Monday, April 5, 2010

the feature article in the life section of the straits times on 30 march makes me re-visit my photo album (of our switzerland tour) so as to share our experience. we actually visited three countries - switzerland, liechtenstein and italy. in the case of italy, it was just crossing from lugano in southern switzerland to tirano in italy. it is like crossing the causeway from singapore to johor bahru town.

ours was a 14-day tour - yes, a bit too long - and we travelled by train all the way, except for the return trip to lugano from tirano (in italy) when we were put on a postal coach. our starting point was zurich. this was our itinerary: zurich - st gallen -vaduz (in liechtenstein) -st moritz - tirano - lugano -lucerne - interlaken - montreux - zermatt/matternhorn - zurich.

we had no choice but to travel by train. driving would have posed a number of problems. first, you had to get used to driving on the right side, just like in the usa. the other problem was that the road signs and information signs were either in french or german. train is the better alternative.

we had to travel lighter than normal. each of us carried a slightly bigger than cabin-sized bag. as it was summer, we did not have to pack thick woollens, long johns, scarves and gloves. however, up in the mountains, it could get quite cold. the alps are covered with snow all year round.

from interlaken we took the cogwheel train to jungfraujoch, the highest train station in europe. of all the places in switzerland, zermatt left the deepest impression in me. i like zermatt, where you can see the majestic matterhorn, for its smoke-free environment - no petrol driven vehicles.

yes, if you do not enjoy being herded around in a conducted tour group, travelling by train on your own is a good way to see switzerland. you do not need two weeks; one week is enough for you to take in all the touristy places.


unk Dicko said...

Glad you made and had this train experience.
Way before that article came out...nearly 32 years ago in 1978,I organised and led the 1st Singapore Adventure to Europe by train using the Eurailpass. The expedition was 22 strong and took a full 6 weeks!
You can read an intro about that historic trip at my blogsite at the link below.

yg said...

dick, i heard about the comex club's trip to europe back then but didn't have the means to join. those days, as teachers, we could make use of the nov/dec holidays to go on extended trips. these days, if they can get 2 weeks, they will be very lucky and happy.

unk Dicko said...

How right you are about the difficulty of getting away from school work even during the June or December holiday period. It was already evident when I was at HJC in the 80's...could never get more than 2 weeks at a stretch. Only thrice did I ever receive the full blessings from the P and the ministry for 3 extended 6 weeks out of country...June/July 1972( official, the 1978 COMEX Europe Trip( official) and my USA trip 1992 leave of 6 weeks was actually "ordered" by the P, Mr Chan Tung Fong as a reward for my committment and covering duties all those years for others going away.

doris said...

wished i had joined the comex club trip. instead, i joined the sundowners, an aussie group in 1977. i had to fly to london with my friend to meet up with them to tour europe on a camping trip lasting 49 days (applied for extra leave). we had to take turns to cook and i have hated mashed potatoes ever since. we pitched tents at camping grounds and took public baths with the rest of the european campers. all in, my trip cost me $6900.

unk Dicko said...

The COMEX trip I organised for our members took me 6 months of research and planning...mode of travel, where to sleep, eat, rest and do the necessary things while affording us maximum time for sight-seeing and exploration., were some of the impt considerations.
However, as I had the chance to meet potential participants BEFORE the trip proper to get their feedback,desires and views about what they prefer most for me to focus on while planning...this gave me a an advantage for success.
All of them wanted to SAVE COSTS esp on the very expensive air tickets, accomodation and dining.
They did not mind spending on sight-seeing and entrance fees to "must-see, must experience" places.
So I was able to do all they wanted and eventually MORE!
They saw more things, more places, visited more than 10 countries and on average spent about 30 % of what such a trip would have cost if provided by a travel agency.

yg said...

i remember balbir talking about the trip. was he one of those who went on the expeition?

unk Dicko said...

Unfortunately no, Balbir wasn't in it.
As a matter of fact of the 22 who made the trip with me, only myself and one other young lady were from Education. The rest from various background and professions...civil servants, nurse, accountants, librarian,University staff,police,private firms, business...