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Need help on my trip to Italy, Paris and Switzerland

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Feb 28th, 2013, 05:04 AM
  #1
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Need help on my trip to Italy, Paris and Switzerland

I am planning a trip to Italy (Rome, Pisa, Florence, Venice), Paris and Switzerland (Lucerne, Interlaken). Needed some help on the same.

My itinerary looks like this:

Day 1: Fly into rome late night. Check in a hotel near the Roma Termini. Relax
Day 2: Start with colloseum, Roman forum in first half of the day. Visit Pantheon, Trevi fountain and spanish steps in second half.
Day 3: Spend the day in Vatican city exploring Museums, St Peters Basilica.
Day 4: Catch morning train to Pisa. visit Leaning tower and the cathedral and go onwards to Florence. O/n in florence.
Day 5: Visit statue to david, michelangelo. Catch evening train to Venice. Overnight in Venice.
Day 6: Take a gondola ride. Spend the day lazing aroun. Catch a overnight train to Paris.
Day 7:Reach Paris. Visit Louvre, Champ the elysses, Cathedral, Notredame, Pont Neau and later in the day visit montmarte and eiffell tower.
Day 8,9: Disneyland
Day 10: early morning train to Interlaken.
Day 11: Visit Junfrauzoch. overnight in interlaken
Day 12: Travel to Lucerne. Overnight in Lucerne.
Day 13: Travel to Mt. Titlis. Overnight in Lucerne.
Day 14: Travel to Zermatt. Overnight in Lucerne.
Day 15: Spend day in Lucerne and travel to Zurich to take the flight back.

Key queries:

Does it make sense to buy tickets on the go or buy a Eurail pass?
Difference in 1st, 2nd class?
Do i need reservation on trains or just go n sit anywhere? what are the reservation charges?
What about the overnight train (does it come under the passes or is it separate from passes?
Any suggestion on itinerary? (i am spending two days in Disneyland as my 3 year old kid loves it)
I am divided on Florence and Naples as i can only visit one place. Also, does including Milan makes sense.
Also, how safe are the places we are visiting to roam around at night. Any precautions needed.
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Feb 28th, 2013, 05:14 AM
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For answers to your questions scour these IMO superb sites - www.budgeteuroeptravel.com; www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com. You will find answers to those questions and much more!

The only pass you should consider and IMO is a no-brainer for you is the Swiss Pass as you are travelling a lot on trains in Switzerland - a Eurailpass would not be nearly as good in Switzerland and a whole lot more expensive and does not cover nearly as many things as a Swiss Pass will - like travel to and from Zermatt from Visp/Brig and also to Mt Pilatus and Titlis - and Swiss Passes also pass in full on lake boats, city trams and buses and give 50% off aerial cableways and mountain trains to mountain tops whereas Eurailpasses do not give any.

Check www.swisstravelsystem.com for lots and lots on Swiss trains.

Overall I'd spend a few more days in the fabulous Jungfrau/Interlaken region and less in Lucerne.

A day trip to Zermatt from Lucerne is a long long day trip - consider going to Zermatt from France then Interlaken then Lucerne - Zurich.
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Feb 28th, 2013, 09:31 AM
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What about the overnight train (does it come under the passes or is it separate from passes?>

Another reason a Eurailpass is not good for you as on the Thallo overnight trains between Italy and Paris railpasses are not even valid - zilch - if they were the pass would pay for the basic train fare but not the sleeping accommodations, which range from private compartments to multi-person couchettes, in with strangers. Private compartments can cost a lot - check www.thello.com for info on Italy to Paris overnight trains.
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Feb 28th, 2013, 12:58 PM
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Questions on trains - I would look at separate tickets on trains and in my experience in Switzerland, France and Italy, difference between 1st and 2nd class not worth it (and I'm the kind of person usually who rounds up to 1st class. Typically, you just buy ticket and sit anywhere on these intercity trains although I don't know about overnight trains as I've never attempted that with my kids.

Itin - what time of year are you traveling? Also, I assume your 3 year old is with you on the full trip? If so, that is one crazy itin. I have a 3 and 5 year old and consider we are pretty good travelers (American's living in UK with lots of trips within Europe) and no way on earth would I try that itin with my kids but perhaps your child is a super traveler!

