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13 days Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Zermatt

13 days Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Zermatt

Old Mar 6th, 2014, 12:30 AM
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13 days Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Zermatt

Need advice for my trip - 19 May - 3 June 2014.
Fly into Amsterdam and leave from Vienna.
Beginning at Amsterdam, my wife and I would like to travel by train and the 2 must visit place are Zermatt, Salszburgh.
Our idea of a holiday is just taking in the sights, experiencing the culture, and enjoying the food. No extreme sports for us.
We are in our 50s.

I would appreciate:

1. Proposal for an 14 days train itinerary that takes us from Amsterdam - Vienna that include must stops at Zermatt, and salszburg, ending at Vienna. I welcome any alternative suggestions to include any cities that you thinks would be great to stop at.eg...stop at a city in Germany?

2. Suggestions on whether it is economical to purchase a eurorail pass? What kind would be best. What about purchase of individual direct train ride tickets? Some have suggested that it cost less than a 4 countries flexi pass.

3. Comments on the weather during the period of 19 May - 3 June.

Looking forward to any information that can help me plan my trip.

Thanks

Augustine
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Old Mar 6th, 2014, 12:54 AM
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Amsterdam to Zermatt is over 10 hours by train, with at least 3 changes. Unless you take an overnight train to Basel 20:31 - 06:59 and then go on to Zermatt arriving at 10:13, you are going to have one whole day used up travelling.

With that in mind, stopping halfway to Zermatt makes some sense and Strasbourg fits the bill.

You might want to consider flying to either Zurich or Geneva from Amsterdam. You can take a train directly from either of those airports to Zermatt, and arrive in 3:30 (Zurich) to 3:50 (Geneva) hours with just one change in Visp.

Unfortunately, you have an even more difficult time getting to Salzburg from Zermatt - 9:30 hours by train, with at least 2 changes and no decent overnight option. Flying is, again, an option, but a poor one. With it taking almost 4 hours to get back to either Zurich or Geneva, and limited flights to Salzburg, you will probably have to fly to Munich and then train to Salzburg and you are going to be back up around 9 hours total for the trip.

If you are going to have to give up 2 entire days travelling, then I would not suggest adding any other location - you will only have 3 days in each location.

The difficult thing here is trying to include a remote location, like Zermatt, in the middle of a trip with 2 quite distant endpoints.
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Old Mar 6th, 2014, 02:07 AM
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Thanks for the rather prompt response to my request.

In view of the challenges faced in the itinerary, would this intinerary makes more sense:

1.Fly into Amsterdam (stay 2 days here)
2.Amsterdam - Munich (8 hours) -stay 2 day at Munich
2. Munich - Salzburg (2 hours) - (stay 2 days at salzburg)
3. Salzburg - Innsbruk (2 hours)- stay 1 day at Innsbruck)
4. Innsbruk - Zermatt (7 hours) - stay 3 days at Zermatt.
5. Zermatt - Zurich (3.30 hours) - stay 2 days at Zurich
Fly out of Zurich for home in Singappore.

I would appreciate your opinion of this itinerary. In this instance, I would skip Vienna. An other suggestions and comments welcomed.

Thanks and Best Regards

Augustine
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Old Mar 6th, 2014, 12:07 PM
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2. Suggestions on whether it is economical to purchase a eurorail pass? What kind would be best. What about purchase of individual direct train ride tickets? Some have suggested that it cost less than a 4 countries flexi pass.>

do not judge a railpass on whether it is cheaper or more expensive - there are several factors besides cost - first of all if over 25 Eurailpasses automatically are first class and 1st class has significant benefits over 2nd class - all the countries you are training in allow you to just hop on any train anytime and in 1st class IME of decades of traveling with a first-class pass you will amost always find several or many empty seats when 2nd class can be SRO - so that is a benefit

And flexibility to just go to the station and hop any train anytime - full fare fully flexible tickets can cost a ton of money so flexibility if desired is also key.

