2 weeks in September from Vienna

Jul 19th, 2011, 12:10 AM
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2 weeks in September from Vienna

My brother lives in Vienna so each time I go to Europe I stop in for a week to catch up... this is nice but it means that all my trips start or finish here. We like to do as much of our travel by train as possible... after 24 hours on a plane to get to europe the last thing I want to do is get on another plane... and we both really love train travel.

Last year we had 2 months and toured all the big cities ie London, Paris, Munich, Amsterdam and I have also spent a month in Italy.

This time I want to go somewhere different and I have read pages and pages but I can not make up my mind so here I am. I seem to have got to a shortlist of 3 destinations. We dont want to do all three - we prefer 1 of these only.

1. Croatia/ Slovenia
2. Switzerland and the top of Italy (Milan/Lakes)
3. Spain

We are a couple in our late 40's travelling without kids this time. We like photography and culture and food and prefer family run small hotels or bnbs or even great hostels to chain hotels We dont really do hikes or adventure sports cause of a knee problem. We can walk for hours but no climbing

We will have the whole of September... where would you go? I Hope this post does not annoy those who think I should do my own research... I am just so unsure this time and would love any help.

emerald125 is offline  
Jul 19th, 2011, 01:12 AM
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'and we both really love train travel' - then you are in for a treat in Spain - http://www.renfe.com/and read http://tiny.cc/da2av to understand the site and save yourself some money.

' I Hope this post does not annoy those who think I should do my own research' - hmmm - surely you have time for 'The Rough Guide to Spain' or this - http://maribelsguides.com/
WomBatt is offline  
Jul 19th, 2011, 02:55 AM
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No contest, Slovenia and Croatia win hands down.

Stunning scenery around every corner and as much culture and history than you can poke a stick at. In September the weather should be great for short walks and relaxing in the great outdoors.

If you're into photography then have a look at this website:
These guys are really good at what they do and come highly recommended!

Have a great trip!
Kodmania is offline  
Jul 19th, 2011, 04:04 PM
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I am the proud owner of 3 shelves of travel guides so I am sure I will have a few more before this trip is over... I just did not want to buy guides for all three places.

Thanks for the links so far.. I have heard that San Sebastian is a great place... The train link is particularly helpful.

I agree Croatia looks beautiful but I am still not sure...
Does anyone think Switzerland is as good as these two options?
emerald125 is offline  
Jul 19th, 2011, 08:49 PM
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Switzerland is expensive. Croatia is cheap. Spain is somewhere in the middle.

All three are great choices. I would be in a quandary too if it were my choice - but with a month, you could probably do all three!
easytraveler is offline  
Jul 20th, 2011, 09:43 PM
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Ok I just bought the Fodor's Spain and ordered an eastern Europe.. I am totally obsessed with guidebooks! Anyway the Fodor's Spain 2011 is beautiful. Well worth a look if anyone has not seen it and is planning a trip.

I still want to see Switzerland but the cost does scare me.

Would it be crazy to go overland to Spain by train via Switzerland from Vienna? Has anyone done a trip like this. I have 20 days to tour realistically - I should spend sometime with my brother and some time will be wasted on flights to and from Australia.
emerald125 is offline  
Jul 21st, 2011, 06:55 AM
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Just tossing out a few things for you to consider:

1)what are your interests as far as "culture" goes?

Lucky you! to be based in Vienna!

"culture" could be going to Munich, ordering a 1-liter glass of beer and sitting there soaking in the sounds of an ommpaah band


"culture" could mean spending an entire day exploring one museum.

The country with the most museum "culture" is Spain, along with Moorish architecture.

2) the dominant feature of each region is IMHO the following:

Spain - mostly desert-like, hot, and relatively flat (except for the coastline)- if you were to do Spain, why not combine it with Portugal?

Switzerland and N Italy - mountainous with gorgeous snow-capped peaks and wonderful hiking in verdant landscape

Croatia - Islands and leisurely wandering among the islands - if you were to do the islands here, I'd suggest combining the trip with visits to some Greek islands and essentially make this a "watery" vacation.
easytraveler is offline  
Jul 21st, 2011, 08:13 AM
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You can go from Vienna to Zurich by day train and catch the night train to Barcelona from Zurich. Or fly low-cost from either Vienna airport or nearby Bratislava to many airports in Spain.

But having 20 days to explore Spain is quite different than having the same amount of time to explore Croatia or Switzerland. Just compare the size of each country.

What exactly is it that you want to see in Switzerland?
If it's "just" stunning alpine panoramic views, lakes, places to hike, and historic towns, just find those in Central/ Western/ Southern Austria as well.
Just for half the price.

