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If 11 days is deemed too much, you could skip Florence or -- well -- Budapest... (I mean Geneva-Venice and Vienna-Belgrade could be made in one day [or better one night] and with one train, but combining other sections would take a lot of time.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jul 26th, 2006 at 05:26:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks a million!  We're probably looking at 2 to 3 weeks for this.

The standard of the trains doesn't bother us.  Actually about 13 years ago I was in Russia with on a school trip.  We were to travel overnight from Moscow to St Petersburg on the Red Arrow...out of 90 of us about 12 of us ended up in carriage where the compartments had 2 beds/seats in each...a little table...quite comfortable really.  The next morning after a lovely comfortable sleep we got off and discovered that the rest of the group who were spread over a number of carriages were sleeping in cramped 4 bunk compartments...oops!

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. Oscar Wilde

by Sam on Wed Jul 26th, 2006 at 06:30:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
13 years ago, that is in 1993? I hate to expound on this, but due to minimal maintenance, cleaning and new purchases (which are all budget-related), and due to vandals (which has reasons in the change of society), quality decreased quite a bit in Southeast Europe. (While as far as I know -- never travelled in one, just saw them at stations -- Soviet/Russian long-distance trains were always a class of their own, old technology and all but at least spacious, and soft seats.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jul 26th, 2006 at 07:08:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Russian train journey story was just a 'walk down memory lane'...I wouldn't expect anything over there to be even vaguely what it was like back then.

It is a pity though that trains in general have been 'forgotten' about.  You see so much more of a country that way...

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. Oscar Wilde

by Sam on Wed Jul 26th, 2006 at 08:11:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, if it will be three weeks, you could plan some stops in the Alps on both crossings, say in Brig (Swiss end of the Simplon tunnel, you could go by narrow-gauge train to mount Matterhorn, many other spectacles nearby) and Villach (Austria). Also, what about Lyon and Milan. (Though for me, such a trip would start looking like an American "do Europe", I'd rather stay two-three days everywhere...)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jul 26th, 2006 at 07:15:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some of the stays will be a bit short, but that's ok: we can go back later.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jul 26th, 2006 at 07:46:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
MIlan is the perfect place for a "american do europe" attitude.
You need 1/2h for the Galleria (espresso or gelato included), 1/2 h for the Duomo, and you are back to the station by foot in what? 1/4h?, getting the next train.

Trust me: You don't need to stop a single second more. the other attractions are models (you are traveling with your mate) and expensive shops (the stuff can be brought everywhere else in Europe main cities).

I always bitch why foreign tourists need to stop in Milan, when small cities (VErona for naming one) are already more interesting, and a big one like Turin should be head and shoulder above Milan for any tourist in his right mind.

Airport Logistics, I presume. So if you are not bund to it, don't make the mistake: stop over night in Turin, and look at Milan en passant on the way to Venice or  Florence.
From Geneva, it is a little bit difficult maybe, but from Lyon, Turin makes perfect sense.

La répartie est dans l'escalier. Elle revient de suite.

by lacordaire on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 06:19:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My mother recently spent a long weekend in Milan and loved it, and she's not the kind to spend time in the galleria, the duomo, or shopping. I have to ask her what she did, she was quite happy about the trip.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 06:22:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe your mother would have loved Turin more?
You know, the italian way of-life is always a pleasure for everyone on holiday, but the Italian way-of-life + a beautiful place + some historic places is a better deal...

La répartie est dans l'escalier. Elle revient de suite.
by lacordaire on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 06:32:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok, to be fair, the Duomo is really mind-blowing.
in the top three of the to-see list of european cathedrals maybe.
BUt it fits perfectly in a short-city-sighting-after-a-work-related-meeting. So wait for a fair in Milan for seeing it, it'll be just fair.

La répartie est dans l'escalier. Elle revient de suite.
by lacordaire on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 06:29:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Really?

I was never in Milan, so like Migeru, I went by the general good impression of acquitances who recently spent almost a week there.

In Northern Italy, places I have been to and liked: Verona, Valeggio (just a small town with a Germanic castle nearby, somehow lovely), Udine (visited in winter when the air was clear and all the Alps visible, while there it was moderately warm and one could stroll along canals), of course Trieste, Venice and Florence, Pisa, and top favourites Siena, San Marino (well technically not Italy) and nearby sleepy mountain town with castle, San Leo. But Sicily has some much more beautiful towns than those I have seen here.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 06:51:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Florence, Pisa, Siena and you forget Arezzo?

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 07:03:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was in Arezzo, but all I remember is strolling on dark and steep streets full of dog shit with some crumbling houses alongside -- it was a short midday stop to move and eat, so quite possibly not the centre of town...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 07:16:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And Lucca, and Pistoia...

I don't quite like museums all that much, so when I was in Florence I enjoyed taking trains all over Tuscany more than visiting Gli Uffizi.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 07:25:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a well-preserved Roman amphitheatre, for instance.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 07:27:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The overnight from Moscow to St. Petersburg in the sleeping cabins is nice, fun, even.  

I did the return trip in a non-sleeping-cabin car (dozens of crammed seats, blaring polka music -which made me spend hours musing about the linguistic similarity between "polka" and "plokho"- and dozens of unwashed people hawking dried fish and cigarettes.  And the person sitting next to me had stomache flu.)  Nightmare.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Wed Jul 26th, 2006 at 08:32:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think we'll skip Budapest.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jul 26th, 2006 at 07:48:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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