Author Topic: Switzerland and Venice trip report  (Read 9257 times)

Offline VacationLover

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Switzerland and Venice trip report
« on: October 28, 2014, 10:28:58 AM »
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Offline VacationLover

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Re: Switzerland and Venice trip report
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2014, 09:05:15 PM »
Okay so I finally found some time to write a Trip Report on our trip last summer to Switzerland and Venice. I really had no reason or patience to write it as itís harder to write than it sounds. But after reading other Trip Reports, I realized how helpful it is to other DDFírs so I made the time to write it.

My wife and I went on this trip and we left our daughter behind. It was almost a 2 week trip. We heard from some people that Switzerland is boring and there is nothing to do there besides staring at mountains each day. A friend of mine even suggested visiting upstate NY as he doesnít see any difference in the beauty of the mountains. How wrong they were! We couldnít stop marveling at Hashemís beautiful world. Itís magnificent! (Well, the truth is that Switzerland is a little tricky, because it rains a lot there and if most days that you are there rains, you are in trouble. We BĒH  had picture-perfect weathers almost every day.) We took along our Panasonic LX5 camera and all photos are from what we took, we didnít download any pictures that we didnít take.

Switzerland
Switzerland is absolutely a gorgeous country and very suitable for tourists. Itís an extremely relaxing place with sky-reaching mountains and breathtaking views and crystal clear air! The Swiss culture is also impressive, with everyone trusting each other. We never saw a chained bike. No need to chain it. They are confident no one will steal it.

If you understand Yiddish, youíll understand most of the language

There are three types of mountains there.
Green mountains Ė grass and trees
Grey mountains Ė stone
White mountains Ė snow
Each of them has its beauty and specialty. But there is one thing that you will find by all of them - water. On every mountain if you go a little away of the trail youíll find the water which runs continuously with nice waterfalls every so often. And on the green mountains you will see the famous Swiss cows with the big bell hanging from their neck. Iím not sure who owns and takes care of them. The air on the high mountains is so pure, that I donít understand how people breathe city air.

Cows roaming around on the green mountains


Waterfalls flowing at sides of the mountains

Train system
The Swiss train system is fantastic and very on time. I would recommend going with the train unless you travel with children, and besides, the train is nice and clean and no matter where you travel, you have nice sceneries. Someone gave us a train card that looks like a check, we paid $350 and got 7 days to ride the train unlimited, plus when not using the free days the card is a Halbtax which gives you half price to train, bus and most attractions in Switzerland. And by having that card, we didnít need a car, so we had no worries about parking, gas etc. Additionally, with the train you get to your destination quicker. The price however is not cheap; a local tram or bus is about $8 but it gives you prompt and comfortable service.

Thursday
We headed to JFK and took an AĒA overnight flight to Zurich. We each took two luggage stuffed up till over max (of course  ;) ) with a lot of Kosher food. Iíve never flown with AĒA before. I was very not impressed with the airline; they donít even come close to Delta or United. Anyways, we arrived safely to Zurich and that was the main point

Friday
From the airport we went with a prearranged taxi to Engelberg. The way took 1.5 hours. The highways in Switzerland are very neat and nice, and all drivers strictly enforce the ďleft lane passing onlyĒ rule. Along the way, there were a couple of long tunnels that run under a mountain, and the views on the way were nice. The closer we got to Engelberg the nicer the mountains and the view became.

Engelberg
Engelberg is a nice town in a valley between huge mountains. It is located in central Switzerland and is about 40 minutes from Luzern. There is usually a Minyan there from after Tishe Bíav for 3-4 weeks. It is cooler there than in Zurich and at night the temperature drops considerably so you need sweaters. Engelberg has a few hundred people living there year round, and I believe most of them work in shops or by the two main attractions located in their town, which are Titlis and Brunni. (see later)


Engelberg town. Right side is Titlis and left is Brunni

We booked a room via www.sunnmatt.ch. It is a complex of 4-5 apartment buildings of about 3-6 floors each. The apartments are owned by private people who rent it out while they are not there. We booked a one bedroom apartment for 80 francs a day (125 after all taxes). The room was okay, nothing fancy, but nice and big with a porch viewing the Titlis. We arrived to our apartment a few hours before Shabbos. We took along most food for Shabbos, and the rest we bought at Coop. (Switzerland has 2 supermarkets all over, one is Coop (co-up) the other is Migros. They each carry a lot of Kosher food) The shops are really nice there.


