Swiss Bike Rental

Bicycles can be rented at more than 200 railway stations in Switzerland. Reserve a day in advance. You may return the bike at another station for an additional charge of about $3.50. Rates below are in U.S. dollars at an exchange rate of 1.45.

Bike Rental Rates 1/2 day day week
City bike (7 gears) $10 $13 $52
Kids bike (7 gears) $8 $9 $36
Mountain (21 gears)   $21 $86

A family of three can rent two city bikes and one child's bike for 52 Sfr. ($36) per day or 208 Sfr. ($143) per week.

Accompanied bicycles can be transported on local trains (not Intercity or Eurocity trains) for 5 Sfr. ($3.50) per bike.

Brochures, maps, route descriptions and mileage charts related to bicycling in Switzerland are available through Touring Club Suisse (TCS), 11-13 Chemin Riantbosson, Case postale 176, CH-1217 Meyrin 1, phone 022/785 1222, fax 022/785 1262.

Self-Catering Rentals

Gemütlichkeit's best advice for renting an apartment or chalet in Europe remains the same: go directly to the tourist office of the region or town of your choice and request a list of accommodations for rent. Usually that will include photographs and detailed information about each accommodation, including the rental price. At this point the tourist office gets out of the middle and if you wish to pursue a rental you must contact the property owner directly. In this way you cut out at least one and perhaps two middlemen - a U. S. sales representative and possibly a property manager in Europe. By the way, it is said that Europeans would rather conduct this sort of business in writing rather than by phone, so begin the process early.

In case this all sounds too complicated, or you don't have enough lead time, several subscribers report positively about Interhome, Inc. perhaps the largest U. S. booker of European vacation properties.

Their catalogs contain color photographs, descriptions and prices on thousands of rentals.

* Contact: Interhome Inc 124 Little Falls Road, Fairfield NJ 07004, phone 201-882-6864, fax 201-808-1742.

Lugano Deal

Lugano, the sunny lakeside capital of Italian-speaking Ticino, offers promotional packages for short stays. Per person prices for three nights in a double room with shower/bath and breakfast begin at 138 Sfr. ($94). That, of course, is in a Spartan two-star hotel. Prices for better accommodations are 219 Sfr. ($150) per person in a three-star hotel, 297 Sfr. ($203) in a first-class, four-star hotel and 426 Sfr. ($292) per person in five-star luxury hotel. The package includes unlimited travel on urban public transportation, a funicular ride to Monte Bre, a roundtrip train ticket to Ponte Tresa, a boat ride to Morcote, and entrance to several museums. Though this is a winter deal similar packages are usually offered during spring and summer, albeit at higher prices. Contact: Lugano Tourist Office, Riva Albertolli 5, CH-6901 Lugano, phone 091 21 46 64, fax 091 22 76 53.

Affordable Austria

Two years ago, several Gemütlichkeit subscribers came back with high praise for Affordable Austria, a three-week sojourn with Rudy and Giselle Bialuski. Though now out of the retail travel business, the effervescent and indefatigable Giselle still leads this annual trek to her native country (this year from April 29 through May 20). Those who enjoy the security of a guided tour, but still want to travel at a leisurely pace and experience the people and their cultural, Affordable Austria may be the answer. The first seven days are at the Hotel Gallspacherhof in the town of Gallspach (population 2,800). From there, the group moves to the Alpen village of Lofer for six nights at the Hotel St. Hubertus. A week in Vienna at the Hotel Stefanie finishes the trip. All land costs including breakfasts and most dinners are included in the $2,300 per person price tag. Gemütlichkeit subscribers get 3% off. Throughout the tour many optional excursions are offered.

Also in the works for Giselle is an Affordable Italy tour for three weeks in September that will include Merano, Monte Cattini, Urbino, Assisi and Rome. Giselle can be reached at 916-488-6000.

Switzerland on Track

Another tour that has many of the advantages of independent travel is operated by Gemütlichkeit contributing editors Claudia Fischer and Roger Holliday. This 18-day, 17-night Swiss jaunt includes airfare, three nights in Vevey, three in Locarno, four in Interlaken, three in Samedan, three in Lucerne and a 15-day first-class Swiss Pass. The cost is $3,095 per person. Since tour members carry the Swiss Pass, they can travel when and where they wish. Both Fischer and Holliday accompany the group. They are great traveling companions who fear only a good night's sleep. Your editor speaks from personal experience. Call the Hollidays at 419-352-8096, fax 419-352-1480.

February 1994