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Old 07-27-2017, 05:31 PM
 
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Looking for advice from people who have been there regularly, or just generally people that feel they are good at organizing plans for a trip. My parents are both 70 (my dad walks around and hikes a good bit, my mom not quite as much but plenty to get around).

They had originally booked a land tour, that was for 11 days, hit a number of attractions and cities, and was $2,400 PP. (not including airfare). They canceled the trip, but not the airfare. So basically, they are flying into Frankfurt on October 6th (arrival), and out of Berlin on either October 23rd or 24th (can't remember which).

I am helping them in their planning of what to do with this stretch of time. They said they would prefer to see more places (so perhaps no more than 2-3 days in any one place). Highest on their list was seeing Austria (Vienna, I would think) and Switzerland (would Zurich be best to visit? Or which spot would be most impressive?). I do think variety is the spice of life though, and so I would like to help in giving them a variety of suggestions for their time. Here was a rough itinerary I developed, though I'm open to other suggestions regarding it. Here goes:

October 6-7: Arrival in Frankfurt, Seeing Frankfurt, and Mainz (for Gutenberg history)
October 8-10: Switzerland (Most impressive section of Alps, like say Matterhorn area? Zurich, or another more impressive spot?)
October 11-15: Travel Days (on either end), in addition to Italy (Milan?, Cinque Terre?, a Wine Region?, Roman Ruins? Venice (they've been)? Verona?) Some combination of all that.
October 16-17: Munich/Black Forest (Neuschwanstein?)
October 18-19: Vienna
October 20-21: Prague
October 22-23: Berlin (with possible day trip to Wittenberg for Luther history)
October 24: Home

Many might say that's overambitious, but honestly, I think they like the idea of maximizing the number and variety of places seen. However, again, if you have any additional suggestions or thoughts, I would be happy to hear them. I want to make sure I mix it up. Of course, so much of what Europe is famous for IS the museums, and historic sites and areas. However, I don't necessarily want it to be two weeks of just that, or the same type of place. That's why mixing in a few days in the middle on the Mediterranean seemed appealing. Brussels is an option too, but a bit further out of the way in the wrong direction, and they have seen London, Paris, etc. before. I want to give them a good mix up of bigger and smaller cities (towns, even), historic sites, but also modern Europe innovation, technology, experiences, life, natural scenery (preferably even distinctive from what can be found in America), etc.

Final question, I would assume they would generally want to take bus or train around, but they are budget minded and want to do things cost effectively. So, is there any type of Europe Train or Bus card they could purchase since they are going to be traveling in bulk, that would allow them to reduce some of those expenditures? Any advice regarding this would be appreciated!
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Old 07-27-2017, 09:41 PM
 
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1. Zurich is not the Alps, it's a big city in the hilly part. A nice city, but still a city. And a Swiss city- efficient and unexciting. Zermatt is well worth the trouble to get there (slow cog train at the end). Grindewald is not quite as nice but easier to access.

2. Munich is a large city well worth visiting (unlike, for example, Frankfurt.) Neuschwanstein is near but not very near, maybe a day trip.

3. I would say Salzburg rather than Vienna. I quite liked Prague. In Berlin don't expect to see anything left of the wall unless you make a special trip to the small bits still preserved.

4. Getting farther down into Italy than the Italian lakes will consume a fair amount of time. Nothing in Italy is efficient. Worst case you could lose a day because the trains are soppresso.

You don't talk about transport. Moving from one place to another takes most of a day. If it's a day in a car there may well be sightseeing along the way. BUT a 70 year old might not be able to rent a car.
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Old 07-27-2017, 10:56 PM
 
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This is how I did in my trip.

Flight to Frankfurt

Driving to Heidelberg, Strasbourg

Then Bern, Interlaken and Grindelwald for 2 days

Lucern, Zurich

Innsbruck, Salzburg

Salkammergut area ( St Wolfgang, Hallstatt)

Return the car in Munich.
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Old 07-28-2017, 07:05 AM
 
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Thanks guys! Yeah I would be curious on how transit runs between all those places (bus and train), and whether a rental car would be more economical (or comparable and more convenient, at least part of the time) they are in very good shape, so driving wouldn't be much of a problem. However I also wasn't sure on rental car policy about going between countries.
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Old 07-28-2017, 07:09 AM
 
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Out of curiosity, what did you like better about Salzburg than Vienna?