If going first class and wanting flexibility yes some kind of Eurailpass will be a good deal.

but the cheapest way for you may be to go online in various rail sites like the national railways sites for each country and try to book discounted tickets in 2nd class and as these are sold in limited numbers you must book weeks or months ahead of time to secure them and then they usually are set in stone - non-changeable non-refundable and you can literally spend hours on several different sites to track them down and if they are not available on one or two legs and you have to pay full fare then again a pass may be better.

so the efficacy of a pass depends on flexibility desired, class of travel desired and for the trip of a lifetime IME you will have a much much more relaxed journey in first class (not that 2nd class is awful just that first-class is much nicer.

If the costs of a series of 2nd class discounted tickets even approaches the cost of a railpass then go for the first-class rail pass.

Do your research - Amsterdam to Munich check www.bahn.de/en the German Railways site and also for Munich to Salzburg

In Austria www.oebb.at Austrian Railways site

Switzerland www.sbb.ch - note that Eurailpasses are not valid on Brig/visp mountain trains to Zermatt so factor that in as well.

Great sites that may help you get a fix on the European rail system and tickets and passes - www.seat61.com - great info on discounted tickets; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

I would also suggest substituting the fantastic Jungfrau Region around Interlaken for Zermatt - much more varied things to see and do here - Zermatt is nice but it is big detour from Zurich whereas Interlaken and the Jungfrau Region are just a short train ride from Zurich and to me and many others the Jungfrau Region is the very highlight of Switzerland - and a Eurailpass will get you there without extra charge.

If going the discounted non-pass route then a 4-consecutive-day Swiss Pass may be cost-effective and utilitarian as it would cover travel all over Switzerland including to Zermatt and back - www.swisstravelsystem.com is a great site for Swiss trains.

Images of the fantastic Jungfrau Region.
https://www.google.com/search?q=jung...=1600&bih=1075
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Old Mar 6th, 2014, 01:20 PM
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Thee is also a CNL CityNightLiner train rolling nightly between Amsterdam and Munich vs 8 hours in the day - these are amongst the finest night trains anywhere - check www.bahn.de/en for info and advance discounted tickets - also saves on a night in a hotel cost.
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Old Mar 7th, 2014, 02:21 AM
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Thank you all for the very insights on train travel. Yes, the other suggestion about substituting Jungfrau for zermatt is also a fantastic idea.

Thanks and I continue to welcome any other suggestions.

Any suggestion on which city in Germany should I visit, if I have time for only one.

In Austria - should I visit Vienna instead of Salzburg or Innsbruck.

Thanks in anticipation of any suggestions and ideas.
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Old Mar 7th, 2014, 04:56 AM
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I would appreciate advice and opinion about driving in Europe.

I have driven extensively in the USA - from Toronto (Canada) to Orlando (Forida), San Francisco - LA - Las Vegas - Grand Cayon. In UK I drove from Edindburgh to London.

Considering my route - Amsterdam - Berlin - Munich - Salzburg - Zurich - Zermatt:

1. What is the terrain like for driving - steep rolling hills?
2. What is the weather condition like for driving = snow? rain? sleet?(May 20 - June 3)
3. What is the cost of petrol? and rental? Insurance? Any other cost to consider?
4. Any other factors to consider in deciding whetehr to drive or travel by train?

Thanks and looking forward to any advice and opinon.

Best Regards

Augustine
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Old Mar 7th, 2014, 05:38 AM
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Just for fun, i calculated distance and drive time for the above route using google maps as a source. If you drive, you will cover a distance of 2283 between these locations requiring 27 hours and 23 minutes. I added a driving trip back to Zurich since you need to fly home. In addition, have you calculated the cost of tolls, petrol, vignettes required for different countries as well as the significant rental car drop fees? Also, you cannot drive to Zermatt but must take a train from Tasch.

While I enjoy driving in Europe, this seems a large undertaking. I would advise reviewing train, air or a combination. If you wish to drive, reconsider chosen destinations. You can price a car rental using AutoEurope.
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Old Mar 7th, 2014, 07:30 AM
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check on steep drop-off charges if renting in Holland and returning car in Switzerland - often huge charges for not returning in the same country.
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Old Mar 7th, 2014, 06:53 PM
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Thanks PalenQ and Huggy...your insights are invaluable..I am convinced that I should take the train....

and I am seriously considering going to Jungfrau instead of Zermatt.

