Seven nights, six cabs, four hotels and three trains. Here’s what i discovered.
Cabs: The biggest issue with cabs in Switzerland is how expensive they are. Granted you often get a Mercedes and they are spotless but still… when I expressed my shock to my Swiss friends they pointed out they never take them. Public transportation is safe, easy, ubiquitous and cheap. In both Geneva and Bern the hotels gave free passes at check in. But my bag is heavy enough I didn’t fancy lugging it onto the bus. As for the actual experience, all but one driver wore a mask. When I expressed surprised that they were not required he quickly put one on. I wore a mask the entire time and kept the window open.
Trains: OMG! The trains! I love them! The easiest way to get around the country. They are always on time. They are super clean. Everyone wears a mask. And they are extremely reasonable. Depending on how long you are staying or how often you are changing cities it is well worth considering the Swiss Rail Pass or the half fare travel card. Everything can be booked online with the Swiss Travel app or the SBB app; the first more for tourists and includes sites the second geared toward locals. Both can be used in English. Trains have first and second class. I have chosen first class so far. There is more space between seat and on most trains it is a two and one configuration. The apps tell you how crowded the train is expected to be. I have always chosen the least crowded time. So far no one has been near me. The conductor checks your ticket with a machine, no need to touch anything. Announcements are made in German, French & English.
Hotels: These have each been a wow! I’ll be publishing individual write ups soonish. Overall they have all been similar in their protocols. Hand sanitizer everywhere. I mean everywhere… as you enter, at check in, by the elevators, often in the room. My hands are looking like claws. I’ve started using lip balm to moisturize them as it’s the only thing that’s thick enough to help. I have yet to see an employee not wear a mask. Guests are more hit and miss. I’d say about 50% wear them in the hotels. On the streets it really depends. In the crowded parts of Geneva about 75% of people did. In parks and by the lake almost no one. I’ve been staying in 5 star hotels. Not just because I’m a snob and want to be treated like a queen, which I have been. But because I think they have longtime loyal staff who are allowed the time to clean the rooms properly and are paid a fare wage. I have been impressed by how clean each hotel has been and the lengths they are going to make guests feel safe yet still maintain a luxury experience. Magazines are online accessed by scanning QR-Code, individual shampoo etc. bottles are back and housekeeping and turndown services are if you want them and always when you are out of the room. Breakfast is the only area where I have discovered some discomfort and big differences. One hotel was exclusively room service (no extra charge). Another was al a carte only. The last two were a mix of buffet and al a carte. After trying it twice, I won’t do buffet again. The properties are trying really hard. They ask everyone to hand sanitize before they pass thru the food line. The Swiss guests did, the foreigners did not. I wore a mask, only one other person did. Though things are individually portioned in many cases and sometimes covered in plastic I didn’t feel comfortable. Both these hotels also offered a la carte menus. Next time I’ll stick to this type of breakfast.
Restaurants etc.…: I’ve eaten outside whenever possible. It has rained a few days so have been inside a couple times. Luckily tables were far apart, all staff wore masks and I felt totally fine. The only time I have been uncomfortable was in the Red Cross Museum in Geneva. It’s a great museum but many of the displays involve small things that you need to get up close to see. Masks were not required and I was the only person wearing one. Even though there were social distancing signs everywhere, people often came right up beside me to read the same thing. I don’t think they were being malicious; I just think they forgot. I didn’t stay long and have yet to try another museum. Luckily Swiss towns are so charming that I feel I get the whole tourist experience just wandering around.
It has been great travelling again. I’m impressed with the efforts hotels and restaurants are making. I’ve fallen in love with train travel. So far so good!