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Input on Trip to "the Alps" Appreciated

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May 28th, 2014, 07:16 PM
  #1
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Input on Trip to "the Alps" Appreciated

Fodor Friends, we're planning a kind of "loop" trip, concentrating mostly on the Alps of Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. We're using FF miles, flying in and out of Munich, and renting a car for this part of our trip. We're thrilled to end our trip with a few days in Paris! Our travel dates are August 20-September 18. We'll have 25 days "on the ground", counting Munich and in the Alps. We have a basic itinerary developed, with some of the details filled in.

The general plan is to spend the first day, after checking into our hotel in Freising, in the city center of Munich, traveling by train. We've visited Munich on a previous trip, so we just want to re-visit Marienplatz and have some of that good German beer at the Hofbrauhaus..The following day we're driving to Berchesgaten for three nights, using it as a base for day trips in the area, including a bit of Austria.

More of Austria is next, with two overnights in Salzburg. (Hotels here are booked,) We then plan to travel to Hallstatt, having one overnight. The next day we'll travel to Zell Am See, intending to get an early start to enjoy the fabulous views on the Grossglockner Highway.That evening we plan to spend in Lienz, Austria.

Italy is next : the Dolomites. We'd like to travel to Cortina d'Ampezzo, overnighting there or in Ortisei, and spending a few days in the Val Gardena. Depending on the weather we've had heretofore on the trip, we'd like to have the flexibility to dip south into the lake region for a couple days.

From the Dolomites, we intend to wend our way into Switzerland. At this point, we have a few days with no definite plans We're still exploring. Possibly Zermatt? Engadine? Meiringen to take a postal bus trip over a few passes? One definite goal is Lauterbrunnen where we do have three nights booked: Sept. 8-10. From Lauterbrunnen, we're planning to explore the BO. We'd like to have a few days open to "float" according to weather.

In our planning, we've consulted several guidebooks, and gotten valuable information from reading the TRs of Fodorites. As we begin to fill in details, we have several questions. We know that many of you have traveled in these areas, and would appreciate any insight you could provide. Here are some of the questions we're wondering about:

1. Is AutoEurope a reliable company? We can get a Volkswagen Gulf from them for about $800. for 25 days? Sounds pretty good.

2. Does anyone know if the train from Freising goes to the city center of Munich; i.e. Marienplatz?

3. If the weather isn't conducive to our drive over the Grossglockner Pass, and we decide to travel from Zell Am See toward Innsbruck, would the highway north into the Dolomites be more advisable to travel?

4. How doable is it to leave some nights in the Dolomites "open" to allow some flexibility in our travels there? We have the same concern about Switzerland. On previous driving trips, we've "played it by ear", booking only larger cities and towns. But more recently, we're wondering how doable that is. From reading we've done, it seems many popular areas, including the BO, are crowded. That's why we booked Lauterbrunnen. If the weather is favorable, we hope to add a night or two either in Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald.

At this point, we have a couple of ideas for our itinerary back to Munich. We'll work on that, but appreciate any suggestions.

We've previously posted some of this info tagged only "Austria" and, at the suggestion of pja1, we've posted more information here.

Thanks so much for any information or suggestions you may have!
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May 29th, 2014, 01:38 AM
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Sounds like a well-thought out trip tomarkot, I'm jealous.



Indeed they are, particularly at the Lauterbrunnen train station, which is a major transportation hub for the BO.

If you haven't seen it before, I recommend a visit to the Viktualienmarkt in Munich - walking distance from Marienplatz. It's a huge farmer's market - I loved it, so much beautiful food.
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May 29th, 2014, 02:11 AM
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2.) Yes, the S-Bahn runs every 20 minutes, calling at all underground stations between Munich main station and Munich East, including Marienplatz. The regional trains which also call at Freising are less frequent, a bit faster but terminate at Munich main station.
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May 29th, 2014, 02:21 AM
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It would be logical to add a couple of nights in the Engadine between the Dolomites and the BO. It's right along the way.

Early September is not peak season in the Dolomites or the Engadine, so you could easily play it by ear, if you're not totally set on a special hotel or so.

3. If the weather doesn't co-operate, why not driving via Mittersill - Felbertauern tunnel - Lienz to the Dolomites? Innsbruck would be a long detour.
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May 29th, 2014, 06:44 AM
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Up to Val Gardena, your plans are perfect.
Zell am See - Lienz: you may use the Felbertauern road tunnel if the weather is too bad for the Grossglockenr Hochalpensstrasse.
If you want to go down to a Lake, go from Ortisei to Bolzano/Bozen - Trento - Rovereto - Riva del Garda on Lake Garda.

But why do you want to go from Bolzano/Bozen (resp Lake Garda) more or less along dozens of mountain valleys and glaciers up to Lauterbrunnen, just in order to find there other mountain valleys and glaciers?

