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Switzerland Itinerary/Time Frames- Help!

Old May 9th, 2005, 08:52 AM
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Switzerland Itinerary/Time Frames- Help!

Hello,
I've gotten some great advice here and have been doing some reading, and have come up with a tentative itinerary. I thought perhaps some of you could weigh in with your opinions - I'd certainly appreciate it! I will be arriving in Switzerland (after 6 days in Paris) June 15 and leaving June 21. The last couple of days I will be visiting with a friend in Zurich. I will be travelling solo (I am female, 30's), by rail. I tend to stay budget, but am concerned with safety and cleanliness as well. Here goes (pls. forgive any spelling errors!):
6/15: Leave Paris in AM, arrive in Lausanne
6/15-6/17: Explore Lausanne, Montreaux, Chateau Chillon
6/17-6/18: Hopefully scenic train to either Gruyeres or other such town OR to Interlaken/Alps - Grimmelwald or Murren or such. (I'm hesitant to go up hiking to the Alps solo - and also am not sure if I really have time to do it any good credit, so was considering passing this up on this trip - any thoughts on this?)
6/18-6/19: Luzerne
6/19-6/21: Zurich
What do you think? Is this doable or too rushed? Any thoughts on skipping hiking in the Alps? Also, any recommendations on clean, safe budget accommodations in the above towns (a place I would feel comfortable getting back to after a night out on the town)? Thanks so much in advance!
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Old May 9th, 2005, 09:07 AM
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I'd add Vevey to the Lausanne/Montreux time (it is smaller than Lausanne so easier to see on foot from the train station, and my personal favorite of the 3 towns).

Clean and safe will not be difficult, it is "budget" in this area that will be harder to find! There's a hostel off the town square by the lake in Vevey that gets high marks from the backpack set. Pension Wilheim in Montreux is near the train station. And I have not stayed here because of a change of plans, but found the Elite in Lausanne on the internet which looked nice to me.

Depending how your dates fall I highly recommend the early AM Saturday open air market in Vevey. Or there's a smaller version in Montreux on Friday AM under the pergola.
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Old May 9th, 2005, 09:30 AM
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Hi RobinBinNYC (& hi suze!),

To add to suze's recommendation, I suggest the Hotel Negociants (www.hotelnegociants.ch/english/index.htm) in Vevey's old town. A friend of mine stayed there once and recommends it. Singles go for 85 chf.

Please don't fret about your safety in Switzerland -- it's very, very safe. I travel alone there often and haven't had even the slightest apprehension.

I don't know why you're avoiding hiking in the Alps -- unless you're talking about honest, hut-to-hut hiking, which would not be safe alone. But if you stay in Wengen for a few days, you can easily walk the beautiful mountain trails around the area & up on First. Don't deny yourself that pleasure! Go on up, eat lunch at a mountaintop restaurant, then stroll down. You can't beat it -- you may even find yourself joining a group or two along the path.

The train trip from Montreux to Interlaken (via Zweisimmen) is very nice.

s
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Old May 9th, 2005, 09:49 AM
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rivieralodge.ch is the hostel website with dorm beds for 31CHF
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Old May 9th, 2005, 09:55 AM
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As noted above, clean and safe are not an issue in Switzerland, other than some parts of the larger towns like Zurich (but that is what your friend is for).

There is lots of good walking along and above Vevey and Lausanne, esp in the vineyards above the lake. These are well-maintined and quite popoular, so you would most likely never be alone for any long stretch, plus you pass through villages every once in a while. I would not have any concerns about walking alone in that area, and have done so. Also, the biking is very good, eps along the lake. The area around Gruyere is very beautiful and also has good walking.

There is lots of easy walking in the Alps on level paths. (People bring baby stollers). These types of easy walks are usually well-populated, so I would not have any concerns about walking alone, and most likely you will barely be alone on popular trails. Walks like the trail down the Klein Schedegg from Maennlichen above Wengen is a good example, or the walk from Grutsalp to Murren.

There is an excellent walking guide to Switzerland published by Lonely Planet called Walking in Switzerland which I would suggest you get. It rates hikes by difficulty, length/time and also gives directions for getting to and from walks by public transport. The local tourist offices in each town and village often have information on guided walks or solo walks as well. For walks in the Interlaken/BO, get a copy of Walking in the Bernese Oberland by Philip and Louis Alspnauch.

Your schedule looks a bit rushed to me. If you are going to be in Lucerne with your firend, you could easily do Lucerne as a day trip if you wanted. As I note almost every day on this site, I think Lucerne is overrated and would recommend other places instead. In reality, you are talking about only 1 night in either Gruyere or Gimmelwald, and Gimmelwald is a long way to go for one night. I would either skip Gruyere or skip the BO, and spread out your time in fewer places.

Hope you are taking the TGV train from Paris to Lausanne, as there is really great scenery virtually all the way from Paris and the TGV makes the trip in under 4 hours. Sure beats flying. . .



