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Help with - Germany, France, Switzerland (Nov12)

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Oct 10th, 2012, 10:24 AM
  #1
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Help with - Germany, France, Switzerland (Nov12)

Hello all,

We are a group of 09 adults (some senior citizens) traveling to Germany, Switzerland and France between 08-20Nov, 2012.

I understand its not the right time to travel to these countries but most of us enjoy the cold/windy/rainy weather (with some snow would be perfect!) as you rarely get to see it in Mumbai... The group is not much in museums and cathedrals but more into scenic beauty, beautiful blooming gardens (don't expect to see that in Nov!), some bargain shopping in hypermarkets (e.g. Ikea/Walmarts of Europe!), local culture etc. The group is pre-dominantly vegetarian (hence self-catering apartments)

Our tentative plan:
Land in Frankfurt on 08Nov. Either move to Frankfurt or Mainz in a self catering apartment for about 3-4nites
Any recommendations on:
- Frankfurt vs Mainz for self-catering apartments / approx price
- Planning to do day-trips to other places using Lander tickets. Not sure which cities/towns to choose.
(was planning a river cruise for 3nites on A-Rosa cruises but thats turning out to be quiet expensive ..approx EUR300 p.p.)

Proceed to either Strasbourg(France), Frieburg(Germany) or Baden Baden (Germany) for 2 nites. This is not exactly essential but the purpose is to do a day trip to Black Forest / Cuckoo clock factory. Any recommendations about group train tickets / places to visit, accommodation?

Proceed to Switzerland for 4nites .. 2nites Lucerne and 2nites Geneva.
Some of us in the group have been to Switzerland and for some its their 1st visit and hence they would like to do may be one mountain peak either from Lucerne or Geneva.
Take a 4-day train pass (2 for 1 offer)

Proceed to France for 3-4nites... base at Paris (train/coach travel)
Some of us initially planned to go to Europapark in Germany initially but during our travel dates its closed. So Eurodisney it is (if its worth the exhorbitant price). There are 2 parks there ..not sure which one is really worth it to give exciting feel to the adults (most may not be into the rides offered)...
The Paris pass for 1-2days is quiet expensive and most of it is not relevant as we are not looking for museum/gallery entries. Are there are any group tickets (like in germany?)

Depart from Paris back to India. I can reverse the itinerary to start from Paris and end in Frankfurt or skip Switzerland completely and do some other mountain peak with snow in Germany / Alsace region with cable cars and the all that (giving a JungFrau sort of experience!)

Your inputs would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers!
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Oct 10th, 2012, 10:49 AM
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For Switzerland since you will be there 4 days check out the fantastic 2 for 1 special on 4-day Swiss Passes, including Saverpasses - this should be cheaper than regular tickets for those cities you are going to and you can use the pass the whole 4 days - free admission to over 400 Swiss museums, valid on city trams and buses and of course trains.

Great sources for info on Swiss trains and passes IMO -http://www.budgeteuropetravel.com/id3.html; www.swisstravelsystem.com and www.ricksteves.com. The 2 for 1 special is valid I believe for travel until the end of November, 2012.

Oops see you know about the 2 for 1 offer now but will leave this in here so others will be sure to see it too.
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Oct 10th, 2012, 01:37 PM
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Between Geneva and Lucerne you can take the Golden Pass route that is much more scenic than the mainline route via Lausanne and Bern - the GP takes a route thru bucolic Alpine valleys nearly the whole way - it would take about an hour longer only if you abort the GP at Spiez and then hop the mainline route to Lucerne or continue on via Interlaken and take the GP route over the scenic Brunig Pass to Lucerne - again adding about another hour to the trip.
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Oct 11th, 2012, 07:27 AM
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Thanks PalenQ for your inputs.

Anyone else for some recommendations on my other queries please? Its urgent... I need HELP...!

Thanks so much in advance...
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Oct 11th, 2012, 10:13 AM
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Proceed to either Strasbourg(France), Frieburg(Germany) or Baden Baden (Germany) for 2 nites. This is not exactly essential but the purpose is to do a day trip to Black Forest / Cuckoo clock factory. Any recommendations about group train tickets / places to visit, accommodation?>

It is easy to day trip to the Black Forest from any of the three and having been to all three I think you cannot go wrong. Strasbourg is a bigger city with more to see and do than the other two but a bit farther away time wise if going by train to Black Forest as you first have to cross the Rhine and change to German trains.

