Paris + Switzerland : Please comment

Old Aug 21st, 2002, 05:27 PM
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Paris + Switzerland : Please comment

Message: 9/13/02 : Reach Paris
9/13 - 9/16 : Paris
9/16 : Paris -> Luzern. 1/2 day in Luzern
9/17 : Panaroma Express (Golden Pass line)from Luzern to Geneva
9/17 - 9/18 : Stay in Geneva. Day trips to broc, gruyere, montreux, lake geneva.
9/19 : Geneva to Murren
9/19 - 9/21 : In Murren. Do the jungfraujoch + schilthorn + hiking.
9/21 : Murren to Zermatt. Gornegrat in Zermatt
9/22 : Glacier express to St Moritz
9/23 : Bernina Express to Tirano. Train from Tirano to Milan
9/24 : Day trip to Venice from Milan
9/25 : Milan to Zurich
9/26 : Return to US from Zurich

Any comments, suggestions, alterations. I am open to modifying my itenary. This is my first trip to Europe!

I wanted to do Paris and switzerland. I threw in Venice/Milan because I was going so close to it. Is it a bad idea?

Old Aug 21st, 2002, 05:36 PM
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Gulu, I don't understand. You are in Geneva for two nights but you have "day trips" to 4 places. And you're in Milan one night with a day trip (3 hour train ride) to Venice. I LOVE train travel in Europe and especially in Switzerland, but you are spending all your time on the train. You should plan more nights in each place and go to fewer places. I would cut it to Paris and one Swiss location. For example, stay in Montreux, Vevey or Lausanne for 4 nights and take a boat ride to Geneva and a train to a mountain top. Give yourself some time to walk along the promenade. The boat from Vevey to Geneva takes nearly 5 hours. On a nice day it's a great way to see Lake Geneva and then take the 45 min. train back.
Old Aug 21st, 2002, 05:59 PM
Bob Brown
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Sounds to me like you are spending a high percentage of your time running around with scenic blurs going by and taking a superficial view of everything.
So if you were expecting me to say it is the perfect game plan, sorry.
He who travels fast sees the least, and your schedule will enable you to excel at that endeavor.
Having ridden trains around Switzerland, I know that most of the routes are in deep valleys, etc. So you will not see much in the way of scenery from train windows, in my opinion. (There are some who disagree, but having spent many weeks in Switzerland, I know what I like.) I usually rent a car so I can drive over the high mountain passes and stop for a long look when the occasion permits.
(Like Lauterbrunnen to Zermatt via the Grimsel Pass!)
Around Mürren, you are also not allowing enough time to do anything thoroughly. And the Schilthorn and Jungfrau provide views of essentially the same territory. And if you do the Schilthorn and the Jungfraujoch there will be precious little time for hiking.
Luzern in half a day? Why? You will arrive about 2 PM and have 4 hours before most of the primary attractions start closing.
You also will not do much in Venice except see a canal or two.
And I guess my last comment is that you are hardly allowing much time for Paris.
I have spent a total of 9 days there during recent trips. Even 9 days was hardly enough. And I had been there before my last two visits. So in 2 weeks I will visit Paris again to see places I have not yet visited.

Your trip, your money. And you will do what you want. But my guess is that it all be a big blur.
Old Aug 21st, 2002, 06:14 PM
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Like I said "My planning might not be right, so help me plan here". My goal is to spend most time in switzerland. I found a good deal flying into Paris and out of Zurich. I will surely go to Paris again, but maybe not again to switzerland. First I was planning 1 night in Paris then I thought that is way to less, so I increased it to 3. Increasing more will cut back on my time in switzerland. SO HELP ME PLEASE. I STILL HAVE A MONTH!!!!

