Switzerland Self-Guided Tours

Switzerland Tourism has introduced a series of self-guided tours, each with a different theme. The first, Luxury & Design, is detailed in an excellent, free, 70-page guidebook which plots the route; Geneva to St. Moritz via Lausanne, Montreux, Gstaad, Interlaken, Brienz, Lucerne, Zürich, Bad Ragaz, and Chur. Along the way are suggested hotels, restaurants, sights, shopping and cultural possibilities. The guidebook is a cut or two above the usual tourist office brochure. Contact info - address, phone, website, etc. - is listed for all establishments.

The tour's main thrust, of course, is Swiss design and luxury, thus the focus is on the most exclusive hotels, restaurants and shops. Perhaps most interesting are the latter. Among the 50 or so of the country's most elegant, chic and offbeat stores mentioned in the book are Scot & Scotch, a Zürich seller of fine whiskeys; Creation Baumann, a yarn-to-finished product creator of fabrics for furniture, curtains, wallpaper and decorator items; Geneva's Caviar House, a seller of Foie Gras, truffles, Balik smoked salmon and, of course, caviar; and Hennessy's, a "British Style" antique shop in Vevey.

Many who follow the Design & Luxury route will want to find less expensive hotels and restaurants than the brochures suggests, but the sights, museums, and browsing the shops, will fit any budget. Travel the route either by rail or rental car.

A Gastronomy & Wine route will be announced this fall and Art & Architecture will follow in 2004.

Get the free Design & Luxury booklet at myswitzerland.com/en-us/home.html or phone 877-794-8037.

Mystery Park to Open in May

Billed as a "unique and enigmatic attraction," Mystery Park, near Interlaken, opens May 24. its operators say visitors will, through models and multimedia presentations spread over six theme pavilions, gain insight to some of the world's great unsolved riddles. They will walk the chambers of the pyramids at Giza and travel to Atlantis, under the sea. One pavilion, Nazca, will examine the symmetrical markings that stretch for miles across broad plains and steep mountain slopes. Another, Challenge, explores the possibility that generations to come will leave the earth and colonize other planets.

The park will also have submarine simulators and a 135-foot tower offering a view of Interlaken, the Bernese Oberland and lakes Thun and Brienz.

Admission is CHF 48 ($36) for adults, CHF 28 ($21) for children 6-13, and free to kid under 6.

April 2003