Switzerland first times!

Apr 2nd, 2010, 08:16 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
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Should I order to the point-to-point as well (Milan to Verona, Verona to Stresa, Stresa to Montreux, and Zurich to Prague overnight)? I'm worried that it will limit our flexibility, but on the other hand, I don't know how often the trains get full>

No it would be rare IME for any of these type trains to be full - I would however book the Zurich to Prague overnight train when you arrive in Switzerland - at any station or check on www,sbb.ch - Swiss Railways site if you can book it ahead - and possible have special offers - but i think not usually on that type train - that one i would book ahead and though the train may not be full the type of accommodation you want - say a private double - could be - you never know. But for the other trains no they will not be full and you should be able to reserve all of them at once at any Italian station - so many trains on the Milan to Verona stretch - most require seat reservations which you get with the ticket but there could be some regional trains you can just hop on but they take much longer. Ditto for the other two trips. Try to buy those tickets in Switzerland at say Zurich Airport (or Geneva Airport train stations) - in the U.S. RailEurope, part owned by Swiss Railways, sells all those tickets as well and at rates a bit more but if you want everything nailed down it could be priceless (as always i recommend calling the helpful RailEurope agents, especially Byron, who i've bought passes from for years, at BETS 800-441-2387 for any RailEurope product - lesser fees as well i believe. but again i think you have no worries about the 3 day trains at all except perhaps, if Swiss stations will not sell those tickets for some reason, then you have to do it in Milan, delaying the trip a bit.

You ask some other interesting questions that i will try to answer next.

I have walked from Vevey to Montreux and though it did not at that time go right along the lake at every step if did enough, esp the closer you got to Montreux.
Palenque is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2010, 08:34 AM
  #22  
 
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ttt
Byrd is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2010, 11:23 AM
  #23  
 
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Also, for the Golden Pass, in the one portion that requires a reservation, the front VIP seats are already reserved. So, should I still make reservations ahead of time (as in, right now..), or is it only those front seats that require early booking? We will be going from Montreux in the afternoon on a Saturday, if that makes a difference.>

I think you could probably make them once in Switzerland without problem - do so at your first station or do it ahead online - if you change your plans you will be out a few bucks but... which leads to your next question:



Yes Moi - having ridden both the tourist-oriented specialty scenic trains and the locals i prefer the locals - but others strongly prefer the official ones.

The reason i prefer the locals - which take slightly longer only because they stop at more stations - because, unlike the official ones, they are rarely very full IME and i can easily hop from side to side as the scenery dictates, etc.

and yes i do like to lean out the window - keeping in mind not to lean too far or be decapitated by power poles - i can see ahead, etc. and yes i just like wind blowing in - the official trains are climate-controlled.

Now does the panoramic trains add enough to warrant taking them - well yes and no - the best thing they offer to me is the commentary on things sliding by - the Panoramic 'domed' observation cars are nice but really most of the scenery on this portion can be seen right out the side windows. Not saying Panoramic cars are a gimmick - they are neat but to me i can see the scenery better on the local train where i can move back and forth at will. The official trains inevitably are chock full pretty much IME as many groups use them.
I am not even sure seat reservations are mandatory on the official Golden Pass on this route - i know they are not on the other portions - or was told so in Interlaken recently. But to get a seat in the Panoramic car you should reserve ahead of time - there are other non-panoramic cars on these trains as well i believe.
As for the locals you cannot even make seat reservations if you wanted.
So i guess which one to take is a personal matter and what you desire - the seats on the official trains are much more plush - that's one difference and they have a hostess and you can buy drinks and snacks i believe - unlike the locals, on which you can bring your own food (as you can on the official ones).
Palenque is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2010, 05:33 PM
  #24  
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Haha you answered the question I was planning on asking! Since we will be going to the Vevey farmer's market before we take the Golden Pass, I was hoping food was allowed. How about wine? (Sounds really nice to me, a little picnic and a bottle of wine...)

I think the standard trains are more suitable to us- we're both a little antsy, so it would be nice to move back and worth in the train, and having the windows open would be a good plus. I think on Rick Steve's website he has a little "self guided tour" for the Golden pass, so maybe we will just bring that along so we have an idea of what it is that we're looking at as we go.

For walking from Montreux to Vevey, do you think that it is worthwhile? If we decide not to walk, would you recommend bus or boat instead?
kaleighmh is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2010, 08:57 PM
  #25  
 
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Hi kaleighmh,

I've also done that walk from Montreux to Vevey, and I do think it is too much of a good thing. You can walk along the lake all the way from Villeneuve to Clarens, on the edge of Montreux. But from Clarens to La Tour-de-Peilz, you'll be walking on a sidewalk next to the road. The path returns to the lake at La Tour.

I love doing this route by bus. You'll get a Riviera Card from your hosts, and this gives you free use of the bus. I would mix it up a bit, take a bus from Vevey to Villeneuve, walk to Chillon. Then either walk or take the bus to Montreux, then the ferry from Montreux to Vevey (or Rivaz in the Lavaux).

