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Switzerland Trip Report: Lauterbrunnen, Berner Oberland area, Bern, Basel & Konstanz, Germany

Switzerland Trip Report: Lauterbrunnen, Berner Oberland area, Bern, Basel & Konstanz, Germany

Old Jan 16th, 2006, 08:18 AM
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Switzerland Trip Report: Lauterbrunnen, Berner Oberland area, Bern, Basel & Konstanz, Germany

Returned from family holiday with husband and two children, 20 and 24 to Lauterbrunnen, Bern, Basel and Konstanz, Germany. Extremely memorable trip, report is long, I am listing itinerary short version first, followed by more detailed itinerary of each city. At end of last city visited, Konstanz, I posted miscellaneous info on planning experiences, who I used for air, rail passes, tickets, helpful web pages, suitcase thoughts w/ train, insurance,etc.

First, MANY thanks to all of you for your suggestions and assistance, and forgive if I leave someone out, but from my notes of threads I had with me, thanks to Edward2005, Ingo, Schuler, BobBrown, Phil, Pleiades, Cicerone, Ellabella, Jean, Frosyev and more - you made it much easier to quickly find bag storage at trains, suggested walks, restaurants, negotiate trains and yes, Ingo we have Etter Pear liquer from Globus and lots of chocolate and Schuler your idea to sled was a fabulous adventure with many laughable moments. Also used Fodors guide, Michelin Green Guide and some web sites which are listed at end of Konstanz post.

ITINERARY: Short Version:
We loved and would highly recommend all our hotels:
12/22: Boston to Zurich
12/23: Zurich at 8am: train to Luzern, planned a 3 hr. layover until
GoldenPass train to Interlaken/Lauterbrunnen
12/23-12/27 Silberhorn in Lauterbrunnen
12/27-12/29: Belle Epoque in Bern
12/29-1/2: Hotel Krafft in Basel
1/2-1/4: Steigenberger Inselhotel in Konstanz
A particularly amazing Christmas Night in Lauterbrunnen and New Years Eve in Basel, a few fabulous restaurants, can’t wait to return to Switzerland again. Train travel as well as all in-city transportation was a breeze & delight.

And I love, love, love all those immaculate public restrooms that are always close by.

Note: Never would have included Konstanz in this itinerary except we had to drop our college son off there, otherwise, I would have used those two days for somewhere else in Switzerland, like Zurich, while we enjoyed Konstanz old town and Meersburg Castle, the rest of that area, I think, would be better enjoyed in spring/summer......we loved everywhere we were in Switzerland, but now can’t wait to also visit in spring/summer for other activities and sites. I think this is definitely an area worth seeing in different seasons.

ITINERARY: Long Version, posting by city.

*when we travel, I assign each family member an overall responsibility and each one gets assigned a city to organize our days: I give them a packet w/ copies of pages from Fodors, fodorite threads, any add’l info I’ve found, a few things I choose that we can’t miss, they add what they want to do and map out the days/nights. Responsibilities have increased with age. This trip son is in charge of navigating us thru all rail/transport and daughter dinner rezzies and each gets a city.Each night, we go over the next day, at this age over a drink in the bar, and of course, mom has final veto power if necessary. This usually includes a little splitting up, which also helps everyone not get on everyones nerves.

12/22: Evening flight arriving Zurich on 12/23 @ 8am.

DAY ONE 12/23: Claim baggage easily, stretch legs, have coffee and take train about one hour later to LUZERN for 3 hour layover b/c we reserved GoldenPass to Interlaken: Wanted scenic train, didn’t want to rush from Zurich to make connection for earlier train or worry if flight was delayed, and opted instead to break for a few hours. Freshen up, put bags in holding area, overcast, but nice temperature and we walk, covered historical bridge, through side streets, light lunch and a beer (ok, but not memorable enough and didn’t write down name of restaurant), through market stalls selling fish, food and holiday greenery: started to get in Christmas mood as people were passing us buying greens, wreaths and particularly branches of green w/ white opaque bud - mistletoe ?- or at least this is what it appeared to be to me - but if anyone knows what that was if it wasn’t mistletoe, I’d love to know.). We also saw single branches of it hanging on many doorways all through Switzerland and I kept meaning to ask but forgetting!

GOLDEN PASS to Interlaken/Lauterbrunnen: one of my favorite parts of trip. We wern’t out of Luzern five minutes, sky cleared, plenty of sun. We rserved first class seats and were the only 4 in the car -stretched out, had coffees and hot chocolates off the rolling cart, sat back and enjoyed amazing views.

It was just like we envisioned from reading/movies (starting to feel like I’m chanelling Heidi a bit) - everything we are surrounded by is magical, - mountains, valleys, water, bridges, snaking up, down and around the mountains..some still very green areas in valleys and plenty of snow and ice above, ....love the group of children waiting on one mountainside curve to pelt our train with snowballs while waving and laughing.

