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34 replies
Western Europe point-to-point transportation
desilva
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Hello everyone,

I’m planning a 3-week trip to Western Europe and thanks to some very helpful contributions from the members here, I think I’ve finalized the places I need to go. However, I’m still confused about the methods/specifics of going into each of these places, such as, whether to take a rented car, a train, a bus, how long should I stay in this place, etc. I’m hoping members here who are experienced in traveling this part of the world would give me the specifics in traveling between the following places.

Day Places to go
——- ————————
1,2,3 Paris and surroundings
4,5,6 Drive to Nice through Bourges, Dijon and Lyon
7,8 Pisa and Florence
9,10 Rome
11,12 Venice
13,14,15 Interlaken, Lucern and other surrounding areas
16,17,18 Fussen to Wurzburg through romantic road
19 Return to Paris (this leaves me with two unscheduled days)

So, I guess I still have a couple of unscheduled days for flexibility. Other than renting a car from Paris to Nice, I’m open to all suggestions for transportation between other locations (although I’ve heard that you’ll enjoy a lot if you rented a car for the romantic road as well). Anyway, I guess I’ll have to get a Eurail pass but I’m not sure which one I should get. I have a bunch of questions on these, such as….What is the best Eurail pass for this trip? How would you suggest traveling between the other destinations listed above? Are the dates allocated to each city realistic or should I change the number of dates in some cities a little bit? If someone can give me specifics/experiences on the specifics for each pair of destinations, that’d help a lot.

The following is the discussion I had in the “Favorite Places” thread where I got a lot of feedback in figuring out the places I should think about going.

3 Weeks in Western Europe

I also have a google map where I’ve plotted the places I want to visit.

Google map

Thanks in advance to anyone who replies.

-De Silva

I am leaving from Salt Lake City with $16000 for 20 days
Paris, Würzburg, Colmberg, Füssen, Salzburg, Interlaken, Pisa, Rome
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oldlady
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Anyway, I guess I’ll have to get a Eurail pass but I’m not sure which one I should get. I have a bunch of questions on these, such as….What is the best Eurail pass for this trip?
You don’t have to get a Eurail pass, however given your age, some kind of pass will probably save money for this trip. For the best general recommendation on which, if any, pass is best use railsaver.com. You can link to it under the “booking” tab, or it’s built into the trip planner if you indicate which legs are by rail. Anything more specific will require a lot of work on your part. You can look up the prices for most tickets on the individual national rail company websites. The links are in a sticky at the top of this forum or under “transportation” on the “travel tips” tab. If you’re willing to commit to exact dates and times about 60 days in advance you can often find specials on non-refundable tickets that will be cheaper than a railpass — but that probably isn’t a good option given your desire for flexibility. Buying the tickets on-line can be tricky as some national rail companies don’t sell international (one country to another) tickets, some don’t accept American credit cards and some don’t have the actual buying pages in English. You have to select “French” as your language from the beginning on the French site or it switches you to raileurope.com, a travel agency website that sells global fare tickets — about 35% more than the tickets usually cost at the train station in Europe.

As for your itinerary. 3 days is minimal for Paris — not enough if it includes your arrival day or any travel time. You won’t be exploring any “surroundings” in 3 days and you’ll be working around museum closings on Monday and Tuesday. 2 days is not adequate for Rome. Christian Rome (Vatican Museums, St. Peters, Castle St. Angelo) takes a full day. Pagan Rome (Forum, Colosseum, Palatine Hill) takes another. Rome in general (plazas, fountains, Parthenon, Spanish steps) general orientation, finding a good Italian meal, plus any travel time means a 3rd. I usually recommend a 4th for a day trip to Pompeii/Herculeaneum.

I would try to avoid returning to Paris. Have you looked at flying home from Frankfurt? It looks like only about $40 more on Expedia for the August dates in the your itinerary.

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Agree with OL that you do not have enough time in Rome- 3 days at the absolute minimum, and 4 would be better. I would want another day in Florence as well since you want to go to Pisa. 3 days in Florence with a half day trip to Pisa is much better. 2 days is good for Venice.
Are you planning on spending any time at all in Nice? I’d recommend staying in Nice for 3-4 days and exploring the French Riviera- Monaco, Eze Village, Antibes, Cannes are just a few examples that are very easily reachable by bus or train. Nice itself is worth a day. We stayed 5 days and had plenty to do.
I’m not sure you need a railpass for this trip. You definitely do not need one for the Italy part- trains in Italy are very cheap and you are not traveling long distances. Therefore, you can hop on the slightly slower regional trains. And you wouldn’t need to purchase these cheap tickets in advance (though if you wanted to take the faster Eurostar Italy trains, I do recommend advance purchase for cheaper tix).
I think you’re trying to cover too much ground here. You may be able to swing it if you stick completely to trains/public transportation, but it sounds like you definitely want to explore with a car some. If thats the case, i would recommend sticking to a France and Italy itinerary.

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desilva
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Oh wow…this is again turning out to be a “Favorite Places” discussion it seems, and I’m totally open to that.

So, still you both seem to think the number of locations are a little too many. Well, if I had to omit one more thing in this trip, I’d drop Venice. I don’t even know what specific things to see in Venice, except riding gondolas and seeing the city built on water (pardon my ignorance, but unless someone suggests “No you HAVE to visit Venice”, I’m OK with dropping it). But I’ve done reading/watching videos/going through articles about Paris, Rome, Swiss Alps, Romantic Road, etc that now they are absolutely “must visit” places for me in this trip. So, if Venice is dropped, I think I can take a train (may be an overnight train if I can find one, to save time) from Rome to Swiss Alps.

oldlady wrote:
You don’t have to get a Eurail pass, however given your age, some kind of pass will probably save money for this trip. For the best general recommendation on which, if any, pass is best use railsaver.com.

Thanks OL. Yes I’ve looked at the railsaver.com and I’ve plugged in the cities I want to go. It seems that the amount I get this way surpasses what I can do with a Eurail pass. I admit, I don’t know a whole lot about Eurail passes but if these regional trains between cities (say from Nice to Pisa/Florence or Florence to Rome, etc) can be traveled in using a Eurail pass, it seems even a 10-day flexi pass for these 4 countries (and even the saver option) is a better option than buying individual tickets for each regional train. What do you think? Am I correct to assume so?

Quote:
I would try to avoid returning to Paris. Have you looked at flying home from Frankfurt? It looks like only about $40 more on Expedia for the August dates in the your itinerary.

I’d very much like to do this. It seems this will save me a couple of days too. One more thing…my wife got to know recently that she might have to attend a conference during Aug 8th-11th, which means we’ll have to push this trip two weeks back than we originally planned. I guess this is a good thing. I checked ticket prices in ITASoftware between Aug 15th – Sep 6th and they are a little cheaper than I originally found out for the first three weeks of August. I guess this is because the return date falls out of the busy season. However, I’ll search more/talk to my travel agent to see if I can get a cheaper deal for going into Paris and leaving from Frankfurt.

