Magic Switzerland

By Ed Gorlin
This item appears on page 32 of the August 2013 issue.
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Before taking a cruise-tour in Europe, my wife, Gloria, and I wanted to see Switzerland. I searched the Internet for a Swiss travel consultant and found Magic Switzerland (Kansas City MO; 800/337-9477 or 816/753-5573). I recommend their services.

Magic Switzerland’s Pepe Stub was quick to respond to my e-mails and phone calls and make arrangements for my wife and me for five days and four nights. 

Gloria and Ed Gorlin pose with the Matterhorn.

The cost of $1,782 included two first-class, 4-day Swiss Flexi Passes and prepaid hotel vouchers in 3-star family-run hotels (each just a few minutes’ walk from a train station). We also were provided maps and information about Swiss geography, people, government, food, climate, etc.

We arrived at the Zürich airport on Oct 10, 2012, and Pepe’s written instructions for validating our railpasses and getting to the rail station made life easy for us. 

After a pleasant trip to Zermatt, we checked into Hotel Perren (Visapastrasse 10, Zermatt 3920; phone +41 [0] 27 966 52 00) for a 2-night stay, spending the rest of the afternoon walking in the car-free city. 

The first night, in our hotel’s restaurant we enjoyed classic cheese fondue made with kirsch. With salad, the cost was CHF62 (near $64) for both of us. Fabulous!

The next day, at Pepe’s recommendation, we rode the cog railway up to Gornergrat (which has a hotel, hiking trails and, in season, skiing) to view the Matterhorn and dozens of other snow- and ice-capped mountains. Including a 50% discount because we had railpasses, the cog railway cost CHF72 for the two of us. The Matterhorn was magnificent!

Back in Zermatt, the Matterhorn Museum (Kirchplatz; phone +41 27 967 41 00) gave us a sense of life in this high-altitude region. Personal accounts of mountain guides and the tragedies of the first men to climb the Matterhorn were chronicled. 

A museum not to be missed, it includes a farmer’s cottage, hotel and church interior plus stuffed and mounted animals. The audio headsets we rented enhanced the experience. 

(At the end of the Bahnhofstrasse, the museum entrance is in the garden of the Grand Hotel Zer­matterhof. Open 2-6, April 8-June 30 and in October; open 11-6, July 1-Sept. 30, and closed in winter. CHF10 adult or CHF8 senior).  

Gloria Gorlin hiking down toward Zermatt from Gornergrat, with the Matterhorn rising in the distance. Photo by Ed Gorlin

The walk from our hotel to the station where we would catch the Glacier Express took five minutes. We had seat assignments and, per Pepe’s recommendation, had brought with us a picnic lunch of cheese, sandwiches, wine and pastries to enjoy on the 8-hour ride from Zermatt to St. Moritz.

The Glacier Express lived up to its reputation as a world-class train excursion, and, fortunately, it was not an “express.” The scenery was grand.

We were picked up at the station by a van from our hotel, Hotel Hauser (Via Traunter Plazzas 7, CH-7500, St. Moritz; phone +41 [0] 81 837 50 50). We had dinner in the hotel’s restaurant, packed with locals. My venison and Gloria’s spinach gnocchi both were excellent, at a cost of CHF50 ($52) for the two of us. The hotel has a renowned pastry shop.

Early on Oct. 13 we boarded the Bernina Express for the Italian city of Tirano. The route may be even more spectacular than that of the Glacier express. There were tunnels, the famous Brusio circular viaduct, deep valleys and fall colors. The train takes you to an elevation of 6,830 feet at an incline sometimes as steep as 7% without the use of cogwheels. 

After a couple of hours enjoying the city of Tirano (and some Italian pastries), we boarded the Bernina Express bus back to Switzerland and Lugano, walking from the train station to the Continental Parkhotel Lugano (Via Basilea 28, CH 6900, Lugano; phone +41 [0] 91 966 1112). Our corner room on the top floor provided great views of the Old Town and Lake Lugano. 

We rode the Glacier Express from Zermatt to St. Moritz in Switzerland. Photo by Ed Gorlin

In the hotel’s restaurant we had another great dinner. Gloria had the 4-course special featuring a perfectly cooked pork chop, while I had the best pasta carbonara I have ever tasted. It all cost CHF63.80 ($66). 

Thanks to Magic Switzerland, our five days of independent travel in Switzerland (and Italy) went seamlessly. 

The next day we took the train to Zürich to join our 2-week cruise-tour from Basel, Switzerland, to Amsterdam, Netherlands, with AmaWaterways (26010 Mureau Rd., Ste. 200, Calabasas, CA 91302; 866/626-0110*), which advertises in ITN. This cruise, Oct. 14-25, was excellent.