But a very scenic train to take from Freibourg into the Black Forest would go to Titisee, terminus station where you can stroll around this high-up sea surrounded by bucolic hills and forests. Very scenic train trip - for variety if not staying in Freibourg you can take a triangular tour as I have done with a scenic mainline train ride back to Karlsrhue to connect back to any of the three proposed bases.
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Oct 12th, 2012, 03:13 AM
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Thanks PalenQ for replying.

If i keep Frieburg or Baden Baden as the base... I plan to take the double decker train ..get off at Titisee for an hour..stroll around and then go up to Triberg ... spend some time there and then take the train back through the same route or should i come back through a different route ?

Will the Lander tickets apply for my above proposed itinerary?

Is the waterfall in Triberg worth visiting in Mid November (weather permitting of course) and any other stopovers worth stopping by for the day trip on the train...?

Thanks
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Oct 12th, 2012, 06:04 AM
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WIth only 3-4 days in Paris, the EuroDIsney parks are probably not worth it for you, especially if you are not travelling with children.
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Oct 12th, 2012, 10:10 AM
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I would definitely not do Disney. Will be nasty that time of year - and not much for adults. A big waste.

the main thing I would worry about is that everyone have proper clothing and footwear (sturdy walking shoes or low booties with non-skid soles in case of heavy rain, sleet or ice). Getting to the top of the waterfall in Triberg is a fair climb - make sure seniors are prepared before they start up.
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Oct 12th, 2012, 10:43 AM
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Hi,
We had been to Europe in last August for a 3 weeks trip and also covered parts of Switzerland. Lucerne is worth a visit. You may also try Mount Riggi, though I am not sure about the weather conditions in November. Even in August, the temperature at top of Mt Riggi was around 10 degrees. It is about 1 hour by train and cable car from Lucerne and is worth a visit. If you are a veg only group, then you may have to satisfy with veg pizza and veg burger, I am afraid ! Mcdonald's is widely available all over these countries. But keep in mind that Switzerland is very expensive ! Enjoy your trip.
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Oct 12th, 2012, 10:49 AM
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Sorry, what I mentioned was about Mount Titlis and not Mount Riggi. We also visited Mt Riggi but Mt Titlis was much better.
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Oct 12th, 2012, 11:19 AM
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Mt Rigi is not nearly a Mount in the sense on Mt titlis or Mt Pilatus - awesome rocky ice-girdled peaks - Rigi is a low level peak known most for its supreme vistas over the rock Alpine spine of central Switzerland and not for what you may think of a rugged alpine peak.
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Oct 13th, 2012, 10:37 AM
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thank you ladies and gentlemen for your inputs on Disney and switzerland in the last few messages..

any updates on the Frieburg/Baden Baden message that I posted...

Would appreciate your continued responses...

Cheers!
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Oct 13th, 2012, 11:26 AM
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Just a small suggestion here. I spent some time in the delightful town of Staufen, which is not far from Freiburg--also in the Black Forest area.

Freiburg is beautiful and a bit warmer than you'd expect. My understanding is that there's a warm wind from the south that improves the temperature a bit.

My recollection (it's been 10 years or so) is that I took a train from Freiburg to Titisee through some wonderful forest, as Palenque mentions. Titisee was pleasant, but what I really remember best is the train ride.
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Oct 14th, 2012, 08:33 AM
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baden-Baden makes a swell base IME - and certainly a town to at least visit - a unique town that was once where the heads of state and rich and famous Europeans gathered in the ornate Casino - do not miss the casino tour (but it is only before opening time - before noon I believe) and stroll thru the verdant campus-like town - very very nice place to base - no hectic city noise, etc. And great rail links to all places mentioned (rail station is a few miles from Baden-Baden town center - buses link station and town.
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Oct 14th, 2012, 09:20 AM
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The problem with this trip is it is imminent and you have to find apartments for 9 people. One apartment for 9 people? Adjacent apartments for 9 people? Both of these will be hard to find. And most apartments rent for a minimum of 3 nights. How much do you want to spend? There are any number of apartment rental agencies in Paris. An agency with a lot of listings can help you there. I am not knowledgeable about apartment rentals or agencies at your other destinations.

Hotel rooms will be easier to find at such short notice. Or chains like Citadines which have kitchenettes in their rooms.

And you will find moving around with 9 people a slower process.
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Oct 16th, 2012, 10:41 AM
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Hello Mimar... you are right..its becoming difficult to find apartments easily for 9 adults... so am exploring hotels which have kitchnettes in them that takes care of the food bit for us.

