Swiss Misses?
September 9, 2011 7:08 AM   Subscribe

Swiss misses?

Me and the missus will be heading to the Swiss Alps in the next few days. We'll be hiking in the Alps out of Wengen, Zermatt and Chur. I have a pretty good grip on things but I don't want to miss little tips that can make the time better. We'll be traveling by train and I think I have the Euro/Swiss Franc thing down. But I'm worried I don't know what I don't know. So any help you can give about the weather, the language, the food, the drink, the drink, the drink or even small things (should I pack gaiters?) would be greatly appreciated.

What are my Swiss misses?
posted by lpsguy to Travel & Transportation around Switzerland (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a bit confused -- are you asking about things you SHOULD miss, or should NOT miss?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:21 AM on September 9, 2011

Response by poster: Sorry, I should have been clearer. My bad. I'm looking for general travel tips for Switzerland and for specific location/hike tips for those areas.
posted by lpsguy at 7:28 AM on September 9, 2011

Best answer: I would suggest you have good hiking shoes if you don't have them, because even the flat hikes would be better with good shoes. But since you're asking about gaiters, I guess you already have that covered.

For Wengen, I would say that if you want to go up to the top of Jungfraujoch that you wake up super-early and try to take the first train. If the weather isn't clear it isn't worth it, though. You won't be able to see anything. The sky tends to be clearer in the morning and then clouds up by most afternoons, so you really must go to the top in the morning. People say that Wengen itself isn't really worth it if the weather is bad. The weather is pretty nice in Zürich right now, but up in the mountains it can be chilly, especially in the mornings. There is a nice little tourist info center in Wengen near the Männlichen cable car station, and they have a free list of shorter hikes around Wengen and paid maps for longer hikes in the area.

A number of hotels/guesthouses in Wengen offer a half-board option with dinner and breakfast included, which can be nice. Otherwise, food will be about 2-3 times what you would expect to pay in the US, and most places you have to pay for any drink you get, including tap water.
posted by that girl at 8:41 AM on September 9, 2011

Best answer: Bring a water bottle - there are water fountains everywhere in Switzerland (even on hiking trails up in the mountains) where you can fill up on free spring water, but as that girl points out, once you're sitting down in the restaurant they charge you for everything.

I enjoyed the Kleine Scheidegg hike, which I did from Grindelwald to Wengen, although I got blisters part way due to poor shoe choice and ended up taking the train for part of it (nice to have the option!). I took the train from Murren (opposite side of the Lauterbrunnen valley from Wengen) to Grindelwald in the morning, had a decent lunch under the Eiger.

It's out of print so you may not be able to get it at short notice, but the Lonely Planet Walking In Switzerland book was a great resource.

I don't think I'd bother with gaiters - I certainly didn't miss having them. But I was wearing ankle-height boots, if you're wearing lower shoes you might want them.
posted by mskyle at 11:43 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Chur ... if you want a break from hiking: it does have an old town; there's an art museum (and H.R. Giger is from Chur); there are Roman-era ruins being excavated, and at times they are open to the public and an archeologist will talk about them. There is a warm springs / spa nearby. Paragliding can be done in the region.

Swiss train game: set your watch to the official local time. Each train stop is scheduled to the minute. See how close they are to their schedule.

If you've never been on Swiss trains before, you can read up on their details of use.

Many of the interesting things are small, or seemingly minor. For example, a ubiquitous spectacle, as you look out the train window: at the back of certain buildings, like factories, warehouses, etc., there will be these rectangular wooden structures ....

posted by coffeefilter at 8:43 PM on September 9, 2011

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