26 Days France, Alps, Prague, Budapest

Old Nov 12th, 2015, 01:22 PM
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26 Days France, Alps, Prague, Budapest

I have been scouring forums for a few months and I figured I would call on the almighty forums for opinions, assistance or just laughter. I know enough to not jam my itinerary full but man it’s hard not to when there is so much to see.

Whats our agenda?
Keeping the itinerary fairly loose for misadventure. We enjoy decadence in most things and tourists traps make me feel like I’m wasting my time. Save big natural ones like the Matterhorn or a historic theater where you are watching an opera.

Dec25 We arrive in Paris after a 10 hour flight at 8am and enjoy the jet lag with mimosas and general zombie wondering in Montmartre. This week is the easy part of the trip. See the sights drink lots of wine enjoy Paris.

January 1st After the Fireworks we head east or do we?
This is where you come in. Heading to Prague for symphonies and ballet is a must! I’m also madly curious about Budapest and my partner would love to enjoy a death defying romantic train ride through the alps.

Last week or so = More wine and relax in the country somewhere
Then head back to France for more wine in the country or back in Paris. A leisurely last week of drinking and being as relaxed as possible.

How to tackle the nest of decadence and wonder that is Prague, Budapest and Swiss alps without spending most of it just traveling a lot is a mystery.

Flying to Prague or Budapest is a no brainer. Although, heading to Lyon or Chamonix for a day and then entering Switzerland has some appeal.

I just can’t find how I would get to the better parts of the alps without spending 13 or more hours to get there. I guess what it boils down to is possibly cutting Swiss alps out. It’s a long train ride and it appears to be somewhat out of the way being in the lower south east part of Switzerland.
It’s a puzzle with quite a few wrong answers and in the end I think I have to cut either Budapest or alps.


My official questions are:
A. Is my mad curiosity about Budapest justified to add it to this particular journey
B. How in heavens name do I include Swiss Alps train ride into this mix, it seems like getting to the train you want to take is a journey in itself.
C. Am I missing the boat all together and there is a much better Itinerary I’m missing?

If you have not laughed yet or shook your head I should mention I have a friend in Cseky Krumlov I’m also trying to squeeze in. I know that turns into at least 1 day.
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Old Nov 12th, 2015, 02:03 PM
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Although, heading to Lyon or Chamonix for a day and then entering Switzerland has some appeal.>

The train ride from Chamonix, an Alpine wonderland in itself, to Switzerland is as thrilling as any IMO - especially its seemingly perilous descent to the Rhone Valley and Martigny when it rolls along for some an all-too narrow ledge high above the valley - you could end up in Zurich and fly out of there:

https://www.google.com/search?q=cham...FYg6PgodlJwNeQ

Chamonix also offers a totally awesome thrilling aerial gondola ride - to me the finest anywhere - from Pte d'Aiguille to Pte Heilbronner in Italy, crosssing an immense sea of snow and ice - the cars stop and dangle eerily above the ice far below when folks at end each get on and off - not for Nervous Nellies:

https://www.google.com/search?q=aigu...FcVbPgodZ-sBhw

to include other awesome scenic trains from Martigny take the train to Visp and then the Glacier Express route up to Zermatt - as thrilling and scenic as they come - an easy day Cahmonix to Zermatt.

For lots on Swiss trains and scenic trains check www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com (good info on the Aiguille to Pte Heilbronner gondolas) and www.ricksteves.com.

The whole of the Glacier Express trip takes 8-10 hours and IME is overall vastly overrated but you could take it from Zermatt to Chur with connections to Austria.
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Old Nov 12th, 2015, 02:16 PM
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Thank you PalenQ! You're Awesome. This is just what the doctor ordered. Been looking over what you sent. Lots of gold in your reply.
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Old Nov 12th, 2015, 04:38 PM
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Not sure why you are visiting France twice. If you just land in Paris and don;t go back you will have more time to do Prague, Budapest (both very much worthwhile) and a little of Switzerland. Agree - fly into Paris and return from Zurich.