INTERLAKEN: We easily walk from our train , downstairs and to train to LAUTERBRUNNEN.
Look up from train station and see our hotel- a small walk uphill to the Silberhorn, run by the von Allmen family. Excellent choice for us. 30 room hotel, welcoming, cozy, friendly and extremely helpful owners and staff. Decorated perfectly for holiday atmosphere with lots of fresh greenery, twinkling lights and candles all around.

A quick settle in rooms: great views of surrounding mountains and main street of Lauterbrunnen. Son is busy planning our days; daughter and I walk main road to get acclimated. Small, a few restaurants, ski type stores, Trudy’s Bazaar, Internet/Laundry, church, cemetary. I am on quick emergency hunt for boots, b/c in Luzern I stepped on what seemed like gum but when I picked up my foot, a huge chunk of my sole was left on the ground. First shop does not have type I want or want to spend on, and owner directs me to another place in town where I will find what I want - so friendly owner loses sale to make customer happy - who doesn’t love that?

We notice Santa’s climbing up the side of houses, on ladders and have not seen this so plentiful anywhere before. They are everywhere so must be one of their holiday traditions.

SILBERHORN has two dining rooms, one for public (and guests) which is pub style, light wood, good size tables w/ a bar area that curves around to a few booths with fireplace in middle of both as well as an attached sunporch with wicker furniture; and dining rm for guests (since dinner is included in our lodging) which is nicer then pub style but not fancy and has an attached small but cozy bar, dark wood, and several small cocktail tables with comfy upholstered tub chairs.

DINNER: Two of us have severe seafood/shellfish allergies and they were extremely accomodating telling us upon arrival they will make us whatever we want any night.
Dinner always includes an excellent salad bar: fresh greens, veggies, several slaw and potato type sides and always one hot starter usually a pasta type.

Tonight we opt for simple dinner of pork chops, rosti, green beans, and I do my normal first night arriving in Europe deal so by second glass of wine just as dinner is about to end I’m struggling to keep my eyes open and doing the classic head bob. We are all off to early bed by 9pm

Rooms: It is dark, Staubbauch falls is lit up with a Christmas Star, lights are hanging over the streets and on the holiday lights on trees in town below us.

Love the beds: the type with the ratchet so you can raise the head area as much or little as you like. Perfect for reading and comfortable sleep. Love that we get two separate twin down comforters (and that’s it, no sheets, no blankets- so when hubby tosses in his sleep I am not left without covers. Definitely shelving our king duvet and adapting this idea at home.

DAY TWO: 12/24: JUNGFRAUJOCH/WENGEN: We have breakfast: the cheeses, fruits, mueslix, yogurts, breads and the hard boiled eggs that are dyed lilke our Easter eggs all in bright orange shaded swirls....which matched the color scheme of the Ovomaltine plastic containers on table for eggshells, etc....until we are later in Basel grocery shopping and see that is how they are sold. I am still curious about this if anyone knows anything about why the eggs are sold dyed. Anyway, kids - and mom - are thrilled to have Ovomaltine as it is seems basically Ovaltine, a favorite when they were little.

Silberhorn tells us dinner is early tonight at 6pm so their staff can be with family and our special dinner with them is Christmas Night (special isn’t the word, it was fabulous)... a bright sunny day we are off to Jungfraujoch journey. Cogwheel rail from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen and onto Klein Scheidegg. Truly the views here are indescribable - peaceful and lovely and breathtaking.

KLEIN SCHEIDEGG: Almost an hour till the next Jungfraujoch excursion -we have a hot drink and snack in the tee pees ( ok, can someone explain the indian style tee pees at the top of this mountain to me?) and onto Jungfraujoch train just as big bang brings on small avalanche on mountain above which is fascinating to watch. Wonder if it was natural, or planned to control snow, but either way it was something watching that snow roll down and puff up and hearing the noise echo.

JUNGFRAUHOCH: Ride was fun, a few stops to look out viewing point windows, arrive at top to perfectly clear, sunshine, fabulous views. Sphinx Terrace, and Ice Palace... well, not quite what I could call an ice palace - I would say more of an ice tunnel with sculptures but it was fun and suddenly my 20 and 24 yr old were creatively “speed skating” around the bends and filming crazy videos with their digitals and giggling like 8 yrs olds -. I’d like to say the altitude affected there brain, but didn’t care b/c worth seeing them laughing and being silly together. We are the only ones in there so they act like nuts. Must admit, final videos and voice overs pretty funny, I tell them maybe I’ll embarass them by showing someday at their weddings.

At the top, clear and breath taking. Lots of Kodak moments by the large Swiss flag on top, and the kids are again laughing hysterically imitating the comic Eddie Izzards flag routine ( if anyone familiar with that outrageous man, he does a bit about countries taking over other countries just because there isn’t a flag, no flag, you don’t own the country I’ll put down a flag and then I own it, doesn’t repeat well on paper, but ifyou are familiar with it there is some humor there). About ten other people on top, one couple from Ohio who we enjoy chatting with. Not crowded, no lines, no wait anywhere. Noone bothered by altitude.

