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First time to Switzerland

Brownsville, Texas
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First time to Switzerland

I'm planning to go to Switzerland from USA with a friend in Oct. We are gonna spent 5 days in Switzerland, my first question is should we rent a car or it's more convenient just take the train?

The plane will arrive in Geneva, and we are planning to spend a day in Laussane since we have a friend there. Any suggestions where we should go for such a short trip? (sightseeing, or hiking)

Thank you very much

London
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1. Re: First time to Switzerland

If you've a friend in Lausanne you could consider heading up into the local mountains for lovely hiking. There are a couple of nice traditional inns and I have a nice half day hike across to the Gruyeres area. Let me know if this interests you as an option and I'll give you details.

I'd definitely stick to public transport. It's efficient and easy to use.

Edited: 13 May 2012, 00:29
Brownsville, Texas
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2. Re: First time to Switzerland

Thank you for your help NorthWestLondoner !

May I have the detail of the hiking information you are talking about?

Do I need another city (attraction site) for this 5 days trip? or Geveva and Laussane will fully occupy my 5 days? Is there any city or site that I shouldn't miss for Switzerland?

Thank you

London
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3. Re: First time to Switzerland

With five days, I think I'd prefer to have just the one base. However, you could think about just stopping in on Lausanne on the way somewhere else and stopping off in Geneva on the way back. This plan works if you just want to spend a half day or so with your friend. If you want to spend longer, and do some activities in the general area with your friend, then I think I'd recommend picking one base local to Lausanne and sticking to that.

Lausanne would be a sensible base if your friend can provide you with free accommodation. If not, then I think Vevey is a nicer option. It's not far by train to Lausanne and is just as easy to get to from the airport. From Vevey, you can day trip into the local mountains for hiking, mountain cafes and general fresh air stuff , you can take a boat trip on the lake, visit the beautiful Chateau de Chillon, day trip to thermal baths, the Medieval walled town of Gruyeres, the chocolate factor at Broc, up to the Rochers de Naye on a little train, go wine tasting in the vineyards - basically there's plenty to do. October is usually very beautiful in this area - nice and warm or verging on the crisp and Autumnal. If you stay in Vevey or Montreux you get a free Riviera card with your accommodation which allows free local bus travel (not all the way to Lausanne I'm afraid), and some discounts on local tourist trains.

If you want to briefly stop off in Lausanne, and then continue on, then there are lots of options for you. You could head for Zermatt - famous for the Matterhorn. It's a pretty car free village with lots and lots of hiking. Connecting transport runs up there from Lausanne reasonably late, so you could have a good long day in Lausanne (a quick look at the public transport website www.rail.ch shows a connecting train leaving at 20.45, arriving at 23.44 (although this might be a bit later for check in than is ideal).

If you do choose to stick with Lausanne, Vevey or Montreux, then I'll let you know about the walks I like and how to get there.

Brownsville, Texas
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4. Re: First time to Switzerland

Thank you so much ! This sounds like a GREAT trip :)

London
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5. Re: First time to Switzerland

Let us know which option you go with.

Brownsville, Texas
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6. Re: First time to Switzerland

Vevey sounds really good to me. If you can please let me know your hiking trails, mountain cafes, and the location of the thermal bath, I will greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

London
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7. Re: First time to Switzerland

Getting to the thermal baths is straightforward. Plan your journey on www.rail.ch Enter Vevey (or wherever you are staying) as the "from" point and type in Lavey-les-Bains, et. Therm as the "to" point. This will show you the route, which goes Vevey to St. Maurice station. Then bus from right in front of the station to the bus stop at the thermal baths. It's the final stop and it's right in front of the complex, so you can't miss it.

To go hiking from Vevey, plan your journey on www.rail.ch. There are tons of walks, but I'm going to suggest two that I think would suit you. Put Vevey as your "from" point and Les Rosalys, place as your "to" point.

1. You first need to take the bus up through the vineyards into the local countryside. You catch the bus from in front of the Post Office (to the left of Vevey station if you are facing the station). The bus number always ends in 13 and its final stop is Chatel St. Denis, gare (station). If you are staying in Vevey (or Montreux or surroundings), you have a free Riviera card, which allows you free bus journeys in the local area. You can use the Rivera card on this bus. The bus travels up through the vineyards and up into farmland. It takes 30 minutes and the journey is scenic all the way. Get off at the final stop, by Chatel St. Denis station.

2. You can start your walk from Chatel St. Denis station (follow yellow pedestrian sign posts to Les Paccots from in front of the station), but I think it's more fun to start higher up. Wait for the bus to Les Rosalys at the free standing bus stop at the ticket office end of Chatel St. Denis station. The journey takes about a quarter of an hour, and takes you up into the local mountains. Get off at the final stop, called Les Rosalys. There is a dot matrix screen which shows the name of each stop.

3.A. Easy walk (couple of hours, not including breaks):

From the bus stop, follow signs up to the Hotel Rosalys (a 5 minute walk up hill). They have great fondue there if you want, but you'll have to walk it off afterwards! Then follow the yellow pedestrian sign opposite the front of the hotel across to the forest and up through the forest. Walk up through the forest until you pop out into a large parking area by ski lifts. Turn left and follow the road for a couple of minutes until you see the sign for the Auberge du Lac des Joncs on the right. Walk up to the Auberge, which is a nice spot for a drink or some food. The walk from Les Rosalys takes about 30 minutes. You'll see very beautiful mountain views all around you once you pop out of the forest. There's a lovely nature reserve lake behind the auberge. Afterwards, walk back down to the road, but don't turn back into the forest. Instead, stay on the road and walk down to the village. When you are nearly at the village, you'll know because you pass a nature themed playground on your right, and you'll see the Hotel Ermitage. There's a pole with yellow pedestrian signs. Look for the sign to Chatel St. Denis. There are two options, take the one which points down towards the tennis courts. You walk down the right hand side of the tennis courts and down into the gorge. Follow signs all the way back to Chatel St. Denis (this route crosses the stream at the bottom of the gorge, and takes you through farmland and quiet rural roads). Once you reach Chatel, follow yellow signs which say TFP (transports publics fribourgeois) which will lead you to the station. Catch the bus back down to Vevey.

3.B. Moderate walk (half a day, do this walk if it has been dry as is can be muddy)

Do the walk as above, but after popping into the Auberge du Lac des Joncs, walk back down the zig zag road and turn right (rather than heading back towards the forest path you came from), following pedestrian signs to Les Pleiades. The route leads you through the forest and down to the gorge. You then walk up through the forest and lovely farmland to Les Pleiades, a pretty viewing point overlooking Lake Geneva. You can take the train from Les Pleiades to Vevey.

8. Re: First time to Switzerland

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