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Need Advice - September 2007

Oxnard, California
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Need Advice - September 2007

This will be my very first trip to Europe, and I thought Munich would be a good base for me. I'm primarily interested in admiring the history, culture and the scenic beauty of the area. I was also hoping to perhaps visit Zurich, Lucerne, and maybe Salsburg. I'm wondering if visiting three countries would be too much for a 10-day visit though. I know Switzerland and Austria are small, and spending a few days in each of the areas mentioned above just seems like a good way to see the places in which I'm interested. My more specific questions are as follows:

1. Will a Eurail pass enable me to travel between Munich, Zurich, Lucerne, Salsburg (and any other smaller cities)?

2. Is September a good month to visit? I enjoy the crisp, cooler weather, and it would seem that the crowds might not be as large and it would be a more quiet experience.

3. If these locations are too much for a 10-day trip, which areas would be ideal for a first-time visitor? Keep in mind that, although I want to spend as much time in each place and to absorb the areas as much as possible, I also consider travelling by train a part of the experience as I hear the scenery is breathtaking.

4. I'm generally drawn to places that are smaller in population. I'm sure I would want to spend some time in Munich, but I doubt I would enjoy staying there my entire trip. Seeings the Alps, small villages, castles, and lakes, would be my primary goal.

This is obviously just a start for me, so any advice would be greatly appreciated. I would prefer not to drive at all, so using the Eurail pass seems like the way to go.

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Canton of Zurich, Switzerland
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1. Re: Need Advice - September 2007

1. Yes - but an Eurail pass won't make sense in this case.

Salzburg - despite in Austria - can be reached also on passes/tickets valid for Germany/Bavaria.

A good deal for Bavaria is the Bavaria Ticket. This ticket covers all local trains in Bavaria (plus to Salzburg Hbf) for 1 day. Plus nearly all other local public transport (buses and in the bigger cities trams and U-Bahn). On weekdayse however only valid past 9am.

Bavaria Ticket Single (1 person) EUR 18,00

Bavaria Ticket (2-5 persons) EUR 25,00

For Switzerland see

http://www.swisstravelsystem.ch/

2. It's the best month.

But keep in mind that the Oktoberfest in Munich lasts the 2 last weeks of September (ending on the 1st October weekend). And this is an event anything but quiet.

http://www.oktoberfest.de

3./4.

You can combine Salzburg with the Berchtesgadener Land.

http://www.berchtesgadener-land.info

(esp. Lake Koenigssee)

Garmisch/Mittenwald/Zugspitze would be another idea.

http://www.garmisch-partenkirchen.de

http://www.mittenwald.de

www.zugspitze.de/zugspitze/rundreise_en.php

Fuessen/Neuschwanstein Castle

http://www.fuessen.de

http://www.neuschwanstein.de

To give you an idea: Bavaria is roughly twice the size of Switzerland. But the Bavarian Alps are a rather small part of Bavaria. More and higher mountains in Switzerland. Also the most scenic railroads there. Switzerland is however also considerably more expensive.

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2. Re: Need Advice - September 2007

Thank you so much! Particularly helpful is the advice on a Eurail pass versus a Bavaria pass. As you can see, I have never travelled to Europe, and just assumed that a Eurail pass could be used to go virtually anywhere at anytime.

I would more than likely be going in the latter half of September, so it looks like I would be there during Oktoberfest. I can handle the festivities, and in fact it would be quite a treat. I just didn't want my entire trip to be full of crowds and big cities. A few days in Munich would be nice, and the rest of the time exploring the Alps would be my preference. I've always heard that Switzerland is quite expensive, and that Austria is a better bargain. I've also been exploring online some of the beautiful places in southern Germany, like Mittenwald. These are not as well known, but they look incredibly beautiful. I am sure I will love the experience, no matter where I go. I'll want to learn at least some basic conversational German before I go too. I know I could never be fluent in less than a year's time though.

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3. Re: Need Advice - September 2007

As you want history, culture and alpine beauty, you can not really go wrong with the places that you mentioned: Bavaria, Austria and Switzerland. I would settle on 2 of the 3 but I am a slow traveller.

You might consider flying into Zurich and out of Munich to cut your travel time if you decide on Switzerland. I remember a friend once telling me that he thought Lauterbrunnen Valley was close as he would ever get to heaven. There is something in this. I also enjoyed Lake Lucerne, having stayed at Gersau, but I had a car and am uncertain about public transport. Berne, the capital of Switzerland, is perched over the River Aare and has as pretty an oldtown as any.

Salzburg is near a beautiful mountain/lake district of its own, the Salzkammergut. Halstatt is a favorite stop on Lake Halstatt (Halstaettersee) and I understand that it can be reached by train/bus/ferry from Halstatt. Salzburg is also reasonably close to the Danube (Donau) Valley which is steeped in history and has quiet scenery much to my tastes. All of this is quite reachable from Munich by train.

Anyway you choose, you will have much to see and do. Traveling by train may require a bit more planning but the pay off is that you are better immersed in the culture that you are visiting.

Language. It is in my opinion most important to learn to be polite in a language. If you can say please and thank you (bitte and danke) with a smile, and learn a few phrases from a basic phrase book, it will get you through most situations, especially as so many people will speak English as a second language.

Regards, Gary

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4. Re: Need Advice - September 2007

Thank you again. So many things to consider. Now I'm looking at Switzerland and it looks too nice to pass up on this trip. I hate having to cram everything into a short period of time, so I might take the advice of flying into Zurich and out of Munich. I won't be doing any serious hiking, but I'll want to see as much of the Alps as I can, as well as some of the cities and quaint towns/villages. It looks like September is a non-peak time, which helps in that I don't believe I'll need reservations for everything several months in advance. Oktoberfest in Munich would be the exception of course, so I'll need to factor that in too.

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5. Re: Need Advice - September 2007

These are all great posts with good advice. As this is your first time in Europe, you may wish to go to "Brians Guide to Getting Around Germany" at gettingaroundgermany.home.att.net/verkehr.htm

Although it has through coverage on automobile travel, it also has extensive (and I mean extensive!) coverage in sections on rail travel and local transportation-- including descriptionsof the types of trains, tickets, purchasing, validation, seating, deciphering platform signage, local bus, trolley, U- and S-bahn etc.

If you are going to be in the Munich area in late September, make your room reservations early and be prepared for major price hikes during Octoberfest. Might be advisible to go to the german hotel reservation service webpage (http://www8.hrs.de ) and check to see if there are reasonable accomodations at some of the smaller towns outside the city but on the S-bahn lines. You can go on line to http://www.mvv-muenchen.de/de/home/index.html to get a map showing the S-bahn and where the stations are. It might be cheaper to purchase a multi-day pass and stay someplace like Wolfrathausen or Furstenfeldbruk and take the train in for the day.

6. Re: Need Advice - September 2007

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