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Péter Szabó
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My recommendation for a day of spectacular train (and bus) rides in the Swiss mountains

The schedule is for next Saturday (2012-04-14). A similar tour could be composed on other days. All routes are covered by the GA and the Swiss Pass (except for a 2 CHF extra fee between Locarno and Domodossola). It's not possible to leave an hour earlier, because there is no earlier bus from Thusis. It's not recommended to leave an hour later, because it would be too dark to enjoy the last section of the train ride between Locarno and Domodossola.

Make sure you pack food, because you won't have time to buy (except in Davos Platz Bellinzona). You will spend all your day on trains and buses, so bring a book so you can read during the non-spectacular parts. Bring a passport or another ID, because the tour crosses the border between Switzerland and Italy. Have the full schedule printed and have an accurate watch with you, so you always know how many minutes you can spend in each town.

Use the timetable search engine of http://sbb.ch to verify the schedule and check for regulations and restrictions on individual trains and segments.

You may want to make a reservation for the bus ride between Thusis and Bellinzona, because the bus tends to be full. Making a reservation is free, you just have to call PostAuto on the phone. You may also want to reserve a seat on the train between Locarno and Domodossola (again, just make a phone call).

8:37 Zürich HB --> 9:41 Landquart (IC, non-spectacular)
9:41 Landquart --> 10:55 Davos Platz (spectacular; the starting track of the next train is far to the left in Landquart)
(take a break, possibly buy food)
11:31 Davos Platz --> 11:56 Filisur (spectacular)
12:02 Filisur --> 12:58 St Moritz (spectacular)
13:02 St Moritz --> 14:31 Thusis (spectacular, includes the Filisur --> St Moritz track in reverse; if you don't want to go as far as St Moritz, get off from the pervious train at Bergün, walk around a bit, and board this train so you arrive to Thusis at 14:31)
14:35 Thusis --> 16:20 Bellinzona (spectacular, with bus, the bus might be late)
(if the bus was on time, you have 40 minutes to visit the Castelgrande castle in the middle of Bellinzona; prepare for that by looking it up on the map in advace and measure time while you are walking so you know when you have to turn back so you can catch your next train; take the free elevator from the main square (and back), you can save >10 minutes in total this way; if you have even more time, buy some food in the Migros on the main square)
17:00 Bellinzona --> 17:27 Locarno (a bit spectacular, goes in the valley, you can see many mountains a bit further away)
(you have 20 minutes in Locarno; the main railway station is very close to the lake, so just walk down to the lake, look around, and walk back; again, measure time while you are walking; the next train goes from an underground railway station right next to the main railway tracks of the main station -- if you stand on main track 1, it takes <2 minutes to find the underground railway station, and board the train there; alternatively, if it's crowded, you may want to use your 20 minutes to reserve a seat for the next train -- do it in the underground railway station; try to reserve a seat on the left side of the train, at the window, that's much more spectacular than the right side)
17:47 Locarno --> 19:36 Domodossola (spectacular; try to sit at the window in the left side of the train; you'll have to pay a 2 CHF (or 1.5 EUR) surcharge to the conductor; in the last 15 minutes of the ride, focus on the big, snowy mountains further away; the second half of this train ride is in Italy, but you don't have to may an extra for the ticket, because the GA etc. are also valid; upon arrival, take the first elevator to the left (saying ``Brigo''), it takes you directly to the next train's platform)
19:48 Domodossola --> 21:23 Bern (IC, non-spectacular; the first half an hour of this train ride is in Italy, but you don't have to may an extra for the ticket, because the GA etc. are also valid; pay attention to the change of tracks, because your train might leave from a different track than indicated; your train has a Swiss engine and Swiss carriages; between Spiez and Thun you may be able to see the top of the Matterhorn mountain (to the left and back), but in April it's already too dark for that)
(you may want to use your 9 minutes in Bern to buy some food; the Coop Pronto underground is open, but you may not be able to run fast enough)
21:32 Bern --> 22:31 Zürich HB (IC, non-spectacular; if you are hungry, you can get some expensive food and drinks in restaurant carriage in the middle of the train)

