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|Frequently Asked Questions |
With such a rich and varied itinerary and so many aspects to touring Switzerland, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure about where to start preparing for your Cool Switzerland tour. We are here to help. Below, you'll find some useful information you'll need as you get ready for your Swiss adventure.
Switzerland is 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the United States. Like most European countries, Switzerland has daylight saving time which lasts from April to October. It moves its clocks ahead an hour in early spring and an hour back in the fall, corresponding roughly to daylight saving time in the United States, but the exact dates vary. During August, when it's noon in Zurich, it's 6 a.m. in New York and 3 a.m. in San Francisco.
IMPORTANT! Please read this section carefully! Please be aware that some internal transportation for this tour is operated on SBB Railway Trains and therefore it has a strict limit of one check-in size bag per passenger, that you can handle yourself. We will travel by several trains throughout the Cool Switzerland tour, and you will be responsible for your own luggage. Four wheeled luggage will make getting on and off the train easier. The Glacier Express between Zermatt and St. Moritz does not offer luggage services, therefore each traveler will be responsible for getting her own luggage on and off the train. You must be able to lift your check-in size bag off the platform and onto the train, in addition to your carry-on and other personal items. There will be no one on board the train to assist you with storing your luggage. All baggage and personal property are at the traveler's risk throughout the tour, and baggage insurance is strongly recommended. Travel between Zurich and Interlaken and between St. Moritz and Zurich Airport will be by bus. Packing light is essential, so you should pack smart: light layers, loose cotton clothing, especially long pants, will afford comfort while you hike. Since we'll be walking quite a bit, you should pack your most comfortable walking shoes, and lightweight hiking shoes are recommended, as well. You do not need formal clothing for this trip.
Visitors from the US, Canada and Australia need a valid passport to enter Switzerland, but visas are not required if visiting for less than 3 months. Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months after the date you intend to leave the country. Before traveling abroad it's a good idea to make two photocopies of your passport, your driver's license and your credit cards. Leave one copy at home with a trusted person and another in your suitcase.
|ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE INFORMATION |
This tour starts and ends in Zurich (airport code ZRH).
The tour starts at 4:00PM on Monday, August 16, 2021 in Zurich, Switzerland and your flight should arrive no later than 2:00PM. You'll probably depart North America on Sunday, August 15, 2021. If you are prone to jet lag and travel fatigue, we recommend arriving a day early. We have arranged for individual airport transfers on arrival in accordance with your flight, and you will be met by a chauffeur on your arrival in Zurich.
This tour ends after breakfast on Thursday, August 26, 2021 at the airport hotel in Zurich Airport. The hotel has a direct walkway to all airport terminals, and you can schedule your return flight at any time on the last day.
To avoid jet lag (common when crossing more than five time zones), you should drink plenty of nonalcoholic fluids and eat light meals. Upon arrival, get exposure to natural sunlight, exercise and readjust your schedule (for meals, sleep and so on) as soon as possible.
The Switzerland group is limited to the maximum of 16 women + the Tour Director. The minimum group size is 6 women + the Tour Director. In addition to the Tour Director, the travelers will be assisted by private local guides who will accompany the group throughout the tour.
Switzerland is viewed as a "safe" destination with some of the best healthcare in the world, although problems, of course, can and do occur anywhere. Conditions to be concerned about in Switzerland would be altitude sickness, frostbite and snow blindness. In order to be prepared, we recommend carrying with you light layers, preferably waterproof, and a dark pair of sunglasses. The only cure for altitude sickness is to relocate to a lower altitude. You don't need to get shots; most foods is safe and the water in cities and towns potable. If you're concerned, order bottled water. You should pack prescription medications in your carry-on luggage, and carry prescription medications in their original containers, with pharmacy labels. Otherwise, they may not make it through airport security. Also bring along copies of your prescriptions in case you lose your pills or run out. Don't forget an extra pair of contact lenses or prescription glasses. Carry the generic name of prescription medicines, in case a local pharmacist is unfamiliar with the brand name.
Thanks to the mountains, clean drinking water is abundant and available across most regions. Drinking tap water in Switzerland is cool, safe and readily available everywhere. Otherwise, bottled water is available for purchase from grocery stores, convenience stores and vending machines.
Bars, restaurants, cafes, bus stations, rail stations, and all hotels have facilities, and public toilets can be found near many of the cable car facilities. Usually they're designated as WC (water closet) or depending on the part of Switzerland, DONNE, DAMEN, FRAUEN, FEMMES, or DAMES (women) and UOMINI, HERREN MANNER, HOMMES or MESSIEURS (men). The most confusing designation is SIGNORI (gentlemen) and SIGNORE (ladies). All toilets are western style, clean and modernized. Some public toilets may charge a small fee or employ an attendant who expects a tip, so you should always have some coins in the local currency with you. It's a good idea to carry some tissues in your pocket or purse, as they often come in handy.
