Summer Europe trip

Old Mar 5th, 2013, 10:31 AM
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Summer Europe trip

We would like to do a Europe trip with our family of 4. We were thinking Toronto to London then train to Paris then maybe Switzerland and stop into Germany to see the castle and home via Zurich. I have no idea how to begin planning for a trip with these destinations. It is a trip my husband is excited about, me too, just planning is a little overwhelming. We have about 12 days. Any recommendations. Kids are 9 and 11.
thanks C
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Old Mar 5th, 2013, 10:40 AM
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12 days Toronto to Toronto, or 12 days 'on the ground'?

If 12 days total, you really only have about 9.5 days free for sightseeing - so if it was me, I'd stick to London and Paris.

If it is 12 days not counting travel time - then you could <i>maybe</i> squeeze in one more stop.
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Old Mar 5th, 2013, 11:01 AM
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You don't have time for everything you want to do. Do you like cities or countryside? Either see London and Paris or the German and Austrian countryside.

<< stop into Germany to see the castle >>

This is not like stopping into your local supermarket for a gallon of milk. You can't just stop into a country and see one thing and then pop over to Zurich for your flight home. It's like me telling you that I want to visit Winnipeg and Toronto and then pop over to Montreal to visit the botanical garden.

There are tons of castles - which one do you want to see?

Do some reading about the Romantic Road in Germany and the ice caves and salt mines in Austria.

<< I have no idea how to begin planning for a trip with these destinations >>

Get some guide books and a map (very important to have a map). Decide on what type of vacation you want and then choose a concentrated area. You only have 12 days and that's not much. Use some internet sites to determine travel time bahn.de for trains; viamichelin.com or mappy.com for car travel.

If you continue with your current plan your trip will mostly consist of seeing train stations and highways. Not my idea of fun. The longer you stay in one place the more things you will see and the cheaper the trip will be.
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Old Mar 5th, 2013, 11:03 AM
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Yup a bit rushed if you want to see much in any of those four separate places - say 3 days in London; 4 days in Paris (really less factoring out travel time and the day you are landing you may feel wiped out - at least kids might

then maybe 4 days in Switzerland then fly home from there; going to Fussen for Mad Ludwig's Neuschwanstein Castle is the outlier and if that is the only reason for going to the Munich area I would suggest sticking to three locals and flying home from Switzerland, which is only a few hour train ride from Paris now via high-speed LGV (as newest TGV trechnology trains are called) - easily done.

For London to Paris Chunnel Trains (technically called Eurostar trains) it is imperative to book really early at www.eurostar.com - a site that is easy to work and you print your own tickets - but the fares are tiered from cheapest to highest - you can save a ton by booking months early but then those cannot be changed nor refunded either- full fare or walk up fares can literally be $100 or more more!

Check out www.seat61.com for loads of great info on these online discount tickets.

As for Paris to Switzerland book similarly at www.voyages-sncf.com for deep discounts if you book very early and won't need to change.

Now once in Switzerland the wonderful Swiss Pass may be your ticket to unlimited riding of not only trains, but lake boats, city trams and buses, the iconic postal buses and even many mountain trains - and kids under 16 get a free Family Pass with the Swiss Pass the parents buy and the kids never pay a farthing for travel - always going free - even on conveyances such as aerial gondolas to mountain tops Swiss Passes normally get only a 50% reduction on.

Now to me and many the absolute highlight of Switlzerland is the Interlaken-Jungfrau Region - a fantastic region of soaring mountain peaks girdled by glaciers - you can actually wlak up to and on some glaciers (heed warning signs however) - anyway I would spend all 4 days in this wonderful area that is the dreaming Alpine Switzerland perhaps etched in your minds' eyes - toylike mountain trains; thrilling aerial cable ways; cows with bells tinking dotting the lush meadows lying under the soaring cliffs - kids will just love the whole aura and thrills.

For lots of great info on Swiss trains and passes, etc I always spotlight these IMO fine fine sites - www.swisstravelsystem.com; wwwbudgeteuropetravel.com www.ricksteves.com. A 4-consecutive-day Swiss Pass will cover all your travels from where the French train lets you off - any of several cities - whatever you find to be the cheapest from Paris (Bern, Basel, Geneva; Lausanne, etc - all easy to get to Interlaken from and will take you right to Zurich Airport when leaving.

Leave Munich and Fussen for you next trip - or cut out either London, Paris or Switzerland!

Cheers, have a great trip and you will no matter where you go.

For reasonable and dependably good accommodation in London check out www.travelodge.co.uk/ - Travelodges I believe may have rooms for 4 in a family at a good price compared to the typical London hotel - these are modern places scattered over London, some right in the heart of town - ditto for Premier Inns - similar to Travel Lodges.
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Old Mar 6th, 2013, 05:31 AM
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<< stop into Germany to see the castle >>

This is not like stopping into your local supermarket for a gallon of milk. You can't just stop into a country and see one thing and then pop over to Zurich for your flight home>

ditto to this comment.

To reach Fussen you have to go from Zurich 5 hours or so on a train to Fussen - where the 'castle' I presume you are talking about is found - and then five hours back to Zurich.

Either ditch Switzerland and head directly to Munich from Paris (can take an overnight train I believe - a different treat for kids) and base in Munich and see the castle as a day trip from there and spend time in Munich, which has some museums that kids would love.
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Old Mar 6th, 2013, 01:33 PM
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If you want to see the Castle in Germany then plan to fly home from Munich, by far the closest airport to Fussen - presumably the Neuschwanstein Castle you are thinking of - the world' most recognizable castle I'd think.
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