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Austria, Switzerland & Warsaw - Flying in J (OS, LX & LO 787) Riding Trains & Hiking!

Austria, Switzerland & Warsaw - Flying in J (OS, LX & LO 787) Riding Trains & Hiking!

Old Nov 23, 2014, 7:10 am
  #46  
 
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For future reference, the First Class tix will get you into OEBB Lounge, even for domestic travel.

Implementation of premium class seating at the gate is good - prevents overcrowding on boarding of big body craft.

Glad you had a good time
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Old Nov 24, 2014, 2:10 pm
  #47  
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Originally Posted by alexisonsmith
Wow! As always the Swiss Alps looks amazing! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for reading and posting! ^

Originally Posted by steveman518
very nice! ^^^
Thanks!

Originally Posted by deniah
For future reference, the First Class tix will get you into OEBB Lounge, even for domestic travel.

Implementation of premium class seating at the gate is good - prevents overcrowding on boarding of big body craft.

Glad you had a good time
Thank you for confirming - good to know for next time. Glad you read and enjoyed my latest TR!
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Old Nov 26, 2014, 5:05 am
  #48  
 
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Great report and fantastic photos, FindAWay. The alpine regions of Austria and Switzerland really do look stunning.

Your LOT flight looks quite similar to our JFK-WAW flights earlier in the year, also in biz, though your dinner looks pretty disappointing. Especially that prawn dish - yikes, talk about mean with the prawns! On the other hand, the vodka shots were fun.

I felt LOT was quite underrated, though better for an eastbound flight where the flat bed and extensive space come into their own, whereas the limited IFE and mediocre food would limit the appeal for a westbound, daytime flight. Shame your LO and OS flights weren't reversed (I think OS's catering ex-VIE would be much better, too).
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Old Nov 26, 2014, 5:43 am
  #49  
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Thanks for posting this detailed report. We did Vienna and Salzburg (& Munich) a couple of years ago, and this took me back. Lucerne looks gorgeous!
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Old Nov 26, 2014, 10:39 am
  #50  
 
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This has almost given me a headache! Congrats on the great trip and also for doing such a thorough TR!

Originally Posted by FindAWay
Trip Overview and Summary

Map Below: Entire Trip Route


Route: ORD-VIE(destination)/(1st open jaw)ZRH-WAW(overnight)-ORD(3-month stopover)-SJU(2nd open jaw)
Miles Actually Flown: 10,398 miles (excluding ORD-SJU)
Dates Traveled: Friday, August 29, 2014 to Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Destinations Visited: Vienna, Salzburg (and Hallstatt), Zurich, Wengen (and Bernese Oberland), Lucerne, and Warsaw (the future flight to SJU is excluded from this TR)
Travelers: 2 (Mrs. FindAWay and me)

Miles, Points, & Credits Used and USD$ Paid:
  • 102,500 United MileagePlus Miles (per person) USED
  • $83.10 Cumulative Taxes & Fees Imposed by Airlines (per person) PAID
  • $50.00 Change Fee Imposed by United Airlines (per person) PAID
  • $143.26 Total Paid for two (2) Separate Austrian OBB First Class Train Tickets (per person) PAID (mostly credited back using Arrival+ Miles)
  • $257.00 Total Paid for 2nd Class 4-Day Swiss Saver Passes (per person) PAID (mostly credited back using Arrival+ Miles)
  • ~$33.00 Total Paid for a 2nd Class Swiss SBB Train Ticket (Luzern - Zrich Flughafen) (per person) PAID
  • 25,000 Choice Privileges Points (total - 1 night) USED
  • 1 Category 1-5 Marriott Rewards e-Certificate (total 1 night) USED
  • 144,000 Club Carlson Points (total - 6 nights) USED
  • $394.18 Total Paid Hotels.com Reservation (total - 2 nights) PAID

Our Final Itineraryin chronological order (decision process is outlined below) was as follows:

DEPART CHICAGO & ARRIVE VIENNA: Fri., August 29, 2014 - Sat., August 30, 2014
4:05pm-8:40am - ORD-VIE -- Austrian Airways #OS66 Bus. [9h 35m] (part of 102.5k UA MP & $83.10/pp)

