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Adventurous mom needs advice

I am taking my 16 yr old girl and 14 yr old boy to Europe. We stay in Geneve 2 nights (will cross lake to France), Interlaken 2 nights, then where? I am thinking Genoa b/c they want to see as many countries as possible. We will be tired I know....don't want Germany.Questions: where else is easy/cheap to go in Italy from Interlaken or nearby? dress code for girl? we are only taking backpacks - do I have to worry about safety? and what will be cheapest by train? I find the schedules/info confusing! Thanks for any help.

Posted by
28826 posts

Genova is a long way away, and not much there when you arrive. Torino has more to see but is still a long way off. Have you considered Milano, its Duomo, the roof of its Duomo, and shopping (maybe of interest to your girl?) at the original Galleria? Just 3 hours away (I've done it as a day trip from central Switzerland) and easy train connections. If you just want to check off countries its close. And with hotel etc. reservations hard to get at this time of year with no notice you have a pretty big pool of places there. Its difficult to say because we don't know what your interests or those of your girl or boy are. If 't'were me, I'd stay in Switzerland and see Lausanne, get up in the mountains (Interlaken is near the mountains but not in the mountains), get to Luzern, and go to Canton Ticino (Lugano or Locarno) for a lake swim, and a very Italian feel.

Posted by
809 posts

Where are you flying into (Geneva?) and out of? What time of year are you going? Never been but look at Annecy (France), Torino (Italy), Lyon (France) ...

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks, I am thinking of Turino. We are flying into/out of Geneva. We are going next week!! July 11-July 19th. I have hotel reservations for the first 4 nights, and tentative the last 2, but maybe would like to just wing it. I know it is high season so I am a bit apprehensive since with the kids.I am looking at a monastery stay in Genoa area?

Posted by
809 posts

Ok - so two nights booked Geneva, 2 nights Interlaken, then you jump a train (5 hours?) to Genoa. So - maybe a night in Turin or Annecy and back to Geneva?? Is there a way to go on that cable car over the alps? My feeling is after 2 days in Geneva and Interlaken you will not mind beng on the move BUT 5 hours on the train is long - do it early or late in the day perhaps (we are usually early risers). http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/destinations/france/chamonix.htm What are your kids interested in seeing? Small towns, the alps, scenic train rides. Dress code - I usually wear a skirt tee shirt and Keens on vacation and my son shorts and a tee shirt - we are pretty conservative to begin with (dress wise!)

Posted by
1986 posts

"Dont want Germany". How about Austria. reasonably close? And if you are knocking off countries- Lichtenstein, San Marino.

Posted by
13523 posts

It sounds like the kids mainly want to tick off another country on the list? Italy will work. All routes into Italy from Interlaken will pass through Milan. Before you decide on traveling further, consider that the more time you spend on trains the more it costs. However, regional trains, like the one from Milan to Varenna are very inexpensive. I believe that trip is about 6 euros. This would make a great destination; the town is very pretty and there is the lake for recreation ( swimming and kayaking). Another idea would be to get off the train in Stresa, before you reach Milan. This is another lakeside town, not as charming as Varenna but would save you both time and money in travel. There is a small hotel on one of the islands that might be fun. I looked into it for our trip last summer and it was quite inexpensive. I'm not sure how the kids would do with a monastery stay. Don't they have pretty strict rules?

Posted by
441 posts

A lady I trust a lot said Verona. We went to Milan and when we got back, she told us about Verona.

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you all so much for the input! That's great. I think perhaps we will try Stresa -- it looks lovely and not too far. Thanks again... Next I am wondering about train tickets and cost and if I shoudl get rail passes or Switz ticket or so forth. Is it really cheaper to purchase here in US too?
Thx.

Posted by
3551 posts

While I enjoy relaxing Stresa it may be alittle too retro and sleepy for your kids. Look into Annecy and Chamonix, France very close to Geneva and by train or bus a cinch. Annecy is a nice french town w/ canals and Chamonix a french mtn village to die for with view made in heaven. ck them out. trams and gondolas etc
FYI Genoa is quite industrial and Torino a big city w/ only a few features of interest for the traveler.

Posted by
6 posts

ok thank you. Annency does look lovely. We are all fans of the outdoors. My son like museums too but my daughter hates them. She is an avid violin player. Are there any places to go in Switzerland, France upper Italy that have music to see?

Posted by
31622 posts

Liz, IMHO, Stresa would be a good location, but it will depend on what type of activities you prefer. The main attraction in that area is touring the Borromeo Islands, which could take the better part of a day if you see all of them. Isola Bella has a large mansion and ornate gardens that can be toured. Have a look at This Website for further information. You could also take the Cable Cars to the top of Mt. Mottarone (the views are great if the weather is clear). Another option would be a day trip to Locarno (Switzerland) via the scenic Cento Valli railway, returning to Stresa by boat. It's a nice (albeit long) day. Locarno is a beautiful city and while there you could have a look at the Madonna del Sasso Monastery, or take the Cable Cars to Cardada for an awesome view of the area. There's also shopping of course. Don't spend too much time in the Bucherer store unless you have a LARGE budget! Although Milan is not one of my favourite spots, if you did have time for a short stay there, you might find it interesting. The Duomo is incredible (be sure to go on the roof). I'm sure your daughter would enjoy the la Rinascente department stores near the Duomo (take money!). If she likes Italian fashions, be sure to leave some room in your luggage! Good luck with your planning!

Posted by
4684 posts

Dress code for a sixteen year old - no real difference from the US. The only issue is that Catholic churches often don't like bare legs above the knee or bare shoulders.

