My wife and I are in our early 30s and are looking forward to travelling to Europe in late June 2009. I would appreciate your input on our itinerary and the questions posed below:
Day 2: Arrive around 2:00 p.m. local time on Day 2.
Check in at Hotel Al Ponte Moncenigo and fight jetlag to try to stay awake until bedtime!
Day 3: Spend day exploring Venice.
Day 4: More Venice sightseeing. Take night train from Venice to Salzburg (with one train change, I think).
Day 5: Train arrives in Salzburg early morning. Leave luggage at hotel - Weisse Taube (in Old Town). Take Sound of Music tour and enjoy Salzburg sites.
Day 6: More exploring of Salzburg. (must see locations??)
Day 7: Take morning train (or possibly rental car?)to Hohenschwangau/Fussen for Neuschwanstein Castle. Take afternoon tours of 2 castles there. Sleep at Hotel Garni Schlossblick in Hohenschwangau.
Day 8: Leave early morning via train (or drive?) to Lautterbrunnen. Stay at Hotel Staubbach. Explore falls and hike.
Day 9: Weather permitting, Jungfraujoch and environs.
Day 10: Spend morning and part of afternoon in/around Interlaken, then train to Zurich. Stay near airport (Moevenpick Hotel Zurich Airport?).
Day 11: Take morning Swiss flight from Zurich to JFK. Arrive NYC 12:30 p.m. local time, same day.
What are your thoughts on this plan? We realize it's ambitious and covers a lot of ground, but we really want to pack as much as possible into our available time (with 3 kids at home, staying with grandparents).
My main questions are:
2. Is it worth taking a night train from Venice to Salzburg so we don't spend 7 hours of daylight on the train? The downside is that it will be dark and we'll miss scenery that is gorgeous (but perhaps not much different than what we'll see in Switzerland.)
3. It appears that getting from Salzburg to Neuschwanstein Castle (one day), then from Neuschwaanstin to Lautterbrunnen (next day) will require several train connections. Where do I go to book this or see what schedule options may exist? Am I better off renting a car for this portion and dropping the car off when I arrive in Interlaken area and take a train to Lautterbrunnen?
4. Venice and Salzburg are "must see" cities for us. Do you think that going all the way southwest to Lautterbrunnen and then flying out of Zurich might be too much? Can we get a "Lautterbrunnen-like Alps experience" elsewhere in Austria or Switerland and potentially fly home from Munich (in order to have a more relaxed travel schedule?)
5. The current airfare for JFK - VCE - ZRH - JFK on Swiss is $1,203 including all taxes & surcharges. Companion ticket pays taxes only. For booking 2 people, I can't find fares lower (when accounting for the availability of free companion ticket on Swiss). Does this fare seem reasonable? Should I book it now? Do you see fares declining in the next couple of months?
Thanks for your insight! These message boards are invaluable!