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We're off to Italy and Switzerland next June!

We're off to Italy and Switzerland next June!

Dec 28th, 2010, 10:16 PM
  #1  
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We're off to Italy and Switzerland next June!

This is my first Fodors post, although I have been reading it for more than five years. I started planning a trip to Europe in June this year, and lo and behold, there was a problem with the Fodors link! Fortunately, this has been solved in some way and I joined about two weeks ago. Another little bit of fortune is that I saved quite a bit of posts when everything was in working order, so I had a lot to work with. I am taking the plunge and will be in Italy and Switzerland from 5 June – 25 June 2011, basically as a 50th birthday present to me from me and my SO.

My itinerary is quite cast and concrete, since I had to book a flight about a month ago. I will start in Rome and spend three nights there, then off to three days in Venice, one week in Tuscany and one week in the Bernese Oberland.
Even though I have researched a lot, I still have a lot of questions that need answering, and I will need your help for it.

Here goes:
1. I am thinking of making Lauterbrunnen my base for the seven days, purely because of it’s location and the ease with which we can go to all the various points of interest. Does it make sense?
2. We will be buying the Swiss Saver Pass (no cars!) because it just sounds a lot easier to just hop on trains, buses and boats than to still have to buy individual tickets with some other passes. Will it be the right one to buy?
3. Should we do Jungfraujoch or Schilthorn?
4. Ah, and what about the hikes that everybody rave about? We are not the fittest people on the planet but we will be able to walk quite a lot. Which easy/moderate hikes would you suggest?

Rather a mouth full, but as I said, I have lots of questions.
Duvies is online now  
Dec 29th, 2010, 01:10 AM
  #2  
 
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I think you first need to get the sense of where things are located. Here is one of many resources:

http://mappery.com/Jungfrau-Grindelw...ion-summer-map

Lauterbrunnen makes sense if you are on the go to different directions. However, if you look at the panoramic pictures at the link noted above, Lauterbrunnen is in the valley so your view is looking up the mountains.

If you do choose a specific side of the valley, the Schilthorn or Jungfraujoch side, then why stay in-between when you could stay in Murren or Wengen and have a breathtaking vista across the valley from where you are staying?

The visit to Jungfraujoch or Schilthorn is weather dependent. You check the weather and the video images such as at http://www.swisspanorama.com/ in the morning to see if you want to spend time and money getting up there. It is possible that you can get weathered out so go with options and play your weather card wisely.
greg is online now  
Dec 29th, 2010, 01:22 AM
  #3  
 
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1) Yes, Lauterbrunnen makes a good base for a week, especially if you want to explore the lakes around Interlaken, maybe Thun/Bern or Ballenberg - it is *the* transportation hub in the Jungfrau region. On the other hand, if you're looking for fancy accommodation you're better off in the other villages.

2) Depends on the exact plans. But I doubt the Swiss Pass is the best bet - the Berner Oberland Pass is probably more economic for you. Or the Jungfraubahnen Pass. But that has to be decided after you know which mountain railways/gondolas/cable cars you plan to ride, which hikes you plan to do.

3) If you want to spend some time in the snow in summer and want to be *real* close to the glacier then do the Jungfraujoch excursion. For the best views go up to Schilthorn. It's up to you!

4) Männlichen - Kleine Scheidegg is a *must* (but not on a weekend, please!), Grütschalp - Mürren (possibly via Allmendhubel) is very scenic, too. Grindelwald-First to Bachalp lake (and maybe up to Faulhorn mountain) is another must. That's it for the short and easy ones.

Very beautiful and more remote is the valley beyond Stechelberg (Obersteinberg). Another excellent hike above Grindelwald is Bussalp - Bachalp lake - First.

Don't forget the lakes around Interlaken (castles Spiez and Oberhofen), pay a visit to Thun. A week is not really much if you're there for the first time. Try to see a bit more than 'only' the mountains.
Ingo is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 09:59 AM
  #4  
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Hi Greg and Ingo,

Thanks for your replies and the information. On considering Lauterbrunnen as a base: we also plan to do Bern if the weather is bad, and also to spend time on one of the lakes (Thun is one of Ingo's favorites and already on the must do list!). But nothing is cast and concrete.

