Usually I write trip reports about restaurants and hotels, but decided to post something here too because I wanted to say a big THANK YOU to everyone on this forum. I could not have pulled off our trip throughout Europe without you all!
We traveled from Paris to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Salzburg, Salzburg to Venice, Venice to Florence, Florence to Lucerne, Lucerne to Paris - all by train and all by pre-booking tickets on each country's rail website in advance. And amazingly it all worked! :-)
A few thoughts:
1. We loved traveling by train; it was quick, easy and relaxing
2. We took food & wine on all rides longer than 2 hours and enjoyed it very much. We read, watched movies on our iPad and watched the scenery go by.
3. The trip from Salzburg to Venice was through the Brenner Pass and absolutely gorgeous - we ate in the dining car which was lots of fun. The only downside to that trip was that we had booked 1st class tickets, but that meant sharing a 6 person "room" with other folks and the train was crowded. We ended up with two elderly women and their little dog - it was ok, but not what I had expected (hence the reason we spent so much time in the dining car)
4. We found that by pre-booking, we could get 1st class tickets for only 9-10 euros per person. It was worth it when we did. My husband is a big guy - 6'2 and broad shouldered. The extra seat & leg room were well worth it for the longer trips.
5. The Milan train station is a crazy busy and crowded - especially on a Friday afternoon. If you're getting on a train and someone offers to "help" you with your luggage, they may take it and take it all the way to your seat and then expect a "tip" (we didn't tip since we never asked for his help - he just helped himself to my suitcase)
6. We paid for "seat reservations" on all trains; we liked knowing that we were sitting together and not scrambling for a seat
7. Pack LIGHT! There isn't always room for everyone's luggage and those people who haul 2-3 jumbo sized suitcases sometimes just left them in the middle of the aisle because there was nowhere to put them. We traveled with 2 carry-on sized suitcases and 1 backpack for the two of us and it was quite manageable. Make use of the space between the backs of the seats - it's perfect for 2 small suitcases.
Thanks again for everyone's help - we had an awesome trip!