Day 1 - OK. watch for pickpockets near Termini in Rome.
Day 2 - Full day without a 3yr old. With a 3yr old, could be in trouble as a lot of walking, esp around Forum.
Day 3 - Fine esp if take some gelato breaks for child
Day 4/5/6 - Is Pisa that important? really long day adn then o/n in Florence and then straight to Venice? My 3 year old would melt down. Would eliminate at least one city.
Day 7 - out of all days, this is the most impossible. First, consider you are arriving on overnight train and doubt will sleep well. Second, many of those sights are spread around Paris. have you been to paris before? You can see maybe 2-3 of those sights realistically with a 3 year old and only if you group perfectly.
Day 8-9 - Disneyland - your child will deserve this by then!
Day 10-14 - reconsider Lucern vs interlaken area (not sure what time of year but be prepared to change plans on mountain visits depending on weather). Also, consider an extra day in Paris as Day 7 isn't possible.

Safety issues not a concern other than normal care and attention in certain areas of the larger cities for pickpockets, etc.
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Feb 28th, 2013, 10:52 PM
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thanks a lot for the responses.

NorCal_Jo: We are travelling in May '13.

Day 2: For Rome, we plan to visit Colloseum and Forum in the morning (may extend to afternoon depending on whether the kid likes it and how tired he gets. post lunch i would have to carry him for some time and hence less walking). After that we would take lunch and just vist the Pantheon and Trevi fountain (possibly by late evening). Might not visit anything if we are tired or late. do we have to walk everywhere, or is some public transport available from forum to Pantheon and onwards to Trevi fountain.

Day 4/5/6: i know it is very cumbersome to travel via Pisa. I wanted to go to Florence and skip Pisa, but the tousirt in my wife wants to go to tower of Pisa. So, if i have to pick one, which one should i choose keeping in mind that this is our first visit to Italy.

Day 7: Paris i had been once on a business trip and flew in and out on same day. Louvre, Cathedral Notre Dame were nearby but Eiffel and Montmarte were a bit far off. I was planning to skip entering Louvre as once i enter it would be almost 2 hours there. thats why had squeezed in a bit. Also planning to stay either around the tower or the Louvre to visit the places either in the morning or in the evening. Also on day 10 may leave around 2-3PM, so might have a couple of hours to kill.

For switzerland, had just looked at Interlaken and Lucerne. Will reschedule to put more time in interlaken.
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Feb 28th, 2013, 11:06 PM
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PalenQ thanks for the clarification on the trains. In India we are used to travel in overnight trains and my son loves them (4 sleeping bunks 7 feet by 2 feet per small coupe, which i think is similar to T4 in Thello).

I would reschedule my swiss itinerary according to your inputs.
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Feb 28th, 2013, 11:56 PM
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> Day 2: Start with colloseum, Roman forum in first half of the day.

FWIW, I spent the better part of a day with the forum and colloseum. You might want to keep track of your time and energy levels.

> Day 4: Catch morning train to Pisa.

So only 2 days in Rome? So little time, so much to see!

Day 4: ...visit Leaning tower and the cathedral and go onwards to Florence. O/n in florence.
Day 5: Visit statue to david, michelangelo. Catch evening train to Venice.

If your only priority for Florence is to see David, you might want to consider skipping Florence. (And BTW, I say that as someone who ADORED Florence and who wished I had nore than the 5 days I did have there.) Perhaps I am mistaken, but the idea of unnecessary one-night stays with a 3-year-old seems to me overly problematic, especially to see just one thing. And yes, David is magnificent - but making time for him will mean that you miss magnificent things elsewhere, so I'm not sure it makes much sense to carve out the time to see him on this trip.

> my wife wants to go to tower of Pisa. So, if i have to pick one, which one should i choose keeping in mind that this is our first visit to Italy

If you are asking whether to do what you wife wants or not, definitely do what she wants! But if your question is how to plan your time in/around Pisa and Florence, I'm not sure what to say because I don't think you have enough time to do justice to Florence and I'm not sure it makes sense for you to try to fit a day to two into this part of Italy when you have so little time at your other destinations.

>Day 6: Take a gondola ride.

If that's what you want, by all means, go for it! But I trust you realize that it will cost a LOT of money - far, far more than taking a water taxi or one of Venice's public vaporetto.

> Catch a overnight train to Paris.
Day 7:Reach Paris. Visit Louvre, Champ the elysses, Cathedral, Notredame, Pont Neau and later in the day visit montmarte and eiffell tower.

