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Driving in White Switzerland

Driving a car in Europe is something which everyone wants to do. The public transportation in Europe is very good, you will get flights, trains, buses from any corner in Europe. Public transport are sometimes cheap as well. A high speed bullet train might be costly but an overnight bus journey or an intercity flight is always cheaper if you plan in advance. Still the experience of driving is different altogether.
This time when I was in Europe I planned to do road trips only. So when the plan for Switzerland came up we decided to hire a car from Zurich. We flew straight to Zurich from Amsterdam and picked up a car from Avis. Remember if you book a car in advance please call the car agency and find out which credit card they accept. Initially I booked with Alamo and they didn't accept my diners club credit card. Avis gave me a brand new Golf GTI.

There are lots of things in Switzerland to cover and 3 days is just less. If you love cities stick to Zurich, Geneva, Luzern. If you are more into nature you can make Interlaken your base and do day trips to Zungfrau Region, Zermatt/Matterhorn, Titlis and other peaks. 

Our plan was something like this -
Day 1 - Zurich - Luzern - Interlaken
Day 2 - Interlaken - Zermatt - Interlaken
Day 3 - Interlaken - Zurich

We stayed in a hotel called Indian Village, not because it was run by an Indian but it was cheap and close to city center, probably 5-7 mins drive. The breakfast was also complimentary. The hotel was situated on the opposite bank of Interlaken OST train station. While my wife thought it was not a good idea to book that hotel because we couldnt walk to city center but when the snow started and we woke up to an outstanding view she didnt complain at all. Switzerland is always beautiful and there is not doubt about it. One must visit Switzerland during summer or autumn to see various colors. But in winter what you see is absolutely stunning. You will see a white version of Switzerland. I cannot describe what it felt like to touch fresh snow. So if you want to see a different Switzerland I will advise to visit in winter.

However beautiful the view is it is always a pain to drive on snow. And that too in a small car. The car would skid often and you cannot drive faster. 

We wanted to see Matterhorn because that peak was visited by less number of tourists than Jungfrau and Titlis, and it was beautiful too. Matterhorn peak is a near-symmetrical pyramidal peak which looks lovely from a distance. There are different places where you can see the entire peak and we chose to go to Gornergrat. Gornergrat can be reached by train from Zermatt. And Zermatt can be reached by train from Tasch. Tasch is the last town till where once can drive because after that the region is no-automobile zone. Its quite interesting actually and I dont know the reason of not allowing vehicles further. There are various possibilities for parking in Tasch. The Matterhorn Terminal in Täsch has 2,100 covered parking spaces. In addition, there are over 1,000 parking spaces (open and covered) offered by private parties. In Täsch, one changes to the shuttle train and travels in comfort to Zermatt.

Zermatt itself is a beautiful little town and favorite honeymoon destination in Europe. Wish I booked a hotel here but looking at the temperature and the height we were I think I took the right decision of going back to Interlaken.

(I am going backwards, pardon me)

You can NOT literally drive to Tasch because before reaching Tasch you have to get on a train. Yes you read it right, you have to get on a Car Train. From Kanderstag to Goppenstein
there is a train service through a series of tunnels which will carry you and your car. Fare is 29 Euros one side. 

There are plenty of activities you can do in Interlaken but most of them remains closed during winter. So we couldnt take the boat ride or take the cable car to Interlaken view point.  But after asking the locals they advised to go to Beatenberg. The main attraction of Beatenberg is its location. The village is one of the best vantage points set against the Bernese Alps and affords a view of deeply blue Lake Thun. Just about 10 kilometres by road away from Interlaken, Beatenberg is furthermore a perfect starting point for excursions to the Lake Thun and Jungfrau region.

Switzerland is expensive, far more expensive than any other city in Europe. There was a severe snow storm that weekend in Netherlands and that part of Europe. The Britishers were calling it "Beast from the East". Due to the snow storm my flight was cancelled for 2 continuous days and we got free staying option from the airlines. Swiss Airlines is one of the best in the world and there is a reason for that. They arranged hotels for us in Zurich. This also gave us the opportunity to see Zurich which was not in our plan.

One way car rent is possible throughout Europe where you pick up from a city and leave the car in another. On Monday when our flight was cancelled for the second time I went to Avis to ask about the rent. The rent was 1300 Euros for a day if I pickup a car from Zurich and drop at Schiphol. Which was way out of my budget. Hence had to spend another day in Zurich. Anyways it was not that bad in Zurich and we got to check the city closely. If you want to get authenticated swiss chocolate I suggest check out Sprungli. If you want some authenticated swiss food then Zeughauskeller is the restaurant you should be looking for.

So this was out little story of Switzerland drive. Next week we are driving to Prague to Germany and this time no flights..


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