Ferry schedules are at

www.cgn.ch

The bus runs about every 10 minutes.

Have fun!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2010, 12:32 PM
  #26  
 
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If you have time in Zurich, you can enjoy a cheap lunch with the locals. Photos and narrative are included in the following link:
http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLan...localeid=en_US
ShutterbugBill is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2010, 01:24 PM
  #27  
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Thanks for the tip! We actually changed the itinerary a bit, so we have a full day in Zurich. I will have to take a closer look at your slideshow when I get a chance. Here is the updated and finalized itinerary (well, the hotels are finalized at least)
Day 1:
Arrive 8am in Milan. Spend a few hours in the city center, check out Duomo. Head to Verona via train. Look at a couple sites in Verona if we aren't way too jet lagged. Stay in Verona.

Day 2:
We have booked a 3 hour winery tour in Valpolicella for the morning (they pick us up at our hotel, take us to 3 wineries). Look at the sites that we may have missed in Day 1. Late afternoon train to Stresa. Check into hotel and maybe go for a short hike or maybe rent bikes for a couple hours (does anyone know a good place/way to do this??) Sleep in Stresa.

Day 3:
Go to the islands and see the gardens for a couple hours. Leave for Montreux via train in the afternoon. Once in Montreux, we will look around for a little, then take a tram to Vevey. Sleep in Vevey.

Day 4:
Market in Vevey in the morning, and a little site seeing around the town. Boat/bus to Chillon. Walk back to Montreux from Chillon if we have time, take bus otherwise. Do a little more siteseeing in Montreux. Golden Pass to Interlaken. Might stop in Gstaad for lunch if we don't take a picnic on the train. Straight from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen. Sleep in Lauterbrunnen (Phew that's a long day!)

Day 5 and Day 6:
Still making a few decisions here. Will probably see Schilthorn for sure and possibly Jungfraujoch if the weather permits. Murren, Wengen, Gimmelwald, and the Trummelbach falls. Staying in Lauterbrunnen. Back up plan if the weather is really bad- go to Interlaken and hopefully the weather on the lakes will be fine for a boat ride and some siteseeing.

Day 7:
Early train to Lucerne (probably the Golden Pass again). Siteseeing in Lucerne. Still considering Titlis or Pilatus, but probably won't (unless the weather was bad and we missed Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch). Transport museum, possibly rent bikes to ride by the lake if possible (again, does anyone have information on how to do this?) Sleep in Lucerne.

Day 8:
More siteseeing in Lucerne. Afternoon train to Zurich. Sleep in Zurich

Day 9:
Siteseeing in Zurich. (I need some ideas here!! Any "must sees"? ) Overnight train to Prague.

Day 10:
All day Prague.

Day 11:
Boyfriend leaves and my study abroad program begins.

Month of June, study abroad in Prague! (weekend trips to Vienna and Berlin are scheduled)


If anyone has good eating or must-see suggestions for the cities we are going, please feel free to suggest!

Also, we have all our hotels booked except Zurich. We are staying in budget hotels and hostels the whole time, so something in the <$100 for a double is ideal.
kaleighmh is offline  
Apr 4th, 2010, 07:05 AM
  #28  
 
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How about wine? (Sounds really nice to me, a little picnic and a bottle of wine...)>

Yup wine and booze are allowed on any train - and on the regular trains you will be able to sit by yourselves rather than the usually packed to the gills official Golden Pass - and for picnicking i'd rather not be sitting right next to someone i do not know.
Palenque is offline  
Apr 4th, 2010, 07:16 AM
  #29  
 
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On Day 3, why not go straight to Vevey since you're on the train anyway? OR stop and see Chillon on that day. I'd suggest just going to Montreux once, rather than twice like in your plan, since you're trying to fit so much in.

Vevey's Saturday morning market is wonderful! Don't miss it!!

but Day 4 sounds almost un-doable. Going to the Vevey's market, then trip over to Montreux, touring Chillon, back on the train... all before lunch(!) is a lot.
suze is offline  
Apr 4th, 2010, 07:39 AM
  #30  
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Yes, I agree Suze. I didn't realize how crazy that day was until I was typing it out (it sounded fine in my head haha).. Does the train stop at all three places (Chillon, Montreux and Vevey?) I was under the impression that from Stresa we'd have to go straight to Montreux. Also, how much time would you allot to see Chillon? We like to look around a lot and soak everything in, but we don't really linger. I'm just concerned because in Vevey, we're staying at Riviera Lodge and we must check in before 8pm. If it's possible, though, I think doing Chillon on day 3 would be much better.
kaleighmh is offline  
Apr 4th, 2010, 07:40 AM
  #31  
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And yes, I am excited for the market! We actually were going to stay in Stresa for two nights, but I wanted to be in Vevey Saturday morning.
kaleighmh is offline  
Apr 4th, 2010, 07:50 AM
  #32  
 
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Riviera Lodge is in a perfect location right on the square (where the market will be held) and also on lake in Vevey. It's very beautiful. Plus an easy walk from the train station.