Quote:
As for your itinerary. 3 days is minimal for Paris — not enough if it includes your arrival day or any travel time. You won’t be exploring any “surroundings” in 3 days and you’ll be working around museum closings on Monday and Tuesday. 2 days is not adequate for Rome.

I understand what you are saying and I won’t argue this with you since you’ve been there and I haven’t Smile

So, if I drop Venice, I could do the following. (with the day number to the left)

1,2,3,4 -> Paris and surroundings (by the way, is it possible to explore Paris using just bikes?)
5,6,7,8 -> Drive to Nice and spend one or two days in Nice
9,10 -> Pisa and Florence
11,12,13 -> Rome
14,15,16,17 -> Swiss Alps
18,19,20,21 -> Through Romantic Road to Frankfurt (would like to drive from Fussen to Frankfurt)

How does that sound now? One more thing, I added Bourges, Dijon and Lyon to the route from Paris to Nice since I got to know that they are worth visiting. Do you have any other suggestions instead of these (like what route to take, what small cities to visit) for the Paris to Nice drive or are these perfect?

DreamingOfItaly wrote:
Are you planning on spending any time at all in Nice? I’d recommend staying in Nice for 3-4 days and exploring the French Riviera- Monaco, Eze Village, Antibes, Cannes are just a few examples that are very easily reachable by bus or train. Nice itself is worth a day.

Thanks DOI Smile

Well, what do you think of the above itinerary? I’ve changed the dates a little bit so hopefully I’ll have some time to explore Nice as well (like if I can drive from Paris to Nice in two days, then I can take two days to explore Nice). Again, I’m flexible in the number of days I stay in/drive to a place.

Quote:
I think you’re trying to cover too much ground here. You may be able to swing it if you stick completely to trains/public transportation, but it sounds like you definitely want to explore with a car some.

I absolutely understand what people keep saying to me: in that I’m trying to cover too much ground here. But like I mentioned several times before, this could be a once-in-a-life-time thing for us. So, we’d like to visit these “must visit” places somehow, even if we are hard-pressed for time and even if it means giving up a little bit here n there. From these forums I’ve come across experiences where people have done that before us. So, I guess it’s not totally impossible. Smile
And yes, we’d like to drive from Paris to Nice and through the romantic road because from what I’ve gathered, those are just amazing experiences.

Thanks again to all those who replied. I’ve also updated the trip planner to reflect these changes. Also I’m watching Rick Steve’s youtube channel (Winter break finally allowed me some time to do some research Smile) and am learning more and more about places to see.

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oldlady
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Quote:
I admit, I don’t know a whole lot about Eurail passes but if these regional trains between cities (say from Nice to Pisa/Florence or Florence to Rome, etc) can be traveled in using a Eurail pass, it seems even a 10-day flexi pass for these 4 countries (and even the saver option) is a better option than buying individual tickets for each regional train. What do you think? Am I correct to assume so?
This will definitely work. The issue is that buying a cheaper (fewer days and/or fewer countries) railpass and some point to point tickets might save you some money. I certainly don’t see a need for 10 days. Your current itinerary only has about 4 or 5 rail days in it. Why cover France, if the only time you’ll use it is for the short leg between Nice and the Italian border? The “saver pass” option only applies to adult railpasses. Since, as I recall, you qualify for a youth pass, I’d stick with the cheaper youth pass. If you do end up as a foursome and do end up buying adult passes, then buy 2 saver passes (one for each couple) as the price per person will be the same as putting 4 names on one saver pass and it leaves you the option of splitting up.
Quote:
One more thing…my wife got to know recently that she might have to attend a conference during Aug 8th-11th, which means we’ll have to push this trip two weeks back than we originally planned. I guess this is a good thing.
July as opposed to August seldom makes much difference in air fare, but you will find the Nice area and Rome (any place Europeans go on their vacations) slightly less crowded and maybe a tad less expensive for hotels in July — although late July is increasingly “just like August.”
Quote:
(by the way, is it possible to explore Paris using just bikes?)
Probably, but I wouldn’t want to. Paris is a huge, traffic snarled, busy city and most of the things tourists want to see are right in the heart of the traffic snarls. It’s extremely easy to get around using the metro to get to/from a starting point and then exploring on foot.

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oldlady wrote:
I certainly don’t see a need for 10 days. Your current itinerary only has about 4 or 5 rail days in it. Why cover France, if the only time you’ll use it is for the short leg between Nice and the Italian border? The “saver pass” option only applies to adult railpasses. Since, as I recall, you qualify for a youth pass, I’d stick with the cheaper youth pass.

Thanks, Well, that sounds like a plan. I’ll read more into how I can find the best rail pass taking your suggestions into account. By the way, I will be 26+ by August next year. So, I guess I’ll not qualify for youth pass.

Quote:
July as opposed to August seldom makes much difference in air fare, but you will find the Nice area and Rome (any place Europeans go on their vacations) slightly less crowded and maybe a tad less expensive for hotels in July — although late July is increasingly “just like August.”

I guess my not-so-good English confused you. My bad. When I meant push back by two weeks, I meant the last two weeks of August and the first week of September (I’m sorry, I think I should have said “push forward” Smile). Ideally, we would like to do this in May or early June…but we have to work full-time from May to end of July so that’s a definite NO NO.

Quote:
Probably, but I wouldn’t want to. Paris is a huge, traffic snarled, busy city and most of the things tourists want to see are right in the heart of the traffic snarls. It’s extremely easy to get around using the metro to get to/from a starting point and then exploring on foot.

Point Noted! By the way, I was just wondering…if I want to like do a little bit of cycling in the countryside, what would be a good city to start from? (Nice? Cities between Paris and Nice?…just curious). Any suggestions?

Also, I assume dropping Venice was prudent?

Thanks,

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I guess my not-so-good English confused you. My bad. When I meant push back by two weeks, I meant the last two weeks of August and the first week of September (I’m sorry, I think I should have said “push forward” Smile).
You might save a little on airfare with a return in September. As for hotels, etc., like late July, early September is increasingly “just like August.” We were in Rome the second week in September and it was pretty much packed with tourists.

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Thanks for the reply.

So, I did some study on the hostels and traveling between these cities. Is it wise to reserve the hostels this early? I’ve read in another thread that people should be able to find hostels within two weeks/one month before arrival but I don’t want to run the risk. Also, I did some calculation and for our needs, it seems I can reserve almost all the hostels for less than $200 now (only the reservation fees).

Also, could some one let me know if we could squeeze in Venice somehow to this route? Or should leave it as I’ve planned earlier?

Thanks.

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Is it wise to reserve the hostels this early?
This pretty much depends on your style. I normally start booking 6 to 8 weeks before the trip for most lodging, but I do book some earlier as I’m picky about location. Most hostels either require full payment or a deposit when you book and these usually aren’t refundable. You can always find some place to stay if you arrive by early afternoon, are willing to spend some time hunting, and aren’t set on a specific hostel. If you’re sure of the dates and want a specific place, then I’d book in January.

