Switzerland Trip Report Part I - Travel Tips ~ Monday, December 03, 2007
Well, I'm back stateside, and getting a couple of GB of photos organized, not a few of them containing trams, electric railways, funiculars, and rack railways...
Before I start posting them, here's a few general observations about visiting Switzerland.
- Flying via Swissair is definitely the least awful way I've ever crossed the pond.
- Getting a "Swiss Pass" is a great deal, even if you don't plan to spend every moment of your vacation riding trains. You can ride just about anything--long distance trains, local transit, ferries, and rural "postbusses". You can get a "family card" so that kids can travel with you, for free. You also get into just about every museum in the country.
- November is kind of a dead month for Swiss tourism. This was fine for us, since we were visiting friends and family, and the "ordinary" transit that runs year-round is pretty interesting anyway. But actual museum railways shut down after September, and snow-oriented resorts don't open til December, so if either of those are high on your to-do list, keep that in mind.
- The Coop chain is a good place to get supplies while you're there--stores signed Coop City have buffets upstairs--very useful because relatively casual, cheap, quick and kid-friendly places to eat are actually kind of scarce.
- If younger members of your party balk at the local food, there's plenty of pizza/"Margherita" places around. If you get tired of the local food, Turkish places are a good way to take a break, and they're usually cheap.
- People in the French part of Switzerland don't speak English much--or even German, even though they're all supposed to learn it to graduate from high school! I did OK in the German areas using very rusty German--nobody seemed to have any trouble switching from Swiss German to standard to talk to me.
- If your're on any kind of a diet, forget it. "Low fat" milk is 3.4%, and they just plain don't have it fat-free. Not to mention, you're going to end up eating lots of croissants (locally, "gipfeli"). See lots of stuff, climb a few mountains, and walk it off!
- If you're visiting people, especially American expatriates, peanut butter and Tobasco are nice things to bring that you just can't get there.
- The trains really do run on time--and they're scheduled so that connections work well. Wow!