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Trip Report France,Switzerland and Italy

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My wife and I took our once in a lifetime trip to Europe and just got back. We had been to Italy before but this was a longer trip and we decided to go first class on a lot of things so therefore I call it once in a lifetime. So here goes.

1:Travel on Delta using miles First and Business class from PHL to FRA via Atlanta. What a difference over coach. Only issue was lie flat seat on 767 was too short for me. I am 6 feet tall.

2: Train from Frankfurt airport to Paris thru Karlshure (1st class). We almost missed the connection to Paris since the DB train was 25 minutes late. The TGV to Paris was great sitting on the upper deck.

3:Paris for 2 days and 3 nights. It rained the first day so we got soaked. Took the boat cruise down the Siene, then went to Notre Dame and Sacre Couer.

4: Day 2 in Paris was the Eiffel Tower and the Lourve.

Paris observations: We took the bus almost everywhere. It was very easy and not too crowded. We did take the Metro once and hated it. Wall to wall people. No problem with gypsy's, pickpockets or petition signers. Be sure to get your Eiffel tower tickets before you go,saved us a long wait in the ticket line. We spent a lot of time on Rue Cler since our hotel was around the corner. Liked the area.

5:Picked up rental car from Hertz and drove to Mt Saint Michel. Picked up cat at 27 Rue Ferdinand. Easy access to highway but 15 minutes of terror getting to it. Be prepared for a lot of tolls and very expensive. Raining again at Mt St Michel so we got soaked again. From there we drove to our B&B outside Bayeux.

6: Spent the day at Utah Beach,Pointe Du Hac, and Omaha Beach and American cemetery. What a moving day. The next day we awoke bright and early and drove back to Paris to drop off car and take train to Zurich.

7: TGV to Zurich first class upper deck again. First time we heard anything about pickpockets. Someone was picked as he was struggling to get his golf bag on the train. He said his wallet was in his back pocket. Some people just don't read before they take their trip. Pack light and use money belts. I used a Pac Safe hidden wallet and my wife had a Pac Safe purse with a latch. We came home without a single incident. I even had my iPhone in my front pocket but turned it sideways and pushed it to the bottom. I made sure my back was always toward a wall and no one came near me. Pretty easy to be cautious.

8: Got up early again and took the train from Zurich to Chur to catch the Bernina Express to Tirano. A little pricey ($330) for 2 first class tickets but worth it. A beautiful 4 hour train ride thru the Alps into Italy. Then we too the regional train from Tirano to Varenna. Note: When taking the regional trains in Italy some of the doors do NOT automatically open. You need to pull the handle or push the button. With that being said we missed our stop in Varenna and had to backtrack from Lecco. No big deal,just lost 2 hours.

9: Varenna was just the spot to relax for a couple of days between France and Italy. Took the ferry and visited Bellagio. Between the 2 towns Varenna is much better.

10: Train from Varenna to Venice(first class of course) thru Milan. The next 4 days we spent in Venice. We got the 72 hour vaparetto pass even though we had the Hilton free shuttle. We mad the pass worthwhile using it when we got tired to just ride the boat and going to Murano and Burano. Venice was very crowded probably due to all of the cruise ships. I have been to Venice in February and March the last couple of times I went and it was better going then. Otherwise Venice is Venice and will always be my favorite spot.

11: Train from Venice to Rome. (you guessed it,First class). We went to Rome to see the new Pope,otherwise we would have skipped it. Not my favorite place and this trip Rome did not endear itself to me. Rome is a big city like Paris and I am not a fan of big cites.

Final notes: If you plan ahead you can get cheap train fares whether it is First or second class. Example: I paid 140E for 2 people Frankfurt to Paris in First and 160E Paris to Zurich in First. Travelling in Italy was even cheaper if you plan ahead. Get your attraction tickets before you leave and avoid the lines. It will cost you a couple of Euros but save you hours of time. Don't panic about pickpockets,gypsy's,or other things like that. Just be observant,prepared and ignore them if they come near you. Be polite,dress appropriately(We wore jeans and polo/dress shirts). Too many people wearing shorts and t-shirts like this was a beach vacation. Have patience and have fun. Pace yourself and take time to relax and enjoy the sites.

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