Europe Itinerary: Help Please

Nov 3rd, 2005, 01:54 PM
  #1  
S_G
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Europe Itinerary: Help Please

We are a family of five. Kids ages 6, 13, and 15. We are flying from USA to Frankfurt in mid-june. We have friends in Cologne. Would 2 nights be enough for this part of Germany?

We will get 5 day Select Saver Passes for 3 countries.

From Cologne to Interlaken train. Make Interlaken the base and spend 4 nights here.

From Interlaken to Venice train. Stay 2 nights.

Venice to Rome train. Stay 2 nights.

What is the best way of getting to Cologne from Frankfurt? If we use our Eurail Select Saver, is that wasting a day from the pass? Should we take local train or rent a car? We are a family of five.

In Switzerland, again would car rental or Swiss pass make sense?

Should we rent cars in Venice and Rome for local sights?

We are flying out of Frankfurt to Asia. Getting back to Frankfurt from Rome - We still have a day on our train pass. Should we use that and unwind in Frankfurt for a day before taking our flight? or just fly from Rome to Frankfurt?

Thank-you.
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Nov 3rd, 2005, 02:44 PM
  #2  
rex
 
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<<If we use our Eurail Select Saver, is that wasting a day from the pass?>>

The waste is if you buy it in the first place. See www.railsaver.com and plug in your itinerary. Train travel in Italy is so bargain-priced that it virtually never makes sense to buy a "rail pass" when the itinerary contains much Italy train travel.
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Nov 3rd, 2005, 03:21 PM
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As to what type of rail pass to buy in Switzerland, the choice depends on where you intend to go in 4 days.

The Swiss Pass permits free travel by rail on the Swiss Federal systems. It saves you 25% on mountain transportation, which you would need to travel deeper into the Berner Oberland, i.e. from Interlaken Ost station.

The Swiss Card will give you a free ride into the country from the border, a free ride out (not necessarily to the point of entry), and 50% off everything in between, including places like the Jungfraujoch, the Schilthorn, Grindelwald to First on the Gondola, etc.

With a Swiss Pass, the children 15 and under ride free on the Federal system with the parents provided you get a the STS Family card at no extra cost.
(Note that from Interlaken Ost to Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen, you are on the BOB private line. The pass is still good to Grindelwald and Lauterebrunnen.)

To get full details, you may conculst the SBB website - the Swiss National Rail - site at www.sbb.ch

There is an English version.

Note that you can reach Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald by car, but farther travel is by train or cable conveyance.

If you want to ramble over the high passes, a car is better, but the passes are often not open in mid June.
Usually they are snow free by the end of June, but the situation is unpredictable because of snow depth and temperatures in June.

I am curious to know what prompted you to select Interlaken as a base.

People often select Interlaken because they think Interlaken is in the mountains. It is not, really. The high peaks are perhaps glimpsed in the distance, but Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, Mürren, and Wengen are more ideally situated for moutain visiting. It all depends on where you want to go.

Interlaken has more in it of course, including many luxury hotels and many more shops with high quality merchandise. It is also where you would will rent a car in all likelihood. Avis and Hertz both have offices there. Please note that the auto rental offices are usually if not always closed on Sunday.
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Nov 3rd, 2005, 03:24 PM
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OOPS C O N S U L T
Sorry about that.
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Nov 3rd, 2005, 06:15 PM
  #5  
S_G
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Thank-you for your replies.

I was trying to choose a central place in Switzerland. Is there a better place to select Interlaken as a base? It is our first trip to Europe

Thanks.
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Nov 3rd, 2005, 09:30 PM
  #6  
S_G
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<<The waste is if you buy it in the first place>>

Rex, RailSaver.com gives me almost the same price point-to-point as Select Saver pass, first class. Am I overlooking something?

I am looking into flying out from Rome onto Asia instead of going back to Frankfurt. Also, would Grindelwald be a better base in Switzeland than Interlaken?

Thank-you for all your help.
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Nov 4th, 2005, 08:47 AM
  #7  
S_G
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Anyone there?

Thanks.
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Nov 4th, 2005, 08:57 AM
  #8  
rex
 
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What do you mean "almost the same price"?
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Nov 4th, 2005, 08:58 AM
  #9  
ira
 
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Hi SG,

>RailSaver.com gives me almost the same price point-to-point as Select Saver pass, first class. Am I overlooking something?<

It sometimes happens that a railpass does save money.

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Nov 4th, 2005, 09:10 AM
  #10  
 
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Hi S_G,

To address another one of your questions, you definitely do NOT need to rent a car in Venice or Rome. In fact, cars are not allowed in Venice; all transportation is by boat and by foot. I think most would agree that a car would be a liability in Rome. The bus system is fantastic, and if you have a centrally located hotel (near Piazza Navona or the Pantheon), you can do most of your sightseeing on foot. Is there any way you can stretch out your stays to more than 2 days in each city? When considering travel time between the two, that's really not much time to see two of Europe's greatest cities.

Have a fantastic time!
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Nov 4th, 2005, 09:47 AM
  #11  
 
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Do not take the train from Rome to Frankfurt -- its too far. Best idea is to fly out of Rome.

Train vs Car, how to decide: Most likely, a car will get you from city A to city B at less cost than 5 train tickets. But you want to use public transportation inside a city--traffic, parking, etc, are bad.

So the question is, how much do you plan to drive around the region of base cities that you are visiting? If you will use the car almost every day, then rent a car for the whole trip. If you will pretty much park the car and stay in town(s), then using the train for city-to-city is probably best.

Note also that gas is wicked expensive over there. And that trains are in general frequent and convenient, and not as stressful for first-timers.

Personally I would spend less time in Interlaken (2 nights) and more time in Venice/Rome. Luzern and Lugano are pretty.

If you do go by train, maybe your choice of Swiss city to visit should be dictated by train routes.

Under no circumstances should you plan to drive in Venice.
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