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Switzerland (French, German and Italian?)

Switzerland (French, German and Italian?)

Jan 2nd, 2006, 09:13 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jun 2004
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Switzerland (French, German and Italian?)

My husband and I are planning a trip to Switzerland in June 2006. I have been told to try and experience the French, Italian and German speaking provinces. We fly in and out of Zurich. We plan to rent a car (or should we use the trains?) We were thinking of a night in Zurich, driving to Laussane for 2 nights, Lugano for 2 nights and Luzerne for 2 nights. This will be our first visit to Switzerland so I want to get a feel for the whole country without going crazy. Your critique of our draft itinerary is welcomed. Please let me know. Thanks!
Karae is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2006, 10:16 AM
  #2  
 
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With just 7 nights to work with, here is what I would do.

Fly into Geneva and take the train to Lausanne. Sleep there the first 2 nights.

Take the train to the Berner Oberland and stay in one of the villages high in the Alps for the next 3 nights. A few candidates are Murren, Gimmelwald, Wengen, Grindlewald.

Take the train to Luzern and spend the last 2 nights there. Zurich airport is only 1.5 hours by train from Luzern, so you could spend your last night in Luzern rather than Zurich.

Edward2005 is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2006, 11:06 AM
  #3  
 
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Of course it is a good idea to cover the regions with those three cultures in Switzerland to get a first overview ... on the other hand, you'll spend much time travelling (driving) and will rarely have much time to indulge in the cultures.

If you have been to Italy already, you don't really need to visit the Italian Switzerland (Ticino) on this trip. In this case spend your time in Luzern, the Bernese Oberland (the places Edward mentioned) and on Lake Geneva/Lac Leman (Vevey-Montreux).

If you have never been to Italy, and your heart is set on this idea ... then I suggest following itinerary:

Rent a car. Head straight to the Bernese Oberland (Grindelwald). Spend two nights there. Drive to Vevey/Montreux, stay another two nights. Then drive over the Simplon Pass and along the Centovalli valley to Locarno/Ascona, spend two days there. Drive over the Gotthard Pass to Luzern for the last night in Switzerland, drop off your car at the airport or elsewhere, fly home.

You cannot really get a feeling for the whole country with only one week. You'll definitely miss the canton Graubünden with its Romansch culture (the fourth language/culture in Switzerland). And you won't see a bit of the Walser culture in cantons Valais/Graubünden. The differences between the cantons (there are 26 in S.) are huge. Different customs, different food, different folk art, different architecture ... and so on.

I have been travelling dozens of times to Switzerland in the past 15 years, and I haven't got a feeling for the whole country yet. Hopefully one day in the future ... ;-)
Ingo is online now  
Jan 14th, 2006, 07:43 PM
  #4  
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Thank you both for your responses - sorry it has taken me so long to respond, work has been crazy lately. I can't believe I have to wait until June for a vacation!

I think I may skip the Italian portion of the trip since we only have a week. I have not been to Italy, but that is a trip we are planning to take in to the future, so I can wait. I am going back and forth on driving or taking the train. The thought of dragging our luggage with us on all the trains is not the most appealing (and I tend to over-pack), but, for me, that is the only draw back to the trains - they sound wonderful. I am going to do some more research and hopefully have some more specific questions. Thanks again for all of your suggestions. Kara
Karae is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 02:40 PM
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Kara---learn to pack light and take the trains. The Swiss trains are wonderful, and using them is part of the experience of traveling in Switzerland. You can get a "flexpass" that will allow you, say, 5 days of travel, and it will even cover the lifts up to car-free villages such as Mürren. Second class is fine in Switzerland. You can look at the schudules on-line on the Swiss train site, www.sbb.ch. I print out several alternative schedules for the days I know we will be traveling, and carry them along on the trip---makes it very easy.
enzian is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 03:09 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
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For just one week you need hardly any luggage - buy the smart travel clothes that you can rinse out in the shower nightly and have dry by morning - travel smith, ex officio, magellans, sierra trading etc. sell them.

Anything more than a wheelie carry-on (of legal size in the US, about 9x12x21 or so) is too much, no matter what kind of transportation you pick.

Take a small screw-top container with laundry powder (lighter than liquid stuff), buy the quick-dry towels and face-cloths (magellans) made of that special super-absorbent material, wring out the "laundry" and hang it. Nobody will see you for more than two days in a row, so no worries about wearing the same things...

2nd class on trains is plenty spiffy in Switzerland. They are all non-smoking now, even where there still are ashtrays (until the next maintenenance routine).

Skip the Ticino, Lugano is only an hour from Milan Malpensa airport, so next time you fly into Milan and visit the Swiss-Italian part that way.

Lausanne is not all that nice a city to stay in, it's on a slant, and just not that attractive to get around. You'd be better off taking a room in one of those nice places near Montreux, like in Glion or Caux for example, with million-dollar views, look at

www.swiss-riviera.com/glion

switzerland.isyours.com/e/ guide/lake_geneva/above.montreux.html

www.holidaycityeurope.com/montreux-glion/

and at the irresistible picture on the opening page of www.montreux-mountain.ch/

You will get a bit of a feel for the French-Swiss region, by taking a boat ride on the lake steamer, by visiting the nearby Castle of Chillon (a few minutes from Montreux), by drinking the local little white wine, eating in non-touristy restaurants - you hardly have time to get into it, but still, you'll love that part of the Swiss "Riviera".

For the German-Swiss part, I recommend staying in Bern, it's a most typical old historic city, as Swiss as it gets (it's the seat of the federal government after all), easy to walk around and shop and dine in the picturesque old part of town right next to the train station, and there are trains to everywhere, in about an hour you can be in Luzern, Zuerich, Basel, or Interlaken - the latter is the access springboard to the famous Berner Oberland (Jungfraujoch, Schilthorn, Gstaad, Niesen for a superb view, etc. etc.).

Spend the last day and night in Zuerich, it's worth a look around, and you'll be ready for the trip to the airport - the trains stop right underneath.

WK
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