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Train passes in Switzerland vs eurail passes

Train passes in Switzerland vs eurail passes

Nov 21st, 2013, 02:25 PM
  #21  
 
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though Spiez is sweet I would advise staying right up in the hills in one of those gingerbread cute villages like Wengen or Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen where from your hotel balcony you get awesome views of the close up Jungfrau Massif - and if it rains - not unusual - said to thunder storm almost daily somewhere in these Alps then the water cascading off the nearly sheet cliffs is tottaly mind blowing.

Staying in Spiez would be great for touring the lakes the bookend Interlaken or going to Bern or Lucerne for the day or even to Zermatt but if going up into the Jungfraujoch daily then it will take about an hour each way - fine costwise if you have a Swiss Pass but rather expensive without.

Again Spiez is a wonderful town - especially its perfect castle dominating the port on the lake below - a good base depending on what you want to do.

But to me nothing can beat staying right up in the hills so close to the glacier-girdled peaks - hiking trails you can take right from town, etc. And there is an atmosphere in the towns with hikers in summer and skiers in winter coming and going - there is an apres hiking or skiing nightlife in Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen - Murren and Wengen tend to be much better for folks liking solitude.
PalenQ is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2013, 06:53 AM
  #22  
 
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Spiez is a transport hub for day trips to all parts of the Bernese Oberland, from Trift Glacier up to Glacier 3000 and from Jochpass up to Sanetsch Pass.

Outside the Canton of Berne, you can reach in 1 1/2 hrs:
Stresa (Lake Maggiore)
Zermatt
Saas Fee
Leukerbad
Loetschental
Crans-Montana
Saillon-les-Bains
Riederalp-Aletsch Glacier
Basel
Zurich
Lucerne
Aarau
Solothurn
Lakes Neuchatel/Bienne/Murten

Spiez is not a big place, but it's not a mountain village for sure.
neckervd is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2013, 07:43 AM
  #23  
 
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Yes Spiez is an ideal base for someone wanting to stay put in one place and day trip to many other nice places like neckervd lists above.

I do think staying in a Zermatt or Grindelwald or Wengen, etc however is a whole different experience that is totally awesome - you can do both obviously.
PalenQ is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2013, 01:39 PM
  #24  
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Thanks to all of you for your time and wonderful information. So now I would like to know where in Grindelwald everyone likes to stay. If you could share that with me I'd appreciate it. Also, no one has talked about staying in Geneva. We were going to fly into there and the only recommendation was to take an immediate high speed train out to Montreux. is it not worth a night or two stay in Geneva itself?
soods is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2013, 01:36 AM
  #25  
 
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Geneva is fine if you are interested in it's many fine musuems (among them the International Red Cross and Human Rights Museum) or in the History of this town of Calvin. The Historic city center can be visited in 3 hrs or so (without museums). The beautiful historic steamships ply the whole Lake.
You may have a look at:
http://www.geneve-tourisme.ch/en/home/
http://www.cgn.ch/en-gb/flotte-belle.../shiplist.aspx
http://www.swisscastles.ch/vaud/coppet/
http://www.nyon-tourisme.ch/en/to_discover
http://www.patekmuseum.com/
http://toutankhamon.ch/en/
neckervd is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2013, 07:08 AM
  #26  
 
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Grindelwald is strung out linearly - east to west as I recall - kind of on a ledge - don't matter I think where on that ridge you are - all hotels face the Jungfrau peaks - the town is small - can't see any location being that preferable over others.
PalenQ is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2013, 08:02 AM
  #27  
 
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Hotels along the main road (Dorfstrasse) may have more traffic noise (in high season).
neckervd is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2013, 11:28 AM
  #28  
 
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yes tjhe second tier small paved paths above the main road is lined by guesthouses, small hotels, a youth hostel, the Nature Friend's House (for all ages) - etc. Yes much quieter.
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Nov 23rd, 2013, 03:52 PM
  #29  
 
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Hi Soods - there are many experienced people who have answered your questions, they know much more about the area but I will answer from the perspective of our recent trip, In September/October

I too agonised about which travel pass to get. But I finally "bit the bullet" and purchased an 8 day first class travel pass for 2. And we were very very happy.

