for a couple of days.
I shall also look into Vevey and into the transportation arrangement for Bernese Oberland to Engadine to Zurich airport ( in a 3-day period).
This latter sounds a bit too hectic, however.
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Old Dec 20th, 2007, 04:54 AM
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I agree that you've got a great itinerary!

Regarding Stein-am-Rhein - a couple months back there was a great trip report here (sorry, can't remember who posted) which included beautiful pictures from this city.

It looks absolutely charming, doesn't it? We've never been there but have now included it for the end of our trip next summer. Its location to Zurich certainly is convenient, too.

Staying near the airport before a flight, we have had lots of luck with getting the Renaissance in Glattbrugg (a 4* Priceline hotel just a short 5-minute shuttle ride away from the airport) for less than $100. There are also many here who will recommend staying in Zurich proper for the night and then taking the train in.

Happy travels!
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Old Dec 20th, 2007, 05:07 AM
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I agree with everyone and really loved Montreux as well as the Chillon and Gruyere castles.

However, while I was in Switzerland this past Sept/Oct I fell in love with St. Gallen. It's a very old town with a spectacular cathedral and abbey library with books from the 800's. The train station is right in the old town area and this town became one of our favorite stops of our trip. I would highly recommend this city if you love history and really ornate cathdrals. You have to put slippers over you shoes to walk on the library floors which date from the 1500's. They also have a mummy. Look up the library and cathedral online and you'll see how cool this place is. It's also near Appenzell which is a very cute town where church bells call the locals to church on Sundays. I absolutely loved this area. It's also close to Zurich and you could even hop over to Lichtenstein.
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Old Dec 20th, 2007, 05:22 AM
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I second going up to Rochers de Naye. Also, if you are in Lausanne, I recommend the Olympic Museum and L'Academie de l'Art Brut (? sp), which is one of only two museums in the world (that I'm aware of) dedicated to "outsider" or visionary art. The other is the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.
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Old Dec 20th, 2007, 05:32 AM
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Have to NOW chime in about St. Gallen...the abbey church interior there has been called, and IMO rightly so, the most beautiful in Switzerland. And then there's the famous library and its mummy, not to mention Appenzell nearby and Lake Constance, and....too many places anot not enoguh time!!!!!
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Old Dec 20th, 2007, 07:13 AM
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We have also been to Stein am Rhein and found the town to be amazing. The location on the Rhein just adds to the charm. Our photos and trip report if you are interested:

http://good-times.webshots.com/album/554510509SyxotU

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34813676

The trip report referred to above by Susan001;

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=35044158
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Old Dec 20th, 2007, 07:33 AM
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You could stay in Vevey instead of Montreux to avoid any worry of a 'seedy' element. The towns are 5 mins apart but Vevey feels much "more Swiss". I have friends who live in both towns and they all prefer Vevey.

Seedy would not be the word I use myself about Montreux BUT I can understand the impression. Montreux has a more international feel, with many nationalities of tourists and residents, plus is a resort town with a busy main drag that runs right thru town.

That said don't miss the Old Town area up the hill, it's very nice.

If you have the money stay at any hotel lakefront in Vevey, it's spectacular. On a moderate budget there are several good hotel above a restaurant type of rooms (Negotiants and Hotel Geneve).

Montreux and Vevey are connected by great bus as well as train, so totally easy to do both.

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Old Jan 30th, 2008, 05:22 AM
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Well, we have made some decisions and some reservations for our trip next September.
We will arrive Zurich, use our Swiss Saver Passes to travel to Weggis, and spend 3 nights at the Seehotel Gotthard. Next will be 3 nights in Wengen at the Alpenrose. Then we will take the Golden Pass to Montreux where we have booked a lakeside room at the Eden au Lac.
We'll train back to Zurich and stay near the airport our last night, since our flight back leaves early the next morning.
I'm in the process of reading all the recommendations of things to do in these areas by those of you who have shared your experiences on this board.
Thanks for your help.
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