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Part 3: Two Seniors in Switzerland- "The Mountains are Calling..."

Basel, We had one more fun adventure before our Tour ended. Just outside the city, the borders of Switzerland, Germany, and France are all within walking distance. Several of us rode the bus and got off close to the German border, walked into Germany, and then walked across the Three Countries Bridge over the Rhine River to France.( We then re-crossed the bridge back to Germany where we drank German beer at a cafe adjacent to the river.
Following our tour, we headed to the mountains. With our handy Swiss Travel Pass, 21-inch suitcase, RS' Euro Flight bag, and small backpack, train travel was manageable for 2 seniors in their 70s.
We had 7 nights in the Lauterbrunnen area, 5 in Mürren, and 2 in Wengen. With a 5 night stay in Mürren, each of us received a free Schilthorn Pass, good for six days! We couldn't pass up a deal like that.
In Mürren we booked a deluxe room at the Bellevue Hotel (2 balconies) with views of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. We were pleasantly surprised to find we got a free upgrade to a 2-room suite, which we appreciated because of Switzerland's new COVID restrictions concerning indoor dining. We ate in our living room a couple of nights; rather pleasant with mountain view....and FREE water. Paying for water in restaurants was something I never got used to...with fountains outside from which we filled our water bottles.
Many restaurants had wild game on their menu, and hubby being an adventurous eater ate venison cordon bleu, ibis, and wild boar for dinner; all locally sourced. Of the three, his favorite was the venison.
Mürren: We loved the casual feel of the town. It seemed like "everyone" wore hiking shoes and carried trekking poles. No one seemed to dress up for dinner. People were friendly. Tourism was down. A Canadian couple told us they were the only guests in their hotel that night.
While in Mürren, we made several trips to the Schilthorn, at different times of the day and in different weather, just to enjoy being there, looking at all the mountain peaks visible from the top. We spent time at Birg, doing the "cheesy" stuff like the Thrill Walk (tightrope wire) and even I even crawled through the wire tube. It was worth every uncomfortable minute because our 11-year old grandson was impressed that Grandma did that! We had lunch on the Birg terrace with unobstructed view of the mountains.
We strolled leisurely to Gimmelwald, photographing the wildflowers and marveling at the neatly stacked firewood adjacent to houses, sometimes adorned with a flower box right in the middle. All the while, we could hear cowbells ringing.
Although we appreciate being on an organized tour because of information provided by local guides, we appreciate unscheduled days where we can take time to pursue our interests and impulses, depending on how we feel.
We did a couple of hikes in Mürren, The North Face Trail and The Mountain View Trail, using the Allmenhubel funicular to access both trails. The North Face Trail is the more popular with views of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau along much of the trail. As you head back to Mürren, hang gliders are taking off on a slope adjacent to the path. Starting the Mountain View Trail from Allmenhubel means you are walking downhill most of the way, for an elevation drop of about 1,000 feet.
On the Wengen side, we were only able to do the Panorama Trail because of weather, starting from Männlichen to Scheidegg. It is a very popular trail, and the main reason we stayed in Wengen.
Being in this area of Switzerland means it is important to have a "Plan B" in case of inclement weather. When that happened, we went to Bern to see the Bern bears. It's possible to walk from the train station to the river because the shops along the route all have covered sidewalks.