Most important is to get your 1st night’s stay and last night’s stay booked in advance. You don’t want to arrive sleep deprived, culture shocked, jet lagged AND homeless and it’s nice to know how to get to your hostel from the airport before you land. Many flights for North America leave early in the morning and working out transportation to the airport for a 2 hour (your travel agent may recommend even earlier for an international flight) pre-flight check-in can be tricky. With the occasional transportation strike a reality in Europe, having “plan B” to get to the airport isn’t a bad idea, either.

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I booked 3 months in advance for my summer trip because we were kind of picky about location, cleanliness, and price, and wanted to make sure we got the places we wanted. We had no problems booking anything; however, we did lose flexibility so that is something to keep in mind. We had to cancel one hostel on the trip and that was very easy (at the last minute, too) and didn’t lose any money because the site we used did not require a deposit. Most hostels required 10% deposit which is something also to keep in mind.

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desilva
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oldlady wrote:
This pretty much depends on your style. I normally start booking 6 to 8 weeks before the trip for most lodging, but I do book some earlier as I’m picky about location. Most hostels either require full payment or a deposit when you book and these usually aren’t refundable. You can always find some place to stay if you arrive by early afternoon, are willing to spend some time hunting, and aren’t set on a specific hostel.

As always, thanks so much for the feedback. I think I’m going to book these places well in advanced. I mean, if I was traveling alone or with some of my friends, I guess I could afford to be reckless and be a little bit of a maverick. But since I’m traveling with my wife, I guess having a good plan of where we are going to stay is a good thing. Besides, almost all the hostels I checked only require a 10% payment upfront. So, it seems it’s worth reserving them so that even if we have to cancel later, we are not loosing much.

Quote:
Most important is to get your 1st night’s stay and last night’s stay booked in advance. You don’t want to arrive sleep deprived, culture shocked, jet lagged AND homeless and it’s nice to know how to get to your hostel from the airport before you land.

That makes sense. I’ll look into that too. Well, I guess if I’m reserving everything, this will be automatically taken care of. Smile

DreamingOfItaly wrote:
We had no problems booking anything; however, we did lose flexibility so that is something to keep in mind. We had to cancel one hostel on the trip and that was very easy (at the last minute, too) and didn’t lose any money because the site we used did not require a deposit. Most hostels required 10% deposit which is something also to keep in mind.

Exactly the plan that I have in mind. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I guess, 10% of all the hostel expenses still comes around $200 so I guess I could afford to loose part of it if the itinerary changes a lot.

Anyway, I’m planning each and every place we are going to visit, the hostels we are going to stay, etc now. Will post a detailed itinerary so that you guys can help me fine tune it or to point out anything that I overlook. By the way, I guess I could extend the trip by a couple of days (I mean, it seems we can leave on 14th August, which is a weekend and return around 5th Septemeber, which gives us around 23 days). So, I’m thinking about adding Venice back by cutting a day from Swiss Alps and the Bavaria trip so that it enables us to visit Venice as well.

Thanks again for all your feedbacks.

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Hi everyone, I need some help to figure out the cities/villages worth traveling to in Swiss Alps and the most efficient order to travel them. I’ve read a bunch of articles/forum and watched a whole bunch of travel videos but I’m still a little confused about that part in my itinerary. I know a whole lot of places I want to visit over there (Gimmelwald, Schilthorn, Interlaken, Jungfraujoch, Lucerne, etc) but I’m not sure of where to start, how much time should I expect to have from one place to the other, etc. Hopefully, someone can help me figure this out.

Assuming I’m coming from Venice, I think Gimmelwald is the closest I can start from. I want to leave Swill Alps from Lucerne (as I’m heading to Fussen, Munich) so I guess my last stop would be at Lucerne. Can anyone help me plan in between. I have about 4 days to spend in Swiss Alps so what should my itinerary be? Where should I stay that would serve as base stations to travel this area?

It seems the mountain hostel in Gimmelwald is highly recommended by most, except for the occasional comment I saw about the loud noises of drunk travelers till 3am in the morning. Smile. Well, that doesn’t sound too bad, but I’m a little worried if there are private rooms for a couple.

Thanks

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Gimmelwald, Schilthorn, and Jungfraujoch are all above the Lauterbrunnen valley, which in itself is quite an attraction. In fact, Schilthorn is right next to Gimmelwald, so if you are in Gimmelwald you are part way up to Schilthorn, which may be important because I recall the cable cars and trains up to Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch are not inexpensive. Lauterbrunnen is near the mouth of the valley, and many people like to stay there as a base. Interlaken is at the very mouth of the valley. I know of no trains or busses that allow you to get to Gimmelwald and Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch without going to Lauterbrunnen, and most people who go to Lauterbrunnen use a train from Interlaken.

I’m hardly the ultimate expert on this area, but I’m almost certain you have to approach from the north, and Venice is to the south. From Venice, I think the train would probably pass fairly near to Luzern on the way to Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, and Gimmelwald. You could take a train from Venice to Milan, then up through the attractive lake area of Italy to Brig then to Spies, Interlaken, and up into the valley. Either way would pass through a lot of mountain scenery.

I think few people stay at both Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen; its one or the other and I would recommend Lauterbrunnen as the better as it is a smaller town and closer to the sites. But Gimmelwald is also a good choice, although you would have to get down into the valley so see it and to get to Lauterbrunnen to Jungfraujoch. And there are very many popular villages above the Lauterbrunnen valley on the Jungfraujoch side, too.

You will only be out in the country for a few places in your trip. I know there is a lot of biking in the countryside of Switzerland (in fact we rented bikes in Murren, which is right next to Gimmelwald). I have no first hand experience, but I would be very surprised if you coudn’t rent bikes in the countryside of France, also.

my itinerary. I know a whole lot of places I want to visit over there (Gimmelwald, Schilthorn, Interlaken, Jungfraujoch, Lucerne, etc) but I’m not sure of where to start, how much time should I expect to have from one place to the other, etc. Hopefully, someone can help me fi

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clevelandbrown wrote:
I’m hardly the ultimate expert on this area, but I’m almost certain you have to approach from the north, and Venice is to the south. From Venice, I think the train would probably pass fairly near to Luzern on the way to Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, and Gimmelwald. You could take a train from Venice to Milan, then up through the attractive lake area of Italy to Brig then to Spies, Interlaken, and up into the valley. Either way would pass through a lot of mountain scenery.

Thanks so much for your detailed reply. I’ve checked out your suggestions and yes, I guess the best way is to take a train from Venice through Milan, Brig, Spiez, Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen. I checked out the Valley Hostel in Lauterbrunnen (seems like the better option for us since I’m traveling with my wife) and probably will reserve it as soon as I can (actually, as soon as I can finalize my itinerary). I’m hoping to stay at Lauterbrunnen for 3 days (hope that’ll give me enough time to hike/bike in this area to my heart’s content Smile) and in Lucerne for 1 day (that’d make my swiss alps section in our trip).

