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Input on Trip to "the Alps" Appreciated

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Fodor Friends, we're planning a kind of "loop" trip, concentrating mostly on the Alps of Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. We're using FF miles, flying in and out of Munich, and renting a car for this part of our trip. We're thrilled to end our trip with a few days in Paris! Our travel dates are August 20-September 18. We'll have 25 days "on the ground", counting Munich and in the Alps. We have a basic itinerary developed, with some of the details filled in.

The general plan is to spend the first day, after checking into our hotel in Freising, in the city center of Munich, traveling by train. We've visited Munich on a previous trip, so we just want to re-visit Marienplatz and have some of that good German beer at the Hofbrauhaus..The following day we're driving to Berchesgaten for three nights, using it as a base for day trips in the area, including a bit of Austria.

More of Austria is next, with two overnights in Salzburg. (Hotels here are booked,) We then plan to travel to Hallstatt, having one overnight. The next day we'll travel to Zell Am See, intending to get an early start to enjoy the fabulous views on the Grossglockner Highway.That evening we plan to spend in Lienz, Austria.

Italy is next : the Dolomites. We'd like to travel to Cortina d'Ampezzo, overnighting there or in Ortisei, and spending a few days in the Val Gardena. Depending on the weather we've had heretofore on the trip, we'd like to have the flexibility to dip south into the lake region for a couple days.

From the Dolomites, we intend to wend our way into Switzerland. At this point, we have a few days with no definite plans We're still exploring. Possibly Zermatt? Engadine? Meiringen to take a postal bus trip over a few passes? One definite goal is Lauterbrunnen where we do have three nights booked: Sept. 8-10. From Lauterbrunnen, we're planning to explore the BO. We'd like to have a few days open to "float" according to weather.

In our planning, we've consulted several guidebooks, and gotten valuable information from reading the TRs of Fodorites. As we begin to fill in details, we have several questions. We know that many of you have traveled in these areas, and would appreciate any insight you could provide. Here are some of the questions we're wondering about:

1. Is AutoEurope a reliable company? We can get a Volkswagen Gulf from them for about $800. for 25 days? Sounds pretty good.

2. Does anyone know if the train from Freising goes to the city center of Munich; i.e. Marienplatz?

3. If the weather isn't conducive to our drive over the Grossglockner Pass, and we decide to travel from Zell Am See toward Innsbruck, would the highway north into the Dolomites be more advisable to travel?

4. How doable is it to leave some nights in the Dolomites "open" to allow some flexibility in our travels there? We have the same concern about Switzerland. On previous driving trips, we've "played it by ear", booking only larger cities and towns. But more recently, we're wondering how doable that is. From reading we've done, it seems many popular areas, including the BO, are crowded. That's why we booked Lauterbrunnen. If the weather is favorable, we hope to add a night or two either in Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald.

At this point, we have a couple of ideas for our itinerary back to Munich. We'll work on that, but appreciate any suggestions.

We've previously posted some of this info tagged only "Austria" and, at the suggestion of pja1, we've posted more information here.

Thanks so much for any information or suggestions you may have!

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