VIENNA (2 DAYS): Sat., August 30, 2014 (arrive 8:40am) until Mon., September 1, 2014 (depart 9:30am)
Hotel: Radisson Blu Style Hotel, Vienna [2 nights] (25,000 CC Points & $0.00 per nt. after credit card last night free benefit)

DEPART VIENNA & ARRIVE SALZBURG: Mon., September 1, 2014
9:30am-11:52am Wien Westbahnhof Salzburg Hbf RailJet #562 First Class [2h 22m] (29.00 EUR/pp)

SALZBURG (2 DAYS): Mon., September 1, 2014 (arrive 9:30am) until Wed., September 3, 2014 (depart 7:56am)
Hotel: Radisson Blu Hotel Altstadt, Salzburg [2 nights] (22,000 CC Points & $0.00 per nt. after credit card last night free benefit)

DEPART SALZBURG & ARRIVE ZURICH: Wed., September 3, 2014
7:56am-1:20pm Salzburg Hbf - Zrich HB Railjet #364 First Class [5h 24m] (79.00 EUR/pp)

ZURICH (LESS THAN 1 DAY): Wed., September 3, 2014 (arrive 1:20pm) until Thur., September 4, 2014 (depart 8:02am)
Hotel: Comfort Hotel Royal Zurich [1 night] (25,000 Choice Privileges Points & $0.00 per nt.)

DEPART ZURICH & ARRIVE WENGEN: Thur., September 4, 2014
8:02am-10:51am - Zrich HB Wengen IC#812-IC#961-R#151-R#351 2nd Class. [3h 49m] (part of Swiss Pass $257.00/pp)

WENGEN/BERNESE OBERLAND (2.5 DAYS): Thur., Sept. 4, 2014 (arrive 10:51am) until Sat., Sept. 6, 2014 (depart 5:03pm)
Hotel: Hotel Edelweiss [2 nights] (Hotels.com 180.00 CHF per nt.)

DEPART WENGEN & ARRIVE LUCERNE: Sat., September 6, 2014
5:03pm-7:55pm Wengen Luzern R#366-R#166-IR#2235 2nd Class. [2h 52m] (part of Swiss Pass $257.00/pp)

LUCERNE (2 DAYS): Sat., September 6, 2014 (arrive 7:55pm) until Mon., September 8, 2014 (depart 1:10pm)
Hotel: Radisson Blu Hotel, Lucerne [2 nights] (25,000 CC Points & $0.00 per nt. after credit card last night free benefit)

DEPART LUCERNE TO ZURICH AIRPORT & ARRIVE WARSAW: Mon., September 8, 2014
1:10pm-2:13pm Luzern - Zrich Flughafen IR#2340 2nd Class. [1h 03m] (28.00 CHF/pp)
5:15pm-7:10pm ZRH-WAW Swiss (Op. by OAW Helvetic Air) #LX1352 Bus. [1h 55m] (part of 102.5k UA MP & $83.10/pp)

WARSAW (1 DAY): Mon., September 8, 2014 (arrive 7:10pm) until Tues., September 9, 2014 (depart 4:30pm)
Hotel: Warsaw Marriott Hotel [1 night] (1 Marriott Cat. 1-5 eCert. & $0.00 per nt.)

DEPART WARSAW & ARRIVE CHICAGO: Tues., September 9, 2014
4:30pm-7:05pm - WAW-ORD LOT Polish Airlines #LO003 Bus. [9h 35m] (part of 102.5k UA MP & $83.10/pp)

{FUTURE (but not included in this TR):DEPART CHICAGO & ARRIVE SAN JUAN:8:20am-3:05pm ORD-SJU United Airlines #UA1688 Bus. [4h 45m] (part of 102.5k UA MP & $83.10/pp)}

Background: In September 2013, I transferred a large balance of Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to United MileagePlus Miles because I feared a shutdown of my Chase accounts. The shutdown didnt happen (or, at least, hasnt yet happened) to me. Just over a month later, United announced a massive devaluation to their award chart. Perfect; just perfect. As the February 1, 2014 devaluation effective date approached, we determined where we wanted to go to lock-in our pre-devaluation award rate. Since neither of us had been to Switzerland or hiked in the Alps, we decided to plan a trip to hike in the Swiss Alps while it was still 100,000 miles per person in business class on Star Alliance partners. And, I decided to take advantage of Uniteds generous routing rules (that allow both a stopover and a double open-jaw) to include a leg to San Juan, Puerto Rico during Chicagos cold winter as part of our itinerary for only 2,500 miles per person more.

