Monday, June 10, 2013

Switzerland


I need to put a disclaimer here. I was in Switzerland for only 3 days! Since Sumit was in Zurich for a work trip, I decided to tag along for the weekend. I will write about what we did during those 2-3 day we were there and Sumit will add on his experiences in Zurich.

Here is my brief 3 day itinerary:

Day 1: Fly in to Zurich. Spend half a day in Zurich.
Day 2: Take early morning train to Interlaken-> Grindelwald ->Jungfraujoch. Take the train back to Interlaken. Spend a couple of hours walking around in Interlaken. Take the train back to Zurich.
Day 3: Drive to Bern. Drive to Montreux. Drive to Zermatt. Drive back to Zurich.
Day 4: Fly out.


Where to fly?

Drive from Montreux to Zermatt
I flew in to Zurich (ZRH) as Sumit was already there and we were planning stay in Zurich itself. But, if you plan to go around different cities, flying in to Bern or Geneva may not be a bad idea as well. They are all very very well connected by public transport.


Where to stay?

This is something I may not be really able to help you with. When we started looking for places to stay, it was difficult to find something at such a short notice (two weeks) for two people. Most of the available accommodations were for single travelers with shared bath and such. There weren't many options at all!
But we got lucky and Sumit's friends from undergrad offered us their place to stay. So we were in comforts of a nice warm home in Zurich :)


What to see/do?

We were on a very tight schedule, so we couldn't explore much. We decided to see one mountain peak, and just drive/stroll through some cities. Here is my itinerary in detail.


Day 1

Zurich(Hike to Uetliberg):

View from the tower
Sumit went on this hike with his colleagues. You can also take a train from Zurich to the top of Uetliberg if you do not intend to hike. Some of the hikers chose to hike through unpaved trail, though paved trail was also there but unpaved looked more fun ;) It was a pretty strenuous hike since the rate of change of elevation kept increasing towards the end. Here is the hiking trailAfter the hike, they spent some time  at the base of the tower and then walked up the tower stairs to a phenomenal view of the Zurich city and the lake. They were then re-joined with people who came via train and did an easy hike/walk to Felsenegg where they had lunch at Felsenegg Panorama restaurant. Then, they took a cable car ride back to Zurich. In the evening, they took a ferry ride of around 1.5 hours in the Zurich lake.
Ferry ride in the lake
In the evening Sumit and I ate at a vegetarian restaurant, HIltl. I would recommend it to all the vegetarians travelling to Zurich and looking for some good vegetarian options to eat.
View from the hike


Day 2

Jungfraujoch: 

View from our train to Grindelwald
We decided to go to Jungfraujoch, top of europe and walk through ice caves and see the Aletsch Glacier, longest one in the Alps. We took an early morning train from Zurich to Interlaken via Berne. Missed the 9 am train by a few seconds, so boarded the 10 am train from Zurich to Berne. Made the quick connection to Interlaken OST. From here we boarded the train to Grindelwald and the landscapes just kept getting better. From Grindelwald, we boarded the train t Kleine Scheidegg. From Kleine Scheudegg, we finally boarded the Jungfrau railway to the the Jungfraujoch. It sounds like it would have been a hassle, but it was actually very convenient and the connections were very well timed. Here is the official website.


A coffee shop in Grindelwald
Once we reached the final station, we got off and started exploring options to eat as we were very very hungry. There we saw an Indian buffet place, it felt as if our prayers were answered! We decided to give it a try, but the food was pathetic, horrible and tasteless. Do not recommend it. There are a few other options, might as well try those. 


Jungfrau
Anyhoo, we just kept exploring all the places inside the mountain. The ice caves, the ice museum (very pretty) and then stepped outside to see the beautiful glacier.  It was surreal! After about an hour and a half, we decided to take the train back to Kleine Scheidegg. From here, we got on to the next train to Grindelwald. We decided to take a break here. went to a coffee shop, had excellent coffee and took a stroll in the marketplace just next to the station. After about 40 minutes or so, we took the next train to Interlaken.



Interlaken:

Interlaken
We decided to spend some time here. The street next to the OSt station has quite a few souvenir shops. We walked around this street and then decide to hike to the lakes. There was small hiking trail just behind the train station. I do not remember the name of the trail but it was an easy hike. We went across the bridge towards the hiking trail. Here we started walking and came across an India restaurant, Indian Village. So, all our hiking plans went kaput and we went in hoping for some good indian food. And it was gooood! The best Paneer Labaabdaar I have ever had. So after we had our tummies full, we decided to ditch the hike and just stroll around the area. Landscapes were just so perfect, like right out of a book.
So, after about another hour or so, we took the train back to Berne -> Zurich.
What else we could have done: Interlaken is famous for adventure sports. Could've paraglided and some water sports too.


Day 3

Berne:

Farmers' Market in Berne
This day we decided to ditch the trains and drive around ourselves. We rented a car, got a GPS and left for Bern. Sumit was quite keen on seeing Einstein's house, so that was what we fed in to the GPS. It took us straight to the most happening little marketplace in Berne. We parked out car and explored the area on foot. Went to a farmer's market close by. Visited an old cathedral in the area. Took a tour of Einstein's house. And then had lunch at one of the coffee shops. Lovely time all in all.

Einstein Haus in Berne

Montreux:

Chateau de Chillon
From Berne, we drove to Montreux. A beautiful freeway surrounded by golf-green valleys. Now I know why is Switzerland so popular! We had planned on seeing Chateau de Chillon. So, we looked for parking close to the chateau. After we parked, we walked to the Chateau and there we got a map. It took us about 45-50 minutes to take a self-guided walking tour of the Chateau. Once we got out, we drove towards a nearby street with lot of small restaurants by the lake. Found a parking spot and grabbed something to eat. 

Zermatt/Matterhorn:

From here we drove to Zermatt. Again, a beautiful drive. Reached Zermatt around 3 pm. It was a short train ride to Tasch and then a cable car ride up to the mountain. But we decided to get something to eat. Yes, food comes first! After we ate, only some potato dishes that is, we were full and lazy and tired and decided to skip the trip to Matterhorn. We thought we should drive to Tasch, to get a better view, but discovered the road wasn't open to public. It was anyway a bit cloudy, so we decided to be back some other day. We had a long drive back to Zurich ahead of us. Zermatt is one of the world's most popular ski resorts, so may be next time we'll be back fro some skiing :-)

Matterhorn Terminal Tasch

What we missed

  • Rhine falls - 30 minutes north of Zurich.
  • Mount Titlis - very popular with desi tourists. So much so that they have an SRK-Kajol poster up there! And the cable car ride is quite popular as well.
  • Lausanne: A small town west of Montreux. University town with lots of gardens.
  • Geneva: Well the UN headquarters and more importantly CERN.
  • If you are interested in visiting the Alps mostly, Glacier Express might be a good option.

Pointers

  • Trains are ON TIME. We missed our first train because the train was scheduled for 9:00 AM we reached I guess 30 seconds later!
  • You can check the weather in Jungfraujoch before you go on their website.
  • We rented a car by Hertz car rental. 
  • Our Day 3 route.



1 comment:

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