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ASCONA, TI

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LOCARNO, TI

MÜRREN, BE

PONTRESINA, GR

ZERMATT, VS

HOME AT FIRST's

SWI  +  ZERLAND

ALPINE PLAYGROUND & CULTURAL CROSSROADS

 

THE MATTERHORN — ICON OF SWITZERLAND
Photo © Home At First

SWITZERLAND

Why we go to Switzerland —

— Mountain Pinnacles on the Grandest Scale

plus Cultural Variety from Valley to Valley —


          At the action climax of the 1963 film The Great Escape, some 50 Allied prisoners of war had broken out of a POW camp in Germany and were being hunted by Nazi soldiers across southern Bavaria. James Garner and his myopic fellow POW (Donald Pleasence) managed to steal a German single-engine scout plane from a sleepy Nazi airstrip. Airborne after evading machine gun fire, pilot Garner turned the plane south toward Switzerland, looking for the border. In one of the movie's most hopeful, exhilarating moments, Garner reacts to the snowcapped panorama suddenly before his eyes: "The Alps!". Beside him, too blind to see beyond his nose, Pleasence responds, "Splendid!". That cinematic moment still resonates. When you see them for the first time The Alps are indeed as splendid as you have imagined them: majestic, fantastic, free, inviting, captivating — justifyingly AWESOME.

          Alpine awesomeness may be sufficient to seduce you to Switzerland. But wait, there's more...

          Switzerland's mountains happen to lie at the intersection of cool, industrious, Northern Europe and the warm, relaxed, Mediterranean gardens of Italy and the South of France. Along its other axis, west of Switzerland is The West — the EU, the British Isles, and NATO — while east of Switzerland is Eastern Europe with its post-war map, identities, alliances, and economies still somewhat undecided. Switzerland has at once been a barrier between North and South, between Eastern Europe and The West, while also being the crossroads of what commercial and cultural commerce has managed to get through or over the Alps since the last Ice Age.

          Until railways first arrived in Switzerland about 150 years ago, those hardy peoples who had migrated into the Alps lived largely isolated — not just from other Europeans, but often from their closest neighbors just across the steep ridges that separate valleys. Shut off 

 

from the outside, alpine populations developed their own micro-cultures: their own language dialects, their own customs, dress, cuisine, superstitions, and ways of farming and producing goods.

          These numerous pockets of micro-culture continue throughout Switzerland today. Switzerland recognizes four official language groups — Swiss German, French, Italian, and Rhaeto-Romansh — with dozens of local dialects spoken as one moves from valley to valley. From valley to valley visitors hear different speech, taste different cuisines, hear different music, and see different customs and folk costumes.

          The William Tell story accurately explains the need small Swiss localities had to bind together to defend themselves from foreign intervention. Local Swiss first formed their confederation in 1291 — not long after the north-south Gotthard Pass route across the Alps had opened — for mutual defense against outsiders, and also to pool their efforts for trade with those same outsiders. Instilled in the first Swiss Confederation were three basic principles of Swissness: a recognition of the primacy of local identity, the anathema of external interference, and the importance of developing and protecting international trade.

          The Swiss Alps continue to remind us of these principles: they guard local and regional identity; they protect the nation from invasion and interference literally and figuratively; they brand Swiss products — cheese, chocolate, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, watches, fine machine parts & metallurgicals, and tourism — as of the highest quality and value. Come discover the Swiss Alps. You are sure to find the experience unique, impressive, fascinating, and splendid.

 

 

 

En Route to

PONTRESINA

The Rhaetian Railway's dramatic Bernina
line through eastern Switzerland is a
UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Photo © HOME AT FIRST

HOW we go to Switzerland —

Home At First builds individual travel packages to Switzerland that include:

+ Round-trip Flights: Our airline experts plan your round-trip flights to Zürich from your home airport. Our PRICE CHART includes round-trip fares based on flights from New York (JFK) or Newark (EWR). Flights from all other airports available for different airfare supplements or reductions.

+ Lodgings FOR 7 nights: You select lodgings in your choice of spectacular regional Swiss locations:

MÜRREN & KANDERSTEG: Chalet apartments in two classic alpine villages high in the central Alps.

ZERMATT: Chalet apartments in Zermatt, southern alpine town at the foot of the famed Matterhorn.

LOCARNO & ASCONA: Apartments in sunny Italian Switzerland between Lake Maggiore & the Alps.

PONTRESINA: Apartments in eastern Switzerland's highest Alps by the World Heritage Bernina Rwy.

NOTE: the average cost of our standard very-good- quality (3* & 4*) lodgings is built into our basic trip prices. We also offer higher quality (4*+ & 5*) lodgings at supplemental rates.

 

 

+ CONVENIENT LOCATIONS: All lodgings are convenient (10 minutes walk or less) to public transport (trains, buses, cableways, and boats), and within short walking distance of a wide variety of shops, restaurants, cafés, activities, and other services.

+ ADDING TIME &/or multiple swiss destinations: You can add extra days or weeks at your Swiss apartment, or add a week at additional Swiss lodging locations. See the appropriate PRICE CHART to determine the cost of extra weeks at any of our lodging locations Switzerland.

+ APARTMENT HOSTING: A friendly English-speaking host or hostess meets you when you arrive at your Swiss lodgings, and is available during your stay for questions, suggestions, problems, or emergencies.

+ SWISS TRANSPORT passes: Basic second-class public transportation passes appropriate for your Swiss lodging destination are built into the base cost of your trip. You many choose from a wide variety of options to upgrade your transportation pass to first class and/or greater geographic coverage.

 

MORNING DAWNS ON

ZERMATT

Dawn brilliantly illuminates the town of Zermatt.
The Matterhorn — iconic symbol of Switzerland —
still slumbers under a comforter of clouds
.
Photo © HOME AT FIRST

 

 

 

main street

MÜRREN

Al fresco dining along Mürren's main
street. Mürren is a car-free village, as
are significant portions of Zermatt,
Locarno, Ascona, and Pontresina.
Photo © HOME AT FIRST

+ CAR RENTAL: We strongly recommend Switzerland's public transportation network — it is the best in the world. In Switzerland, cars cannot go some places accessible by public transportation, including Mürren, Zermatt, and portions of Locarno, Ascona, and Pontresina, as well as driving south from Kandersteg. If, however, you have special needs that make use of a rental car in Switzerland appropriate for you, we are car rental experts who can arrange the best solutions for your ground transportation needs in Switzerland.

+ A DESTINATION Guide keyed to your Swiss regional destination to help make the most out of your visit. Includes suggestions for touring, hiking, cycling, restaurants, shopping, museums, much more.

+ COMBINING COUNTRIES: Before or after your visit to Switzerland, you may choose to visit
DENMARK ENGLAND (London too) FRANCE (Paris too)
GERMANY ICELAND IRELAND ITALY (Rome too)
NORWAY SCOTLAND SWEDEN WALES

We will arrange for lodgings, flights, and ground transportation to combine your destinations on the most efficient itinerary for the best price possible.

 

— HOME AT FIRST —

(800) 523-5842 • info@homeatfirst.com

WE KNOW SWITZERLAND