Switzerland and teenagers

Old Jan 9th, 2005, 07:50 PM
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Switzerland and teenagers

This July I am traveling to Geneva to visit my brother with husband and two teenage boys (13 & 17). Both boys are typical active teenage boys who like outdoor activities. Neither boy has been to Europe. We are using my brother's home as a "home base" for a few days, with the idea of taking several days trips and a few overnight trips. A trip to Rome is on the agenda.

I would appreciate suggestions for day trips near Geneva and other places that teenagers might enjoy visiting. My brother has suggested a trip to Zermatt, but others seem to like the area around Interlacken better. Others suggest that a trip to Salzburg is a must(Ludwig's castle and luge rides). Can you ride the luge in Zermatt? I would appreciate comments and advice concerning these ideas....

Thanks much!

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Old Jan 9th, 2005, 10:43 PM
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I have always avoided Interlaken, but only because it's filled with lots of oversexed drunk teenagers! Seriously, it is marketed at the youth market and I would think it suits 18-20 year olds more than young teenagers. Lauterbrunnen, situated further up the mountain from Interlaken, is my ideal spot and is very quiet. However, there are great hiking tracks from there as well as the Trummelbach Falls, which are interesting, and the cable car up to the Jungfrau, "the top of Europe". There are also some lovely spots around Lausanne. Hope this helps.
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Old Jan 10th, 2005, 02:21 AM
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AnnieGoo,

Be sure to get your notion of time and distanc right.
Geneva-Zermatt is a 4 hour train ride.
Rome should be done by nighttrain or by plane, or a 10 hour drive without too many stops... Rome is not an overnight trip, 3 days in Rome is a minimum.
Salzburg is a 9 to 10 hour train ride.

You will be close to the French and Swiss Alps for some hiking. It is quite easy o find one-day or two-day trails.
You can rent bikes in all major Swiss train stations and have a trip in the countryside.

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Old Jan 10th, 2005, 04:01 AM
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Hi AnnieGoo,

As baldrick notes, you ought to look into the budget airlines to help you guys get around Europe -- Easyjet for one, which I think is based in Geneva. The bad news is that I can't find any budget flights to Salzburg or Munich; you may opt to postpone that trip for a later date.

For your Geneva-area teen activities, may I suggest:

Chillon castle near Montreux, a great and well-preserved medieval castle on Lake Geneva.

Renting roller blades and blading the lakeside promenades around Montreux, Lausanne, and Morges. I know the promenade around Montreux goes for 11 km, from Clarens to Villeneuve (past Chillon), and I've heard the one at Morges goes all the way to Lausanne.

Blading, cycling, or hiking the 32 km vineyard paths from Lutry to Montreux.

Also -- maybe ask your brother to find a few local soccer clubs that your kids can join for the few weeks you'll be in town, or at least they may enjoy watching a game or two.

Your kids may also make some friends if they take a short summer French-language course offered at one of the schools in the area.

Let me know if I can help further.

s
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Old Jan 10th, 2005, 06:28 AM
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Your brother would be the best source, I would think, for suggested days trips. A few observations which I have (I live in Zurich):

“Ludwig’s castle” is in southern Germany, not Austria, and is about 4 hours from Salzburg. Salzburg is a lovely destination and this is where the Sound of Music was filmed, but it does not have the castle I believe you are referring to. That castle is in Neuschwanstein, near Fussen Germany. It is not feasible for a day trip from Geneva as the train ride is something like 7 hours each way, but might be done in an overnight trip from the Zurich/Interlaken area, although you are still looking at a long train ride or drive esp from Interlaken. I am not sure if going all that way to see a castle and foregoing all the other activities which can be done in Switzerland is worth it. If you really want to see it, my suggestions is that you get an “open jaw” flight into Munich and out of Geneva or vice versa. You can either go to Ludwig’s castle first or last, which will save you backtracking.

The areas around the south side of Lake Geneva like Lausanne, Vevey and Montreaux are beautiful and there are many walks and hikes in the surrounding countryside through vineyards, etc. There are great ferry rides down to these towns from Geneva. There is sailing, swimming and waterskiing/wakeboarding on Lake Geneva. You can rent bikes at virtually any train station in Switzerland for very little money and that is a great way to get around flatter parts of the area, esp along Lake Geneva.

The Interlaken area is quite far from Geneva (about 4 hours by train), it would not be good for a day trip and is a long way to go for one night although that is doable. The Murren, Wengen or Gimmelwald area is a great place to spend a few days. You can hike and the adventurous can rock climb, hang glide, etc. The area is indeed beautiful, but there are very beautiful places closer to Geneva.

