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Switzerland- Train pass- am I amking the right choice?

Switzerland- Train pass- am I amking the right choice?

May 16th, 2007, 03:06 AM
  #1  
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Switzerland- Train pass- am I amking the right choice?

I am really saad....our 14 day trip to Switzerland is not reallly 14 days now...we have to cut it short because my husband needs to come back earlier...has a project delivery...

Anyways this is what is left of our trip...and I am trying to work out the rail pass costs. They have me completely confused.

Costs for two people 1st class half price:

Day 1- Zurich Airport to Engelberg- 63 CHF

Day 2- Engelberg- Mt Titlus- 82+24(for the chair lift) = 106

Day 3 -Engelberg-Lucerne(round trip)-54CHF
Boat ride - weggis- 41CHF

Day 4- Engelberg- Montreux (round trip, while going the normal route, coming back on the Golden pass route)- 123+222= 345 CHF

Day 5- Engelberg-Murren -77CHF

Day 6 -Murren- Schilthorn-(round trip)-123CHF (I couldn't figure out the morning pass rates)

Day7 - Murren - Jungfrau(round trip)- 1636CHf (morning special price)

Day 8- Murren - Bern (round trip)- 112CHF

Day 9 - Murren - kandersteg (round trip)-92CHF

Day10- Murren - First(round trip)-26 CHF
Day10- Murren to Zurich- (one way)- 115CHF

Day 11- Zurich to Zurich airport- ?

The total for the swiss half card therefore comes to 1307 +99+99= 1505


The swiss saver pass will probably work out better for us. Do we take the three day pass or the four day pass?

Thank you again!

Genie
genie29 is offline  
May 16th, 2007, 05:44 AM
  #2  
 
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Hi genie. That is quite a busy schedule. The scenery in Switzerland certainly is scenic. It is even moreso with your feet on the ground immersed in it vs. wizzing by on a train every day. IMO, you have way too many day trip scheduled. I would cut the number of trips by at least half. You will be spending so much more time on trains than actually high up in the mountains experiencing the scenery you have paid so much to enjoy.

That said, if you still want to move forward with your plan, you should just get a 15 day Swiss Pass. You will certainly get your money's worth. It would cost $504 pp for cl. 1 and would cover every journey on your list except Engelberg - Titlus, Wengen - Jungfraujoch & Murren - Schilthorn -- on all of which you will get a 50% reduction. Plus, the Swiss Pass also double as a museum pass offering free entry into hundreds of museums throughout Switzerland (that is if you have time between train rides ).

Personally I wouldn't bother with cl. 1. You get the exact same scenery in cl. 2 as they do in cl. 1 and you would save ~$170 pp. IME Swiss trains are rarely overcrowded and cl. 2 is perfectly comfortable.
ripit is offline  
May 16th, 2007, 07:38 AM
  #3  
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Thanks a lot Ripit for our reply. I am sorry but I didn't understand the calculations suggested by you.

These costs that I have given are in CHF and not USD. Therefore if you are suggesting that we take the swiss pass for 15 days which is for 504pp +add the cost for the three mountain trips then that works out to be 1008usd+313USD = 1321 Usd...which works out to be about 200USD more than say if we were to use the 8 days free pass....which on this website

http://www.swisstravelsystem.ch/index.php?id=72&L=2

says that the cost for the eight day pass is 414pp, therefore the total trip cost is 1154USD...where as for the 4 day pass it would be 1129USD...which I know is not a largely different option...but somewhat better.

However my confusion is that this swiss pass that they have mentioned here on the website, is a pass through which I can chose any days in one month to travel on....or are there some restrictions?

After much help from this forum I thought we were moving at a reasonable pace....we are not traveling for more than 2 hrs one way on more than 2 days...which we thought was reasonable. Do you still think this is too rushed?

Thanks so much for your answer...please let me know if you any further suggestions...

Genie
genie29 is offline  
May 16th, 2007, 07:59 AM
  #4  
 
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Genie,

I haven't been to Switzerland, so I can't comment on your exact itinerary. I can, however, comment on the number of side trips. My wife and I recently went to Germany and took trains everywhere. In our experience, side trips are fun, but be sure to spend time in the place you're staying at as well. We ended up cutting out a trip to Salzburg because we were just tired of seeing the area around the Munich train station and wanted to see Munich itself.

With that said, I also received criticism of my heavy use of trains, so I wouldn't let the Fodorites get to you.
Spivonious is offline  
May 16th, 2007, 08:14 AM
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a 4-day 1st class flexi costs $48 more than the 3- day - therefore at half off you'd have to be doing a $96 trip at 50% off to break even on buying the extra day. Easy to do the math?