Our plan was to have an open jaw arriving into Geneva, Switzerland and departing from Vienna, Austria (and wed take trains with stops in destinations between the two cities) with an overnight connection in Warsaw on the return to both visit Warsaw and fly our return flight on LOs 787. After a lot of research and discussion, I first settled on and booked the following redemption (as Lufthansa opened a ton of business class award space on their new YYZ-MUC route with their updated business class):

102,500 United Airlines MileagePlus Miles and $153.60 per person (for 2 people):
Fri., August 29, 2014 - Sat., August 30, 2014
11:00am-1:26pm - ORD-YYZ United Express #3634 Bus. [1h 26m]
-- 4h 19m Layover in YYZ --
5:45pm-7:45am(+1) YYZ MUC Lufthansa #495 Bus. [7h 20m]
--3h 40m Layover in MUC --
11:25am-12:35pm MUC-GVA Lufthansa Cityline #2384 Bus. [1h 10m]
---Destination: Geneva---
---Open Jaw Return From: Vienna---
Mon., September 8, 2014
5:40pm-7:00p VIE-WAW Tyrolean Airlines #631 Bus. [1h 20m]
---21h 30m Overnight Layover in WAW---
Tues., September 9, 2014
4:30pm-7:05pm WAW-ORD LOT Polish Airlines #003 Bus. [9h 35m]
---Long Stopover in ORD---
 Future Date
7:04am-9:51am ORD-CLT United Express #6217 First [1h 51m]
--1h 54m Layover in CLT --
11:45am-4:13pm CLT-SJU US Airways #752 First [3h 28m]
---Double Open Jaw Destination: San Juan---

I wasnt thrilled with the 3-leg journey with long layovers from Chicago to Geneva; but, it was available and I wanted to try LHs new business class seats. Unlike my past calls to US Airways agents, the very first United Airlines agent with whom I spoke was able to quickly ticket my itinerary.

A few months later, in April, I noticed there was a schedule change on the very last leg (CLT-SJU) that caused a misconnect in Charlotte. In looking at availability on-line, the United Airlines ORD-SJU non-stop for the same day was available in business; so, I called to make the fee-free change. However, the agent was having difficulty. There was a small change in taxes that meant I had to pay slightly more ($7.00 per person)so, my new itinerary was:

102,500 United Airlines MileagePlus Miles and $160.60 per person (for 2 people):
Fri., August 29, 2014 - Sat., August 30, 2014
11:00am-1:26pm - ORD-YYZ United Express #3634 Bus. [1h 26m]
-- 4h 19m Layover in YYZ --
5:45pm-7:45am(+1) YYZ MUC Lufthansa #495 Bus.[7h 20m]
--3h 40m Layover in MUC --
11:25am-12:35pm MUC-GVA Lufthansa Cityline #2384 Bus. [1h 10m]
---Destination: Geneva---
---Open Jaw Return From: Vienna---
Mon., September 8, 2014
5:40pm-7:00p VIE-WAW Tyrolean Airlines #631 Bus. [1h 20m]
---21h 30m Overnight Layover in WAW---
Tues., September 9, 2014
4:30pm-7:05pm WAW-ORD LOT Polish Airlines #003 Bus. [9h 35m]
---Long Stopover in ORD---
 Future Date
8:20am-3:05pm ORD-SJU United Airlines #1688 First [4h 45m]
---Double Open Jaw Destination: San Juan---

