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Alsace and Switzerland Itinerary - feedback please

Alsace and Switzerland Itinerary - feedback please

Old Apr 1st, 2014, 11:57 AM
  #1  
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Alsace and Switzerland Itinerary - feedback please

I enjoy planning trips almost as much as taking them. We had thought that we might go to Barcelona over New Year's, but since that won't happen after all, I've turned my attention to next year's trip. After some advice on the board for my original idea (which included Milan and Bellagio) and reading everyone's posts on Switzerland, I've changed the focus to north of the Alps. Basically, we'd like to start in Alsace and end at Lake Geneva, seeing some of the Black Forest and eastern France, on to Lucerne, stay near Interlaken, and fly out of Geneva.

We enjoy gardens, walking but not rigorous mountain hiking, some museums, castles and historical sights, good food, and atmospheric and nice accommodations. While we enjoy wine, we're not looking to do a wine tasting tour. I'm not too good with gondolas swinging in the air (rack trains, ok) but could probably handle some short journeys on them - one reason I chose Wengen instead of another town. We're in good shape in our middle 60s.

First I looked into flights into Frankfurt and Zurich with an immediate short train ride to somewhere closer to either the Black Forest or Mulhouse, based on the duration and a direct journey - flying 10 hours, then a connecting flight followed by a long train is not something we want to do. I'd prefer to fly into somewhere closer, though, which is why on another thread I asked about the Air France option of the TGV to Strasbourg. Otherwise the first night would be spent somewhere we aren't particularly interested in, and in the morning we would need to get a car, drop off luggage, etc - essentially losing a half day. If we fly into Zurich, I guess we could stay one night in Basel; if into Frankfurt, stay in Offenburg (there is a car rental there and it would put us closer to our destination).

That said, here is my preferred plan for August 2015…comments welcome. I've put in the hotels I am particularly interested in - though I understand that it's a long way out, I have bookmarked some that look beautiful.

LAX - Strasbourg via TGV (this needs some planning, I know, to catch the train - I've asked about it on another thread)

Strasbourg 2 nights: enjoy Strasbourg, perhaps train to Baden Baden (we're not big spa people, it would be to see the town). Hotel Cour de Corbeau

Rent car, Diebolsheim (between Strasbourg and Colmar, a very nice B&B called Ambiance Jardin) 3 nights: see Alsace (Colmar, points south), the Black Forest (Freiburg, the museums in Gutach)

Drop car and train to Lucerne for 2 nights: afternoon in Lucerne, next day a boat ride, etc. Hotel Montana or Hotel Schweizerhof (I like the breakfast included at the Montana, and if it's good enough for Thin, it's good enough for us)

Train to Wengen for 3 nights: Wengen, boat ride on the lake, walk in the mountains, etc. Hotel Schoenegg looks and sounds amazing - does the chef take vacation in August, I wonder?

Train via the Golden Pass to Vevey for 3 nights: Vevey, walk in the vineyards, Montreux, etc. Hotel des Trois Couronnes or Grand Hotel du Lac.

Train in the early afternoon directly to Geneva for flight out, Geneva-CDG-LAX

This gives us 13 nights; I could probably extend it to 14. If that was the case, where would you add the nights? I would add more to Lucern if it was the only place we were going to in Switzerland, but I think it would be sufficient to stay two nights in this scenario.
Iwan2go is offline  
Old Apr 1st, 2014, 01:40 PM
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I'd look at http://www.gardenvisit.com/garden/insel_mainau before you firm up, the garden is fantastic, from Constance you can drop into the north of Switzerland
bilboburgler is online now  
Old Apr 1st, 2014, 02:09 PM
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Bilbo, That looks gorgeous, if not for this trip, the next one. Thank you!
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Old Apr 1st, 2014, 02:10 PM
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Lucerne is compact and not that many things to see really except its LOVELY self - and a boat ride as you are already doing on what I consider to be Switzerland's loveliest lake - especially the float towards Fluelen on a fjord-like tip of the lake.

