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1 minute ago, sandeep said:

February actually, thats why the limited agenda.  Briefly thought of staying in Lucerne - don't want to stay in Chur if I can help it, but the Bernina Express is the main part of the plan, and to get to Chur before 8:30 from Lucerne would be too hectic.  That's why looking for alternatives to Zurich/Chur for places to stay, but on the train line.  Basel would be instead of Vaduz, because my daughter may find it interesting to be at a tri-junction of France, Germany and Switzerland, but unlikely that I'll go there this time around.  Plan A is really Bernina, and then rest of the time will be flexible - either Vaduz, or Lucerne, or whatever.  Just an easy paced exploration of whatever seems convenient and 'fun' with the weather in mind.  If the mood strikes, maybe we'll go sledding or something.  Let's see.


Feb - so lots of time to think it though (I guess, you are stopping in Switzerland on your way to India). 
 

Based on your present plan - to be more efficient, skip the idea of having a base in Zurich unless you have something to do there. Otherwise it is only adding 2-3 hours of daily travel time.
 

Head straight to the Chur area for 2 nights. Do your train, Vaduz, etc. there. Then head to Luzern for the night before departure. Do Luzern on that day (Swiss hotels will have check in time b/w 12-3 pm so you can either check in or leave your luggage there). Next day check out to head to Zurich Airport from Luzern, which should be around 1 hr by train. 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, zen said:


Feb - so lots of time to think it though (I guess, you are stopping in Switzerland on your way to India). 
 

Based on your present plan - to be more efficient, skip the idea of having a base in Zurich unless you have something to do there. Otherwise it is only adding 2-3 hours of daily travel time.
 

Head straight to the Chur area for 2 nights. Do your train, Vaduz, etc. there. Then head to Luzern for the night before departure. Do Luzern on that day (Swiss hotels will have check in time b/w 12-3 pm so you can either check in or leave your luggage there). Next day check out to head to Zurich Airport from Luzern, which should be around 1 hr by train. 

 

 

Attending a Family wedding in Dubai.  

 

yeah, could stay in Chur but switching hotels during a 3 night trip isn't a first choice, but its on the table I guess.  Feb is peak season for winter holidays in Swiss, so I don't have that much time, need to lock in accommodation plans sooner rather than later if I'm going to the best options at cost effective rates. I tend to place premium on location, accessibility, transit convenience etc when it comes to places to stay, and those places obviously fill up fast, especially in peak seasons.  

 

I think just 1 night in Chur and 2 in Lucerne could work possibly, we'll see.  Since I land in ZRH late AM, I want to keep the option alive to be able to check in to my hotel, and 'finish' Vaduz on that day itself, assuming everyone's up for it.  Staying in ZRH as a base would facilitate that, and be the 'quickest' commute to Chur the next morning for the Bernina except for Chur.  Somehow staying in Chur instead of Zurich doesn't appeal to me.  Again, not solidified yet, so lets see.

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31 minutes ago, sandeep said:

Attending a Family wedding in Dubai.  

 

yeah, could stay in Chur but switching hotels during a 3 night trip isn't a first choice, but its on the table I guess.  Feb is peak season for winter holidays in Swiss, so I don't have that much time, need to lock in accommodation plans sooner rather than later if I'm going to the best options at cost effective rates. I tend to place premium on location, accessibility, transit convenience etc when it comes to places to stay, and those places obviously fill up fast, especially in peak seasons.  

 

I think just 1 night in Chur and 2 in Lucerne could work possibly, we'll see.  Since I land in ZRH late AM, I want to keep the option alive to be able to check in to my hotel, and 'finish' Vaduz on that day itself, assuming everyone's up for it.  Staying in ZRH as a base would facilitate that, and be the 'quickest' commute to Chur the next morning for the Bernina except for Chur.  Somehow staying in Chur instead of Zurich doesn't appeal to me.  Again, not solidified yet, so lets see.


Luzern old town is near the train station (walking distance). Quite a few hotels there. 

Besides the lake and Mt. Pilatus, there is an aircraft museum there as well iirc.

