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Need a helping hand in planning my backpacking europe trip- Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Austria...

Need a helping hand in planning my backpacking europe trip- Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Austria...

Jan 16th, 2007, 10:59 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2006
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Need a helping hand in planning my backpacking europe trip- Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Austria...

(This is a long post- Be patient...)

I am doing what Rick Steve calls speed travelling, go travel through one city today, maybe spend a night, maybe not, then the next day try and discover another city.

I've spent literally hundreds of hours online just to research on the tour, but I would really appreciate contribution of thoughts/ideas/suggestions about my trip. Here goes

25th Jan Berlin
Arrival in Berlin in evening, some pub crawl maybe?

26th Jan Berlin
Half a day spent in some walking tour (Terry Brewer personally leads tours on Saturdays or Berlinwalks), then the evening, dinner and some shopping at KaDaWe. Night train to Brussels

27th Jan Brussels, Amsterdam (1st day on eurail)
Spend a whole morning on foot discovering Brussels, the Royal Palace, Maneke Pis, etc, close to the train station.
Then evening train to Amsterdam- we plan to visit the red light district, then maybe try some hash brownies maybe...

28th Amsterdam
Anne Franke's museum! Walk around the flower market (Rijk's museum and Van Gogh's I visited last year) Stroll around Damrak. Night train to Luzerne.

29th Luzerne (2nd day on eurail)
maybe take a steamer or boatride on Lake Luzerne, then a walk in the old town

30th Luzerne
the glacier's museum, the Lion's monument, maybe transportation museum

31st Montreux, Geneva (3rd day on eurail)
Earliest train ride to Montreux, where we will spend a few hours visiting Cheatteau de Chillon, try to catch either the 11am or 1pm train to Geneva.
Geneva, rush off to the UN headquarters and Red crescent museum (which closes 5pm).
Dinner near lake Geneva, watch the Fountain

1st Feb Rome
early morning flight to Rome. Vatican city tour. afternoon, Trevi fountain, maybe Spanish steps if in time

2nd Feb Rome
Forum and Colosseum, just a stroll anywhere we desire

3rd feb Pompeii, Sorrento (4th day on eurail)
A daytrip to Pompeii. Train to Naples, then using Circumvesuviana, then a few hours in Sorrento before returning to Rome

4th Feb Pisa, Florence (5th day on eurail)
We really would like to see the Pisa and the Campo of Miracles, we'll spend a brief, 1-2 hours in Pisa, before a train to Florence
In Florence, a rush to visit the David in Accademia or maybe a visit to Uffizi (not really an art's fan, but hope to catch something significant in Florence), the Duomo of course and the bell tower. Some beautiful sights and churches around Duomo.
late evening train to Venice (8 or 9pm), then spend a night in Venice

5th Venice
basically a whole day of discovering Venice, maybe a Gondola ride, maybe not, San Marco's square of course! Some significant bridges, night train to Salzburg

6th Salzburg (6th day on eurail)
Mirabelle's garden, old town (with a visit to Mozart's house), visit the fortress, then an evening train to Vienna

7th Vienna
Hofburg palace

8th Vienna
Another day to enjoy the city, night train to Stuttgart

9th Stuttgart (7th day on eurail)
Mercedes Benz museum, to be planned

10th Stuttgart flight back to Moscow

I've pretty much finalised my plans, but aside from flight bookings, I haven't done any major bookings (train, hostel, museums, etc). Since I would still like to make some/any changes to make our trip more fun. Keep in mind I am aware it sounds hectic and tiring, but I am treating this trip like an appetizer of what's to come. I have and I will visit europe again.

We are 3 21 year old young chaps, eager and enthusiastic to start the tour, and we are physically and mentally capable. I just hope your additions/remarks/comments will be more helpful than condescending. Let's just say that I've received enough crude remarks for now...
Aleckii is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 11:06 AM
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Hi A,

Well, since you've bought your railpasses, you might as well use them.

