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Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

The third and final special train we rode in Switzerland is the GoldenPass. Going through the lower parts of western Switzerland, the GoldenPass train we took was a relaxing, ~2 hour train ride from Zweisimmen to Montreux through which we saw many lush valleys, farmland, juxtaposed behind some snow-capped mountains. You can’t get more Swiss than this!

I last left you guys off at Zermatt. Later that evening we took the train from Zermatt to Interlaken. Interlaken is an extremely picturesque little city in the middle of Switzerland. Most people visit Interlaken on their way up the Jungfrau mountain.

We woke up very early in the morning and captured some of the most soft, beautiful light on this trip. Morning photoshoots people, I tell you, they’re awesome =)

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography interlaken switzerland 01 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography interlaken switzerland 07 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography interlaken switzerland 02 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography interlaken switzerland 03 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography interlaken switzerland 06 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

We then took a train from Interlaken to Thun. On the way we passed beautiful lake scenes

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography interlaken switzerland 04 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography interlaken switzerland 05 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography thun switzerland 01 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

Thun is a bustling city that has a beautiful city center and it was a beautiful spring day

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography thun switzerland 02 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography thun switzerland 07 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography thun switzerland 03 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography thun switzerland 04 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

 The castle was closed for construction, but we enjoyed hiking up towards it

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography thun switzerland 05 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography thun switzerland 06 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

From Thun it was a quick train to Montreux, which is the start of the GoldenPass panoramic VIP train. We were very lucky to book early enough to nab the VIP seats in the front car, which provides a full, front-facing panoramic view of the ride. It’s as if we were the train conductor!

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography golden pass switzerland 03 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography golden pass switzerland 02 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

If you like farmland, light-colored houses, greenery, and going through tunnels, you will love the Golden Pass train

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography golden pass switzerland 01 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography golden pass switzerland 04 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography golden pass switzerland 05 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography golden pass switzerland 06 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

The Golden Pass train dropped us off in Montreux, a graceful city on the shores of Lac Leman. I highly recommend spending about an hour walking the lakefront. There are street performers, ice cream and coffee bars, and gorgeous views of the lake

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography montreux switzerland 02 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

And when we went there, there were also some smurfs made of shrubs… I felt bad for this guy

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography montreux switzerland 01 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

We then took a train to Lausanne. Lausanne feels very French (we are in a French-speaking part of Switzerland) and is a place where a great many famous people come to live for its beauty and culture – Coco Chanel is buried here. It is a city of gorgeous hotels, waterfront, and more. I was really tired when we were in Lausanne, but if you have an afternoon, I highly recommend exploring this city

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography lausanne switzerland 01 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography lausanne switzerland 02 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography lausanne switzerland 03 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

From Lausanne we took the train to Bern and continued our journey, which I covered in this blog post

And that’s it for Switzerland! Later on I will blog about my trip into Lyon and Paris, France, but I wanted to talk a bit about my experience flying with SWISS here

As I’ve mentioned, a part of this trip was made possible because last year I I won the ‘Feel the Music’ Facebook Contest from SWISS and Switzerland Tourism. SWISS is one of the top airlines I have ever flown.  Our trips both ways were pleasant, punctual, comfortable, and quiet. To both my husband and my surprise, we were bumped up to business class on our way back to the US! We were able to experience the SWISS Senator Lounge at Zurich Airport as well as international business class on our way home. The lounge had delicious hot food and many amenities – whether you’re a leisure traveler who wants a drink at the bar, or a busy business man who needs a quiet place to work, or you’d like to refresh with a shower, the Zurich SWISS Senator Lounge offered something for everyone.

On board the flight, this was our menu for the day

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography swiss international business class 01 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

The business class seats were a sweet, sweet ending to our trip, I was so elated to have the opportunity of flying in business class because the seats are out of this world! We loved being able to lie flat, prop up our feet, and still have plenty of space for our food, reading, and entertainment within arms’ reach.