ED GORLIN

Lexington, VA

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

Before taking a cruise-tour in Europe, my wife, Gloria, and I wanted to see Switzerland. I searched the Internet for a Swiss travel consultant and found Magic Switzerland (Kansas City MO; 800/337-9477 or 816/753-5573). I recommend their services.

Magic Switzerland’s Pepe Stub was quick to respond to my e-mails and phone calls and make arrangements for my wife and me for five days and four nights. 

Gloria and Ed Gorlin pose with the Matterhorn.

The cost of $1,782 included two first-class, 4-day Swiss Flexi Passes and prepaid hotel vouchers in 3-star family-run hotels (each just a few minutes’ walk from a train station). We also were provided maps and information about Swiss geography, people, government, food, climate, etc.

We arrived at the Zürich airport on Oct 10, 2012, and Pepe’s written instructions for validating our railpasses and getting to the rail station made life easy for us. 

After a pleasant trip to Zermatt, we checked into Hotel Perren (Visapastrasse 10, Zermatt 3920; phone +41 [0] 27 966 52 00) for a 2-night stay, spending the rest of the afternoon walking in the car-free city. 

The first night, in our hotel’s restaurant we enjoyed classic cheese fondue made with kirsch. With salad, the cost was CHF62 (near $64) for both of us. Fabulous!

The next day, at Pepe’s recommendation, we rode the cog railway up to Gornergrat (which has a hotel, hiking trails and, in season, skiing) to view the Matterhorn and dozens of other snow- and ice-capped mountains. Including a 50% discount because we had railpasses, the cog railway cost CHF72 for the two of us. The Matterhorn was magnificent!

Back in Zermatt, the Matterhorn Museum (Kirchplatz; phone +41 27 967 41 00) gave us a sense of life in this high-altitude region. Personal accounts of mountain guides and the tragedies of the first men to climb the Matterhorn were chronicled. 

A museum not to be missed, it includes a farmer’s cottage, hotel and church interior plus stuffed and mounted animals. The audio headsets we rented enhanced the experience. 

(At the end of the Bahnhofstrasse, the museum entrance is in the garden of the Grand Hotel Zer­matterhof. Open 2-6, April 8-June 30 and in October; open 11-6, July 1-Sept. 30, and closed in winter. CHF10 adult or CHF8 senior).  

Gloria Gorlin hiking down toward Zermatt from Gornergrat, with the Matterhorn rising in the distance. Photo by Ed Gorlin

The walk from our hotel to the station where we would catch the Glacier Express took five minutes. We had seat assignments and, per Pepe’s recommendation, had brought with us a picnic lunch of cheese, sandwiches, wine and pastries to enjoy on the 8-hour ride from Zermatt to St. Moritz.

The Glacier Express lived up to its reputation as a world-class train excursion, and, fortunately, it was not an “express.” The scenery was grand.

We were picked up at the station by a van from our hotel, Hotel Hauser (Via Traunter Plazzas 7, CH-7500, St. Moritz; phone +41 [0] 81 837 50 50). We had dinner in the hotel’s restaurant, packed with locals. My venison and Gloria’s spinach gnocchi both were excellent, at a cost of CHF50 ($52) for the two of us. The hotel has a renowned pastry shop.

Early on Oct. 13 we boarded the Bernina Express for the Italian city of Tirano. The route may be even more spectacular than that of the Glacier express. There were tunnels, the famous Brusio circular viaduct, deep valleys and fall colors. The train takes you to an elevation of 6,830 feet at an incline sometimes as steep as 7% without the use of cogwheels. 

After a couple of hours enjoying the city of Tirano (and some Italian pastries), we boarded the Bernina Express bus back to Switzerland and Lugano, walking from the train station to the Continental Parkhotel Lugano (Via Basilea 28, CH 6900, Lugano; phone +41 [0] 91 966 1112). Our corner room on the top floor provided great views of the Old Town and Lake Lugano. 

We rode the Glacier Express from Zermatt to St. Moritz in Switzerland. Photo by Ed Gorlin

In the hotel’s restaurant we had another great dinner. Gloria had the 4-course special featuring a perfectly cooked pork chop, while I had the best pasta carbonara I have ever tasted. It all cost CHF63.80 ($66). 

Thanks to Magic Switzerland, our five days of independent travel in Switzerland (and Italy) went seamlessly. 

The next day we took the train to Zürich to join our 2-week cruise-tour from Basel, Switzerland, to Amsterdam, Netherlands, with AmaWaterways (26010 Mureau Rd., Ste. 200, Calabasas, CA 91302; 866/626-0110*), which advertises in ITN. This cruise, Oct. 14-25, was excellent.

ED GORLIN

Lexington, VA