I will be interested in how long it takes you to recover, and in what you might remember of your whirlwind tour.

ira is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 11:07 AM
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Oh, I think ira commented before there isn't any connecting train from Rome- pisa - Florence, but for the 4th, I checked there are a few,

Rome- Pisa, 730 arrival 930

Pisa- Florence 1130

Florence- Venice 2037 2328 or a night train 2214 - 0513
Aleckii is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 12:38 PM
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While you're in Switzerland, definitely visit a mountain if the weather allows. I'd go to Engelberg/Titlis to see skiers, glaciers and get a real Swiss winter feeling. You'll need a whole day for this trip.
kleeblatt is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 02:05 PM
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Thanks for that tip. I have been considering it a little. But how do we get to either one of the mountains though? Train? Bus service?
Aleckii is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 02:33 PM
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Just a comment on Lucerne...We walked to the Lion Monument and were dissapointed that we did. On the other hand, we went to the Transportation Museum and thought it was time very well spent.

pja1 is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 02:37 PM
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Definitely take a boat ride on Lake Lucerne. Gorgeous!!
skatedancer is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 11:46 PM
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For Titlis:

Take the train to Engelberg. Take the bus (or walk) to the cable car and up you go.

For Pilatus: Take the train to Stansstad.

For Rigi: You can take a cable car or funicular from Weggis, Vitznau or Arth-Goldau. You can even combine this with a ferry ride.

Achtung: The ferry runs less in winter.
See: http://www.lakelucerne.ch/index.cfm?page=351&lang=E
kleeblatt is offline  
Jan 17th, 2007, 12:51 AM
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Schuler! Thank you so much for that link. I am still debating though, where should I visit in Luzerne. Which would you recommend? On the site, there's an option for evening cruises, but I really don't know how cold it would be by then, and would we actually be able to see the sights in apparent darkness. Any suggestions?

About these trips to Rigi, how much would it cost? (I have a railpass, and am entitled to free ferry-rides, but it think it doesn't cover cablecars or funiculars). Since it IS a backpacking trip, I'm also going o be travelling light, and it seems I might need thicker clothing/hiking boots.
Aleckii is offline  
Jan 17th, 2007, 01:32 AM
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I think you have a 25% discount but please check out the Rigi website for prices and reductions.


It's good you're doing research. For your stay in Luzern, I'd have a good weather and a bad weather program.

Bad weather: Verkehrsmuseum
Good weather: Go to the mountains

You won't need hiking boots but do bring good, warm walking shoes, gloves, a scarf and a hat. That should suffice.

Just saw in the paper we should be getting snow next week. Finally.
kleeblatt is offline  
Jan 17th, 2007, 01:55 AM
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I was in Lucerne in May 2006.
Lion memorial - do it, but it won't be a highlight of your trip.

A great thing to do is the cruise to Weggis and go up the funicular. Thereafter you can do a 7km hike to another station, after which you can take the cog railway to the top.

Engelberg/Titlis is a must as well. You can get a return tkt from the train station in Lucerne to Engelberg and that will include all the cable cars to the summit. That costs about 95CHF.

It was without doubt the highlight of my trip.

Wandering around the old town of Lucerne is cool and you can fit it in whenever - it will not take ages. Sitting having a beer next to the river, people-watching is cool as well.

Brussells - a morning is more than enough and the Grand Place/Manneken Pis are close enough. Beyond that, I would not bother.

I have done a similar whirlwind trip and I understand you are going back so go for it!

The only thing where you might be caught a bit short is going to Sorrento after Pompeii. It is about an hour train trip and the 2 hours getting there and back on top of the day at Pompeii I would rather spend doing something else.

Have a great trip.

bigboz is offline  
Jan 17th, 2007, 06:27 AM
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Hi A,

>I think ira commented before there isn't any connecting train from Rome- pisa - Florence, ...

My error. I might have been looking at a Sunday schedule.

Yes, there are trains at 06:08, 07:35, 09:46 and 10:08 to Pisa.

ira is offline  
Jan 17th, 2007, 07:11 AM
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And after all that where are you going on holiday?????
hetismij is offline  
Jan 17th, 2007, 07:16 AM
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Thanks Anton, I realize the thing you said about the Pompeii-Sorrento trip too, and i'm still at a debate wether to go for a visit, stay for another day in Rome? Or Instead choose Ostia Antica, which I heard is just as good as Pompeii.