1.22 x 96 = 117 CH francs - if one of you extra days above 3 is more than 117 CH then yes, if not no. I don't see any (and don't count Titlis or Schilthorn full fare)

Also a 15-straight day pass is $428 first class saver or SF 522 - check out this by adding all the 50% tickets over the 3 100% covered days on the flexipass. (and never have to buy tickets or ponder - do i want to do this at 50% off)

Passes are sold in Switzerland but currently at about 15% higher than in US i believe. I always recommend BETS (www.budgeteuropetravel.com for their great knowedlge of Swiss trains and service - they will answer any questions IME even if you don't buy a pass thru them 800-441-2387) www.ricksteves.com also has good info on Swiss trains and passes.
PalenQ is offline  
May 16th, 2007, 08:49 AM
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Thank you Spivonious...we do have 2 days in Murren and one and a half day in Engelberg...the two places we are making as our base...so hopefully it would be fine.

PalenQ I really appreciate your detailed reply. My brains are right now too muddled to make any sense.....it is very late at night..will look at the calculations suggested by you tomorrow.

I have looked at the website...however was not sure if I could call on this number from a number outside of US...this seems like a toll free number and I am not sure if it would allow calls from Tokyo!

Thanks yet again!

Genie

genie29 is offline  
May 16th, 2007, 08:53 AM
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Genie - the 8 day pass you are looking at is for 8 consecutive days. This only way this can work is if do not activate the pass until day 3 for the Engelberg - Lucene journey. But this may not entitle you to the 50% reduction on any trips before or after the validity date, but I am not certain of this.

An 8 day Flexipass would work, but the cost is slightly more than the 15 day Swiss Pass so it really makes no sense. You could also choose a 6 day pass and pay point to point for the 2 least expensive days and (likely your first & last train rides) and on uncovered journeys. You'll have to do the math but I don't think it will save you much vs. the 15 day pass and the Swiss Pass is much simpler. Also keep in mind with the 15 day pass, in the Jungfrau region all of the lifts, trains, etc. below Murren, Wengen & Grindlewald are covered. With the flexipass you will have to either use a pass day or pay for each trip.

Also, according to the STS site, it appears that you can get Saver rates (2 or more ppl traveling together) for both the Flexi Pass and the Swiss pass. This would make the 15 day Swiss Pass $428 pp. Look around because I did not see this option on RailEurope.

As far as the side trips, I agree with the previous poster. It is not distance of the side trips, it is the fact that you have some sort of train journey scheduled every day of your trip. In looking more closely at your schedule I am wondering why you chose Engleberg, since you are not spending really any time here. Why not base in Lucern and visit Titlus as a side trip, or Pilatus which is closer to Lucern and can be combined with a boat ride on lake lucern. It is also a more convenient base for the Golden Pass route since this goes through Lucern anyway.

The Murren part doesn't look bad since most of the trips are half day or less and will probably be combined with hikes I would imagine. I would consider eliminating the Bern trip, however.

Good luck whatever you decide to do. Switzerland is a beautiful country and you will enjoy it regardless.
ripit is offline  
May 16th, 2007, 08:54 AM
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Genie - i'd contact RailEurope's Japan office as their prices should also be well below the in Switzerland prices.
Most US 800 numbers do not work from outside North America.
PalenQ is offline  
May 16th, 2007, 08:55 AM
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and there has to be a RailEurope office there i think. If you go to Grindelwald you'll see billboard ads in Japanese - a huge number of Japanese visitors flock here - go on the Jungfrau train and many are speaking Japanese. I don't know if you're ethnic Japanese or not but there must be Swiss Rail issuers in Japan. Try a regular travel agent at least.
PalenQ is offline  
May 16th, 2007, 09:06 AM
  #10  
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Such quick replies...this forum is absolutely fabulous!

Ripit...thank you...the pass explanation is a little too much for my muddled brains at this time of the night....will take a good look at it tomorrow early morning.

As for the itinerary suggestions...we have the first day free in Engelberg to explore the area.

We are flying in from London...so hopefully will not be as baadly jet lagged.We reach Zurich very early in the morning so should be in Engelberg before noon.