For info, we will be arriving from Tuscany by train and leaving by plain from Zurich. That is the reason why I am thinking of the Swiss Saver Pass. Ingo, will the Berner Oberland pass give me the same benefits as the SSP? If so, I am definitely going to do some research on it.

I know a week is not enough to do justice to the BO, but it means that I will have to return again one day ...
Duvies is online now  
Dec 29th, 2010, 10:11 AM
  #5  
 
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Will it be the right one to buy?>

If a consecutive-day pass comports to your time in Switzerland (4, 8, 15, 22 day and 1 month lengths then these are more cost-effective per day than the flexipass, which gives x number of 100% covered travel days in an overall one-month period and then in between the use of the 100% covered days you get 50% off virtually everything that moves in Switzerland. But your question is about a Swiss Saver Pass - this is a general name of Swiss Passes and there are two types - consceutive day passes and flexipasses - plus things like the Half-Fare Card which may be best if you know exactly what rides you will be taking and will not do more (to me an advantage to a pass over the Half-Fare card is two-fold - one you need never stand in ticket lines but just hop on the train, lake boat, postal bus, etc and the ability to ride additional things you had not previewed without calculating at 50% off is it worth it - like the boats on Lake Thun in Interlaken - during your stay on a nice day you may just hop the train down to Interlaken and hop on a boat just to relax and see gorgeous Lake Thun and its lakeside wonders. Just going down to Interlaken and back is a factor - but if you will just stay in Lauterbrunnen itself and just hike then the Half-Fare Card (or Swiss Transfer Ticket or Swiss Card) may be the best ticket. But I like the pass because of the flexibility and ease of use it offers - and again a consecutive-day pass is great because it gives you carte blanche from get here to get go.

Anyway for tons of great info on planning a Swiss rail journey and passes and half-fare cards, etc. I always spotlight these fantastic IMO sites - www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com - and if living in the U.s. Swiss Passes have been significantly cheaper (and were when I checked again a few days ago) if bought in the U.s. instead of buying the same pass in Switzerland (check prices in Swiss francs at www.sbb.ch - Swiss Railways site and keep in mind that purchases in Switzerland with most credit cards add an addtional 3% onto the price.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 10:23 AM
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Ok, so Lauterbrunnen is the best base for you, I'd say.

The advantage of the Swiss Pass is that travelling from the Italian/Swiss border (Domodossola in your case) to Lauterbrunnen and from Lauterbrunnen to Zürich Airport is free. With the Berner Oberland Pass it is not - 50% off from Brig to Lauterbrunnen and from Lauterbrunnen to Luzern or Bern, depending on the route to Zürich Airport. The advantage of the BO Pass is that you get 50% off on the very expensive mountain railways beyond the villages Wengen, Mürren, Grindelwald (to Jungfraujoch, Kleine Scheidegg, Schilthorn e.g.) while with the Swiss Pass you only get 25% off.

It really takes a VERY detailed calculation and I am not sure I want to do that right now. Maybe Palenque jumps in

I.
Ingo is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 12:30 PM
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There is a big difference with a little bit of walking and a moderate hike in Switzerland. How many miles can you walk comfortably on trails or in woods - not at the mall or on sidewalks? How quickly do you walk?

We never do hikes - but we do walks quite frequently. But after having brunch on Sundays we will walk around Manhattan - for 5 or 6 miles - to work off the calories. Also I bike regularly in the park. And I would never consider a moderate hike - since I'm not climbing anything - and want a paved or gravel path - not possibly slippery footing.

Also - what altitude do you live at. We live at sea level and have found that the lower mountains - 6,000 or 7,000 feet can slow you down a little. And the higher altitudes - like the Jungfrau can cause you to feel a little light headed even with just slow strolling - or sitting still.

