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Switzerland part 3, Wengen>Lucerne>Vienna on the Nightjet

Carrie you can keep walking up the hill to the side entrance and you will not have steps.
Ok onward TRIP REPORT PART 3:we sadly had to leave Wengen and head out as we were going to Austria. To break up the train travel we went to Lucerne for one night. This is one of the train rides where we ran into someone (in this case American woman) who was sick. Neither she nor her son wore masks except when conductor came around,. So we moved to the far end of the compartment and fortunately we weren’t on the train too long with them.

We stayed at the Hotel des Alpes everyone loves. For us both the hotel and Lucerne were just OK. We checked in, ate lunch (split a $30 burger) and then walked around to see sights. Meh. I know many of you love Lucerne but it just did not float our boat. Also it was extremely crowded. While eating lunch we had a homeless guy stop and ask for money. Told him in English we didn’t speak German and then he replied in English the funniest thing when he figured out we weren’t going to give him money, he said “you are clearly NOT Canadian”. We laughed over that the rest of the trip. Are Canadians a soft touch? Must be. Anyway we just didn’t like Lucerne overall and one day was plenty so we left earlier than planned the next morning for Zurich. We had rented a day room back at Hotel St, Gotthard because that night we were headed out on the Nightjet for Vienna.
Got to the hotel, dumped our stuff. It was a beautiful day in Zurich so headed out. Walked across the river area that leads into the Lake and just wandered. Saw some churches and just had a great time wandering Old Town areas.Had a fabulous outdoor lunch at a restaurant along the river. Crossed back over and wandered some more. We really like the vibe in Zurich, go figure. Then back to the hotel, showered and cleaned up, popped across the street to our little Simplon bar, ate dinner and then headed to the train station for our Nightjet sleeper car to Vienna.

What a hoot! We booked a first class sleeping compartment with private bath. Nice amenities including sparkling wine, water, slippers. Hopped in our beds, I had to take the upper bunk but it was fine. Slept great and in the morning we were given a continental breakfast.

Arrived Vienna about 8 am. I had booked our room at the hotel to include the night before as I knew we wouldn’t want to wait to get into the room and to have breakfast. I guess I will continue the rest of this report in Austria forum.

Posted by
7588 posts

Just continue your trip report here on Trip Reports !!

Loving your trip report and love that you invested in rooms for yourself to be able to relax/freshen up. And the Nightjet sounds great !

Posted by
27710 posts

yes, easiest and best for people following the whole trip is for you to post the next chapter as a reply to the first report - then it is all in one place. Did you see how Pat did her report>

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454 posts

Part 5: ** Vienna**: So we arrived Vienna at 8 am after having taken the Nightjet sleeper car from Zurich. We paid for the night before as we did not want to have to wait all day for the room, and really glad we did. At check in we had to show the CDC cards and they definitely checked the dates. This was still when Austria had the 270 day limit on the vaccine dates. Anyway we splurged on this hotel, and we’re so happy we did. It was the Hotel am Stephanplatz, directly across from the cathedral. Our cab driver (we had to take a cab from train station, too far) said “you are in the heart of the heart of Vienna”. I used to travel 200k per year internationally, this is one of the nicest hotel rooms I have ever been in! We got a balcony room on floor 7 directly across from the Cathedral. The room was HUGE! The balcony looked directly out to the cathedral and had a table and two chairs. All we kept saying was “wow”. Anyway we decided to send our laundry out and pay the big bucks because we didn’t want to waste 1/2 day doing wash. We usually do our own but just decided we wanted to go have fun. So after breakfast at the hotel which was great (buffet) we headed out to explore. We didn’t have many plans this day because we were going to do the KHM museum the next day and Schonbrunn palace the following day. So we wandered. I have been to over 50 countries in my life but first time in Austria and Vienna. It’s always fun to just wander. We ended up seeing some churches and wandered down to the Hofburg and gardens. We stopped at the tourist office and bought subway tickets and got easiest subway route to Schonbrunn. Saw Mozart statue. Found a little Italian place on a side street and had a nice lunch with wine. When we went back to the hotel we stopped in the Cathedral. Without paying you can’t see a lot so we decided before we left Vienna we would make sure to come back since it was right across from our hotel and do the audio guide tour sometime before leaving Vienna. You have to work around Mass schedule so we got the times. Rest of the late afternoon we just sat on the balcony and watched. The bells on the Cathedral were lovely. We got to hear them a lot! It was like the Vienna version of Swiss cows for us.
Next morning after breakfast we heard singing and looked down and they were having a procession (must’ve been a saint’s day) that stretched blocks long going into the cathedral. Lovely singing, and fun to watch from above on the balcony as well as record. This day we went to the KHM or their museum which is like their version of the Louvre, though smaller. Again had to show CDC cards to get in. Got our audio guides. Some parts were closed, they were getting ready for some new exhibitions. It was pretty interesting and the best part about it was they had benches EVERYWHERE so you could sit down in each room. Very manageable museum and having the audio guide was key. We spent several hours. Ended up eating lunch there. Even though we had to show our CDC cards to get in to the museum we had to show them again to eat at their cafe. The food was fine, but would’ve been better just to have a coffee and pastry.