I just have one more question. If I take a 4 country rail pass for France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany…does that cover the small train hops in these smaller cities (for example, does that cover the train from Interlaken to, say, Gimmelwald)?.

Anyway, I’m working on the complete itinerary with the places I intend to stay. Will post it here for more comments soon.

Thanks again.

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I just have one more question. If I take a 4 country rail pass for France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany…does that cover the small train hops in these smaller cities (for example, does that cover the train from Interlaken to, say, Gimmelwald)?.
Generally, yes. The pass covers all trains run by the national rail companies in the included countries. There are a few scenic lines in Switzerland than are run by private companies and aren’t covered, but usually offer a significant discount with the pass. I don’t see anything in your itinerary that isn’t covered. This may help: http://www.eurail.co… and here’s the link to the Swiss national rail company website to check ticket prices: http://mct.sbb.ch/mc…

The bigger question is whether or not to use your pass this way. You wouldn’t want to burn a day of an adult pass with a marginal cost of roughly $ 50 to cover a train ticket that only cost $15.

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I decided more than a few years ago that because of out type of touring (staying in a destination for a week, or longer) railpasses were not suited for us. We then had a trip when we stayed in Florence a week, then Boltigen (a remote village in Switzerland) a week, then Venice for a week. I researched and concluded that we would not benefit from a pass in Italy, but would be taking trains almost everyday in Switzerland (there’s not a lot to see in Boltigen except the cows and some of my ancestors graves) I splurged for a seven day rail pass, and even though we took trains every day, it saved us only a few dollars. The great advantage was that, since our trip was in April, when we got somewhere and it was raining or foggy, we could just hop on a train and try another place. Later, we returned to Switzerland four times in 12 months, so I bought a half fare card for 150 CHF (per person) and that saved us quite a bit; they also offer a 30 day half fare card for 99 CHF (per person) which I think is not as good a deal.

I have since concluded that because there are so many variants of rail passes for Switzerland, and not all cover everywhere, nor get you a break on the private railways such as from Lauterbrunnen to Jungfraujoch, or the lift to Schilthorn, it wasn’t worth the weeks of research necessary to find the best pass for a given trip, so I don’t even consider buying a railpass, although we almost always travel by rail.

To give you what information I have (much of it dated), a typical Swiss pass would cover a train from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen, a bus from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg (we prefered to walk; it is very scenic) and a cable car up to Murren or Gimmelwald. It would also give a reduction on the cable cars from Murren up to Schilthorn. It would also give a break on the train from Lauterbrunnen up to Jungfraujoch. It would also cover the train to Luzern, and from Luzern to the border, and the steamers on Lake Luzern, which I consider a must do. I don’t know if the multicountry passes provide the same degree of coverage. A lot of the mountain excursion trains are not listed on the SSB site, if I recall, because they are privately run. http://www.myswitzer… has some good information.

Also, I vaguely recall that the ascents to Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch have a lower fare if you take the early bird special, the first trip of the day.

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Clevelandbrown wrote:

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I have since concluded that because there are so many variants of rail passes for Switzerland, and not all cover everywhere, nor get you a break on the private railways such as from Lauterbrunnen to Jungfraujoch, or the lift to Schilthorn, it wasn’t worth the weeks of research necessary to find the best pass for a given trip, so I don’t even consider buying a railpass, although we almost always travel by rail.
I think Switzerland is one of the places where a pass is most likely to pay as it covers postal buses, some lake steamers, cog rails and funiculars, a transportation museum, and provides a hefty discount on some of the scenic lines. A Swissrail pass covers even more things than a Eurail pass. There are other options, like a Swiss card that get you 1/2 price on any train, bus or other mode of transportation. For your travel style I would definitely research a Swissrail pass or a Swiss card.

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oldlady wrote:
The bigger question is whether or not to use your pass this way. You wouldn’t want to burn a day of an adult pass with a marginal cost of roughly $ 50 to cover a train ticket that only cost $15.

Thanks. Yes I agree. But given that this is the first time I’m traveling to Europe, do you think a few dollars extra would be worth the troubles I’ll have to go through otherwise in finding all these little details from country to country and from region to region? I mean, since I’m a newbie, wouldn’t it make much more sense to go with the Eurail Pass since that would be straightforward?

Quote:
There are other options, like a Swiss card that get you 1/2 price on any train, bus or other mode of transportation. For your travel style I would definitely research a Swissrail pass or a Swiss card.

Wow…I’m learning something new everytime you post. Till now I thought everyone was referring to the Switzerland-portion of the Eurail pass when everyone was talking about the “Swiss Pass”. Now it seems, it’s entirely a different pass, isn’t it? Eurail pass for Switzerland is not the same as the Swiss Pass, is it? By the way, if I take a Swiss pass, and I have a Eurail pass for the France – Italy and Italy – Switzerland portions of the trip, how would my Swiss pass come into effect when I’m entering Switzerland. I’m sorry for all these questions, but these rail passes just confuse. (In fact, I’ve just downloaded Rick Steve’s Eurail Pass Guide Book, so I guess I’ll find answers to these as I go along)

clevelandbrown wrote:
To give you what information I have (much of it dated), a typical Swiss pass would cover a train from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen, a bus from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg (we prefered to walk; it is very scenic) and a cable car up to Murren or Gimmelwald. It would also give a reduction on the cable cars from Murren up to Schilthorn. It would also give a break on the train from Lauterbrunnen up to Jungfraujoch. It would also cover the train to Luzern, and from Luzern to the border, and the steamers on Lake Luzern, which I consider a must do. I don’t know if the multicountry passes provide the same degree of coverage. A lot of the mountain excursion trains are not listed on the SSB site, if I recall, because they are privately run. http://www.myswitzer… has some good information.

Thank you so much for that information. I’m so excited to explore this part of the Switzerland…all the resources I seek tells me that this is just an awesome area to visit.

By the way, that website is just WOW..Smile I never knew you had Panoramic “Videos”. (I’ve seen panoramic pictures where you can maneuver the viewpoint but a video….that was the first time. Awesome)

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desilva wrote:

Thanks. Yes I agree. But given that this is the first time I’m traveling to Europe, do you think a few dollars extra would be worth the troubles I’ll have to go through otherwise in finding all these little details from country to country and from region to region? I mean, since I’m a newbie, wouldn’t it make much more sense to go with the Eurail Pass since that would be straightforward?

