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Suggestions, help, Switzerland, Germany & Amsterdam


Jan 2nd, 2014, 09:36 AM
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Suggestions, help, Switzerland, Germany & Amsterdam

My Husband & I have planned a 17 day Europe trip for our 40th Anniversary in May 2014.

Would appreciate oppions/suggestions on the follow itinerary:
Arrive in Zurich May 13 early AM, plan is to spend that day & night in Zurich.
May 14- head to Lauterbrunnen for 3 nights
May 17- head to Zermatt for 2 nights
May 19- head to Montreux for 2 nights
May 21- head to Basel for 1 night
May 22 - head to Bacharach for 3 nights
May 25- head to Haarlem for 5 nights.

How does this plan seem??? We are not big museum people, will do some, but mostly walking, hopefully get to see th Matterhorn & the Schlithorn.

All of this will be done by train,when I entered this into the rail helper it said to get a 4 day Swiss Pass, I am a little confused by that since we will actually have 9 days in Switzerland.

Still working on the legistics of getting to Germany & then on to Haarlem.

How can you find out which train station to book to?? There seems to be so many in most areas, need a book for dumbies on this...LOL

The Shopper
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Jan 2nd, 2014, 10:02 AM
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All of this will be done by train,when I entered this into the rail helper it said to get a 4 day Swiss Pass, I am a little confused by that since we will actually have 9 days in Switzerland.>

You are talking I guess about a 4-day Swiss flexipass which can be used for 4 days of unlimited travel over a one-month max period and in between those 4 days you get 50% off just about everything that moves in Switzerland - once you use the last 100% travel day your pass ends so you must keep the last 100% travel day for your last day - to get to Basel for trains to Germany.

But a 4-day flexipass is almost never as good a deal as a 3-day flexipass or an 8-consecutive-day pass could be even better for you - much cheaper per day of unlimited trains, buses, boats and also entry to 470 Swiss museums - passes cover all that.

So you should consider either a 3-day Swiss Flexipass (Saver) or an 8-consecutive-day pass - in any case you are traveling enough to make the pass a great deal.

For lots of great info on Swiss trains and passes I always spotlight these IMO superb sites for 'dumbies like you' - www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.seat61.com and www.ricksteves.com.
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Jan 2nd, 2014, 12:00 PM
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If your main purpose for going to Zermatt is to see the Matterhorn then you do not need two nights there. You can easily see it in a day and then go on to Montreux by rail.

The purpose of going to Basel is? And for that matter I assume Zurich is simply a stopover after a flight but be aware that you will have an entire day there if that is the case. Lots of museums amongst other things but if you aren't "into museums" or church viewing why not simply take the train to Lauterbrunnen that same day?

You plan to do what in Bachrach for three nights????
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Jan 2nd, 2014, 12:14 PM
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HI Dukey1,
Yes Zurich is where we fly into & after an overnight flight from Canada we know we will be tired & will want to have a bit of a sleep. We know our limits after a trans atlantic flight from going to Portugal. We have considered going straight to either Luzern or Lauterbrunnen, that is part of my reason for looking for help suggestions.

I think we are firm on 2 nights in Zermatt, since we don't know what time we will arrive it may be rushed to go to the Matterhorn & what if the day we plan the weather is not good so I think we will stay at 2 days.

Basel is to see a friend & to head into Germany.

Bacharach our thoughts are travelling around to different area's, Mainz, Koblenz, doing the Rhine cruise. Even with 3 days will loss part of the day in travel so it is really 2 1/2 days.

Is this make my questions a little clearer?

Thanks for you input.

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Jan 2nd, 2014, 01:24 PM
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Consider Cochem on the nearby Mosel as an attractive alternative to nice Bacharach - Cochem is even cuter and the Mosel infinitely more gorgeous than the Rhine IMO - the 'Fagther Rhine' is a very busy river with trains and busy highways along each bank - the Mosel sees the isolated quiet barge but runs in a deep gorge often covered with vineyards.

Cochem also has the castle of your dreams popping out of a vineyard-carpeted hill near the town center - it is also a wine town with its own Mosel winery right in town to tour and learn about these much appreciated white wines.

Cochem is 20 minutes by train from Koblenz and the Rhine and thus is an easy base from which to hop to the best of the Rhine - take a train in about an hour to Rudesheim then take the KD boats thru the prettiest part of the Rhine - the Rhine gorge with the Lorelei cliff - to Koblenz.

Cochem is also very close to Burg Eltz, one of Germany's most famous castles and one of the few, along with Marksburg on the Rhine, that were not laid to ruins by marauders like Napoleon throughout the ages. (Take a train to Moselkern then taxi, minibus or walk two miles to Burg Eltz - a nice scneic stroll though uphill thru forests.

