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Building my itinerary in real time - July in Germany 18 full days

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Hi everyone. I've had a great deal of fun over the last couple of months reading though this board and building various itineraries for our family trip to Europe in July 2013. Wonderful posters here.

(Skip to the bottom to bypass all the filler) :0

We're a family of 4 with 2 boys 15 and 13. This will be our 6th extended summer trip, although the first outside North America, so I have a pretty good idea of what will work for us. We like active vacations and enjoy "touring" over "sightseeing," meaning we'd rather bike, paddle, or hike our way to the sights rather than drive to them. Of course we'd love to explore a castle or small town (or big city) in any case, but we'd rather do it by making an activity out of it - like hiking up a hillside to get to a town or castle, or biking through a city - Salzburg looks like a great place to spend the day on bikes, for example. A day at Mont Saint Michel looks like heaven. Some days could be exclusively devoted to outdoor pursuits that are unique enough, like the Sellaronda mountain bike circuit in the Dolomites, but I think for our first European trip we want to enjoy cultural variety first and foremost.

I have fun learning about new places when planning trips and so in reading about our choices in Europe came up with these possibilities as ideal itineraries for us:

1 Arrive Paris, a few days there then TGV to Avignon and explore Provence and Dordogne by car with the canoeing and bike riding in the appropriate areas.

2. Same as above to Avignon but head east to the French Alps with some full day hikes up high before heading north through Annecy and Dijon back to Paris, again with appropriate all day bike rides.

3. Arrive Munich and circle through Salzburgland (farm stay while touring), Dolomites (via Ferrrata and Sellaronda mountain bikes), Venice and Lake Garda hiking.

Really we would be able to find happiness anywhere in beautiful Europe, so I've been learning about the various areas from a tourist's point of view with the idea of traveling to wherever I happened to find inexpensive airfare. :-) Well, seeing as how we're traveling in July, I expected the best deals to come along sometime in the spring, but low and behold today I managed to grab a great low price for four tickets to . . . . dum dum dum . . . Dusseldorf! (Evidently Lufthansa is "having a special on Dusseldorf.")

Not where I expected to wind up at, but as I said, anywhere is good for us. Coming from South Florida anywhere else IS good. :-)

Usually I would already have a solid itinerary planned before I post, but seeing as I have such wide open possibilities before me, I though some preliminary feedback might help. Before we leave, I will have a pretty much hour by hour itinerary planned out, as well as alternatives. A "plan" is a list of things that won't happen, but the process of preparing a detailed one prepares for many eventualities. In the US, I would normally stay in one or two areas and explore them more thoroughly, but the temptation of variety is calling to me. . . Food is very important, but I assume we'll have no trouble no matter the area we are in.

For now I am trying to narrow areas we'll visit. Here is what I'm thinking right now: Arrive Dusseldorf in the am, immediately connect train to Munich, recover from jet lag. The next day 18 full days before flight home from Dusseldorf.

2 days Munich, then pick up car,

1 day Salzburg(?) I think so somehow it will be squeezed in.

4 days Bavaria: Herrenchiemsee candlelight concert, take the lift up Zugspitze and hike down (or whatever the good one next to it is), etc.

2 days though Baden Wurttemberg or Switzerland - really give me a break with all the great things to do around here - I have no idea!

4 days Alsace - a day at a food market and cooking a nice dinner will be in there somewhere.

2 days between Nancy and Metz - sightseeing!

3 Days Mosel Valley - relaxing or trekking, as our bodies dictate. :-)

This is a very rough plan that will become more real as time goes by. For example those 3 days in the Mosel Valley may turn into time in Switzerland. The choices are all bittersweet.

Any feedback is much appreciated, especially ideas for active days. Tourist areas are fine, but no standing around - we need to earn our Sauerbraten! Like wise our "days off" need to be spectacular - maybe a nice spa.

Thanks!

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