I will briefly describe how we used the pass.

- Our first trip was on the Bernina Express from Tirano to Chur. The first class carriage had plenty of room for us to move from side to side for views and photos. We loved that trip. We changed trains in Chur and then again in Zurich for our destination that night in Lucerne. Because of the 8 day travel pass we didnt have to worry about purchasing additional tickets and there was always seats in the first class carriage.

- Next day we caught a lovely boat on Lake Lucerne( included in pass and upstairs for magnificent views) to the station for Mount Pilatus. Tickets for the train up to Mt Pilatus were half price with the pass. Gondola down and then free bus trip back to Lucerne.

- Next day we sent our bags on to Wengen and caught the Golden Pass train to Brienz, again in first class plenty of seats, (2nd class was very full). We go off the train in Brienz, looked around and then caught a boat on Lake to Brienz to Interlaken (on the top deck is first class). Beautiful views. In Interlaken we caught the train to Lauterbrunnen and then on to Wengen. This trip was fully covered by the pass.

- Next day was drizzle in the mountains so we caught the trains back down to Interlaken and then caught a boat to Thun again sat upstairs again and loved the trip. After spending time in Thun we caught a train (ICE) back to Interlaken and then train back to Wengen.

- Next day we caught the Funicular and train to Murren. Gondola back down the other side, bus to Trummelbach Falls and bus back to Lauterbrunnen and then back up to Wengen. All included.

- next day with pass paid half fare for Gondola up to Mannlichen walked to Kleine Scheidegg and half price for train back to Wengen.

- next day we caught the Golden Pass train to Montreux (sitting in a panorama coach). Caught bus to Chilion Castle and Paddle Steamer back on Lake Geneva.

- next day used pass for moving on to the Black Forest area. (only had to purchase ticket from Basel Bad to Frieburg (Ger), bought this ticket ahead of time so was able to get a discount.

Sorry for the lengthy reply but I wanted to emphasis how much we used the pass and share some of the places we visited as they are similar to your choices. We loved having the first class tickets, always plenty of seats and having the full travel pass meant that we could jump on almost any mode of transport at a whim and just flash our pass. I didn't even mention some of the little bus trips in between. We only reserved seats when it was mandatory e.g. Bernina Express on the Panorama coach.

We also used the pass for Museums etc.

We also had a car in Germany for 17 days and spent a week in the Mosel area. We handed our car back in in Munich and purchased discounted advanced tickets from Munich to Salzburg. I know you mentioned visiting these areas.

I hope this has been of help to you. I know people have different favourite places and passes but this is what we did and it really worked for us and we loved it, especially not having to purchase tickets all the time.
aussie_10 is offline  
Nov 24th, 2013, 09:04 AM
  #30  
 
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We loved having the first class tickets, always plenty of seats and having the full travel pass meant that we could jump on almost any mode of transport at a whim and just flash our pass>

I always have a first-class pass as well for the reasons aussie 10 says - always lots of empty seats in first class not always so in 2nd class - I can bop from side to side as the scenery dictates and on boats only first-class pass or ticket holders are allowed up there - currently there is some kind of special on first-class Swiss Passes - not sure of details but it may be an extra day on some passes and can be used for the whole of 2014 - not sure I'll check.

But many say 2nd class is just dandy in Switzerland and that is true but first class as always is a lot more dandier.
PalenQ is offline  
Nov 24th, 2013, 10:00 AM
  #31  
 
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We stayed a few years ago in the Hotel Alpenrose in Wengen, a magically beautiful car free village. We were there for skiing and did go to Grindewald for an afternoon - personally we much preferred Wengen (thank you to the fodorite who suggested I investigate it when I was looking for a family friendly ski area).