Now, while not perfect, I had a good itinerary that satisfied me. I wasnt going to miss-out on the opportunity to fly Polish LOTs 787. However, 90-days prior to departure, I constantly checked United and ANA for availability on Austrians ORD-VIE or VIE-ORD non-stop (the latter applicable only if ORD-WAW on LOs 787 was also available on Friday, August 29th). And, I found availability! We had also decided to omit Geneva from our itinerary to give us more time in other destinations). So, with a call, I changed my itinerary to the following (although I did have to pay $50.00 per person as a Silver member for the change as my destination would be differentbut, I actually saved money overall as the taxes dropped by more!):

102,500 United Airlines MileagePlus Miles and $83.10 per person, exclusive of $50.00 per person change fee, (for 2 people):
Fri., August 29, 2014 - Sat., August 30, 2014
4:05pm-8:40am - ORD-VIE Austrian (Tyrolean) Airlines #066 Bus. [9h 35m]
---Destination: Vienna---
---Open Jaw Return From: Zurich---
Mon., September 8, 2014
5:15pm-7:10p ZRH-WAW Swiss (OAW Helvetic) Airlines #631 Bus. [1h 55m]
---21h 20m Overnight Layover in WAW---
Tues., September 9, 2014
4:30pm-7:05pm WAW-ORD LOT Polish Airlines #003 Bus. [9h 35m]
---Long Stopover in ORD---
 Future Date
8:20am-3:05pm ORD-SJU United Airlines #1688 First [4h 45m]
---Double Open Jaw Destination: San Juan---

Our itinerary had gone from a bloated 7-flight journey with multiple undesirable layovers to a lean 4-flight journey. We were excited and worked to book hotels in each city we planned to visit and some of the trains we would take (as Austrias OBB offered cheaper non-refundable advance purchase tickets available).

With our flights locked-in, I set about connecting the open-jaw from Vienna to Zurich by train. To do so, I chose the following trains to fill-in our travels to various destinations:

29.00 EUR per person (for 2 people) {Advance Purchase}:
Mon., September 1, 2014
9:30am-11:52am - WIEN WESTBAHNHOF - SALZBURG HBF RailJet RJ#562 First [2h 22m]

79.00 EUR per person (for 2 people) {Advance Purchase}:
Wed., September 3, 2014
7:56am-1:20pm - SALZBURG HBF - ZUERICH RailJet RJ#364 First [5h 24m]

2nd Class 4-Day Swiss Saver Pass ~$257.00 USD per person (for 2 people) {Advance Purchase after $50.00 discount}:
USED FOR NO ADDITIONAL COST TRAVEL ON MORE THAN A DOZEN TRAINS, CABLECARS, BOATS ETC. WITHIN SWITZERLAND, INCLUDING:
Thurs., September 4, 2014
8:02am-8:58am ZURICH HB - BERN InterCity IC#812 Second Class [56m]
-- 06m Connection in BERN --
9:04am-9:57am BERN INTERLAKEN OST InterCity IC#961 Second Class [53m]
-- 08m Connection in INTERLAKEN OST --
10:05am-10:25am INTERLAKEN OST LAUTERBRUNNEN Regio R#151 Second Class [20m]
-- 12m Connection in LAUTERBRUNNEN --
10:37am-10:51am LAUTERBRUNNEN - WENGEN Regio R#351 Second Class [14m]
Sat., September 6, 2014
5:03pm-5:21pm WENGEN - LAUTERBRUNNEN Regio R#366 Second Class [18m]
-- 12m Connection in LAUTERBRUNNEN --
5:33pm-5:54pm LAUTERBRUNNEN - INTERLAKEN OST Regio R#166 Second Class [21m]
-- 10m Connection in INTERLAKEN OST --
6:04pm-7:55pm INTERLAKEN OST - LUZERN InterRegio IR#2235 Second Class [1h 51m]

28.00 CHF per person (for 2 people) {Purchased on Platform}:
Mon., September 8, 2014
1:10pm-2:13pm - LUZERN - ZRICH FLUGHAFEN InterRegio IR#2340 Second Class [1h 03m]

With all of our travel booked/planned, we had a complete itinerary of destinations (other than activities at each destination). So, I went about deciding on hotels. I focused on locations that would be convenient either or both for sightseeing and transportation (walking distance to the train station, etc.)