I am flying into Paris on 9/12/02. I am flying out of zurich on 9/26/02. How should I distribute my time so that the focus is on Switzerland. Please remember I might not be able to go to switzerland again.
Old Aug 21st, 2002, 08:36 PM
Jinx Hoover
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Gullu, Switzerland is our favorite place to visit for sheer natural beauty and outdoor activities. We have traveled all over the country (including the Glacier Express). And the Bernese Oberland is the best area by far.
Therefore, my suggestions:

9/13-9/16: Paris (with planning, you can get a good introduction to Paris and see a lot of sights)
9/17: Paris to Bernese Oberland (stay in Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen,or Grindelwald). Take in Murren, Wengen, Schynige Platte, Jungfraujoch, etc. Hikes in and out of these areas except Jungfraujoch. Day trip to Lucerne, if you desire.
9/23: Train to Venice
9/25 Train to Zurich
9/26 Fly home

You could go to Venice from Paris on the front of your trip. Then up to Switzerland. I do not know the train schedules, as we travel by auto. Have a good trip. Jinx Hoover
Old Aug 22nd, 2002, 01:07 AM
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It is TOUGH to plan a first European vacation! I agree with Jinx and the others. Slow down and get off the train some. WE just did the Bernina Express and I think it is overrated. I recommend getting a car if you are touring mostly Switzerland. It is a very easy country to drive in and you are more in control. This would be my suggestion:
Rent a car in Paris (at the end of the visit) and drive to Geneva. It shoudl be about a 5 hour drive. Explore Geneva area for 2 days and then, drive to the Berner Oberland. En route, you can visit Montreux, Vevey or Gruyeres. Explore Berner Oberland (do not stay in Interlaken) for several days, then drive up to Luzern. It is about a 2 hour drive. Visit for 2 days and then, on to Zurich and home. Zurich is a nice city so spend at least a day there. You can drop the car in Luzern or in Zurich. It is a short (1 hour) train ride to Zurich and the train runs every thrity minutes. I would skip Venice it for next time! You will be back!
Old Aug 22nd, 2002, 01:55 AM
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Hi Gullu,
It is hard to imagine if you will be spending too much time in trains and stations. If you want to see a lot of Switzerland, your itinerary sounds possible. These are not whole-day train rides (except Paris-Luzern; for instance, going from Geneva to Murren late in the day would give you much more time in Geneva. But why are you going to Milan? I say choose between Milan and Venice, and I'd choose Venice for two days from Tirano.
Alternatively, spend the two days in the Dolemites since you seem to love mountains & hiking.
Old Aug 22nd, 2002, 09:35 AM
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Thank you all. We have decided to skip Milan and Venice. Milan was added because there was no other way to go from Tirano/Lugano to Venice but via Milan. Anyhow we were planning o reach Milan by early afternoon and spend 1/2 day there seeing the Gallerria and the duomo. The train from Milan to Venice is 2 hours. So we would have reached Venice by 9am and returned aby 6:00pm. In that time we thought we would have gotten a feel for Venice.

Anyhow I agree with you all : we will skip Milan and Venice and do 2 more days in Luzern.

In the new itenerary you will not that I spend 1/2 day in Luzern and then come back to spend 2 more days. This is because I have already purchased the tockets from Paris -> Luzern, Luzer->Montreux. Moreover we fly out of zurich so we had to return to luzern.

So The new itenerary :
9/13 - 9/15 : Paris

9/16 : Paris -> Luzern (1/2 day in luzern). No Mountain rides, just see the bridges and walk around the city. Maybe a cruise on the lake if we have time

9/17 : Golden pass train (panaroma car) from Luzern to Montreux. We reach Montreux at 12:45pm. Visit the castle and then take a steamer on Lake Geneva to Geneva (about 5 hours). This will give us a good feel of Lake Geneva and the country side from Interlaken to Montreux. We do not want to spend more than one evening in Geneva. So this should be fine.

9/18/02 : Geneva to Murren. Do you recommend that I visit gruyere, broc on the way to Interlaken? Any other place you recommend that I visit on the way to Interlaken from Geneva.

9/18/02 -> 9/21/02 : Murren and sourrounding. Stay in Murren.

9/21/02 : Murren -> Zermatt. All we intend to do in Zermatt is the gornegrat to experience the matterhorn. Do a couple of short hikes if we have time.

9/22/02 : Glacier Express. This is a good place to rest after a hectic 3-4 days in Murren and Zermatt. Plus we got reservations in the panaroma car and we get to see the countryside from zermatt all the way to St Moritz.

9/23/02 : Bernina express from St Moritz to Lugano. We reach Lugano around 5:00pm. We do not intend to spend more time here than one evening because we will return when we do Italy some day. Intention is to checkout some good Italian restaurant.

9/24/02 : Train from Lugano to Lucerne, via the Gotthard tunnel. I heard it is a very beautiful train ride.

9/24/02 -> 9/25/02 : Lucerne.