Not positive, but I assume the train stops at both Vevey and Montreux (I think they all do?). Again please double-check this, but I don't think the castle itself has a train stop.

I'd say 60-90 mins. is enough to have a leisurely tour thru the castle. They give you a walking map that tells you about the different parts, history, etc. so you set your own pace.

You can get between Vevey and Montreux either by bus (sometimes that's easier) or train. I'm not sure about a "tram" you mentioned earlier?
suze is offline  
Apr 4th, 2010, 08:24 AM
  #33  
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Oh I'm so happy to hear that about the Riviera! I only chose it because it was so affordable compared to everything else, I'm glad it was a good choice.

I'm sure I meant to say bus, not tram. There's so many modes of transportation, it's hard for me to keep them straight!

So how does this sound:
We will be leaving Stresa on the 13:21 train hopefully, and it appears to go to Vevey (according to sbb.ch), and should arrive around 3:45. We will check in to our hotel, then go to Chillon.
-Per swandav's recommendation, we will take a bus to villeneuve, walk to Chillon (has anyone done this that knows how long we should expect it to take?) Then depending on how we're feeling, either walk to Montreux, then a ferry to Vevey or take a bus all the way to Vevey. Since we will have already checked-in, I will feel alot better about taking our time.

That way, the next day we can take our time around Vevey and the market. Do you know what time it usually starts?
kaleighmh is offline  
Apr 4th, 2010, 08:26 AM
  #34  
 
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Hi again,

Every train stops at both Vevey and Montreux, as they are major stops on this route.

Only local trains stop near Chillon; the stop is called "Veytaux-Chillon," and it will be about 10 minutes' walk to Chillon from there.

Have fun!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Apr 4th, 2010, 08:32 AM
  #35  
 
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Hi again --

Yes, your latest plan sounds good. Villeneuve is one of my favorite little towns in the area, still relatively unspoiled by tourists and overbuilding. Take a walk down the main street (away from the lake) and stop at the Cafe de Paris at the Hotel de l'Aigle -- one of my favorits restaurants in the area. You may be sharing space with overall-wearing workers dining on truffles or brie -- If the weather is fine, just have a glass of wine outside.

The walk from Villeneuve to Chillon will take about 20 minutes. The walk from Chillon to Montreux will take about 40 minutes.

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Apr 4th, 2010, 08:45 AM
  #36  
 
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Oh good, thanks for confirming train and other details swandav!

The Vevey market starts early. I'm not sure exactly but we always tried to be there by 8:30 or so for the best selection. I'm thinking they must be set up by 7-8am?

I am lucky to have friends to stay with, so have not seen the inside of the Riviera Lodge myself, but it's a wonderful old building, with a decent reputation as a hostel. I think it's a very solid choice.
suze is offline  
Apr 6th, 2010, 04:11 AM
  #37  
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Not sure if anyone would know... but figured I'd ask...
When I'm looking at the overnights from Zurich to Prague, there is a Train (#467) that is much cheaper and two hours faster than CityNightLine. #467 has couchette T6 seats for second class (in the lowest price range) but CNL just has reclining seats. I'm just wondering- am I missing something? It seems like #467 is a better deal, faster, and more comfortable... but I was under the impression that CNL is "the way to go." (if anyone would like to recreate what I saw, I was using the RailEurope site, for Thursday June 3)
kaleighmh is offline  
Apr 6th, 2010, 04:14 AM
  #38  
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Oh sorry, I wrote that wrong. CNL is cheaper, but not by much. I would rather pay the little bit extra for a couchette and a shorter trip though, if anyone has done this before or knows anything about the two trains, please let me know!
kaleighmh is offline  
Apr 9th, 2010, 07:44 AM
  #39  
 
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Well all CNL trains i believe have singles, doubles, triples and couchettes - as well as reclining seats and IME accommodations are plusher than regular overnight trains. If you want a definitive answer to what type of accommodations each train has call Byron at BETS 800-441-2387 as IME he knows everything but i am sure CNL has all types of accommodations except regular seats but has reclining seats the cheapest option. See is sbb.ch - Swiss rail site has advance discounted fares.
Palenque is offline  
Apr 12th, 2010, 03:50 AM
  #40  
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Palenque- thanks, once again, for the info! Yes I understand that it may be plusher... but I the cheapest seat on the CNL is a reclining seat, while the cheapest seat on the other train is a couchette (these are the only two options we can afford). So I'm assuming that the CNL is not "more plush" enough to justify purchasing a reclining seat rather than a couchette on the other train. Also, do you happen to know why the CNL is so much longer (2 hours)... I assumed it would be faster.. does it just make more stops? I will call Byron soon, but I'm trying to gather all the questions that I have (about this and other tickets) so I don't have to make multiple calls
kaleighmh is offline  

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