Input on Trip to "the Alps" Appreciated

Old Jun 13th, 2014, 08:13 AM
  #41  
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Hello Helpful Fodorites, since our last post we've made considerable progress in our trip plans. Right now, though, we're at a point where we feel stymied and would appreciate advice from those of you familiar with the Alps roads.

Contrary to our original thoughts about staying flexible and letting more nights "OPEN", we're finding that hotels/pensions are more heavily booked than we had imagined. So we've decided to be more specific in our plans and pre-book hotels. Answers to our questions below are important as we proceed.

We're OK with our trip details from the Dolomites to Pontresina, where we are spending a few nights, intending to do day trips in the area. Toward the end of our trip, we have nights booked in Lauterbrunnen. It's the days in between Pontresina and Lauterbrunnen where we would appreciate help.

Questions are:

1. Our biggest concern: which driving route from Pontresina to Brig would entail the fewest of the steep mountain passes? We'll have had quite a few days of dramatic mountain pass scenery, with more to come. We want to get to Brig with an easier drive, even if it means a less direct route. We've been studying various maps, but the types of roads and conditions are difficult to assess. Also, we've been reading that some passes have been closed or are very slow due to construction.

3. We'd like to do a day trip to Zermatt if we luck out with a good weather day. Hence, we mention Brig above. Is this close enough to Tasch, or would you recommend another city? Or spending the night in Tasch?

4. Following Zermatt, our next goal (and last overnight/s before Lauterbrunnen) is Meiringen, where we intend to do a postal bus trip over the "Three Passes" where both of us can just concentrate on the scenery. (Thanks, again, PalenQ for this suggestion!) Which route would you recommend to Meiringen?

Thanks so much for any advice or suggestions!!! The input we've received earlier has been very helpful and is much appreciated.
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 08:24 AM
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Meiringen is quite close to Lauterbrunnen. From Brig, I'd go over the Furka and Susten or go over the Grimsel. Both will bring you into Meiringen. Take a look at a map to get your bearings.
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 09:30 AM
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1) The most direct route is best for you: Pontresina - Samedan - La Punt - Albula pass - Tiefencastel - Reichenau - Disentis - Oberalp pass - Andermatt - Furka pass - Brig.

The Albula pass is not very steep and not overly dramatic. I prefer it over the Julier pass as the Julier has much more traffic, especially trucks, which the Albula has not.
Both Oberalp and Furka have some steep/dramatic parts, especially the Furka pass after the culmination down to the Valais. But neither is really difficult to drive.

I would only reconsider and drive via the flat lands and motorways if it's snowing. And you need the Vignette for driving on the motorways. Btw, in any case you have to drive over a pass first to get out of the Engadine.

3) Brig is a nice town and it's perfect for a day trip to Zermatt.

4) Agree with kleeblatt. Lauterbrunnen is close enough to Meiringen. Besides, if you follow my suggested route, you'll already have seen Furka pass. You could easily drive via Grimsel pass - Meiringen to Lauterbrunnen. The other options (load the car on a train and go through Lötschberg tunnel or drive motorways via Lake Geneva/Montreux) are not easier or cheaper. So you have already seen two of the three passes - and if you must, you can do a short excursion from Innertkirchen (before Meiringen) to Sustenpass (as far as Steingletscher, that's the scenic part) on your drive via Grimsel pass to Lauterbrunnen. This way there's no need for the Postal bus trip over the three passes.
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 10:09 AM
  #44  
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Thanks to you, Kleeblat and Ingo, for your prompt and informational responses.

In case of bad weather,(which we did experience on a previous trip, when the fog was so thick that the road ahead was barely visible), what would the recommended flat lands and motorways be? We would gladly purchase a Vignette if necessary.

Another idea we had was to go south through Italy around a bit of the Italian Lakes. Is there a better driving route to Brig going that way.

Thanks again for your responses. If you have any other suggestions, we'd really appreciate any ideas.
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 11:27 AM
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tomarkot,

I entered the Dolomiti from Lienz and thought the Alta Badia was the most beautiful area in the Dolomiti, and I drove around other places extensively, including the Cortina d'Ampezzo area and the val Gardena. Hope you have been able to secure lodgings in the Alta Badia. Pedraces to me was exceptionally lovely.

But if you are elsewhere, it is hard to complain about any view of the Dolomiti. They are uniquely beautiful.
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Old Jun 14th, 2014, 12:24 AM
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In case of bad weather - drive via Albula pass to Thusis, from there it's all motorways via Chur, Zürich, Bern, Montreux, Sion. Or from Bern through Lötschberg tunnel (load the car on the train) to Brig. However, these options would mean a huge detour in distance (not time-wise), and it's only recommended in really bad weather.

I am not a fan of the southern route through Italy. First you have to drive the steep Maloja pass road with numerous hair-pin curves, then the quite slow road to Chiavenna - Colico at Lake Como. From there you have two options: The shortcut goes via Menaggio and Lugano - Locarno to Domodossola, but it means really narrow, curvy, slow roads passing through many villages. The other would mean motorway (almost) via Milano, then Stresa to Domodossola - quite a detour, heavy traffic. In both cases you still have to drive over Simplon pass to get to Brig.
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Old Jun 14th, 2014, 05:36 AM
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Hr
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Old Jun 14th, 2014, 06:50 AM
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Sandralist, thanks for your response. We're definitely staying in the Dolomites for 4 nights. We had our sights on a place in Alta Badia, the "Ciasa Montanara", (thanks to a lead from pja1). However, there's no availability for the first two of our desired nights.