Luges are I believe by definition done on a snow/ice track, and would not be available in July. However, there are several places (like Saas Fee near Zermatt) which have toboggan runs on rails that are open all year. Run a search for toboggan runs or luges on the internet and see what comes up.

Zermatt is doable for a day, but is better for overnight or a few days. Sunrise and sunset are quite beautiful there which you would miss on a day trip, although in July the sunset is so late you might get to see it. There are numerous walks/hikes in this area.

While this site is helpful, it is not substitute for a good guidebook that describes all the regions in Switzerland and what activities are on offer. Get a guidebook with a map to get an idea of relative distances from Geneva. The website for Swiss Rail is rail/ch; it is very easy to use. For day trips if your brother has a car, you possibly borrow it or have him drive. This will save you some time in not being tied to train and bus schedules, esp. if you are doing hikes in outlying areas. You could also rent a car, but rentals are expensive as is gas. Parking is hard to find and expensive in most towns and villages. Bear all that in mind.

There is a great Lonely Planet book called “Walking in Switzerland” that rates hikes by difficulty, distance, time etc. It includes details on getting to and from walks via Switzerland’s phenomenal public transport system. This would be a good book for you to have with kids.


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Old Jan 10th, 2005, 06:40 AM
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I believe there is also a 90 minute bus ride to Chamonix, where you could see Mt Blanc, one of the highest mountains in Europe.

There may also be ski or snowboard possibilities on the glaciers there.
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Old Jan 10th, 2005, 07:26 AM
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Mon Deux! I forgot Chaminoix as it is in France.. .it is a great and easy destination from Geneva and there are some great gondola rides. This makes a great day or overnight trip and you should find sledding, skiing or snowboarding options there even as late as July.
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Old Jan 10th, 2005, 08:40 AM
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Many thanks for the numerous helpful suggestions!!! I greatly appreciate your comments.

A weekend trip (3 days/ 2 nights) to Zermatt (by car with my brother)is on the agenda. We have 6 days to spend when we return and then we plan to fly to Rome, for a 4 day/ 3 night trip. We then will take either a flight or train to Milan to fly home.

With that in mind, I was considering how to spend the 6 days in the middle part of our trip. Based upon the comments offered, it sounds like Salzburg or Munich would be a long train ride and probably should be saved for another trip. While I would love to see Ludwig's castle, I wonder whether a 9 hour train ride is worth the time spent...

So here is the question I pose, with 6 days to spend... would you stay in Switzerland and take short day trips or overnight trips to areas fairly close or would you venture off to another area? Based upon comments offered, it sounds as thought there are many wonderful areas around Switzerland and it isn't necessary to venture off. This might be our only trip to Europe, so I want my children to have a diverse and intersting trip. However, I am not interested in a "see 25 countries in 12 days experience".

Again, many thanks for the wonderful and helpful comments!
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Old Jan 10th, 2005, 01:55 PM
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Annie, Lyon is only about a 2 hour train ride from Geneva. Lyon has an old town that would be great fun for your teens to explore. It's a scenic train ride too.
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Old Jan 10th, 2005, 05:59 PM
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Not sure if you have done any reading on Neuschwanstein (Ludwig's "castle") - but you do realize that it is modern don;t you? It is quite interesting - but dates only from the 19th century - and is not some authentic midieval relic.

IMHO way too much trouble considering where you're located. Chillon Castle is much older - and we found fascinating - and is only a sort distance from Geneva.
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Old Jan 11th, 2005, 03:44 PM
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If you want loads to do with your children, head for the Oberland - we stayed in Grindelwald last summer, with teenagers (18,17(boy),15,13(boy)11 and 9 (boys). we went up the Jungfrau for skiing, did some wonderful hikes, and the youngsters went paragliding from First, and white water rafting from Interlaken. There is a good swimming pool in the town, and an indoor ice rink, and there are lake places around Interlaken for swimming as well. This should be enough to ensure sleep-filled nights. And for you - the scenery is spectacular!We haven't been to Zermatt, so I don't know anything about it, but we would go back to Grindelwald any day, and hope to return with some children next winter to see the snow.
 
Old Jan 19th, 2005, 12:40 PM
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We're thinking of going to Grindelwald this summer with our 4 teenagers and I wanted to ask Cod if they were really able to ski during the summer. My family are avid skiers and that would be awesome! Also, I would love some more info on the white water rafting and paragliding. Where do you recommend staying?
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Old Jan 20th, 2005, 02:56 AM
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It is very unlikely that your kids could ski in the Grindelwald area in the summer. You might find summer skiing are Saas Fe, which is very beautiful and is near Zermatt. It is also possible that there may be skiing on the Monte Rosa glacier in Zermatt in the summmer. Finally, Saanen near Gstaad often has summer skiing.

