Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

27-DAY ODYSSEY IN THE ALPS with 3 FINAL DAYS IN PARIS

27-DAY ODYSSEY IN THE ALPS with 3 FINAL DAYS IN PARIS

Old Jan 8th, 2015, 11:01 AM
  #81  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,362
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Melnq8, agree with you about that chocolate. Could easily become habit-forming! Good thing they sell Lindt in the US!
When are you moving back?

Also, wanted to add that it was your TR from Lauterbrunnen that gave us the hope for a laundry there. Thanks!


Glad to have you and Adelaidean staying aboard.
tomarkot is offline  
Old Jan 8th, 2015, 11:25 AM
  #82  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 10,322
Likes: 0
Received 21 Likes on 2 Posts
"Passengers could get off the train, and walk out to “windows” which were carved out in the mountain wall, providing outstanding views."

Glad to see they cleaned those damned windows from when we were there in 2003

Good stuff! I have a funny memory of going to the Jungfraujoch in the late 60s with my mom and dad. When we got to a stop (maybe Kleine Scheidegg) my mom was having altitude sickness. Instead of all of us aborting the trip, we just took her off the train (we did not Throw Mama From The Train) and my dad and I traveled to the top and got her on the way back down. I don't think she was vey happy, but my dad had spent the bucks to go to the top and would not be denied. I think his travel MO is in my DNA.

Great report. On to Grindelwald!

I hope you make it to Paris soon to see those ne'er-do-wells for dinner.

maitaitom is offline  
Old Jan 8th, 2015, 01:36 PM
  #83  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,362
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
That story from the late 60's is a riot! Hope your Mom wasn't feeling too left out! (The 60's were a wild decade in more ways than we knew!)

Was it 2003 that you and Tracy were there? We followed the recommendation in your TR from that trip for our lodging in Grindelwald. More to come.

We're hoping to get to Paris soon!!! We can't wait to detail our special dinner with a classy couple from Southern California.
tomarkot is offline  
Old Jan 8th, 2015, 05:21 PM
  #84  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 10,322
Likes: 0
Received 21 Likes on 2 Posts
Yep, 2003. I hope it tuned out well. I liked that place.

maitaitom is offline  
Old Jan 9th, 2015, 10:22 AM
  #85  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,362
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yes, Hotel Gletschgarten turned out great for us! Working on next phase of trip. Getting ready for dinner guests. . .time pressed.
tomarkot is offline  
Old Jan 9th, 2015, 02:39 PM
  #86  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 6,370
Likes: 0
Received 8 Likes on 1 Post
Hi tomarkot,

That just reminded me that I was stuck standing, along with others, on the train from Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg and from Kleine Scheidegg back to Wengen. Loved the stop at Kleine Scheidegg, as I was as interested in seeing the Eiger as I was in seeing the Matterhorn.

Not sure if it's still a hotel, but we stayed just around the corner from the station in Wengen at the Hotel Eiger.


Paul
pja1 is offline  
Old Jan 9th, 2015, 04:59 PM
  #87  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,362
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Paul,

I think we received good advice to go to the Jungfraujoch early. We had no difficulty getting a seat on the train.

Eiger is really impressive! We'd read that the former Hotel Eiger in Wengen is now a restaurant.

We enjoyed so much phenomenal beauty on our trip. . .it would be difficult to choose a favorite. Whether it's the Matterhorn, or Eiger, or many others, the weather has a big influence on the experience. We're just so thankful that, for the most part, we had favorable weather.

We're aiming to keep this TR rolling and finish soon! Thanks for your continued reading, Paul!
tomarkot is offline  
Old Jan 9th, 2015, 06:32 PM
  #88  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,362
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2014 PIX GLORIA,
SCHILTORN MOUNTAIN;
EVENING IN GRINDELWALD

Alarm off at 6:30. It looked cloudy outdoors, so we slept in for another hour. Ah Yes! After our morning ritual and some packing, we had our last breakfast at Hotel Silberhorn. From our window seat, we could take in that beautiful view of the valley, with two water falls in view, that had become a fave scene.

Following breakfast, it took us only a short while to gather all of our things, pay up, and officially check out. When we explained to Debra at the reception that we were moving over to Grindelwald for the evening, because the Hotel Silberthorn indicated that they were full, she said that we should have e-mailed her directly. However, as it worked out, we were happy to be getting a taste of the area around Grindelwald.

Despite the less-than-perfect weather, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity to experience the Schilthornbahn up to the summit of the SCHILTHORN MOUNTAIN where the famous PIZ GLORIA revolving restaurant was located. We had read that, on a clear day, there was a 360’ view extending over 200 mountain peaks in a spectacular landscape. With the spotty blue skies, at times blurred with clouds, we did not expect this to be our experience. But, nonetheless, there was enough blue sky and sun that we thought it was a worthwhile venture.

