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Switzerland (Murren & Lucerne) & Paris – 21 May – 2 Jun

I am a fan of this site and have asked and answered questions, borrowed ideas, places to visit, sites to see, and general information from the forum members. I appreciate the help and responses I received from members. For general info on Switzerland I like to thank, Chris F & Tim from Knoxville. Below is information on my time in Switzerland & Paris.

Flight & Arrival
Flew Premium Economy (I need the leg space) on Air France out of SFO – CDG – ZRH. Uneventful flight. Lucked out, just walked past another flight that was disembarking and made it through Security Check & Passport Control between Terminals 2E and 2F in less than 15 minutes. I think it took longer to tram & walk there than actually processing through. I forgot from 2014 how busy/crowded 2F was and how hot & stuffy it can get in there. I did remember that most gates in 2F supports two aircraft at the same time, so I was not worried that a flight showing a departure elsewhere twenty minutes before my departure time was still showing on the gate screen. Others were worried that they missed their flight or the gate had changed for our flight to Zurich.

Zurich airport was very clean and eerily quiet. No continued overhead pages, even the people walking through or sitting in the terminal seemed to speak in a lower tone.

Getting my train ticket to Murren & Half-Fare Card was easy and the train I needed was already at the platform. Sat on the upper level when I could and enjoyed the scenery. The transfers at Bern & Interlaken OST were easy. The SBB App showed me my departure & arrival tracks.

I stayed 4 nights at Hotel Alpina and had room w/balcony overlooking Lauterbrunnen Valley & the mountain range. I was in a single room, good water pressure & hot water. Did not need the heater on at all, slept with the balcony door slightly opened each night. Spent my arrival evening getting the layout of Murren, easy enough to do since it really is not the big of a village. Lucked out on the weather for my 3 full days. Two of them were clear skies and sunny & day three was overcast with some sprinkling. Rained at night when I was back in the hotel.

Day 1: I was up & out by 08:00 & heading up to the Schilthorn. Gondola not even half full of people. Clear skies all the way up and during my time there & at Birg. Had made reservations for breakfast at Schilthorn and enjoyed the rotating view as well as walking on the platform outside. By 10:00 the gondolas were getting full of visitors, but I was heading down to Birg. Enjoyed the Thrill Walk and scenery from Birg.

Headed back down to Murren & walked down to Gimmelwald. Cows, goats and cats were all out enjoying the sunny day. Easy stroll, since it is all downhill. Took the gondola from Gimmelwald down to the valley floor & walked to Trummelbach Falls. Lucked out here, a tour bus was departing as I arrived, so no real crowds to deal with while enjoying the 10 falls within and out of the mountain. The cool caves and mist felt very refreshing, especially after the walking I had done. Then I caught the bus in front of the Café at the falls & headed to Lauterbrunnen. Had a late lunch at Basepoint and strolled around the town.

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Day 2: Out of the hotel again by 08:00 and heading to Jungfraujoch. Both gondola stations in Murren had live video feeds of what it looked like at Schilthorn & Jungfraujoch. Again, I had a clear and sunny day. The trip & transfers between Murren – Lauterbrunnen – Kleine Scheidegg were easy. When changing trains at Kleine Scheidegg I noticed colored signs that indicated which line/zone to get in for boarding the train, well organized, as long as you pay attention and just not follow the crowds like mindless cattle. Staff were there to help folks get into the correct area. From this site I knew to sit on the Right side of the train heading up for great views of the valley and meadows. Was able to see Murren from across the valley while heading up & down towards Jungfraujoch as well as the Eiger. I also remembered that we could open the windows for viewing and photos, once I did this folks in the carriage looked at me then proceeded to do the same thing.

My trains heading up were barely half way filled, so again the crowds were not that bad and I was able to enjoy the sites inside and out of the structure. Enjoyed a hot chocolate while sitting on a beach chair looking at the glacier. Perfect.

While waiting for my departure train, the trains coming in were full to the max. I got off at Wengen strolled the village & had lunch. Nice place, but I liked the feel and atmosphere of Murren. Then I headed back to Murren and walked on some of the paths and trails around the village.

Day 3: Today’s forecast was overcast with a chance of some rain, so I slept in. Walked all over Murren and headed down to Gimmelwald again. This time I ran into Ollie, he came up to me and introduced himself while I was refilling my water bottle. I told him I knew who he was from the Rick Steves videos, he said Rick was in the area for the past few days, that he was traveling between Interlaken & Gimmelwald. Just missed the Guru himself. I enjoyed the chat with Ollie, he was working in his garden. I headed towards the Hotel-Pension Gimmelwald and enjoyed a meat & cheese platter as well as a Schwarz Monch (Black Monk) Beer & the view overlooking the valley & paragliders sailing above us.

After my meal I was off to the valley floor again, but this time I took the bus all the way into Lauterbrunnen & rented an E-Bike. This made seeing the Lauterbrunnen valley up and down very easy and enjoyable. I zipped up and back along the main road & gravel/dirt walking path & river. I also enjoyed an apple pie at the Café near Trummelbach Falls. Along the walking/hiking paths were porta-potty’s, flowing water for drinking and benches. This was a very relaxing day and great way to end my time in the valley.

