Before I knew I will be riding on a railcar on the longest continuous strub-rack railway in the world, I actually planned to visit “The Top of Europe” 5 years ago. Jungfraujoch (pronounced as Yong-Frau-York), at an amazing 3454 metres, is Europe’s highest-altitude railway station.
Continue from Part 2, I am going to plan my Day 3 itinerary. From a glance, it should be a faily simple itinerary, as I have dedicated a full day to Jungfraujoch excursion. Again back to my favourite search engine, look for “Jungfrau Attractions” and start listing them down on a note or draft.
Eigergletscher – Polar Dog Colony
Ice Gateway – Ice Palace
Sphinx Observation Terrace
Jungfrau Plateau – Snow Walk
Husky-drawn Sledge Rides (Summer)
Ski & Snowboard Park (Summer)
What about time and location (To answer the “How to get there; at what time” questions)? Again, search for Switzerland train schedules using this site. List down all the possible routes and alternative. You might also want to check what is the time of sunrise and sunset to determine what time you need to get up and/or get back.
There are 2 rail routes which will take you up to Jungfraujoch, one is via Grindelwald and another via Lauterbrunnen. Both routes splitted at a station called Zweilütschinen (I think it’s pronounced as “Zwhy-Loo-Chi-Nen”) and join back at Kleine Scheidegg (pronounced as “Cli-Ney-Sni-Deck”), before changing to a cogwheel train up to Jungfraujoch.
Back to my plan, currently you might starts wondering about my accommodation. I planned to stays at Interlaken on Day 2. On Day 3 morning, I will starts my journey to Jungfraujoch. I can choose to stay one night at either of the stops between Interlaken and Jungfraujoch, or stay back at Interlaken. My decision is to stay at Interlaken (another night), since I do not want to carry my backpack with me to Jungfraujoch!
I’ve booked my accommodation through this site for the first day, then I booked a Jungfraujoch Excursion package (which comes with 1 night stays at preferred accommodation) through here. What’s next?
Continue from Part 1, we already have the general itinerary in mind, let’s draft a more detail plan. Now we need to focus on (A) timing, as it is very important to our schedule, particularly on our flight and train schedule; (B) attractions, as this will determine how long we will spend in a particular place; (C) budget, as this will determine how much we will be spending.
Start from Day 1 again, Flight D7 2006 arrival time at London is approximately 1650. When we came out from the airport, travel to my friend’s place, unpack, dinner, etc is already late evening. I prefer to rest and prepare for next day. Hence I have no plan for Day 1. On a contrary, if you do not want to stay overnight at London, I suggest you to book the earliest arrival flight to London, then transit to Switzerland (either Geneva or Zurich). Check out my post on Malaysian Travelers to Europe via AirAsia.
Day 2 planned for flight to Zurich, we need to check which airline have flight to Zurich from London, and which London Airports (Heathrow, Stansted, Luton, Gatwick, City)? This will be tedious process if you are new to European Airlines, but I have summarized the below based on my research for your reference.
British Airways, operating from London Heathrow and London City Airport. Not a budget airlines. All price inclusive. Breakfast provided in-flight.
Easyjet, usually operating from London Gatwick, Luton or Stansted Airport. Budget airlines. Extra charge for check-in luggage.
Swiss International, operating from London Heathrow and London City Airport. Not a budget airlines. All price inclusive.
BMI Baby, operating from London Stansted. Budget airlines. Extra charge for check-in luggage.
Based on the above, I have drafted a comparison chart that shows flights departing from London to Zurich on 15th October, 2009:
Once I have a comparison chart, I will base my selection on 2 criterias, time and budget. First I need to get to Zurich as early as possible to avoid wasting too much time. Second, I need a fairly economy flight to minimize expenses. From the above chart, it seems that Easyjet is the obvious choice. However, considering the distance from London to Gatwick/Luton to catch the morning flight, which mean I have to wake up in the middle of the night, catch a cab and travel to the airport, it’s a nightmare!
My second choise is British Airways, although it’s double the price of Easyjet, but I save on my travel time to airport, and I have more choices on flight schedule. Since I stay in East London, the earliest flight to Zurich (ZRH) from London City Airport (LCY) is my best option. Let’s put this down in my itinerary. However, if you plan for a return trip to/from Switzerland, I would recommend Swiss International Airlines for better offer.
