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Best of Switzerland Tour Report

Hi:

Just back from the first Best of Switzerland trip and it was fantastic.

Weather: Unfortunately, as usual when traveling in the spring, we hit rain. But also several days in the 70s. Very clear in Engleberg but cloudy and limited visibility in Murren and Zermatt. The Matterhorn was hiding. The days of the lake cruises were clear and beautiful. But over all it was good. I just can't describe the beauty of this country.

Hotels: All were wonderful. I was traveling on a single supplement and, aside from one hotel, all the rooms had great views, comfortable beds and the hotels good breakfasts. I think my favorite was the hotel in Lausanne . However, that hotel had a glass wall in the bathroom. Mine was frosted so you could not see into the bathroom, but others were not. Also the last hotel had a glass door to the bathroom. Hmm. Those Swiss, who said they are conservative!!!! Oh yes all had elevators.

Bus: We had a very nice bus, but unlike other tours the bus did not stay with the tour the whole time. Because distances are so short, the driver went home some days. So no deep storage. This is a good thing for me as it kept me from buying to much. Also so did the costs (more on that later.) You will probably also really like the day when the bus is driven on the train and then goes through a tunnel. It was way cool and very interesting. Lots of narrow winding roads and stunning views.

Tour Guide: We had two guides the first week, Donald and Fabian. Fabian left to join the second tour mid tour. Donald was excellent. He was up on everything and kept us all in line. Sort of like herding cats!!! Great group too. With one exception, all the local tour guides were excellent. Lots of jokes and laughter.

Snafus: We only had one that we knew of. Everything went smoothly and if any thing went wrong we did not know about it.

Costs: Be advised, Switzerland is EXPENSIVE!!! A regular lunch for one person can run upwards of 25 franks. However, there are several grocery stores, COOP, Manor and Migros, that sell ready to eat sandwiches and salads. Manor actually has a cafeteria with some of the best foods I ate. None of the hotels had issues with eating in the room. Laundry is expensive. Hotels charge by the garment not the load.

Recommended foods: Gelato, cheese, chocolate, fondue and raclette. I also had some of the best bread I have had in a long time. Also if you are a coffee drinker, don't expect to get "American" coffee. The coffee is in small cups and is strong. Absolutely lovey.

Overall Comment: I loved this tour. If you are signed up for this though, be prepared to walk on all types of surfaces from concrete to cobblestones .Lots of uphill walks and stairs. You will take cable cars, trains, metros, buses and boats, and you will have a great time!!!

Posted by
936 posts

Oh, your report sounds like you had such a good time. We loved Switzerland best while on our tour but sadly were only there for two days. We did luck out though and the weather was clear with spectacular views. You make me want to take this tour!

btw - your report got double posted.

Posted by
1937 posts

Wonderful report, Barbara. I am thinking this new tour will be a serious contender for me for next year! Good information about the availability of other food options rather than dining out for the meals not provided on the tour. Your recommended foods comment duly noted! This type of tour "review" is so much more valuable to prospective travelers than what is currently provided on the website. Thanks for posting.

Posted by
8231 posts

Thank you so much! I agree with Andi...this is a serious contender for next year. I also appreciate the details about the food.

I laughed out loud about the bathrooms with the glass doors. I also travel on a single supp and the hotel for my Best of Paris trip had a glass wall across the end of the shower into the room. I was in there before I realized it and had to leap out and close the drapes in the room. Yikes!

Did the guide do any hikes with you all or was it too snowy in, say, Muerren?

Posted by
366 posts

Hi Pam:

The guide had a walk planned in Murren and also went with us up to the top of the Schilthorn. In Engleberg, there was a guided nature walk as part of the daily program. Unfortunately it was not what the guide expected and was more strenuous than was described.

There was no snow on the ground where the hotels were in in Murren or Engleburg. But there was quite a lot at the top of the mountains where we took the cable cars.

There is a guided walk when you get to each location either by the RS guide or a local guide and if there is nothing planned for a day or half day our guide gave us lots of good ideas with clear instructions on what to do.

Posted by
8231 posts

Excellent, thanks Barbara. On the 21 Day Best of Europe the guide had optional activities for our full day in Switzerland including the Schilthorn, hiking on the other side of the valley from Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg and then Trummelbach Falls so just wondered if it worked the same on this tour.

Posted by
915 posts

Barbara, what kind of shoes worked best for you overall? I am signed up for this tour later in the summer and am still planning.

Thx. Debbie

Posted by
206 posts

Thanks for the tour review Barbara. Have been looking forward to the reviews of the Swiss tour. Pretty sure I will try it in 2017. Did any of the places you visited have the weekly markets going on while you were there? Also were there good places to go while you had free time.

Posted by
366 posts

Tony:

There was a weekly market in Lusanne and we all bought picnic foods for the boat ride to Chateau Chillon. There was a market in Lucerne but I missed it. I think if you travel alter in the year there may be more. But the stores also have very good produce and other goods.

There are a lot of things to do in your free time. In Lucerne there are several cable car trips you can take, there are hikes in the mountains and lots of Museums. In Gruyere be sure to go to the museum of the man who created the movie Alien. There are always cruises on the lakes. Train trips though the vineyards. Or you can simply sit on your balcony and stare at the stunning landscapes.

Posted by
1173 posts

Thank you for a great report. This is going to be a very popular tour so it was nice to hear how it went. What did you do in your free time? Was it hard to get around on your own in your free time? Were there other singles on the tour? Did you have a balcony in any of your hotel rooms? Sounds like an amazing tour!

Posted by
366 posts

Hi Ann:

There were 7 single travelers. 2 men and 5 women. Two of the women were traveling together.

There were lots of things to do in our spare time. In Lugano most of the tour took a boat ride. Some got off and took a cog wheel train to the top of a local mountain. Others got of the boat and hiked back to the hotel. There are many museums and the one in Gruyeres is a hoot. It showcases the work of the man who created Alien. Very strange. We went up the schilthorn in Murrin and sat in a wonderful lakeside café in Geneva.

My room in Murrin had a terrace that face the mountains and my hotel in Engleberg also had a small balcony. Several of the others had a Juliet balcony. all but one had stunning views.

If you do go on this tour you will have a fantastic time.

Posted by
408 posts

Great post I really miss the old trip report forum. Thanks for taking the time to post

Posted by
1173 posts

Barbara, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Sounds like there are very nice things to do on this tour. I have been to Switzerland on the Best of Europe tour and going on the GAS tour later this year. Definitely a tour to consider in the near future. Always looking for new places to go to since I have been to Europe several times. But not much into Switzerland. Thank you again for the information.

Posted by
1615 posts

FYI, just noticed that they added another Best of Switzerland tour beginning September 19, 2016.

Edit 7/2/16 - this tour is also on sale for $200 off!