The most striking differences between alpine Austria and alpine Switzerland (in my very own private opinion):
> more scenic train routes in Switzerland, and in general a better accessibility by train
> more tourists from overseas in Switzerland (I had no clue where Wengen or Murren were located before I got on Fodors)
> more cultural diversity in CH between the German-speaking part, the Romandie, Ticino and Graubünden.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Jul 21st, 2011, 04:37 PM
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Thanks for the replies - Culture to me is both those suggestions Easytraveller... I have sat in a beer hall in Munich watching the world go by and eating enormous food and spent whole days in musuems. I like a combination of both and really half days in museums are enough for me lol.

My husband speaks both Spanish and Portuguese having lived in Brazil for many years as a teenager/young adult so he would probably love a chance to use his Portuguese. What grabs me most about Spain is probably the food to be honest... and those amazing museums.

I was thinking in 20 days of just picking 3 points in Spain to be based rather than moving around too much. I kinda like renting apartments for 4-5 days and having a home base. Maybe Barcelona, Madrid and San Sebastian. I figure we could do some day trips from Madrid.. nothing from Barcelona just eat and drink.. and check out the coast at San Sebastian. If I were to add in Portugal what would you change.

Cowboy thanks for the links on Austria... I had my heart broken in Vienna many many years ago and just have never thought positively of the place since lol... Silly I know. Perhaps I should have a closer look. All I want to see in Switzerland is the scenery.. I am not keen on the food and know nothing of the museums. Would be nice to visit a country where the trains are on time though ;-)
emerald125 is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2011, 04:04 AM
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Allright, that gives us a bit more input to play around with.

If your husband liked to brush up his Portuguese, you could think about putting Lisbon on your itinerary.

What you could do:

Take any direct daytime train from Vienna to Zurich.
Impressive scenery, especially once you got past Salzburg.
Connect in Zurich for a short train ride to Luzern/Lucerne.

Base Lucerne (x nights), picture-perfect town, but not as isolated as the famous tourist villages in the Berner Oberland. Daytrips up mountains, across lakes, hiking, lots of options.

Short train ride to Bern. Take night train to Barcelona.

Base BCN (x nights), explore city (and surroundings, if you stay long enough)

Fly low-cost to Lisbon

Base Lisbon

Train Madrid (stay or move on to Andalucia)
Rent car for 3-5 days and explore. You don't want/need a car in Sevilla, Granada, or Cordoba - but for those parts in between to explore the countryside.

Fly back home (From madrid?)
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2011, 07:24 AM
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I vote for Spain. I've only been there once, which was this past October. We only had time to visit Barcelona, Costa Brava, Girona & Pyrenees. you can click on my name & read my trip report. My daughter studied in Barcelona last fall & she also visited San Sebastian, which she loved. My other daughter has been to Andalucia. From talking to my daughters & other travelers, & reading a lot, each region of Spain is very different, so you feel like you are visting different countries. The north is very different from the south, Barcelona is very different from SS & Madrid, for example. With 20 days, you could see a lot of Spain. Perhaps Barcelona, San Sebastian, Madrid & Andalucia??? BTW, my daughter told me the Alhambra is spectacular & everyone should see it!!!
Kwoo is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2011, 07:46 AM
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If you have 20 days and want to split up the trip into 4-5 day segments, you could conceivably have up to 5 segments instead of only 3 on the Iberian Peninsula.

I'd add on one segment in the south of Spain to see Moorish Spain: Granada, Cordoba, Sevilla, etc.

Another segment would be Lisbon. Personally I fell in love with Lisbon and have always wanted to go back, but it's just tucked so far away in a corner of Europe and I never seem to have the time to return!

Could you cut out a day or two (seems like you have 10 days) from Vienna and add them to your Iberian Peninsula trip?

As for Swiss museums, really not that much. The two cities (that I know of) with anything resembling a collection would be Basel and Zurich. If this were an art museum trip, then I'd skip Switzerland and choose German cities like Berlin or Munich instead. Switzerland is really for the outdoors enthusiast, not that it doesn't have its "cultural" side as well.
easytraveler is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2011, 11:55 PM
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Wow This is fantastic... I love the plan you guys came up with. Thanks so much Cowboy and Easyrider... We can fly home from Madrid and I think we can do 5 days in Vienna instead. I think I am going to work from these last three posts so THANKS very much for all your effort. It really is appreciated! If you are ever planning a trip to Australia I am your girl.
emerald125 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2011, 05:12 PM
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A vote here for northern Spain, especially San Sebastian. We just returned from 8 days in Madrid - San Sebastian (3 & 5 nights respectively). SS is fabulous and you have the ability to wander into the SW part of France. The coastal towns and the Pyrenees make for a magic environment.
nygvic is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2011, 05:24 PM
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You're quite welcome! Planning is half the fun of a trip!

Been a few times to Australia in the past - but for business. Lovely country. Lovely people!
easytraveler is offline  

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