More tomorrow on rest of Vienna and then on to Hallstatt.

Posted by
1286 posts

Great reporting!! I can't wait to hear more about Austria as i'm considering it as part of my Fall trip for next year. Church bells, cow bells, alphorns. Love the sounds of Europe!!!

Posted by
3021 posts

we decided to send our laundry out and pay the big bucks because we
didn’t want to waste 1/2 day doing wash.

I have trouble spending a substantial part of a travel day doing laundry, too! I often stay at small family-run places that will do laundry very inexpensively, but I bite the bullet and pay the big bucks when needed.

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3021 posts

Hey! I'm dying to hear about Hallstatt and the rest of your trip! Did you make it to Graz on this trip or did it get cut with Slovenia?

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454 posts

Wow, sorry, yes this trip report got away from me! Anyway we loved Vienna. Left there, took the train to Hallstatt which requires a change. Up to the mountains. Beautiful. And so happy we stayed there two nights because it’s lovely after the day trippers are gone. We stayed at a cute pension overlooking the lake, Braghaustof. Great room with a tiny balcony where we could sit and enjoy lovely lake views. They serve breakfast and also have a restaurant across the street right on the lake where we ate the first night. The restaurant actually was closed the next night so we wandered and ate at a little cafe that night. We did some wandering both days, no real rigorous hikes because was having some sore back problems. So in addition to wandering and walking we rented one of the little boats and took a picnic out on the lake. Rick Steves is right —the boats go slow or stop, that’s it. They give you a little walkie talkie in case there is any issue, but we had none. It was a great way to see the lake, highly recommend doing this if even for just an hour. We were quite lucky on the weather, was beautiful. If you are a bike rider (which we are barring this back issue) it would be great to rent and ride bikes around the lake.

So day 3 we left to go to Salzburg. Took the little ferry across with some others also leaving and—the train coming down the mountain to pick us all up to go down to the town with all the main rail connections was LATE. And, late enough all of us missed our connections. So we had about 90 minutes to kill waiting for next train to Salzburg. Anyway so finally made it to Salzburg. More on that later. Salzburg wasn’t my favorite of the trip but also wasn’t my least favorite. So more on that later.

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3021 posts

Thanks for the additional narrative. Looking forward to the rest. I imagine it was a great time to be in Hallstatt. I would expect it not to be so overrun with tourists as it usually is (though you said in another part of the report Luzern was overrun by tourists, which surprised me a bit).

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7588 posts

Loved hearing about your Halstatt experience , especially the boats ! That sounds like fun.

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1286 posts

I’m a little afraid to hear what you have to say about Salzburg as I have 5 nights there planned for Sept. 😊

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454 posts

Ok, so arrived in Salzburg via train. Took a taxi to the hotel Elephant which was right in the very heart of the old city. Room was OK, we were in the new wing. One thing that became a pain over a few days was the TV in the bedroom which was hung on the wall and which one could not afford banging their shoulder into every time walking past. We finally hung a towel on it. Anyway washed out some clothes (we did lots of sink washing on this trip, especially socks and underwear, love the woolite packages for this, as well as towel warmers, the best), then took off just to walk around. There were a lot of tourists, like us I guess, doing the same thing. Pretty busy. But it’s a very pretty city with lots of little alleys and shops/cafes. Finally found a spot down a little alley for a beer and some light lunch. Then walked some more and ended up watching a bike race where the racers pedaled up this hill to the castle. Wandered back, stopped into some churches, etc. That evening we stumbled on an area with a bunch of restaurants in a courtyard type area (sorry not sure of name) and ended up at a huge outdoor beer house with many many tables, lots of locals and tourists, very loud. But it was outside, and really great German type food.

Next day we went to the castle and that was great. Took the funicular up, and walked through many of the areas. Great views from up there. Had a salad and light fare at one of the restaurants up there with a great view. Again, weather was great. Spent at least 2/3 of the day there, taking it slow. Then we went back down and wandered a different area, stopped for a wine and enjoyed the ambiance. The old town area is a real walkable area and very glad we stayed where we did. We did not get breakfast at this hotel though they did offer it for an additional charge. We liked hitting some of the nearby cafes and coffe shops. Keep in mind that the coffee there is VERY strong. I only drink decaf but it’s still like espresso basically only in a big cup. I had to add sugar a lot of times.