I don’t know if a Eurail Pass will save money for you on your trip- and I would definitely listen to advice from others as they have far more experience with this type of stuff than I do. However, I will say that I did not use a rail pass this summer and did not find it difficult at all to purchase tickets for trains in any country we visited. I purchased one advanced ticket online (Madrid-Barcelona) and it was very easy. It’s really easy to purchase tix at train stations, either at kiosks or at the counter (rarely had to wait in line), and it’s simple enough to find timetables online. Even though your a newbie, it’s not that difficult to buy these tickets as you go, especially if you do some quick research beforehand and know what train you want to take.

Anyways, not trying to say you don’t need a railpass, or that it wouldn’t save money. Just wanted to assure that point to point tickets aren’t really a hassle.

I’ll again say that I bet you’ll save money in Italy using point-to-point tickets.

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DreamingOfItaly wrote:
Even though your a newbie, it’s not that difficult to buy these tickets as you go, especially if you do some quick research beforehand and know what train you want to take.

Anyways, not trying to say you don’t need a railpass, or that it wouldn’t save money. Just wanted to assure that point to point tickets aren’t really a hassle.

I’ll again say that I bet you’ll save money in Italy using point-to-point tickets.

Thanks DOI. That was some reassuring information. So, I guess I shouldn’t hang on to this idea of a Eurail Pass so adamantly. All the advices suggest I should do more research and find out the best train passes for me. Thanks again. I’ll read more into it.

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I’m traveling to Europe, do you think a few dollars extra would be worth the troubles I’ll have to go through otherwise in finding all these little details from country to country and from region to region?
It’s easy to buy train tickets at the train station. You just walk up to the window. With your itinerary, you are very unlikely to run into a ticket agent who doesn’t speak English well enough to sell you the ticket you need. Besides, if the train you choose to take requires a reservation, you’re going to be at a ticket window or office buying a reservation to use with your railpass, anyway. A railpass will probably save money for this trip, but buying a pass that’s “more” than you need can be a big waste of money — I know, because I’ve done it.

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Thanks OL. You’ve been a really big help in planning this. I guess I’m just trying to play safe by buying a rail pass since I’m a first time traveler. But as you and DreamingOfItaly clearly points out, I have nothing to worry in buying point-to-point rail tickets and seems I’ll save some money as well. Smile

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Hi Everyone,

OK, now I really need your help. With all your suggestions, I’ve been searching every little thing about this trip and came up with an itinerary that I think will work. I’ve researched all the hostels in each of the cities I want to visit, train timetables, airfares, car rentals, whatnot. Phew!.

This is what I have as of now. I’d really really appreciate if you guys can comment on it, show me things I’ve missed, point out places where I can save a few bucks, etc. If this thing goes smooth, I’ll reserve the hostels right away and get it over with. The two friends I’ve mentioned earlier who were tentative about joining haven’t confirmed yet. So everything below (every hostel expense, train ticket fare, etc) are for me and my wife combined. I’ve listed the possible hostels/hotels and their prices for double/twin ensuite/shared settings (I’ve calculated prices for both of us). As most of you have suggested, I’d take point-to-point tickets for the most part and take a Swiss pass since I’m planning to take as many scenic train rides in Switzerland as I can. So here goes.

(Assuming I’ll land in Paris on Day 1 morning …)

Day1 – Day3 in Paris (3 nights) (Hope to cover Eiffel tower, Louvre, Versailles and other attractions in 3 days)
Hostels/hotels: Hotel Belfort Paris (around $248 for three nights)

Day4 morning – Take a train (approx $78) to Tours, rent a car (approx $200), visit some châteaus in the Loire valley, stay in Tours for the night
Hostels/hotels (for one night): Hotel Stars Tours Sud ($60 but not so good reviews), Hotel Trianon ($89), Hotel Val de Loire ($82)

Day5 morning – Drive to Dijon, stay in Dijon for the night
Hostels/hotels (for one night): Hotel Stars Dijon ($48), Comfort Hotel Lons-le-Saunier ($65)

Day6 – Travel around burgundy region (Dijon, Beaune and others as time permits) and return car in the evening…take a train (approx $202) to Nice

Day6 night and Day7 night in Nice
Hostels/hotels (for two nights): Hostel Smith ($68), Hotel & Hostel Meyerbeer Beach ($110), Villa Saint Exupery Gardens ($124 but excellent reviews, free breakfast)

Day8 morning – Train ($70) to Genova and take a local train to Cinque Terre, Day8 night at one of the 5 cities of CT
Hostels/hotels (for one night): Camere Enrica ($90) in Vernazza, Corniglia Dream Rooms ($82), Ostello Tramonti ($77)

Day9 morning – Hike around Cinque Terre

Day9 afternoon – Train ($16) from La Spezia to Pisa, visit the leaning tower and head to Florence (train $18), spend night in Florence
Hostels/hotels(for one night): Fattoria del Bassetto ($96), Hostel Veronique ($92)

Day10 morning – Visit Michealangelo’s David and Campanile (and anything that can be covered in a short time), Day10 evening head to Rome (train $84)

Day10 night, Day 11 and 12 (3 nights) in Rome
Hostels/hotels (for three nights): Plus Camping Roma ($179), Tiber Hostel and Camping ($148), Country Club Castelfusano ($173), Hostel Peter Pan ($182)

Day13 – Take the night train to Venice (too pricy $292, fly instead? $120), either way, seems I could avoid the use of a hostel for Day13 night

Day14 – Venice
Hostels/hotels: Plus Camping Jolly ($53), Camping Fusina ($68), Plus Alba D’Oro Camping ($53)

Day15 morning – Take train to Lauterbrunnen through Milan, Brig, Spiez and Interlaken (I’m not sure how I should activate my Swiss Pass for this part, since I guess I’ll have to take a train ticket from Venice to Domodossola or Brig)

Day15 night and Day16-17 in Lauterbrunnen (visit Gimmelwald, Schilthorn, Jungfrajoch and if possible, some of the scenic train rides [Golden pass, Glacier and Bernina express)
Hostels/hotels (for three nights): Valley Hostel ($240) (I guess Mountain Hostel in Gimmelwald is an awesome place but since I’m traveling with my wife, I prefer double or at least twin rooms)

Day18 morning – Take a train to Lucerne and then to kempten, Germany in the night train (around $180, don’t know how swiss pass will affect this too as I’m crossing a country border), no need for a hostel for Day18th night if I’m taking the night train (I’m going to Kempten and not Fussen since I couldn’t find a car rental place in Fussen)

Day19 morning – rent a car (approx $190), drive to Fussen and then towards Rothenburg along the cities in the romantic road, night at rothenburg
Hostels/hotels (for one night): B+B ApARThotel Benji ($120) in Rothenburg

Day20 morning – Continue along the romantic road to Wurzburg and then to Frankfurt (night at Frankfurt)
Hostels/hotels (for one night): Hotel Garni Djaran ($55), City Hotel Frankfurt ($89), Hotel Jaguar Frankfurt ($63)

Day21 – Fly back home

Phew!!!!