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography swiss international business class 02 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

The service from the crew was extremely attentive and courteous. The food was delicious, fresh, and beautifully presented.

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography swiss international business class 03 Interlaken, Thun, GoldenPass train, and flying business class on SWISS

Experiencing the beauty of Switzerland by flying comfortably via SWISS and then riding the superb panoramic trains with our Swiss Pass was truly a once in a lifetime experience. There is no other country on earth that can match Switzerland’s rail system in its punctuality, service, comfort, and engineering. With its majestic Alps, charming towns, lush green valleys, and sparkling lakes, I am reminded once again why Switzerland is one of the most beautiful countries on earth. Thank you SWISS for a wonderful trip!

Travel Tips

How to book Golden Pass: Visit this website to view time tables for the Golden Pass train. There are multiple versions of the GoldenPass train (panoramic VIP, panoramic, classic, chocolate, cheese…). My husband and I took the GoldenPass Panoramic from Zweisimmen to Montreux. Click “Booking” to get to ticketing. Not all trains have the VIP panoramic seats that allow you to be seated in the very front – check the schedule  for the train marked “GoldenPass Panoramic VIP”. It is only on the Zweisimmen to Montreux segment where you need to reserve the seats. For all other ways to get to Zweisimmen or to train out of Montreux, simply hop on any local train

Where we stayed in Interlaken: Interlaken is absolutely gorgeous. In retrospect I’m also very curious what it would have been like to stay in Thun. In Interlaken, We stayed at Hotel Bahnhof Interlaken, which is right by the train station and provides a bread and butter breakfast. It was okay in terms of comfort, but rooms can be loud and have a residual smoke smell. The hallway lights shut off automatically, making it a bit hard to walk around at night.

Don’t miss these related blog posts

1. How to travel well on a budget

2. Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

3. Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express

4. Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

I was able to take this trip in part because I won the ‘Feel the Music’ Facebook Contest from SWISS and Switzerland Tourism! Remember, SWISS is a great way to fly from the US to Switzerland!

Shang Chen Photography has rebranded to Saavedra Photography
Based in NYC | Open for select photography commissions on Sundays only

follow me on Facebook for my latest work and announcements for special shoots and contests

Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

The second train my husband and I took was the Glacier Express, also known humorously as “The slowest express train in the world” (the route takes 8 hours). It is a wonderful train ride that takes you through some of the most remote towns and villages across the Swiss Alps, and drops you off at the end in Zermatt, a town famous for its skiing and spectacular views of Mt. Matterhorn. The Glacier Express starts in St. Moritz, but if you’ve already taken the Bernina Express, you actually should hop on the Glacier Express at Chur as the Glacier Express goes up the same route as Bernina Express.

St. Moritz is one of Switzerland’s most famous skiing resorts and truly the playground of the rich.

Oh did I mention we packed light? My backpack and the two duffel bags he is carrying are everything that we brought with us

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography glacier express switzerland 01 Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

In the early morning we had some time before the train departed, and we took the bus through downtown St. Moritz where there were beautiful hotels and fabulous designer stores. Then on top of a parking lot, we found this amazing view of the lake (currently frozen), mountain, and city. Click on the picture to see it full-size

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 140331 panot Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

The Glacier Express also has wonderful panoramic cabins for you to enjoy all the sights

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography glacier express switzerland 02 Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

It also has a bar car…. which apparently is being sponsored by Tag Heuer

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And here’s the menu

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography glacier express switzerland 20 Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

We’re off! The next 3 photos show us going over the same route as Bernina Express

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography glacier express switzerland 03 Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography glacier express switzerland 04 Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

The 6 cars in the front of the train are actually commuter cars, and become removed once the cogwheel engine is attached to the train

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography glacier express switzerland 05 Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

Then we turned into the Rhone river valley

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography glacier express switzerland 06 Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography glacier express switzerland 07 Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography glacier express switzerland 08 Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

To climb into the Alps, a cogwheel engine was swapped in to take us the rest of the way and the commuter cars are removed. According to the altitude profile, the train changes elevations from a low of 585m (1,919 feet) above sea level at Chur to a high of 2,033m (6,670 feet) above sea level at Oberalppass. At such a gradation, the train would slide backwards without the cogwheel gripping onto the “teeth” of the tracks

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography glacier express switzerland 21 Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

Up into the Alps we go!