Hello PalenQ.. thank you again for your inputs. Is the Blackforest train/route (day trip) a do-able option from Strassbourg (France)? Cost-wise, distance etc as am assuming it would be fairly easier to find an apartment in Strasbourg as compared to Friebourg/Baden-Baden and it would be easier to get to Switzerland(Lucerne) from there.. in terms of connectivity as compared to the German cities...?

Let me know your thoughts please...

Another quick question.. is it better to stay in Frankfurt or Mainz (on arrival in Germany) and do day-trips from one of these cities to Heidleberg/koblenz etc.. on the Lander Tickets...

cheers!
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Oct 17th, 2012, 02:19 PM
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I think Freibourg is closer to Basel, gateway to Switzerland than Strasbourg - but I really like Strasbourg as a town and yeh may be cheaper (I stayed in an ETAP hotel right opposite the Strasbourg train station - www.accorhotels.com - great price and great location for train travelers.

Yes the Black Forest scenic trains could be an easy enough day trip from Strasbourg - in fact that is just what I did.
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Oct 18th, 2012, 09:54 AM
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According to www.bahn.de - German Railways web portal that I use for schedules for all European trains it is one hour shorter time-wise from Freibourg to Lucerne than if coming from Strasbourg - and the cost would be cheaper as well - both routes go via Basel and Freibough is on hour closer to Basel than is Strasbourg.

Freibourg is a really neat town to IME of staying there various times - in a verdant area of hills and forests and also a lively university town - can't see it being any easier or harder finding a flat there than Strasbourg I would think. And of course much easier for doing day trips into the Black Forest.

Maybe base in each - Strasbourg great base for places like colmar - a real gem IMO and excursions by train and or bus along the fabled Alsace Wine Road - neat little villages like Riquewehr (sp?) - you do not need a car to get to them.
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Oct 19th, 2012, 11:48 AM
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Come to think of it Baden-Baden may have more flat type digs than the other two places since it is a place where folks come for a week or two stay to take the cure - could be cheaper perhaps due to competition and I think Baden-Baden is a very very nice place to come back to at night - verdant park-like setting as the town is literally strung out for a few miles along a lush valley. A bit of a hassle taking a bus to the train station, which is a few miles out of the town center however.
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Oct 19th, 2012, 10:45 PM
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Hello PalenQ..

You have been of Greatest help in here... Can't thank you enough... Just booked my flight tickets yesterday and passports go for Visa stamping next week...

This is what i understand with all the messages everybody has helped with and am planning to do this..

08Nov: Arrive in Frankfurt (Thursday)
Stay either in Frankfurt or Mainz (any recommendations which is a better place?)
09Nov: Either shopping/exploring day of Frankfurt/Mainz(as Sunday everything is closed!). Will take a 2-day pass from Frankfurt airport (if we stay in FRA)
10Nov: Day trip to Koblenz (Saturday)- Lander tickets
11Nov: Day trip to Heidleberg (sunday)- Lander tickets
Option .. I can use Sunday to change base to Friebourg(Germany)as Heidleberg will be closed for everything it being a sunday?

12Nov: Move to Friebourg - Lander Tickets(?) (monday)
13Nov: Day trip to Strasbourg/Colmar - any regional tickets?? Can I cover both places on a day-trip?? (Tuesday)
14Nov: Day trip to Blackforest/cuckoo clock factor(ies) - any regional tickets?? (wednesday)
Option: If i keep Strasbourg as my base.. I will be able to save one-day to visit this town(?). Though not sure how expensive it would be to travel from stransbourg to Blackforest for a day-trip as compared to Friebourg-Blackforest. Any special regional trains?

15Nov: Move to Lucerne. Take ticket only upto Basel as will take a 4day Swiss Pass. (thursday)
16Nov: Explore Lucerne/mountain peak (Friday)
17Nov: Move to Geneva early morning (Saturday). Keep luggage at train station. Visit the city and take evening train to Paris.
18Nov: Explore Paris - full day.. hop-in/hop-off bus or any other suggestions? (Sunday)
19Nov: Possibly visit Disney Land / shopping (Monday)
20Nov: Departure in the afternoon to India.

The reason I am spending so much time in Germany is partly due to the cost factor of train travel which turns out quiet low on the Lander/Regional tickets as compared to Switzerland/France.

Let me know your thoughts. Am ok to reduce days in Germany by choosing lesser day trips by skipping one of the cities - Heidleberg/Koblenz/Manheim...whichever is easily accessible/scenic (remember I have some senior travelers)
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