Given the very hot summers we have had here in Switzerland in the past few years, I would not plan a trip around it, just consider yourself lucky if you are in a place on a given day and skiing is available.
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Old Jan 20th, 2005, 05:22 AM
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I've skied in Grindelwald several times times, and there's no skiing available in the summer because there's no glacier - at least not one that's accessible for skiing. As Cicerone said, there is summer skiing at Zermatt on the glacier from the Kleine Matterhorn - I've skied that run in the winter and it's rather boring, so I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to do it. I haven't skied any of the other glaciers so can't help you there.
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Old Jan 20th, 2005, 01:41 PM
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To Nancy45; We did the bit of summer skiing up at the top of the Jungfrau, where there is a short ski slope. I dont know if it would be much goog for "avid skiers". We live in Ireland, and some of my children had never had a pair of skis on them in their lives. Three of the teenagers had been on school trips, and so could manage. But they had a wonderful day, and the trip to the Jungfrau is one of the highlights of a trip to Switzerland. The Paragliding is from the top of First (the booking office is just behind the bottom cable car station in the town.) They allowed the 6 children aged 18-11 to go, not the (nearly)9 year old. The white water rafting is from Interlaken - I think the firm we used was Alpinraft, but there are a few others. They took all the children - the two smaller ones were allowed join the rft half way down after the roughest of the river. They take you by bus to Luchenstal (sp?)about half way to Grindelwald, and you raft from there. They give you about half an hour instruction on the river bank first, so you know how to fall out and get back in etc., and provide wet suits and helmets, and there is an instructor on each raft. The kids thought it was brilliant. Because there were actually 11 of us on the trip (4 adults, 7 children) we got an apartment. Check out www.grindelwald.com and look at Lodgings. We had two cars (from Geneva) but got Regional Passes for the adults for the trains and cable cars, and Junior cards for the children - they cost chf20 each for a year's card, and they only charge you for 2 in a family - the rest are free (under 16's only). If you are staying for more than a few days, an apartment is great - We could not contemplate hotel meals all the time, not to mention the laundry! We go nowhere without a washing machine, and everyone is limited to such belongings as they can fit in their (modest size) school sports gear bag!Have a wonderful trip.
 
Old Jan 20th, 2005, 02:11 PM
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Nancy45; I see you have posts on other links as well. Re. a car; We rented our cars in Geneva airport (we flew easyjet) in the French sector (it's easy enough to get into from the Swiss arrivals part). This was because if you have 3 children under 18 in your party, you get 30%discount with www.citer.fr. (This website is all in French, but easy enough to follow). It's no bother to drive from there to Interlaken (motorway a lot of the way, all flat, a few tunnels) and then 30 mins to Grindelwald. We would have been totally lost with no car, but there again, we were there for a fortnight.
 
Old Jan 20th, 2005, 07:33 PM
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Thank you so much for your advice. I still can't decide whether to rent a car for our travels in Switzerland and Germany or use the trains and public transportation. We plan to spend 8 days total in both countries and my initial thought was a car would allow more flexibility, but others have said the rail pass and public transportation is the way to go. What do you think since you've travelled with many children before? Thanks for the names of the whitewater rafting outfit, my children would love to do that in the alps!
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Old Jan 21st, 2005, 05:43 AM
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I would probably rent a car (matter of fact, I did for this trip last summer). Two reasons: with 3 people a car is probably cheaper (I modelled the rail tickets on railsaver.com vs. the car rental costs) and the flexability with a car - particularly in Switzerland - is nice.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2005, 05:25 PM
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Nancy 45; I posted a reply to you, but it doesn't seem to appear. Click on the "post my reply" box, and it's on the left. In case it isn't, I can't imagine 8 days, 4 children, and no car! You can do so much more, and if you are self catering, you will need it for the supermarket! And you can do loads of little side trips on the spur of the moment when plans change, and you can leave your children places and collect them later (e.g. rafting, if you don't want to go)Re the Paragliding - look up www.grindelwald.com. There is a phone number there, though we just went into the little office behind the cable car station the day before and booked.Go and get yourselves a car!
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2005, 07:41 PM
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Thanks ever so much Cod. We will plan to rent a car in Geneva and then drive to Interlaken and onto Grindelwald. My kids really don't know what there is to do in Switzerland, but after touring in London and Paris, I think we will enjoy a break in Grindelwald before our road trip through the rest of Switzerland and Germany. Would you say it is about a 4 1/2 to 5 hour drive from Geneva to Grindelwald? Also, any opinion on flying easyjet vs. train from Paris to Geneva? Thanks again for all your wonderful ideas on things to do in Grindelwald!
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