Sounds to me like a VERY busy day. Even if it's possible (and I'm not sure it is), I'm not sure it would be very pleasant even if you were all well-rested, and as as NorCal_Jo points out, you probably won't have slept that well the night before. You might want to reconsider visiting the Champs-Elysées - IMHO, it isn't actually all that interesting. And you might want to choose between Montmartre and the Eiffel Tower, or at least think through your priorities.

> Day 11: Visit Junfrauzoch. overnight in interlaken
Day 13: Travel to Mt. Titlis. Overnight in Lucerne.
Day 14: Travel to Zermatt. Overnight in Lucerne.

I trust you are aware that there is no guarantee that you will be able to see anything from any of these peaks? They are sometimes completely fogged in.

> I am divided on Florence and Naples as i can only visit one place. ...

Naples is some distance from the other places you plan to visit. Much as I love it, I don't think you have time for it.

> Also, does including Milan makes sense.

IMHO, no. I think you would do well to consider what to CUT from your itinerary, not what you can do to add anything.


Whatever you choose, you will see some wonderful things on this trip! But I think you will enjoy it much more if you try to see fewer places. There is SO much to see in Paris and in Rome and in central Switzerland that you really might have a better trip if you aim for at most 2 or 3 of these destinations, maybe finding time for a few days for Venice.

Think of it this way: What proportion of your time are you willing to spend just getting from place to place? With this plan, you'll lose a substantial amount of time to packing and unpacking, getting to/from train stations, waiting in train stations, checking in/out, buying tickets, getting oriented to new countries and different languages, getting lost (it happens to all of us!), dealing with jet lag and disrupted sleep and being off your usual diet and .... (And yes, I love travel despite all that - but I've learned to plan for it!)

I hope these comments prove helpful to you. Enjoy your trip!
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Mar 1st, 2013, 09:08 AM
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In India we are used to travel in overnight trains and my son loves them (4 sleeping bunks 7 feet by 2 feet per small coupe, which i think is similar to T4 in Thello)>

Yes T-4 or Tourist Cabin with 4 beds - two bunks on each side of an aisle sounds similar to India but the Thello train will not have thick bars on the windows! (From my days of taking trains in India - seemed like being in a prison in that regard!
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Mar 1st, 2013, 10:35 AM
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Sorry - this is not a vacation - it is a forced march. And I anticipate you will have a VERY cranky little kid with yuo most of the time.

I would slow WAY down (when does your child get to be a kid? just run around a park or playground? You're treating a 3 year old like an adult.

Sometimes less is more - and I think you really need to cut back on this itinerary.
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Mar 2nd, 2013, 10:21 AM
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Sorry - this is not a vacation - it is a forced march> No one forcing anyone.
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Mar 2nd, 2013, 11:19 AM
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In Paris, I would skip the Champs Elysees and Montmartre. Instead take a river cruise on the Vedettes du Pont Neuf. This will allow you to see the Pont Neuf and other beautiful briges along the Seine as well as many of the buildings you want to visit from the outside including the Louvre, Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. And you can sit down giving your poor child's feet a rest.

In my opinion, too much for a 3 year old. Although I tend to think Disneyland is a waste of time when visiting Paris, in this case it will provide a well-needed respite.

And, though Florence is my favorite city in Italy, I think you should perhaps skip it as you will not be there long enough to enjoy its beauty and wonderful sights.
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Mar 2nd, 2013, 11:28 AM
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Well I don;t suppose the 3 year old is planning it. Or that, if given the choice, this is how s/he would choose to spend their time.

IMHO once you become parents there are certain things in life that have to change - and dashing around as if you were a pair of college kids is one of them. kids that age need play time, nap time, don;t have hugely long periods of concentration and an exhausted and confused 3 year old screaming their way across europe will not be fun for the parents or the other tourists. (And you can't blame the kid for being and acting like a little kid. I think expecting them to act like an adult for 2 weeks is;t reasonable.)
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Mar 2nd, 2013, 03:12 PM
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nytraveller: answer the travel questions and leave the moralizing out - yes point out that the trip is perhaps too rushed for anyone of any age but tone down the criticism IMO -'forced march' and such incendiary words need not be used. Make your point without insulting the person.
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Mar 2nd, 2013, 03:38 PM
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amitmishr, you'll need timed reservations if you want to climb the Leaning Tower. The 3-year-old cannot go into the Tower, so if both adults want to climb you'll need two different reservation times.

http://boxoffice.opapisa.it/Turisti/app
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Mar 2nd, 2013, 07:27 PM
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Hi, thanks all for the inputs. Based on the inputs have removed Italy for later and would focus on France and Switzerland for the time being.