I’ve been watching the Swiss Railways videos and they are just WOW…I’d really like to go through the Glacier and Bernina and Golden pass routes and I’m hoping two days would be enough to cover at least two (or may be all three) of them. I’m saving one day for the whole Gimmelwald, Schilthorn and Jungfrajoch hike and I’m hoping the next two days, I’ll be able to ride these scenic routes.

Again, if anything needs to be dropped from the itinerary, I’m willing to give up Venice.

So, please let me know what you think about the itinerary. Are there better hotels/hostels in those places that I missed and are cheaper than those? Are there any methods I could take (like night trains) to avoid some of the costs? I won’t mind having a nap in a train stations for a few hours if that can save us something significant.

I really appreciate the help you guys have given me so far. Hope I’ll see some suggestions for this (hopefully) final itinerary.

Thanks in advance

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You are certainly going to be busy.

I would argue for keeping Venice, which we liked more than Rome.

In Florence the David is essential, and the hall to see it is lined with some of what I think of as Michelangelo’s slaves. They are unfinished, so it is though the figure is emerging from the block of stone. Very memorable. I would see the Duomo (cathedral) instead of the Campanile. You can climb to the top of the dome to check your heart and get as good a view of the town. The Baptistry across from the Duomo is also quite interesting. Behind the Duomo is the Museo Dell Opera, interesting because it shows how the duomo (the first dome) was designed and built, has the original doors from the Baptistry, but best of all has a Pieta by Michelangelo (rumor is that he included himself as the old man) which is uncrowded and well lit, in contrast to the one in St. Peter’s. There is also a famed bridge over the Arno that is well worth seeing (it’s famous name eludes me at the moment).

Venice has much to see, from the Rialto bridge to St. Mark’s piazza (especially in the evening with the bands battling. The view of the Grand canal when you step out of the train station (if you are flying in, take a train from Mestre by the airport to Santa Lucia in venice) will stick with you forever. I think Venice is the most romantic place I have every been.

When I first trained into Switzerland, I bought a ticket at Florence to go to Boltigen. I showed the ticket agent my Swiss Pass, but she apparently didn’t understand and charged me for the whole route. I didn’t know what the fare would be so I got taken for a ride. The proper procedure is to buy a ticket to the Border, then use your pass as a ticket once you enter Switzerland. I always have the conductor validate the ticket (they never show up until after the train has started) because getting the date right is vital, and much of the world does not write the date in the format we use in the US. February 1, 2011 is the way I learned to write it; Europeans write it 1 February 2011. Its more confusing when they use only numbers 2-1-2011 here is 1-2-2011 there. When you leave Luzern, show them your pass at the station ticket window and buy a ticket to your ultimate destination. They will charge you only for your travel outside of Switzerland.

I don’t think any of the scenic trains will be convenient to where you will be, and they are time consuming, but I’ll let you in on what they don’t tell you. The scenic trains do not have a separate track; they have cars with higher windows (that I think cannot be opened) and even some convertible cars. But the train in front of them, and the train behind them, will have the same scenic views, at a much more reasonable price. I’ve traveled the route of the Bernina Express twice, once in the Bernina Express, and once in a plain old passenger train. Both were fantastic rides; I liked the regular train because I was able to open a window, stick my head out, and take pictures to my heart’s content.

I think there is an old steam engine train ride near Brienze, which is near Interlaken, and some of the excursions from Luzern to a nearby mountaintop include some impressive train rides.

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Using eurail pass and Swiss pass shouldn’t be an issue. Just show both to the conductor on the train. I’m not sure that a separate Swiss rail pass will be a better deal for you. It would only be a better deal if you were taking one of the scenic trains that’s covered buy Swiss rail and not Eurail AND the discounted fare for that train was expensive enough to make it worth it.

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clevelandbrown wrote:
In Florence the David is essential, and the hall to see it is lined with some of what I think of as Michelangelo’s slaves. They are unfinished, so it is though the figure is emerging from the block of stone. Very memorable. I would see the Duomo (cathedral) instead of the Campanile. You can climb to the top of the dome to check your heart and get as good a view of the town.

Thanks so much for the reply. Yes, I meant the Duomo (sorry I got it confused it with the Campanile). I watched RS videos for Florence and I just loved it. And yes I saw the video of Michelangelo’s unfinished prisoners that lead up to David and it was really amazing. Looking forward to that.

Quote:
Venice has much to see, from the Rialto bridge to St. Mark’s piazza (especially in the evening with the bands battling. The view of the Grand canal when you step out of the train station (if you are flying in, take a train from Mestre by the airport to Santa Lucia in venice) will stick with you forever. I think Venice is the most romantic place I have every been.

I get what you are saying and having been there, you probably know a whole lot more than me. But the reason I’m OK with dropping Venice was because, everything seems too expensive in Venice. From the train ticket from Rome to Venice, to the gondola rides, it’s all too pricey for me. That’s why I was thinking about dropping Venice and adding those days to the Swiss Alps ride. Anyway, you seem to have a strong point about Venice so I guess I should not drop it Smile

Quote:
The proper procedure is to buy a ticket to the Border, then use your pass as a ticket once you enter Switzerland. …….. When you leave Luzern, show them your pass at the station ticket window and buy a ticket to your ultimate destination. They will charge you only for your travel outside of Switzerland.

Thanks. That cleared out my doubt.

Quote:
I don’t think any of the scenic trains will be convenient to where you will be, and they are time consuming, but I’ll let you in on what they don’t tell you. The scenic trains do not have a separate track; they have cars with higher windows (that I think cannot be opened) and even some convertible cars. But the train in front of them, and the train behind them, will have the same scenic views, at a much more reasonable price. I’ve traveled the route of the Bernina Express twice, once in the Bernina Express, and once in a plain old passenger train. Both were fantastic rides; I liked the regular train because I was able to open a window, stick my head out, and take pictures to my heart’s content.

I assumed so. If I’m staying in Lauterbrunnen the whole 4 days I guess this is not do-able. But what if I cover the areas surrounding Lauterbrunnen in one or two days and move to a different part of the country (where I can access these scenic trains) for the next two days? Say if I go to Lugano or Zermatt or some other place. Would this be practical? And thanks for the tip on open window cars. That sounds like fun.

Anyway, about the hostels info, I guess I should post those places in the “Hostels” thread, isn’t it? Other than that, do you think the itinerary is practical for 21 days? I know I’ll be rushing in certain places but I’m willing to give that a chance in the hope of covering a lot of ground.

oldlady wrote:
Using eurail pass and Swiss pass shouldn’t be an issue. Just show both to the conductor on the train. I’m not sure that a separate Swiss rail pass will be a better deal for you. It would only be a better deal if you were taking one of the scenic trains that’s covered buy Swiss rail and not Eurail AND the discounted fare for that train was expensive enough to make it worth it.

Thanks for the tip. I’m really thinking about taking at least one or two days in these scenic trains (may by jeopardizing a day or two in Lauterbrunnen Valley). So, if that happens, I’ll calculate the costs and see as you’ve pointed out.