After leaving our hotel, we were off to Steckelberg to park the Opel and take off on the Schilthornbahn (86 CHFea.) to savor what we could of Schilthorn Mountain and Piz Gloria. The drive to Steckelberg alone was worth the time, as it was another experience through the Swiss “Yosemite Valley”. The rain had turned on the waterfalls to high volume.

It is estimated that within the Lauterbrunnen Valley there are 72 waterfalls. The most famous is the Staubbach Falls, plunging 984 ft. from an overhanging rock face. Trummelbach Falls is actually ten glacial waterfalls within the rock, made accessible by a tunnel-lift, narrow paths, and rock balconies at different levels. This exploration is another thing that will have to wait for a future visit.

We had taken the lower section of Schilthornbahn on our excursion two days ago to the little town of Murren. That view into the valley was impressive! But as we experienced the next stage, from Murren to Birg, and finally the last long stretch from Birg to the Schilthorn summit, the deeper and deeper views into the valley became more and more breathtaking! And with just a few riders, we could easily enjoy the amazing scenery below.

Once reaching the top of Schilthorn, at 9744 ft., the weather vacillated from cloudy to partly cloudy and then a bit sunny all day. We did not expect the full impact of the 360 degree panorama, but enjoyed many glimpses of various mountains as the puffy white clouds would move quickly from one area to another. It was like a game of “cat and mouse”, dashing from one area of the large viewing area to another, to catch the awesome views of the high peaks. The sky was a vibrant blue, and the clouds which swirled around were of the cumulus variety. Oftentimes, the clouds would cluster around mountain peaks as if to frame them, making for quite interesting pictures.

Several scenes from the James Bond 1969 movie, ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, were filmed at Piz Gloria and the mountaintop site capitalizes on that. There is a whole BOND WORLD complex, including a Cyclorama Museum, detailing how the movie was made, and displaying quite a few James Bond posters. Outside in one viewing area, the life-size cut-out of Agent 007 was a popular spot for guys (including TK) to pose for pictures. And, of course, the souvenir shop featured a lot of James Bond memorabilia.

We sipped a couple of rounds of cappuccinos at their small café as we alternated between the outside viewing areas and the inside shop, taking the opportunities to go out when the views cleared. There were groups of young people running in and out, and when there was a clearing, it was as if they assembled automatically into “pose mode”. That was quite entertaining.

While the mountain views danced in and out, we had lunch at a window seat in the revolving restaurant. When the clouds moved out of the way, the mountains were spectacular. The meal was overpriced and not especially tasty, but our observation point was perfect. And close by to the restaurant was one of the ever present gift shops where TK bought a 29 CHF pair of sunglasses to replace his others which had lost the screw.

One of the main features of the journey to Schilthorn was
the dramatic cable car ride, described as one of the steepest, and quite an engineering feat to complete. Composed of three sections of cable cars, because of the long distances, the view over the Lauterbrunnen Valley was truly spectacular. We were able to enjoy this phenomenal scenery on the way up.

However, the ride down was not so pleasant or scenic. There were so many people crammed into the space that it was difficult to count them. In addition to the people, there were baby strollers, bicycles, and a couple of large dogs making for a very uncomfortable journey and an inability to see much of the scenery. Just when we thought the gondola was crowded, at the next stop more people were allowed to cram in. We began looking for Weight Limits!

The ride up to Schilthorn took only about 40 minutes, even
with the three changes of cable cars required to reach the top. We were glad that we made the trip. What initially seemed liked less than perfect weather turned out to produce some very interesting mountain scenes. We arrived at the Schilthorn summit about 11:30 and returned to Steckelberg around 4:30. We’ll remember, especially, the beauty of the dramatic cable car ride on the ascent! Overall, a terrific experience!

Following our descent from the Schilthorn, and retrieval of our car, we said “Farewell” to Lauterbrunnen as we made our last drive through the Lautenbrunnen Valley. After shooting a few final pics of the town, we proceeded onward to Grindelwald, which is only about a 10-mile drive.

As we turned on to the main road leading into Grindelwald, we experienced a lot of road construction. Gilda was ON and led us right to our Hotel Gletschergarten, which was a few miles down the valley road. We became interested in this hotel after reading a 2003 TR from Maitaitom, and were pleased that we were able to secure a reservation. And we felt glad that we had read that TR!

Approaching the area of the hotel, we were immediately wowed with the smack-dab views of the majestic snow-capped peaks of Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau. We immediately knew why Tom & Tracy liked this place! The outside of the hotel was bedecked with colorful flowerboxes making it feel so welcoming. Before checking in, we spent some time taking in the powerful scenery, which was so “up close and personal”.

Check in went easily. The owner Gabriella showed us to our room, which was on a corner facing the impactful view. She also gave us a tour of their dining rooms, which seemed to be updated, and reflected the value they placed on their cuisine. She invited us to have dinner in their restaurant. When we asked about sharing a meal, Gabriella explained that their method is to serve smaller portions of meals, so we agreed to that.