I know I will reach Zurich by 1055 travel via BA8763, and my final destination for Day 2 is Interlaken. I need to find out how I would travel from Zurich to Interlaken. 3 choices: car rental and drive myself; take a bus/coach; take a train. Driving in Switzerland is left-handed drive on the right lane, different from Malaysia (I’ve tried that 5 years ago, it’s daunting!). Furthermore, I need an international driving license. Taking a bus or train is less hassle.
After searching from the Internet, I’ve decided to travel via rail. If you are staying at Switzerland for more than 5 days, I recommend you to get one of the Swiss Travel Pass for cost saving. I only planned to stay in Switzerland for 3 days, hence I will go for the single journey tickets. SBB has one of the best online services to search, book and pay for your rail travel in Switzerland. I can also search for rail schedules as well to plan my itinerary. How I did that? Search for train schedule from Zurich to Interlaken (you will either route via Berne or Lucerne (Luzern). I have been to Berne in my previous trip. Luzern is my choice this time. From Luzern to Interlaken, there is a rail service call GoldenPass Line, which offers a magnificient panoramic view from inside the coach. This rail service will brings you to the most scenic route in Switzerland.
Now I have an idea of my travel time, let’s plan some visits. Check out Zurich and Luzern attractions from the Internet, and I estimated a stay in Zurich for 2 hours, Luzern for 1 hour. Go back to the SBB website and search for schedules between Zurich – Luzern and Luzern – Interlaken. List down a few alternatives for decision later. This is very useful if you missed a train, or you decided to spend more times on a place; at least you know when is the next train schedule. Up till now, I have drafted something like the above in my itinerary, including also the travel route from where I stay (Belvedere) to London City Airport. I used this to plan for that.
It was a quick decision made to visit Europe during autumn 2009. The AirAsia promotional airfare (during Oct 08) from KUL – STN was so attractive that I’ve made the booking immediately! That leave me roughly 11 months to plan and prepare for the trip. It was just a 8 days trip, and I have decided to go to 3 specific places (and countries) on backpack! The first thing to plan your itinerary: (1) Lock down your destination(s).
I’ve been studying and working in London for 3 years, hence staying longer in the UK was not my plan. I would just estimate my stay in London for 2 days (6 days left). My next preferred destination was Interlaken, and of course Jungfraujoch (pronounced as Yong-Frau-York) in Switzerland. This was the place I have missed out from my last visit to Switzerland 5 years ago, and I’m definitely heading to the Alps this time! Last but not least, Paris is a romantic destination you cannot miss if you are travelling with your partner.
Once you have picked your destinations, (2) draft your travel route in a map, it’s as easy as joining the dots! Google Map offer a good way to start. Plotting your travel route in a map will let you have a general idea of where you will be going, and it also let your friends and family know your whereabouts during the trip. Below is my travel map.
If you have noticed, Interlaken is not plotted in the map. Sometimes, the place you wanted to go may not have airport for you to reach there. The nearest airport is either Berne, Zurich or Geneva; and perfectly, Interlaken was situated in between these Swiss city! I have decided to fly to Zurich and head south towards Interlaken and Geneva.
Interlaken is the entry point for most visitors to Jungfraujoch – the top of Europe, I did some homework to find out the local attractions and tour packages. Most tour suggested that Jungfraujoch is a full day excursion, that would make my stay for at least 2 nights in Interlaken (3 days left).
My next focused destination is Paris, France. From Interlaken to Paris, I found out we have 2 possible routes: Berne-Paris via train or Geneva-Paris via flight (or train). Travel via rail is obviously cheaper than flight, but it takes longer time, often 1-2 hours more. Besides that, I have to check the timetable for the best possible schedule according to my itinerary.
My initial plan does not include Berne as a travel point. Now I have to find out what I can do in Berne versus Geneva, and then decide where I should depart from Switzerland to France. I have been to Berne in my previous trip, it’s the capital of Switzerland, a beautiful medieval town with cobblestone streets. Geneva on the other hand, has a diverse history dating back to the Protestant Reformation. Situated along the banks of Lake Geneva at the foot of the Alps, Geneva is a paradise for landscape photographers!
While I have no decision yet whether to depart from Berne or Geneva, let’s continue my planning on Paris. I would like to know what attractions we have in Paris, google search result returns with tons of places to visit in Paris. Estimate stay for 2 nights in Paris (0 days left).
Below is my drafted itinerary so far. Continue with Part 2.