About the Sunday-Monday thing, I notice i certain places Sunday is a day off (like in Vatican City) while in others it is Monday (Geneva's red crescent museum). What should I do in this respect? In case I get to a town for a specific attraction only to find it closed? Any suggestions in this regards?
Aleckii is offline  
Jan 17th, 2007, 07:29 AM
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Sorry, I meant to say thanks Bigboiz, don't know how I got it mixed up with an 'anton'
Aleckii is offline  
Jan 17th, 2007, 12:20 PM
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Chillon doesn't open until 10 a.m. in the winter, so you won't make the 11.00 train from Montreux. It's up to you whether you think you'll have enough time to get the 1.00 to make it worth it.

I would advise checking out opening times for all the places you want to see now, so you can reorganise the trip if necessary.

Is this for this year? If so 26 Jan where you mention tours available on Saturdays, is actually a Friday. You'll also be in Florence on a Sunday, when I think some sites will be closed. In Pisa, teh cathedral only o[pens to tourists in the afternoon on Sundays, but perhaps you didn't plan on going inside anyway.

If you're on a budget, as I assume, skip the gondola ride.
Nonconformist is offline  
Jan 18th, 2007, 06:39 AM
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Well, at least I contacted the website on Rigi, they replied with reduction, the trip up to the top is 29euro, which I think is a bargain!

But consider this- up Mount Rigi and then what??? Do we just stroll around the peak or are there sights/attractions/shops there? Or is it solely a place for skiiers and other winter sports fanatics?

Another thing- we're entitled free travel on Geneva's ferry too, I think. What's the website to check on that, and are there any late evening cruises along the lake? Excursions, etc?
Aleckii is offline  
Jan 19th, 2007, 01:16 AM
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Well, I just received a reply from the people at Mt. Rigi railways. So kind of them!

12.01 H / Departure from Lucerne to Vitznau by boat
12.54 H / Arrival in Vitznau, change to the cogwheel train
13.05 H / Departure from Vitznau to Rigi Kulm (1800 m)
13.40 H / Arrival on Rigi Kulm

Enjoy the fantastic panorama over the alps and lakes!

14.55 H / Departure from Rigi Kulm to Rigi Kaltbad (cogwheel train)
15.08 H / Arrival in Rigi Kaltbad, change to the cable car
15.15 H / Departure from Rigi Kaltbad to Weggis
15.25 H / Arrival in Weggis, walk to the boat station
16.03 H / Departure from Weggis to Lucerne by boat
16.38 H / Arrival in Lucerne

Alternatively i could leave at 9.30am in the morning to arrive 1pm in the city, giving me another afternoon and evening to spend in Luzerne.

Well, considering I arrive in Venice on a Monday, where can I check wether certain museums are closed or not?

And Non-conformist, do you mean a morning missal in the cathedrale or is it just opened to the tourists in generale? And what can I expect in the cathedrale?
Aleckii is offline  
Jan 19th, 2007, 02:39 AM
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What to do on the Rigi in two weeks? Hard to say.

Right now you can take some real nice hikes. There's very little snow up there.

Usually at this time of year, you could rent a sled or go skiing.

I would advise to play it by ear. If the weather is bad:

- go to the Verkehrsmuseum in Lucerne
- Lion monument and connecting museum
- day trip to Appenzell or Einsiedeln (for the church)
- have a relaxing day in Morschach at the swimming area
- go to the water slides in Pfäffikon
- city tour of Luzern or Zürich

If the weather is good, go to the mountains.
- ferry trip on Vierwaldstättersee
- Rigi for hiking and views. Don't forget to try a cafe Zwetchgen with two cubes of sugar!
- Engelberg/Titlis for a ski resort feeling, intertubing (check their website), sledding or skiing

That will fill your two days!
kleeblatt is offline  
Jan 19th, 2007, 07:55 AM
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Schuler, thanks again. I read that the transport museum has an Imax studio and I think a hot air balloon ride? And many people mentioned that it is a great place to spend an afternoon. What is the hype really all about really? And how much is the entrance fee?
Aleckii is offline  

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