Monday, April 11, 2011

Thoughts on Italy

I like old stuff. I like old books, old buildings, old paintings. I even took a Roman Medieval History class in college because it sounded interesting, and it wasn't even a requirement or elective. So I know that going into Italy, I'm going to want to stay and see everything. Which, of course, isn't going to be possible on this trip, but I don't want to minimize my time, either.

Switzerland (Oct. 24-30)

5/29 Update: I have deleted Zurich in favor of spending more time in the Bern Oberlander area.
6/12 Update: I found out that the Glacier Express only runs through Oct. 30, so I had to cut one day out of the Bern Oberlander stay
8/3 Update: Had to reroute my St. Moritz to Milan train

Day 39 heading out of Germany into Switzerland, I wanted to try to stop off in Liechtenstein but apparently no express trains stop there. My options:
  1. The closest nearby town is Buchs, Switzerland, and only one train out of Fussen gets there within a reasonable time, leaving at 5:51am and getting in at 10:59am with two transfers (Buchloe, Germany, and St Margrethen, Switzerland). Then I could take the 2:12pm direct to Zurich, arriving 3:30pm, or the 3:01pm-4:23pm (via Sargans).
  2. Or, I can take that same 5:51am train out of Fussen, transfer in Buchloe, and get into Zurich at 11:44am.
Not sure (yet) if it's worth nearly 5 hours. I'd lose pretty much all the daytime on my first day in Zurich if I did, and there doesn't seem to be much worth stopping for aside from postage stamps.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Munich & Bavaria (Oct. 18-23)

My friends have got me confused about Munich. One person tells me to skip it, it's nothing special and it's all about Nazi history while another says "Munich is a great city, and I'd spend as much time there as possible." Someone else tells me that I absolutely MUST go during Oktoberfest if I have the chance, while another tells me "Avoid Munich during Oktoberfest! I was there once. Never again!" And I was told that I have to do at least part of the Romantic Road. So let's see what there is to see. Arrive in Munich from Salzburg on Day 32, Oct. 18th.

Unless I drastically re-route my plans, I will not be here during Oktoberfest, which is Sept. 17 to Oct. 3 this year (that covers my days in London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen). I'd have to go from Paris to Munich to Amsterdam to catch Oktoberfest here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Vienna & Salzburg (Oct. 11-17)

Heading west into Austria out of Prague towards Munich, I have come to realize that for the first time on this trip I don't know where I want to stop (Vienna? Salzburg?) or what I want to do. I'll see what the guidebooks have to say.


5/29 Update: Not going to make Budapest on this trip.

The overnight train from Prague gets into Budapest at 8:35am on the morning of day 25. This is the furthest east in Europe that I expect to be going, but there's so much more to see east of here - Scandinavia, Poland, Moscow and St. Petersburg, the Balkans, Greece, Istanbul, even out to Israel - that'll have to wait for my next trip over (whenever that is). From here on out, it's mostly west and south til it's time to fly home.

Monday, April 4, 2011


5/29 Update: Not going to Bratislava (or Budapest, for that matter)

Going from Prague to Budapest, I can take the overnight train that leaves just after midnight and gets in at 8:35am.

Or... I could leave at the same time and get into Bratislava, Slovakia at 5:40am (or spend the night in Prague and take a 7:39am train that gets in at noon) and spend the day in Bratislava wandering around. Then, I can either stay the night or leave during the day (1:54-4:35, 3:54-6:35) to head to Budapest in 2h41m. If I stayed, the next day I'd take the 9:54am which gets into Budapest at 12:35pm.

Anyone have suggestions on whether or not to take a day or part of one in Bratislava rather than passing through it at night while I sleep?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Prague (Oct. 7-10)

Growing up in the 1970s and 80s, Soviet Russia and the Warsaw Pact were the bad guys. So the fact that some 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and Communism (mostly) in eastern Europe, countries like the Czech Republic are in NATO and are tourist attractions would have been too absurd to even consider. Yet here I am, ready to plan a trip to see Prague, and I don't even need my passport to cross a border. Just goes to show you something or other.

Departure date

So it appears that the week prior to the date I was originally planning to leave is actually more open than
I thought for frequent flier tickets. Houston to London in the fall is not exactly high season.