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Please comment on my 2 week Switzerland / Italy Itinerary

Please comment on my 2 week Switzerland / Italy Itinerary

Aug 7th, 2010, 11:32 AM
  #1  
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Please comment on my 2 week Switzerland / Italy Itinerary

Hi,
I would love some thoughts on our itinerary for Switzerland and Italy next July. We are: my husband and me and 2 of our kids who will both be 17 next year. We like beautiful scenery, old towns, wines (but not seriously), peppered with some art and architecture - just a good mix of everything. Of all the areas I'll list, Tuscany will be the most boring for the kids, but we'll do lots of things that interest them in the other places so they'll make it through. I've been to Rome, the kids and I have been to the BO. None of us have been to Tuscany. My poor husband hasn't been to any of these areas - time to change that! . OK, here goes:

Day 1 - Fly to Zurich, take the train to Wengen or Grindlewald
Days 2, 3, 4 - various hikes, cable car rides, relaxing, etc.
Day 5 - train to Lucca
Day 6 - Lucca - sightseeing and biking on the walls
Day 7 - Pisa, pick up car, drive through Chianti wine route to Southern Tuscany area
Days 8, 9, 10 - visit hill towns (Montepulciano, Buonoconvento, Pienza, Sant Antimo, etc), countryside, maybe the thermal baths, relax by pool (if we have one)
Day 11 - drive or train to Pompeii
Days 12 - Pompeii in morning before it gets too hot, drive or train to Rome
Days 13, 14, 15 - Rome doing the typical things, wandering the streets
Day 16 - depart for home

I'd love thought on any aspects of this trip - anything at all, let me have it! This is a very early version of the trip (have already cut out Cinque Terre based on comments since it will probably be too hot - good reason to go back a different time of year).

I'm having trouble sticking to my budget - it's the getting lodging for 4 that's killing us. In Rome I found a couple of great apartments which cost about 160 - 170 E per night. We'd love to do the other places for around that for the 4 of us as well, but I guess I have 500 E taste! Switzerland will be more than that, but I'm trying to keep it down by looking at apartments too. Also, many agriturismos are a better price, but require a 7 night stay and we just don't have that long.

We don't want to plan every second, and don't plan to do everything we can, even if some people may gasp at what we may skip. We can always go back in the future. Thanks for any suggestions!
kwren is offline  
Aug 7th, 2010, 11:52 AM
  #2  
 
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I know you have worked hard on this trip, and it has improved over time. My only comment it that I do not understand the logistics of days 11 & 12. If you skip Pompeii--and I would this trip---then you can drop the car at Orvieto, see that lovely town, and then train to Rome. Take that extra day and take local transportation to Ostia Antica instead. You are wasting 1.5 days to see Pompeii and you will still need to drive into Rome or one of the airports in Rome to drop the car--and then 2 taxis to your hotel. Just too much hassle--and cost.

I assume you have looked at train options from Interlaken to Lucca---that will be a LONG day--be sure you have it planned.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Aug 7th, 2010, 12:42 PM
  #3  
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It's hard to believe I'm doing all this work so far in advance. It's all because of needing to get those Frequent Flyer tickets in 2 or 3 weeks! If we can't do that, the whole thing is off and as you can imagine, I don't want that to happen!!!!! I think my itinerary has really improved, so let me say that I appreciate all the advice I've received so far! It's really helping. Once I obtain the tickets, I can slow waaaaay down for a while. I just have to be sure we can afford this length trip, and can get the airline tickets we need.

Lucca - yes, it's definitely a long trip (and rail passes are another question for the future ), but it's just as long to go directly to Tuscany so that's one good thing and if we add Lucca/Pisa, we'll see a bit of that area and Chianti and the wine route to Siena (actually I don't care so much about Pisa but the rest of the family would like to *if it works out*). If this is all too expensive, we'll just cut out Pisa and Lucca...but my goal is to keep it all if possible.

