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Please help:Switzerland-Italy in July-August 2006

Please help:Switzerland-Italy in July-August 2006

Jan 2nd, 2006, 02:21 PM
  #1  
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Please help:Switzerland-Italy in July-August 2006

First of all, hello to all the wonderful posters on the europe board. I have read most of the information in the Italy-Switzerland posts and there is really a wealth of information available. Thanks for all the help.

I am planning a trip to Italy/Switzerland in July-August 2006. We have 17 nights available for the trip. This is a really special trip for me because it is a family reunion. I am getting my folks and sister flown in from India and me and my wife are flying in from the US. This might probably be a once in a lifetime trip to this area for my parents and hence I want to make it really special. However there are a few limitations

1. They are slightly older and hence I will really want to keep a slow pace. If possible, no one night stays at places.
2. They are vegetarian, so I might have to use self catered apartments for most places, meaning a longer stay in a few places.


From all the information that I could glean, I am leaning towards 8-9n in Italy and 8-9 days in switzerland.

1. I am looking at 4n/4d in rome and 4n/4d in venice.
2. I am looking at about 5n/5d in the BO area.
3. I hope to do atleast one scenic train, preferably bernina express, since it connects switzerland/italy.
4. I am also looking at spending 3n/3d at a lake location. Would Montreux be a good idea or would I be better off looking at Lugano/Como areas.
5. I am open to booking open jaw flights. Would it be better to start from italy or swiss?
6. Am i missing any unmissables in either of these two places.

Please do advice, any suggestions would be really useful.
thanks a ton
aravind

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Jan 2nd, 2006, 02:39 PM
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aravind,
You have a very special trip planned for your family. These are 2 of my favorite locations, Switzerland and Italy!

I have traveled extensively with my parents (80 yr olds) over the past 10 or so years. They are good walkers, need naps in the afternoons, and do not like a rich diet. The beginnings of trips always see them at their most alert as they are fresh and not tired from all the touring.

Having said that, my suggestion would be to do Italy first. Italy can be difficult on our seniors, yet there is so much for them to see. It can be very exhausting day after day.

Going to Switzerland (and oooh you have picked a good spot - the Berner Oberland!) is a totally different trip than going to Italy. You have the majestic Alps and the beautiful lake regions. Ahhhh.. Hiking can be a simple well-paved trail or more rugged terrain if you're up to it. But there's always a cable car or tram or train waiting to take you up or down, if you need to. The hillside restaurants, where you can stop for a simple coffee or applestrudel, will be a daily highlight, as well as a nice rest and viewpoint. A boat ride on Lake Geneva or Lucerne or wherever is always a nice way to relax, yet take in the beauty. There are many chalets to rent. In fact, we rented a lovely one this past summer in Grindelwald. Dad loved the terrace for his afternoon snoozes.

Ending your trip in such a beautiful and peaceful area is, IMHO, the best way to go. Do the busy stuff first, then relax in the Alps!

Happy travels!
kopp is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2006, 02:48 PM
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Hello Kopp,
Thanks a lot for your invaluable advice regarding starting with italy. I guess then the best way to start is from Rome and end at the BO. Your description of Switzerland makes August seem soooooooo far away. cant wait. Do you have any advice on a good lake area location that fits in with my Rome to Swiss schedule.
thanks again
aravind
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Jan 2nd, 2006, 05:48 PM
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Dear aravind,

I have been to both lake areas you are considering. I think the Montreaux/Vevey area would be preferable to Lugano/Como.

Lake Geneva is beautiful, and this area will give you much to see and do, keeping in mind your travel with your folks. A trip to Evian via the ferry boat will allow you to add France as a destination, vinyards around Vevey, a quick trip to Gruyeres for cheesemaking, easy strolling along the waterfront promenade to the castle of Chillon.

Sounds like you are planning a wonderful trip! Best wishes, SusanEva
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Jan 2nd, 2006, 05:57 PM
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I would pick Luzern over Lake Geneva. The city feels more "Swiss" to me, and you can see many beautiful villages along the shore from the ferry. You could all then easily fly home (in both directions) from Zurich airport. It's a short train ride to Zurich and a quick connection to the airport shuttle train.
Jean is online now  
Jan 3rd, 2006, 12:59 PM
  #6  
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Thanks a lot for the information susaneva and jean. I really appreciate the ideas. It sounds to me that Lake Geneva/montreux offers me a slightly different experience compared to Luzern. On the other hand, Luzern seems better for typical swiss(mountainish) feel.

1. If i am already spending abt 5n/5d in bernese oberland, would luzern be an overkill? Or is it a different experience?
2. Clearly my plan now is

a.4n/4d Rome
b. 4n/4d Venice
c. take the train from venice to lugano and make the connection to bernina express.
d. 5n/5d in bo
e. one lake location for 3n/3d.
depart from zurich.

I am still looking for seamless transition between stages c,d,e ? would I have to break up c somewhere in between? would i have to change the order of d and e? which location would fit e best in terms of less travel time?
Please suggest any ideas that you might have. Thanks again
regards
aravind
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Jan 3rd, 2006, 01:14 PM
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In BO, check out the open air museum of traditional houses in Ballenberg. Very interesting! You can also do a day trip to Lucerne with a ferry ride on the lake.

I've been to Ascona often and think it's a great peaceful town to enjoy and to take excusions from.

