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Itinerary recommendation (Germany, Hungary, Austria and Switzerland)

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Dear all,

I would love to have some suggestions and recommendations regarding my one-month itinerary so far:

May 22: Arriving at Frankfurt, taking a train to Berlin
May 22-June 5: Berlin
June-5: a night train to Budapest
June6-11: Budapest
June11-17: Vienna
June17- 20: Salzburg
June20-27: Switzerland: (here is the tricky part I need suggestion most).
My idea is to go to St.Moritz first from Salzburg, and take the Glacier Express to Zermatt. From Zermatt I travel north: Interlaken, (maybe Lucerne), Zurich.
June 27-30: Maybe stay in Switzerland few more days. Or maybe go to Bavaria-Munich for 3 days. And go back to Frankfurt on July 1st to take the plane going back to my country.

Please give me some suggestions of any other places I should check from point to point, maybe stay a night in the middle somewhere, etc, etc. I booked a Eurail Select Pass with 8 travel days, any suggestions regarding train commuting (how to make my itinerary more economic and time-saving) would also be very much appreciated.
Thank you all for your precious input!

All the best,
Kai

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    You know about the 7pm rule on overnight trains with a pass - if the train leaves after 7pm then your unlimited travel day is the whole next day - getting 7pm to midnight the first day gratis - so if you wanted to do a day trip by train from Budapest the next day you could - probably not but be sure to use only one day on a pass if that night train leaves after 7pm - the so-callled 7 pm rule.

    A shorter Eurailpass and a Swiss Pass would have made much more sense I think - eurails don't cover parts of the GEX such as from around Andermatt to Zermatt and Zermatt to Brig on the way back - a Swiss Pass would have plus would be much cheaper per day and also give you many benefits in Switzeland a Eurailpass would not - lie being valid on trains above Interlaken to Grindelwald - be sure not to just go to Interlaken a nice but just another city far from the glacier-girdled Alps - take the train up to Grindelwald or Wengen and stay at least one night there - the high Alps rise thousands of feet above lush meadows from your hotel balcony - Interlaken by itself IMO would not be worth it.

    anyway for loads of stuff on European trains check these fine IMO info-laden sites: www.ricksteves.com; www.swisstravelsystem.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com.

    Sazlburg to St Moritz - take train from Salburg to Buchs - Swiss border station and there to Chur, changing trains always because of a track width change to St Moritz.

    IMO the Bernina Express from St Moritz to the Bernina Pass summit is the MOST scenic train in Switzerland if not Europe - much more scenic IMO than the GEX - at least spend a day out on the Bernina Pass Railway! Get out of the summit stations Bernina Ospiz or Alp Grum and walk to a glacier and around a lovely Alpine lake.

    Bernina Pass Railway: https://www.google.com/search?q=bernina+pass+railway+images&es_sm=93&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=-f9EVbLuL4mQoQSU5YFg&ved=0CCQQsAQ&biw=1600&bih=1075

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    Thanks PalenQ! This is extremely useful.
    Since I've booked a 8 travel days Eurail Select Pass- what do you think I should do in Swiss? Should I get a Swiss Pass or a Half Price Card?

    Now I am thinking maybe from Salzburg to St Moritz, I will stop one day at Innsbruck. Do you think that is a solid plan?

    Do you think Bernina Pass Railway is worthier than Glacier Railway? I can only choose one to go, right?

    Do you think I should spend last three days in Bavaria and Munich, or stay in Zurich?

    Thank you very much!

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    Do you think Bernina Pass Railway is worthier than Glacier Railway? I can only choose one to go, right?>

    If you go to St-Moritz be sure to do the hour or so trip on the Bernina Pass Railway to the summit area as a day trip and yes most would say that the Bernina Pass Railway is a lot more scenic than the whole length of the Glacier Express - the best parts of the Glacier Express are between Reichenau and St Moritz and Vvisp- Zermatt - the long-haul in between gets tedious for many - an 8-hour marathon that has IME many folks dwelling more on the unique tilting wine blasses and their contents the GEX has than the scenery which nice after so long becomes rather ordinary.

    If you decide to go only to the St. Moritz and Interlaken areas - the Jungfrau Region and not Zermatt all your trains between them will be covered by a Eurailpass - and when you get to Interlaken and want to go to the hills you'll still get a 25% discount on mountain trains not fully covered by a Eurailpass.

    If you go to Zermatt however from St Moritz means taking a long portion of the GEX not covered by a Eurailpass (plus there is a $40 or so supplement that only the GEX trains charge that is not charged on most other scenic trains).

    Upshot - I'd just go with the Eurailpass in Switzerland too now that you have an 8-day pass - half-fare cards cost about $130 to buy then you get half off - on your trip I do not see that being cost-effective only unless you take the very very VERY expensive train to the Jungfraujoch but even then I think a Eurailpass gives you a 25% discount (discounts do not demand you burn a day on your pass - just that the pass's overall validity period be in effect - 2 months I believe on a select pass).

    anyway if you formulate a more precise tentative itinerary I and others can better suggest what may be necessary but for now I'd stay with what you have.