In Vienna, I wanted to maximize the last-night-free aspect of the US-issued US Bank Club Carlson credit card since this was only a 2 night reservation; so, I chose:

25,000 Club Carlson points & $0.00 per nt. (after the last-night-free bonus)
2 Nights at the Radisson Blu Style Hotel, Vienna

In Salzburg, I continued my trend of maximizing the last-night-free aspect of the US-issued US Bank Club Carlson credit card since this would also be a reservation of only 2 nights; so, I chose:

22,000 Club Carlson points & $0.00 per nt. (after the last-night-free bonus)
2 Nights at the Radisson Blu Hotel Altstadt, Salzburg

In Zurich, with only a single night, I looked at hotels in central locations available for reasonable redemptions. Since I had a good amount of Choice Privileges points expiring at the end of the year, I choose:

25,000 Choice Privileges Points & $0.00 per nt.
1 Night at the Comfort Hotel Royal Zurich

We decided to stay in Wengen as our central base for exploring the Berner Oberland. For our stay, lots of research and reading reviews led me to book the following paid reservation:

Hotels.com 180.00 CHF per night
2 Nights at the Hotel Edelweiss, Wengen

In Lucerne, I again reverted to my trend of maximizing the last-night-free aspect of the US-issued US Bank Club Carlson credit card since it would also be only a 2 night reservation; so, I chose:

25,000 Club Carlson points & $0.00 per nt. (after the last-night-free bonus)
2 Nights at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Lucerne

During our overnight layover in Warsaw, I decided to book the Marriott using a Category 1-5 e-Certificate (and hope for a nice upgrade with my Platinum status):

1 Marriott Cat. 1-5 eCert. & $0.00 per nt
1 Night at the Warsaw Marriott Hotel

We continued researching each of the destinations, noting desired activities in each place. We pre-booked a full-day Sound of Music tour in Salzburg that included an afternoon in Hallstatt. Otherwise, we kept our itinerary somewhat unplanned in each destination to be able to maximize activities we enjoyed along the way.
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Old Nov 26, 2014, 12:03 pm
  #51  
 
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Fantastic trip and TR! I've traveled to many of the same places - the Mnnlichen to Kleine Scheidegg is one of the easiest and most scenic hikes in the region - and you covered and photographed them well. Great job.
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Old Nov 26, 2014, 1:44 pm
  #52  
 
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Did your wife get annoyed at you taking so many pictures? It must be hard to take great pictures (you did!) and still drag the luggage etc.

Speaking of luggage, how was the situation for storing luggage on the trains? Did you feel it was safe to leave them? Were they always in the same car? We took trains in Italy (6 pax) and it was hard to find storage for all our large suitcases and it was up to me to get them all on the train and then off. I can't imagine about connecting in 6 or 8 minutes...

Thanks for a great report!
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Old Nov 27, 2014, 9:21 am
  #53  
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Originally Posted by mad_atta
Great report and fantastic photos, FindAWay. The alpine regions of Austria and Switzerland really do look stunning.

Your LOT flight looks quite similar to our JFK-WAW flights earlier in the year, also in biz, though your dinner looks pretty disappointing. Especially that prawn dish - yikes, talk about mean with the prawns! On the other hand, the vodka shots were fun.

I felt LOT was quite underrated, though better for an eastbound flight where the flat bed and extensive space come into their own, whereas the limited IFE and mediocre food would limit the appeal for a westbound, daytime flight. Shame your LO and OS flights weren't reversed (I think OS's catering ex-VIE would be much better, too).
I'm glad you enjoyed reading my report and my photos!! The LOT food ex-WAW was not too great. I definitely enjoyed the hard product on the 787 though! I agree - we certainly would have preferred having our TATL flights reversed. Thanks for posting! ^

Originally Posted by LM225
Thanks for posting this detailed report. We did Vienna and Salzburg (& Munich) a couple of years ago, and this took me back. Lucerne looks gorgeous!
Thanks for reading! I'm glad to hear it brought back memories for you! We enjoyed Lucerne a lot - it was great to have wonderful weather after a long string of mostly rainy days.

