Input on Trip to "the Alps" Appreciated

Old May 30th, 2014, 11:59 AM
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PalenQ, we don't intend to stay in St. Moritz, but in a smaller town like Pontresina. Was just reflecting to Melnq8 that it seems to be nicer than some have suggested. Thanks again for your continued interest in our trip.

Ingo, we clicked on your screen name, and what a wealth of info we found. It'll take us a while to read it all, but we're sure to profit from your love of and experiences in the Engadine. As we're preparing for this trip, it seems to us that the area around the Jungfrau/BO is crowded, and you seem to support that. We were hoping that by September the crowds may have subsided, but maybe not? Thanks for sharing so many ideas! We're sure to have more questions as we proceed in our trip prep.
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Old May 31st, 2014, 05:00 AM
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As we're preparing for this trip, it seems to us that the area around the Jungfrau/BO is crowded, and you seem to support that. We were hoping that by September the crowds may have subsided, but maybe not>

I've been there several Septembers and yes the crowds dissipate a lot after August but the main attractions like the Jungfraujoch trains seem perpetually crowded - but there are many places in the BO to get off the main trails - just as much as in the Engadine I'd say - if you want to be out on the trails and not see other hikers it is very possible.
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Old May 31st, 2014, 07:42 AM
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Was just reflecting to Melnq8 that it seems to be nicer than some have suggested>

Well it ain't a dump that's for sure but a spic-and-span clean modern town with its own lake but it is much more busier than say Pontresina. St. Moritz is a nice enough place, did not mean to say that it was not.
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Old May 31st, 2014, 09:04 AM
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It is true that the BO (here: Jungfrau region) has definitely more tourists than the Upper Engadine (in summer). I found that the trains are always crowded, no matter when I visited - mid June, early July, late September. Ditto the most popular hiking trails like Männlichen - Kleine Scheidegg, First - Bachalpsee - Faulhorn, Mürren - Allmendhubel - Grütschalp e.g. Crowds considerably thin out if you avoid these.
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Old May 31st, 2014, 01:35 PM
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Hi Ingo and PalenQ, appreciate your continued input. There is only so much detail we initially included in our thread. But,in relation to the BO, that area is one of the main reasons we've chosen to visit Switzerland this coming September. We've been in this beautiful country twice before, each time staying in, among other places, Lucerne, and once in Engelberg, where we did take the cable train (think that what it was) to Mt. Pilatus, and in Engelberg visited Mt. Titlis and surroundings. On our second visit, en route to Italy, we wound our way through the Alps and the trip south was gorgeous. But, unfortunately, on our return, the weather was so foggy that visibility was down to about zero and we used the car-train. We wanted this trip to explore the Jungfrau, etc., an area that is still on our "wish" list.

Over the weeks of planning, we have notes from a lot of TRs and books, and through the ideas shared by you and others, we are now ready to search for hotels as we have outlined a rough itinerary through the Engadine. Again, thanks so much. We're getting out the ol' Michelin Green Guide for additional info. And, of course, we always look forward to any suggestions.
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Old Jun 1st, 2014, 07:20 AM
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Still to me, all the tourists, etc - the Jungfrau Region is the highpoint of Switzerland and no other area save escept Zermatt IME, in such a dense area has so so many varied sites to see and things to do - not only up in the hills but lake boats on each of the two lakes bookending Interlaken - those floats are amongst my most favorite things to do in Switzerland.

The Jungfrau ain't all mountains - like Zermatt is and Zermatt is a much smaller area - if not hiking or take the train to the Matterhorn there is not much else to do - but as an Alpine wonderland it certainly rivals the Jungfrau Region but does not offer other delights like the Jungfrau Region doth.
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Old Jun 1st, 2014, 07:59 AM
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Yes, PalenQ, that's why we're so looking forward to exploring the Jungfrau area. Thanks to you and others we're even more enthusiastic about our trip plans! We're booking two nights in Meiringen, hoping to do the postal bus over the "Three Passes" (an idea we got from you) and three nights in Lauterbrunnen. Then we have a couple of flex days. If the weather is good, we'll stay around the area trusting that we'll find lodging. If the weather is not good, we'll look for other alternatives. Thanks again for your continued interest and ideas. They are so helpful!
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Old Jun 1st, 2014, 11:11 AM
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We've had a lot of questions regarding Switzerland, which is really the last section of our trip. So we have the beginning and the end fairly well planned. Again, thanks to all for the ideas.

Now for ITALY. . .the mid-portion of our trip. This is proving a bit more challenging than we had anticipated. We'll be entering Italy from Lienz, Austria. We'd like to spend a couple of days in the Dolomites, doing a kind of loop drive to enjoy some spectacular panoramic views which we've heard about. Interestingly, we're not finding so much information about that area from our typical guidebooks. We'd be grateful for any suggestions for a one or two day driving exploration in the Dolomites, with a suggested route across Italy to St. Moritz, Switzerland. (not staying in St. Moritz, just a popular point of reference) Any towns, routes would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2014, 06:31 AM
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Whatever route you take in Italy to get to St. Moritz you must go via Tirano, Italy and follow the course of the Bernina Pass Railway - to me the most scenic in all of Europe - plan to stop near the summit to walk around the Alpine lake to the glacier, etc. There may be some sinuous back roads route but this is the only main road I believe.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2014, 10:00 AM
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Not exactly, Pal.

From the Dolomites I would drive via Bolzano - Merano - Spondinig. There you can choose between Stelvio pass - Bormio and via Tirano - Bernina as Pal suggested. It's VERY scenic, the Stelvio is one of the highest passes in the Alps, but also a quite long drive. The other option is via Müstair (with a quick visit of the monastery there, UNESCO world heritage site) and Pass dal Fuorn - also scenic, but not as dramatic (through the Swiss National Park) - and via Zernez up the Engadine valley in direction St. Moritz. (An option would be driving up Stelvio pass and shortly after the culmination not down to Bormio, but turning right and via Umbrail pass to Sta. Maria/Müstair valley, continue via Pass dal Fuorn.)

Yet another option - if you have lots of time, only recommended if you stay overnight past Merano - is to drive (after Passo di Stelvio, shortly before Bormio) via Isolaccia, Trepalle, Passo d'Eira and Livigno (tax free area, cheap gas etc.!) - Fuorcola di Livigno and Bernina Pass to the Engadine. Time consuming! In comparison to Pal's suggestion you would miss Poschiavo with its lake, but the most scenic parts at Bernina pass are near Morteratsch (Montebello curve) and Alp Grüm, the latter only accessible by a hike or by train anyway.

As for the Dolomites - from Lienz via Dobbiacco/Toblach to Cortina is a no-brainer. Near Dobbiacco/Toblach is the gorgeous lake "Pragser Wildsee" - worth a detour. Between Dobbiacco/Toblach and Cortina I recommend the route via Misurina lake.

From Cortina you have endless choices for drives over passes. Definitely visit Alta Badia valley, drive over Passo di Gardena, Passo di Sella, Passo Pordoi. A good base would be Corvara e.g., it's well known for excellent hotels and food.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2014, 10:06 AM
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I loved Cortina itself - Ingo knows much more about roads than moi but if you do go to St. Moritz then BAM do drive or take the Bernina Pass Railway to the summit around Alp Grum and Bernina Ospiz stations - St Moritz itself non-pluses many.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2014, 11:33 AM
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The answer of Ingo is perfect. I'v nothing to add.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2014, 11:36 AM
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Wow! Thanks so much Ingo and PalenQ. We're mapping your suggestions. So helpful! So much beauty to look forward to.

Another item on our agenda is car rental. Any suggestions? Just two of us. Economy size OK for mountain driving? Grateful for opinions.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2014, 06:22 PM
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To pja1: if you check in on this thread, we just want you to know that we found your TR partially focusing on the Dolomites, and appreciate your detailed description of a "loop" following three seemingly spectacular passes. Thank you for this and your other ideas!
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Old Jun 2nd, 2014, 06:36 PM
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<< Another item on our agenda is car rental. Any suggestions? Just two of us. Economy size OK for mountain driving? Grateful for opinions. >>

Try Kemwel.com and Autoeurope.com for rental cars. They are brokers and sister companies based in the US. They will beat any quote you receive elsewhere.

Economy size car may not hold your luggage in the trunk/hatchback. How many people are traveling and how much and size of luggage? Look at the noted websites to see how much luggage each car class can hold. You may need a compact size car.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2014, 04:54 AM
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Hi Joannyc, thanks for your response. We have a quote from Auto Europe; will check Kemwel.

We're considering the VW Gulf (or similar). We're just 2 people with a 26" luggage each, plus a personal bag each. Our concern is having a car which pulls the mountains without lugging, etc., while liking a smaller car for parking in towns, so we're wondering about engine size and type, manual vs. automatic, etc. On two previous trips, with little mountain driving involved, the car company "upgraded" us from the manual transmission, which had we ordered, to an automatic. We'd appreciate any more thoughts on the subject to aid in our decision.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2014, 05:19 AM
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I'm not sure your luggage will fit in the trunk of a Golf. According to kemwel.com, a Golf fits 1 large and 1 small suitcase.

I'd go with the manual transmission in the mountains. I always get a manual but do remember talking to a couple in southern Germany who had an automatic and they were not at all happy with it on hills, etc.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2014, 09:37 AM
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A VW Golf is fine for two people with luggage as you described. Whatever transmission is fine for you, is fine for the mountains - but personally I prefer manual transmission. If you're used to it, go for it.

Engine size ... anything more than 100 kw is more than ok. Friends of mine drive with a 75 PS (Horsepower) car in the mountains and don't complain. Not much fun, though.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2014, 10:07 AM
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bookmarking
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Old Jun 4th, 2014, 12:11 PM
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Car rental is now complete. VW Golf through Auto Europe. Thanks for input.

pja1, just discovered a few fantastic TRs of yours pertaining to regions we're visiting. At this point, we're especially interested in the Val Gardena and surrounding areas. We're in the midst of enjoying your experiences and your pix. They're beautiful. Thanks again. We'll, no doubt, have a few more questions as we finalize our plans.
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