Calin N

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Calin N

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Sep072012

Tour/Activity

Chamonix and Mont Blanc

Geneva, Switzerland

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

Left the “Gare Routiere” in a double-decker bus (combining tours with public transportation) a little after 8:30 AM. Got to Chamonix after 10, directly to the cable car for Aiguille du Midi, took the cable car up – around 90 minutes to explore (counting two cable cars each way). Down to the city, then walk for lunch at 12:45 (good restaurant, you pre-order on the bus: 4 options for appetizer/entrée, 3 for dessert).
At 1:45 PM walk to the railway to Montenvers, you have then there almost one hour – enough time to go (by yourself) to the Mer du Glace (the cable day-pass covers this too, plus 380 stairs each way).
Bus left back from the Chamonix rail station at 16:45; don’t be late: presumably due to the public transportation part it won’t wait for you. No extra charge for anything; on the bus there were people with very different selections – probably buying directly from the local operator (KeyTours.ch): they were offered upgrades at (presumably) lower prices. It might be worth considering this if able to better plan for it. Viator had this trip only with lunch, Expedia with/out lunch – picked Viator with a 7% coupon and it became a little less than Expedia no-lunch.
Great guide: Neil.

Sep052012

Tour/Activity

Royal Castles of Neuschwanstein and Linderhof Day Tour from Munich

Munich, Germany

My Rating
3 star rating: Worth doing

My Review

Skip until 2014! Neuschwanstein Castle is in scaffolding until late 2013, you’d miss the most interesting views! Extra payments: EUR 21 per person, cash only.
Short drive to Linderhof castle, then a guided tour (around 15 minutes) and 40 minutes to explore the outside area (great!). Drive to Oberammergrau, 40 minutes there, then drive to Neuschwanstein. Time for lunch (suggested – and parked at - the Muller Hotel – it’s good, fair prices, if outside stay further from the street – the carriage stop is nearby and horses are “free”), and you get in advance a ticket for the castle for a specific timeslot (and language) – up to you to get there in time. Expect quite some walk to the castle and back, you may take the carriage or the bus (extra $) but even then you’d still have to walk a portion. Around 16:30 head back to Munich.

Sep042012

Tour/Activity

Salzburg and Lake District Day Tour from Munich

Munich, Germany

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

A very good tour: (longer) drive to Salzburg, get there a little after 10:30 AM. A walk in the city and across the river up to Mozart’s house – free time from 11:15 AM to 1:30 PM. Mozart’s house is EUR 10 if you want to visit it, the old city is superb (no time to visit the fortress though).
At 1:30 PM walk together back to the bus and drive to St. Wolfgang – almost 3 PM, quick visit here and at 3:30 PM take a private boat to the other end of the lake (EUR 9 per person, cash only – one could stay on the bus I presume) and after 4 PM head back to Munich.
No idea why/what is this: [On Lake Wolfgangsee, there is the possibility of a boat ride to the famous White Horse Inn overlooking the lake, and a visit to the pilgrim church.]
Great guide – Fred: a little stern but knowledgeable, efficient, great English.

Sep022012

Tour/Activity

Ettal Monastery and Zugspitze Day Tour from Munich

Munich, Germany

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

Great for Zugspitze but totally misleading for the Ettal part: probably just a trick to combine two tours/groups in the same bus. We got to Ettal around 11:30, washroom break (longer since free), entered the church during mass and left after 5 minutes (this tour is only on Sundays – mass…), 5 minutes in the courtyard and then 10 minutes near a specific souvenir shop to wait for the bus (from carrying the other group to Linderhof). Then drive to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, take the cable car to Zugspitze – around 20 frantic minutes on top (great weather; the guide really too worried not to lose someone), take another cable car to the glacier (down 300 m), spend around a hour here (time for lunch), then take the cogwheel train down at 15:30 (most of the ride is in a tunnel), then at 17 take the bus back.Great for the mountain part, no extra payment, but Ettal shouldn’t be advertised.

Aug312012

Tour/Activity

Berchtesgaden and Eagle's Nest Day Tour from Munich

Munich, Germany

My Rating
3 star rating: Worth doing

My Review

Good if interested in WW II/Nazi Germany. The trip steps: a 3-hour drive to Obersalzberg, around 11:30 take the local bus+elevator to the top of Mt Kehlstein (Eagle’s Nest; EUR 16 per person, cash only), spend around 45 minutes on top (the old house is a restaurant now, you may walk around – great views, weather dependent), then at 12:30 go back to the local bus and then 3 free hours. You may go to the Obersalzberg Orientation Centre, a museum of the Nazi Germany built on top of what’s left from the WW II bunkers (EUR 3 per person, plus 2 for an English audio guide – cash only), and there is a nice restaurant nearby (cash only again). Return to Munich at 4 PM. Great guide (Bridget), good tour but probably not a top choice for most people.

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