Another, similar recommendation: Zürich HB --> Chur --> St Moritz -(bus) --> Lugano --> Bellinzona --> Locarno --> Domodossola --> Bern --> Zürich HB.
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Have a look at a map. You can't see the Matterhorn from the Berner Oberland (Spiez, Thun). What you can see is Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau or what you might have seen is the Niessen with it's pyramid form, but definitely not the Matterhorn.
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Aki szokott ismerős ismerősére szavazni, az szavazzon itt iskolatársamra és munkatársamra, Terék Zsoltra, hogy ő legyen az alternatív köztársasági elnök: http://www.facebook.com/sajtoszabadsagert?v=app_126231547426086 . Zsolt őszintesége példaértékű, az alábbi videóban megindítóan beszél arról, honnan származik a doktori értékezésének szövege.
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If you go up to the Titlis (Switzerland) by cablecar, and want to have some extra fun on the way down, then get off from the cablecar at Gerschnialp, rent a trotti bike (scooter) for 7 CHF, and roll down the hillside in about 20 minutes to Engelberg. Strongly recommended (by pts). Don't bring your own small scooter, because most probably it doesn't have powerful enough brakes.
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Péter Szabó

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(Do it tomorrow if you can!) (Caumasee on the picture.)

Single day mountain trip from Zürich with GA or SBB daily ticket

TL;DR
IC 8:37 Zürich HB ... Chur 9:52 (sit on the left side in the first carriage)
bus 9:58 Chur, Postautostation ... Flims Waldhaus, Caumasee 10:27 (sit on the left side)
13:45 get out of the lake and start walking back to the bus station
bus 14:24 Flims Waldhaus, Caumasee ... Chur, Postautostation 14:57 (sit on the right side)
IR 15:16 Chur ... Ziegelbrücke 15:59 (left side slightly preferred)
R 16:05 Ziegelbrücke ... Linthal 16:47 (sit on the left side, watch occasionally the right side)
bus 17:05 Linthal, Bahnhof ... Flüelen, Bahnhof 19:03 (make sure to sit on the left side, 10 CHF extra)
S2 19:10 Flüelen ... Arth-Goldau 19:31 (sit on the left side, look to the right at Schwyz)
IR 19:48 Arth-Goldau ... Luzern Verkehrshaus 20:11 (sit on the right side while you see the Zugersee, then change to the left side)
IR 21:10 Luzern ... Zürich HB 21:56 (sit on the right side, backwards)

Highlights: mountain view between Ziegelbrücke and Chur, lake view between Zürich and Chur, mountain view between Chur and Flims, view of the Caumasee surrounded by pine trees, swimming in the Caumasee, similar mountain view back to Ziegelbrücke, mountain view and river between Ziegelbrücke and Linthal, breathtaking mountain view and valley view on the Klausenpass between Linthal and Flüelen, Vierwaldstättersee lakeside walk in Flüelen, lake view between Flüelen and Luzern, mountain view (e.g. Rigi and Pilatus) between Arth-Goldau and Luzern, Vierwaldstättersee lakeside walk in Luzern, Luzern old town view, walking on the Kapellbrücke (old bridge, landmark) in Luzern, mountan view (Rigi and Pilatus) between Luzern and Zug, lake view between Luzern and Zug, Zürisee lake view by night, night swimming in the Zürisee or in the Limmat river.

In this trip you will see lots of mountains and lakes, and you can swim in one or two of them (Caumasee and Zürisee). You will travel with train and bus from Zürich and back to Zürich, using your prepurchased ticket which is valid for all Switzerland (e.g. GA or SBB daily ticket). Recommended on hot sunny summer days. While at home, download the map of Luzern to your phone, because you'll have to find your way walking from Luzern Verkehrshaus to Luzern (main station). Also learn where Kapellbrücke is in Luzern, so you'll find it and you can walk on it.

Pack at least 1 liter of water. Each time you see a well (free water source), refill your water bottles to maximum. Pack enough food with which you will survive until 14:57. If you like milk, pack a liter of milk. Pack sunscreen, sunglasses, swimsuits, a towel (don't panic!), your Halbtax or GA, your SBB daily ticket (if not GA).

Variation: You can go 1 hour later if it's too early to get up. You'll spend one hour less at Caumasee, and you'll leave at 14:24.

Before boarding the first train, don't forget to validate (get stamped) your SBB daily ticket in one of the orange boxes or in one of the ticket vending machines.

Always sit next to the window on the side indicated in the schedule above, to get the most spectacular view. If you can't get such a seat, watch out for people leaving the train at the interim stations, and take their seat.

Before arriving from Zürich to Chur (after Landquart), walk to the first carriage, be the first to leave the train, and start running forward (and then up the stairs) to the Postauto station, so you will be the first to board the bus to Flims/Laax. Many people come with the same train and want to take the same bus. By getting there first you ensure that you won't be left behind in case the bus is full!