After our exhilarating day at Piz Gloria, we were happy to settle in at Hotel Gletschergarten which is nestled in such gorgeous surroundings. The room balcony was beckoning us. Our evening “happy hour wine” was so much better as we enjoyed that dynamite view from our sun-filled balcony!

Dinner was anytime between 7 and 8. Since we were probably some of the last dinner guests to reserve, our table was in the back section of their restaurant. The dinner, served attentively by a professionally-dressed waitstaff, was delicious, and a level above other restaurant experiences we'd had. The meal included a mushroom appetizer, salad, entrée of pork roast, dessert of prunes (plums) and tira misu. We enjoyed it not only because of the ambience and menu, but because it afforded us a relaxing evening after our very full day.

This was our last full day in the Alps. Reflecting on all of our outstanding experiences, we knew that we’ll have them stored in our memories forever!

Tomorrow. . .off for Montreux!
tomarkot is offline  
Old Jan 10th, 2015, 03:25 PM
  #89  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 10,322
Likes: 0
Received 21 Likes on 2 Posts
Cool. Glad you liked Hotel G (as we called it). I remember it was family run. The older guy was Finn (who I think was in the Olympics…maybe?) and that's how he met his wife somehow. I forget the story. I assume Finn is gone as he was no spring chicken when we visited. Looking forward to Montreux. Did you visit one of my favorite castles while there??

maitaitom is offline  
Old Jan 10th, 2015, 10:38 PM
  #90  
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 3,777
Received 19 Likes on 4 Posts
So glad you are continuing your TR. I like all the detail.
We are 'saving' Switzerland (and all these TR's) for when we are a bit more flush with funds, ....Dolomites next year hopefully, so a cheaper mountain experience as still travelling with kids.
Adelaidean is online now  
Old Jan 11th, 2015, 11:22 AM
  #91  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,362
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Maitaitom, we never saw a "Finn" at Hotel G (much easier name!). Gabriella and her husband seemed to run the show.

We really liked staying in Lauterbrunnen; however, knowing that our days in the Alps were coming to a close, we enjoyed Grindelwald as a memorable farewell. We left with a checklist of things to do on a return visit!
tomarkot is offline  
Old Jan 12th, 2015, 07:22 PM
  #92  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,362
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2014 DRIVE TO MONTREUX

Up at 7:30; looked dark and cloudy as it had rained overnight. But, happily, the sun came around rather quickly and brightened the glacier and the mountain peaks. We took multiple pictures, given our gorgeous balcony view, on 3 cameras: cell phone, Canon, and Surface.

About 8:15, we entered the front sunroom for breakfast, just before a number of people trickled down by about 8:30. Afterward, we returned to our room to take final advantage of the balcony before beginning to pack.

About 10:30, we knew the time had come! At check-out, Gabriella gave MK a package of floral-print dinner napkins, with a Hotel Gletchergarten sticker on the outside. (Nice memento. . . and good advertising!) We were curious about the hundreds of geraniums in the window boxes, and Gerhard, the owner, confirmed what we thought: that they had to be replaced each season.

Before leaving Grindelwald, we walked around for a bit, visiting the Catholic Kirke across the street. What a view they had! We stalled for a while. Leaving Hotel Gletschergarten was made more difficult because we would be leaving the Alps. We knew that we had gotten only a taste of the area, and would surely add it to our list of places for a repeat visit. Our visit to Grindelwald was short, but fulfilled what we had hoped. And we were sure that the meal would be surpassed only with our Parisian meal with Maitaitom and Tracy!

We couldn’t delay any longer. . .it was time to head toward Montreux. Why Montreux? The decision went back a few months during our planning. Leaving the Berner Oberland, and working our way back to Munich, our goal was to visit a couple of new or interesting places en route.

We had read that Montreux was known as the “Pearl of the Swiss Riviera”, a beautiful resort on the shores of Lake Geneva. Yes, it was a few hours out of our way toward Munich, but with highway travel, that didn’t seem like much to us.

We were interested in this French-speaking area of Switzerland. We looked forward to the mild climate where palm trees and tropical flowers lined a lakeside promenade. We knew that we would only get a taste of Montreux, but we thought it would whet our appetites for a return visit when future travel might take us to places close to this area.

Our drive out of Grindelwald went rather smoothly, with just two delays. One was on the highway toward Interlaken where some cows decided to relax in the middle of the road! Wouldn’t you know that some insensitive guy disturbed them, rounded them up, and cleared the highway! The other holdup was on the road past Thun where there appeared to be a fairly serious accident in the speed lane. (Somehow Gilda knew there was a 15-minute delay).

Along the way, we stopped for gas since this was a Friday, and on the weekends it is very difficult to find “attended” gas stations; given that we did not have “chip and pin” credit cards, which are pretty much the norm in Europe. Gas was priced at 1.78 CHF per liter; multiplied times 4 which amounts to near 8 USD per gallon…Wow!

