Monday, November 21, 2011

Special Delivery!

Look what arrived in the mail today:  eleven Swiss rail passes!

We ended up getting the Swiss Saver Flexipass for 4 days within 1 month.  What this means is that we can hop on and off trains within Switzerland all day, on any four days, within a one month period.  (Back in the good 'ol days you really could hop on and off trains at random, but now most trains require a seat reservation, so that takes a bit of the spontaneity out of it.)  Anyway, one of our days will be to get from Zurich to Adelboden and another will be to get from Adelboden to the Zurich airport to go home.  That leaves two remaining travel days!  As I've posted before, we'll probably go to Gruyères one day and on a mountaintop excursion the other.

I purchased the rail passes from Rail Europe, and because we are a group larger than 9 people I couldn't order on-line, but rather via email/telephone with one of their Group Consultants.  I truly appreciated that it was the same consultant I worked with every time I called or emailed throughout the entire 8 months of our correspondence.  She was extremely helpful and responsive, too.

The value of a rail pass is excellent.  We paid $267 for the adult pass and $157 for the child pass.  Bonus for my group of high school sophomores:  a child in Switzerland is age 15 and under.  (One of the girls is already 16 - she was disappointed, of course.)  Bonus for the three adults traveling along with their daughters:  their daughters travel FREE.

If you calculate point-to-point rail ticket prices and compare to the pass, the savings are extreme.  For example, each of our trips to and from Zurich and Adelboden would cost $100.  Add the trip to Gruyères and a mountaintop and you're well over the price of the pass.  Plus, the Swiss Pass gives you free travel on lake steamers, buses, and a 50% discount on most private mountaintop trains and cable cars.

My Group Consultant at Rail Europe was also able to confirm our seat reservations on our two definite trains, so that is reassurance for me.  Plus, it's nice to pay those reservation fees in dollars instead of Swiss francs.  All around, my experience with Rail Europe was recommendable.

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