Riding the Rails: Switzerland

Switzerland is smaller than Vermont and New Hampshire combined. That, and the Swiss penchant for efficiency, means travel from city to city by rail is easy and scenic.  Here’s my “To Do” list for the following destinations which are all short train rides apart: 

Interlaken

  1. Ride the cable car to Harder Kulm to sightsee, eat, and hike.  It’s a must.  
  2. Take a private walking tour with Sandra Kaiser; she knows all the off the beaten path sites.  
  3. Stroll through Hohematte Park in the middle of town.  There’s a spectacular view of the Swiss Alps. If you are adventurous, try hang gliding. 
  4. Although it’s a winter dish, many Interlaken restaurants serve fondue year-round.  Shops along the main street sell Swiss chocolate. 
  5. Stay at the Hotel City Oberland. It’s centrally located and comfortable. Request a room in the new section.

This Travel Writer at Harder Kulm

Geneva

  1. Purchase the Geneva Pass available in 24, 48 or 72 hour segments. It’s a perfect way to explore the city. It includes free admission or discounts for museums, cruises, public transportation, and over 50 attractions.
  2. Explore the Old Town Arts District and then walk to the historic Brunswick Monument.  Have lunch at the charming Cottage Cafe while there.
  3. Lake Geneva is the largest lake in Switzerland and one of the biggest bodies of fresh water in   Europe. Don’t miss a sightseeing cruise or a ferry ride for an up close look at the lakefront homes and Geneva’s most famous landmark, its water fountain.
  4. Find a local farmers market/street fair for an array of food items and crafts. 
  5. Stay at the elegant Hotel Ambassador with great views of Lake Geneva. It has a perfect location plus a superior buffet breakfast (included in the rate).

Lausanne/Vevey

  1. Visit Lausanne’s Old Town, the local markets, and stroll the promenade along Lake Geneva.  Look for Nestle’s fork in the lake in Vevey and (Charlie) Chaplain’s World.    Don’t miss the Olympic Museum. 
  2. Dine at Brasserie de Montbenon located in a park-like setting overlooking Lake Geneva.
  3. Hike the 12th. century vineyards of Lavaux (a Unesco World Heritage Site) with oenophile and guide, Matthew Richards.  
  4. Cruise Lake Geneva on the restored paddle steamer Belle Epoque to Montreux.
  5. Stay at the renovated Hotel de la Paix overlooking Lake Geneva with a wonderful view of the Alps.  A sumptuous buffet breakfast is included. The train station is less than 10 minutes walk away. 

Montreux 

  1. Visit Chillon Castle located on a rock on the banks of Lake Geneva. It’s the most visited historic building in Switzerland. It was the residence and toll station for nearly 400 hundred years of the Counts of Savoy. The castle inspired Lord Byron to write his poem, The Prisoner of Chillon.
  2. Check the calendar for music festivals. The Montreux Jazz Festival, June/July, is one of the most famous in the world.
  3. If you are feeling lucky, stop by the Casino Barriere, the largest gambling establishment in Switzerland.
  4. Wander through Montreux’s picturesque Old Town.
  5. Stay at the historic Grand Hotel Suisse-Magestic overlooking Lake Geneva with spectacular views of the French Alps.  It’s a classy place with updated rooms and a wonderful breakfast buffet.

Note: Lausanne, Vevey, and Montrose are known as the Swiss Riviera.

Chillon Castle

Travel Tips  

Edelweiss Air offers seasonal non-stop flights from San Diego to Zurich, May through September. They also fly from Denver, Las Vegas, Orlando, and Tampa Bay. Flight schedules can be found at www.FlyEdelweiss.com/en.

The Swiss Travel Pass is available in 3, 4, 8, or 15 day increments.  This all-in-one ticket allows use of rail, bus, and boat transportation, free entry to over 500 museums, and 50% discounts on many mountain excursions.Treat yourself to a first class upgrade, especially in high season. 

Further information about Interlaken, Geneva, Lausanne, Vevey, Montreux, including the sightseeing mentioned, can be found at www.MySwitzerland.com (use the search option). 

Download the Swiss Travel Guide app (iOS or Android).  It features over 500 Swiss highlights that you can add to your travel via an integrated map. Logon for more information at www.sbb.ch/en.

Information

Guides: Sandra Kaiser’s (Interlaken) email is SandraKaiser@bluewin.ch

Matthew Richards’  (Lavaux vineyard region) website is www.WalkandTalk.ch and his email is MatthewRic@gmail.com

Hotels: Hotel City Oberland (Interlaken – 4 stars) www.City-Oberland.ch

Grand Hotel Suisse-Magestic (Montreux 4.5 stars) www.Hotel-Majestic-Montreux.com

Hotel Ambassador (Geneva – 4 stars) www.The-Ambassador.ch

Hotel de la Paix (Lausanne – 4.5 stars) www.HoteldelaPaix.net

Where to Eat

Cottage Cafe (Geneva) www.CottageCafe.ch

Brasserie de Montbenon (Lausanne)  www.BrasseriedeMontbenon.ch

Although food seems expensive, keep in mind a tip is built in.  For an inexpensive snack, carry-out lunch or dinner, plus wine and beer, try the COOP or Migros chain of stores throughout Switzerland.  Larger train stations offer food, restaurants, and shopping in mall-like settings.

Let’s go!

www.Travels-with-Hian.com

Thanks to various websites for information, photos, etc.


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