I think you have nice number of days in each place - and a varied itinerary - French and German areas both. Consider a lake boat trip on Lake Le Man out of Vevey - I took one to Evian-les-Bains in France (and back of course) - spiffy lakeside resort known of course for its water - Evian bottled water. (If have Swiss Pass boats fully covered even part in French waters).

A Swiss Pass could be very useful to you giving you are moving around a lot - even an 8-consecutive-day pass - you could move to Geneva on day 8 - Geneva is often maligned but is in many ways a fascinating city - again boat rides along the lake show you the famous villas the rich and famous once stayed in.

Great info on Swiss trains: www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com. Swiss passes pass not only on trains and boats but also city transit systems, postal buses and give free entry to 470+ Swiss museums (if a rainy day comes up in Wengen head for nearby Bern for the day - great city - unheralded for some reason. Swiss Pass covers trains to Wengen in full from Interlaken-Ost.
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Old Apr 1st, 2014, 10:27 PM
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Hi Iwan2go,

Yes, your itinerary has a nice mix of German and French influences, plus a nice mix of mountains and lakes scenery. If you want to add days, I would add them to Wengen, as there's so much to do there in addition to ascending the peaks. There are plenty of flat and scenic walks not only in the hills but also along Lake Thun or Lake Brienz; there are excursions to Thun (castle in town, arcaded streets), Spiez, Brienz, and Bern; there is the Ballenberg Museum, etc.

I think the lake PalQ is referring to is Lac Leman, which is the French name of Lake Geneva. I've lived there and visited there more than a dozen times since 1996, and I've always called it Lake Geneva, so you won't have any problems with that either. Yes, taking a cruise on the lake is one of the highlights -- and the best one imo is going by the vineyards of the Lavaux. I love to ride to Lutry, for instance, then walk through the town and have lunch, then walk up to the vineyards and through them to Cully (about 2h) or Rivaz (about 3h).

Let us know if you'd like ideas for things to do!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Old Apr 1st, 2014, 11:02 PM
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swandav, I actually got a lot of ideas from your posts so I’m glad you think it’s a good plan! I loved reading the recent Trip Reports from nikidi and others as well. Palenque, I will look into the Swiss Pass - that is a great tip.

I was interested to see if you’d add the day to Wengen or Vevey. Someone else (I can’t find it now, darn) posted wonderful photos of their trip, and I noted the boat rides on Lake Brienz as something we’d really enjoy.

It should be really special! Thanks all for your help.
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Old Apr 1st, 2014, 11:08 PM
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Hi again,

Yes, I typically stay for two weeks at a time in Montreux (actually I like staying in the suburb of Territet or Veytaux). However, I have some personal ties to the area (boarding school there when I was 13), and most folks have seen enough after 3 nights.

But. If you want to add those days to Vevey, I can surely give you lots of ideas for things to do, lol!!

s
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Old Apr 2nd, 2014, 05:09 AM
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a great day trip from Montreux is to take the Chocolate Train (or regular trains over the same route) to Gruyeres, perfect walled ancient town with castle and cheese factory) and then onto Broc Factory station where the Nestle Chocolate Factory is that you can take a Willie Wonkaesque tour - but don't fall into the chocolate vats!
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Old Apr 2nd, 2014, 08:29 AM
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Hahaha. thanks.
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Old Apr 4th, 2014, 09:07 AM
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http://www.goldenpass.ch/goldenpass_chocolate_train

Chocolate train is apparently run by the Golden Pass train folks.
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Old Apr 4th, 2014, 10:19 PM
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That's not news, Pal. I've known that for, like, decades. Why post that now?

s
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Old Apr 5th, 2014, 05:53 AM
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That's not news, Pal. I've known that for, like, decades. Why post that now?>

not sure what you are talking about - I posted a link to the Chocolate Train for the folks to know more about it - may not be new news but relevant info.

perplexed at your carping on this one?
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Old Apr 5th, 2014, 07:23 AM
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Chocolate train is apparently run by the Golden Pass train folks.

Why is that news? Why is that important?
swandav2000 is offline  
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