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Switzerland - Alpine Tour

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Tour de Alps - Switzerland

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Zurich - Madison, Switzerland

Return Flights Sunday, September 25, 2005
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Madison Wisconsin
St. Moritz
St. Moritz
Zermatt
Zermatt
Zermatt
Zermatt to Berner Oberland
Murren
Lauterbrunnen - Interlaken
Engelberg
Lucerne - Pilatus - Zurich
Zurich - Madison

Hotel to Zurich Airport

Zurich Airport

After we checked out of the Hilton, we took the packed courtesy van to the airport. We decided to check our packs as luggage since we didn't want to lug them around the airport. I put my cameras and image cards in my daypack which I carried on. After a bit of shopping we, located the First Class hospitality lounge for NWA and KLM.

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The KLM lounge was great - with a full bar and limited snacks.

All the beverages you can think of.

Self-service bar.

Comfortable lounge was completely empty.

Now I know why I love the KLM Louge - it has Macs. So did the Riffelalp. This one had internet service, and was free of charge.

For you business travelers, full phone and fax service.

Multiple Swiss electrical outlets.

Here's an interesting blown acrylic globe in the terminal.

Departure

Trip Notes

We departed Zurich for Amsterdam aboard a KLM Intercity Fokker 100 (similar to a MD-80) jet. From Amsterdam (AMS) to Detroit (DTW) we had the Airbus 300 series, again, with the pod seats which were great. There was a great deal of turbulence of the Atlantic on this westward trip. Our final segment was from Detroit to Madison (MSN) aboard a DC-9.

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Trip Summary

Trip Notes

This was the first non-cruise trip I've had in a while, and it was a blast. I can easily see a pre or post-cruise trip to Switzerland if I was anywhere in Europe. The highlight of the trip was of course, the beautiful alpine scenery. The high alpine hikes were wonderful, as was the pampering at the Riffelalp. If you have never been to Switzerland, now is the time to book a trip.

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Trip Notes - Walking Sticks - Trekking Poles

All sports shops in alpine regions offer climbing sticks, or trekking poles. These devices have collapsible, adjustable lengths with a comfortable grip (and strap). A rubber foot covers a spike which can be easily removed for ice or snow conditions. On the low end, expect to pay about 40 CHF each for aluminum poles, and up to 80 CHF each for titanium poles. We bought a pair, and just used one each which worked well. Not only do the poles afford you better balance going up or down the trails, but give your upper body a workout as well.

Day Trip Tips - 1

Check out the local TV or mountain peak webcam to see if it's sunny on top where you'll be headed (before you spend money on a lift ticket to get there). If not available, ask around. Since funicular and cablecar fees range from $20-$120 it's worth a check even if it may be cloudy below.

Day Trip Tips - 2

Day Pack: I recommend a lumbar pack which rides on your waist (hip) with optional strapettes to help carry the load. I like to have at least one belt accessory case for quick access to a camera or binoculars.

Basics:
Day Pack - What to Pack
Expendibles:
- Raincoat with hood
- Warm hat
- Vest or warm jacket
- No wash soap - disinfectant
- Emergency blanket
- Picnic blanket
- Digital camera
- Binoculars
- Tissues
- Lip balm - Chapstick
- Extra camera batteries
- 2 bottles of water
- 1 tube of sport gel for energy if needed
- Sudafed (for bee stings)
- Fruit (apple or banana)
- Chocolate bar

Day Trip Tips - 3

Start the day with a good solid breakfast. Pack a lunch with cheese, bread and a beverage in case you don't find a mountain hutte or ski slope restaurant when hiking. Put on suntan lotion before you leave - it will last all day, and necessary in sunny alpine conditions. Wear layers of clothes.

Day Trip Tips - 4

Environmental Considerations: altitude and acclimation, temperature (vary widely from base and summit of mountain), rain, sunrise and sunset (in the high alpine region the sun might not be seen in the valley below until after 9:00 a.m. and can set as early as 4-5:00 p.m. when hidden by the peaks).

Day Trip Tips - 5

Lift Considerations: Summer and off-season lift times vary. You may be eligible for a discount if you have a SwissPass. Some hotels offer a Discount Card (like in Engelberg) - be sure to ask. Lifts typically close down around 4:45-5:00 p.m.

Day Trip Tips - 6

Our favorite way to see Switzerland was the method of lift-up, climb-down. Take the cablecar to the top, then hike down - either to another cablecar station, or to the base. In St. Moritz, we hiked down to another village, then took the train back to town using our handy SwissPass. In some cases, you might be able to take a trotti-bike, or downhill scooter from one lift station to a lower one. They're fun and exciting, and take you down access roads you might have otherwise missed taking the lift.

Additional Photographs: Return Flights

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Cruising Review Switzerland - PDF
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