Switzerland in May

Dec 15th, 2010, 12:56 PM
  #21  
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Thanks PalenQ for all of your comments.

We were not overly happy with the way that our itinerary was working out (but would make the most of it), so prior to booking tickets through Aeroplan on their website, we contacted an agent to reconfirm their policy about open jaw and stop-overs ... good thing we called as we found out that you are able to get both an open jaw and a stop-over if you book through an agent (for a booking fee of $30+taxpp)... could even have 1 stop-over and open jaw in Europe (as long as you are still traveling to your furthest point) and a stop-over in Canada.

So .. we ended up changing our initial plans and booking flights from Canada-London; London-Zurich; Zurich-Canada with a stopover in TO. It gives us 3 trip segments ... 8 days for London, Brussels, Amsterdam .. 10 days in Switzerland .. a few days to see family back east.

Switzerland: I have booked hotels for the 9 nights ... we will spend the first 3 nights in/around Zurich (1st day is pretty much a travel day, see Zurich at night).. 1 night in Zermatt (hopefully the weather co-operates and we can see the Matterhorn) ... 2 nights in Montreux (lake view)... 2 nights in Lauterbrunnen .. last night in Zurich.

With all of the suggestions and reading through Trip Reports from others, we have lots of options on what to see and do! I will start to refine those plans once I find a hotels in London and Amsterdam!
Enroh is offline  
Dec 18th, 2010, 07:27 AM
  #22  
 
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Switzerland: I have booked hotels for the 9 nights ... we will spend the first 3 nights in/around Zurich (1st day is pretty much a travel day, see Zurich at night).. 1 night in Zermatt (hopefully the weather co-operates and we can see the Matterhorn) ... 2 nights in Montreux (lake view)... 2 nights in Lauterbrunnen .. last night in Zurich.>

To me this itinerary, if by rail, makes a Swiss Pass of some type a no-brainer - don't forget the pass is also valid on boats in full on Lake Zurich during your time there

One advantage of a Swiss Pass over a Eurailpass in Switzerland is that it will take you in full to Zermatt whilst Eurailpass will not but only to Visp - from there not covered so may pay $50-60 return to Zermatt and back. Plus a Swiss Pass also covers entry to over 400 Swiss Museums so places like Zurich that may be worth a bit too. And also boats on Lake Geneva around Montreux - I took one once to Evian-les-Bain in France (covered completely by a Swiss Pass even though to France) - a swank resort that makes a nice visit to taste a wee bit of France as well as the local Evian mineral waters - there is a big ZigZag cigarette paper plant there as well!
PalenQ is online now  
Dec 19th, 2010, 06:47 PM
  #23  
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The itinerary is by rail ... I agree and will purchase the 8 day Swiss Pass .. is there a big enough difference between the 1st and 2nd class (besides being less crowded) to warrant the extra $388? Best to buy in advance on the www.swiss-pass.ch website or www.raileurope.ca or ...?

May head to Evian-les-Bain to see where the LPGA plays one of it's event.
Enroh is offline  
Dec 19th, 2010, 09:57 PM
  #24  
 
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Hi again,

I'm not sure if you've done the math for your rail trips. I always get the Half Fare Card (99 chf and gives you half off almost everything that moves for one month) when I travel in Switzerland, and I think you may want to consider it instead of the Swiss Pass.

Here are the costs of your trips:
Zürich - Zermatt 116 chf or 58 chf with HFC
Zermatt-Montreux 68 chf or 34 chf with HFC
Montreux-Lauterbrunnen 76.20 chf or 38.10 chf with HFC
Lauterbrunnen-Zürich 72.26 chf or 36.10 with HFC

So without the HFC, your trips come to 332.46 chf; with the HFC they come to 265.20 (adding in the 99 chf to buy it). The 8-day 2d class Swiss Pass is 376 chf, so you'll be saving about 100 chf if you buy the HFC.

The HFC gives the the same or better discount for the mountain trips (50%), so the benefits are the same there. The biggest difference will come if you decide to take some ferry cruises, but they will also be discounted 50% -- you'll have to take a lot of cruises to get to 100 chf per person.

You can always buy your pass or HFC at the Zürich airport's train station, and you can ask the desk clerk for advice. I see this frequently, in fact. The clerks know this stuff cold. If you tell him/her your plan, s/he will tell which pass would be best.

