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I need help planning my Germany/Switzerland trip

I need help planning my Germany/Switzerland trip

Jan 8th, 2006, 09:32 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 139
I need help planning my Germany/Switzerland trip

Hi,

My 13 year old daughter and I plan to spend 2 weeks in Germany and Switzerland this summer. There is an abundance of information available through books, web sites, etc. It's overwhelming. Can anyone suggest some good sources of information about Germany and Switzerland? In Germany, we're thinking of concentrating on Munich/Bavaria, and the Romantic Road, and in Switzerland, Luzern, and Berner Oberland. We need help in everything from planning our itinerary and getting the best air fares, to finding places to stay and renting a car. Are travel agents helpful? Any suggestions on good, comprehensive sources of information will be appreciated.

Thanks in advance for your help.
Gary
garyincary is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 12:59 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 915
Based on your lack of adventure, get a travel agent!

Curious
Curious is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 01:23 PM
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Depending on how many days you have for the Berner Oberland, I suggest either Wengen or Mürren. They are high on the sides of a glacial valley and there is no private automobile traffic in either place.

Both are reached by mountain transportation systems from Lauterbrunnen.

I normally stay in Lauterbrunnen but I am there for at least a week. So I rent an apartment, which is usually available by the week.

I pick Lauterbrunnen because I move around a lot during the day and it is a transportation hub.

For a visit of 2 or 3 nights, I think either of the mountain villages would give you a taste of the high Alps. You can go higher from either place by foot or by mountain transportation lines.

Wengen is on the railline that goes to Kleine Scheidegg where one transfers to the Jungfraubahn that takes you to the Jungfraujoch. There is also a cable lift that takes you to the top of the towering ridge known as the Männlichen.

You can take a nice walk slightly down hill to Kleine Scheidegg and return to Wengen by trail or by train or a combination.

One hike that you might like is the Eiger Wall Trall. It leads upwards from a rail stop called Alpiglenn to another rail stop on the Jungfraubahn line called Eigergletscher (Eiger Glacier).

The trail provides awesome views up close of the towering north face of the famous Eiger.

I cannot suggest a hotel in Luzern because I have not stayed there overnight. My trips there have been by car or train from Lauterbrunnen for the day.

Luzern has some really nice restaurants and museums. The transportation museum is exceptionally good with interactive displays, an IMAX, and a balloon ride.

Another attraction near Interlaken Ost is the Museum of Swiss Life near Brienz.

It can be reached easily by train and bus from Interlaken Ost.

The Swiss Rail Schedule Website, www.sbb.ch will give you data on prices and schedules. The site is in 4 languages. Click on "en" for English captions.

You will find the Swiss rail system to be very efficient.

As for airline prices, I look first at Expedia, and then I query the airline websites to see if the price is higher or lower. Some people use Orbitz and Priceline.

You can just about plan your own trip by deciding where you want to go from guide books. Then the use the web to find hotels and book reservations. Most of the larger hotels have English speaking staff.

If you plan on visiting Munich, I suggest the Hotel Astoria in Schwabing. It is reasonably priced, and the breakfast is absolutely fabulous.

It is close to the Ubahn stops and I have no trouble visiting around Munich from there.

From Munich, you can take the train to Zürich and easily change for Luzern.

From Luzern, the train goes to Interlaken Ost via the Brünig Pass.

You change in Interlaken Ost for Lauterbrunnen where you change again toa mountain train for Wengen.

I know this may sound a bit complex, but the rail schedulers give good information. You just have to know where you want to go, and the guide books will help you decide.

Do you have any thoughts of where you want to fly as an arrival point, and as a departure point. From the US, Munich is a logical destination/departure airport.

The only drawback is that the Munich airport is well out from the city center, but there is a Lufthansa bus to down town as well as the S-Bahn.

I have yet to use a travel agent for Germany and Switzerland, but you might benefit from a tour for the Romantic Road.
bob_brown is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 01:49 PM
  #4  
 
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Bob's suggestion of the Berner Oberland is a good one; Muerren is a beautiful little town, but I think you'd find a bit more action (teens tend to prefer that, you know) in Lauterbrunnen. From Lauterbrunnen, make sure to take a trip up to the Schilthorn peak - not too expensive if you take the discounted morning trip up and have breakfast in the revolving restaurant of James Bond movie fame. It's spectacular. Then visit Muerren on the way back down.

We happened into Lauterbrunnen in summer and got a 2-Bedroom apartment there, across from the Hotel Staubbach, for about $80/night for just 2 nights, but perhaps we were lucky; I imagine reservations are a good idea at that time of year.

If you want to plan independently, you have lots of time to plan. Besides guidebooks, I'd suggest visiting the tourist office websites for the towns you plan to visit; most have English pages. There are often many private B&B's and guesthouses listed there that you won't find in guidebooks.

Another very good source is www.bensbauernhof.com . Just go there and you'll see what I mean.

Also, I think you can get a pretty good idea on sights, accommodations, and prices from the Rick Steves guidebooks. I don't usually book the places he recommends because they tend to attract LOTS of fellow Americans and are often booked up before I get around to deciding my plans, and because they tend to be a bit more expensive than comparable accommodations that don't bear the Rick Steves stamp of approval. You can find places just as good and often cheaper through the local tourist office. I'd say that generally, in Germany and Switzerland, you can book almost anywhere and find that your place will be as described, clean, and a good value.

In this area, I would consider train travel for the area you'll be covering. It's more relaxing to just chat or read a book or look out the window at some of Europe's most fabulous scenery.

Russ is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 02:02 PM
  #5  
 
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My husband and I are planning a similar trip this summer. It is my first time to Europe - my husband spent time there when he was in the Army, so he is somewhat familiar. We are going for 2 weeks and decided to spend all that time in Bavaria - with a possible short trip to Switzerland. We thought about visiting more places - there is so much to see, but decided to spend more time in fewer places.

We used frequent flyer miles for the airfare, so I can't really help you with that.

For planning our itinerary, we did a lot of reading - I checked a couple guidebooks out from the library to start with and started making a list of place that looked or sounded interesting. There is a guidebook series with a lot of pictures in it - don't remember the name, but go to the library or bookstore and you will see it. I narrowed the list down because just about everyplace looked interesting to me and then started reading more indepth about each place and figuring out how long we would like to reasonably stay to see the sites - then compared that with how much time we have.

That is basically how we narrowed it down to Bavaria only - to maximize our time by minimizing travel between far away destinations. After reading about Munich, I decided I could quite happily spend the whole 2 weeks there and not see everything that caught my interest.

Once I had the itinerary down, I started researching each area where we are going. We aren't renting a car for most of our trip, although we may rent one for our trip into the Alps. The rest of the time we are taking trains.

For lodging, I checked the chamber of commerce sites for the cities and towns, read tripadvisor.com and asked questions on this board about places. I made our reservations for Munich, but haven't made any more than that yet - I will.

So anyway, that is my process.
J_Correa is offline  

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