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Advice - Revised Plans

Oxnard, California
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Advice - Revised Plans

I have posted over the past month regarding my first visit to Switzerland. I continue to read posts and am really becoming armed with some great information. Thanks to everyone who is helping many of us first-time visitors!!

An old friend of mine is strongly recommending that I incorporate Salzburg into my plans. Thus far, my plans were to arrive in Zurich, spend one or two nights there, and the rest of my itinerary was going to be: 3 nights Lucerne, 4 nights Wengen, and possibly 1 or 2 nights in Bern and/or Murten. I might go ahead and stretch my vacation from about 12 days to 14, but here is what I'm thinking I might want to do:

Fly into Zurich, spend 2 nights. Take the train to Salzburg and spend 3 days/nights there. After seeing pictures of Hallstett, I am convinced I would love it there. Would it be best to do this as a full-day excursion from Salzburg, or should I spend a night or two here as well? (I know this is a personal choice issue for many, and for me...I'm trying to weigh the time constraints with the fact that I love isolated places...and Hallstett looks like just the place I would fall in love with easily.) I want to see Salzburg largely for the history and "old world" feel, and Hallstett for the scenery and seclusion. Anyway, after Salzburg, I would take the train back to Zurich. I know the train ride from Salzburg to Zurich is anywhere from 5 to 7 hours long, so I would probably stay put in Zurich that night. The next day I would take the train to Wengen, spending four days/nights there. Finally, I would take the train to Lucerne for 3 nights. On my day of departure I would take the train straight to the Zurich Airport for my flight home.

My question is - is this probably the best and most time-efficient way to do this trip? Perhaps I should do the locations in a different order and sequence? I've been reading that the Half Fare card is probably still the way to go even when travelling both countries. I've also been checking the Switzerland and Austria rail sites for train schedules, so I'm getting a fairly good feel for the options. I'm always looking for other options though...ones that I may have missed in my research.

I'll be taking this trip the last two weeks of September, and I'm already getting excited!

Garmisch-Partenkirch...
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1. Re: Advice - Revised Plans

Hi,

If you really want to do this, you should fly open-jaw into Munich, do the Salzburg stuff, then take the train toZurich/ Wengen.

Flying open-jaw is not that much more expensive than regular round-trip, maybe $30 or so (if that). You can find them under the "multiple destinations" or "other options" type of tags on airlines' sites.

Good luck.

s

Oxnard, California
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2. Re: Advice - Revised Plans

Thanks! I had thought about this, as it does seem like a lot of back and forth when basing everything from Zurich. I've been told, however, that Salzburg is extremely beautiful compared to Zurich, and that I really should try to fit it in, even if it means extending my vacation. I think I might be able to do this. I figured 3 or 4 days in each location will be just the right amount of time for me, and the train rides will be quite an experience for me as well since it's my first time there.

Escondido...
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3. Re: Advice - Revised Plans

Jam,

I have been to Salzburg, Wengen and Zurich. My family and I thought Zurich was nice, but not a lot to see. (pretty) I loved wengen! You have to take a cogwheel train to grt there. Totally beautiful!! Salzburg is a neat town too. We stayed two nights and we got a good feel for the town. I would recommend staying in Hallstatt if you could. It is not far from Salzburg, but they have a salt mine tour that I hear is good and some great hiking in the area. Also they have the lake, ice caves, and the bone chapel. Have you checked out Rick Steves' guide books? My husband and I use his books and have taken his best of europe trip. He has a great website too. I am going to Germany, Austria and Switzerland in early October this year. I want to stay in Hallstatt, but will do a day trip because we have a timeshare in St. Johann In Pongau. Have a great trip!

Darla

Oxnard, California
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4. Re: Advice - Revised Plans

Thank you Parris for your helpful comments. I have in fact read Rick Steves' guidebooks. They too have been quite helpful. Hallstett looks absolutely "storybook" picture perfect from all the pictures I've seen. I'm also told that Salzburg is a must-see if I'm even close to the area.

I'm leaning toward flying into Munich and back home from Zurich. My one question is which railpass might be the best to obtain? I thought the Half Fare card was only available for purchase in Switzerland. If that's the case, I won't be getting into Zurich until after my first 3-4 days and will have already travelled from Munich to Salzburg, into Hallstett, etc. I'm really not going to fret too much about the railpasses, but was wondering if maybe there were other options. (I know there is also a Switzerland-Austria pass as well.)

Escondido...
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5. Re: Advice - Revised Plans

Jam,

I don't know much about rail passes. I have always driven a leased car, or have used point to point tickets. I think every country has thier own deal. If you travel 21 days or more, it is cheaper to do a lease deal on a car. That's what I did when we went in 2004.

The trains are great in Europe and fairly easy to use. If this is your first trip to Europe, I would recommend not having too many 1-2 night stays. It is more relaxing if you spend 2-3 nights per destination.

I was in Switzerland last October 2006 and we had rain and snow at the higher elevetions. Be prepared for some cool weather in September.