So Bob, skipping Pompeii. I thought of that a while back. I know it takes up 2 days as opposed to a half day just to go to Rome, but you know...the kids (and my husband) want to see it. Someone else posted an article about Pompeii recently and it does seem that each year more and more is being closed off to the public due to lack of funds to keep it up, so it does seem wise to go now.

Besides, we were just in Montserrat with its active volcano (see my trip report!), so it seems fitting that we go to Pompeii with the kids this year. Maybe the year after, we'll go to Costa Rica to see that volcano - who knows! As long as we are not covered with lava or ash, we're good!

Anyway, back to the point. I will take your comment about skipping Pompeii and going to Ostia Antica under advisement and will discuss it with the family. Or, we have also considered going to Rome first and then taking a day to go to Pompeii by train, but then we are there in the heat of the day.

Thanks for your input! It's always nice to see your name pop up
kwren is offline  
Aug 7th, 2010, 04:02 PM
  #4  
 
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I wouldn't skip Pompei, for my kids was the highlight of the Sorrento trip with Herculeum that is much more preserved and interested than Pompei, Pompei is too packed with tourists groups at any time.

I see as very unrealistic the train to Rome to Naples then to Pompei in a day, we stayed right in Sorrento and going to Pompei was about 1 hr so from Rome is too far away for a daily trip, by the time you get to Pompei you are ready to go to sleep.
pookymimi is offline  
Aug 7th, 2010, 06:31 PM
  #5  
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Thanks pookymimi. Ok - settled, if we go to Pompeii, a day trip doesn't make sense, so we will have an overnight there. My kids might or might not care as much about Pompeii as I had thought but tonight my husband said he definitely wants us to go. It's a must in his book.

Are you saying to go to Herculanum instead of Pompeii or in addition to Pompeii?
kwren is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 06:07 AM
  #6  
 
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Hi Kwren:

I was reading your post and I have almost the same scenario as yours. Husband and I and 1 boy of 9 years old.
We will be flying into Zurich and then board train to various places in Switzerland, and then go from Switzerland to Milan, fly from Milan back to the US.

My question is.

Which pass is cheaper for 3 of us.

Swiss Flexi Pass or Swiss Half Fare Card?

Thanks in advance.
dutseal is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 07:54 AM
  #7  
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Hi dutseal

I'm in the midst of trying to figure that out too!

I know when I went the last time, we used the Swiss Card and Swiss Family Card, which is free when you buy the Swiss Card. That trip we flew into Zurich, took the train to the Bernese Oberland, and then went by train from there to Austria. The Swiss Card includes free transportation from Zurich (or wherever you come into) to an area in Switzerland you choose and at the end, free transportation from that area to, in your case, the border of Italy. My 2 kids were then 12 so with the Family Card they traveled for free everywhere in Switzerland - it was quite the deal! Most trips for you and your husband will be 50%.

That was definitely the best choice for us last time, and it was basically what we'll be doing this time as well. I'll probably use the Swiss Card too this time - the trip from Zurich to the BO and from the BO to Italy almost covers the cost of the card - but need more research since my kids are now 17 and no longer free. Look at the RailEurope website for info. The cards might be cheaper on other websites, but at least you can start there. I do think you have to buy the Swiss Card before you go.

Where are you going in Switzerland?
kwren is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 08:58 AM
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Which airline are you trying to use ff miles? Depending on which airline, I would fly to Zurich, visit Switzerland, EasyJet from either Basel or Geneva (which ever is more convenient to your sightseeing plans) to Naples, visit Pompeii (easy Curreri shuttle bus from Naples airport to Pompeii/Sorrento), train to Rome, visit Rome, pick up car in Orvieto, tour Tuscany/Pisa/Lucca, fly home from either Pisa (Delta has direct flights to NYC) or Milan.
kybourbon is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 10:12 AM
  #9  
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we have United miles and because we are booking with 2 one-way flights we can only United or United Express. I never thought of a route such as this, but am open to exploring it. thanks for giving me a totally different suggestion.
kwren is offline  
Aug 12th, 2010, 06:25 AM
  #10  
 
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Hi Kwren:

Thanks for the suggestion. When you mean by Swiss Card, is it the Swiss Half Fare Card or the Swiss Flexi? Sorry confused

In Switzerland, I will start from Zurich (arrive at Zurich by plane from the US), then from Zurich I will board a train to Lucerne, I have made a reservation for 2 nights at Lucerne hotel.