TOP OF THE WORLD Restaurant for lunch: table by window, enjoy fondue, salads and beer before we head back w/ stop at Wengen to stroll around for an hour and then to Silberhorn.

SILBERHORN DINNER tonight is interesting - one large plate, with one pork chop, which is surrouned by inserts in the dish that holds various things like dipping sauces (curry, mayo mixture, salsa type thing) and star fruit, papaya, melons, olives, pickles. Lovely light dessert, a few after dinner drinks in the adjoining bar with the fire roaring and to our rooms. Waiting in our rooms are hand made, decorated gingerbread men type holiday cookies.

We planned on the Christmas Eve service at local church at edge of the town at midnight, but no one made it past 10pm.

DAY THREE: 12/25 SCHILTHORN: MURREN: GIMMELWALD: and special walk and evening meal.

Merry Christmas sunny morning- off to Schilthorn early. Funicular from Lauterbrunnen then mountain rail to MURREN. The town is so quiet you could hear your breathing, everyone still sleeping so it’s eerily beautiful walking through the Murren to the other end. We take our time, a few residents pass us walking their dogs, we enjoy looking at the homes, holiday decor set up in flower boxes, homemade manger scenes - baby dolls in the mangers with use of stuffed animals and wooden Virgin Mary’s that kids had hand painted faces on, - unique and beautiful in their simplicity. Enamored of the many unique ways of stacking wood in and around alcoves in the homes, they made for interesting photo ops.

Sensational ride up to SCHILTHORN - fabulous, steep, gorgeous. First time we talk about maybe regretting not skiing this trip. Views from top picture perfect on this clear day of Monch, Eiger, Jungfrau, - far reaching and miraculous, boy do we feel small and insignificant surrounded by all this. Watch movie on James Bond film ( I forgot Telly Savalas was in and remember why all the guys loved Diana Rigg) and the short film on the area in general.

Window seat lunch at Piz Gloria was much better than I expected, excellent - had a “zurich” style veal sliced thin with spatzle and sauce and some warm Ovomaltine as restaurant rotated an entire turn - then headed back down. Again, no crowds, but restaurant was starting to fill up as we left and the skiers were out and about.

Stop on way down after first cable ride to soak up some sun and watch some birds doing acrobatic turns on the sun deck while people skiied- then headed down to Murren.

Walked from Murren to GIMMELWALD. Not sure if we were on the right path, as many sledders passing us, but we easily got out of their way. More incredible views, a cute shop selling knitted items, and a fun chat with a family having sled races down one hill nearby.

GIMMELWALD also quiet, but oh so lovely! Stroll through the town, great photos of barns, troughs, some kittens all curled up sleeping on a tractor. Chat with woman emptying her stove ashes on her porch. She is from Chicago and rents this house two months every winter and two in the spring/summer time. Very friendly, tells us many stories about when she first arrived for business in the area and then she and hubby deciding to return each year renting same house.

Locals greeted them first with some trepidation as who were these outsiders, but slowly they have become more of the fabric of the community since they also took it slow, as she said residents of Gimmelwald very private people. Now, she helps some bring in their cows, or walks their dogs when they are busy in their high season and truly loves it and finds it very welcoming and a second home.

She gets around mostly by sled and encourages us to do same. Son is putting it on his list.

Cable down to STECHELBERG. Husband and daugher opt for bus back to Lauterbrunnen and some down time, son and I walk back, although sun is gone it is still a beautiful late afternoon time and light still nice. A walk I’ll never forget. So silent, so still, surrounded by miraculous scenery. We pass only one cross country skier, and one couple taking a stroll. We start on the road, then cross over small bridge and walk closer to base of mountains. Trickles of snow melting, once we hear a big bang and look up to see snow falling (guess you would call this a small avalanche?) beautiful.

As we approach LAUTERBRUNNEN, we hear church bells ringing, followed by music and more church bells. We pass barns covered in cow bells, sheep and then the cemetary where many people are taking votive candles and red glass holders out of a bin and placing them next to headstones.

CHRISTMAS DINNER begins at 6pm in the outdoor garden for aperitifs.

They have lined the walkway to the garden with votives in beautiful bags and containers and the trees are covered with real candles. There is a fire, tables set out with appetizers and aperitif - something Mrs. von Allmen has been concocting all day with wine, spices, and a splash of champagne before serving. Delicious. Everyone is welcoming everyone and toasting happy Christmas and the von Allmens and their son Bert are asking everyone about their day and plans. Lovely.

Inside for dinner with surprises between courses. Salad bar, hot accompaniment, followed by Smoked salmon-rose on winter salad flowers. (they made other accomodations for the two with allergies).Broth with Sherry and parmesan stalk. (delic), Brasato Ravioli on Ratatouille.