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography glacier express switzerland 09 Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography glacier express switzerland 10 Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography glacier express switzerland 11 Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography glacier express switzerland 12 Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography glacier express switzerland 13 Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography glacier express switzerland 14 Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

Matterhorn is the 5th tallest Swiss mountain, but it has one of the most striking silhouettes with its aggressive horn-like summit thrust into the sky. Unfortunately it’s better photographed in the morning from Zermatt

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography glacier express switzerland 15 Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

The goat pictured here that is half white, half black, is unique to this region

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography glacier express switzerland 16 Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

The cute town of Zermatt does not allow motor vehicles. Everyone gets around this by driving gigantic golf carts

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography glacier express switzerland 23 Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography glacier express switzerland 17 Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography glacier express switzerland 18 Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography glacier express switzerland 19 Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

Travel Tips

How to book: The Glacier Express accepts the Swiss Pass. You can visit here, and click “Timetable & Tickets” to book. I highly recommend Chur – Zermatt as your route. You need to make a seat reservation in addition to buying a ticket. If you have a Swiss Pass, you only need to book a seat reservation.

Sightseeing: Everything you need to know about main sights on the train will be announced by a tour guide through headphones provided for you. If you wish to visit any of the towns along the route, then you need to book several train segments as the train only stops for a couple minutes at each station. Zermatt takes only about 1 hour to explore, so book a ticket out of Zermatt to Interlaken on your way out.

Food: The Glacier Express offers snacks, a meal, and a bar throughout the trip, but it is an expensive experience as I’ve shown above. Before embarking, visit the Coop Pronto inside the Chur train station for all the food you’d need for the entire trip. There is also a Migros in Zermatt when you arrive where you can get more groceries. If you wish to purchase food on the train, they accept credit cards.

Miscellaneous: Wear sunglasses! Like the Bernina Express, the sun and snow reflecting off of each other through the train can be intense.

Where to stay: If you do decide to stay in St. Moritz, there are no shortage of 4, 5 star hotels starting at $600 a night. The only affordable option is the one and only youth hostel. They provide hot breakfast and dinner, great internet, and gorgeous common areas. It is quite literally the last building in the town, and if you arrive late evening, you may have to walk the ~1.5 miles around the like to the hostel as the buses stop running and taxis are very expensive.

Don’t forget the SBB App for traveling on trains within Switzerland.

Don’t miss these related blog posts

1. How to travel well on a budget

2. Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

3. Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express

4. Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

I was able to take this trip in part because I won the ‘Feel the Music’ Facebook Contest from SWISS and Switzerland Tourism! Remember, SWISS is a great way to fly from the US to Switzerland!

Shang Chen Photography has rebranded to Saavedra Photography
Based in NYC | Open for select photography commissions on Sundays only

follow me on Facebook for my latest work and announcements for special shoots and contests

The secret to life

I am a deeply religious person, and as many celebrate Easter and the resurrection of Jesus Christ around the world today, I’d like to encourage and let all of you know that there is a beautiful secret to life: Him. The greatest freedom I’ve known is to cast away my worries, fears, and anxieties, onto God and let Him be my guide. It’s impossible to control life. It’s impossible to be perfect. However, it is possible to know an indescribable joy in Him.

