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Summer 2003 - Switzerland and Italy

August 27 - October 1, 2003: 5 weeks in Switzerland and Italy.

Read the Italy Sept-Oct 2003 section of my blog for the trip report.

Arrival

Flight: Delta Airlines - Albuquerque - Atlanta - Zurich

Leave Albuquerque Wednesday August 27, arrive in Zurich Thursday August 28. First class upgrades are booked!

Two Nights in Zurich

Thursday August 28 - Saturday August 30: 2 nights in Zurich at Hotel Claridge Tiefenau.

We stayed here the last trip and liked it. Booked through Venere. We like to spend two nights in the city we fly to. This allows us to take a taxi from the airport straight to the hotel and not have to drive while jetlagged. It gives us a "soft landing" in Europe, so we don't have to hit the ground running.

Car Rental Pickup

Saturday August 31 - Pickup rental car (will book through AutoEurope).

Two Nights in Konstanz, Germany

Saturday August 31 - Monday, September 1: 2 nights in Konstanz at Seehotel Siber, visiting friends from Germany who will meet us there.

I found this hotel by doing an Internet search. It is a small hotel in a villa on a street that goes along Lake Konstanz. It is expensive, but looked like a lovely hotel. We have not been to Konstanz before and thought it would be nice to spend two nights so we could visit our friends and see a bit of the town.

Switzerland

Two Weeks in Gstaad

Monday September 1 - Monday September 15, chalet apartment in Sanaan.

We are booked for Sunday, August 31 - Sunday, September 14, because it was not available on the Saturday. So we were able to add in the night in Konstanz - but now we have made that two nights, so will lose our first night here. But, I wrote to the agency and they changed our Gstaad booking to be Monday to Monday! (It is unusual that the booking was not Saturday to Saturday.)

We booked an apartment through a local agency, Sicking Immobilien (www.sicking.ch). We got a list of local agencies from the Gstaad Tourist Office (www.gstaad.ch). You can also book online from the tourist office web site. We were in the middle of doing that when the booking part of their website went down and it never went up again (I told them about it and they said there was no problem) - so we booked with an agency. All the tourist office will give you is the list of what is available (they faxed this to me); they will not give you advice on which place might be better. They do rate them and give good descriptions - but you are on your own deciding. I tried booking with an American agency first, just to give them a try, but it took them two weeks to send my just one listing with poor photos and very little description. Also the place was twice the price of everything I saw on the tourist office site. I did find this same listing with a local agency, and it was almost the same price. It didn't seem worth it (and from the better photos the local agency sent, I could see the balcony looked right onto the tennis courts of the sports center).

We have a 2bed/2bath ground floor apartment in a chalet in Sanaan, the town next to Gstaad. From maporama, it looks like a quiet location outside the main part of town, near the hiking trails. The agency sent good photos. The furniture looks nice but not fussy. There are wood floors (except in the bedroom). It is a modern chalet with one family above.

Italy

11 Nights in Liguria

Monday September 15 - Friday September 26: 11 nights in Levanto (Liguria).

We are staying in the apartment in Villa Margherita (www.villamargherita.net) - 2bed/1bath apartment in the villa. I run three web sites for Federico, who owns Villa Margherita. We visited him last year and saw the apartment. It is lovely - on the ground floor with its own private garden. From here you can walk to the center of town and the beach in 10 minutes. Levanto is a wonderful seaside town - long, sandy beaches, beautiful views, surrounded by mountains. We will have the car and hope to explore inland Liguria and do a day trip to Lucca. We will use the trains to explore the coastal area and plan to do some hiking.

Two Nights in Southern Tuscany

Friday September 26 - Sunday September 28: 2 nights in Palazzo del Capitano, San Quirico d'Orcia, southern Tuscany.

This hotel was recommended on the message board and we had a quick tour of it last year, so decided to book it for this year. It is a small charming hotel in an old building in the historic part of San Quirico. They also run the very good restaurant Trattoria Al Vecchio Forno where we had a good lunch last September. San Quirico is a pretty and quiet town, well situated for visiting our favorite things in southern Tuscany (Monte Oliveto, Montalcino, Pienza, Sant'Antimo).

We are hoping to have a SlowTrav GTG near Siena on the Friday. We will stop there on our drive from Levanto to San Quirico. Friday night we will see Gary and Zak from TuscanHouse and Joanna from the message board. Saturday we may try for another GTG if anyone is in the area. On Sunday we plan to meet with Tom and Rob (from the message board) somewhere for Sunday lunch. They are staying near Spoleto and we will try to meet halfway between our locations.

Car Rental Dropoff

Sunday, September 28. Drive to Rome, return rental car.

Three Nights in Rome

Sunday September 28 - Wednesday October 1: 3 nights in Hotel Farnese in Rome.

This hotel was recommended by Pecepe on the message board. It is on the Vatican side of the river, not far from the Piazza del Popolo. A new area for us and out of the historic center. We have stayed in the historic center many times. Last year we stayed near the Borghese Gardens and enjoyed being in more of a neighborhood.

Robert from Santa Monica (from the message board) will be in Rome when we are and Stephanie (from the message board) lives in Rome and we plan to spend most of our time visiting with them. We are having a SlowTrav GTG on the Monday.

Going Home

Flight: Delta Airlines - Rome - Atlanta - Albuquerque

Leave Rome Wednesday October 1

I don't know if there is any chance of this, but I would love to extend the trip by a few more days so we could go and visit the Sorrento Webcam. The man who runs the webcam also has a B&B in Sorrento. Tempting!! But it depends on Steve's work if we could get away with this. And if we could still get first class upgrades on the return flight.

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