Posted by
6 posts

Does anyone know the best way to get from Interlaken to Sestra? and then can I go to Annency from there and then to Geneva or is that too much train time? Crazy...

Posted by
28826 posts

There is a proverb which goes something along the lines of, "Give a man a fish and he will not be hungry for a day, teach a man to fish and he will not be hungry for a life-time". Liz, this is where I teach you how to fish. I hope you enjoy the lesson. First thing you need to know is that if you want to know which trains go where and when, anywhere in Europe, and connections - ask the Germans. I know you didn't want to go to Germany, I hope you don't mind going to a German rail website. So, go to http://www.bahn.co.uk and find the red input box in the upper left of the page. Type in your origin and destination stations. It autofills, so as long as you get the first few letters right you don't need to finish the word. Spelling does count, so you need to be careful. Put in the date you want, if its too far out use a similar nearer date, and the time you want to go. When the the screen comes back, if you had chosen 6am this Thursday you would see: Station/Stop Date Time Duration Chg. Products Standard fare Earlier Interlaken Ost Th, 07.07.11 dep 06:00 2:38 2 ICE, IC, EC Tariff abroad Choose return trip Stresa Th, 07.07.11 arr 08:38 Interlaken Ost Th, 07.07.11 dep 07:29 2:09 1 R, EC Tariff abroad Choose return trip Stresa Th, 07.07.11 arr 09:38 Interlaken Ost Th, 07.07.11 dep 08:00 5:20 3 ICE, IC, EC Tariff abroad Choose return trip Stresa Th, 07.07.11 arr 13:20 - - - -
and you may decide the second train, at 7:29 which arrives at 9:38 with one change. ((continued))

Posted by
28826 posts

((more fishing - we don't much room to write)) You then click on the ">" symbol and can now see the details, and can click on Intermediate Stations and see all the stops, click on the train number and see all the stops, origination point and destination so you know what to look for on the departure board at the station while you are waiting for your train. This may all seem complicated, but as long as you take it step by step it is quite straightforward. A part of a TV show done by Rick Steves is available on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moLGxdId9uU . While a little dated it has valuable insights. While the German Deutsche Bahn has the best timetable information if you want actual running information and to purchase tickets or reservations you need the national railway of the country in which the train runs. For Switzerland it is http://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html . By doing all this stuff you can also see that the journey to Annecy takes around 5 hours and involves changing stations in Geneva, and that its about 1:30 from Geneva to Annecy. Have fun ... ....

Posted by
28826 posts

Does anyone know the best way to get from Interlaken to Sestra? and then can I go to Annency from there and then to Geneva or is that too much train time? Crazy... I just re-read the question, and remembering that the kids want to check off countries, are you intending to do the entire journey, Interlaken to Geneve via Stresa and Annency in one day? If so, and its only to check off countries, the French bit can be much easier - your initial thought of taking a boat from Geneva to France and back...

Posted by
13523 posts

I assume she means Stresa, not Sestra (Levanto). She can use your tutorial to find the route on bahn.de, or tray the Swiss site rail.ch which I find easier to use. The route from Interlaken is simple: IL to Spiez to Brig to Stresa. To get to Annency, they need to return to Geneva and take a bus from there, or leave the train from Brig at Martigny and head to Chamonix, then Annency from there. This takes a bit longer but is very scenic. Indeed, if they just want to check off Italy, they could do that by riding the lifts from Chamonix over to Italy. Liz, you 14-year old will travel for free on the Swiss trains if you buy a pass of some type and request a free family card. Probably the Half Fare card is most cost-effective You can buy this and request the Family Card here: http://www.swisstravelsystem.com/produkttexte.php?passid=6 They will ship it to you for free but you need to order 3 weeks or more in advance of your departure from the US. A pass for Switzerland will cover as far as Domodossola in Italy (going toward Stresa) and also will cover the whole route to Chamonix (but not the lifts over to Italy from there.) Google "Swiss synoptic map" to see a map of the train route in Switzerland. This should make things a bit clearer.

Posted by
31 posts

#1 As soon as you get to Interlaken, immediately get on the little local train and go up into Wengen to sleep (or at least for the day) so your kids can be high up "in" the Alps and not just looking up "at" them ~ trust me, I have kids same ages as yours that I've done Europe with! ; ) The other amazing place that my teens have loved is Fuessen and Salzburg ~ only a few hours train ride apart from each other. Yes, Fuessen is (barely) in Germany, but the Neuschwanstein castle was a crowd pleaser for both the boys and the girls and has a great place for an amazing hike above the castle that my kids still talk about!!! Then Salzburg: again, boy & girl LOVED the Sound of Music Tour all around the countryside with amazing picturesque stops including an opportunity to ride the "luge" (boblsed ~ year round!). They also loved biking along the Salzach River and the Fortress on the hill from the 1100's ~ just a real "teen pleaser" of a town! If there is not a real "need" to stay in Geneve for two nights, I'd definitely go ahead and spend your time in these other areas ~ also, you don't say how long you have in total days. Feel free to email me back with any questions, etc. ~ I am preparing now to take another group of young people over next May (4th time taking group like this ~ really fun!) Btw, good for you for taking the initiative to do something so wonderfully, amazing like this for your two kids ~ you're right, you ARE an adventurous mom ~ I am too ~ glad to have you in the club! ; )

Posted by
31 posts

I always used the trains ~ more hassle free ~ and you can just relax and enjoy the view, play card games with the kids, eat treats . . . we loved the train rides ~ kinda used them as rest/down time. Have a blast!!