I leave you with my favorite Bible verse and some beautiful blossoms captured in Brooklyn including the cherry blossoms at Brooklyn Botanical Garden this weekend

For I am sure that neither death nor life,
nor angels nor rulers, nor things present
nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39)

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography Blossoms Brooklyn Botanical Garden 1 The secret to life

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography Blossoms Brooklyn 2 The secret to life

Shang Chen Photography has rebranded to Saavedra Photography
Based in NYC | Open for select photography commissions on Sundays only

follow me on Facebook for my latest work and announcements for special shoots and contests

Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express Train

If there is one special train you should take in Switzerland, it would be the Bernina Express. This fantastic train ride takes you past valleys and castles, through the Alps, zooming past tiny little mountain towns, over towering viaducts, spinning spiraling tunnels, with elevations varying between 429 meters above sea level (1,407 feet) to a whopping 2,253 meters (7,391 feet) above sea level at Ospizio Bernina, all in a super comfortable panoramic train. You can read more about it on their website. My favorite part was going through the Alps and feeling like I was on top of the world in a pristine, quiet place. I can see why people flock to Switzerland to ski!

Early morning serenity as we took a quiet train from Zurich to Chur to start our journey

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 bernina express train switzerland 02 Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express Train

The husband is not a morning person… =)

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 bernina express train switzerland 01 Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express Train

Check out the panoramic train!!!

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 bernina express train switzerland 04 Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express Train

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 bernina express train switzerland 03 Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express Train

Cute. Towns. Galore.

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 bernina express train switzerland 05 Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express Train

We begin the climb – the train starts zig zagging around the mountains and going into spirals

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 bernina express train switzerland 06 Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express Train

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 bernina express train switzerland 07 Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express Train

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 bernina express train switzerland 08 Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express Train

It’s extremely hard to document the train going over a viaduct, but here’s a shot of our train approaching it

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 bernina express train switzerland 19 Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express Train

And before you know it, we’re on top of the Alps!

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 bernina express train switzerland 10 Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express Train

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 bernina express train switzerland 09 Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express Train

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 bernina express train switzerland 11 Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express Train

The snow is several feet tall. I was very impressed with how clean they kept the tracks each day

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 bernina express train switzerland 12 Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express Train

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 bernina express train switzerland 13 Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express Train

Most of the stops on the route are very short, just to load passengers. However, there is a 15-minute break at Alp Grum where you can stretch your legs and maybe get a coffee from the restaurant

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 bernina express train switzerland 14 Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express Train

The descent was amazing as well

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 bernina express train switzerland 15 Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express Train

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 bernina express train switzerland 16 Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express Train

The cute city of Tirano and their main basilica. The train runs right through the middle of town – you can see the tracks in this photo

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 bernina express train switzerland 17 Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express Train

One more shot on return

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 bernina express train switzerland 18 Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express Train

Travel Tips

How to book: The Bernina Express is run by Rhaetian Railway, a private rail company that accepts the Swiss Pass. You can visit here, and click the tab labeled “Sales” to book online. The route we took was Chur to Tirano, and then on the way back we did Tirano to St. Moritz. However, if you’re taking the Glacier Express the next day, it doubles over the same route from St. Moritz to Chur. The map on the website is confusing. The bus route continuing on from Tirano to Lugano is only available in the summer. The segment between Davos and Filisur is not always available and to my knowledge I don’t think it’s as popular. I highly recommend Chur – Tirano – Chur. You need to make a seat reservation in addition to buying a ticket. If you have a Swiss Pass, you only need to book a seat reservation. There are spectacular sights regardless of which side of the train you sit, and you can always walk about the train to take photos.

Sightseeing: Everything you need to know about main sights on the train will be announced by the conductor in English, and you are also provided with a tour guide at your seat. If you wish to visit any of the towns along the route, then you need to book several train segments as the train only stops for a couple minutes at each station.

Food: There are limited coffee, wine, and snacks served on the train at high prices. Visit the Coop Pronto inside the Chur train station before embarking on the trip for all the food you’d need for the entire trip. You can eat your heart out in Tirano for lunch. When you arrive at the train station, walk half a mile towards the church in the center of the town. We found a place right across from the church (name escapes me) where the portions were huge (one giant pizza each for 7 – 8 euro) and the prices very reasonable.  The Bernina Express round trip will take you a whole day, and since most of Switzerland shuts down early, make sure you have enough food on you to last through dinner when you’re back.

