Switzerland in May

Old Mar 12th, 1999, 04:51 AM
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Switzerland in May

We will be travelling to Switzerland (dest. Zurich) for eight days at the end of May. I want to see the Jungfrau region but thought we might also drive down to Stresa on Lake Maggiore. Another idea was to drive over to Salzburg and Hallstat. We will have a car. Do we have time to make these side trips without too many hours on the road?
Old Mar 12th, 1999, 08:06 AM
Bob Brown
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I think your idea is possible, but the amount of time on the road will take several hours. I think it depends on how long you think is too much. In Switzerland, the driving is part of the fun because you see so much if you are not on the major highways.

From Interlaken, take the road to Spiez, then to Kandersteg. At Kandersteg take the train ferry to Goppenstein. From
Goppenstein, drive to Brig then over the pass to Stresa. The train ferry works well. You drive onto a special flat car and ride through the tunnel. The alternative is to go from Interlaken to Meiringen and over the Grimsel Pass to Brig. If the Grimsel route is open, I suggest it because it is a scenic drive, poarticularly the run from Inertkirchen to the Rhone Gletscher. Hopefully at the end of May the road will be open, although snow is still a threat. Spring does not start to come to the upper elevations, over 6,000 feet, until mid May it seems.
From Stressa, you can drive south to Milan and pick up the superhighway there and turn north outside of Verona to Insbruck, actually back into Germany, and then take the Autobahn to Salzburg.

My guess is that you can drive via the train ferry from Interlaken to Stressa in 4 to 5 hours, depending on how much you stop to look. The road from Goppenstein to Brig is mostly two lane with several little towns enroute. The road over the Simplon Pass is a typical high mountain pass. (About 2000 meters or 7,200 feet.) I am assuming here that you are thinking of driving from Stressa to Salzburg. Otherwise you have a rather tortuous route, but highly scenic.

Around the Jungfrau region, it is possible to drive to Lauterbrunnen, even to the end of the valley to Stechelberg.
From there to go farther, you take a trail or the gondola up to Murren, and on to the Schilthorn. You can also drive to Grindelwald and go further with Post Bus and gondola. The gondola trip from Grindelwald to First, even if the trail to the Faulhorn is still snowed in, is a marvellous ride. Swinging high over the meadows you get an unobstructed view of the Berner Oberland, particularly the North Wall of the Eiger. I really think you could spend your time between the Berner Oberland and Zermatt and never leave Switzerland.
By the way, if you go to Zermatt, unless you are a VIP, you park your car at Taesch and ride the shuttle train into Zermatt.
Old Mar 13th, 1999, 04:03 AM
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Thanks Bob. Your ideas are most helpful. My original thought was to stay in Switzerland but then we started getting suggestions from friends and family. Plus I wanted options in case the weather in Switzerland did not cooperate.
Old Mar 13th, 1999, 07:09 AM
Bob Brown
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The weather is most definitely a factor.
When rain and/or the thick clouds roll in, there is not much left to see. Wandering the streets of Zermatt is good for a few hours, but then I am ready to do something else. Constant eating and drinking gets expensive.
We were fortunate last summer in that the weather held until two days before we left. But then it rained and rained.
The Ticino area is said to be dryer than other parts because it is on the southern slopes of the Alps.
Salzburg can be fun even in the rain because there are quite a few attractions indoors. For rainy times, you cannot beat Paris because there is so much to see indoors, although I must admit that Versailles in the rain is less than optimal.

To get by car from the Interlaken area to the Valley of the Rhone, you cannot beat that Kandersteg - Goppenstein tunnel for speed. If you are flying into Zurich, where are you picking up your car? We took the train to Interlaken and got an Avis car there. The fellow at the Waldegg Garage picked us up at Interlaken Ost.

Old Mar 13th, 1999, 08:41 AM
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We are picking up the car in Zurich (Auto Europe). For now our itinerary is open, i.e. no reservations beyond first and last nights in Zurich. Do you think this is a mistake? I am surprised to see posts indicating that some hotels are booked in May. I thought this was still considered "off season".
Old Mar 13th, 1999, 09:02 AM
Bob Brown
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Hi Jean:
We went through Auto Europe but Avis was the agency. Easy rental and super good return at the airport in Zurich. The airport by the way is a confusing place because it is in two towers with multiple levels. And signage is not direct. I actually had to ask to find the KLM counter. I was surprised that I got confused because I think in terms of airports like O'Hare, San Francisco, Atlanta and R. Reagan (old National) in Dc. But that place in Zurich is stacked like two layer cakes with an odd layout. Atlanta's Hartsfield may be huge, but it is not confusing to me.

As for accommodations, Zurich is not really a tourist town. It is a bankers and commerce town. Hence the hotel bookings are not a function of tourist season considerations. I found the same problem last summer. I booked a room in advance at the Hotel Welcome Inn in Kloten, close to the airport. That is another story. A little room with two single beds and a bath was over $100. The room was hot so we opened the windows, but the street noise was bad even though we our room overlooked a back street. People shouting woke us up about 4 AM. I don't recommend the place, although it was convenient.

To be honest with you, I would figure out a way to dump the car at a town with good train connections to the airport.

For this September we plan to drop the car in Interlaken and take the train right into the airport. Saves the wear and tear of navigating the streets. Of course it does depend on when your flight leaves.
Old Mar 13th, 1999, 09:34 AM
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We were in Zurich a couple of years ago in May and it was gorgeous - and this was the beginning of the month. I hope your weather is that wonderful!
We stayed in the charming Hotel Leonard Zurich, just over the bridge in the old town about 5 minutes walk from the main train station, from which there are easy and fast connections to the airport.

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