Have a great trip!

Parris

Escondido...
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6. Re: Advice - Revised Plans

Jam1961,

It's me again Parris. If you fly into Munich you should go to Octoberfest. I will be there for the last week of it. We were there last year for just a few hours, but it was a blast. The beer is really good and the enviroment is interesting. It's like a hugh fair/carnival. It may be cheaper flying into Munich also.

Were you born in 1961? I'm a 1962 girl. I just love Germany, Switzerland and Austria they are all so beautiful. You can't go wrong with any of them.

Parris

Oxnard, California
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7. Re: Advice - Revised Plans

Hi Parris. Yes, I was born in 1961. I can't believe I turn 46 this year! This will be my first trip to Europe, and I'm really excited. I historically take trips to tropical places like Hawaii, but I really want to explore other areas while I'm still fairly young. Believe it or not, what really forced me into this decision was my watching The Sound of Music around Christmas time last month. Initially I was all set to base my trip strictly in the Bavarian region of Germany and Austria. Having always dreamed of Switzerland, I started asking more questions, and everyone I know strongly recommended that I spend time there as well. Eventually I changed my mind to do the entire trip in Switzerland. This past weekend another old friend of mine highly recommended Salzburg and Hallstett. My visit will be for about 13-14 days, and I'll definitely be taking the trains between all destinations. I agree that I need to try as much as possible to do 3-4 night stays, as I'm not one who likes to be on the go constantly. Of course, since I'm going to be so far from home, and not far from some areas I really have my heart on seeing, I'll also want to balance that need for relaxation with a desire to see as much as I can within the time constraints.

Escondido...
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8. Re: Advice - Revised Plans

Jam1961,

It's funny because my husband and I went to Kauaii for two weeks every year. My daughter, kept bugging us to take them to Europe, so we did. Now all I want to do is go to Europe.

We took the kids in 2004 to London, Paris, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Austria. It was a lot to see, but it was great!

In 2005 my husband and I took a riverboat cruise in November. We flew to Prauge then took the train to Vienna, Austria. We stayed a few nights in Vienna then took the boat to Nuremburg, Germany. It was not very expensive and was wonderful seeing Europe at the holiday season. They have Christmas markets through out Europe.

2006 we did the best of Europe with Rick Steve's. It was very nice also. We were the youngest on the tour. It was great too.

Well, I've got to go for now.

Parris

New York City, New...
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9. Re: Advice - Revised Plans

Hi Jam 1961,

I think the idea of arriving in Munich (2 hours to Salzburg) and departing from Zurich is the way to go. We have been to Salzburg two times in the last six years. Salzburg definitely has an "old world" feel. It's a beautiful old town. Last Oct. we finally went to Hallstatt, as my wife and I have always wanted to go there. We took a day trip and the driving time was about 1:30 hours each way. Hallstatt, the lake and the mountains around it was stunning, just as we had hoped it would be. We only spent an afternoon there, but it was small enough to see on our limited time. I can say that about ten years ago we went to Switzerland and Wengen (and the Berner Oberland), was the highlight of our trip. We also stayed in Lucerne our last night and took the train to Zurich airport the next morning. We also always try to do three night stays, as you don't feel hurried that way. Whether you include Salzburg/Hallstatt or just see Switzerland, I really think you'll have a great time.

I agree with Parris..."Germany, Switzerland and Austria they are all so beautiful. You can't go wrong with any of them."

I'd just like to add Italy's Dolomites to that list though, as we've been to this area three times in the last five years and still can't wait to go back.

Paul

Oxnard, California
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10. Re: Advice - Revised Plans

Thank you so much, Parris and Paul!

It's great to hear everyone's points of view on the places I'll be seeing for the first time. Parris, I was just in Kauai last September, and was planning on going back again this year. Instead, I'm doing something different....and like you, I suspect I might want to keep returning to Europe more frequently. I just arrived home a little while ago and found some brochures in my mailbox, from the tourist office in Wengen! Now I'm really getting excited about that region.

It does seem to be better to fly into Munich and back home from Zurich. I didn't realize how close to Munich Salzburg was. At any rate, this is what I think my itinerary will look like:

Day 1 - Overnight flight to Munich

Days 2 and 3 - Munich

Days 4 - 6 - Salzburg (include Hallstett, either as a day trip or 1 overnight trip)

Day 7 - Train to Zurich, spend day and night

Days 8 - 12 - Wengen (Jungfrau region)

Days 13-15 - Lucerne

Day 16 - Train to Zurich Airport and flight home

This plan would involve a total of 5 train trips, not including excursions in the Jungfrau region or between Salzburg and Hallstett. (I know I change trains on a few of these journeys as well, especially when travelling to Wengen.) I know I'm forfeiting time in Zurich, as well as Bern (on my original list of places to visit), but based on everything from friends I know who have been there, I really do need to see Salzburg. I'm not forfeiting time in the Swiss Alps though.