Originally Posted by farbster
This has almost given me a headache! Congrats on the great trip and also for doing such a thorough TR!
Ha! Yeah, it certainly took a long time to organize. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Originally Posted by CarlTheWebmaster
Fantastic trip and TR! I've traveled to many of the same places - the Mnnlichen to Kleine Scheidegg is one of the easiest and most scenic hikes in the region - and you covered and photographed them well. Great job.
Thanks!! I'm glad you stopped by and posted such kind words!

Originally Posted by farbster
Did your wife get annoyed at you taking so many pictures? It must be hard to take great pictures (you did!) and still drag the luggage etc.

Speaking of luggage, how was the situation for storing luggage on the trains? Did you feel it was safe to leave them? Were they always in the same car? We took trains in Italy (6 pax) and it was hard to find storage for all our large suitcases and it was up to me to get them all on the train and then off. I can't imagine about connecting in 6 or 8 minutes...

Thanks for a great report!
Mrs. FindAWay certainly makes me put down the camera at times -- the pictures of the hotels are the most difficult as I take pictures before we enter the room with our bags, so, sometimes her patience doesn't line up with all of the time to take the pictures.

The luggage wasn't bad for either pictures or on the trains. I had only one bag with wheels and a backpack (and a small gym-bag when on the planes that would otherwise go inside the wheeled bag). So, I always had one hand free to take pictures/open doors. Storing the larger bags on the trains wasn't too bad either as they usually fit in the space between the seats.

Thanks for the compliments and posting! ^
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Old May 18, 2015, 3:20 pm
  #54  
 
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Outstanding TR, FindAWay. The level of detail is impressive, the narrative very enjoyable and the photos are wonderful.
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Old May 25, 2015, 6:45 am
  #55  
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Originally Posted by JohnRain
Outstanding TR, FindAWay. The level of detail is impressive, the narrative very enjoyable and the photos are wonderful.
Thank you JohnRain!! I'm glad you enjoyed reading my TR and its pictures. ^ It does take me a while to write these with as much detail as I've included, but, that helps me relive the trip in a way.
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Old May 30, 2015, 10:56 pm
  #56  
 
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FindAWay, Thank you for a wonderful TR. I will be visiting Prague, Salzberg, Vienna and Budapest next Spring. I will be taking advantage of the Club Carlson last night free bonus for the last time at their hotels in Salzburg and Vienna, so it was nice to see some excellent photos of where I will be staying. You inspired me to go hiking in the Swiss Alps. Beautiful photos!
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Old Jun 5, 2015, 9:18 pm
  #57  
 
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Hello-
I will be flying the same ORD-VIE in J this summer. Would you say that the product lives up to what is said about it?
Thanks
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Old Jun 15, 2015, 7:51 am
  #58  
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Originally Posted by DABYI
Hello-
I will be flying the same ORD-VIE in J this summer. Would you say that the product lives up to what is said about it?
Thanks
Thanks for reading my TR. I'm not sure what you've heard about it; so, the only thing I can say is that I think it lives up to what I said about it in this TR.
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Old Jun 15, 2015, 7:53 am
  #59  
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Originally Posted by World2Travel
FindAWay, Thank you for a wonderful TR. I will be visiting Prague, Salzberg, Vienna and Budapest next Spring. I will be taking advantage of the Club Carlson last night free bonus for the last time at their hotels in Salzburg and Vienna, so it was nice to see some excellent photos of where I will be staying. You inspired me to go hiking in the Swiss Alps. Beautiful photos!
Thank you for reading and posting such nice things!!

It sounds like you have a great itinerary! I'm glad you enjoyed the photos and I hope you enjoy your time in Austria and hiking in the Swiss Alps as much as we did. However, I hope you have less rain than we did in Austria!

From where in Switzerland will you base your hikes?
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Old Oct 4, 2015, 7:50 am
  #60  
 
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FindAWay, superior again. Thank you very much.

Where were all the people in Warsaw? The train stations, the local trains and the squares looked vacant. Were you just there at off hours?
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