Just be prepared the Prague and Budapest are on the central european plain and have more severe winters than you have in Paris. Although if going to Switz you will obviously be ready for uber cold temps and snow.
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Old Nov 13th, 2015, 06:51 AM
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Well yes the weather in central Europe can be very grim at that time - cool but not real cold but gray and damp and short days - consider going to Italy from Switzerland if you've never been there.
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Old Nov 13th, 2015, 07:18 AM
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We live in Vienna, and have spent the week between Christmas and New Years in both Prague and Budapest. If you are prepared for the biting cold, dress appropriately, and have a good attitude, you might love Central Europe in the winter. Some days may have sideways-blowing snow; others, blue skies and crisp sunshine. For our family, this is our preferred time to visit. The tourists are few(er); the thermal baths in Budapest under a freezing blue sky are delightful; and the hearty fare is rather welcoming after a day outdoors in the winter air.
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Old Nov 13th, 2015, 07:54 AM
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I've spent a week in freezing Budapest and apart from needing good coats and boots enjoyed it, waiting for a tram for five minutes could get a bit chilling but ok, just stamp those boots. On the tube buy the ticket and get them stamped asap or the fake/real ticket inspectors will get you.

Good museums, great opera and the meat based dishes are very very heavy but ok with the local beer (try local Breweries as much as possible) the spas made up for a lot even in the cold air.
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Old Nov 13th, 2015, 09:12 AM
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In both Prague and Budapest the average temp for January is zero (C , not F) - which I would qualify as cold - not chilly - unless you are from International Falls or similar.

Franky I enjoy winter weather and this would not be a problem for me - but people shouldn't go expecting temps to be in the upper 40s (what I would call chilly) rather than around 30.
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Old Nov 13th, 2015, 09:56 AM
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Yeh I guess 32 F average temp is cold not chilly - vs northern Michigan it is chilly though.

Reconsider freezing under gray skies and head south to Italy IMO.

Switzerland - Visp/Brig under Simplon Tunnel by train and onto Florence (northern Italy can be 'chilly' and gray too but Florence or Rome it may be quite warm (or on occasion chilly.
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Old Nov 13th, 2015, 12:07 PM
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the weather averages for Janaury in Budapest though show many days in 30s and 40s so I'll go back to chilly but on occasion cold - be prepared for cold.
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Old Nov 13th, 2015, 12:44 PM
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I love snow and eastern Europe in the Winter. Still researching the trains. Talking with my partner we may skip Budapest this year and keep our time in Switzerland and Prague leisurely.

NY traveler, its a good question mainly we have round trip tickets from Paris so, we need to end up back there. We like the idea of not rushing back to the airport but having some time in Burgundy or Lyon taking in the country and relaxing for the last part of the trip. The last week or week and half is to give us that wonderful open space to maybe end up in places unplanned.

I have been to Europe twice, this will be my third time. The next trip planned is for next year more in the springtime for Spain and Italy. There is just something magical about snow and eastern Europe to me.
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Old Nov 13th, 2015, 04:02 PM
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For future trips you should really look at open jaw tickets - into the first city and returning from the last. It doesn;t cost ay more (it's usually 1/2 of the RT for each city) and avoids wasting time returning to you first city. You can find in any search engine if yuo select multi-destination instead of round trip.
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Old Nov 14th, 2015, 03:03 AM
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"eastern Europe"

only central, Ukraine, Russia are eastern
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Old Nov 15th, 2015, 07:54 AM
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One wonders why they market the European East Railpass if it covers just Poland and Hungary and points west? Much ado about nothing except to show one's whatever?
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Old Nov 15th, 2015, 01:06 PM
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http://goeasteurope.about.com/od/int...ern-Europe.htm

Most sources consider Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, etc to be in Eastern Europe - not Austria.
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Old Nov 16th, 2015, 05:22 AM
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But P if those are Eastern where are those countries are are east of eastern?? Like russia and ukraine??

There is no far eastern europe.



that a .com website says so is like me trying to guess which states exist around utah (no idea BTW).
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Old Nov 16th, 2015, 11:38 AM
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B - just like the use of the word Chunnel, which causes so many Brits to have apoplexy, Eastern Europe to Americans tends to come from its use during the Cold War when Soviet-occupied Europe was commonly known as Eastern Europe and thus is the reason the European East Railpass, valid in Poland, Czech Rep (which my Czech grandparents always called Bohemia), Slovakia, Poland and Hungary and Austria, is marketed under the name European East and not Central Europe. Maybe Brits and Europeans have different understandings?
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