Switzerland 2022

AIRwin

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Now here's where things are crazy. I live in QLD but currently QLD imposes a full 14 days of isolation for international arrivals. I could have gone home for 14 days and spent this time locked away but instead I'm spending the next 14 days lurking around NSW spending time with friends/family.
You may be able to return earlier now that QLD border checks are ending?
 

henrus

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You may be able to return earlier now that QLD border checks are ending?
Hopefully but I still haven't seen the updated rules. It sounds like it'll be possible to just drive across after Saturday.

I was actually up at the Tweed a couple of days ago and would have been easily able to walk across the border. The area below is totally unmanned and in the few minutes I was around saw lots of people just freely walking between the two states.

Screen Shot 2022-01-13 at 12.55.58 pm.png
 

Nukie

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Thanks for a great trip report. We're flying to Geneva in April, hopefully easier to get in to rather than out of!
Good to know our Australian vaccination certificates aren't (at this stage) recognised.
 
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After exiting Sydney international it was over to the domestic terminal for a flight up to Ballina. VA had a flight that suited and it was reasonably priced when booked a couple of days before departure. The flight was a bit late due to a last minute aircraft change but ended up arriving mostly on time. Luckily I had taken a 10 pack of RAT's with me on the trip as in the time I've been away it seems to be impossible to get them, I returned a negative RAT after arrival and the following day NSW health sent an email and text outlining the international arrivals rules. Given I didn't provide an email on the incoming passenger card it's clear these details were passed from the federal governments travel deceleration to NSW health.

Now here's where things are crazy. I live in QLD but currently QLD imposes a full 14 days of isolation for international arrivals. I could have gone home for 14 days and spent this time locked away but instead I'm spending the next 14 days lurking around NSW spending time with friends/family. What's annoying is that someone who actually has covid only spends 7 days in isolation meanwhile myself who has had a negative PCR and RAT in the last week still needs to spend 14 days either in isolation or outside the state (oh well such is life travelling during covid times).

Now for some general thoughts about what was different than usual...

Obviously check in for flights took a lot longer than usual (one time I spent 45 minutes at a desk). I personally witnessed many people turned away for not having the right documentation and these rules always keep changing so one needs to keep a close eye on it. Whilst unnecessary when I had access to a printer I printed all documents as it made it easier at check in to hand everything over in one go although that being said they were happy to accept all of them on a phone.

Our Australian international covid certificate is pointless! I used it three times on the whole trip, the first time in Sydney at check in, the 2nd time getting it converted and the third time was in London at check in back to Australia. In Japan I was only in the lounge so not needed and in the UK the two lounges and two hotel bars didn't ask for anything either but in mainland Europe having a EU compliant COVID certificate is essential otherwise forget going to anywhere other than supermarkets.

Switzerland allows travellers to get their foreign certificate converted into a swiss one (which is valid in all EU countries) for a sum of 30 CHF (AU$45), this can be done online so you have the EU certificate before you leave. For this service the swiss require proof that you're visiting Switzerland however a refundable hotel booking is fine. Other countries such as France only allow tourists to convert once in the country and this is done at most pharmacies for a fee of around 35 euro (AU$55). Hopefully the Australian certificate will eventually work in Europe but for now it's needed to get a conversion.

Website for Swiss conversion:

Now part of the reason why an EU certificate is so important is because it's scanned almost everywhere you go, unlike Australia where you scan a QR code to check into a business, instead you show them your QR code and they scan this (it's not a contact tracing system - just vaccine verification). In both Switzerland and France they were very strict to ask for this either when entering or when seated at a table. The Swiss wanted to see the QR code (and scan it) plus a passport to check the names matched meanwhile the French just asked for the QR code to scan.

In France (right now) it was simple, you needed either a vaccine QR code (with last dose in the last 12 months) or a QR code from a test either RAT or PCR (taken in the last 24 hours) although the ability to test and enter is being removed soon. Switzerland follows a system that I believe is also used in Germany and Austria (and maybe even more EU countries) and basically different rules apply at different places:

2G+ = 2G+ is used at spas,pools,hotel gyms/pools, bars where people stand, nightclubs. To be 2G+ you must have either been vaccinated with your last shot or booster in the past 4 months, recovered in the last 4 months or be vaccinated/recovered in the last year plus had a negative PCR in the last 72 hours or negative RAT in the last 24.
2G = 2G is used at museums, seated bars (indoor only), restaurants (indoor only) and is either for those who have recovered in the last year or been vaccinated in the last year.
3G = 3G is used at outdoor events such as markets and is for either vaccinated/recovered in the last year or those with a negative test in either the last 72 hours (PCR) or 24 hours (RAT).

Explanation of Swiss 2G/3G rules:

Basically if you've had a booster shot in the last 4 months (like myself) then you tick the boxes for entry to 2G+, 2G and 3G locations. At first it took a while to figure all this out but what I did learn is that it's important to get a booster if going so that you hold 2G+ status and be able to enter all places.

Masks were also an interesting one. In Switzerland compliance was 1000x better than anywhere I've seen in Australia. Most people wore them outside plus 99% of people were wearing them correctly (instead of showing nose or as a chin accessory), the Swiss didn't have specific rules although many EU countries like Austria and Italy have specific rules about FFP2 (aka KN95 masks) being the minimum. Whilst I didn't enter either of those countries at Zermatt in good weather you can ski over to Italy and an FFP2 mask is mandatory on Italian chairlifts. The mask compliance in the UK for the ~10 hours total I was there was sloppy just like home and France for the most part was good but a bit worse than Switzerland. I took a collection of N95, FFP2 and surgical masks and didn't have a problem but when visiting a country where FFP2 masks are mandatory you can get them cheaply in European supermarkets (just bring a couple for when you land and the flight over).

Finally ANA was a great airline to fly. I'd flown ANA once on a 2 hour domestic Japanese flight and I'd always thought about flying via Japan to Europe but often the cost of it means it was out of reach. In a normal year ANA can easily fill a SYD-HND flight with people just going to Japan so there is no need to offer SYD-HND-Europe at prices comperable to SQ etc. The 777 new "The Room" business class is amazing and whilst the older 787 seats are not the best they're certainly far from the worst.

Regardless of the extra covid stuff, it was a great trip plus fun to be flying far away again. Thanks for following along!
Enjoyed your journey. Missing our annual ski trip to Zermatt.
 

henrus

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Enjoyed your journey. Missing our annual ski trip to Zermatt.
I'd never been to Zermatt before but will be back. I've seen that skiing in summer on the glacier is possible so I might make that a 2023 goal.

It's worth noting that Zermatt was the worst place I visited in Switzerland related to sloppy mask wearing amongst foreign tourists but compared to Australia it was nothing.
 

MR61

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What a superb trip report, thank you ! Your unswerving determination and patience to navigate all the administrative protocols is nothing short of outstanding. I'm just so excited reading about your international travel experiences, and you've given me the resolve to get booking overseas trips - and to be prepared with paperwork in triplicate, a calm demeanour, a smile and thanks to those ground staff to help get me through ...
 
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I'd never been to Zermatt before but will be back. I've seen that skiing in summer on the glacier is possible so I might make that a 2023 goal.

It's worth noting that Zermatt was the worst place I visited in Switzerland related to sloppy mask wearing amongst foreign tourists but compared to Australia it was nothing.
I follow a few Zermatt blogs. Mask wearing certainly is an issue there. We have been going there for 25 years, and even in a bad season, there is always reasonable snow to be found in places. 45 years of skiing all over the World, this is one of our favourite places.
 

sydneyswans910

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Great trip report! Although I am not planning to travel internationally anytime soon, it's so informative to read about all the documentation requirements. I hope you had a great trip!
 

drron

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Thanks a very ,nice concise TR.
however I am jealous.We have had over 50 trips to Japan and not once on a flight have been able to see Fuji clearly. have even stayed 5 nights at a hotel at the base of Fuji and still no clear view. 😞
 

henrus

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We have had over 50 trips to Japan and not once on a flight have been able to see Fuji clearly. have even stayed 5 nights at a hotel at the base of Fuji and still no clear view.
Wow that is unlucky although I blame not being able to see it on flights on the arrival/departure times of the flights to/from Australia. 99% of my trips have been on QF/JQ who arrive in the early evening and depart a few hours later.

Back in December 2019 I flew Osaka (KIX) to Tokyo (HND) on Starflyer. It's was a 6am flight from Osaka but about an hour later got this amazing shot descending into Tokyo. It was even better that the flight was 2500 United miles and $0 taxes!

Screen Shot 2022-01-17 at 5.55.06 pm.png

I hope Japan opens up in the next few months because I'm hoping a mid year trip could be possible.
 

Magoo

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Thanks for your report.

I'm watching anxiously all the details of procedures needed for my trip to UK, France, Italy and Austria, later this year.
 

VPS

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Seeing as we are talking about Switzerland I consider this only mildly off topic.

I'm planning on having a White Christmas in Switzerland or Austria this year and looking for suggestions. I'll be by myself so want a nice hotel or apartment and easy to get around with public transport and I don't ski. I just like looking at the White stuff
 

henrus

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I'm planning on having a White Christmas in Switzerland or Austria this year and looking for suggestions. I'll be by myself so want a nice hotel or apartment and easy to get around with public transport and I don't ski. I just like looking at the White stuff
The thing with a white Christmas is that unless you go into the mountains then it's not a guarantee. December 2021 was reasonably warm in many places which meant no or limited snow in places that you might expect to see snow. About 5-6 years ago now I went to St Petersburg Russia on Christmas day, you'd expect it to be freezing with either snow or rain but instead it was warm and sunny.

I'd honestly say Zermatt is a good option for a white Christmas even if not into skiing, you catch the train right into town and then everything is within walking distance, bus or little electric vehicles some of which are free run by your hotel and others are paid taxi's (the town is car free). There are lots of shops, restaurants, bars etc so plenty to do if not skiing. From the town it's possible to catch a train up through the snow and get out to have a look around/get an on mountain meal. On a good day (sadly the one day I was there wasn't) you can catch a cable car over the top of a glacier and once again get out at the top.

Many other ski fields don't have amazing towns as they're often very small and spread out or they allow vehicles so are much less pedestrian friendly and that's what blew me away about Zermatt being so different.
 

jase05

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Wengen and Grindelwald are both awesome places all year round but are especially magical around that time of year
 

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