Any comments or suggestions on which city in germany that is a 'must go' city - Berlin? Munich? Frankfurt? Cologne?

What about a city in Austria - Vienna or Salzburg ?

I welcome any suggestions.

Thanks
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Old Mar 8th, 2014, 07:05 AM
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I think four of vour choices are "must gos", but since that is highly personal, some reasons too;

Berlin - Yes, all of 20th century European history oozes from Berlin - fascinating

Munich - Yes, urban Gemutlichkeit - where most Germans say they would like to live

Salzburg - Yes, one of my 3 favourite smaller European cities - bustling yet intimate

Vienna - Yes, some find it too "imperial' but if you once ruled most of central Europe.....

Frankfurt - No, a rebuilt modern financial centre, for the most part.

Cologne - No, the Dom is spectacular but Cologne suffers from some poor post war reconstruction

Vienna is a bit of an outlier to your planned route and will take 5 - 6 hours of return travel time from Salzburg
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Old Mar 8th, 2014, 07:49 AM
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I don't think you would be unhappy with your choice of the Jungfrau region over Zermatt. It is just incredible and always a must see when I travel to Europe.

I love Salzburg over either Vienna or Innsbruck. Consider adding Hallstatt in the Salzgammergut region.

My friend and I spent 22 days in Germany, Switzerland and Austria last fall with a 3 country 1st class railpass and loved the flexibility and lack of stress it gave us.
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 07:00 AM
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Thank you all for your helpful advices.
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 07:44 AM
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I disagree as to the entire Jungfrau REGION vs. Zermatt. Why? Zermatt is very much the "typical" ski village and basically there is one sight to see and that is the peak with the nearby view over the Monte Rosa Massif. The problem is that the peak can easily be shrouded in clouds even when the village has clearer weather.

The Jungfrau region OTOH offers MUCH more to see in terms of spectacular views, cable car rides, scenic train rides, etc., and unlike the Matterhorn, you can travel up to the various viewpoints such as the Shilthorn, the Jungfrau itself with its very impressive train ride, etc.
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 10:35 AM
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ditto to all Dukey says comparing Zermatt to Jungfrau Region - Zermatt has great hiking and the Matterhorn but the Interlaken-Jungfrau Region has so many more varied things - everything that Zermatt has plus a lot more - boat trips on the lakes - a much larger area, etc.
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 02:18 PM
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Plus in the Interlaken/Jungfrau Region if the not all uncommon rainy streak sets in you can easily day trip to the likes of Bern or Lucerne - enjoyble even in wet weather - especially Bern since it has covered walkways throughout the town center.

Zermatt foul weather it take about 1.5 hours just to get down to Brig and then...
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 04:45 PM
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Thanks to all of your interaction. I feel like I am there right now, reading all your very vivid description. Thanks.

Now I seek all your advice on lodging in Amsterdam, Munich, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Zurich, Interlarken, Zermatt.

Any advice on which websites I can look up for safe, clean and comfortable lodging for 2 of us, not looking for luxurious catergory but something in the economy range. Time of travel 19 May - 3 June. Possible near the train station.

Any advice welcomed! Thanks
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Old Mar 10th, 2014, 06:54 AM
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Possible near the train station.>

the IBIS in Amstrerdam is right on platform 1 of Central Station! http://www.ibis.com/gb/booking/hotels-list.shtml

IBIS often IME are by ttrain stations - they are similar to Holiday Inns - very modern, comfy, etc. Look for weekend bargains.
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Old Mar 10th, 2014, 06:09 PM
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Hi PalenQ, pardon my ignorance. Please explain what IME stand for? OTOH = on the other hand?

Thanks for your advice , they are help ful.

Augustine
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Old Mar 10th, 2014, 06:10 PM
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Opps..what about SRO?

Thanks
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