- Series: Rick Steves
- Paperback: 456 pages
- Publisher: Rick Steves; 7 edition (April 1, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1612387667
- ISBN-13: 978-1612387666
- Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 4.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 82 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #479,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Rick Steves' Switzerland Paperback – April 1, 2014
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When you buy a Rick Steves' guide, you know you're going to get well refined content that has been organized and prioritized to allow for an authentic travel experience. Some places will be included and some won't. Rick does not intend to make his books encyclopedic or entirely comprehensive in their coverage, but his choice of locations (or, rather, his exclusion of locations) in this book can leave a traveler scratching his head.
Almost the entire western part of the country, and particularly locations on Lake Geneva, are ignored. Basel and Geneva are completely absent. The French-speaking part of the country is very poorly represented.
His selection of Alpine villages is also a bit odd, choosing to include Murten and Zermatt which, though lovely, are so small that they can only accommodate a very small number of tourists at any given time. Authentic? Certainly. Practical? Feasible? Questionable. And Rick falling for the touristy glitz of mountain resorts like St. Moritz seems very, well, un-Steves-like! His chapter on scenic rail journeys is good, and certainly represents are high quality attraction that should not be missed.
You certainly get Rick's signature selectivity in this guide, but if his tastes aren't compatible with yours you may find this guide lacking in coverage.
This is the only mentioning of Geneva in this entire "Guide". Even if you thoroughly hate the city, as a guidebook you have to mention the second biggest city in the country at least twice!
Based on this alone, the guide is untrustworthy: Rick Steve's Switzerland does not include a single mention of Patek Phillippe Museum for example. Were there any watches ever made in Switzerland? Not according to this book.
I really appreciate the Rick Steves philosophy of vacationing on the cheap. But the key points of visiting Switzerland on the cheap are not well highlighted. The book mentions that reasonable priced food can be found at the cafeterias (Migros and Manoras) and the groceries, but this should be emphasized at the beginning of the book. Meat and Seafood are expensive. Fruits and veges are cheap at the groceries, anything purchased at a restaurant is 2x the cost of the US. or neighboring EU countries.
I arrived in Zurich at the train station and if I had taken a cab to my hotel it could have cost me $80. I decided to try my hand with the local Zurich trams (with no map in my guide book) and help of google maps and it cost me $2.60 for the 30 minute tram ticket.
The book recommended going into Gimmewald for the Southern mountain experience. After mentioning this as my destination from my local hotel they 'corrected' my pronunciation of Gimmewald to Grindewald. After receiving the correction in my English speaking and going to Zurich HB (main train station) foreigner travel center and requesting a trip to Grindewald paying my $160 CHF I am glad I did, as I only had a day to spend. Grindewald was very touristy but if you are backpacking being on the cheap and have time to spend I'm sure Gimmewald is wonderful.
With my short trip spending $160 CHF for the train ride to Grindewald is probably OK, but my hotel had a guided tour for probably $80. If you are not getting a train card book tours, it will be much cheaper and more interesting than going your own route.
We enjoyed his priceless "walks" thru Bern, Lucerne and other cities that we had no clue what to do in when we got off the train. The walking tours enabled us to see places and things that we wouldn't have otherwise seen or experienced.
One of the highlights of our Switzerland trip was an accidental - we took the trains (you have to switch) from Montreux to Gruyere and visited the Gruyere factory and then walk to the chocolate factory (which is in Broc). Oops. That's a 3 km walk (in the Summer heat). We started to walk it (there's a bike path) and ended up stopping part way in the wonderful mideval town of Gruyere (which is about 0.5km from the Gruyere train station and cheese factory).