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I can comment on a couple things.

desilva wrote:

(Assuming I’ll land in Paris on Day 1 morning …)

Day1 – Day3 in Paris (3 nights) (Hope to cover Eiffel tower, Louvre, Versailles and other attractions in 3 days)
Hostels/hotels: Hotel Belfort Paris (around $248 for three nights)

Paris is huge, and has tons of worthwhile sites, so with only 3 days I would make a detailed plan ahead of time. Your first morning in Europe is going to be spent jet-lagged and tired and confused and a little overwhelmed. I like to do “outside” things on the first day because I can’t really concentrate on museums or things like that. For your first day I recommend going to the Eiffel Tower and then maybe hanging out in Luxembourg Garden for the afternoon, maybe taking in 1 museum if you feel up to it! (i kinda get slammed with jet-lag, I know other people handle it much better).

For days 2 and 3, I highly recommend the Paris Museum Pass. You can get a 2 day pass for 32 euros, and the pass easily pays for itself if you are going to see about 4 sites in the 2 days. Versailles IS included, so that’s actually a great deal for you because Versailles costs 25 euros to see the chateau and gardens. Other sites that are included are the Louvre, D’Orsay Museum, Pompidou Centre, the Army Museum/Napoleon’s Tomb, and the Arc de Triomphe (among others). I saw these sites and a couple churches (not including Versailles) in 2 days. I’m NOT a huge museum girl, but these museums were amazing. Actually, I liked the Louvre least of all 4 of them, but still found it worthwhile. Anyways, you could see Versailles as a half day trip + a museum in one day, and then 2 museums in another or others sites. I went up the Arc de Triomphe at 10pm to see the city and Eiffel lit up and it was a great view. BTW, the Eiffel is not included in the pass; google the pass to get a complete lists of sites. The main reason to get the pass? You can skip the lines at all sites, and you really do not have the time to stand in line with only 3 days in Paris.

desilva wrote:
Day6 night and Day7 night in Nice Hostels/hotels (for two nights): Hostel Smith ($68), Hotel & Hostel Meyerbeer Beach ($110), Villa Saint Exupery Gardens ($124 but excellent reviews, free breakfast)

I stayed at Villa Saint Exupery and highly recommend it. We stayed in dorms so while it was pricey for a hostel, it was much cheaper than the $124 you quoted (I’m guessing you are in a private room?) This hostel is fantastic. The staff was the best I encountered in all my stays- they go out of their way to answer any questions for you and explain what places need to be seen and how to get there. Breakfast is included and they offer cheap dinners too. You can also use their kitchen to cook. Very cheap drinks at the large bar as well. They wash your laundry for you overnight for only 5 euro, and they have free towels, beach mats, and umbrellas to use. Basically, this place is awesome. It is a pretty big party place, however, so that is something to be aware of. I had no problems sleeping (w/ earplugs) but it was loud until 2 am or so, when the bar closed.

desilva wrote:

Day8 morning – Train ($70) to Genova and take a local train to Cinque Terre, Day8 night at one of the 5 cities of CT
Hostels/hotels (for one night): Camere Enrica ($90) in Vernazza, Corniglia Dream Rooms ($82), Ostello Tramonti ($77)

Day9 morning – Hike around Cinque Terre

The CT hike is amazing. Plan to take the whole day so you can explore each town as you hike the trail. I recommend starting in Monterosso al Mare, because you get the 2 most difficult parts of the hike (from Monterosso to Vernazza and Vernazza to Corniglia) out of the way first and the hike is easier later, when you are tired.
We stayed in Monterosso and that would be my number 1 choice of towns to stay in; otherwise, I’d pick Vernazza. I probably wouldn’t stay in Corniglia; it’s really small and not as nice as the other towns.

desilva wrote:

Day9 afternoon – Train ($16) from La Spezia to Pisa, visit the leaning tower and head to Florence (train $18), spend night in Florence
Hostels/hotels(for one night): Fattoria del Bassetto ($96), Hostel Veronique ($92)

Day10 morning – Visit Michealangelo’s David and Campanile (and anything that can be covered in a short time), Day10 evening head to Rome (train $84)

If you get to Florence the first night before sunset, I highly recommend walking up to Piazzale Michaelangelo to watch the sunset. Very pretty and great views of the whole city.

The David is must see; I would also climb either the Duomo or the Bell Tower (or both, as I did!) Take some time to stroll through the outdoor markets.

desilva wrote:
Again, if anything needs to be dropped from the itinerary, I’m willing to give up Venice.

My vote is not to skip Venice, which I love. It’s a really unique place and I think you’ll especially enjoy it being with your wife.
Honestly, in my opinion, Venice is no more expensive than Paris. Had very good, cheap food when I was there. See St. Mark’s and be sure to wander around the tiny streets and get lost! Gondolas are pricey for 2 people so instead just hop on a water taxi and cruise around.

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I think you can do Venice for less than a fortune if you do some planning.

I recall there were some convents there that offered clean reasonable rooms.

The gondolas are expensive, especially if you want one with a musician. We just stood on a small bridge while the gondolas passed underneath, almost all filled with Japanese tourists with cameras. We did ride one that crosses the grand canal and cost at most a euro. But it was packed so no one but me sat down. Next time I’ll take the bridge.

Watching the musicians, and even dancing, on St. Mark’s piazza is free, but if you sit down at one of the tables they expect you to buy a not inexpensive snack. I think my wife had gellato (look for this in any town in northern Italy, its a delicious form of ice cream) but I can’t remember what it cost.

Many people get a vaporetto pass (boats that serve as buses) as they cost far less than a gondola; a sundown ride along the grand canal in a vaporetto is a nice experience. I’m not sure I would get the pass if you will only be there a couple of days, as you can see almost anything on foot. Venice is very walkable because it is so small, but there isn’t a straight street in town, so its easy to get lost.

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Oops, I just noticed a mistake I made. I didn’t mean water taxi (those are expensive) but a water bus, if you want to cruise around the canals for a bit.

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DreamingOfItaly wrote:
For your first day I recommend going to the Eiffel Tower and then maybe hanging out in Luxembourg Garden for the afternoon, maybe taking in 1 museum if you feel up to it!

Thanks DOI for those great tips. Yeah I think I’ll go ahead with your suggestions for Paris. I too was thinking of covering the Eiffel Tower on the first day (since it’s a Tuesday, I guess museams are closed anyways) and especially doing it a little late into the evening. I heard it’s so beautiful at night.

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For days 2 and 3, I highly recommend the Paris Museum Pass. You can get a 2 day pass for 32 euros, and the pass easily pays for itself if you are going to see about 4 sites in the 2 days…….I went up the Arc de Triomphe at 10pm to see the city and Eiffel lit up and it was a great view.