Miscellaneous: Wear sunglasses! I had no idea how bright the snow would be on these panoramic trains and at certain times of the day, the sun and snow reflecting off of each other through the train can be unbearable. I got a little motion sick and had to sleep part of the way back.

Don’t forget the SBB App for traveling on trains within Switzerland.

Don’t miss these related blog posts

1. How to travel well on a budget

2. Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

3. Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express

 

4. Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

 

I was able to take this trip in part because I won the ‘Feel the Music’ Facebook Contest from SWISS and Switzerland Tourism! Remember, SWISS is a great way to fly from the US to Switzerland!

Shang Chen Photography has rebranded to Saavedra Photography
Based in NYC | Open for select photography commissions on Sundays only

follow me on Facebook for my latest work and announcements for special shoots and contests

Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

I’m going to start my European Honeymoon recap by going over all the major cities we visited in Switzerland. I see Switzerland tourism split into two parts: the cities vs. the majestic railroads that take you through the Alps. For the most part, Swiss cities take about half a day each to explore, as you will cover a lot by seeing their major shopping street, river/lake fronts, and some old architecture. I recommend a total of 6 days to explore Switzerland, 3 – 4 if you do not plan on training through the Alps.

Shang’s Recommended Switzerland Itinerary

Day 0: On your travel day, select an evening flight out of New York City. Be sure to sleep really early the night before, get up around 5 / 6 AM the day you fly, and then sleep on the plane after your meal is served. This will start your body on the way to adjusting to the new time zone.

Day 1: You will have a morning arrival in Zurich. Spend half a day in Lucerne (45 minute train ride), then another half a day in Basel (1 hour train ride). You will start getting sleepy, so take the train to Bern (1 hour train ride) and sleep there.

Day 2: Wake up in Bern and visit the beautiful city cast in a soft morning light. Take the train to Zurich (1 hour) and spend the rest of your day in Zurich.

Days 3 – 5: The three train rides which I will blog about in the future (Bernina Express, Glacier Express, and Golden Pass – in that order)

Day 6: Geneva

Lucern

Lucern is one of Switzerland’s most darling cities. Situated along a river, its main tourist attractions are the historic chapel bridge filled with historic paintings, a soulful lion memorial, and the waterfront. We recommend walking along the chapel bridge, into the Old Town, then visiting the lion memorial, winding your way to  the Court Church of St. Leodegar, before coming back around the waterfront to the train station

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 saavedra honeymoon lucern switzerland 02 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 saavedra honeymoon lucern switzerland 04 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 saavedra honeymoon lucern switzerland 03 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 saavedra honeymoon lucern switzerland 05 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 saavedra honeymoon lucern switzerland 11 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

Very tempting chocolates and sweets

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 saavedra honeymoon lucern switzerland 12 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

The lion memorial

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 saavedra honeymoon lucern switzerland 06 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

Court Church of St. Leodegar

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 saavedra honeymoon lucern switzerland 07 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 saavedra honeymoon lucern switzerland 08 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

I was so happy to see flowers blooming

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 saavedra honeymoon lucern switzerland 13 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 saavedra honeymoon lucern switzerland 09 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

Basel

Basel feels like one of the most industrious cities of Switzerland and is famous for its Art Basel festival. This city is best explored by jumping on its trams. It has a gorgeous central square, and the area around it is filled with shops, street markets, cafes, great for people watching.  The beautiful red building at the center is its City Hall (Rathaus) which is open for tours on Saturday. We arrived too late to see it

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 saavedra honeymoon basel switzerland 03 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

City Hall

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 saavedra honeymoon basel switzerland 05 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 saavedra honeymoon basel switzerland 01 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 saavedra honeymoon basel switzerland 04 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

I have a thing for bikes in European cities

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 saavedra honeymoon basel switzerland 02 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

Bern

Bern is Switzerland’s capital and also visually, one of the most stunning cities. It sits on top of a hill surrounded by a river. In the morning, go to the east side of the city where the Bern Bear Park (under construction) is to get fantastic photographs of the entire city surrounded by water, punctuated by its steep roofs and narrow chimneys.