 

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1 hour ago, zen said:


Luzern old town is near the train station (walking distance). Quite a few hotels there. 

Besides the lake and Mt. Pilatus, there is an aircraft museum there as well iirc.

 

Yeah but it’s a 2+ hour train ride away from Chur. If I want to pick one place to stay for the 3 nights that by default becomes Zrh or Chur.  And in those 2 choices, ZRH even though more expensive becomes the better choice…. 
 

anyway, thanks for the input. Find it helpful to talk through the choices as I go about it…

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19 hours ago, sandeep said:

Yeah but it’s a 2+ hour train ride away from Chur. If I want to pick one place to stay for the 3 nights that by default becomes Zrh or Chur.  And in those 2 choices, ZRH even though more expensive becomes the better choice…. 
 

anyway, thanks for the input. Find it helpful to talk through the choices as I go about it…


As I said, Zurich is forming a triangle with Luzern & Chur where Zurich to Chur is around 1.5 hrs, Chur to Luzern (or Lucerne in French) is around 2 hours, and Luzern to Zurich is around 1 hr. Additionally, Zurich to Vaduz is around 1.5 hours. Ideally, this triangle would be for those who have something to do in Zurich (though not difficult to find something to do there like a walk along the Bahnhofstrasse, old town, Lake Zurich, etc but it could be like doing more of the same as other places would have similar attractions). 
 

Which is why I had suggested 2 nights in Chur (as good a place to stay at as any good city/town in Switzerland. There is a good spa in the area as well if I am not wrong) as you can do the train + Vaduz, which is probably like 1 hour from Chur, along with getting some time to relax.  And then go to Luzern on your way back as it is only around 1 hour away from Zurich airport. Alternatively, add something more to do in the Chur area. 

If you do Zurich to Vaduz, you are almost going near the Chur area, then coming back to Zurich (3 hrs additional travel time - to and fro just in train. Add time to go to the station and wait for the train). Next day, you are again in the same area so another 3 hours additional travel time + the other train. On the last day, Zurich to Luzern and back which is another 2 hours to and fro. 


For Zurich to work as base more efficiently, also be prepared to wake up early on almost all days in winter (sun sets early) on your vacation to catch the trains (may be also at the risk of annoying your daughter, who might ask if you have come to Switzerland to catch trains)! 

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19 hours ago, zen said:

who might ask if you have come to Switzerland to catch trains)! 

haha fair point.  On the flip side though, staying in Zurich means that I can be checking in to my hotel within 20-30 minutes of leaving the airport, as opposed to taking a 90+ minute train ride to Chur on the back of an overnight flight.  But you make a good point.  

 

I still have to solidify my plans on whether I'm doing the stopover inbound or outbound, because I just found out that the "pre-wedding events" list may increase and that might mean that I won't be able to do the trip up front.  Lets see.  

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1 hour ago, sandeep said:

haha fair point.  On the flip side though, staying in Zurich means that I can be checking in to my hotel within 20-30 minutes of leaving the airport, as opposed to taking a 90+ minute train ride to Chur on the back of an overnight flight.  But you make a good point.  

 

I still have to solidify my plans on whether I'm doing the stopover inbound or outbound, because I just found out that the "pre-wedding events" list may increase and that might mean that I won't be able to do the trip up front.  Lets see.  

 

Ask your family what they are comfortable with (and to avoid hurting your reputation as a trip planner). If the Bernina can be postponed to be integrated with a future longer trip, look for a place in Europe where you can spend 3 nights relaxing & exploring without too much to and fro travel. 

 

NA -> Europe ... Most flights would come to Europe in the morning so you would sleep on plane and usually be active once you land (as your body clock would be 6 hours EST behind. Day 2 or 3 may need additional rest) 

 

ME -> Europe ... Your plan would depend on when you land but likely to land in the morning-afternoon time frame (unless there is a long stopover somewhere) 

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1 hour ago, zen said:

 

Just ask your family what they are comfortable with (and to avoid hurting your reputation as a trip planner). If the Bernina can be postponed to be integrated with a future longer trip, look for a place in Europe where you can spend 3 nights exploring without too much to and fro travel. 