However, if heat is a problem, you might want to stay in Weggis, a town near Lucerne, which is on the lake. You can take a ferry ride there, visit the Lake of Lucerne, go to the Rigi with the gondola or just enjoy the town. It might fit your 3 day lake location better than Ascona.
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Jan 3rd, 2006, 02:07 PM
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Hi aravind,

Yes, I think you've identified potential problems on the Swiss leg. The problem is that you want to go from the extreme eastern part to the western part, and there are mountains in the way!!

Just a few tips:
1. I don't think you need to go all the way to Lugano to catch the Bernina Express. The BE runs from Tirano to Chur, so if it's easier to go from Venice to Tirano, definitely do that.

2. Getting from Chur to the Berner Oberland will be a difficult segment. I tried the SBB at www.rail.ch, but it's not working properly. When the site comes up again, you should research that route to see how long or how hard (number of changes) it will be. Also see if it's easier to get to Brienz instead of a mountain village like Wengen or Grindelwald: fewer changes maybe.

3. It will be easy to get to Luzern from the Berner Oberland; it's a well-travelled route. Luzern is very different from the BO because of the four mountains you have at your feet. Though yes it's still German.

4. It's also easy to get to the Lake Geneva area, one of my favorites. But you should know that the architecture is Belle Epoque, not mountain chalet. And you should know that the mountains will be some distance away. Here are some reviews of activities (w/photos) that I posted at another site:

Montreux old town
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR...reux_Vaud.html

Lavaux
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR...reux_Vaud.html

Promenade Fleuri
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR...reux_Vaud.html

Morges
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR...rges_Vaud.html

Gruyeres
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR..._Fribourg.html

Again, use the Swiss rail website at www.rail.ch to research your routes. Obviously, try to minimize connections (you can get assistance, but you have to commit to a specific train and e-mail the station ahead of time).

Have fun!

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Jan 3rd, 2006, 03:59 PM
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If you end the trip in Vevey/Montreux flying out of Geneva would be the way to go.
suze is online now  
Jan 3rd, 2006, 04:26 PM
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Hello again aravind,

schuler makes a very good point about the heat at lake level in Lucerne. One of the reasons we head to the Alps in the summers is to escape the Texas heat. Several times we have stayed in Lucerne, and yes, it gets pretty warm there, and most of the hotels we've stayed in have NOT had air conditioning. So it would be good to get a bit higher (elevation wise) if you go to Lake Lucerne (Weggis, for example). But you will really LOVE cruising the lake in the boats. We especially like the paddlewheeler. One good hint: splurge on the first class deck. Your parents will enjoy the relative solitude as opposed to the masses on the lower deck. And if you're there for one of their mealtimes, eating on the boat is a wonderful experience.

As for Lake Geneva, the local Swiss experts on this board have all that info. We've toured the local cheese factory near there (Gruyeres) and the castle, but have not stayed in Montreux. If you do stay there and still need to fly out of Zurich, it's still doable to get a hotel near the airport the night before you'd leave.

You will find the Swiss trains very comfortable and especially very much on-time.

Do you have a hotel in mind for Lugano? We will be staying there for just one night this summer. I'm looking at the Walter au lac. Haven't decided for sure yet.

Happy travels!

kopp is offline  
Jan 4th, 2006, 10:50 AM
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schuler, thanks a lot for your suggestion. If we do visit lucerne as a stop, staying at weggis is an excellent suggestion.thank u
aravind is offline  
Jan 4th, 2006, 11:05 AM
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hello again kopp, thanks for the excellent suggestion regarding the boating on the lake. as far as the hotel reservation is concerned, thats a little complicated. As soon as I start finalizing the iterinery and the places and the days we will spend at each place, we need to first apply for the visas. Once the visas are approved only then will I be able to commit. So there are issues before I can start looking at hotels. That is why, I was hoping to atleast finalize the places to visit and a top level iterinery. Hopefully everything will fall in place pretty soon. Good luck with your travels and thanks a ton for your excellent suggestions.
aravind
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Jan 4th, 2006, 11:14 AM
  #13  
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Thanks swandav for those excellent links. The photos were stunning and i thoroughly enjoyed reading those reports. Thanks for sharing. As per your suggestion, I have had a hard long look at train schedules and maps. And the swiss portion is really proving to be tricky.

1. If I were to do the bernina after venice, am lookin at two stretches of 7 hour train rides. And I would have to take a break at pontresina for about 2-3 days. venice-pontresina and pontresina to grindelwald are both 7 hrs. So the time spent at pontresina would mean, I would visit just that area and the BO area and I would have to give up the lake trip and settle for pontresina instead.

2. Another decent option which I found was, First Venice, then Rome, then fly easyjet into Geneva. Three days vevey/montreaux, 4-5 days BO, bernina to pontresina 2-3 days at pontresina and fly out of milan. This would cover all the places and possibly shorter train rides except for one stretch from BO to pontresina.

Which one do you think is better? I will now start looking at these five places in detail to finalize the optimum number of days to be spent. I might have to give up on Luzern or do a day trip from BO depending on other activities. But thats for another trip. I personally am leaning towards the second option because of more variety and am atleast spending 3 days in all the places. what do you think? Please send me your suggestions.
aravind is offline  
Jan 4th, 2006, 11:35 AM
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Hi aravind,

Yes, that's a better plan, I think.

Going from Montreux to the Berner Oblerland is a great route -- if you're inclined to take the long route, use "via Zweisimmen" to get the scenic route through Gstaad.

But there's still the problem of getting from the Berner Oberland to the Bernina Express (where will you start from, Chur?). I guess if you only have one long train ride, it won't be so bad. Be sure to get some great Swiss cheeses, chocolate, bread, & yogurt for the trip!

Good luck!

s
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