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 bern switzerland 01 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 bern switzerland 03 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

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Just a random favorite – a woman and her dog who is carrying her groceries in a basket

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 bern switzerland 07 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

Zurich

Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland. It is a busy finance town, but you can also come here for its many museums, most notably, the Kunsthaus Zurich which we were able to visit for free (happened to be free that day, I’m not sure why!). If you have the Swiss Pass, it will grant you free admission to many museums in Switzerland, though this is not one of them.

Unfortunately this is one of the very few photos I took in Zurich (my husband holding our bread during a bread, cheese, and chocolate break). I was pretty tired in Zurich!

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 140402 032t Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

Geneva

We traveled to Geneva as the last leg on our trip in Switzerland, as you could easily connect to France via Geneva. Geneva is known for being situated on the southern tip of beautiful Lake Leman and is the headquarters of many NGOs. I highly recommend walking around the waterfront during sunset when the lights come on. Geneva is in the French speaking region of Switzerland. During the day, be sure to check out the Jet d”eau (huge water monument), the St. Pierre Cathedral (a gorgeous Bach organ piece was being played when we visited, makes you truly appreciate what Bach’s music was meant for), and Parc des Bastions, which is a graceful, tree-lined park that also hosts large statues of Geneva’s Calvinist founding fathers.

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 geneva switzerland 03 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 geneva switzerland 01 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 geneva switzerland 04 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 geneva switzerland 02 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography 1403 geneva switzerland 05 Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

Helpful information

The SBB mobile app is amazing and your best friend, it allows you to quickly search train schedules and even predicts train capacity and tracks trains in real time. Swiss trains are divided into two classes (having ridden in both, there isn’t that much of a difference, except that 1st class has more business travelers so is often less crowded and more quiet), and are on time – so don’t be late! Transfers can be as quick as 1 – 2 minutes, so be sure to check the app for the track number where you will be arriving and departing. The tracks will display signs that direct you to which sections the different train cars will be parked.

Nächste halt – German for “next stop”. Most Swiss announcements are made in Swiss-German, French, and English

Information booths – There is usually a city tourist information kiosk at every city’s major train station. Stop in there for free maps and guidance

Where we stayed

Zurich: Guesthouse Dienerstrasse- a no-frills hotel that required a digital code to enter and retrieve your keys (we jokingly called it the robot hotel). No customer service and we did not pick a room with a kitchen, but comes with free wi-fi and a quick 5-minute bus ride from the train station. It is located near several bars and it can get quite loud at night.

NYC photographer Saavedra Photography guesthouse dienerstrasse Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

Bern: Bern Backpackers Hostel – I loved, LOVED this hostel. Extremely clean, well-run, great wi-fi and a large kitchen in the common room areas.

Geneva: Hotel Lido. Geneva has no shortage of extremely high-priced hotels, so we were very pleased with our experience at the 2-star Hotel Lido. The staff was very friendly, bed is comfy, room is cleaned every day promptly, and they provide a delicious breakfast. Centrally located and close to train stations. Wi-fi was not great.

Don’t miss these related blog posts

1. How to travel well on a budget

2. Switzerland: Lucern, Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Geneva

3. Switzerland: Riding the Bernina Express

4. Switzerland: Riding the Glacier Express

I was able to take this trip in part because I won the ‘Feel the Music’ Facebook Contest from SWISS and Switzerland Tourism! Remember, SWISS is a great way to fly from the US to Switzerland!

Shang Chen Photography has rebranded to Saavedra Photography
Based in NYC | Open for select photography commissions on Sundays only

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