The drive to Montreux was fairly easy. . .all highway. The roads were in good condition and signage was good. We
skirted around the capitol of Bern, passed by Fribourg, and enjoyed miles of mostly gentle rolling countryside with a few little towns and industrial complexes. “Auf Weidersehen” et “Bienvenue”! We began to notice more road signs in French! We hadn’t realized that we would be in the vicinity of Lavaux, a famous wine-producing area.

Arriving in Montreux about 2:45, Gilda led us directly to the front of the EUROTEL, our lodging for the evening. We chose this hotel because it is located on the lake, with ability to walk to the Old Town on an upper level, and was within our price range. It also had its own parking garage underneath the hotel. One unusual experience here was that in order to check in, it was necessary to pay the meters for public parking on the street in front of the hotel, which we discovered was well-monitored. No usual 15-minute check-in privilege!

In booking our reservation, we did indicate that we were having a belated Anniversary Celebration. After check in, we went to our assigned room and discovered that we must have one of the best rooms in the Eurotel. The hotel’s design is a triangular-shape with one point toward the lakeside. Our room was on the 11th floor; the center section. The balcony, together with expansive windows in the room, gave an 180’ view. The interior was well-appointed, but it was the outstanding view overlooking Lake Geneva that made the room so special, and probably our favorite of the trip. We relaxed for a short while on our deck, overwhelmed by the view of the lake and the background mountains. Oh! And did we mention that it was a glorious day? Blue skies, brilliant sun. . .which made the lake so glittering!

Time for lunch at the SAFFRON TERRASSE RESTAURANT which is on the outdoor patio of the Eurotel overlooking the lake. A “swiss hamburger” with fries and drinks for about 28 CHF! We strolled the lakeside promenade, lined with palm and cypress trees, other varieties of tropical foliage, and colorful flowers. The boat harbor is only a five-minute walk from the hotel. We had wanted to catch a boat ride over to Chillon Castle. But when learning the wait time for the next scheduled departure, the time on the boat, along with adequate time to do justice to the visit, we decided that we would save Chillon for a future visit.

We were quite content to have a day to “chill out”. After strolling the lakeside for quite a while, we stopped at a café for a little happy hour break. We walked over to the main street of the Lower Town, lined with many shops and restaurants, doing only window shopping. Noticing a little boulangerie, we couldn’t pass up those French croissants which would be perfect for tomorrow morning’s petit dejeuner!

From the Lower Town, there are 60+ steps climbing up to the Old City. How convenient that next to the imposing concrete stairs was an escalator! At the top, and across the street, is the Train Station. In the vicinity, there were several nice hotels, including The Grand Swiss Hotel. We walked out onto their hotel terrace, which had tables set-up, but surprisingly, no one was out there. The view of the lake from this higher vantage point was expansive.

Having had a late lunch, we didn’t feel like having dinner as yet. So, passing another little café with a carry-out counter, we purchased a baguette sandwich of roast beef and cheese. We wandered the Old City a while longer, taking in its interesting architecture. We decided that it was time to return to our hotel room's "window" seat, and have our baguettes while enjoying the setting sun. Our balcony was a perfect vantage point. What a view and what a room!

Another great day in paradise…they just don’t quit!


SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2014

MORNING-MONTREUX
THEN. . .ONWARD TO LUCERNE

Up at 7:30. The day welcomed us with the sunny view of Lake Geneva. With our delicious French croissants, and Starbucks coffee, we savored our petit dejeuner on our balcony as we enjoyed the expansive lake view.

Regarding that Starbucks. . . when we travel, we sometimes find that a hotel or B & B room will have a pot for heating water, and provide only tea. We are not tea drinkers! So, as a bail-out, we bring our own Starbucks packets along. They’re the STARBUCKS VIA READY BREW. Normally, we do not like instant coffee, but these are good substitutes for the real brewed stuff.

After finishing those delicious croissants, we couldn’t resist a last walk on the outstanding lakeside promenade, sharing it with a few joggers and bicyclists. Being Saturday morning, it was fairly quiet. The lake was very calm. The promenade passes some other very nice hotels, including the Fairmont, which is a neighbor to the Eurotel.

We are mountain-lovers, but we also really enjoy being by water. We always say that when we’re in the mountains, we think they’re our favorites; but when by the ocean or by a beautiful lake, a water location is our favorite. And we like cities. We enjoy them all!

We knew the time was getting near for our check-out, so we had to end our promenade enjoyment. Our short visit to Montreux placed it high on our list for a several-day return. It is fairly convenient to reach from some other locations which we would like to visit, and there are a number of things to enjoy in and around Montreux.

Check out was efficient; our car was easy to retrieve from the garage below. Within minutes, we were on our way to Lucerne. Gilda directed us fairly well. We were mostly on highways like A9 to A1 to A2 past Vevey, Freiborg, Bern and, after a couple of hours, we arrived in Lucerne.