Meals: Since breakfast was included in the hotel costs I ate here twice, lunch and dinner was dependent on where I was at the time. Within Murren I ate at the hotel, the restaurant attached to Hotel Edelweiss & Eiger Guesthouse.

Day 4: Off to Lucerne

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I purchased my train ticket to Lucerne the night before from automated machine at the train station in Murren. The ticket window was manned, I just wanted to use the machine. Again, the connections between Lauterbrunnen & Interlaken Ost was easy, my ticket was checked during this trip. I had to show my passport & Half Fare Card to the conductor.

I stayed at Hotel des Alpes, an easy walk from the train station & across the bridge. I arrived around 3pm and the city was bustling between tourists and folks on foot and vehicles. I was only here for the day & overnight and I lucked out again for it was partly cloudy and sunny out. I checked into my single room, 5th floor with city view, I did not request the river/bridge view. The room was very warm, I knew they had no AC, I had one small window & a Dyson fan. Not enough air flow, but I was not planning on staying in my room for the day. It did cool down a bit once the sun went down. I don’t think I would want to stay here during the summer. They offered a nice selection of items for breakfast, which I enjoyed prior to my train departure the following morning.

Spent the day walking the city, along the lake & the covered bridges. Visited the Lowendenkmal, Lion Monument, impressive carving. I also walked along the ramparts or old fortified wall of the city, nice views. For dinner I headed up the Reuss river and found a side street away from the crowds and enjoyed a bratwurst dinner, cold beer & apple strudel at a small restaurant with outside seating.

Lucerne – Basel – Paris
I purchased my train tickets about 3 months out, first class. Thanks to Chris F on letting me know that I could take the train from Lucerne to Basel & catch my TGV to Paris. This saved time instead of my initial plan of taking the train to Zurich, allowing me to enjoy breakfast before my trip and not getting up earlier. The overall train trip was great, gliding past the small towns/villages, lakes and going up and over a mountain was very enjoyable. Other than the time in Murren & the Lauterbrunnen Valley, this part of the trip & travel I was really looking forward to & was not disappointed.

Quite a few folks working on their laptops during the trip, I just enjoyed the scenery going by.

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This was my third time in Paris over the last five years, I love being in this city.
Easy transfer from Gare de Lyon to Hotel de Ville metro stop. I recharged my Navigo-D card and picked up two more for my friends that were coming in from Venice and spending the remainder of their vacation here.

I rented a one bedroom apartment through Cobblestone Paris, my second time doing so, located behind Centre Pompidou for my six nights. As I had already hit the majority of the main sites in the city on my previous two visits as well as chateaux tours, my main focus was seeing parts of the city & sites I had not seen before as well as some repeats w/my friends. I got my friend and his wife set up and on the right track for their daily activities and tours and then enjoyed the city myself. I picked up our 4-Day Museum Passes from a Tourism Office near the Louvre after dropping them off for their chateau tour.

  • I enjoyed the Paris Walks Marais tour, the Pantheon, Musee des Plans-Reliefs, Chateau Vincennes, walking throughout the city & people watching at a different café each day for lunch and dinner.

  • With my friends: Arc de Triomphe, Sainte-Chapelle, different Gardens, The Louvre (not the Denon Wing), L’Orangerie, Musee d’Orsay, Rodin, Palais Garnier (English Tour), & Pere-Lachaise.

We made reservations for the Van Gogh showing at L'Atelier des Lumières, I highly recommend any art showing in this exhibit hall/building. The way the art is presented and with the music just blew our minds.

The weather was sunny, to overcast, to a few times of sprinkling and rained hard once, but only for a short timeframe, nothing to spoil the trip. It was sad to see Notre Dame without a roof or spire, barriers were up around her, but you could walk along her on Rue du Cloitre-Notre-Dame and the road & bridge directly behind her.

I used the Lime App & rode the green & white electric scooters as much as I could. Was great for zipping around Paris as an altrnative to the Metro. We have them in San Francisco & Oakland.

Like most major cities, construction is going on all around the city, especially in preparation for the 2024 Olympics. I don’t plan on returning to Paris until after the Olympics, too many other countries to visit. But, I will return because I really enjoy this city and want to see more of it, the surrounding area and the country itself. Provence will be my main focus when I return to France.

The trip to CDG and flight home on Air France was uneventful, but having the Global Entry for processing through SFO was great. A flight from London arrived the same time we did, I was through Passport Control faster than my friends were who did not have Global Entry and did not utilize the Mobile Pass App that I told them to. SFO had four separate lines, Global Entry, Mobile Pass, US Citizens & Non-Citizens.

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Thanks for the trip report. I have plans to go to the BO in September 2020, so it's informative to see your tips. I'll be in Paris in February 2020, my 7th trip since 2006. I love Paris! It's nice to have already done the "must see" things and just be able to enjoy being there. Thanks for sharing!