9/26/02 : zurich -> san francisco (home)

Have I slowed down now? Do you guys still not like it? Does it need more work.

I think I have balanced it out by staying longer in some places and driving by (in a train) some. Will it give me a good feel of switzerland? Is one evening in St Moritz, Geneva, Lugano a bad idea? I have used them more like a stopover after a day's travel.
Old Aug 22nd, 2002, 10:19 AM
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It sure looks like you are backtracking. Why are you doing, in essense Paris-Luzern-..-Geneve-..Luzern? How about Paris-Geneve-..Luzern? Is this because you already made a Panoramic express reservation from Luzern to Montreux?

I liked Gruyere. Regarding Broc, we did not go, but there is another Chocolate Train thread mentioning Broc.

The steamer across practically entire Lac Geneve takes quite lot of time, do you really like to be on the boat that long? Is that the only reason you are going all the way to Geneve?

From you description, I see that you really like trains, so your itenerary seem to support your interest.
Old Aug 22nd, 2002, 10:22 AM
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Sounds very doable and enjoyable. I just have one comment. I would tack on another day in the Engadine (St. Moritz) and delete one day from Luzern (and I live here!). We just did a bit this summer and it is amazing. Check out Pontresina, and/or Guarda. Many amazing little towns!

If you don't take the suggestion, you will still have a wonderful time!
Old Aug 22nd, 2002, 10:53 AM
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Rather than try to redo your itinerary (which for is WAY too busy for my tastes and style) I'll list two different trips I did that worked out beautifully. I have friends in Vevey and Montreux and stayed with them, so that influenced the timing.

Two week trip: Fly into Geneva, train out to Vevey, stay 7 days. Take an overnight train (get a sleeper car) to Venice (you leave around midnight and arrive 6AM). Stay 4 days. Return by day train to Vevey, 3 more days, fly home to Seattle.

Three week trip: Fly into Geneva, train to Montreux. Stay 10 days. Overnight train to Venice (sleeper car), stay 5 days. Overnight train to Paris (thru Milan), stay 6 days. Fly out Paris to Seattle.

Old Aug 22nd, 2002, 10:59 AM
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More for Gullu~

Milan to Venice is 3 hours each way by train! That hardly gives you a few hours to see all Venice which is crazy.

Gruyere is a nice day trip but I wouldn't plan an itinerary around it plus it's a bit of a drive outside Geneva.

If you're in Montreux see Chateux de Chillon.
Old Aug 22nd, 2002, 11:51 AM
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Well, according to RailEurope it is 2 hours. Leave Milan at 6:03am, reach Venice at 8:03am (train number 603). Leave Venice at 7:00pm and return to Milan by 9:00pm. That gives you 11 hours in Venice. Doesn't 11 hours qualify as a "day trip" : to get a feel. This is why I thought about it. Anyway I am not doing Venice and Milan now. I have made up my mind thanks to you all!

Jan, thanks for the suggestion to add an extra day to Engadine. I will have to discuss with my wife.

Greg, I wouldn't call myself a "train person", per se. In California, we always either do drive or fly. Never have I done trains. But I believe switzerland is the best place in the whole world to do trains. So yes, I am keeping a good time doing just that.

This is my first trip to switzerland. I do not want to spend all the time in one place not knowing how that place will be. I know for sure I will love 3 nights in Murren and 3 nights in Lucerne. So I have changed my iteneray to suit that. More than doing Geneva, I want to enjoy Lake Geneva area. I thought the best way to do that is by steamer. Moreover, I have a swiss pass so if I don't like 5 hours in the boat, I can always get off and continue on train.

Besides concentrating on lucerne and murren on this trip, I wanted to get a taste of rest of switzerland. So that next time I will do those in detail. To get a taste of rest of switzerland, I have planned the train rides and the steamer cruises. I don't think I can do all of switzerland, in detail, in 10 days.
Old Aug 22nd, 2002, 01:19 PM
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your itinerary sounds doable. And I think you will have a very good time in Switzerland. Travelling by train is wonderful there.

Just wondering why you do not Lucerne - Muerren - Montreux. Have a look at the map! It is the locical itinerary.

A second thought: I would recommend to stay another night in St. Moritz area. (Right, Jan!) You MUST explore the lakes and do the day trip to Soglio. You might want to have a look at the "Support Group for Those who love Switzerland part II" - thread.