 

Yeah I’m looking for alternatives but Apart from Paris, or maybe Istanbul, not too many great stopover options. And neither of those cities will have anywhere close to optimal weather in late February anyway. At least with Switzerland, the reliable trains, and winter scenery make it worthwhile. And as a bonus for my eventual summer Swiss trip, I can stay on the Geneva, Grindelwald side if the Bernina is already “done”. 
 

got any suggestions that make sense for 2-3 days in late February?

Edited by sandeep
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13 minutes ago, sandeep said:

Yeah I’m looking for alternatives but Apart from Paris, or maybe Istanbul, not too many great stopover options. And neither of those cities will have anywhere close to optimal weather in late February anyway. At least with Switzerland, the reliable trains, and winter scenery make it worthwhile. And as a bonus for my eventual summer Swiss trip, I can stay on the Geneva, Grindelwald side if the Bernina is already “done”. 
 

got any suggestions that make sense for 2-3 days in late February?

 

First thing you would need to do is plan for your tickets, where you have two options: 

 

a) 1 sector NA-Eur & Eur-NA, then squeeze in b/w 2 sector Eur-DXB & DXB-Eur, where Eur is the place you would have your return to NA from

b) NA-Eur -> Eur-DXB -> DXB-NA ... or NA-DXB -> DXB-Eur -> Eur-NA (depending on if you go to Europe first or second) 

 

To get the most out of a short trip, you want to minimize to & fro travel, and therefore look at destination with direct flights as much as possible. 

 

Considering the above, I see the following options: 

 

a) Bernina (since you have an emotional connection to it) 

  • Here, you just need to stay at Chur for 1-2 nights as you can cover your travel to Chur & Vaduz on day 1. Next day, you can be relaxed with just needing to be on the Berina at Chur. 
  • Next consideration here is if you want to stay at Chur (go to spa, explore the area, etc.) on 2nd night or head to Luzern (Lucerne in French) or Zurich, which can be done for night 3 too

b) Interlaken (best option if landing in Zurich as 3 nights is good enough here. And you can use your next trip to land in Geneva to do Chamonix-Annecy-Lyon-etc.)

  • Explore Interlaken on day 1
  • Go to either Jungfraujoch or Piz Gloria on day 2 (if not both). This includes scenic train rides as well 
  • Day 3 - Relax, explore Bern (can stay for 2-3 nights in Bern, which is less than an hour from Interlaken, too if hotel options are attractive) or head back to Zurich 

c) Other destinations (ideally with an airport to catch flight without additional travel) 

  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Rome is usually good throughout the year. Lots to explore esp. if into history 
  • Milan + Venice (though may need more days)
  • Prague 
  • Vienna-Budapest area
  • Munich-Salzburg area 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 minutes ago, zen said:

Other destinations (ideally with an airport to catch flight without additional travel) 

  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Rome is usually good throughout the year. Lots to explore esp. if into history 
  • Milan + Venice (though may need more days)
  • Prague 
  • Vienna-Budapest area
  • Munich-Salzburg area 

 

Rome, I don't want to do with a short fly-by, because I'm a history buff and I'll take my time when I finally get there.  Prague, Munich, Vienna etc aren't going to be too exciting for my 7 yr old, especially in cold weather.  Apart from ZRH-Bernina, my short list as of now is Paris, Istanbul, Lisbon - maybe Barcelona? but that is unlikely to line up as a cheap/"Free" stopover - i.e. I'm trying to plan the stopover in such a way that my flight ticket cost increase is minimal or ideally cheaper than just going to Dubai and back.  

 

Most likely I'll stick to Zurich/Chur and Bernina, with Paris/Istanbul being alternates.  Just need to wait for the family folks to finalize the wedding dates etc so that I know when I absolutely need to be in DXB.  