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Old May 9th, 2005, 11:08 AM
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Hmmm...lots to think about. Cicerone, I think you're right - I'm at a decision point between Gruyere and the BO. I'm glad to hear it's easy to stay on paths and there are people around - I had visions of myself lost somewhere in the Alps, and no one realizing I'm missing until I don't get back to work! I have been considering going straight to Zurich and doing the short day trip to Lucerne, I guess I'm closer to that decision given your advice (may also save on one more hotel night!). I am planning on taking the train from Paris to Lausanne, and I'll definitely be looking into all of the hotel/hostels suggested - thanks suze and swan! Do you think I should make one of those towns (Lausanne/Montreux/Vevey) my base rather than moving around that area? Which one would be best for evenings? My next decision is whether it will be best to pay point to point on the train or to go for a train pass - Euro or Swiss. So much to think about!
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Old May 9th, 2005, 11:21 AM
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I would absolutely pick one only as home base, no sense in changing hotels within this small area. The towns are maybe 10 mins. away from each other by train. There's also an extremely convenient bus that runs along the main road between Vevey and Montreux.

I vote Vevey or Montreux for evenings, but again, that is because they are smaller and you can basically walk the entire town with ease. At Lausanne from the train station, you need to take an extra tram to get down to the lakeside quai, and (my impression from a few visits is you) could easily end up in a part of town with inexpensive lodging but far away from nightlife that interested you. So if you chose Lausanne, I'd really study up the hotel. In Vevey or Montreux, well when you're there... you're there!

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Old May 9th, 2005, 11:24 AM
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You could smooth things out on your itinerary even further by making Gruyere a day trip rather than an overnight (I have done this from Vevey but by car and it was barely a 1/2 day excursion). Cool town though, I definitely recommend it.
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Old May 9th, 2005, 12:17 PM
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Hi Again,

I also concur with suze -- pick either Montreux or Vevey for your base.

What do you mean by "best" for evenings? Do you mean dinner or dancing or partying or star-gazing? Lausanne would probably be best for partying, Vevey for dinners, Montreux for light partying at the Casino or dining at resort restaurants.

About that Alps walking thing -- the trails have signposts on them, with not only the direction but the hours & minutes it'll take to get there. So you'll always know just how strenuous your walk will be! There are also usually busses or trains to take you back if you don't care to walk back.

s
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Old May 9th, 2005, 01:19 PM
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Hmmm, I've been resisting comment about "a night on the town"... as I have not experienced that myself in any of these 3 spots on 5 different trips.

My social life (visiting people who lived there BTW) more had to do with dinner parties or visiting a lively neighborhood bar. The only time I've really "partied" was when there was a local festival in town (then, believe me, it was WILD).

But I'm thinking there must be dance clubs and music venues to be found somewhere?


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Old May 10th, 2005, 06:35 AM
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There's visitor websites for towns in Switzerland with addresses such as:
www.montreux.ch
www.vevey.ch
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Old May 10th, 2005, 06:52 AM
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Hi,

Yes, the night thing is tricky, especially when travelling solo. I was thinking a town where I could go out after dinner for a couple of drinks, that would be lively, friendly, and around my age group (the availability of dancing is optional). It seems from my reading that Vevey might be most cost effective, but Lausanne might be most lively - sound about right?
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Old May 10th, 2005, 07:04 AM
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Hi RobinBinNYC,

Yes, I think you've got it -- Vevey for comfort & Lausanne for nightlife. But you know, you don't really have to choose. Vevey & Lausanne are only minutes apart by train, and the trains are very, very safe at night. I think I remember once a few young toughs were in my first-class compartment at night around Clarens, and that was about the extent of their delinquency: they were loud and were in first class! They barely noticed me --

The towns also are safe for getting to and from the train stations -- the stations themselves are rarely dserted; there are lots of commuters & middle-aged shoppers & visiting teens & of course the railway workers about. I don't think violent crime is a factor, at least in these towns. To be ultra-safe, leave your passport & credit cards in the hotel safe, and only carry one day's cash.

s
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Old May 10th, 2005, 08:15 AM
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Ditto. My friends there always use the train between these 3 towns. Especially if they've been drinking lots of wine in the evening (which is always!).
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Old May 10th, 2005, 08:36 AM
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Do the trains run that late? I feel like I'm sounding like a party girl I want to be sure that I'm free to go back to the room when I'd like. I know in NYC, my friends who live in Long Island are bound to their L.I. Railroad schedule, and so many nights are cut shorter than they'd like. Of course, I shouldn't BE planning on so many late nights if I'm to get to see all I want to during the day!
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Old May 10th, 2005, 10:49 AM
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Hi Again,

Looks like the last train from Lausanne to Vevey is at 00.24, with the next one at 05.33. I don't know if the bus runs all night long.

Rail schedules at www.rail.ch.

s
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Old May 10th, 2005, 11:56 AM
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Oops, sorry didn't mean to mislead. My circumstances are usually at dinner parties and friends' homes. I guess it probably wasn't all that late even if we were all that drunk!

Are you sure the bars stay open late enough that this will be an issue? The Swiss are a fairly reserved people generally speaking.

I can only think of one bar in Montreux which is kinda what you are picturing. It's called Il Baretto and is next to an excellent italian restaurant at the very bottom of the twisting cobblestone street that leads up into Old Town. It's a tiny neighborhood place with a gay leaning, but someplace I would be comfortable going alone for a drink. The later it gets the more bar, less restaurant it becomes.
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