Switzerland is one of Europe's safest countries, but be aware of petty crime like pick-pocketing and purse grabbing, especially in the major cities and crowded tourist frequented spots such as train and bus stations. It is best to leave most of your valuables in your hotel's safe, and carry only a small amount of cash and one credit card in your money belt or money purse around your neck.
Swiss travel is as easy for women as it is for men, you’re probably physically safer there than you are at home. You should feel perfectly safe even in big cities, even at night. Of course, it always pays to play it safe and stick to populated streets after dark.
During the Cool Switzerland tour, we will travel by bus, by train and on foot. We will also take a couple of short lake cruises. To be able to fully enjoy the tour and participate in scheduled activities, you need to be able to walk, at a leisurely pace, up to 6 miles throughout the day, frequently on uneven surfaces and cobble stoned streets. You should be able to stand unassisted for at least 30 minutes, you should be able to climb stairs, get in and out of vehicles without assistance and manage your own luggage without assistance. Overall, this is an active trip, although it is not strenuous. There will be several busy and very full days with a large amount of walking, including several easy hiking routes.
The summer climate in Switzerland is generally moderate, without any excessive heat or cold weather, and the sunny days of August may be the best time to visit Switzerland. The temperature averages between 60 and 80 degrees (F) during the day with low humidity, and can even get up in the mid to high 80's during a hot summer. Depending on the differing altitudes in each city, the temperate ranges may vary. Therefore, it is recommended to always travel with a sweater, sunscreen, sunglasses and even a small umbrella or light rain coat.
Switzerland's cities have Internet access available in public spaces, hotel lobbies, restaurants, cafes, train stations, libraries, etc. Internet access in rural areas may be available, but it varies widely. Cellular phone coverage is generally available in Switzerland's cities and metropolitan areas, although expect limited coverage in remote or mountainous regions. All hotels where we’ll be staying have free WiFi Internet available for their guests.
Voltage in Switzerland is 230 volts AC (50 cycles) and the socket is designed for three round pins, but the typical European plug with two round prongs will also fit. Many stores in North America sell the appropriate transformers and adapters, and they can also be purchased on arrival in the Zurich airport or in some stores in bigger cities. If you bring a hair dryer, it should be a dual-voltage one, and you'll need an adapter plug. Any heat generating appliances that you bring need a transformer, and they may still not work properly with the different voltage. Small electronics which are "meant to travel", such as laptops, tablets, iPhone, etc., have dual voltage, so you only need a plug converter.
Switzerland is a nation of four languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh. Most people, especially in tourism, also speak English. Although, most Swiss speak at least a little of each of the four languages, plus English, the most widely spoken language in the country is Swiss-German, or Schwyzerdütsch. In remote towns and villages, it might be helpful to know a few basic phrases in German, French and Italian.
The Swiss Franc (CHF) is the official currency of Switzerland. Each Swiss Franc is divided into 100 centimes. The value of the Swiss Franc is almost identical to the American dollar, 100CHF is worth about $101USD, which makes converting the prices easy. Some people like to bring local currency with them when traveling to a foreign country, but it is not needed, and depends on what you're comfortable with. We believe that the easiest way to get local currency is on arrival at the airport ATM. ATMs are common throughout Switzerland, and fairly simple to locate. Credit cards are also widely accepted. Before leaving, you should notify your bank/credit company that you will be using your card in a foreign country, so that it doesn't get blocked for suspicious activity. You should have a 4-digit PIN to withdraw cash. Keep in mind that your bank/credit card company will charge you for each withdrawal, so you should withdraw larger amounts of cash less often.
The tips for restaurants, guides and drivers are included in the cost of your tour. When dinning on your own, a 15% service charge will already be included in the restaurant bill, but you may consider leaving an additional tip for exceptional service. Taxi fares will already include the tip in the fee (check for notice in each cab). It is customary to tip the chambermaid .50CHF to 1CHF per day, and the bellhop or porter 1.50CHF to 2CHF for carrying your bags to your room.
Switzerland has its fair share of Swiss made products that make the perfect souvenirs for your loved ones, and even for yourself. One of the best things to buy in Switzerland is chocolate, as some of the best and most famous chocolatiers in the world are located here, the quality of chocolate is just outstanding. Another iconic souvenir from Switzerland are their watches, a world-renowned symbol of accuracy and craftsmanship. Some famous Swiss brands you may have heard of include: Swatch, Rolex, Cartier and Omega. Or maybe a genuine Swiss Army knife, purchased in the country it was named after. Besides chocolate, Switzerland is also famous for its wine and cheeses. Swiss wines do not get as much notoriety as other European wines, but they are just as delicious. Swiss cheese on the other hand is well-known as some of the best cheese found in Europe. Switzerland makes a wide variety of cheeses all of great quality, and you can't leave the country without trying the fondue, and you can even buy packaged Swiss fondue mix to bring home! If you prefer something handmade, traditional handicrafts such as Cuckoo clocks, Cowbells and Beer steins are extremely popular classic Central European souvenirs. Try searching through one of Switzerland's many open air markets for truly unique souvenirs.