11-day tour. Your ideas are appreciated!

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Jul 12th, 2005, 02:56 AM
  #1
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11-day tour. Your ideas are appreciated!

We are a company of 6 adults and we plan to rent a car from Milan airport 1st August (return it on the 11th). We have mandatory stay in Bern area (1 night), Garmish area (2 nights) and Saltzbourg area (2 nights). Might be a lot of driving but THAT IS WHY we need your assistance on the following:

1. Scenic roads to follow - things to see in between (to the extend possible, of course, taking ionto account the time constraint)

2. Affordable country places to stay (B&B is OK)

3. If you STRONGLY believe that a certain place should be visited "in expense" of one of the cities above do not hesitate to propose it.

We have the guide books for the aforementioned cities so please comment and, if possible, prioritize on the places between these cities.

Again, we appreciate your assistance!

John
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Jul 12th, 2005, 11:43 PM
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I'll take a stab at providing some advice (caveat being that I haven't visited Switzerland, Austria or Germany in about 10 years). I would suggest that you get a map of Europe to start picking some routes and overnight stops, and to geographically follow my suggestions below.

My other caveat is that I don't know exactly how many other Europeans will be wanting to do the same thing you are on August 1, so you may experience traffic and have a harder time finding places to stay.

Along with your map (I like Michelin maps because they highlight scenic routes in green, though other maps do that as well), use mappy.com to get ideas on timing and routes. (Though I'd allow extra time than Mappy says, to allow for traffic, etc.)

Because you have a lot of driving and not a lot of time, I would suggest you use the autobahns/autostrade as much as possible (keep in mind all the tolls you'll pay, though). Many of the routes are still gorgeous, even though you're on the highway.

Depending on when you arrive in Milan on August 1, and considering that you depart on the 11th (meaning you need to stay somewhere nearish Milan on the night of the 10th), and that you have 5 nights already assigned to your 3 mandatory stops, you have 3 extra nights to play with.

From Milan to Berne, Switzerland, mappy.com shows 3 1/2 hours (under best conditions) via autostrada. I've driven the southern portion of that route, and even on the autostrada, it's gorgeous. You'll pass right by Lakes Lugano and Lake Como; they're both beautiful, but somewhat touristy (lots of people love Como; it didn't click with me). We stayed in Gandria, Switzerland, a tiny village on Lake Lugano just east of the city of Lugano (at the Hotel Moosman). Gandria was wonderful; we walked on a path next to the lake for quite a ways, and rented a rowboat and took it out into the lake.

Also on the way to Berne, you'll pass Interlaken. I haven't spent time there, so I have no advice - it's supposed to be beautiful, but probably lots of tourists.

Relatively nearby is Grindelwald (and it's much smaller sibling, Gimmelwald). Incredibly beautiful, great day hiking, great nature experiences, though Grindelwald itself can be pretty touristy. Personally, I'd choose this over Berne, but I know nothing about Berne, and you've said Berne is mandatory.

From Berne to Garmisch is a longer haul (under best conditions) of about 4.5 hours (says mappy.com) via autobahn, including having to go around Zurich. In eastern Switzerland, you'll drive through the Appenzell, which is a charming, less-touristy part of Switzerland, but I wouldn't necessarily use one of your free days here. I'd probably just drive straight through to Garmisch.

Garmisch is a great spot, also lots of good hiking and nature stuff. My memories of Garmisch aren't real strong, but it's also probably more touristy. We stayed in Mittenwald, which is near Karwendel, which is on the other side of the Zugspitze; my notes say Mittenwald was charming though tourists were there too. Neuschwanstein is a couple hours from Mittenwald, should you want to detour north to visit the castle.

From Garmisch to Salzburg is a bit of a hassle, even though they're not too far apart. Mappy.com shows 2 hours, which includes about 45 minutes off the autobahn. I remember the drive as being pretty, not beautiful, and forested.

Salzburg is a wonderful little city, as you probably already know. However, check on the dates of the Salzburg Music Festival. If it's going on while you're there, you will have a harder time finding places to stay. If the festival is going on, though, there are many events, of all sorts of different price ranges, all over the city. I still remember listening to a Mozart concerto in a palace in Salzburg.

For a day trip from Salzburg, Hallstatt is a quaint little town; you could also stay in Hallstatt and travel into Salzburg. We didn't do any hiking in Hallstatt, but did rent boats and go out in the lake. Beautiful countryside, but further away, are the towns of Zell am See, Kitzbuhel and Badgastein, and in Germany, Berchtesgaden.

Now is the hard part - getting back to Milan. You could swing south on the autobahn, and take in (or look at as you drive by) Venice, Padova, Vicenza, Verona. After Verona, you'll pass by another Italian lake, Lago di Garda. Depending on what time your flight is, you could spend the night on Lago di Garda and see at the airport the next day. I didn't check mappy.com for the time of this route, but if you drive straight through, it would take an entire day.

Or, probably better, you could go back west to Innsbruck, then south from there, over the Brenner Pass (can I use the word beautiful again), through the edge of the Italian Dolomites (worth a stop, but mostly east of your route), heading west when you get to Verona. Mappy.com says this is 588 km, taking more than 5.5 hours.

Re places to stay, these are parts of Europe where there are many "zimmer frei," that is, rooms to let. However, finding one place for 6 people is difficult (I know, we tried doing it), and won't be possible in places like Salzburg.