The apartment complex which we stayed in

Sunday
We decided to do the Brunni first, so we walked over. Here I have to explain; I am terrified of heights, but in order to enjoy the real magnificent views you have to go on a chairlift (Gondola). There are two kinds. 1) A small one, 4 to 6 people in each. 2) A huge school bus sized enclosed cart. Iíve never been on that before, it is very scary especially when passing a pole and the entire unit shakes... Anyways, we arrived to the Brunni and went on this scary huge cart. I couldn't really enjoy the views because my eyes were closed... The ride is about 5 minutes to the next station and from there another 10 minutes on a small open chairlift till the top. At the middle station, there is a mountain slide (Alpine Sliding) which is cheap and short but a lot of fun. To get from the second to the third station, you can hike up (it would take approximately half an hour) instead of the chairlift. When you get to the top itís like you are in a different world; Stuuuunnning!! Itís like having all those beautiful screen savers in front of you.




Open chairlifts to the top station at Brunni


The beautiful lake on the top station of Brunni.


Thatís me, relaxing a bit and taking in the magnificent view of Brunni.

There is a lot to do there; especially hiking. But after hiking for 15 minutes our feet started hurting so we went back and relaxed. Then we sat down by a Glider take-off spot. Itís very interesting to watch people flying like birds. I wished I knew how to fly it. After watching several take-offs, we went into a lake where there is a walking path in there that was pretty cool.


We met up with cows the entire time. Note the gliders overhead.

http://youtu.be/MiRZxGuPIWw
This is a clip I took of the Gliders taking off and flying around, the background noise is from bells of the cows. ("ckmk47" uploaded it for me, Thank You!)

Monday
We woke up early to go to the Titlis, which is one of the main attractions of central Switzerland, and is located in Engelberg. Before you go, you should pack in sweaters and boots or good sneakers, because up on the mountain there is snow and gets really cold. We were by the ticket center before 10:00 and already there were long lines. (Itís 80 francs per person.) Then we followed the crowd to the chairlifts. Iíve never seen something like this before, a whole maze of tracks and every few seconds another one takes off.

Titlis is more than 10 thousand feet high. It takes almost an hour to reach the top including four chairlifts (five stations). By every station there are some activities to do and you can go out at that station to enjoy them. By the second station you can take a Trottibike which is a mountain scooter with big wheels, and you can scoot down to the first station (youíd want to do that on the way back). By the center station (3írd) there is a lake with paddle and row boats (for free, no supervision either). And by the 4íth station you can go out and walk a little. There is also a porch in the back with a breathtaking view; perfect spot to shoot some photos. The last (top) chairlift is the most interesting one, called Rotaire chairlift, and it rotates so you can stand in one place and see all sides. When you get higher up, you start seeing snow. Up there is freezing with a lot of snow on the ground.


The smaller chairlifts, from station 1 to 2 and to 3. Note Engelberg in the background


The Titlis Cart from station 3 to 4


The Titlis Rotaire Chairlift


View of Titlis. Taken from the Rotaire Chairlift.


At last, I reached the very top of Titlis!

We put on our jackets and went first to the mini Ice Museum located one flight below the chairlifts. At this station there is also a long metal bridge that shakes terribly! Itís something like a hammock which is only connected at the two sides and as you walk deeper in you feel it shaking more and more under your feet. It is terrifying! Not recommended for those with a faint heart. From this station you can also take an open Gliding Chairlift (additional charge of 12 Francs) which takes you to a snow tubing spot. The tubing area was far smaller than we expected but a lot of fun. There are multiple types of sleds and tubes that you can take, free of course. We tried out all kinds of sleds and after having a good time and tumbling over once and twice, we headed back.