Cochem is full of family-run guesthouses and hotels with cozy down comforters and huge breakfasts - to me the nicest of any city on the Rhine or Mosel - though there are many really neat towns.

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Jan 2nd, 2014, 01:26 PM
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Go directly from ZRH (airport train station) to Lucerne, a much nicer place for relaxing after an overnight flight than Zurich and only about 1hr more by train.

The Schilthorn is nothing to admire, but I suppose you mean the real mountains just in front of it (Eiger, Moench, Jungfrau, etc.)

Zermatt is a hiking paradise, stay 2 full days there. But be aware that the snow limit will be somewhere between 1800 and 2200 metres in May, usually a bit higher around Zermatt than around Lauterbrunnen. Weather is always unpredictable in the Alps.

Lauterbrunnen - Zermatt, Zermatt - Montreux, Montreux - Basle are all short train rides of less than 3 hrs. Trains every 30 to 60 min.

Bacharach, about 45 min by train from both, Mainz and Koblenz, could be a good choice for the visit of the Middle Rhine - Mosel area
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Jan 2nd, 2014, 03:15 PM
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The Schilthorn is nothing to admire>

I have been there three times and always am awed by the place - a spit of rock out in the middle of nowhere - 360 degree views all around and of course the Piz Gloria as seen in James Bond's On Her Majesty's Service - filmed here when the famous revolving restaurant was being built and to me the cable car ride from Murren is stupendous - one of the longest in the Alps.

If an inveterate hiker you can hike back down to Murren but IME the initial descent off the Schilthorn is rather dicey - at least for those with no special gear - after that it's a piece of cake but going down is not as easy as one may think due to the constant braking required.

Most folks head to the Jungffraujoch train which is great too - well the train itself is mainly in a tunnel but the Top of the World scenes - as they call it - is stupendous with a nifty view over the Aletsch Glacier that descend from the Jungfraujoch area miles down to the Rhone Valley -and you can walk to a glacier.

Both Schilthorn and Jungffruajoch offer extensive ice grottos - man-made ice caves to explore.

Schilthorn however is a small area you are confined to - again on top of an outcropping of rock with a platform - no roving around here.

Do both if you can (and can afford it!).
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Jan 2nd, 2014, 04:05 PM
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Suggestions, help, Switzerland, Germany & Amsterdam
Posted by: theshopper on Jan 2, 14 at 12:36pm Posted in: Europe Tagged: Germany , Netherlands , Switzerland
My Husband & I have planned a 17 day Europe trip for our 40th Anniversary in May 2014.

There are many choices for sleep in Haarlem - hotels, hostel, B&Bs, or even "Zimmer Frei" places in Zandvoort. What is your budget? Rent a bike and pedal to Keukenhof, http://tinyurl.com/5nwqzp. You are going at the perfect time.

Most of the international trains to Amsterdam now go through Schiphol rather than Haarlem. I suggest that you make a connection in The Hague or Leiden for Haarlem rather than connect in Amsterdam. Amsterdam Centraal Station is a den of pickpockets and street druggists. Although well patrolled I would avoid it if you are walking about with your luggage looking for your next train. Stations in NL have elevators.
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Jan 2nd, 2014, 10:58 PM
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Hi theshopper,

I actually think that you have too many stops in too few days. Remember that each time you move bases, you lose about half a day of "outside" time due to the chores of packing up and checking out, then checking in and unpacking. In addition, when you schedule "2 nights" in a place, you only have one full day there -- arrival afternoon and first night, one full day and second night, then departure day.

Also, I don't think that 2 nights (one full day) in Zermatt is enough. Seeing the Matterhorn depends on having clear weather, which is not a certain thing in the Alps. The longer you stay there, the better chance you'll have for clear weather.

I also think that 2 nights isn't enough in Montreux -- what are your plans for that one full day you have?

I would just bit the bullet and charge forward on your arrival day. Chalk it up to a travel day and get to the destination you want to be in. Then, I would eliminate at least one destination. If you want two mountain destinations, eliminate Montreux and stay at Zermatt and Lauterbrunnen for four nights each. If you can be happy with one mountain destination, eliminate either Zermatt or Lauterbrunnen and stay at the other one and Montreux for four nights each.

Since it's May, it won't be wonderful in a mountain destination like Zermatt, so I think I would choose to stay at Lauterbrunnen and at Montreux. Do you know that the Swiss call May "mud month" due to the rains and the melting snow? For that reason, I would spend more time in the rolling hills rather than the peaks.

Have fun as you plan!

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Jan 3rd, 2014, 09:51 AM
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Thanks for all the replies, this will be very helpful as we try to finalize our trip this weekend.

Watch for more questions.

Thanks The Shopper
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