Why visit Lucerne? We had been to this charming town on two occasions, and thought it would be a memorable last stop before our return to Freising. We remembered Lucerne as a city of beauty, culture, and having the charm of a medieval city. The covered Chapel Bridge lined with flower boxes, the mirror-like lake, and the rushing Reuss River with many restaurants lining its sides were all reasons to make a stop there. After leaving Lucerne, we would be making the last leg of our drive on a Sunday, so we weren’t concerned about having a four-hour drive to the Munich area, as we wouldn’t be encountering work traffic.

Entering Lucerne, Gilda was unable to guide us to our HOTEL ZUM WEISS KREUZ because, as we suspected, the hotel is on a small side street that is off the walking street along the River Reuss. The hotel website was not helpful regarding a parking location. We knew that it was within the vicinity of the Bahn; that we might need to park there and walk to our hotel. Fortunately, we had packed our little roll-aboards with just the basics for one night. After circling around the area for a time or two, we decided to park in the Bahn Station Garage (2 CHF per hour fee!). A local girl helped us confirm the hidden location of our hotel.

The weather in Lucerne was perfect. . .sunny, warm, brilliant blue skies. We walked across the bridge, happy that we had only very small items of luggage. We paused for a few minutes to take in the river view and the surrounding city. Then onward to our hotel. After crossing the remainder of the bridge, we turned left, walked past the Chapel Bridge, and were happy to find that our hotel was only a few steps up the hill from the walking street.

The Hotel Zum Weiss Kruez is small and adequately-furnished. Check in was smooth. For us, staying only one night, and wanting to enjoy the hub of Lucerne, the location right off the walking promenade along the River Reuss was perfect. To say that our room had a view is stretching it, but we could see the river through a space in between two other buildings. That was better than staring at a brick wall.

There were literally thousands of people in this city! The walking street along the river has quite a few outdoor cafes, but all were very crowded. After strolling down the main part of the walk, and then up again, we finally found seats at a little Italian place, and ordered drinks and a pizza. Because of the crowds, we assumed that the pizza might be slow in coming.

We were at a table for four, and the other two couples, who subsequently occupied the seats next to us, were having only drinks. The first couple who joined the table lived only a few miles away. We had some pleasant conversation with them about life in Switzerland. They thought that the town was extra crowded because of the beautiful week-end weather. After finishing their drinks, they moved on. Then another couple from Fribourg joined us and wished us “Bon Appetit” when our pizza was served. We had a good conversation with them, also.

We meandered over to the boat docks, and found that, using our Swiss Passes, we could catch a lake cruise on one of their newer boats. We had just enough time for cappuccinos at a near-by outdoor café by Pier 3. We boarded at 6 PM, and taking advantage of their free audio guide, enjoyed a relaxing journey, our 3rd boat excursion of the trip. It was interesting to see the villas and castles on the surrounding hills. We enjoyed viewing Mt Pilatus from a distance, since we had taken the impressive cog railway trip to the summit on a former trip. The surroundings around Lake Lucerne are beautiful!

The boat trip ended just as the sun was getting low in the sky. We walked along the lake for a few minutes, and then made our way up to the cathedral, which was now well-lit. In the area of the cathedral, we were happy to find a quaint, little restaurant, CAFÉ CORSO, where we had drinks, and shared a mixed salad and delicious tortellini;(36.70 CHF). The owner was nice enough to allow us to pay with our remaining Swiss coins as we would be leaving Switzerland in the morning.

Following our meal, we did some window shopping as we walked back to our hotel. How many stores can sell the same multiple brands of Swiss watches: Rolex, Tissot, etc. mostly in the range of 500 to 1000 CHF??? We passed some beautiful hotels. By now, though, we’re spent and TK feared he may be catching a virus…Oh, oh! Sore throat. We had packed only what we thought was the necessary stuff for a one-night stay. We had been traveling around for almost a month with a small REI nylon bag which we labeled our “OTC” (Over the Counter) bag, never needing it. Tonight, TK could have used some cold tabs! Unfortunately, the bag was in the car! It was Saturday night. . .no farmacie open!

As we turned in for the night, we realized that the following day we would have only the morning to enjoy Lucerne. Then we would need to be goal-oriented to reach Freising, near Munich, for the night. In Freising, we would re-organize our luggage, and have our last overnight stay before our flight to Paris. We were excited about our last three nights in our favorite city!
tomarkot is offline  
Old Jan 12th, 2015, 11:20 PM
  #93  
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 3,777
Received 19 Likes on 4 Posts
Montreux sounds nice, a nice complement to the Bernese Oberland. Such a lovely holiday you have had.
Adelaidean is online now  
Old Jan 13th, 2015, 10:16 AM
  #94  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,362
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Adelaidean, thanks again for your interest in our month-long travels. Finally, we're getting toward the end of our TR; our final days in Paris.
tomarkot is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2015, 11:29 AM
  #95  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 6,370
Likes: 0
Received 8 Likes on 1 Post
Hi,

Still along and remembering our stay in Lucerne many years ago. I forget the name of the hotel we stayed at, but there were no views of the lake, I do remember that. We spent a wonderful half day on a lake cruise there. I also enjoyed the Transportation Museum during our stay.
pja1 is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2015, 12:05 PM
  #96  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,320
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
marking for later digestion of what seems to be a spellbinding adventure to some of my favorite places.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Jan 14th, 2015, 01:36 PM
  #97  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,362
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Paul, Lucerne is a beautiful city, isn't it? We never have visited the Transportation Museum; something to put on our list if/when we re-visit. This trip, Lucerne was kind of our "Last Hurrah" stop before our return to Munich to catch our flight to Paris. We'll try to post more soon.