Updated itin:
Day 1: reach paris by 10 am by flight. Visit eiffel tower in the evening
Day 2: Visit Louvre, Cathedral and pont Neuf area. montmarte area if we feel like in evening.
Day 3,4: Disneyland
Day 5-9: Some other city on way to Swiss. I was trying for Venice but onward connection from Venice to Swiss is an issue. Nice and monaco seemed interesting but again a bit off the map. Just wanted some suggestions on this.
Day 10-13: Onward to Interlaken. Mt. Jungfrauzoch. May be to Mt. Pilatus /Zermatt (have to check about transportation or they are reachable from Interlaken at all. Otherwise some place an hour or so from Interlaken.
Day 14,15: Lucerne and Mt. Titlis. Have flight from Zurich at 10:30 in night.

Hope this would be ok. Need suggestions on some place in north France, where i can spend 3 days which is well connected to switzerland. Also in switzerland any other option apart from Lucerne.
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Mar 2nd, 2013, 07:53 PM
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Much better!

> Need suggestions on some place in north France, where i can spend 3 days which is well connected to switzerland.

You aren't interested in spending longer in Paris? There is SO much to see there!
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Mar 2nd, 2013, 09:49 PM
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how about the Loire Valley? You would then go back to Paris for your Swiss Connection.

If not, why not go Paris - Geneva and stay in Geneva to see Zermat, and then on to Interlaken then to Lucerne
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Mar 3rd, 2013, 10:53 AM
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Hope this would be ok. Need suggestions on some place in north France, where i can spend 3 days which is well connected to switzerland.>

How about Strasbourg - a very underrated city IMO - immense famous cathedral, canals and neat day trips by train to Colmr, a great smaller town and headquarters for the Alsace wine trade - cute little wine towns near Colmar easily reached by train and or bus.

Strasbourg is a short train ride from Basel, Switzerland, which is not far by train from any part of Switzerland you are going to.
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Mar 3rd, 2013, 08:42 PM
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Thanks PalenQ. Pics of Strasbourg look lovely. Quaint town. Will have to see about connectivity through train and see if it fits in.

Any idea about low cost flights in europe. Friend suggested me to do 4night paris, 3night Barcelona and 6 night switzerland (4n Interlaken, 2 n Lucerne).

I can travel from Paris to Barcelona on train and Barcelona-Geneva by flight. flight costs around euro 100 for three of us.
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Sep 1st, 2013, 11:26 PM
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thanks a lot to all for all the inputs that helped me on a great trip to Switzerland, Paris. My final itinerary was as follows and despite some rough weather, overall trip was good.

Day 1: reach zurich early morning and take train to Lucerne, relax and visit local lucerne attractions: lion monument, glacier garden and old town. kid absolutely loved the glacier garden and the hall of mirrors there.

Day 2: Mt. Rigi. It was raining/snowing so could not stay over at rigi but instead spent the afternoon at weggis, a lovely town. went there by boat so it was fun.

Day 3: engelberg and mt titlis. Again snowing heavily at titlis so did not have much fun. on the way down stopped at the intermediate stop and play with snow. Kid loved that time making snowman and taking pics looking at few people skiing.

Day 4: went to Lauterbrunnen. visited murren, schilthorn. lovely day and enjoyed the clear weather.

Day 5: Visited grindelwald (possibly the most beautiful hamlet across our visit). went over to grindelwald first and trekked to Balchapsee lake (which was frozen).

Day 6: went to Interlaken. Spent some time in the town and onwards to the beatus caves and oberhafen castle.

Day 7: visited bern to catch up with frens. later s[pent some time in interlaken on way back to lauterbrunnen.

Day 8: went over to montreux (extremely beautiful city) and visited the montreux castle (very lovely again).

Day 9: afternoon TGV to Paris. relax in paris

Day 10: champ de elysses, and local paris sightseeing

Day 11,12: Disneyland

Day 13: Chateau de Versailles, Tour eiffel

Day 14: Pantheon, local sightseeing

Day 15: louvre, tuilleries

In switzerlad, we took swiss pass (8 days), which came in very handy. Disneyland was great and we loved it the most, possibly as we do not have similar experience options in india. Paris as a city is great, but we preferred swiss experience more. but then, everybody's preferences are different.

Would definitely plan another trip to switzerland mostly due to natural beauty but also ease of travel.
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