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    Now I am thinking maybe from Salzburg to St Moritz, I will stop one day at Innsbruck. Do you think that is a solid plan?>

    Yes to me it seems nice - Innsbruck is the type of place that is fairly compact in its center so a day or half a day is OK - anyway there are two ways to go between Salzburg and Innsbruck - one the faster mainline one is actually going via Germany - the so-called Corridor Zugs or Austrian trains that go thru a corridor of Germany - but the all-Austrian inland route is much more scenic - going thru Alpine areas and cute places like Zell-an-See - on a lovely lake and though takes longer if you have time do the more scenic route IMO.

    As for Zurich - not three days there but maybe the day before your flight - Zurich is a modern city that leaves many underwhelmed - first-time travelers to the area will enjoy the like of Lucerne or Bavaria I think much better.

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    Dear PalenQ,

    Thank you again very much for your detailed suggestions, they are very, very helpful. I will definitely check my train from Salzburg to Innsbruck making sure it goes through all-Austria.

    Now I have a more detailed itinerary, but some problems emerge:

    May 22 Frankfurt to Berlin (1 travel day)
    May 22-June 5 Berlin
    June 5 Night Train to Budapest (2 travel days- the train leaves after 19:00)
    June 6-11 Budapest
    June 11-17 Vienna (3 travel days)
    June 17-19 Salzburg (4 travel days)
    June 19-20 Innsbruck (5 travel days)
    June 20-21 Chur (6 travel days)
    June 21-22 Bernina Express to Tirano. And back so St. Moritz (stay one night)
    June 22-23 Glacier Express to Zermatt. Stay in Zermatt
    June 23-24 Zermatt to Grindelwald
    June 24-25 Stay in Murren
    June 25-26 Grindelwald to Bern
    June 26-27 Bern to Zurich
    June 27-28 Zurich to Munich by night train (7 travel days)
    June 28-30 Munich
    June 30 Munich to Frankfurt (8 travel days)

    ----
    OK. It seems like I exhausted my Eurail Select Pass outside Swiss. Do you think I should get a Swiss Pass then? If so, how many days do you think I need? I think because I travel everyday in Swiss maybe 8 consecutive days would be better (they have 20% discount offer now if I book a first-class Swiss Pass-it still costs 400$ dollars though)? Or do you think I only need a Swiss Half Fare Card (or 4 days Swiss Pass + Half Fare Card) for all the trains and excursions in Swiss? I'm conflicted and confused now...

    Also, do you know how to make reservations of Bernina and Glacier if I'm already in Europe (Moscow)? I tried to book them from RailEurope but they won't ship the reservations to me if I'm already in Europe.

    Thank you!!!!!

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    mydandy - at a quick glance I'd say yes that an 8-consecutive-day pass may be the easiest and perhaps the best vs a 3-day Flexipass + buying the Half-Fare Card with it at 50% off its normal price of $129 - that is thru RailEurope or its agents but if you are in Moscow then look at www.sbb.ch - Swiss Railways web site for passes sold in Switzerland at all stations - like Chur - I assume they have the same deals - half-fare cards at 50% off with a Swiss Flexipass but not sure - bue if you get the 8-consecutive-day pass you do not need a Half-Fare Card because you will get everything not fully covered at half-off just with the pass (except the Jungfraujoch train which is not in your plans and IME is not a must thing at all - it is very very expensive even at 50% off.

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    Also, do you know how to make reservations of Bernina and Glacier if I'm already in Europe (Moscow)? I tried to book them from RailEurope but they won't ship the reservations to me if I'm already in Europe.>

    I believe you can do this on the official sites just say you have a pass already - but again a Eurailpass won't pass for half of the GEX trip - the western half to Zermatt so sans a Swiss Pass or something you'd have to pay a heft supplement plus the usual $35-40 surcharge for pass holders.

    http://www.glacierexpress.ch/en/Pages/default.aspx

    The Bernina Express:

    https://www.rhb.ch/en/panoramic-trains/bernina-express

    All of the Bernina Express Chur-St-Moritz/Pontresina up and over the Bernina Pass down into Italy is fully covered by a Eurailpass but there is still about a 12 Swiss franc booking fee for the mandated seat reservations.

    Both GEX and Bernina Express can sell out - lots of tour groups, especailly it seems German ones - load up those trains. But on the Bernina Pass Railway you have local trains that you can just hop on with a pass - no reservations no surcharge - same exact scenery and in summer some of those locals have open-air flat bed cars just with railings - the ultimate observation panoramic cars IME - not all trains have them but those that do you can just sit in them without formality.

    So on the Bernina line you can always take locals if the official Bernina Express is sold out - on the GEX there are similarly local trains too that you can just hop but they do not go all the way thru so to get from say St Moritz to Zermatt in one day is almost impossible unless you take the official BEX - no alternative really in just one day unless you want to be on a train a lot more than the 8-hours the direct GEX takes.

    Note both trains are called 'express trains' and they bill themselves as the world's slowest express trains - nothing express about them in reality in such hilly terrain anyway!

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