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Germany, Switzerland, France with RS books

Just returned from Europe last night. We were with relatives in Munich so did not have to use tour books but on our own in Switzerland and France and followed all Rick's advice. Had a wonderful time!
Train travel was pretty easy and masks were everywhere.
Stayed in Lauterbrunnen at Hotel Staubach, highly recommend. A bit of a hike from the train station but you'll get used to it, and the church bells. Charming hotel with great service. Gimmelwald, Murren, and Schilthorn were all great, despite some cloudy weather at the top. We did the easy Alpine hike from Murren to Lauterbrunnen which was lovely.
Lausanne was also worth a visit. We did a boat ride to Montreux and Chateau de Chillon, wonderful. Biked to Morges, a little scary but fun. They were having a Festival of Dahlias along Lac Leman which consisted of at least two miles of beds of huge dahlias in every color! What a treat that was. Fantastic street markets on a Wednesday. Cathedral also worth a visit. Stayed at Hotel Lausanne-- which has closed its check in desk. You have to check in at another property about a (long, uphill!) block away. But once we got used to that, Hotel Lausanne was awesome! A full kitchen and laundry in the basement and lobby dining area at our disposal, close to metro stops, near interesting restaurants and shops. Tip, because you have a kitchen, you can to to the market and buy chanterelles and butter and saute them in the hotel kitchen! But we ended up eating at a Chinese restaurant near the hotel, also delicious.
We then took the train to Lyon, what a fabulous city. Just like Paris but smaller, a little cheaper perhaps, and very easy to get around. Stayed at Hotel la Residence which was slightly fleabag but a great location just off Bellecour. We got the Lyon City Card, worth it with the Eurail pass discount, did the Vieux Lyon tour (not many tours in English! High school French does help), Croix Rousses Walk, Musee de Beaux Arts (don't try to do the whole thing, amazing building), Halles Bocuse (as we dined on oysters after loading our shopping bags with fabulous French cheeses, roast chicken, macarons, olives, pates en croute, breads, and pasties, the waitress told us, "There are no rules here. You can do whatever you want!" How true. The beauty of Halles Bocuse is that you can visit all these places inside, walking on a comfortable floor (cobblestones are charming but difficult on the feet even in comfortable shoes). We then tried to take a bus to Parc de la Tete D'Or but the buses do not run on Samedi so we had to walk which made me feel a bit less guilty about all the pate I consumed. At the entrance we were about to rent bikes when a huge anti passe sanitaire protest passed by. Hundreds of people marching and shouting. Well, I guess we Americans do not have a monopoly on stupidity. The Parc was amazing but I am glad I did it on a bike! Speaking of Passe Sanitaire, I applied once in early August, and again just before we arrived in France via the website, and RIEN. My brother, on the other hand, applied in mid August and got his immediately! Fortunately we had no problem entering restaurants and museums with our CDC cards! We also took the train to Bourgogne and did the wine bike tour, also wonderful. Had dinner at Chabert et Fils (very good) and Brasserie Georges (also good but poor service--worth it though to see an historic brasserie!) It is difficult to get a bad meal in Lyon.
We had a fabulous time but I won't lie, traveling with the covid restrictions and masking all the time is a huge hassle. Extra paperwork in every country. We purchased the 10 day flex eurail pass (20% discount) and did not use all the days but the convenience of not having to stop at every station and buy tickets (or do them online) was totally worth it. Returning through Geneva is awful with long lines and do not fly Swiss Air. Lufthansa was also a hassle for our relatives. I recommend using an American airline like United!

Posted by
421 posts

Can I ask what your reservations are regarding Swiss air? I ask as we have a flight booked with Swiss Air from SFO, with a plane change in Zürich and so on to CDG. We could possibly fly via LAX on Air Tahiti Nui, but I thought that Swiss air would probably be a better airline. Any thoughts you can offer about Swiss air would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by
11 posts

I thought Swiss Air would be a decent airline also, and maybe they are. But what I found difficult was managing our reservations online (could not select seats or upload documents without jumping through a bunch of hoops), wonky website that wouldn’t allow me to check in the day before (finally did it but took hours!). Then when we got to the Geneva airport there were two ticket counters open and a very long slow line. I understand that happens anywhere but they took forever to open up more lines. Lots of managers and very worker bees! To top it off the security line was even worse. We had to run to make the flight. To their credit, they knew we were coming and kept the door open for us! But it just seemed to me that using a US airline was much less of a hassle when it came to dealing with the reservation and the check in was a nightmare.

Posted by
1357 posts

American Airlines partnered with British Air in San Diego took 15+ minutes to check my husband and myself in.
We got as far as Chicago and the rest of the flight was canceled.
We then got a Swiss Air flight, and check in was a breeze for us.
Safe travels !