You'll need to decide how to "spend" your "extra" days. Remember that, depending on what time you arrive, 2 nights in Garmisch, for example, only equals 1 full day and 1 or 2 partial days. You could either drive straight through to each of your three mandatory spots and add time there (except maybe not Berne), or have one-night stays in (for example) the Italian lakes and the Dolomites.

I can give you the names of the hotels we stayed in, but it's been 10 years, and they were all hotels in the towns, not country B&Bs.

Hope this focuses your planning a bit.
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Jul 13th, 2005, 05:05 AM
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Lexma90, before going through your response in a thorough manner (it deserves it!) let me express my sincere thanks to you for your effort to send such a detailed email. That's my idea of constructive response!..
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Jul 13th, 2005, 05:23 AM
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We plan to spend a few days towards the end of our upcoming vacation (late Spetember, early October) in the Salzburg area. However, like you, we will be driving, so we decided not to stay in Salzburg itself but in nearby Werfen, a nice small town. We're booked into the Hotel Obauer (www.obauer.com), which is a very well-priced 4 star hotel that also has an excellent moderately priced restaurant. The hotel is a short walk from the Werfen train station, easy for hopping into Salzburg and no worries about parking. Werfen has its own sights, including a castle and the world-famous ice caves.
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Jul 13th, 2005, 07:05 AM
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I still have many questions, why are you flying into Milan, Perhaps Munich would be better ? To follow up on comments from the other post, it would be helpful if we knew what you are trying to accomplish & what restraints you may be operating under. I would limit my trip to the 3 places you have mentioned & places in between & extend it no farther. It is unfortunate but whenever one posts something so vague & outlandish as your original post. The response is not likely to be favorable. We are happy to help you, but the more info you provide the better you we can do so. Flying into Muncih makes Garmisch & Salzburg prractically day trips & removes a lot of travel time. In fact, you wouldn't even need a car. Bern is the wild card here, but I'm still not sure I wouldn't opt for the train. I'm guessing you've not been to Europe (or at least this portion) prior to this trip ?
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Jul 13th, 2005, 07:19 AM
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I can't help with the areas you're talking about, but you might get more help if you clarify one thing: At the beginning of your post, you say that those three cities are mandatory. At the end of your post, you say that people should say so if they think you should go somewhere else instead. Which is it?
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Jul 13th, 2005, 07:21 AM
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And the whirlwind ideas in this earlier post - - http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34642908 - - apparently (partially?) abandoned add up to a very confusing story. We need clarification as to what you think is the main skeleton of the itinerary, as you see it now.

Best wishes,

Rex
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Jul 13th, 2005, 07:32 AM
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If those 3 places are mandatory stays, and will require so much driving to get between them, I don't think I would add any more places to visit with only 10 days to spent. You mentioned Vevey in your other post, a place I absolutely love but I don't think I would add it to the trip you have described. Do you have to arrive and depart Milan? That does not seem the most convenient airport for your other destinations.
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Jul 13th, 2005, 07:35 AM
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For scenic roads, you might want to avoid the superhighway between Milan and Bern and go over the mountain passes rather than through the mountain tunnels. The tricky part is avoiding the superhighway going from the Ticino through the Alps because Switzerland is not good at indicating alternative roads. But they exist. I did it last year. Once in Andermatt you can go towards Gletsch and over several passes to Brienz and Bern. Mappy takes you through the Alps to reach Andermatt from the north. This would be a very long day of driving.
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Jul 13th, 2005, 08:10 AM
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Have you looked yet into what sort of vehicle you will need? I'm not aware of any cars in europe that will hold 6. I imagine you will need either some sort of mini-van (probably also dicey for 6 adults plus luggage) or a small bus to carry so many/so much comfortably.

I would speak to a couple of the major rental companies directly to seee what type of vehicle they reco - then you can shop around.
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Jul 13th, 2005, 10:18 AM
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After you get your route mapped out in some preliminary fashion, I'd pick any additional stops partly based on location to break up the long driving days into smaller pieces.
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Jul 13th, 2005, 11:06 AM
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^^^
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Jul 24th, 2005, 03:23 PM
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After consideration of all the parameters brought to our attention (we appreciate your contribution), this seems to be the final plan:

Aug 1st, 1400 Departure from Linate airport (Milan)
Past Como, short stay at Lugano (2-3 hours)
Continue to Bern via Interlaken
Arrive at Bern around 2100
STAY FOR 2 NIGHTS
(Visit Bern and, if possible, Lucerne)
Aug 3rd, 1200 Depart from Bern
Past Wiggen, Lucerne
Arrive Davos around 1600
STAY FOR 1 NIGHT
(Visit Davos and, if possible, St Moritz)
Aug 4th, 1400 Depart Davos
Arrive Garmisch/Oberammergau
STAY FOR 4 NIGHTS
(Visit the area incl. Innsbruck)
Aug 8th, 0900 Depart Garmisch/Ober
Past Innsbruck, Vent, Merano, Boltzano
Arrive at Sirmione (Lake Garda) around 1700
STAY FOR 2 OR 3 NIGHTS
(Visit the area and, if possible, Verona)
Aug 10th, 0900 Depart Sirmione to Linate airport, Milan

It is still a busy schedule but (hopefully) not that exhausting compared to the initial one (the Autoroute software was helpful)
We welcome your comments on the above itinerary. Seems OK or it needs some more “trimming”? Any proposals for overnight stay? (B&B is OK)

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