PalenQ, thanks for the great information you provided during the planning stages of our trip, especially regarding the Jungfrau. We did have wonderful experiences in so many gorgeous places.
tomarkot is offline  
Old Jan 14th, 2015, 02:56 PM
  #98  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 6,370
Likes: 0
Received 8 Likes on 1 Post
Yes, Lucerne is beautiful. We stayed 2 nights and had good weather during our stay. Our Swiss trip took us from our first night in Liechtenstein (Triesenberg), 2 nights St. Moritz, 2 in Zermatt, 4 in Wengen and 2 in Lucerne and to the airport.
pja1 is offline  
Old Jan 15th, 2015, 07:11 PM
  #99  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,362
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2014

TRAVEL DAY TO FREISING
LAST NIGHT BEFORE FLIGHT TO PARIS

Up about 7:20; room is small but adequate. TK has a cold. . . cough; voice is unrecognizable. Fruhstuck in the hotel restaurant…typical: cold cuts, cheeses, croissants and coffee…not exciting but substantial. TK had a couple croissants and a soft-boiled egg.

It’s Sunday. . .and as we walked out of our hotel, we were treated to a beautiful chorus of bells coming from the city’s several churches. We walked around and took pictures, as our hotel is where-the-action is. We strolled the unique Chapel Bridge which crosses the rushing River Reuss; one view that is characteristic of Lucerne. Tucked in an alcove of the Chapel Bridge was a little shop selling, among other things, watches. MK spotted a Swiss watch (120 CHF) which she liked as a “souvenir” of our trip. . . rather than TK’s preference for t-shirts from favorite places.

After checking out of the hotel, we said our final farewell to the Lucerne city center as we pulled our small roll-aboards along the cobblestone streets, across the bridge, and headed back for the Bahnhof. We were glad that we didn’t have larger luggage!

On to the garage to pick up our Opel. (Parking cost was 44 CHF for the 22 hours…our costliest parking of the trip.) Apparently, we could have gotten a break on parking had we known ahead which lots would have been cheaper. Oh well. . .live and learn! Now that we had access to our luggage, we were able to get out some cold tabs for TK.

A little past noon, we found our way out of Lucerne and headed in the direction of Zug. To connect with the N3, we drove for a short while on a minor highway, passing some small towns. We elected to go this route thinking that we’d stop for lunch in Liechtenstein. A benefit of this route was the gorgeous mountain scenery. . . “the Alps” would be visible in the distance.

We planned for a longer distance on this last driving day. We wanted to arrive in Freising, near Munich, at our Marriott Airport Hotel by about 6:30 or so. The whole of Switzerland isn’t a lot to drive. It’s only about 140 miles from north to south, and 215 miles east to west. We’d probably covered more miles during the last couple of days than for the remainder of our time, as most of it was mountain driving.

It was taking longer than we thought to reach Vaduz, Liechenstein, so we made a lunch stop at a MARCHE’, which was a very nicely done, large self-service cafeteria. It included several centers featuring different kinds of food, with employees behind each to serve what you ordered. To save time, we each got made-to-order sandwiches. With the brief lunch break, we were again on our way on the scenic highway. . .the Alps still visible in the distance.

The Marche’ proved to be a good lunch stop as we discovered that the restaurants and cafes on the main road through Liechenstein were closed on Sunday. We did find an open service station for a fill-up and a purchase of an Austrian vignette (about 12 EUR for 10 days). We knew that it was possible to drive to Germany without crossing a bit of Austria, but, at this point, we were more concerned about the easiest and quickest route.

A later stop at a McDonalds proved to be a good move. It was very convenient to pull right off the highway into a place which had clean, free restrooms, low prices, and the largest McCafe we had encountered. An additional benefit was the selection of freshly-baked muffins, specially-priced with the purchase of a drink, which we thought would be perfect for tomorrow’s breakfast.

We had gradually moved out of the view of mountains and were driving in flatter terrain, which reminded us of certain areas of the US Midwest. We passed the time discussing how the detailed plans for our extended trip had worked so well.

We really liked our itinerary. . .starting out in Berchtesgaten, then on to Salzburg and the Austrian Alps, the Dolomites in Italy, the Engadine and Locarno, Brig to Zermatt, and the Jungfrau. We really enjoyed the short stays in Montreux and Lucerne. We liked the routes we took, and all the hotels we booked. All in all, the time spent planning was rewarded.