I was trying to navigate a complicated itinerary of rail travel from France to Wengen on that trip and someone on this board suggested Budget European Travel (mentioned above). Though I like to "do it myself" I found Byron there to be extremely helpful identifying all of the pass options (as I was traveling with a child - they travel free in Switzerland - and skiing this added to the complexity of options).

One other suggestion I have for traveling in Switzerland (where food is expensive) is to consider half board at the hotel. The food at the Alpenrose was excellent and it was a very good value.
lynnalan is offline  
Nov 24th, 2013, 12:23 PM
  #32  
 
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Families will love Wengen - none of the loud apres-ski noise that can happen in Grindelwald, mecca for younger hikers and skiiers or Lauterbrunnen - like Grindelwald that many younger folk stay there so is lively but not always in a way families with young kids may wish.
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Nov 24th, 2013, 12:31 PM
  #33  
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Thanks so much for all of your responses. I value everyone's opinion!
soods is offline  
Nov 24th, 2013, 02:26 PM
  #34  
 
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One other suggestion I have for traveling in Switzerland (where food is expensive) is to consider half board at the hotel>

Hey hey hey to this - it may be the most economical and efficient way to eat in this very very expensive place!
PalenQ is offline  
Nov 27th, 2013, 12:30 PM
  #35  
 
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Also, no one has talked about staying in Geneva. We were going to fly into there and the only recommendation was to take an immediate high speed train out to Montreux. is it not worth a night or two stay in Geneva itself?>

It is not that Geneva is not a nice city but most find it very modern and feel their limited time could be better spent elsewhere - like in much more dreamy Vevey or Montreux, two smaller cities on Lake Geneva about an hour not by high-speed train but regular slow-speed train.

Personally I like both Geneva and Montreux and Vevey too but if I had to chose I would go and stay in Montreux or Vevey as they are much more romantic old-worldish towns.

But Geneva is not a dud that some make it out IMO - it has a nicely restored old town with cathedral that few ferret out it seems and lake boat tours going by the many fancy villas of the rich and famous lining the lake and the Red Cross HQs, etc.

So if landing there it is always nice I think to stay in the city you land in - with jet lag, etc.

That said it is only a short hour or so train ride right from Geneva airport to Vevey or Montreux - and if going onto Interlaken via the Golden Pass train then it is close - the GP scenic train starts from Montreux.
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Nov 28th, 2013, 01:47 AM
  #36  
 
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Lausanne bound steamboats offer usually a limited number of (free) sunbeds (in first class only!), not a bad solution after a overnight flight (makes sense at sunny days in July/August only)
neckervd is offline  
Nov 28th, 2013, 05:26 AM
  #37  
 
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If you have a 2nd class pass or ticket you can pay the difference between first and second class fares on the boat if you want to move into the reserved for first-class areas - usually IME the top open-air deck.
PalenQ is offline  
Nov 28th, 2013, 01:27 PM
  #38  
 
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Lausanne bound steamboats offer usually a limited number of (free) sunbeds (in first class only!),>

are you saying to take a boat from Geneva to Lausanne ((or I think also to Montreux) after an all-night flight - this is a long cruise isn't it? And would cost a pretty penny for the first class aspect.

I can see staying the first night in Geneva then taking the cruise to Lausanne and Montreux or Vevey - a great introduction to Switzerland and you will not fall asleep.
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Nov 28th, 2013, 09:44 PM
  #39  
 
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The cruise from Geneva to Montreux takes 5 hours, which to me is waaay too much of a good thing. Even taking the cruise from Geneva to Lausanne can be problematic because then you have to walk or take the metro from Ouchy to the train station.

I would just take the train to Montreux, then enjoy one of the lake cruises on another day, maybe while visiting the vineyards of the Lavaux (and Lutry or Rivaz) or Vevey.

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Nov 29th, 2013, 05:56 AM
  #40  
 
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The distance between the Ouchy boat's pier and the metro station is just 150 metres/500 feet. But people who are not used to walk so much can of course call a taxi (up to Lausanne railway station; there the taxi can stop 50 metres/250 feet closer to the platform from where leave the trains to Montreux than the metro).
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