Swiss Pass a bargain

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On a 2-week Christmas trip to Switzerland, Dec. 23, 2006-Jan. 4, 2007, my wife, Anita, and I had a wonderful, exciting time while using the Swiss Pass (www.sbb.ch) exclusively. We had read in ITN and other sources about this remarkable bargain but previously had always rented a car.

The cost for two traveling together for 15 consecutive days was $548, and we opted to add reservations on the Glacier Express (on Dec. 24th, no less), bringing the total to $598.

Considering that we used this pass every day on main rail lines, assorted lifts, funiculars, narrow-gauge lines, postal buses and even most city buses, it was a tremendous bargain. The only additional expense occurred on the upper end of the high mountain routes such as the Schilthorn, Matterhorn and Jungfraujoch, and on these we paid half price. (We saved almost enough on these alone to justify purchasing the pass.)

The pass is also so easy to use. I had printed some point-to-point itineraries from the website for places we wanted to visit. While helpful, these were not necessary.

You just go to the nearest train station and hop on the next train to your destination. All stations have schedules posted that are easy to follow. Most stations also have information offices. If connections must be made, announcements in English are made when the train enters the station.

We returned to several places (i.e., to get better bargains), which we would not have done without the pass.

I also highly recommend the Bradt guidebook “Switzerland Rail, Road, Lake” by Anthony Lambert (third edition, 2005, Bradt Travel Guides. ISBN 9781841621326 — 440 pp., $23.95). Not only are the routes described in detail, he also gives tips on what bus or lake steamers connect at various rail stations. Check the Internet for the best buy; we saved over half.

Our days were divided between Brig in the south and Lauterbrunnen in the middle of Switzerland. In Brig we stayed at the 3-star Hotel Ambassador Brig (Saflischstrasse 3; phone 41 27 922-9900 or visit www.ambassador-brig.ch), which is close to the train station, as were all of our hotels. The cost was CHF120 (about $100) per night, including the usual breakfast of cheeses, breads, cereals, etc.

Our week in Lauterbrunnen (including New Year’s Eve) was at another 3-star, Hotel Jungfrau (Main Street; phone 041 33 855 3434 or visit www.hoteljungfrau.com), where Brigitte Melliger was a most pleasant host. We paid CHF200 ($167) per night including breakfast and dinner.

We stayed at the Bristol Hotel (Stampfenbachstrasse 34; phone 41 44 258-4444 or visit www.hotelbristol.ch) in Zürich on our first and last nights. With Rick Steves’ guidebook, we paid CHF156 ($130).

All of these were clean and well run, with staff who spoke English.

JERRY THOMAS

Conroe, TX

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

On a 2-week Christmas trip to Switzerland, Dec. 23, 2006-Jan. 4, 2007, my wife, Anita, and I had a wonderful, exciting time while using the Swiss Pass (www.sbb.ch) exclusively. We had read in ITN and other sources about this remarkable bargain but previously had always rented a car.

The cost for two traveling together for 15 consecutive days was $548, and we opted to add reservations on the Glacier Express (on Dec. 24th, no less), bringing the total to $598.

Considering that we used this pass every day on main rail lines, assorted lifts, funiculars, narrow-gauge lines, postal buses and even most city buses, it was a tremendous bargain. The only additional expense occurred on the upper end of the high mountain routes such as the Schilthorn, Matterhorn and Jungfraujoch, and on these we paid half price. (We saved almost enough on these alone to justify purchasing the pass.)

The pass is also so easy to use. I had printed some point-to-point itineraries from the website for places we wanted to visit. While helpful, these were not necessary.

You just go to the nearest train station and hop on the next train to your destination. All stations have schedules posted that are easy to follow. Most stations also have information offices. If connections must be made, announcements in English are made when the train enters the station.

We returned to several places (i.e., to get better bargains), which we would not have done without the pass.

I also highly recommend the Bradt guidebook “Switzerland Rail, Road, Lake” by Anthony Lambert (third edition, 2005, Bradt Travel Guides. ISBN 9781841621326 — 440 pp., $23.95). Not only are the routes described in detail, he also gives tips on what bus or lake steamers connect at various rail stations. Check the Internet for the best buy; we saved over half.

Our days were divided between Brig in the south and Lauterbrunnen in the middle of Switzerland. In Brig we stayed at the 3-star Hotel Ambassador Brig (Saflischstrasse 3; phone 41 27 922-9900 or visit www.ambassador-brig.ch), which is close to the train station, as were all of our hotels. The cost was CHF120 (about $100) per night, including the usual breakfast of cheeses, breads, cereals, etc.

Our week in Lauterbrunnen (including New Year’s Eve) was at another 3-star, Hotel Jungfrau (Main Street; phone 041 33 855 3434 or visit www.hoteljungfrau.com), where Brigitte Melliger was a most pleasant host. We paid CHF200 ($167) per night including breakfast and dinner.

We stayed at the Bristol Hotel (Stampfenbachstrasse 34; phone 41 44 258-4444 or visit www.hotelbristol.ch) in Zürich on our first and last nights. With Rick Steves’ guidebook, we paid CHF156 ($130).

All of these were clean and well run, with staff who spoke English.

JERRY THOMAS

Conroe, TX