If you want to hike I encourage you to start doing longer walks and some hikes now to get into shape to enjoy them.
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 02:19 PM
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Mürren, Grindelwald (to Jungfraujoch, Kleine Scheidegg, Schilthorn e.g.) while with the Swiss Pass you only get 25% off.>

True for all except Murren to Schilthorn which at least in 2010 was 50% off with a Swiss Pass I believe - maybe has changed? Like Grindelwald/Wengen to Kl Scheidegg went down in 2010 to 25% from 50%

But the Swiss Pass does cover Lauterbrunnen-Grutschalp aerial cable car and then train to Murren and cable to Gimmelwald and cable to Stechelberg back down in lauterbrunnen valley and postal bus back to Lauterbrunnen 100% (or always has TMK)
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 30th, 2010, 12:01 AM
  #9  
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Hi All and thanks for the time you took to help me with information.

PalenQ, we will be in the BO from Saturday 18 – Saturday 25 June (our flight back is only at 20h00 that night), so I was thinking of the 8 consecutive days SSP. My reasoning for considering this pass is actually based on an earlier post of yours. We are not going with a fixed itinerary, but would like to be flexible and use trains, boats and buses as we go along. Plus I do not really want to wait in queues to purchase tickets. Thanks for the websites, I appreciate it.

Ingo, thanks, I will sit down somewhere over the weekend to do the calculations.

NYT, you are 100% correct, I should have referred to walks and not hikes; my apologies. But DW and I have already started a little program to get our fitness levels up in anticipation of the walks, even though they may be easy or moderate.

Again back to where to stay. If I decide on Lauterbrunnen which hotel/s or other accommodation would be good to look at?

As a second choice, quite a lot of people on this board would consider Wengen as base (although I know Murren has just as large a following!); again I will appreciate feedback on accommodation.
Duvies is online now  
Dec 30th, 2010, 01:24 AM
  #10  
 
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Hi Duvies -

We've stayed in Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Wengen and Grindelwald. Wengen and Murren are personal favorites, however we found Lauterbrunnen the perfect base for a week long stay, with easy access to everything we wanted to see and do.

I have a long trip report here on Fodors which covers our week in Lauterbrunnen (plus a few days in Kandersteg and Zermatt). It covers several walks, prices, and the apartment we booked in Lauterbrunnen, so it might give you some ideas.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-walkabout.cfm
Melnq8 is offline  
Dec 30th, 2010, 01:26 AM
  #11  
 
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This link might be of help too, as it provides the operating schedule for BO gondolas, cable cars, etc.

http://www.jungfrau.ch/en/sommer/tou...erating-times/
Melnq8 is offline  
Dec 30th, 2010, 06:33 AM
  #12  
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How did I get it right not to have saved your trip report? Very nicely done and lots of very useful information. Thanks Melnq8.

I see that you stayed in an apartment in Lauterbrunnen. Would you say it is better than staying in one of the local hotels?

Suggestions on accommodation in Wengen will also be appreciated, because I will have to make a decision on where to stay shortly.
Duvies is online now  
Dec 30th, 2010, 03:18 PM
  #13  
 
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For a week long stay, I think an apartment is the way to go. We had a full kitchen, washer & dryer, and plenty of space to spread out. It was ideal for us. I tend to feel cooped up in hotels after a few days.

It was cheaper than a hotel too, but of course we provided our own breakfast.

There is one drawback to apartments - many of them require a Saturday-Saturday stay, so that might throw a spanner in the works. Keep in mind that some apartments will rent outside this schedule in the low season though, so it never hurts to ask.
Melnq8 is offline  
Dec 31st, 2010, 08:39 PM
  #14  
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Happy New Year Everybody!

Thanks for the advice Melnq8. Your TR also just about answered my question regarding which pass to take. Will do the maths over the weekend.
Duvies is online now  
Jan 1st, 2011, 05:49 AM
  #15  
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I am not sure if i made a mistake, but this should be posted to the Switzerland forum.

Can someone remove this from the Italy forum me please?
Duvies is online now  
Jan 1st, 2011, 07:25 AM
  #16  
 
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Is there a Switzerland forum? Would not anything tagged Switzerland just appear here as well. folks looking days from now perhaps would only see it in the Suisse forum but for now this general forum is what you want.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 08:31 PM
  #17  
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Hey thanks PalenQ, I can recall only posting in in the Swiss Forum, but it also appears in the Italian one.
Duvies is online now  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 07:24 AM
  #18  
 
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You can chose up to five countries for you post to appear in their forums but they all appear here to my knowledge.
PalenQ is offline  

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