From Lucerne, I will board a train to Wengen, stay for 2 nights at a Wengen hotel.

While I am in Wengen I would wish to visit Jungfraujoch and Schlittorn, if 2 days are enough.

After I am done with Jungfraujoch and Schlittorn, I will board a train to Milan, Italy, where I will depart from.

I was looking at your question about hotel.
Sometimes when you go to websites such as Booking.Com, Travelocity.com etc, when you enter specific dates, they said No Availability.
Actually if you pick on a hotel, go to their website, contact the manager, and the answer will be different.

In Lucerne, when I tried to make booking through Booking.Com or Travelocity.com, I could not get any. So I emailed the Manager, Stephen Odermatt, and he promptly replied that for the 3 of us, per night would be CHF 114 Including all Taxes.

That's the best deal I have seen for such a hotel with that high a rating from customers.

Same thing in Wengen. I was not able to get anything through Booking.com/Travelocity, when I sent an email to the manager at Hotel Edelweiss in Wengen, she replied that they do have it for $180 per night including tax. A second reply came from Hotel Jungfrau, she offered me a bedroom for the 3 of us, and it's only $140 CHF plus tax. Tax is only CHF 2.80 per night for adults and CHG 1.10 per night for kids.

So now I have two options already in Wengen.
However you have to be upfront that there will be 4 of you in a room so that they can arrange for enough beds.

Please let me know how your planning goes

Thanks!
dutseal is offline  
Aug 12th, 2010, 09:14 AM
  #11  
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Hi dutseal - Thanks for the advice on hotels! I'll definitely look into it - it's a lot easier to work on a trip for 3 people than 4 people, as I have found doing both in the past so you are lucky. I usually write to the hotels directly so I can ask questions, and do ask about rooms for 4, or even an apartment, but haven't tried the ones you mentioned. Are your prices for rooms with a view?

I think that the booking websites don't have the hotels entered for next year yet which is why they always say no availablity. (someone will correct me if I am wrong on that)

There is a specific card called the Swiss Card - go to the website I gave you above and you'll see it. It worked best for us a few years ago. We had to buy it before we left the USA. (Are you in the US too?) The beauty of it was that my kids were free for all/most of the travel (I forget if I had to pay something for them on the Jungfrau) so it more than paid for itself. This is costing me more than I expected on this trip with 2 kids over 16 soi'ts affecting other parts of the trip, but so far we are still going.

I can advise on the Wengen part of your trip. I would allow at LEAST 2 full days in Wengen (ie 3 nights) to go to both the Jungfrau and Schilthorn. It would be hard (and not much fun) to try to cram them into one day. That isn't even taking into account that clouds come in some days and you wouldn't want to go to either since you wouldn't see anything. When I planned the BO with the kids, I had 4 full days in that area so we would have better chances at getting up both. The day we went up the Schilthorn, we went up in the morning and the clouds came in while we were up there. It was a cool experience, but it could have ruined the day if the clouds had been there earlier. You are not leaving any days leeway for the clouds! You could do all this to get there with only one day to see the mountains (you'll be travelling to Italy the day after your second night) and not see anything!!! If you could add a few nights in that area, there are a lot of other things to do if it's cloudy on the mountaintops for a day.