Moreover there is another couple who are going with us...they will not come with us for this trip to Montreux...and spend the day in Engelberg. We thought Engelberg looked like a lovely and peaceful place to spend some time in.
genie29 is offline  
May 16th, 2007, 09:13 AM
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Genie: you could buy your Swiss Pass at RailEurope's London office on Piccadilly St just west of Piccadilly Circus, on the south side of the street. Assume their prices are similarly lower than in Switzerland prices.
PalenQ is offline  
May 16th, 2007, 09:26 AM
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Last 2 years, my husband and I bought the Swiss Saver 2nd class passes. Since they don't allow smoking anymore, there's no reason to get first class, IMO. Plus, you can just "flash your pass" and hop on almost any train, bus, lake steamer, etc with no hassle at all. As previously stated, you'll also save half on special lifts and trains.
LLindaC is offline  
May 16th, 2007, 10:06 AM
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I would also encourage getting a 15 day pass (which is what I do). Not only do you get 50% off of cable cars, funiculars and gondolas, there is also the convenience factor. It's so easy to just hop on any train you want to and just show the pass, versus purchasing separate tickets for each trip. I always get a 2nd class ticket - there really is not that much difference between 1st class and 2nd class seats and cars.
Martha
mjnbrown is offline  
May 17th, 2007, 02:58 AM
  #14  
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Thank you all...your responses do clear a few things for me.

PalenQ I tried calling up a few travel agents listed on the swiss rail website for purchasing tickets in Tokyo...however they do not speak English at ALLL...and I do not speak Japanese...almost at all...so...probably will request one of our Japanese friends to help us out with this...I was hoping that we would be able to do it ourselves...that is why wrote on this forum.

LLindaC and mjnbrown we would have probably gone 2nd class, however we have just come to know that my sister who is traveling with us is pregnant. That is why we were considering the 1st class ticket.

I was wondering if it is a better idea to take the 2nd class pass...and upgrade for the longer journeys/ scenic train ride and the boat rides? Do you think that is do able...and would it make any difference?

Given our special circumstances would you people still suggest that we go 2nd class?

Can't thank enough for all the help that I am getting here!

Genie





genie29 is offline  
May 17th, 2007, 07:25 AM
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You definitely can buy them on arrival at any Swiss train station and though you will pay 15-20% higher i believe that's not all that much on these bargain priced passes so i'd just wait.
PalenQ is offline  
May 17th, 2007, 07:38 AM
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We rode second class on the Golden Pass and Glacier Express and din't mind a bit. Both were great. As far as steamers, etc....they say that sometimes second class must sit below. I never had that happen once. We were there in mid June.
LLindaC is offline  
May 17th, 2007, 09:38 AM
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I've had a different experience on the boats.

I've taken maybe 40 Swiss boat rides with passes, both Eurail and Swiss passes and always found the upper deck reserved for first-class ticket or pass holders.

Conductors inevitably ask 2nd class ticket/pass holders if they want to pay an upgrade - all seem to go down to the lower deck.
PalenQ is offline  
May 17th, 2007, 11:28 AM
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Personally, I would skip Montreux on Day 4 and go hiking in Engelberg. That's what Switzerland is all about.
Eight hours+ is a long time on a train.
If the weather is lousy while in Murren, that would be a good time to take the train to Montreux. You'll be a lot closer.

Here's a good website with some great ideas on hiking in Switzerland.
http://www.slowtrav.com/switzerland/.../engelberg.htm

For another bad weather alternative, don't forget Ballenberg's collection of authentic Swiss houses from different regions. They offer demos of making cheese, etc. as done 100 years ago.
kleeblatt is offline  
May 17th, 2007, 12:17 PM
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If doing Ballenberg, which is great, do it, if you have a Swiss Pass, on a day of 100% travel and then it acts as a Museum Pass good for free entry to some 400 Swiss museums including Ballenberg, probably saving about $30 for two.
PalenQ is offline  
May 18th, 2007, 01:49 PM
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There are sooo many fantastic excursions in the BOB and the Murren to Ballenberg would be one of the finest.

Murren take the fantastically scenic train to Grutschalp to ride the parachute like aerial gondola down to Lauterbrunnen, take the tiny BOB train to Iterlaken-Ost, where right behind the train station you hop on the steamer boat that in about 90 minutes floats you to Brienz - a fjord-like lake on the southside and just a gorgeous relaxing ride - 1st class you sit on top even better. then take the train to Meiringen and from there postal bus to Ballenberg, (maybe bus goes from Brienz?) on a meadow overlooking the lake. If time dwell in Meiringen for a while - Sherlock Holmes Museum in tiny old church - nearby Reichenbach Falls was where Moriarity and Holmes fatally tangled. Take train Meiringen (home of 'Meringue') back to Interlaken-Ost in a few minutes.
If have Swiss Pass the whole route and museum would be covered 100% on a day of 100% travel - the whole way Murren to Ballenberg and back, including boat and bus and museum.
PalenQ is offline  

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