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Trip to Europe

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Tanzanite
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Trip to Europe

Post by Tanzanite » Sun October 5th, 2008, 9:58 pm

My husband thought it would be a good idea if I planned a trip to Europe for my daughter and I (hubby won't be going) as kind of an 18th birthday present (a little early) and a celebration of the good job and hard work she has done over the past 18 months (with finishing high school 2 years early and by then she will have completed 2 years of college).

I'm thinking 10-14 days and England is high on our list of places to go. But we would also like to see some other countries (France, Italy, Germany, Greece). I really don't even know where to begin to plan something like this. Can anyone suggest someplace to start - or have any thoughts/ideas/ advice for how to go about it, realistic itineraries, information on transportation around Europe etc? Help!! :confused:
Last edited by Tanzanite on Sun October 5th, 2008, 9:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: corrected spelling

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sun October 5th, 2008, 11:27 pm

My favorites:
In England: Bath -- great little shops, cathedrals, Roman ruins, everything.
Nearby: Salisbury: Cathedral charterhouse has a copy of the Margna Carta, and the edifice is a lovely thing to behold in itself. Stonehenge is nearby. Not far from Shakespeare's birthplace.
Scotland: Edinburgh. Castles, memorials, atmosphere -- I could have stayed a month, but prices are steep.
Also loved York. London was global, busy, crammed with history and modernity and completely exhausting.
Spain: Granada, yes! The cheapest, friendliest city in Spain. If you are going at the top of the tourist season, buy your Alhambra tickets ahead of time. Off-season, you can just walk up like we did. Barcelona -- well, it's got a nice airport. Otherwise, get out ASAP.
Italy: in the north, try a Waldensian foresteria, if you can hunt one down. Clean, cheap and friendly, part of the religious duty of hospitality. That would be around Turin and in the alps that used to be part of Savoy. My daughter fell in love with Florence, her husband preferred Venice. Neither was all that thrilled with Rome -- too busy and too 'touristy'. My sister got mugged in Naples and my daughter had her purse stolen. Both times, the 'four star' hotels were seedy and the whole area 'rough'. Neither will go back.
I'm sure the locals on this forum will know far more than I do. Now if you are coming to California and you want to hike...!

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Post by Ash » Mon October 6th, 2008, 1:42 am

For a first visit, I'd concentrate on the major capitals to give you both a taste of the place, whetting the appetite for more! If this is a trip for her, then consider what her interests are. Does she like art? if so, London, Rome and Paris have world class museums, ones that really require at least a day to take in. Is she a big fan of Roman history? there are many sites in England to visit, and of course Pompeii and Ostia Antica in Italy would be must sees. Does she love architecture? Then a trip filled with catherdrals and palaces might be the thing. Does she love shopping and nightlife? Rome and Paris. Does she like the great outdoors - consider the many trekking opportunities in England and Wales, for walkers and bikers.

If you want to stick with the UK, consider staying in one place and taking many day trips. We stayed in a London B&B and went to Bath, Oxford, Canterbury, Hastings and Dover. We stayed in Betys y Coed (sp) and explored northern Wales and the Mt Snowden area. If she is as into books as you are, don't forget Hay on Wye in Wales, a town of books.

I agree that Florence and Venice run circles around Rome. Go there for a few museums, then get out and enjoy these two lovely walking cities (Rome is dirty, noisy, and just not a pleasant place to be, at least it wasn't just before the Jubilee when all the construction was going on...) We went to Naples to see Pompeii, and the Archological Museum and actually had a good time, but I have heard the stories...

Personally I'd skip Straford Upon Avon; if she is into Shakespear, take her to the New Globe theatre. Excellent replica where you can watch a play by the Bard, and visit the many interactive exhibits upstairs (my favorite was the booth where I could listen to famous actors reciting Shakespearan lines)


I have not been to Spain or Turkey, so I can't recommend anything in particular except I'd love to spend 10-14 days in either place!

BTW you might consider going someplace that is not as hard on the dollar as the Euro and Pound are (if there is such a place).

To save money, skip the high price four stars and check out the Bed and Breakfasts. We stayed in them throughout the UK. I haven't tried them, but staying in old convents and monasteries converted into inns are a delightful and inexpensive way to go.
Last edited by Ash on Mon October 6th, 2008, 1:52 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Post by Margaret » Mon October 6th, 2008, 1:46 am

What a wonderful idea. It's much easier to plan an overseas trip now that we have the internet. You can find lodging, etc. via the internet. One of the wonderful experiences I've had is staying in a holiday apartment rather than a hotel. It's a much better bargain than a hotel, and you get a homey ambience and your own kitchen, so you can fix your own breakfast (or other meals) on your own schedule and to your own budget. I have to do this when I travel because my food allergies make it difficult to eat in restaurants, but it turned out to be a wonderful experience, much more fun than staying in a hotel. I really enjoyed shopping for local foods. For example, the chickens in England seem to be a different breed than we get in the U.S., and very tasty.