Have you already booked accommodations? This might influence your overnight stays. There are some jewels along the route.

Old Aug 22nd, 2002, 01:21 PM
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Oh, I forgot: Not only Part II, also Part I of the SGFTHLS - thread will give you much recommendations. But it is much to read!

Old Aug 22nd, 2002, 01:22 PM
been there
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Well all I can tell you is I rode that train and it was 3 hours (Venice/Milan)~ but won't be argumentative since you're leaving that part out anyway ;-)

The trains along the lake from Geneva (there are two train stations one at the airport and one more downtown) are easy and would get you to Lausanne, Vevey, Montreux all within about an 1-1/4 ride to furthest point.
Old Aug 22nd, 2002, 01:27 PM
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I agree with your assessment that the boat ride on Lake Geneva is a great idea. It was a highlight for me. If you can work it out to stay in Montreux two nights (consider Vevey instead), you would really enjoy taking the Les Pliaedes train in the morning and the boat in the afternoon, have dinner in Geneva and return to Vevey by train. Then train to Murren from Vevey rather than Geneva. Less unpacking.

Also, anything Ingo says is a good bet. He's a great resource for Switzerland.
Old Aug 22nd, 2002, 03:04 PM
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FINALLY I HEARD FROM INGO!!! I was waiting because I have read your posts guiding other first timers to switzerland : ranjan

I have bought the swiss pass and reserved accomodations. But hotels can be cancelled except Paris. The reason I do Luzern->Geneva->Murren instead of Luzern->Murren->Geneva is 2 :
1. The panaroma express from Luzern to Montreux is reserved. I will lose that reservation if I chnage my itenerary. I have also reserved the "panaroma car", don't know if I will get it for another day.
2. It will involve too many cancellations/changes

Now why I booked it in the first place : My wife wanted to do the "Chocolate Train" from Montreux, which only runs on wednesdays. So I planned to fit that in. But I kept telling her it was a bad idea and a waste of the whole day. So she started a thread on "chocolate Train" here. Now she is convinced that we should drop it. So I get another full day in Murren!!!! Yippppeeee!!!

Is it too bad the way it is now? Please tell me about those jewels ingo. How should I fit in, one more day in St Moritz? At the expense of what : lucerne? If you say I will do it.

Once the itenerary is fronzen, I would like recommendations on what to do in Lucerne (2.5 days), in murren (3 days), zermatt (1 day : gornegrat + ?).


Old Aug 23rd, 2002, 05:41 AM
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I disagree that the Bernina Express is overrated! The glaciers on this route are by far some of the most stunning in the Alps. But the trick is just to do the Pontresina-Alp Grum (or even Poschiavo) portion. Since hiking is in your plans be sure to get off at Bernina Ospizia and hike around the lake to the Sassal Mason (restaurant) and than down to Alp Grum, returning on the next train to Pontresina. You don't have to do the Express train. There are several trains on this route-you can use any of them and save money on the reservation.
Old Aug 23rd, 2002, 06:33 AM
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One big comment: you're too much "on the road", unless you enjoy that kind of constant travel... Suggest you either:

- forget Geneva and go straight to Zermatt (via Montreux); or
- forget Zermatt and use that time in Italy (though you're probably saying "But what about the Matterhorn?")
- or, forget Italy altogether.

One other maxim I've learned living here in Switzerland is: don't plan too far in advance if you're thinking about the mountains, because when it's rainy or even very overcast, it doesn't make much sense to go up into them as the scenery is just not as stunning - unless, that is, it doesn't matter to you. Rather, spend the time in the cities like Zurich, Basel, or I guess Luzern (though just the sound of Luzern makes me cringe, it's on every tourist's agenda...).

Finally, do NOT cut out the Engadin (St. Moritz area), but just don't stay in St. Moritz, it's too big, it'll remind you more of a squashed-together city. Stay in Pontresina or Sils Maria, you will ENJOY this area so much more.

Finally, if you still can - put some FLEXIBILITY into your plans. Book maybe two "cities" or towns in advance, that aren't far (ca. 2-3 hrs train ride) from some mountain resorts, and when you have weather reports that say "sunny next 3 days", then call a pre-determined hotel or two to reserve and head up for some brilliant mountain experiences. And above all - spend more of your time on your feet in fresh air than in trains!!!!

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