Anyway, have fun!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Dec 20th, 2010, 12:56 AM
  #25  
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Thank you for helping out with the math ... I need to finalize what excursions we will do while in Zurich, Montreux and Lauterbrunnen and work out the numbers.
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Dec 20th, 2010, 01:48 PM
  #26  
 
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I always buy a Swiss Pass and inevitably find that I use it more than anticipated - like on the spur of the moment hopping on a lake boat in Lucerne, Interlaken, Geneva, etc without worrying about what 50% would be and I never ever have to queue to buy tickets.

Plus with the math be sure to add 3% for foreign transactions in buying the HFC and subsequent tickets.

IMO the Swiss Pass may after all is said and done be your best bet - unless all your trips are set in stone and you will never do any more.

Plus the Swiss Pass gives free entry to over 400 museums that typically cost $10-20- - like the famous Ballenberg Open-Air museum overlooking Lake Brienz in the Interlaken area.

The 8-day 2d class Swiss Pass is 376 chf>

And do NOT price Swiss Passes only in Swiss francs as they are typically (but not always) significantly lower if bought in the U.S. before arrival - why I do not know but has been the case much of the last several years.
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Dec 20th, 2010, 09:46 PM
  #27  
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Do you always buy the 2nd class pass?
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Dec 20th, 2010, 09:46 PM
  #28  
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Do you always buy the 2nd class pass?
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Dec 21st, 2010, 09:24 AM
  #29  
 
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Do you always buy the 2nd class pass?>

No I do not because I ride incessantly, being a rail buff, for a consecutive-day period all over Switzerland and on inter-city trains there is a world of difference - mainly on there being lots of empty seats in first class so I can bop back and forth from side to side as the scenery dictates. and I always have an empty seat for my luggage, etc.

I have found that 2nd class at times can be standing roon only - especially around cities like Zurich at rush hours with commuters - so it depends also on time of day. And in Alpine areas crowds of hikers and their gear can also swarm aboard in 2nd class, etc.

And on some special scenic trains the observation domed cars are only in first class - though this is changing.

That said for the average traveler who is going to places like the Jungfrau Region and not taking many trips 2nd class is just fine - and on some transports like the lifts to Murren and Gimmelwald there is only one class. So since there is a significant difference in price and most tourists do not nearly ride as much per day as I do I think for Switzerland 2nd class is just fine - there is a difference though.
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Dec 21st, 2010, 10:10 AM
  #30  
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Many thanks.

I'll check the price differences buying in advance in Canada vs buying once we arrive in Zurich.
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Dec 21st, 2010, 11:18 AM
  #31  
 
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Enroh - I have not tracked prices for Swiss Passes in Loonies - only US $s the past several years, where it typically has been significantly cheaper here, in the US, then there - not sure about Canada.

It all seems weird because RailEurope which markets the Swiss Pass and Swiss products in the U.S. is part owned by the Swiss Railways.
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Dec 21st, 2010, 12:32 PM
  #32  
 
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So without the HFC, your trips come to 332.46 chf; with the HFC they come to 265.20 (adding in the 99 chf to buy it). The 8-day 2d class Swiss Pass is 376 chf, so you'll be saving about 100 chf if you buy the HFC.>

Well an 8-consecutive-day Swiss Saver Pass per person in 2nd class costs $316 US - and that would be about 300 Swiss francs if you figure in the 3% foreign transaction fee most credit cards charge and current exchange rate - so if prices in Loonies are similar then you'd be saving only about 25 Swiss francs and you certainly may well spend much much more than that on say yes boat rides on Lake Geneva, in Interlaken or much more if you go up to Murren and Gimmelwald from Lauterbrunnen - a Swiss Pass for you IMO is a no brainer.
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Dec 21st, 2010, 09:16 PM
  #33  
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After a quick look at a few sites, it appears that the tickets are cheaper buying them when we arrive ... I may be looking at the wrong sites!

www.swisstravelsystem.com - CHF 639.20 (discount when buying 2)
www.raileurope.ca - $780 CDN

I was unable to get onto www.raileurope.com site -- keep taking me to www.raileurope.ca ... my parenst are in the US for the winter and I had them look up the US site -- $742 USD. May be looking at the wrong site? At $316 pp - $632 USD or CHF 605- the US price is slightly lower.
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Dec 21st, 2010, 10:06 PM
  #34  
 
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Hi again,

Since we've gotten into nit-picking, see what the charges are for mailing if you buy in US or Can $.