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Part 4: Two Seniors in Switzerland-"Goodbye, mountains"
Thanks to information from this forum, we traveled from Wengen to Luzern via Meiringen and the Brünig Pass. The scenery along this route is of picturesque green hillsides and mountain lakes.
What I didn't know about Swiss trains before this trip: All trains are electric! The trains are very quiet and smooth. And most importantly, all the trains we took were ON TIME!
Luzern's Chapel Bridge:In 2019, RS' Calendar included a picture of the Chapel Bridge. I wanted to see that beautiful bridge in person and so Luzern was added to our Switzerland itinerary. I booked a balcony room at the Hotel des Alpes because of its close proximity to the bridge. We crossed it numerous times, and I loved looking at it early in the morning and at night when the lights from it were reflected in the water.
Being in Luzern for 3 nights was bittersweet. That meant our trip was nearly over....and we had to test negative for COVID before flying back to Oregon. We only had 2 full days in Luzern, so we tested as soon as possible, on our first morning using the monitored Abbot antigen test kit. What a huge relief to both test negative.
As soon as our tests were over, we headed to Mt. Rigi, via boat to Vitznau and then cog railway to the Rigi Kulm stop; returning the same way. Mt. Rigi was more spectacular than I expected.
The next day we headed to Mt. Pilatus, after first stopping at the TI in the train station to purchase tickets for the cog train and cable car. At this time of year, the earliest departure for the boat was 10:30 a.m., but we wanted an earlier start. The cogwheel train really was an "I think I can" train, as it slowly made its way up the mountain, at times at 48% grade!
We weren't planning on doing a lot of hiking at the top even though we wore hiking shoes, and had our trekking poles, but somehow we accidentally did all 3 viewpoints. We started out on the Dragon Trail, which looked "level," until we rounded the corner and found ourselves on the backside of the mountain, facing an uphill trail. Curiosity won, and we continued on to find out that we had taken the back way to the Oberhaupt viewpoint.
While having lunch on the terrace of the Hotel Kulm, I saw another "level" trail, "The flower trail," so we headed onto that easy walk following lunch. It kept on going, rounded a bend, and then started heading uphill. Curious where the end of that trail was, we ended up at the Tomlishorn viewpoint. By then, we had to do the Esel viewpoint, which was the shortest and easiest of the three trails. We were thankful we went to all three viewpoints...accidentally.
For our last night in Switzerland, we had reservations at the Radisson Blu at the Zurich Airport, so we decided to spend that day in Luzern since we really had not seen anything in the city except The Lion Monument. I had an agenda for that last day: Walk across the 16th c. covered Mill Bridge, find Mühlenplatz, Hirschenplatz, Weinmarkt; find the clock tower and walk on the city wall; walk about a mile along the shore of Lake Luzern; and then a late lunch in Luzern...all before taking the 3:00 p.m. train to the airport. We did it! Well, we really didn't do it alone. Our trip was a success thanks to so many people on this Forum posting so many helpful tips and announcements, such as posting that the Swiss Travel Passes were on sale for 25% off. It was so great not to have to purchase tickets each time we hopped on a train. Thank you "Fellow Swiss Travelers" during this time of COVID!
Some Stats about our trip: Spent 24 nights in Switzerland. Walked about 6 miles each day. We rode 35 very crowded cable cars...not even 6 inches apart! Got on and off 47 trains! It was a great trip!

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5126 posts

Aww, you sent sent me on a trip back to last month.... I like your statistics- 47 trains! I didn't count.
Safe travels!

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648 posts

I know, Pat. You were one of my helpful traveling buddies…from this Forum.

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3985 posts

Great trip and trip report Carol. Switzerland has always been low on my travel list but after reading your report I am more curious about visiting.

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11368 posts

Your planning paid off! Your report is so helpful to others planning a trip there. Which of the Road Scholar trips did you take?

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454 posts

When we are in Switzerland next year, we'll need to choose between Mt. Rigi and Mt. Pilatus. Our limited time in Lucerne will not permit us to do both. Which was your favorite, and why?

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648 posts

Barbara, Switzerland is great for someone who loves the outdoors, clean air, no litter on the roadside, beautiful scenery, and more mountain peaks than you can imagine...all visible on a sunny day. The downside is the area is so dependent on the weather. And I was always amazed that no matter how high cable cars or cogwheel trains took you, there was always a restaurant at the top of the mountain...and flush toilets!
Suki: Our Road Scholar Tour was "Switzerland in a Nutshell: Cities and Peaks by Train." We were blessed with great weather on our tour. The Matterhorn was visible the day we went to Zermatt.

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5260 posts

Hi Carol,
I’ve enjoyed reading your trip report, thanks for sharing!

47 trains! That’s absolutely incredible!
I’ve not counted my train rides on any of my trips but I doubt having taken so many!

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5126 posts

Vickie, Mt Rigi is covered if you have the Swiss Travel Pass. This may help the decision . Safe travels!

Posted by
9853 posts

Oh my goodness 47 trains during one vacation !! That is incredible .

Thank you for your wonderful trip report !