That’s was a very valuable suggestion. 1) I never knew of such a pass before and seems it’s going to save me a lot. I did a little bit of searching and it seems I’d be better off taking the combo pass that covers the metro/bus/RER as well, isn’t it? 2) I didn’t know you could climb to the top of Arc de Triomphe. That’s definitely on my “To-Do-in-Paris” list now. Thanks Smile Also, I’m not a big museam geek myself either…but we are big on Photography. So, I guess having a combo pass would definitely provide us some flexibility to travel around and make the most out of Paris’s sceneries.

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I stayed at Villa Saint Exupery and highly recommend it. We stayed in dorms so while it was pricey for a hostel, it was much cheaper than the $124 you quoted (I’m guessing you are in a private room?)

Yes, I’ve made up my mind to stay there. I also found out that it’s regularly been ranked among the top 10 hostels in the world. All the more reason to camp there. Yes, the price I’ve quoted was for a double/twin private room.

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I recommend starting in Monterosso al Mare, because you get the 2 most difficult parts of the hike (from Monterosso to Vernazza and Vernazza to Corniglia) out of the way first and the hike is easier later, when you are tired. We stayed in Monterosso and that would be my number 1 choice of towns to stay in; otherwise, I’d pick Vernazza. I probably wouldn’t stay in Corniglia; it’s really small and not as nice as the other towns.

Thanks for the tip. I’ll try to change the itinerary a bit and I’m hoping to add another day to CT. I mean, I’m not hard-pressed for time (I mean, I could extend the trip to, say 23, 24 days, provided that I leave on 14th Saturday and stay a little longer till the end of the first week of September). By the way, would you happen to remember the hotel/hostel that you stayed in Monterosso?

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If you get to Florence the first night before sunset, I highly recommend walking up to Piazzale Michaelangelo to watch the sunset. Very pretty and great views of the whole city………My vote is not to skip Venice, which I love. It’s a really unique place and I think you’ll especially enjoy it being with your wife.

Great. My wife would love that. The only thing now is to plan how to get from Rome to Venice. Flying seems to be the best option. Will search more on that.

clevelandbrown wrote:
Watching the musicians, and even dancing, on St. Mark’s piazza is free, but if you sit down at one of the tables they expect you to buy a not inexpensive snack. I think my wife had gellato (look for this in any town in northern Italy, its a delicious form of ice cream) but I can’t remember what it cost.

Many people get a vaporetto pass (boats that serve as buses) as they cost far less than a gondola; a sundown ride along the grand canal in a vaporetto is a nice experience.

Thanks a ton for those tips. So both of you seem to suggest skipping Venice is not a good idea. I’ll somehow search more and find out how I can save a few bucks. Thanks again for all those tips.

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Done with the first reservation for 3 nights in Paris. So, it has begun. Smile

By the way, I’m just curious. Do you think it’s possible to cover this 21-day (or may be even 24-25 days if possible) whirlwind trip with $4000-$5000 (excluding airfare) for two people? I haven’t calculated an estimate yet. But I’m hoping to get away with that amount of money.

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If that budget includes your city to city transportation (railpasses, point to point tickets, car rental, fuel, tolls, parking, insurance), the answer is, IMO “no.” $4,000 to $5,000 is a workable, though not lavish, budget for two for 21 to 25 days, if it doesn’t include city to city transportation. I figure $ 75 to 100 per person per day for local transportation (buses and subways, no taxis), hostels, food from street vendors and markets with the occasional cafe or bistro (no restaurants), the occasional beer or glass of wine (no fancy clubs or heavy duty partying), admission fees, laundry and misc (postcards, minimal souvenirs, internet cafes, no big purchases). You’ve picked pretty expensive places, so I’d lean toward $100 each. There isn’t really much savings for a pair over 2 individuals on a low-budget trip; you’d have to skimp to get by on a total of $150 per day.

My estimated budget for two on this itinerary would be airfare + cost of two 21 day global saver passes (you wouldn’t want to buy them, but it’s a decent basic estimate for total city to city travel costs) +$175 per day living expense (fairly tight) +$300 emergency cash.

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desilva wrote:

Thanks for the tip. I’ll try to change the itinerary a bit and I’m hoping to add another day to CT. I mean, I’m not hard-pressed for time (I mean, I could extend the trip to, say 23, 24 days, provided that I leave on 14th Saturday and stay a little longer till the end of the first week of September). By the way, would you happen to remember the hotel/hostel that you stayed in Monterosso?

Another day in CT would be ideal because the day after the hike, I was pretty sore. It was great having a day to sleep in, and relax at the beach all day (Monterosso has the best and largest beach; go by mid-morning to get a spot on the free beach, or pay for an umbrella/chair). Got a great dinner that night, strolled around the beach at night with a gelato, and got to bed early to be ready to move onto the next destination. If I had to travel the day after the hike I think I would have been pretty overtired and cramped sitting in a train. Sometimes you need a “vacation” from your vacation Smile

We didn’t stay in a hotel (no hostels) because they were too pricey; instead we stayed in like a private B&B type place. It was basically an apartment that the owners turned into 5 rooms available for rent. Our triple room was small, but plenty big for the 3 of us, had a bathroom, had a small balcony to sit outside on, and had air-conditioning for 100 euro a night so that was a decent price for 3 people splitting the cost. I’m not sure what the price of a double would be. Anyways, the place was called Camere Arcobaleno. Great location, 8 mins from the train station and 2 mins to the waterfront/beach. Reach them by email at: info@arcobaleno5terre.com to request availability and pricing and they will give their fax number if you wish to book with them. Bear in mind that the owners don’t speak great English, but they could take the standard reservation in English; I speak Italian so I was able to further communicate with them (getting directions to the apartment, etc). We got our keys on check-in, paid for the room, and then didn’t see or hear from the owners for the rest of our stay (which was fine for us, but just something to be aware of. The room was cleaned every day while we were gone).

Regarding your other post about budget, I agree with OL that it doesn’t seem like enough for 2 people. Not only are you visiting some pretty expensive places, you’re going to be paying more money than the average backpacker by staying in private rooms. I understand why you would want a double room, but in a lot of places it’s going to be more expensive than if you were buying 2 beds in a dorm. Maybe you could stay a couple nights in dorms to cut some costs? I came across plenty of couples traveling together than stayed in dorms in my trip. Otherwise you can save a lot of money by cooking your own food, or buying bread and sandwich meat from the supermarket for lunch.

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Thanks DOI for that info. I’ll research more along your suggestions and post again. Your help is very much appreciated.

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Quick question…If we stay in the Mountain Hostel in Gimmelwald, is it possible to catch the early morning train (the good morning ticket) to Jungfraujoch. I know the train leaves from Interlaken and that we can catch it from Lauterbrunnen, but can we get to either one of these two stations (either by walking or by some other means) early in the morning to catch that train (I guess the train leaves around 6.50AM from Interlaken)? If not, is it wise to stay in a hostel in Lauterbrunnen just for that day, so that we can catch that early morning train?

Thanks

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