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Croatia or Oktoberfest? + trip itinerary advice (rail passes, money, etc)

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Hi,

I am planning a trip to Europe this fall. Originally my itinerary went something like this:

Amsterdam, Prague, Budapest, Istanbul, Thessaloniki (trek Mt. Olympus), Then I would fly to Munich or close to it for Oktoberfest. I am meeting someone in Milan from there.

However, going to Oktoberfest is expensive. $150 flight, $100 lodging, $10 beers, etc. I was budgeting $400 plus the flight for 2 nights of partying in Munich. Someone mentioned going to Croatia and seeing the Adriatic Coast instead. I would be traveling by train (I assume) from Thessaloniki with my end destination being Milan. Where are some great places to see in the Balkans around the Adriatic? How far could $500 get me? What is the best way to get around? etc.

I am also looking for some more outdoor, day trek type adventures. Mt. Olympus and CinqueTerre (It's a trek at least) are the only ones I have thought of so far. Ideally, this trek wouldn't take more than 1 or 2 days, have some sort of lodging, be relatively cheap, and be close to the route I am planning.

After I meet up with my friend in Milan, we are staying with a friend in Genoa for a couple days, then going to Cinque Terre for a night. Probably seeing one more city in Italy before we part. From there (depending on my funds) I want to travel as far down the coast (towards Spain) as I can. Then, back to Amsterdam for the return flight, maybe stopping in Paris is money permits.

If anyone has rail pass recommendations or advice on getting around, here is what I have worked out so far:

As far as getting around, I am planning on taking a flight from Amsterdam to Prague. Then, a train from Prague to Budapest. Overnight train from Budapest to Istanbul and another overnight to Thessaloniki. Once in Italy, I am more than likely going to buy tickets from point to point because my friend isn't going to have any special rail passes and I want to travel with her on the train. My trip is going to be anywhere from 5-8 weeks depending on how much money I can raise and how far I can stretch my funds. Which rail pass (if any) would be the best considering I am flying to one destination, booking overnight sleeper trains on at least two trips and buying individual tickets in Italy? I am also traveling down the coast towards Spain and back to Amsterdam after Italy, so a pass might be handy for that.

Thank you to anyone who has the time to share!

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