Hey guys !!!!! I'm a kiwi wanting to travel to Europe next year in May, I have a friend who lives in Oberglat, Zurich Switzerland, I can stay there as a base... I am wishing to travel to Italy, France, Germany etc, via train I'm thinking of purchasing a Euro Rail Global pass for about 15 days, I might be doing the trips solo.... any advice guys ??? anyone done something similar ????
any suggestions on places to check out ?!????
I was thinking of staying in Zurich for about 2 - 3 nights check Switzerland out... my friend will show me around.. then train to Italy.. do a few days there... then maybe France, Germany later ?????
Any advice would be appreciated !!!
Hey, Tane. Explore Lago de Garda by the foot of the Alps in Nothern Italy! It is really nice there in May.There are no train station there, so you need to take a bus from a town nearby. (Verona for instanse) Longside Lago de garda you find lots of cosy towns. And Besides swimming in the lake, walking in the streets and in the vineyards, you should also walk in the hills in the north of the lake. There you can find beutiful nature, views and nice little houses and chapels.
Also a perfect place to do some thinking.
I must also recomend Bern for you. (Taking train in that country is by the way a pleassure!)
[ Edit: Edited on Nov 24, 2007, at 6:36 AM by Kakemats ]
If you are thinking about the first class adult pass for 725 USD you are looking at a daily price of 49 USD. At the current exchange rate that makes it 500 EUR for the pass or 33.33 EUR per day.
In order to get what you paid for you would need to
- use the pass for journeys more expensive than 34 EUR and
- make such a journey every day.
This will be difficult if you dont go from one end of Europe to the other, so buying the pass will be a waste of money IMO.
In Italy rail prices are very low, an international ticket from Palermo to Venice is 80 EUR. Rome to Florence is 18 EUR IIRC.
Where the railpass might be worth it is Switzerland and Germany. You won't have any trouble finding trips which are 200 EUR roundtrip within Germany, but these trips are from one end to the other and take at least 2 days to make.
My suggestion is to outline an initiary of what you really want to see and then plan your trip accordingly. This way you'll save money compared to buying a railpass.
And if you got 4 weeks, you'll have enough on your platter with Switzerland and Italy alone. Adding Germany would be too much.
As for practicals of the trip to Italy, I suggest taking a flight with Tuifly from Basel to Bari. Prices for May 2008 are currently between 80 and 35 EUR. From Bari you could then make your way back to Switzerland by train.
Some regular train tickets are cheaper than the price of using your rail pass. Divide the cost of the pass by the number of days. And also keep in mind that most trains to major cities require a reservation(which can be as much as 20 euros). So it may be worth while to buy a cheaper pass (with fewer days on it) and only using it when you plan on going on really long distance rides. Just buy regular tickets for short ones. Also, if you have to connect in Italy at all, Italian trains are notoriously late. So make sure you give yourself plenty of time to connect since there is a good chance that your first train could be late and you'll miss your next train. Swiss trains are very punctual and try to get to the station as early as possible. Also keep in mind that there are buses that you can take that can be even cheaper. If you have a really long distance to travel, check out ryanair.com. Its a discount airline. Last year, I went from Frankfurt to Dublin for 40 euros. You can't even cross Germany for that much! However, they have limited routes and schedules that you have to plan around. But its definitely worth it if you can make it work.
My favorite Italian city is definitely Florence. The Uffizi Art Gallery is incredible. However, try to get with a museum tour that will make a reservation for your (many tour companies separate from the museum do tours of the museum) So you don't stand in line for 2 hours like I did. If your get there early enough, you probably won't have to wait that long in line for Acadamia (Where the statue of David is) Don't stay at the HI in Florence, its 30 minutes out of town. I hear Archi Rossi is really good. I found Venice to be very overrated. If you insist on going there, take a day trip from Florence. Its about 1 1/2 hour away and your accommodation is probably cheaper in Florence.
My favorite city in Switzerland was definitely Interlaken. It's sort of like Queenstown, NZ. It has plenty of activities to do. However, they are really expensive and the NZ dollar won't go very far. If that's something you're interested in, I'd wait until the end and spend whatever you have left there. Or else, you'll blow alot of money at the very beginning of your trip.
In Germany, my favorite city is Munich. If you go there, try to stay at the Wombat's Hostel. Its only a few blocks from the train station. There is a pub crawl in Munich called The Insomniac Tour. I definitely recommend it. There are people handing out fliers by the hostel all the time. There are also two or three other hostels on the same street. The Dachau concentration camp worth checking out. Also, the Haufbrohaus is really cool.
There are pickpockets all over the world, but after Spain, I hear the most horror stories from Italy. So watch out. If someone asks your to pick something off the ground, even if she's an old lady, don't pick it up. Probably a pickpocket. Even children can be pickpockets. Also, try to keep your valuables locked up with your own lock. I've heard of people being robbed when you had to use the hostel's lock (staff are no more trustworthy than strangers sometimes). Don't keep anything valuable in the outside pockets of your backpack or daysack. As for fellow travellers, they most often steal things like toiletries, if anything. I went backpacking through Europe for 4 months and only had my mascara stolen.
I went to Europe for 2 weeks this past July. I went with Contiki, and it was an absolute BLAST! I went to Paris, Lucerne, Switzerland, Florence, Venice, Austria, Munich and Prague. My favorite was definitely Austria. We went White water rafting and mountain biking, and we stayed in a small town called Hopfgarten. The hostel threw a "pimps and hos" party one night we were there which was soooo fun! I also enjoyed Italy purely for the food and wine. So make sure you go there!
If you want to read about my trip, my blog is at http://aprilsteinbrunner. blogspot.com
Also, if you want to check out Contiki, the website is www.contiki.com
Feel free to ask me any questions, and enjoy your trip!