 

 

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27 minutes ago, sandeep said:

 

Rome, I don't want to do with a short fly-by, because I'm a history buff and I'll take my time when I finally get there.  Prague, Munich, Vienna etc aren't going to be too exciting for my 7 yr old, especially in cold weather.  Apart from ZRH-Bernina, my short list as of now is Paris, Istanbul, Lisbon - maybe Barcelona? but that is unlikely to line up as a cheap/"Free" stopover - i.e. I'm trying to plan the stopover in such a way that my flight ticket cost increase is minimal or ideally cheaper than just going to Dubai and back.  

 

Most likely I'll stick to Zurich/Chur and Bernina, with Paris/Istanbul being alternates.  Just need to wait for the family folks to finalize the wedding dates etc so that I know when I absolutely need to be in DXB.  

 

 


If you are looking for value flights - Paris (most flights into Europe), Amsterdam (closer to NA + a large number of flights), Reykjavík (tends to offer good deals), Lisbon (can get good deals), etc. can be good options to consider.

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37 minutes ago, sandeep said:

 

Rome, I don't want to do with a short fly-by, because I'm a history buff and I'll take my time when I finally get there.  Prague, Munich, Vienna etc aren't going to be too exciting for my 7 yr old, especially in cold weather.  Apart from ZRH-Bernina, my short list as of now is Paris, Istanbul, Lisbon - maybe Barcelona? but that is unlikely to line up as a cheap/"Free" stopover - i.e. I'm trying to plan the stopover in such a way that my flight ticket cost increase is minimal or ideally cheaper than just going to Dubai and back.  

 

Most likely I'll stick to Zurich/Chur and Bernina, with Paris/Istanbul being alternates.  Just need to wait for the family folks to finalize the wedding dates etc so that I know when I absolutely need to be in DXB.  

 

 

Been to Paris (3) and Barcelona (3) in 2018. There is a lot to do for history buffs in Barcelona, went in April, temp was in 60s. Lotsa Pakistani grocery shops in Barcelona.  
 

Was planning a Greece trip in Dec, but decided against as I learnt it will be cold (60s) and most properties don’t have heaters. We are pampered in NA with ACs and heaters. EU (eastern) is more old world. Going to Cabo instead for some Baja time. 
 

Next summer to be in Banff

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1 hour ago, coffee_rules said:

Been to Paris (3) and Barcelona (3) in 2018. There is a lot to do for history buffs in Barcelona, went in April, temp was in 60s. Lotsa Pakistani grocery shops in Barcelona.  
 

Was planning a Greece trip in Dec, but decided against as I learnt it will be cold (60s) and most properties don’t have heaters. We are pampered in NA with ACs and heaters. EU (eastern) is more old world. Going to Cabo instead for some Baja time. 
 

Next summer to be in Banff

Nice!

 

Greece is a great destination, tough to cover areas of interest in just one trip.  A 10 day trip in September was my first one, and weather was pretty much perfect, if a bit chilly in the evening in Thira.  I recommend Crete to most folks who talk to me about planning a trip to Greece.  Only problem with Crete is that it has a lot to offer and you may end up allocating more days there in order to cover a slice of them.  Bonus is that you can take a 3 hour or so ferry to Santorini from Crete, which IMHO is the best way to get there.  The views as you get closer and closer to Thira are just spectacular.  Flying into Santorini simply does not compare.  

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1 hour ago, zen said:


If you are looking for value flights - Paris (most flights into Europe), Amsterdam (closer to NA + a large number of flights), Reykjavík (tends to offer good deals), Lisbon (can get good deals), etc. can be good options to consider.

yeah, looking at fight costs - but more importantly time as a currency.  i.e. I don't want to add a destination that requires me taking any additional stops.  That's why ZRH and Istanbul work really well. I can just break up my travel into non-stop chunks and not add any transit time. Paris/Lisbon can work too, but it can get a bit messy - I'd need to break up my flight purchases and buy some legs separately.  I'm not considering Amsterdam for Feb, just too cold I think.  Same with Reykjavik - its more of a summer visit - have been there - its a bit over-rated tbh apart from the novelty factor. 

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