Sports and the Outdoors
Sports and the Outdoors
The Swiss Alps are riddled with hiking trails; yellow trail indicators are standard all over the country. Hiking is an especially popular pastime in the German-speaking areas, such as the Berner Oberland. For suggested hiking itineraries, including lists of huts for overnight stays, contact regional tourist offices or the Fédération Suisse de Tourisme Pédestre (Swiss Hiking Federation); many newspaper stands, kiosks, train stations, and bookstores also carry detailed topographical maps with marked trails.
Fédération Suisse de Tourisme Pédestre (Monbijoustrasse 61, Bern, 3000. 031/37010 20. www.swisshiking.ch.)
Switzerland's legendary phenomenal ski slopes are bolstered by excellent transportation networks, plentiful vacation packages, and impressive visitor facilities.
Slope difficulty levels are indicated with color codes. A black slope is the most difficult; red indicates intermediate levels; blue is for beginners. A daily bulletin of ski and weather conditions throughout Switzerland is available by calling 0900/162333 (3 SF connection then 1.5 SF per minute); reports are in the local language.
Serious skiers may want to join the Swiss Alpine Club. Applications should be addressed to the Sektion Zermatt branch. Remember to include a passport-size photo. Excursions involve much climbing. It's not necessary to be fluent in German. For a booklet of mountain-club refuges, contact the Swiss Alpine Club in Bern. A refuge directory called "Hütten der Schweizer Alpen," complete with color photos, can be ordered for 44 SF from the club's office.
Switzerland has developed an extensive network of bike trails that crisscross the country, following mountain passes or rivers or set up with a specific theme in mind. The nine national bike routes include the popular (and easy) Mitteland route number 5, the scenic Alpine Panorama route number 4, and the steep Graubünden route number 6. Switzerland also claims 52 regional bike roads. Detailed maps can be bought at kiosks and post offices. A user-friendly Web site provides all the necessary information (e.g., difficulty, road conditions, and route length). For those who want to enjoy the ride without carrying luggage or transporting their bike, several companies offer guided tours. These range from an easy day's ride to a two-week Alpine excursion, with sightseeing side trips and stays at deluxe hotels along the way.
Bike Switzerland (22 Rue des Grottes, Geneva, 1201. 078/6016957. www.bikeswitzerland.com.)
DuVine Adventures (667 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA, 02143. 888/396-5383. www.duvine.com.)
SwitzerlandMobility Foundation (Spitalgasse 34, Bern, 3011. 031/3180128. www.switzerlandmobility.org.)
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