Your mention of Pedraces (a location we've not heard of) has us searching that area. Also we're looking at Cortina d'Ampezzo for the first two nights. Do you have a fave hotel in either area? Thanks!
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Old Jun 14th, 2014, 01:01 PM
  #49  
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Ingo, we appreciate all of your helpful information. Your descriptions of the roads in the Alps region are so clear. Thanks to you and others, we are now moving ahead with our itinerary and finalizing hotel bookings. Then we'll have two months of anticipation!

Meantime, we'll enjoy a week-long trip to California and have some weeks to enjoy our summer in the US Midwest. We wish you enjoyable months ahead, wherever you spend them.
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Old Jun 14th, 2014, 11:32 PM
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I didn't like Cortina d'Ampezzo as much as did the Alta Badia. You might try here:

http://www.masorunch.it/dev/index_EN.php


The area is small that I would think any well reviewed place would put you where you want to be in the Alta Badia. Have you tried Booking.com to see what is available for you dates in Pedraces or the towns around it?
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Old Jun 15th, 2014, 12:02 AM
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tomarkot, thanks, and you're welcome. Have a good summer and then a great trip to the Alps!
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Old Jun 15th, 2014, 08:01 AM
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Sandralist, we appreciate your interest and ideas. We did book 4 nights in "Hotel Edda" in Selva di Gardena. And we've booked ahead in the Engadine. Thanks again for your suggestions. At last, trip plans are pretty well finalized. Hope you have a nice summer, wherever that might be.
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Old Jun 15th, 2014, 08:21 AM
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Thanks! I'm sure I'll have a nice summer once it stops hailing in Italy! (should stop soon)
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Old Aug 4th, 2014, 02:15 PM
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Hello Friends,

After quite a long delay from posting on this thread, we're back with a few remaining questions. So we hope that some will see our post and be able to address our issues. The info provided earlier by Fodorites responding to our post, plus lots more culled from reading TR's, has enabled us to finalize most of our plans.

A few remaining questions:

1. When is it necessary to purchase the Austrian vignette en route from Freising to Berchesgaten, and where is the best place? We'll be in Austria proper for nine days, just shy of the 10-day vignette coverage. We're wondering if we have to "cut through" Austria to reach Berchesgaten. . .the map looks ify. We know we'll be making day trips from there into Austria. We're just counting our days.

2. Has anyone used the Garmin Nuvi especially in the mountains of Austria, Italy, and Switzerland? We've found a lot of info for use in other areas of Europe which are not riddled with mountain passes. Well, of course, we'll have our trusty maps!

3. Our final 4 days are still "open". We'll be in Lauterbrunnen and IAD on the weather where spend two additional nights. If the weather is good, we'll get two more nights in the area. If not, we're considering Montreux, or if it's really bad, we'll re-visit Bern.

One question hinges on recommendations for a route back to Freising. We intend to take two days. . .travel days mostly. Do any of you have a recommended route with one overnight? We're thinking of Bregenz/Lindau. We're interested in some places of interest along the way for lunch, coffee stops, etc. and don't mind adding an hour or so to the drive. We plan to be back in Freising by the evening of the 2nd day to re-pack and ready for our flight to Paris the next day. Any thoughts would be much appreciated!
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 09:16 AM
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1) No need to go through Austria to Berchtesgaden. Take exit "Bad Reichenhall", then road via Bad Reichenhall to Berchtesgaden.

2) I don't use Navi.

3) Montreux sounds very good. Would add a new flavour to your trip (French speaking area.)

Finally - I highly recommend the Konstanz/Meersburg area for an overnight. There are enough things to do and see in the area to keep you busy for another week Mainau Island, Reichenau Island, Meersburg with castle(s) and cute, but small old town itself, Konstanz with larger old town, Minster church, museums ... Birnau Baroque pilgrim church, Salem monastery ...
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 12:14 PM
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Not familiar with the Konstanz/Meersburg area but did LOVE Lindau, near on the other end of the lake and a gem of a town lovingly built on a spit of land sticking right out into the lake. Lindau would make a neat stop too for a few hours or the night.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 12:59 PM
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Ingo, thanks so much for your directions to reach Berchtesgaten, and for encouraging the visit to Montreux. The French flavor is appealing to us; hence our visit to Paris en route to our home in the US.

PalenQ, your description of Lindau makes it seem like a great area for a few hours of enjoyment plus overnight on our return route to Munich.

We really appreciate the responses of both of you! After all the helpful information we've received from you and other Fodorites, we almost feel like we know some of you through your writing. We'll think of many of you as we enjoy our trip.
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Old Aug 12th, 2014, 11:39 PM
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"Our final 4 days are still "open". We'll be in Lauterbrunnen and IAD on the weather where spend two additional nights. If the weather is good, we'll get two more nights in the area. If not, we're considering Montreux, or if it's really bad, we'll re-visit Bern."

Sorry, but I've lost all track of your itinerary and can't comment without it. A brief update would be useful!
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Old Aug 13th, 2014, 05:44 PM
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kja, over the past week we've been able to finalize the last days of our trip. We're going to spend time in Montreux, and then begin our goal-oriented drive back to Munich, stopping for an overnight in Lucerne. Thanks for your interest in our trip plans. As said above, we appreciate all the helpful ideas provided by Fodorites.
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Old Aug 14th, 2014, 06:39 AM
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Hi again, kja! Just learned of the horrific train derailment on the GE route. Fortunate that no one was killed, but our thoughts go out to the injured and all those traumatized pasengers.

Our trip anticipation is somewhat mitigated with the knowledge of all the rain in the areas in which we'll be traveling. So we're trying to learn as much as we can about travel conditions there. We did post a response on the thread "Swiss Derailment".
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