Why we go to
— Mountain Pinnacles
on the Grandest Scale
plus Cultural Variety
from Valley to Valley —
At the action climax of the 1963 film
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,
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
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.
HOW we go to
Home At First
travel packages to Switzerland that include:
Our airline experts plan your round-trip flights to
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
regional Swiss locations:
KANDERSTEG: Chalet apartments in two classic alpine villages high in the
ZERMATT: Chalet apartments in Zermatt, southern alpine town at the foot of
the famed Matterhorn.
ASCONA: Apartments in sunny Italian Switzerland between Lake
PONTRESINA: Apartments in eastern Switzerland's highest
Alps by the World Heritage Bernina Rwy.
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
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
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.
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.
brilliantly illuminates the town of
The Matterhorn — iconic symbol of Switzerland —
still slumbers under a comforter of clouds.
HOME AT FIRST
Al fresco dining along Mürren's
street. Mürren is a car-free village, as
are significant portions of Zermatt,
Locarno, Ascona, and Pontresina.
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.
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.
after your visit to Switzerland, you may choose to visit
ITALY (Rome too)
We will arrange for
lodgings, flights, and ground transportation to combine your
destinations on the most efficient itinerary for the best price