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Itinerary Suggestions

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Jan 7th, 2013, 11:23 AM
  #1
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Itinerary Suggestions

My sister and I are going to Europe in Oct 13, we don't want to try to see everything but have some things we want to be sure to do. Here are the things:

Southern Germany
*Possibly a clock making tour or something similar
*Castles
*Day trip to Salzburg

Northern Italy
*Cooking classe in say Parma or Genoa
*Churches

Switzerland
*Chocolate and cheese factory tours
*Mont Blanc day trip

We plan to spend 15 (not including travel days)

We are keen on purchasing an open jaw ticket

We definitely want to travel by train

We like the smaller towns, the intimate local feel, cobblestone streets

Our main dilemma is transportation, we don't want to spend all of our time traveling by train.

Should we pick a city and do day trips?

We do not want to stay in normal "hotels" per se. We are open to monastery, farm stay, B&B and castles.

It seems a lot of these places are very close to one another. We don't want to get overwhelmed.

Thanks for any help you can give!
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Jan 7th, 2013, 11:45 AM
  #2
 
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We definitely want to travel by train>

You need not spend hours on the train - Munich to Salzburg daytrip 1.5 hrs each way on fast trains; an hour longer on regional trains.

Munich to Switzerland is about 4-5 hours to say Lucerne or an hour more to the fabled Interlaken/Jungfrau Region.

From there you could be in Parma probably in about 4-5 hours too - so no real short train trips between those bases but it depends on what you consider to be long - European trains, especially in first class, are very comfy and modern - for longer trips first class is more worth the money in many people'sopinons than for short trips.

For lots of great info on trains in those countries I always spotlight these fantastic IMO sources - www.swisstravelsystem.com for Swiss trains; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com.

You may consider looking at the Eurail Select Saverpass - two names on one pass - if over 25 yrs old the pass automatically comes in first class, which again will offer you perks over 2nd class - 2nd class ain't shabby and most folks find it adequate but IME of years of traveling on European trains first class is more relaxed - bigger seats as there are fewer seats in the same-size train car - including rows with just one seat in them - an aisle and a window seat - these can face each other with a table in between them for folks traveling together - more room to easily store luggage as there are IME more empty seats in first class - I usually can put my bags on an adjoining seat, not usually possible in a typically much more full 2nd class.
In Germany and Switzerland a pass lets you hop on virtually any train anytime - in Italy you need to get mandated seat reservations - 10 euros a pop to factor into your costs.
Or since you are not traveling all that much in Germany and for Bavaria could use the bargain Lander Ticket - and not that much in Italy you may find the bargain IMO Swiss Pass to be the pass you'd benefit from the most as it covers more things in Switzerland than does a Eurailpass and is much cheaper per day and also comes in 2nd class - perfectly adequate for most in Switzerland - use it to go to Broc-Factory train station and do the chocolate factory tour there and to Gruyeres, near Broc, to do a cheese tour there.
Actually there is a Chocolate Train - a tourist-oriented train that combines both Gruyeres (a fine fine walled town) and cheese factory and Broc and the chocolate factory - it uses fancy Belle-Epoque train cars and serves wine and cheese en route - Swiss Passes are valid but with a supplement - otherwise use normal trains to duplicate the same route as the fancy Chocolate Train.
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Jan 7th, 2013, 12:00 PM
  #3
 
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This is quite a list!

To best advise you it would be helpful to know whether you are prepared to drive part of the route as certain locations are not easily accessible by train or would involve a lot of connections.

I have added my (very) initial comments to what you have suggested.

Southern Germany
*Possibly a clock making tour or something similar
*Castles
*Day trip to Salzburg

It looks as if the Romantikstrasse from North to South could be the route to take.

Northern Italy
*Cooking classe in say Parma or Genoa
*Churches

There is a huge difference in cooking from Parma (which you are more likely to be familiar with) and Genoa which is quite specific.

Switzerland
*Chocolate and cheese factory tours
*Mont Blanc day trip

Maybe chocolate in Switzerland (but are you a milk or dark chocolate aficionado?). For cheese I would recommend Italy over Switzerland.

Mont Blanc is not in Switzerland but between Italy and France. It is quite a detour from your implied route.

We do not want to stay in normal "hotels" per se. We are open to monastery, farm stay, B&B and castles.

I like this!

It seems a lot of these places are very close to one another. We don't want to get overwhelmed.

They may seem close viewed from afar but from here not so much!
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Jan 7th, 2013, 01:56 PM
  #4
 
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wL-Y2MwtGLU

Chocolate Train on YouTube - this train I believe starts from Montreux and goes via Lausanne then steeply up thru vineyard carpeted slopes heading towards Gruyeres, then after stopping to let folks see the Cheese Factory and tour this ancient town putzes onto Broc for the Nestle Chocolate Factory Tour.
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Jan 7th, 2013, 02:45 PM
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There are many cooking classes in Parma but there are not many in Genoa -- in fact, I cannot think of a single one, and I very doubt that you would find one in any language other than Italian.

Most cooking in Parma is also quite "specific" to Parma unless you go to the Accademia at Barilla in Parma. But as nochblad said, cooking in Parma is the home of many dishes that are popular outside of Parma.

Parma also is a marvelous location for churches, having 2 stunning frescoed ones right inside town, and others within quite easy train rides. in Modena and in Reggio nell'Emilia, whose Basilica della Ghiara is rarely visited by tourists, but is spectacular. In addition, Reggio nell'Emilia shares the honor of being the producer of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and makes traditional balsamic vinegar in methods identical to that found in Modena. So it is a good place to choose for your Italian wish list for cooking and churches.

You can take cheese tours in Parma and, if you are willing to head back north via Torino (Turin), you can take chocolate tours, since Torino is one of the most highly prized chocolate makers in Europe. In fact, in October of every year, Torino hosts an enormous chocolate fair that goes on for days and days and takes over the entire center of the city. (Salone del Gusto)

From Torino, by train, you can visit MonteBianco (Mont Blanc) either as a long day trip from Torino (2.5 hours each way), or you can take cable cars over the mountain (or a bus through it) to reach France and continue on your way.
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Jan 7th, 2013, 03:41 PM
  #6
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This is so much help everyone.
We are willing to drive if need be.
I like dark chocolate, sister likes milk.
Where should we fly in and out from?
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Jan 7th, 2013, 03:51 PM
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Airports in Italy with many international flights that are convenient to Parma and Torino are:

Milan, Bologna, Florence, Pisa, Genoa and regional airports in Torino, Parma, Brescia and Verona also have limited service and can be fit into an itinerary that includes these Italian cities.

I think the nearest airport in France to Mont Blanc is in Anneny, and I don't know how well served it is by airlines. But you might want to take a train from Mont Blanc to Geneva.

You and your sister can find any kind of chocolate you like in Torino.

For a trip to Italy that includes either Parma or Torino, you don't need a car.
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Jan 7th, 2013, 03:53 PM
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sorry for my typo: Annecy
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