As we approached the outskirts of Munich, the skies became darker, and within a short amount of time, it began to rain. The drizzle soon developed into a fairly heavy downpour. Had this been a weekday, with business traffic, driving the expressways around Munich and into Freising could have been a hassle. As it was, we experienced no traffic issues and were just eager to get settled for our last evening.

Having had such wonderful experiences in the Alps, we were now really excited about ending our trip in our favorite city, Paris! Gilda easily led us to our hotel. We were looking forward to having a meal and re-arranging our luggage for Paris. We anticipated getting a getting a good night’s sleep, especially TK, as he had almost completely lost his voice.

Arriving at the Marriott in Freising, MK went immediately to the lobby to do hotel check-in. TK parked the car. Then we would meet and do our airline check-in. Paris. . .here we come!!!

But. . . . to quote Robert Burns, “The best laid schemes of mice an’ men oft(en) go awry!” Our plans for the evening were abruptly changed as we attempted to check in for our AIR FRANCE Munich-Paris flight. FLIGHT CANCELLED!!! Words cannot describe our disappointment! This was to be the last European leg of our wonderful trip. Our flight home was out of Paris. But how would we get to Paris??? And what other plans would be affected?

We won’t belabor the efforts/anxieties of the next couple of hours of futile attempts to contact Air France. We later learned that many Air France passengers had their flights cancelled and were dealing with the same frustrations. Hours of phone calls, hearing only recorded messages, and finally, no answer!

The staff at the Marriott front desk was most helpful in dialing Air France. After the AF phone lines went dead, one receptionist called the Information Desk at the Airport, only to confirm that both the Delta and Air France ticket counters were closed. They suggested that our best (and only) option was to get to the airport in the morning.

So our dilemma. . .what to do??? Not to offend anyone in the in the little town of Freising, or even the city of Munich, but we dreaded being stuck there for three days. Quite a disappointment after looking forward to Paris! And then, we would have to find a flight home from Munich!

An unanticipated dilemma, for sure! By this time, we needed some sustenance, and headed to the hotel restaurant where we had a pasta carbonara meal, which, thankfully, was very tasty. And the waiter was very friendly.

During the meal, we discussed alternatives to solving our flight predicament. The thought of having to take a train, especially in view of schlepping our luggage, was distressing. From Freising, we would have to change trains. We even considered renting a car, but Munich to Paris seemed like a long drive. And renting a car in Germany to drop in France would incur a drop-off charge. Not to mention that we would probably be footing the bill for train travel or a car rental. No good options at this point.

After much discussion we decided that since we couldn’t do anything about our problem at that point, our best plan was to pack for our last few days, go to bed “hopeful”, get a good night’s rest, and go to the airport in the morning. Rest was especially important for TK whose cold seemed to be worsening!



MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15


WILL WE MAKE IT TO PARIS???


All this anxiety and confusion over the flight cancellation moved us to get up early, complete our morning rituals, finish last-minute packing, and have our McDonald’s muffins and Marriott coffee in the room.

As if we didn’t have enough stress, when we were about to check out, we couldn’t find our Marriott Visa Card. After searching through our things, we decided that to alleviate our worries, we’d call Chase Visa and report the situation, just to be on the safe side. (Although we were fairly certain that it was someplace in our possession.) That call proved to be time-consuming, as we were put on hold. But cancelling that credit card was one less thing we had to worry about.

We thought that, perhaps, our best hope for getting a flight to Paris was to approach the airport staff at Delta, since we were ticketed through them. So, we loaded the car, and off we went to fill up the Opel for the last time and head for the Rental Car Return at the Munich Airport. From there, we prepared to go to the Delta Ticket Desk to “beg” for assistance.

As others have cautioned, Eurocar went over the car very thoroughly, inside and out, top to bottom, including the roof and spare tire compartments, checking for scratches, etc. and generated a form stating that the car was in good condition. They offered that we could just leave, instead of waiting for the inspection report to be printed. But learning from other travelers about their surprise charges for “damages” which arrived after they had returned home, and having experienced it ourselves from Hertz in New Zealand, we decided to wait. But time to secure a flight was a-wasting!

So. . .we set off with all of our luggage in tow. Our aim was to find the Delta Ticket Desk to plead our case and hope to be ticketed to Paris on another carrier. We joked to the Delta agent that we were willing to ride in Cargo just “Please get us to Paris!”

The Delta agent said that even though we were ticketed through them, the Munich-Paris segment was with Air France and we would have to deal with them. When we requested it, though, she phoned down to Air France and directed us to go to their ticket desk. Fortunately, we had asked her the name of the Air France rep. “Valentino will help you”, she said.

The walk to the Air France desk wasn’t exactly “just around the corner” as described. But after a much longer walk to another terminal, schlepping our luggage, we were happy that Valentino responded promptly, saying that we were re-booked on Lufthansa. He took our passports and told us to come with him. But he took off like a flash, and towing all of our luggage, we couldn’t keep up. Good thing we had gotten his name, as future developments would indicate.