Mrs. von Allmen formally greets us along with one of the staff.shares a poem with us she feels is about the true spirit of the holidays and something we should think about all year long, - about how important a single smile, kind word, or someones presence can be. She reads it in German and another woman reads it in english. Applause and teary eyes.

Next, she announces the grandchildren have a treat for us. Six of them walk through the dining room with lanterns of votives as they sing Christmas carols in German and then we continue dinner.

Pink roasted duckling breast with orange sauce, potato with truffle, brussel sprouts with chesnuts and another surprise. The grandchildren carry in two alphorns and lay them on the floor at the entry. Two men dressed as Father Christmas with long red robes, hats, beards, the whole outfit follow and play several songs. Between the glow of the candles, the music filling the room, the food, the wines, the lights twinkling outside, it’s perfect.

Next, baby pineapple filled with delicous custard and champagne. Mrs. von Allmen passes out sheets of the words to Silent Night and Hark the Herald Angels sing, but tells everyone to sing them in whatever language they want. Peoples voices mix in german, english, french and who knows what else but it sounds beautiful and while we sing the grandchildren deliver to each person a small burlap bundle tied with a ribbon and filled with peanuts, clementines, individual toblerone chocoates and a chocolate santa.

After dinner drinks in the bar and plan our next day of sledding with some help from their son on our destinations.

Our Christmas giggle: At bar, son and I are going over his plan for next day, he has already scoped out rental of sleds downtown. Young man asks Mrs. vA if they sell rolling papers at the bar. I look at my kids, and son leans over and tells me some bars sell cigarettes and/or rolling papers. Mrs. vA tells this young man they don’t sell them, but she might have some downstairs of hers that he can have because he must want to be like Father Christmas. She sends a staff member to get, who returns, and hands a roll of toilet paper to Mrs. vA who then hands over bar to this young man. You should have seen his face. We are laughing. Young man tries to explain what he wants, but she is at a loss. He leaves. She turns to me and I try to explain what he wanted. Suddenly she laughs and says ‘oh i am too old. I thought he wanted to be Father Christmas’; and explains how the local kids sometimes take the toilet paper wrapping it around their head and down their chin to look like Father Christmas. We go to bed laughing.

DAY FOUR: 12/26. SLEDGING: Rent sleds at local shop. A quick lesson in how to sled on these tiny wooden sleds goes against everything I always told my kids when they were little - keep your feet up less you snap an ankle. But we are told to steer with our feet (no brakes, no steering, just a rope coming off the front middle fo the sled) and to stop we should pull up on the rope and tip the front of the sled up. I am assured we will get the hang of it quickly. We go up to Kleine Scheidegg and look for the, I think, Eiger run down with plans to stop for a snack at Alpiglen.

We slip, we zoom, we jump off when we can’t stop rather than go over the edge. We end up on the snow, in the snow, and up to our knees in snow at times. But we are all laughing and enjoying more mind blowing views. Thank goodness the slopes are not crowded. We get the hang of it and some are getting far too confident and it becomes competetive as to who is the best “sledger” as they whip by mom with a smirk on their faces. Dad ends up once on his backside sliding down the mountain and daughter does a great save as she reaches out and catches his run away sled.

Somewhere we miss a sign and end up at Brandegg, which is past Alpiglen, where we see people coming down the actual sledding run. guess we were on a ski trail. We enjoy rosti and the best apple fritters witih vanilla sauce and head out again. We end up in Grindewald Grund which wasn’t our plan, but we had fun. If we had another day, everyone would vote for more sledding.

Kids check their emails and see a sign that says the hostel behind will develop your digital cards onto a cd in one hour for 5 francs. They willingly run our laundry while they wait for their photos, which the lady has you check before taking on her computer. They are happy for that and to not have to hand wash underwear and wet sledding clothes.

Dinner is great, and daughter and I have night cap in bar as she goes over her plans wtih me for Bern.

LAUTERBRUNNEN and the area was perfect location to be over the 23-26 when in other areas many things might have been closed, here with the outdoor activities and everything up and running we didn’t have to worry about what was open or not. We had thought of starting in Basel or Bern, glad now we went this route instead. Silberhorn spotless, friendly and food, while not 4 star restaurant, is good, homey “country food” and we would return. Tomorrow to Bern.

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Old Jan 16th, 2006, 08:22 AM
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Continuing trip Report:...

DAY FIVE: 12/27: TO BERN. Quick breakfast in Lauterbrunnen, to Trudy’s bazaar for some lace and train to BERN, arriving around noon and to Belle Epoque - lovely hotel, centrally located, owned by Jurg and Bice (Musfeld-Brugnoli) and their wonderful dogs.

Love the art nouveau paintings, antiques, small two person operate your own elevator, rooms are unique/ modern comfie marble baths w/ heated towel racks, lots of eaves and alcoves, large room: with phonograph, which we immediately put on some old records and unpack quickly. Sitting area with couch, chairs, table plus desk area and armoire w/ wet bar. Amazing control center on bedside table that allows you to open/close shades, window treatments and operate all lights, radio, speakers, etc. A nice mix of old and new.
Small but lovely dining area and quaint bar attached.

BERN (World Cultural Heritage status/UNESCO) was beautiful from the start walking down the main streets, past fountains to market full of greens, lights, stalls of gifts, clothing, wreaths, ornaments and it starts snowing huge fluffy flakes and we stop at the end food stall for sausage, crepes and hot wine. Perfect. I find a great walking stick for my collection, a few ornaments, and we keep walking and exploring main streets, side streets, stop in a cafe, walk by Einstein house which is closed until long after we will be gone, and head to

ZENTRUM PAUL KLEE. Fabulous. Amazing architecture (Renzo Piano) even if you don’t like Klee, the building- inside and out and grounds are worth it. Exhibition is great and we are entranced by the children’s area with plenty of hands on for them and workshops. Of course, everyone checks email at free internet set ups in musuem, then we are off and stroll through some more stores and window shop.

Dinner @ KORNHAUSKELLER: excellent, daughter went w/ fodorite rec on this one. Magnificent entry to this restaurant, great upstairs seating area and bar, downstairs dining, beautiful decor, ceilings, paintings and lovely holiday tree. Food is superb. We are all carnivors tonight with large slabs of meat, great wine choices and overload on dessert.

City particularly lovely at night, trees on second floor decks, wreaths, lights on street, buildings lit up and a dusting of snow...

DAY SIX: 12/28: BERN. Breakfast in hotel, still a light dusting of snow everywhere which adds to holiday mood- and off to Barengraben/bear pits. First, we walk up to the Rosengarten for a great view of city w/ roofs still lightly covered in snow. -down to watch the bears who are still lazily sleeping. We wait for the movie inside on Bern, having cofee at the bar/cafe connected. Movie would be great for younger children, but it was still a good overview of Bern in general, history, culture and it was short. Bears are awake and showing off, and captivate us for almost 30 minutes with their antics. We walk up to cach the clocktower show at Zytglogge, love the structure but the hourly clock “show”

Quick lunch and onto Munster - cathedral - tympanum/main portal of Last Judgment with over 200 figures is astounding - then we split up planning to meet back at clock tower at 5. Son and I go to Kunsthalle, walk by Bundeshaus/Parliament, have coffee and chocolate break at Cafe Myers, find a great art supply store for him, and meet up with hubby and daughter who have been to Bundehaus and Stadttheater and discovered the opera tonight is Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and seats available. Daughter and I go back (after a sigh from son, and a little sigh from hubby; but daughter loves opera, ballet and theater, and this is her city to plan.

Everyone has quick dinner “take away” on their way back to hotel, and we are off to opera. Lucky enough to snag a box, so daughter and I can sit up front, and , after only intermission, son and hubby eventually doze off and on in back. Orchestra was spectacular, lead amazing, Italian w/ German subtitles on screen above stage.

BERN: We were glad we visited Bern, but felt we had enough time. If trip had been longer, I would have stayed one more day, especially if it was spring/summer and flowers were in bloom. Several sites we missed, but we knew we would be doing many museums in Basel, and skipped some here, but overall enjoyed city and would recommend even if only as a day stop.

DAY SEVEN: 12/29: BASEL: Head out straight to train, and eat in dining car. Wonderful plates of cheese, fruit, salad, breads and salamis.

Straight to Hotel KRAFFT, in Kleinbasel on Rheingasse 12, immediately to the right over Mittlere bridge. Give our name at desk and gentlemen immediately gets excited, he is the one who has emailed back and forth with me and enthusiastically greets us. Room decor modern, streamlined, flat screen tvs, newly renovated tile baths, balcony and views of river. Lovely winding staircase with magnificent holiday tree in center. New Years Eve we are already booked with them for the night and fireworks on river, daughter gives him list of her restaurant choices and he will see what he can confirm.

We head off over the bridge to GrossBasel and walk up past Munster and down to find a cafe - the Grand Huenegin (sp) Cafe for quiche and salad and stroll the streets. Back up to the Munster which is lovely and son, daughter and I climb to the top. A bit hairy at times, very small and windy stairs/ sometimes steel sometimes wood/ lots of ducking, pass magnificent bell, and then a catwalk outside that is a bit slippery with some snow, but views great.

TO: Museum of Contemporary Art (Musuem fur Gegenwartskunst) and see a great exhibit, Flashback - Revisiting the art of the 80’s , walk to St. Albans gate, stop in Cartoon Museum which is almost closing so we browse through book sale, pick a few and son can come back another day; on to KUNSTHALLE/Basel Art gallery and see some amazing installations, grab some coffee at (gulp) Starbucks and walk back to hotel passing Puppenhaus Musuem, (doll house) which is decorating magnificently, pass Rathaus (Town Hall) which is bright red building, with huge tree in center square in front of it and one inside.