The lake Caumasee is about 20 minutes from the bus stop with the same name. You have to walk 15 minutes and then take the tilted elevator (free of charge) or just walk down the hillside to the lake. There are two elevators next to each other, usually the further one has a shorter queue. At the bottom of the elevator there is a beach with and admission price of 9.50 CHF. You can avoid that by walking counterclockwise around the lake, and finding a suitable spot for swimming. Your beach ticket (if you buy it) will be valid for a single entry only. The queue can be long but it goes quickly.

If you are too tired to walk in Luzern, you can stay on the train between Luzern Verkehrshaus and the main train station, or you can take the bus. But then you'll miss a lot, especially the old bridge. There is also an earlier train (at 20:35) from Luzern to Zürich HB.

Night swimming in the Zürich lake is optional at the end. You can go to Seebad Enge, or to the north-east side of Limmat between Drahtsmidlisteg and Kornhausbrücke. Both of them are fenceless, and there is no admission charge.

Where and when to buy food: (Don't waste time eating out in restaurants! Bring your own food, and buy more as you go for takeaway, and eat it on the bus or train. If you really need something hot, check out the restaurant at Caumasee for lunch.) Grab some cakes and cold drinks (also for takeaway) at 14:00 in the café close to the Caumasee bus stop. Buy food at 14:57 in Chur. There is a Migros behind the Postauto station, you can see it a minute before your bus arrives. Closed on Sunday, so on that day find and use the Coop Pronto under the railway tracks. Then at 19:31 checkout both the self-service restaurant and the shop of the Aperto in the middle of the Arth-Goldau railway station. They have the best (most tasty) sandwiches ever, so grab a few. You may be lucky and get 50% discount for some of them (because they expire soon). At 19:50 in Luzern you can buy more food in the Coop at the underground shopping area of the main railway station. The queue is usually very long there, but it goes quickly because many cashiers are open and they are working at light speed.
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I did almost this exact trip last weekend and it was a blast. Good write up.
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Swiss mountain round-trip with train from Zürich, as composed, tested and recommended by pts. Sorry, pictures not attached yet.

