Friday, September 25, 2009

Swiss army travel tips ... Camp Lucerne

We have been at Switzerland for about twelve days now. And its symbolic that we had to stand in a train for the first time today. Are the touristy kid gloves wearing off?

But the place is growing on me and I have got dangerously used to clean roads, cool weather, hopping between cities without a worry on trains, picturesque roads, big smiles, beautiful buildings, lovely bakes and a stress free life. Gosh, how will I get used to the Curry Road bridge traffic again?

These are some of the things that I have picked up so far which could be of use to anyone coming to Switzerland:

  • Come with one piece of luggage per person. A suitcase with wheels. A lot of travel happens across trains and this is important
  • Food - cheapest eats would be the takeaways from departmental stores at stations and malls. You can get sandwiches, quiches, bakes, pizzas, salads and the works. Mid range sit down dinners could come to about 20 - 25 Swiss Francs (Rs 1000) per person with a main course and a drink. Which is cheap by local standards. Mac D could be a bit cheaper. Fine dining? Search me!!! But seriously, comes to at least 50 Francs per head from what I've seen in the menu cards outside restaurants. There are enough vegetarian options around and people would understand what you want in big cities. Big cities have Indian restaurants too. I've not been there so no idea on prices
  • Water from the tap is drinking water. So you can save some more here by buying a bottle or two and refilling them. Otherwise a bottle costs 2 Francs or hundred bucks
  • They often have sparkling water (soda) so be sure you ask for 'still' when you are buying water
  • Coffees are very good and must haves here. The departmental store dispensers are cheap and very good too. Much better than most coffees in India
  • Swiss Railway pass - A must. You can buy this in your base countries. Opens doors to all trains (except the mountain ones), buses, trams and even a lot of museums. The country becomes an open canvas once you have one and we make plans once we wake up and go wherever we want with this. You can get discounts on places like mountain trains which are private and not covered by passes
  • When you are moving across cities you can keep your luggage in the vestibule of the train and sit wherever you want. It's safe
  • K will hate me for this but some sliding doors in trains do not open automatically if you are 5 feet or below as it doesn't sense you :)
  • Clothes - you will need upper and lower thermals, sweater, jacket, woolen cap, woolen socks and gloves in the snow no matter how silly they seem while buying them in India. Carry an open jacket too. The cities get hot and you might want to take it off at times
  • Most hotels do not offer a porter so you will have to lug your luggage up to your room
  • If you have a bad back then get your medication from home. A back spray cost me 15 Francs or Rs 750 here. Very effective though
  • Don't feel embarrassed to go to a chocolaterie and buy a single chocolate. They seem to be used to it
  • Don't believe anyone who says that Switzerland is very montonous and is only about natural beauty. Each day has been a different adventure for us
  • The German speaking areas are quite comfortable in English and the French speaking areas make an effort too. Folks generally are very friendly and offer to help in case they see you are stuck with someone because of a language issue
  • Electric charging points are a problem. Only two pointers work here so make sure that you have the right ones for your mobile and camera chargers
  • Most big train stations have only 'Mr Clean' loos which could cost you anything between one to four Francs depending on gender and er, use. Using the reasonably clean ones in the train before getting off is a better idea
  • Ticket collectors in trains are very friendly and double up as travel consultants and babysitters. Feel free to ask them anything. Ideally about the town you are going to
  • Shopping is fairly expensive here so write a lot of blog posts as gifts for your friends at home :)

Will add to this as I think of more


Scarlett said...

Coffee dispensers at departmental stores rock! I used to go this one at Chicago which dispensed strong, lovely flavored coffee. I love vanilla, irish cream & hazelnut flavored coffee.

The knife said...

Ash, the coffee here is fantastic. Good beans and great quality milk too I guess

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