Dinner: L’UNIQUE: (Gerbergasslein 20) We walk, everything lit up at night and holiday spirit abounds. Need a break from meat and have some wonderful risotto and pasta dishes at his restaurant. Daugher gets another A. Funky holiday decor with oversized santa hats on seat backs and ceiling covered in ornaments. Stroll back to hotel. Bridge is covered with hanging lights and the city looks fabulous.

DAY EIGHT: 12/30: Basel.
To KUNSTMUSUEM - wonderful; great facility, enjoy art, scultpure and Rudy Burckhardt photo exhibit along with captivating film montage of New York.

LUNCH: at WALLISER KANNE (50 Gerbergasse) Lovely window table upstairs, all share meat and cheese fondue which daugher has been dying for, and wine.

We split up after lunch: Husband: roams,admires tree in town hall, Globus food stalls, checks email, connects with office; son hits Cartoon Museum, takes photos, sketches.

Daugher and I window shop mostly : Freie st, Gerbergasse, Spatenberg, Eising, with a break at Fumare/Non Fumare and purchases from Merker and Schiesser Chocolate shops and from Lackerlie Huus, buy Louis Widmer cremes at pharmacy (a fodorite rec, and do I love them, are they available anywhere here?) stocked up and brought some home, but will need more!

We meet up on bridge at 5:00, see Statue Helvetia, drop bags at hotel and walk along river to TINGUELY Museum. Moving sculptures are wild and like one guide book said, you wonder what it’s all about but it’s fabulous. Great installations of machine sculptures using anything and everything you can imagine - and interesting movie/exhibit on Aborigine art.

DINNER: TUEFELHOF ( Bel Etage, at Tuefelhof Hotel,Leonhardsgraben 49) . Daughter is getting A’s for restaurants. Interesting art on walls, waiter chooses fabulous wine for us, delicious food, fabulous service. Oxtail ravioli, reindeer filet, pates, gorge on desserts again. It is snowing, kids opt to walk back, we take tram.

DAY NINE: 12/31 Basel.
Easy shopping/ lazy day prior to New Years Eve:

Son wakes with bad stomach pains. too much rich food night before. Hotel restaurant manager gives hiim some “special tea” to help stomach and he heads back to room.
Hubby hangs around reading paper, etc to make sure he is ok, daughter and I head out to shop some more.

SHOPPING; Lace hankies from St. Gallen for a few special brides at Sturzenegger, loved teh Johann Wanner shop on Spalenberg, just a note here: she takes only cash no credit card so go prepared if you want to buy, rooms and rooms of holiday ornaments; music box for godchild at Atelier Braumgartner (Spalenberg), daughter buys lots of knit mittens and arm warmers at Unica, snack at Confisserrie Bachman (delicious quiche and coffee), quick walk through Globus as orientation, head back to hotel.

Son and father both sleeping in their rooms, son rallies father does not. The three of us walk to Weinsteinplatz to find convent/orphanage at but it is closed, we peek in windows and stroll around. Stop at grocery store to buy son some bland food, stop at bookstore and kids check emails, back to hotel.

I head out to Globus. Buy cheese, crackers and fruit for pre dinner snack for family and hit the Hanro sale at Globus. Also go to basement (thanks Ingo) and buy Etter pear liquer to enjoy at home with my chocolates.


This is a dinner from 8:30 to midnight, with champagne toast as they open windows and guest filter out to watch fireworks over bridge.

Amazing meal, son doesn’t make it past second course and sent back to room again with special tea.

DINNER: Was CHF 125. included: Amuse bouche, Mousse of duck liver, not stuffed, w/ Beaume de Venise jelly and apple; Grilled scallops, vanilla polenta and balsamic sabayon, Broth of beet root with raviolis fileld with orange and Guinea fowl; sorbet of red berries marinated in rum; Veal from Basel countryside coated in boletus mushrooms, noodles with truffle oil and banjul’s; Assorted french cheeses chosen off rolling car; Walnut-Torrone with mandarins and Venezuela chocolate.

They made accomodations for my allergy, and every substituion amazing: I never eat thick veal, and this was THICK - but I licked my plate clean - it was the MOST amazing thing I had ever tasted.

Chef strolls around talking with guests and getting accolades. Champage is served, diners watch 12:30am fireworks from balconies, open windows of restaurant, or by strolling downstairs and outside to edge of river. Staff and chefs are joining us outside. We salute them all with our champagne for a fabulous meal. Fireworks are spectacular!! They go on and on and on.....Back inside for brandy and bed by 2am.

ZOO: We’ve planned for what is open, so first we are off to the Zoo.
This is a great zoo, with penguins (moms fav), hippos, javanese monkeys, zebras, reindeer, great set up, we enjoyed the day surrounded by lots of families.