Walking to the Lufthansa desk, a far distance from Air France, proved to be long and confusing; going through several terminals. Upon asking a man in an information office, he said that he and a female employee were heading to the Lufthansa terminal, and that we could accompany them. He even pushed MK’s heavy luggage pieces! The female Lufthansa employee wore shoes with low heels, and when MK asked her about their comfort while walking these long terminals, she shook her head and whinced.

We were finally at Lufthansa! But no Valentino! The good news was that he had booked us, and the reservation showed up so that the Lufthansa employee could issue us boarding passes. The bad news. . .our passports!!! Lufthansa didn’t have them. Where was Valentino??? The two Lufthansa agents tried desperately to help. They asked around to their employees. . .made phone calls. Even had Valentino paged in the airport! He did call in to them. We were invited to sit down and wait until he returned. After a few more minutes, Valentino arrived-passports in hand! Whew! A relief! He was very apologetic about the mix-up. Now we could check our luggage, go through security, and sit down for a panini & beer lunch at Gate 40; near our Gate 38.
A feeling of success!

Boarding Lufthansa was quite an experience. A long walk down many steps, plus a bus ride all around the back of the large airport. . .more steps.. .and finally, very cramped seats in the last rows. Our joke to the Delta agent about riding in cargo wasn’t too far from the reality! We, no doubt, got the last two seats on the flight.

When TK was situated in his last row, ultra-cramped window seat, after having to crawl over two passengers, he realized that he did not have his camera on his belt. He was unable to move, given that the overhead bins were filled, and his heavy carry-on and his back pack were squished in the area with him. Now we had “lost camera stress”! TK had no voice! Feeling horrible! MK talked to one airline attendant and asked that if anyone turned in a camera, it was ours.. . .all of our beautiful vacation memories!

The couple seated next to MK, who was in the row in front of TK, were conversing in German. At one point, the guy, whom we would learn was “Chris”, turned to MK and said that they were announcing about our camera. He thought that we might not understand the announcement, which was in German. And he was right. He expressed his hope that we’d find it saying, his Mom always said: “No house ever lost anything” and hence, “No airplane has lost anything. It would be someplace!" As passengers were standing up, ready to de-board, Tom could get up from his pretzel position, and... WONDERFUL DISCOVERY, the camera was lodged behind his seat, which was in the very last row. The belt-clip of the case had apparently ripped off as he got into the seat. Another stress solved!

We had made it to Paris!!! We felt so relieved to be there! Having conquered our travel dilemma, we decided that we would re-group, and just enjoy our days in Paris. We would trust that our Delta non-stop flight home would be OK.

We walked down the long hall to the taxi queue, and very quickly, were on our way to the Paris City Centre. Our taxi driver was an attractively-dressed, young woman driver, who was excellent. She described how she liked having her own cab in order to keep it clean. “Men don’t keep their cabs clean,” she said . We learned that she was from Morroco. She described a bit about her hometown. . .200 miles from Marakesh. No jobs there. . .so she can’t move back. But her mother is there and she tries to visit twice a year. She easily found our hotel. Cost for the taxi: (56 EUR on CC; 5 EUR cash tip)

It was an easy check-in at Hotel Le Regent, on Rue Dauphine, where we had stayed during our Christmas holiday visit in 2011. The hotel is very small, but ideally-located, within a few blocks of the Seine. There are many restaurants nearby, and it is within walking distance of many favorite sights. We were given one of their newly-redecorated rooms.

For dinner, we headed to nearby L’Atlas, a fave of ours during our 2011 visit. Steak Frites for TK; Beef Bourginon with a Bordeaux for MK. Tom wasn’t feeling in the mood for their wonderful moules.

We took an evening stroll up Rue Dauphine to the Seine. We had wanted to do an evening boat cruise, but, instead, decided to head back to the hotel early because TK was feeling pretty rotten. He needed rest. And so did MK.

Suffice it to say, this had been a very stressful and tiring day, requiring us to use our resources to solve a serious travel dilemma. In fact, it had been our most stressful day of the trip! But, we felt grateful to be in Paris, given the cancellation of our Air France flight from Munich to Paris, and the ensuing saga of getting our flight re-booked on Lufthansa. Additionally, we had the stress over the misplaced/lost credit card. And later, the worry over the "lost" camera, with all of our vacation memories, which, thankfully, had a happy ending.

Until we began prepping for bed, neither of us realized how exhausted we were. But just being in Paris, after all the hurdles of the day, was a tremendous relief!

BON NUIT!
tomarkot is offline  
Old Jan 16th, 2015, 05:27 AM
  #100  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 662
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Wow! I hope that was the one and only stressful day of your 27-day trip. But nothing that a little steak frites can't cure. Gearing up for the Paris stories - carry on!
YankyGal is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -