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Alpine sightseeing with the Swiss mailman.

Bright yellow buses ferry mail-and passengers-to Switzerland's remote corners. The carriers run routes that include some of the country's most dramatic scenery and precipitous Alps roadways-compelling reasons to leave the driving to them. Post buses are comfortable, prompt, and inexpensive, yet few American travelers know of them. The PTT (Post, Telegraph and Telephone) operates a network of these buses covering such popular routes as Chur to St. Moritz (3 hours), Lucerne through central Switzerland 3 1/2 hours), and St. Moritz to Zermatt via lake and glacier country (two days).

Bus touring three Alps passes If you have limited time to see the Alps, this 5-hour loop offers a scenery sampler-three passes (each over 7,000 feet high), glaciers, snowcapped peaks, waterfalls. It runs daily June 22 through October 20 (fare about $33). From Meiringen (rail links from Bern, Interlaken, and Lucerne), buses leave near the train station at 8:50 and 10:50; the trip includes stops for views and lunch.

The bus quickly climbs above tree line; look on fissure-riddled granite walls for agile chamois (a goat-like antelope). At 7,103-foot Grimsel Pass, you can buy tea or a snack. You stop at Belvedere Glacier just long enough to nip inside it (entry costs about $2.50).

Along the road near 7,975-foot Furka Pass, you may see pink alpine roses in bloom in midsummer. A 11/4-hour stop at Andermatt lets you wander among cafes and shops (you buy your own lunch). Then you head up to windy 7,296-foot Susten Pass and a close look at a glacier field before looping back to Meiringen. All post buses have reclining seats, tall windows, overhead luggage racks (sometimes there's a small charge for baggage). Don't expect commentary, but you can ask for a printed English route description when you buy your ticket.

Reservations and tickets

Pick up schedules and reserve a seat up to eight weeks ahead at any Swiss post office (or write to reserve). Seats are also often available at the last minute-it's worth waiting for a clear day if you're doing. a high mountain route.

Buy tickets at any post office; ages 6 to 16 pay half-fare. You ride all transportation free with a Swiss Pass (from about $145 to $415); buy one up to a month before departure through US. travel agents. Bought in Switzerland, a one-month Swiss Card ($90 to $115) offers discounts on all transportation.

For route guides and for brochures on hiking trails between post bus routes, call the Swiss National Tourist Office, in Los Angeles at (213) 335-5980 or in San Francisco at (415) 362-2260. El
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Title Annotation:Beyond the West: Europe
Date:Apr 1, 1991
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