BEYELER Foundation Museum: from zoo to here for light lunch at museum cafe which was delightful. Grounds are gorgeous, even in winter. Magnificent setting, buildings and outside sculpture, the steps in lawn leading to glass wall of museum and seeing the Rothko room inside. Enjoyed this museum, the Rothko room with accompanying Giacometti sculptures, a special linstallation by German artist Wolfgang Laib: all with pollen milk, rice and wax - with rooms made entirely of wax, free standing sculpures, and a room with a floor of pollen.

We LOVED this musuem. I would definitely recommend - a short tram ride from the city.

Dinner: not much open, food at Krafft too much for what we want so we walk around and end up at Stadthof (Gerbergasse) upstairs dining room, windows overlooking street, and have exc. tomato/mozzarella salad, kids have pizza they are happy with, I have a dellicous veal w/ butter noodles and mushrooms, as does husband. We walk home. It was like a ghost town. There were maybe twenty other people on the street on our way to restaurant but by the time we were walking home it had gone up to the hundreds; still not crowded. This was the only day a holiday probably affected the feel for the city, but we didn’t mind having it so empty, it was actually rather nice.

NOTES: The Krafft is a wonderful hotel I would highly recommend. The dining room is excellent: dining choices include Salsity quiche with lamb’s lettuce , Smoke Scottich “label Rouge” slamon with crispybrad, kohlrabi and apple-balm, Atlantic mussels in absinth-vegetable-broth, Calf’s tongue in vegetable jelly w/ cranberry chutney and horseradish; Carrot soup with ginger and smoked swordfish; Homemade truffle oil ravioli w/ parsnip and parsley-pesto, Riccota gnocchi, French quail breasts; Saltimbocca of scorpionfish, braised french duck legs w/ orange ravioli, trout stewed i homemade desserts of mandarine tiramisu w/ amaretto, ice souffle of hot wine pears from Brist, home made sorbets and more !
Eat there if you don’t stay there. We loved every site and musuem we saw, but I would say as much as we loved it, you could skip the zoo unless you are animal lovers or have kids on the trip.

Next....konstanz, germany
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Old Jan 16th, 2006, 08:25 AM
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and continuing on..... to Konstanz...

KONSTANZ, Germany. Breakfast and off to Konstanz by train, arriving 2pm.
on Lake Constance, Bodensee, and a German town on the Swiss side of the lake, so now i am really confused.... sometimes Constance, sometimes Konstanz. I am tired and losing it..

We taxi to Hotel Steigenberger. I loved this hotel, it was originally Dominican Monastery (also birthplace of Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin, and while it certainly has been renovated and modern amenities abound, inside it is a huge square of large stone archways and murals depicting historical moments. At different time it’s been a monastery, cloister, prison. In middle of square is fountain and holiday decor.

Quick check in - rooms w/ balconies overlooking lake-. we walk to Old Town, see the beautiful Town Hall, Munster, need a snack so have a great hot dog and french fries w/ mayo and ketchup a few doors down from Munster, stroll through lots of windy streets full of shopping, stop for crepes and nutella, walk the bridge, head back to hotel to crash.

Kids rooms have those beds (were they craft-matic?) where the heads and foot can be up or down or all sorts of configurations...I have never seen one of these up close, to me they are hospital beds but prettier. Ours are regular beds, lovely rooms - we all shower and veg for a few hours.

Dinner at Dominikanerstube in hotel; wood panel, wall lined with old benches, food is excellent. More veals and spatzle for us, except steak for hubby.

Zeppelin Bar is in the former sacristy of the monastery church and beautiful wood, inlay, large leather chairs. Pianist playing, we get chinese checkers from front desk and enjoy music, drinks and game for a few hours.

DAY TWELVE: 1/3: We decide to sleep late and then head out to Meersburg and the 7th century castle. Nice ferry ride, great town, walk up and tour, they hand out an excellent self-guide, we stroll some more and head back to ferry. We bus to Mainau, of course the gardens are bare, but the Butterfly house is open and we enjoy that. Magnificent orchids and unusual butterflies.

Back to Old Town, pick up some things son will need for his stay at “mall” (ugh) and head to hotel/ change and have dinner in a lovely restaurant, that unfortunately no one can remember name of, but was directly across and to the left of Munster, next to musuem store. Wonderful lamb and risotto dishes. Back to Zeppelin Bar at hotel and more chinese checkers. We say goodnight and goodbye to college son, who will be sleeping late - He is meeting up with 14 other kids from his college and teacher late afternoon as he is staying in Konstanz until end of month on school swap/ further studying his German in the am and teaching english in afternoons, with weekends free to explore. He has plans for Freiburg, Munich and skiing in Klosters w/ one wknd undecided as yet.

DAY THIRTEEN: 1/4: Up and out by 8, train to Zurich, fly home.