This should work out nicely on a sunny day between May and the beginning of October.
The train starting times indicated below were for Saturday, 2011-10-01. Double check if they are the same on the day you travel.
Pack and prepare warm clothes (trousers, jacket, scarf, cap). Also pack at least a liter of water, at least a sandwich, fruits and sweet snacks. Buy your Swiss Pass (Tageskarte) the day before, or even earler. Don't go unless the weather forecast predicts a perfectly sunny day (no clouds) on Rigi, Zermatt, Andermatt, Matterhorn and Gornergrat. On the day before the journey, look up the hour and minute of the sunset in your favorite newspaper, phone application or astronomy calendar.
8:09 Zürich HB: Take the ICN to Lugano or Locarno.
8:46 Arth-Goldau: Get off from the ICN. Walk to the base station of the Rigibahn, as indicated by the signs. Remember the way you came between the ICN and the Rigibahn, because you will be running back later today, and you won't have time to get lost.
8:57 Arth-Goldau, Eichmatt: Take a free information booklet with a map and the train timetables at the base station of the Rigibahn. Take the Rigibahn to Rigi Kulm. Please note the official departure is 9:10, but on busy days there is an extra train which goes earlier.
9:30 Rigi Kulm: Get off from the Rigibahn at the terminal station. Walk up to the top of the hill. Don't hesitate or take long breaks, you have to do the hike quickly to catch your next train. At the top of the hill, find and take the narrow path going down to Schwand and Dächli. It's steep and rocky going down, so walk carefully, but don't lose speed, because you have to catch your train. At Schwand, take the broader road to Klösterli. Always watch for the remaining walking time (as indicated on the signs), and compare it with your train departure. Hurry up if necessary.
11:18 Rigi Kösterli Rigibahn: Take the train down to Goldau. If you are early from the train, get some coffee from the vending machine inside the railway station. It sells good coffee. You can also refill your water. If you have even more time (quite unlikely), then buy an apple cake for takeaway in the restaurant nearby. It's huge and cheap and delicious (in this order).
11:48 Arth-Goldau, Eichmatt. Get off from train at the very beginning, left side, and start running back to the main (SBB) railway station. If your Rigibahn train is not late, you have 4 minutes to run a track which is a 7-minute walk.
11:52 Arth-Goldau IR: Take the train to Göschenen (and Airolo and Locarno). If your train is late, then use the time to buy some sandwiches (they make excellent sandwiches!), cookies, fruit juices and fruits in the restaurant or grocery store Aperto.
12:48 Göschenen: Get off from train, and walk to track 11.
12:53 Göschenen R: Take the cog-wheel train. Don't worry if you miss it, there is another one in 20 minutes.
13:03 Andermatt: Get of from the cog-wheel train. Go to the railway ticket office, and buy seat reservation up to Zermatt for the Glacier Express train you are about to take. That's going to be pretty expensive (33 CHF, or 13 CHF at wintertime, for some narrow definition of wintertime). You have two options: the Glacier Express at 13:55 and the one at 14:20. If you pick the later one, you will most probably (but not certainly) miss your connection in Zermatt, because you'd have only 1 minute to change there. You have more than half an hour for shopping and having lunch. At the railway station ticket counter, ask where the nearest Coop is (it's just a 5 minute walk), get some raw food and sandwiches there. Look around downtown, pick a nice restaurant, and eat a soup. Notify them in advance that you're in a hurry, and pay as soon as you get your soup. There is no time for a main dish here.
13:55 Andermatt Glacier-Express: Take the panorama train, enjoy the view. It is not as scenic as from St Moritz to Andermatt, but it's nice anyway, and it gets nicer towards Brig, although the train is descending. If you are hungry, order a main dish, but that's going to be expensive. While on the train, buy a discounted return ticket between Zermatt and Gornergrat from the conductor (31.20 CHF instead of 40 CHF). About 15 minutes after Visp the train starts to ascend in the scenery gets beautiful.
16:52 Zermatt: (If you come with the later Glacier Express, arriving at 17:11, prepare your tickets with the white back side, get off at the front, and start running to catch your connection. Turn left, cross the street, enter the Gornergrat-Bahn building, run forward to the entrance gates, wave your tickets, and run into the train. If you can't see the train, then shout, and maybe a railway company employee comes and helps you catch it.) You have 20 minutes to grab some food. Start walking upwards in the village for 2 village, there will be a McDonald's at the right side of the main street. Buy some burgers or some healthier fast food for takeaway. Refill your water in the toilet.
17:12 Zermatt Gornergrat-Bahn: Take a seat at the right side of the cog-wheel train, below a window which you can pull down. (If you don't pull the window down, you won't be able to take a good photo of the Matterhorn mountain top, because the train window is too reflective.) Just before the first station, there is a beautiful, large waterfall to the right. You have 5 seconds to watch it, be prepared. Don't start eating yet. If you are very hungry, eat only in the first 7 minutes of the train ride, before it becomes spectacular. Look around, take photos of the mountain tops you see. Focus on the Matterhorn (the largest one). You can get it from many angles during the half-hour train ride. Don't worry if you miss it, you can take a picture after the train ride as well.
17:45 Gornergrat: Look around (you'll see more than 16 >4000m mountain tops, and also many glaciers), be amazed, take photos. Walk up to the panorama terrace, take a few dozen other looks and even more photos. You have about an hour to bow in front of nature. Walk around a bit more to see the lake. In October, you will see the sunset (it happens between 17:45 and 18:57), the sun will descend beautifully behind the Matterhorn peak. This happens in about half a minute, so be prepared.
18:57 Gornergrat Gornergrat-Bahn: Take the cog-wheel train down to Zermatt. Make more photos of the mountains.
19:37 Zermatt: Get off the train, take a short walk up on the main street of the touristy, but nicely engineered village. After 8 minutes of walking, you'll see a nice small fountain with sculptures of a goat and some small animals. Refill your water. If you are still hungry, take some more food with you from McDonald's. Mind the time you need to walk back to the railway station, because downtown Zermatt is a very long.
20:13 Zermatt R: Take the slow, regional train going to Brig. If you are lucky, and it's not dark yet, enjoy the last few half hour of nice mountain scenery.
21:22 Visp: Get off from the train, walk down under the platform. If you have time before you catch your connection, and you're hungry, just buy a Kebap from the vendor in the small box just on the opposite side of the street .
21:28 Visp IC: Take the train to Bern.
22:23 Bern: Get off from the drain, walk down under the platform. If you are hungry, quickly buy some pretzels from Brezelkönig just under the tracks. I recommend the Sonnenblumenbrezel.
22:32 Bern IC: Take the train to Zürich. If you want to eat some hot food, be very early in the restaurant car, because they close the kitchen a few minutes after the train leaves Bern.
23:31 Zürich HB: If you don't want to be stuck behind the slow crowd after getting off, then start walking to the beginning of the train (even to 1st class) after the long tunnel, no later than Dietikon (or Altstetten, if you miss Dietikon). Please note that the train doesn't stop at these stations, so watch for the signs.