Re: Berlin, I get that, having been there somewhat recently, but I don't think that's such a bad thing. When I travel, I want to see a variety, and Berlin seems to have more modern architecture, conveniences, technology but yet feels very distinct from an American city. Very progressive design there IMO, beautiful park spaces. Definitely not a Historic center like Tallinn, but honestly I was glad to see two different places like Berlin and Tallinn rather than see 2 identical historic towns. Not knocking history at all as it is great, but generally the more variety, the better, at least IMO.
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Old 07-28-2017, 10:45 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cavsfan137 View Post
Thanks guys! Yeah I would be curious on how transit runs between all those places (bus and train), and whether a rental car would be more economical (or comparable and more convenient, at least part of the time) they are in very good shape, so driving wouldn't be much of a problem. However I also wasn't sure on rental car policy about going between countries.
Driving is very easy but make sure you have GPS. My rental car has GPS but it is in German

I rented the car and returned it in the same country because it is cheaper. Fee for Returning in a different country is very high.

No problem crossing border. You have to pay road tax entering Switzerland but some rental cars had already paid and had the sticker.
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Old 07-28-2017, 10:53 AM
 
Location: Niceville, FL
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For train info:

https://www.seat61.com/

https://www.seat61.com/Germany-trains.htm

Germany is a great place for affordable train travel, but it's a bit complex with a mix of cheaper local/multiple stops service and more expensive inter-city express (ICE) service.

There are budget air carriers that might be cheaper than the train, but I tend to see train travel as part of the Europe experience.

For broader land-based transit option questions:

https://www.rome2rio.com/
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Old 07-28-2017, 11:44 AM
 
Location: North State (California)
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In Switzerland, I would stay in Interlaken. It is a beautiful place, & they also have a funicular to take you up to view the lakes. You can also take a day trip to Grindenwald, which, imo, is a must see. Hotels will give clients free bus passes, we found this useful, the bus took us to the funicular & also to the train station to get to Grindenwald.

Bring cash, we found many places for lunch or dinner, do not take credit cards. The only place we were able to use our credit card was at hotels. At the train station, we were not able to use out credit card at the ticket booth, as at that time, we did not have a chip card, so we had to buy them from the ticket desk. As I had out itinerary planned for the entire week, we were able to buy the entire amount of tickets at one time, using the human ticket office. We used the train & the bus to get around Switzerland, we saw lots. We also took the train to get us to Geneva airport to fly home. Age can be an issue for car hire, but I would recommend trains any time.
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Old 07-28-2017, 11:56 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evening sun View Post
In Switzerland, I would stay in Interlaken. It is a beautiful place, & they also have a funicular to take you up to view the lakes. You can also take a day trip to Grindenwald, which, imo, is a must see. Hotels will give clients free bus passes, we found this useful, the bus took us to the funicular & also to the train station to get to Grindenwald.

Bring cash, we found many places for lunch or dinner, do not take credit cards. The only place we were able to use our credit card was at hotels. At the train station, we were not able to use out credit card at the ticket booth, as at that time, we did not have a chip card, so we had to buy them from the ticket desk. As I had out itinerary planned for the entire week, we were able to buy the entire amount of tickets at one time, using the human ticket office. We used the train & the bus to get around Switzerland, we saw lots. We also took the train to get us to Geneva airport to fly home. Age can be an issue for car hire, but I would recommend trains any time.
Grindelwald is a must. The scenery is out of this world.
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Old 07-28-2017, 02:43 PM
 
Location: North State (California)
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Also, if they decide to do a train trip, you can find hotels within walking distance of the train stations (bahn hof) This saved us taxi fares, although in one or two places we did have to take a taxi. Of course we only had one wheel carry on each, so that helped. Packing light is a must for train or bus travel. I washed undies every night.
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