That night we went out early to do some shopping, we like to collect Xmas ornaments so we hit up one shop nearby but that ended abruptly. A coughing, coughing, coughing lady was in there with NO mask. So we left quickly. Then what happened? We went to a shop just a few steps away and then Cough Lady showed up AGAIN. So we hurriedly got the hours from the shop keeper and beat it out of there. Again found a nice restaurant just by walking around. Good meal, walked and walked after and made it back to the shop and bought some great SMALL ornaments which she packed for us in one tiny box.

Next morning we just hit a local coffee shop for pastries and coffee for breakfast and then was off to the train station for a return to Zurich. More on that and the end of our trip in Paris later.

Overall VERY glad we stayed in the old town area of Salzburg. It is very walkable city, and we enjoyed our time there, there were a LOT of people though, can’t even imagine what it must be like in a non-Covid year. We didn’t want to do any of the Sound of Music stuff but I am sure a few days could be filled by adding that on as well as biking or other outdoor things. We weren’t there very long so just focused on old town and the castle. I would just be very prepared for LOTS of people there and adjust accordingly if you prefer less city type activities. But if we wanted to do hiking and things like that we wouldn’t have spent much time there, more time in Switzerland would’ve been warranted. Honestly the Swiss Alps can really spoil you for other places, so if it’s hiking and outdoor vistas I would just add way more time in Switzerland. Anyway rest of trip soon!

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1286 posts

Thanks for the Salzburg report. I guess the crowds are pretty much everywhere. We found Lucerne to be very crowded. But it does seem like the crowds stick to the city centers. Based on your report, I’ll plan on walking the Salzburg old town early in the am and look for other things to do later in the day. I have some ideas for day trips and will look closer at those.

In researching other places, it is difficult to not compare them to Switzerland. I figured Austria would be somewhat similar. I’m thinking of Denmark and Sweden for next year, but I keep wondering, what will I do all day with no mountains.

Looking forward to the rest of your report. Although I really have no desire to go to Paris. 😊

Posted by
119 posts

Hi Carrie, You want mountain views: After a week in Copenhagen (nice) , we spent a week in Norway. I heartily recommend Norway for gorgeous mountains, fjords and waterfalls. It’s just a glorious place.

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140 posts

So glad to hear you had a good experience on the Nightjet. We have the same category sleeper car booked for a portion of our travel between Paris and Italy (Munchen to Venezia on the Nightjet) and we are looking forward to it. Something really magical about traveling in a sleeper car.

Vienna is one of my favorite cities — spent a month there in a flat with an Austrian friend many years ago.

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454 posts

We loved the Nightjet and would definitely do again on another trip.

The remainder of this report got away from me, let me just say we trained back to Zurich, overnighted again and had a blast, then took the train to Paris for our last three days.

First day we immediately walked a few blocks from hotel to a pharmacy they had suggested for antigen tests for return to the US. It worked our perfect for us because at that time with the ToutAntiCovid app and rules you had to have an actual pass OR a negative test that worked for for 72 hours. The code loaded on our phones on the app, away we went and man did it feel like the sword of Damocles had been lifted knowing we had a negative test to return and also had all of Paris available to us! In Paris we tried to go to the Petit Palais which is one of our favorite museums but it was closed, so that day we just walked the Seine and up to the Tuileries, ate lunch in the park (one of the few times on the whole trip we saw and heard many Americans) and then just walked around. We wanted to take a bateau bus but nothing was running! Paris was VERY quiet at this time, been there many many times and have never seen it so quiet. Tourists add a lot of energy. Anyway next day we booked a time for the Musee d’Orsay and spent quite awhile there. Found a lunch spot just walking afterwards. Rained on and off this day. Next day early flight from CDG through LHR to LAX. Zero lounges open at CDG at that time. And, typical at LHR they didn’t post the gate until VERY late and we had to take the train and then a bus to get on the flight. One nice thing about a long haul that long is you do have a lot of time to watch movies, read, sleep and eat. The flight crew kept thanking us for flying as things were just starting to get back.

Anyway pretty much it, such a good trip and SO glad, like many of you, we took the window after Delta and before Omicron. How lucky we were.

Taking my brother, his wife and my nephew to England and Jersey Island at the end of March into April this year. Will be envious of those of you (Carrie!) who get to go back to Switzerland this year. My goal is to sometime do a month there, I really want to see the Engadine which Swiss people tell me is lovely.

Happy Cow Bells!

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1286 posts

Emily, Norway is definitely on my list. 😊

cchapin, you really saw a lot of things. I’m so glad we were all able to go. I just had a photo book made and it turned out great. But, looking at all the pictures, it feels like we weren’t really there. It feels like it was a dream.