When I traveled in Germany, I was even able to plan my train travel ahead of time, because the Deutsche Bahn (the railroad) has a website that allows you to see schedules and fares and even, if you want, book ahead with your credit card.

One of my recommendations is not to try to do too many cities in one trip. I enjoy traveling by train, but it does eat up time. Also, if you're flying in to London, unless you plan to spend some time there, it's a much better idea to get right on the train at the airport and go right to a smaller town that you want to visit - for example, Salisbury, which is delightful, and just an hour or two train ride from the airport.

I loved seeing Stonehenge. We also spent some time in Penzance, Cornwall, where there are a lot of lovely places to walk - old dolmen stones, Celtic wells, etc.
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Post by Vanessa » Mon October 6th, 2008, 7:26 am

I could expound on the virtues of Yorkshire if you're thinking of going there! :D Historic city, York Minster, Jorvik museum, Yorkshire Wheel, a walk around the walls as it's a walled city, Castle Howard, Fountain's Abbey, quaint seaside fishing villages like Robin Hood's Bay and Whitby (where Dracula was shipwrecked), the beautiful scenery in the Dales - Yorkshire is the biggest county in England........
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Post by pat » Mon October 6th, 2008, 9:47 am

[quote=""Vanessa""]I could expound on the virtues of Yorkshire if you're thinking of going there! :D Historic city, York Minster, Jorvik museum, Yorkshire Wheel, a walk around the walls as it's a walled city, Castle Howard, Fountain's Abbey, quaint seaside fishing villages like Robin Hood's Bay and Whitby (where Dracula was shipwrecked), the beautiful scenery in the Dales - Yorkshire is the biggest county in England........[/quote]

York is fantastic! And from there you can see so much! Also try to take in small towns like Rippon, it has a wonderful cathedral.

When we went back to England for my nieces wedding, we took the children to Bath for 3 days. If you get there do go to the Roman Baths, and on a bus tour round the city!

Make London your stop on entry, see the sights and head off to see the country.

Go to France. You can go on the train, so you can see more sights! Paris was lovely, but France is great anyhow.
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Post by sweetpotatoboy » Mon October 6th, 2008, 12:13 pm

[quote=""Ash""]For a first visit, I'd concentrate on the major capitals to give you both a taste of the place, whetting the appetite for more! [/quote]

If you're hoping to "do Europe" in 10-14 days, this is sound advice. As wonderful as all the other suggestions are, I really don't see how you can stray beyond three or four capitals within that length of time without getting the chance to appreciate what you're seeing. London, Paris and Rome (and Madrid or even Barcelona if you can manage it) would be my suggestions. I've never been to Berlin but many love it.

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Post by Tanzanite » Mon October 6th, 2008, 1:11 pm

Thanks guys - this is all very helpful. Keep it coming! We even thought about doing a short mediteranean cruise and then staying on land the rest of the time but I'm not sure how doable that really is.

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Post by princess garnet » Mon October 6th, 2008, 6:59 pm

St. Malo, France.
Beautiful historic port town on the coastline of Brittany. It should be getting quieter now so less crowded than in summer.

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Post by Madeleine » Tue October 7th, 2008, 7:13 pm

[quote=""MLE""]My favorites:
Spain: Granada, yes! The cheapest, friendliest city in Spain. If you are going at the top of the tourist season, buy your Alhambra tickets ahead of time. Off-season, you can just walk up like we did. Barcelona -- well, it's got a nice airport. Otherwise, get out ASAP. [/quote]

Can't believe you said this about Barcelona :confused: - it has beaches, galleries, great shops, lovely old Gothic quarter, all the architecture and art by Gaudi, Miro etc, surely something for everyone there.

Paris is good for culture, architecture and shopping, and you can't beat the Italian cities for all the above plus of course food - I would say go to Rome, let's face it most cities are very touristy and busy (and Rome is particularly bad for ripping off tourists) but pace yourself and don't try to do too much, not easy I know as you'll only have limited time there so the best thing is to work out how much you want to see and do whilst you're in each city and try to stick to that plan, most cities are reasonably compact (except possibly London which can be very spread out!) so you should be able to see a fair bit of each one.

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