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Please review my Germany/Austria,Switzerland itinerary

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Please review this itinerary for our trip starting mid-September 2013.

Fly to Vienna (3 nights)
Depart Vienna, pick up rental car, see Melk on the way to Halstatt
Halstatt (1 night)
Salzburg (2 nights)
Reutte or Fussen (2 nights) - visit Ludwig Castle, drive a little way north along Romantic Road to get a taste
Lucerne (2 nights)
Lauterbrunnen (3 nights) - visit Murren, Gimmelwald, etc.
Staufen (1 night) - drive through Black Forest
Baden Baden (1 night)
Bacharach (1 night) - take Rhine cruise
Frankfurt for flight home (1 night)

The rental car is pretty expensive, especially with the dropoff in a different country. I was contemplating dropping the car off in Lucerne and picking up another one at the end of our Lauterbrunnen stay to continue on to Staufen. Any thoughts on that?

Also, airfares are quite high to Vienna from US compared to travelling to other parts of Europe. Is this because Austrian Air has a monopoly?

Regarding Lauterbrunnen, guidebooks recommend staying up in Gimmelwald or Murren instead. However, I thought maybe it might be better to stay in the valley in case the weather was bad. Do I assume correctly that there will be more options with bad weather if I stay in the valley?

Thank you so much for considering my itinerary and my questions.

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