How much does it cost? Rail tickets cost about 100 CHF in total for us, it would be 133 CHF with Halbtax, but without special promotions. First you need an SBB Generalabo or something equivalent (like Swiss Pass = Tageskarte or 9-Uhr-Tageskarte). For us this costed 33 CHF per person, because we used a Duo-Tageskarte, a temporary promotion done by the Swiss Post and SBB jointly. Without a promotion, the Tageskarte may cost you twice as much (66 CHF). In addition to the Generalabo equivalent for the day, you have to pay for the seat reservation on the Glacier Express (33 CHF, but only 13 CHF in wintertime, but don't go in wintertime, because it gets dark too early) and the 31.20 CHF for the return ticket between Zermatt and Gornergrat. Also you will have to buy food.
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Here is some advice about organizing a one-day trip from Zürich to Jungfraujoch.

* Check the weather first, and don't go if it is not going to be sunny without clouds. (To get the best view to the valley, you need sunny weather in Interlaken too.) http://www.meteocentrale.ch/en/europe/switzerland/weather-jungfraujoch/details/S067300/ is the recommended website to check the weather at. Most other weather websites give you misleading information, because they claim that they report the weather at Jungfraujoch, but in fact they report the weather of a place a few kms away -- which is completely irrelevant!

* Don't go either if the weather forecast says it's going to be partially sunny. The weather changes quickly, and it might actually become cloudy by the time you arrive, and then you see only uniform whiteness instead of the beautiful snowy mountain scenery.

* Don't worry about the temperature, it's always cold there, about 0 °C in summer. Bring warm clothes (sweater, coat, cap and scarf), and put them on gradually as the train ascends and it becomes cooler.

* Be early. Be on a train at 9:02 (or 10:02 at most). Go through Zürich, Bern, Interlaken Ost, Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, Kleine Scheidegg, Jungfraujoch. There are very good train connections. The train ride takes 4 hours and 20 minutes from Zürich HB to Jungfraujoch. Start at 9:02 in Zürich HB, and return at 16:40 from Jungfraujoch.

* Don't forget your halbtax, it can save you a huge amount of money since the train ticket for the last 40 minutes of the journey is extremely expensive.

* If you have a GA (or Swiss day pass), it's valid up to Wengen. You will have about 10 minutes in Lauterbrunnen to buy the return ticket between Wengen and Jungfraujoch. (If you are really quick and lucky, then you can buy your ticket in Interlaken Ost as well.) Don't buy it the previous day, because the weather may get worse, so you can decide in Lauterbrunnen not to go up to the Jungfraujoch. At Lauterbrunnen there are nice waterfalls, and other hiking and cablecar opportunities.

* When you buy your ticket in Interlaken Ost or Lauterbrunnen, you get a nice brochure with useful tourist information, a map, and a timetable summary for the trains between Jungfraujoch and Interlaken Ost. If you don't get it, ask for it at the ticket counter, because it's very useful.

* If you can, go on weekdays, because the Jungfrau trains are overcrowded on the weekend (to the extent that you can't fit on the train you selected).
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(Unsurprisingly) the best gyros is made and sold in Greece. For EUR 2.30 I ate there a gyros in pita much better than the more expensive gyroses elsewhere.
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(This is not an ad, I genuinely enjoyed the trip, so much that I have to tell everyone.) http://www.glassbottomposeidon.gr/ organizes the best 3-hour boat trip on the north side of Crete. Highly recommended (by pts) for young and old.

FYI the thank-you letter I wrote to them:

Dear Mr Haris and Mr Captain,

We had the most wonderful boat trip of our lives on Poseidon yesterday. Thank you for the amazing organization, entertainment, fruits and drinks! All aspects of the trip were perfect -- and it's very rare that we find something perfect: most other companies offer mediocre service at high price. I wish you a very long life so you can keep up the excellent work and enthusiasm and show the Greek party spirit and the wonders of the Aegean sea near Create to as many people as possible. We loved to see that both of you work (including building the boat, organization and preparation) with passion, joy and great care. Special compliments for the selection of drinks, the fruits and the plenty of water mattresses and pieces of diving equipment.

One small suggestion for improvement: please make the the swimming stop longer, i.e. one hour.

A business suggestion: organize some night or evening activity, like a short boat trip in the sunset plus a barbecue, with some storytelling about the Greek cuisine. I think many of your morning guests would love to return in the evening to enjoy the hospitality of the two of you.

The boat trip on Poseidon was by far the best adventure we had on our holiday in Crete. I recommend you and Poseidon to my friends. If you ever create a product page on facebook, I'd love to be the first user to like it.

Best regards,

Péter (the guy without a camera)
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