I also like having that expert help from the desk clerks in Switzerland. They are not trying to sell any particular product, and do have an interest in your having a good trip overall in the country.

I'd buy it there!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2010, 08:48 AM
  #35  
 
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Here are the current prices for Swiss Pass (from www.budgeteuropetravel.com, which I am sure you can access from Canada - REurope does throw you to prices for Canada automatically if you put in Canada as your contry of residence. And this agency has no mailing fee for orders of $250 and higher - RailEurope has no mailing fee on orders of $399 and higher (though RE's at times is lower than $399) - so shipping should not cost anything nor handling.

2010 Swiss Consecutive-Day Pass Prices

(1st price is 1st class single person pass - 2nd price is 2nd class solo pass; 3rd column is price for first-class Saver (2-5 people on one pass - per person) - 4th column is for 2nd class saver p.p.
Cinsecutive Day Passes
4 days $385 $257 $328 $218
8 days $555 $371 $473 $316
15 days $673 $449 $572 $382
22 days $776 $517 $660 $441
1 month $854 $569 $726 $485

2010 Swiss Flexipass Prices
This flexipass gives 3, 4, 5, or 6 days of unlimited travel over 1 month

3 days $369 $246 $314 $209
4 days $447 $298 $382 $254
5 days $517 $345 $441 $295
6 days $587 $392 $500 $334
PalenQ is online now  
Dec 22nd, 2010, 08:59 AM
  #36  
 
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Forgot to note that the $371 is for a single pass but if you have two names on one pass it is indeed $316 per person or $634 for the total for two people using one Saver Pass.

$371 is for a single traveler. so always make sure you are using the Saver Pass price if traveling with someone else.

so it is $634 US vs 640 Swiss Francs (rounding up for ease of calcuating - use a current conversion rate of about $1.06 per each franc

1.06 x 640 = $672 and then if your credit card company typically adds 3% for foreign transactions add $21 for a total of buying the pass there of $693 - or you pay about $60 more for the same pass there. Thus I would not take swandav's advice to buy it there unless $60 don't make any difference to you. These are current prices - in a month the discrepancy may not be so great - or could be greater - anyway this illustrates how Swiss Passes (if I quickly calculated correctly) are significantly cheaper if bought in the U.S. than in Switzerland. I am open to being corrected, please, if my math is wrong!

(Exchange rate of $1.0428 in today's NYTimes - you rarely get the official rate even on credit cards so I used $1.05
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Dec 22nd, 2010, 10:14 AM
  #37  
 
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You will want to stay in Wengen or Lauterbrunnen. I would never ever ever ever never never ever ever stay in dreadful Interlaken.

A nice hotel in Luzern in the Montana.

Two hotels in Zurich that I recommend: Baur au Lac and the St. Josef.

Stay at the Baur au Lac if you have money to burn. Stay at the St. Josef if you want a clean place to stay without spending a lot of mullah.

Take care Miss Thing,
The Baron von Prat
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Dec 22nd, 2010, 02:01 PM
  #38  
 
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thin - I am one who absolutely loves Interlaken and think that those who diss it probably just trekked along the tacky yes souvenir-shop plagued Hauptstrasse between the two train stations.

Yet of that path is a cute Interlaken with Lucerne-like covered wooden bridges, sweet riverside walks - scintillating views of the Jungfrau peaks and a classic old-town square, again which many do not see.

Interlaken has its neat points but you have to ferret them out!
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Dec 22nd, 2010, 02:11 PM
  #39  
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Thank you PalenQ for all of your research.

The www.budgeteuropetravel.com site kicks me back to the eurorail.ca site (and $780 for 2 passes)... in going that route, I would need to buy in the US.

Interesting point about the 2011 prices...
Enroh is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2010, 09:51 PM
  #40  
 
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Pal, I always diss Interlaken despite the fact that I always spend an afternoon getting lost in its back streets every time I'm in the region. I've also walked along the river between the two station.

I still think the whole town pales (a lot) in comparison to the others nearby. And that's the point -- there are better alternatives.

s
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