See how the Titlis reaches above the clouds.


On the Trotti Bikes. Scooting down Titlis from station 2 to the bottom

Tuesday
Since it was our last full day in the area, we decided to do Pilatus. We took a train to the big Luzern train station. Our plan was to take a boat from the train station to Pilatus, but since we missed the boat we took another train instead, which was about 15 minutes. The way up we did by this very steep train, a long 20 minute slow ride. Up there was cloudy so we didnít have such a nice view. There is a huge deck with entertainment and Restaurants/gift shops. There are also paths/tunnels inside the mountain with little windows to get a peek of the view outside the mountain. The view is amazing. Down we went with a huge bus-size cart chairlift. (very scary, because itís a lot of people and crazy high up) By the center station there are some activities; like a huge mountain sledding area (Alpine Sliding) which was really great! It gets really curvy and steep so youíve got to slow down a bit. We watched a boy tumble out of the track along with his seat and EMS was promptly notified to head over. We also enjoyed a cute rubber slide where you get to sit onto a tube and slide down. There was also a really impressive activity of ropes and trees where you hook your harness onto the zip line and you climb in the maze of levels. It was all really fun.


The steep train on Pilatus


Pilatus chairlift. Notice how high it is.




High up chairlift


Rescue Team ready at all times

Wednesday we went to Venice for two days and then returned to Switzerland for another week.
To be continued!
« Last Edit: October 28, 2014, 10:30:31 PM by VacationLover »

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: Switzerland and Venice trip report
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2014, 09:37:26 PM »
Looks great so far! Nice job. Inspiring me to continue my TR... man I really need to get to that.

Offline Hershelsdeals

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Re: Switzerland and Venice trip report
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2014, 09:40:33 PM »
Beautiful!

Offline chucksterace

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Re: Switzerland and Venice trip report
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2014, 10:13:56 PM »
Awesome... Just reminds me of how bad I need to get back there
You may not hold me responsible or liable for any actions taken that was recommended from my account or username.

Offline yoruel

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Re: Switzerland and Venice trip report
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2014, 11:25:56 PM »
Reminds me of when i was there.
Great TR!


Offline Yaalili

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Re: Switzerland and Venice trip report
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2014, 02:12:36 AM »
Really good pictures of such a great place. Hanging on for more.

Offline Devorah

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Re: Switzerland and Venice trip report
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2014, 02:43:13 AM »
Great TR!  Beautiful pics.

Offline VacationLover

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Re: Switzerland and Venice trip report
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2014, 10:01:50 AM »
Oh, forgot to add this one


The Metal Bridge hanging in the air

I'm Going Sunday to AZ so wont have time now to write further, I hope to post the second part of the TR in about 2 weeks.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2014, 10:05:29 AM by VacationLover »

Offline Yaalili

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Re: Switzerland and Venice trip report
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2014, 10:20:42 AM »
Your heights fear must have been getting to you there! - enjoy AZ you can add that to the end of the TR :)

Offline lunatic

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Re: Switzerland and Venice trip report
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2014, 10:26:49 AM »
Wow, amazing

Offline rediplus

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Re: Switzerland and Venice trip report
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2014, 12:17:58 PM »
Very Nice !!! I'll be there for one day on Nov 18th. if there was one thing i should do what would you recommend ?

Offline VacationLover

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Re: Switzerland and Venice trip report
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2014, 01:57:33 PM »
Very Nice !!! I'll be there for one day on Nov 18th. if there was one thing i should do what would you recommend ?
sleeping over? or just one day?

Offline rediplus

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Re: Switzerland and Venice trip report
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2014, 02:31:08 PM »
Staying at park hyatt zurich on the 17th and leaving 5pm on the 18th

Offline VacationLover

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Re: Switzerland and Venice trip report
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2014, 03:09:31 PM »
Staying at park hyatt zurich on the 17th and leaving 5pm on the 18th
If you want to see a little of the Swiss Alps your best option would be to visit Pilatus in Luzern, Thats the closest to Zurich. But before you go, make sure with them that all activities are open.