I suppose you know that

the highest mountain hotel of the Alps is situated at Grawand/Hochjoch Glacier, 11000ft above sea level; it can be reached by gondola from Val Senales, between Bolzano/Bozen and the Swiss border
http://www.grawand.com/en/

the highest mountain Pass road of the Alps is the Stelvio Pass (9500ft), at the Swiss border when you arrive from Bolzano/Bozen
http://www.stelvio.net/english/

the highest mountain lake with regular boat's traffic is Lake Sils (5900ft); you reach it about 2 hrs after having crossed the Swiss/Italian border
http://www.engadin.stmoritz.ch/somme...es-on-the-top/

10 miles to the north and to the south of the first 111 miles of your itinerary from Bolzano/Bozen to Lauterbrunnen, you will find the following glaciers (at least half a dozen of them can be reached by cablecar or even by car):
Zufall glacier
Hohen Glacier
Martell Glacier
Graf Glacier
Niederjoch Glacier
Fineil Glacier
Hochjoch Glacier
Hintrereis Glacier
Steinschlag Glacier
Matscher Glacier
Planeil Glacier
Laaser Glacier
Madatsch Glacier
Nasenhorn Glacier
Ortler Glacier
Sulden Glacier
Cristallo Glacier
Vitelli Glacier
Sarsura Glacier
Grialetsch Glacier
Porchabella Glacier
Palu Glacier
Fellaria Glacier
Scerscen Glacier
Cambrena Glacier
Morteratsch Glacier
Misaun Glacier
Tschierva Glacier
Sella Glacier
Roseg Glacier
Tremoggia Glacier
Fex Glacier
Fedoz Glacier
Forno Glacier
Cantun Glacier
Castel Glacier
Albigna Glacier
Corvatsch Glacier
Murtel Glacier
.....
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May 29th, 2014, 08:27 AM
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Thanks to all for your rapid responses.

Melnq8, glad to see you here! It was your TR particularly that motivated us to book our hotels early for Lauterbrunnen.

Cowboy 1968, we appreciate your explanation of the trains from Freising to downtown Munich. If we understand you correctly, we take the S bahn which will stop not only at all stations, but at the Marienplatz. Otherwise, the regional, which is not as frequent, but faster, will go to the Munich Main Station. From there, we'd take the subway (or walk?) to Marienplatz? Thanks for further clarification.

Ingo, your suggestion regarding driving via Mittersill-Felbertavern Tunnel-Lienz in case of bad weather when leaving Zell Am See is really valuable, and comforting. We didn't have any awareness of that tunnel. Also, we're planning to add several nights in the Engadine. Not sure where. We're in the process of researching more, and we're sure we'll have more questions.

Neckervd, as you noted, our plans up to the Val Gardena seem pretty solid. We haven't gotten any further, except to look ahead to Lauterbrunnen. We have several days in between, with some free-floating ideas. We appreciate so much all the time and energy you put into providing so many websites and locations for us to explore. Since we have a car, we have some flexibility. When we mentioned Zermatt, we know that we can drive only as far as Tasch.

Another idea which may seem wild at this point, is to drive to Martigny and take the cable car/train up to Mt. Blanc. But we're still very unsure about routing here. We'll appreciate responses to questions which we will inevitably have as we go on researching.

As you might have surmised from some of our concerns about weather, we have traveled in the area before. Too much to detail here, but when we were returning from a couple of weeks in Italy, eagerly awaiting our trip over the Alps, the weather was so rainy and foggy that visibility was down to almost zero. We "holed up" in a little place, Grachen, and through the kind directions of the host, found a car-train to get us through, not over, the Alps.

Thanks again to all for your help!
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May 29th, 2014, 08:34 AM
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You could take the U-Bahn from the main station in Munich to the Marienplatz or you can walk it. Take a look at this map:

http://www.mvv-muenchen.de/fileadmin...B_Englisch.pdf
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May 29th, 2014, 08:36 AM
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Correction: you can take the S-Bahn from the main rail station to the Marienplatz; to use the U-bahn you would have to change
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May 29th, 2014, 08:50 AM
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Thanks, Dukey1, very helpful. We've printed the map.
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May 29th, 2014, 08:59 AM
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I hope you are staying at the hotel gardena grodnerhof (http://www.gardena.it/en/) in Ortisei. I have stayed in some of the world's greatest hotels, I don't think any of them surpassed the service at Hotel Gardena Grodnerhof! Click on my name for my TR. After hearing I was playing golf the following day, the owner of the hotel even offered to let me use his golf clubs! A truly fantastic hotel!
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May 29th, 2014, 09:50 AM
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Sorry for the delay.