Of course it's easy for me to say to add days whan of course you have limited time

Gotta run now - more later! It's good planning our trips together!!!
kwren is offline  
Aug 12th, 2010, 12:39 PM
  #12  
 
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>>>After I am done with Jungfraujoch and Schlittorn, I will board a train to Milan, Italy, where I will depart from.<<<

On the Swiss train website (sbb.ch) you can book discount tickets for the EC trains between either Zurich/Basel/Geneva and Milan/Venice for 30chf (known as Supersaver or Smartfare) which is regularly 58chf to Milan. You must book at least two weeks in advance to get that rate although it might not let you book more than a month ahead (I'm not sure how far in advance, but there is a time limit). It can sell out and the Smart2 rate may appear of 45chf or the 58chf regular rate. You can check the sbb.ch website for train stops that the EC train makes and pick up your train there such as Lugano on the way from Zurich to Milan(the 30chf rate should show if you book from the enroute stops which is still usually cheaper than the regular price from enroute stops). You get a code after booking online and pick up your tickets in Switzerland.
kybourbon is offline  
Aug 13th, 2010, 11:18 AM
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Hi Kwren:

Yes, I'm from Houston, Texas

I will take your suggestion and consider the Swiss Card for sure .

I am staying in Lauterbrunnen for at least 3 days, and I can hop on the train to Wengen and back to Lauterbrunnen fairly easily.

In regards to the hotel, yes I think most rooms come with a view, based on the review I read, even at the time of booking they don't tell you the room comes with the view, you can always request it at check in and if you ask them nicely I think most of them don't mind giving it to you, especially if you "mention" you are there for a "special" occasion.

The hotel I got in Lauterbrunnen is actually an apartment, a studio one, with a kitchen, bathroom, studio for just the 3 of us, and what I like about it is, it's only 5 minutes away form the train station, there is Migros supermarket, Internet Cafe, Laundry just down the street. That's the special appeal.

You can look around at www.holiday-rentals.co.uk and just type in any area you want to stay in.

I hope your schedule works out

Thanks!
dutseal is offline  
Aug 13th, 2010, 11:21 AM
  #14  
 
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Hi Kybourbon:

Thank You for the TIPS. I was looking for exactly what you were suggesting, and even at CHF 58, it's such a deal.
I'm so relieved that my scheduling is almost complete. Thanks to all of you guys in this forum who have helped me.
dutseal is offline  
Aug 13th, 2010, 04:18 PM
  #15  
 
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Iit seems to me that you should stop in Rome on your trip south, then go on to Pompeii or thereabouts, and fly home from Naples. That avoids the backtracking.
charnees is offline  
Aug 15th, 2010, 07:32 AM
  #16  
 
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Hi Charnees:

Rome is a very big possibility if we have the time on our side

Wish me luck..
dutseal is offline  
Aug 15th, 2010, 11:46 AM
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dutseal, I am confused. I was giving kwren the advice to stop in Rome, then go south and fly home from Naples. I don't understand your thanking me.
charnees is offline  
Aug 15th, 2010, 12:46 PM
  #18  
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Hi charnees! Thanks for the suggestion. That absolutely does make the most sense I agree, but...The frequent flyer seats are what are messing me up! United doesn't go out of Naples and since I am going with two one-way trips to and from the USA, it's required that I use United or United Express so, I might as well go directly to Pompeii first, then go to Rome and stay there relaxing in an apartment for the final days of the trip (if you can call Rome sightseeing relaxing!), and then fly United out of Rome. We can only use partner flights when booking round trip FF seats now. (It wasn't like that for an open jaw trip a few years ago - that still counted as a round trip - but for 2 different airports now, I have to book each separately and use only United or United Express if that makes sense.)

I have our tickets on United to Zurich - yea! I can get to Europe - the most important part! Now I am sweating the return trip. I could only get one ticket out of Rome when I checked at 6:00 this morning, after striking out from 12 - 1 am. I'll be trying again tomorrow morning and may get up every hour to better my odds. Of course, if that works, I will have added a day to our vacation!!!
kwren is offline  
Aug 15th, 2010, 01:47 PM
  #19  
 
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Charnees:

Ok cross eyed on my part, too much reading tips.
dutseal is offline  
Aug 15th, 2010, 02:21 PM
  #20  
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That's OK dutseal - I'll share any responses if they help!
kwren is offline  

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