Note: I loved Switzerland and can’t wait to go back in a different season - spring/summer and return to Lauterbrunnen/ Interlaken area for longer. I wouldn’t return to Bern, but would return to Basel which we really enjoyed and there are more things we would like to see there and more restaurants to eat in! And, I would have liked to do Colmar, Freiburg, etc.....so hopefully another trip, another adventure.

MIscellaneous Notes:

Flew Swiss Air: Unfortunately coach, one always likes to take a left when entering airplane, but alas we had to go right this time, - but by time I booked we were lucky to get these and it was full on way back too....ugh, no leg room, seats recline I swear maybe 2”, but overall flight was ok; attendants and food were fine, a movie and sleep for 1-2 hrs. For six hours I could handle. At least we had two aisle seats for us, two behind us for kids.

Swisspass through BETS. I tried the online rail and the number Swiss Rail has with english speaking reps, but not having done this before was experiencing some confusion and getting some “whichever you prefer” when I needed someone to filter out my options and tell me what would be best, so on recommendation of a Fodorite called BETS and gentlemen was SO helpful, and we ended up wtih 15 day Swisspass for us, 15 day Swiss youthpass for kids, all first class, and with Pass Protection Plan of $10 each and Golden pass Reservation.

We had tickets in hand before leaving, and gentlemen also sent along all necessary rail books, time schedules, printed out individual schedules for me from point to point with all time options, rail numbers, and dug out an article he thought excellent from a few years prior, which he thought excellent on the Lauterbrunnen/Oberland area and included that also.

Worked for all our transport, even in city transport in Bern and Basel, only exception discount for Jungfrauhoch and Schilthorn

Travel/Medical Insurance through Amex also.While we all carry the annual Amex travel medical insurance for emergencies anyway, we added this to cover plane, connections, hotels, lost or delayed baggage, etc.

We used our Tumi wheeled luggage, which is heavy on it’s own, but it worked out fine.
Son of course uses huge hiking backpack, so he was able to lift mine up the few train stairs for me so I could avoid ‘putting out’ what can be a bad back issue. Luggage storage easy on all trains, but I definitely need to invest in some lighter wheeled luggage.

Web pages/companies I found helpful (besides all of you and Fodors)
BETS Travel 800.441.2387, swisspanorama.com, PaulKleezentrum.ch, schilthorn.ch,
jungraubahn.ch, switzerlandisyours.com, myswitzerland.com, baseltourism.us.ch, tinguely.com, berninfo.ch, grindelwald.com, wengen-muerren.ch

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Old Jan 16th, 2006, 08:26 AM
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This trip report was already posted, but divided into 3 separate posts and at suggestion of Ingo (and thanx for the easy thread links) I have put it all together as one, so sorry for the duplication.
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Old Jan 16th, 2006, 10:27 AM
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I very much enjoyed reading your detailed trip report and was delighted that your family had a chance to enjoy a memorable Christmas and New Year. I have visited Lauterbrunnen in the summer and like you, found it to be a wonderful place to explore the area. What a great memory you have created for your family! Paul
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Old Jan 16th, 2006, 10:34 AM
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Escargot, LOVED, your trip report. The section on the Bernese Oberland brought back fond memories of the Xmas we spent in Wengen 5 years ago when our kids were about the ages yours are now.
What a wonderful place to spend Xmas with your family. We're still talking about our trip. As I mentioned on a post before you left, ours was primarily a ski trip. We did the Jungfraujoch after half a day of skiing. We also saw the sledders and had those wonderful apple fritters at Brandegg. I do think you got to see more of the area by not spending several days skiing. I'd love to have seen Murren and Grindelwald.

Currently I'm planning another trip back to Switzerland for next January. Not sure what area, maybe Zermatt and some other area. This time we'll have two in laws in tow. My how five years makes a difference! I know we'll ski again; but, I going to be sure to include some days to explore whatever area. Thanks for your report I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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Old Jan 16th, 2006, 06:34 PM
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Pawleys: the thougth that I could be bringing in laws with me soon is frightening...I'm still trying to figure out how my kids got to 20 and 24 ! I hope I like my inlaws enough to bring them...if not, maybe I'll just put them on a sled! I hope I am as lucky as you and get to go back, I so want to see Murren and Gimmelwald and that whole area in the spring/summer.
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Old Jan 16th, 2006, 09:14 PM
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Thoroughly enjoyed your trip report. Brought back fond memories of sledding from Murren to Gimmelwald (many times) a few years back - most fun I've had in ages.

I just love Swizerland around the holidays...
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Old Sep 13th, 2017, 09:15 AM
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Though your trip was 11 years ago, I really enjoyed reading your trip report today. My family and I are heading to Switzerland this Christmas and are thinking of staying in Lauterbrunnen. At first I was concerned it may be too sleepy during the holiday, but now I'm getting excited for the prospect of a white and serene Christmas. Thank you for your detailed account of your time. If you do happen to read this within the next couple months tell me what you think of small children spending Christmas in Lauterbrunnen. My girls are 9, 7, and 4.
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