Our trip to Switzerland in June 2007 may assist others. Neither of us are fond of too much walking and, since Switzerland is renowned for being somewhat expensive, we decided to stay in self-catering accommodation as near to railway stations as possible.
We decided on a half-price rail pass for our travelling and to stay in Lauterbrunnen first and then Luzern.
Our overnight flight landed in Zurich at 06:10 so we’d already decided to take the train from the airport to Zurich’s main station, store our suitcases for a couple of hours, and take a tour of Zurich on a vehicle designed to look like a trolley bus. Good job we decided on this as it was raining and at least on the bus we kept dry.
Afterwards, it was back to the station to collect our luggage and catch the train. Whilst waiting we had sausage and a chunk of bread from a vendor in the station hall – delicious. We’d decided to travel from Zurich via Luzern to Interlaken (instead of via Bern) in order to travel on the Brunig line as it is much more scenic; even in the rain! Shopping for supplies (for supper that night and breakfast next day) was done in Luzern station and we took the second connecting train for the Brunig line.
We eventually arrived in Lauterbrunnen at 17:45; not bad considering a tour of Zurich and shopping in Luzern; and stayed at the Chalet Horner (self-catering apartments in a Chalet opposite the Hotel Oberland, just up the road from the station.)
Waking next day to sunshine, we decided on the Jungfraujoch. Train up to Kleine Scheidegg, a glass of hot chocolate on the platform there was both welcome and delicious, and then the next train up to the top. What a view! Good job our reading and planning had meant we had extra layers of clothing to go at as it’s cold up there. A good pair of boots is useful too, especially in the Ice Palace unless you’re into skiing-like travel. Back down to Kleine Scheidegg for a sausage with rosti and bread washed down with a beer at the station café and then back to Lauterbrunnen. (Take the sun block as we were getting sunburned at that altitude even though there was still snow on the platform.)
Next day a train trip to Bern to see the sights.
Following day we went to Brienz and a trip on the Rothornbahn which only took us half way up as they were still snowed in at the top. Back to Lauterbrunnen via a boat to Interlaken and then the train.
Next day we packed as we were moving to Luzern; once more via the Brunig line. We broke our journey in Meiringen to have a meringue and a look around. Nice place but a bit quirky as Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character. Then on to Luzern for our stay at the Hotel Mr Pickwick on the bank of the river opposite the railway station; not exactly in keeping with our self-catering plan but the most economic given our requirements.
Whilst in Luzern we went to the transport museum – that takes a day to do it justice – and a day to go up Mt Pilatus (boat and cog railway both ways, not the circular tour using the cable car and bus.)
We then left Switzerland for a week in England. On the way back our flight from Heathrow was delayed meaning our connecting flight had already left Zurich by the time we got there. Instead of taking the airline’s offer of flights half way across Europe the next morning we decided to take the same plane but the next night. We were accommodated at the airline’s cost at the Hilton (the only chance we’ll ever have of staying there!) and bought a Zurich day pass the next day. We went by train up the Uitleberg, by tram though Zurich, and a circular tour of the lake by boat before catching the train back to the airport for our flight home.
Highlights of the holiday? The efficiency, comfort, accessibility and connectivity of the Swiss travel system. The mountains of the Bernese Oberland. Fondue at the Hotel Oberland in Lauterbrunnen. The medieval look of Bern. The fresh air just about everywhere. Swiss sausages and rosti. Swiss coffee. Quaint villages. Restaurant Fritschi in Luzern Friendly people.
Now planning for a similar trip in June 2009 staying in La Tour-de-Peilz near Vevey, Lugano and Chur. This time we’ve decided on buying a Swiss pass for – mostly - free travel as I’ve worked out it’s more economic if you’re going to travel extensively by train.