Actually, it will be more convenient for you to forget about those regional trains and take the S-Bahn line 1 from Freising to Munich Marienplatz.

The regional trains arrive in the main station hall, the connecting S-Bahn to Marienplatz call at the underground platforms. Which is a trek through the station and two levels down. Somewhat inconvenient especially with the construction works going on on the connector levels.

Going BACK from Munich to Freising, keep in mind that most line 1 services serve both, Freising and the airport.
They split up along the route, and the units going to Freising will always be the first one(s) in the direction of travel. You can also check the displays on the side of the units for the proper destination "Freising".
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May 29th, 2014, 12:14 PM
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Masterphil, the "Gardena" in Ortisei looks fantastic. We checked out the website and printed the map. We'll have it in our cache of ideas. Thanks!

Cowboy1968, thanks for the further clarification on the Munich train. We'll be mindful of checking which section of the train to sit in on the return to Freising.
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May 29th, 2014, 12:54 PM
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Meiringen to take a postal bus trip over a few passes?>

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...witzerland.cfm

This thread talks about the 3 Passes bus loop from Meiringen.
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May 29th, 2014, 04:51 PM
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Hi, PalenQ, it's from your post that we first got the idea. Thanks for the link. . .we've re-read it. If we understand correctly, staying in Meiringen we can catch that post bus to the Three Passes. If this is so, then we plan to stay in Meiringen before we move over to Lauterbrunnen. Does this sound right? Thanks!
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May 30th, 2014, 03:41 AM
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The car ride from Ortisei to Chamonix is very easy:
motorway from Punt Gherdeina/Ponte Gardena/Waidbruck via Bolzano/Bozen - Verona - Santhia - Aosta - Courmayeur to Chamonix: 6 1/2 hrs ride (560 km), road toll 110 USD, average fuel costs 75 USD).
But I repeat: some of the best mountain places are just between Bolzano/Bozen and St. Moritz, no need to waste a whole day by driving in the wrong direction (as you want to end your trip in Munich) in order to see them.
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May 30th, 2014, 06:37 AM
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. If this is so, then we plan to stay in Meiringen before we move over to Lauterbrunnen. Does this sound right? Thanks!>

Well I did it as a day trip from Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen is only 20 minutes from it by train so can be an easy day trip if you get an early start.

But staying in Meiringen has its pluses as there are many neat things to do in that area - famous Reichenbach Falls - the Glacier Gorge and the Ballenberg Open-Air museum to name three stellar sites. Plus Meiringen is just a neat cute town - known as the home of meringue - named after the town. There is also a Sherlock Holmes Museum in an old tiny church - Sherlock of course tangled with arch enemy Prof Moriarity at Reichenbach Falls.

So even though you could do the 3 Pass bus trip from a Lauterbrunnen base you'd not have to get up so early if staying in Meiringen and also then having time to see the neat sites in that area.
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May 30th, 2014, 07:33 AM
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Neckervd, thanks so much for getting back. We've spent considerable time since our initial post reading and studying maps. We appreciate your suggestion of routing ourselves from the Dolomites in the direction of "the Engadine" area of Switzerland. We're taking note of all of the valuable information you posted above. We were not aware of all the glaciers and mountain passes you described. Planning routing through this area will, no doubt, be our next challenge. (We'll save Chamonix, etc. for a future trip.) Several towns in that area sound beautiful. Do you have favorites? We really love the dramatic beauty of the mountains, but like to stay in an area with little restaurants and cafés. As we plan our itinerary, we've been researching distances from one point to the next, aiming to limit our onward travel to 2-3 hours. We're grateful, Neckervd, for your valuable input. We welcome your ideas as we go forward in our trip planning!
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May 30th, 2014, 07:47 AM
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PalenQ, we plan to spend a night in Meiringen en route to Lauterbrunnen. We hope to do the postal bus. You've given us a couple of other options. Thanks again!

Melnq8, we again read the details in the Engadine portion of your TR, and took some notes. Interesting, isn't it, how we sometimes hear less than positive reactions to certain places, only to find them quite nice? We noted your positive comments about St. Moritz. We will stop there.
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May 30th, 2014, 09:44 AM
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The St Moritz area is sweet but many here are nonplussed with the glitzy modern town itself and prefer smaller towns nearby - Pontresina is much more bucolic - the area around it anyway. It is also on the Bernina Pass rail lines and Albula line from Chur/Reichenau.
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May 30th, 2014, 10:07 AM
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If you read some of my previous posts about the Engadine you will notice that I do not recommend to stay in St. Moritz, but in nearby villages/small towns like Sils, Samedan or Pontresina. And I always recommend excursions to Soglio, Zuoz and the Lower Engadine with Guarda, Ardez, Scuol, castle Tarasp etc.
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