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Europe on a budget? Destination suggestions welcome.

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We have been very fortunate in that we have been able to make numerous "trips of a lifetime" to Europe. The UK, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, the Czech Republic, Poland and even Turkey. Trip costs seem to be on the rise however. The discount airfares are getting to tougher to find and even though the dollar has strengthened against the Euro prices still seem extremely high.

Does anyone have suggestions for locations that are less expensive to visit?

Perhaps I need to readjust my sights or expectations. Our most recent trip was to Poland and while it was enjoyable, and mrs. turnip loved the prices on shopping excursions, we were to a certain degree somewhat disappointed. The food was probably the poorest of any place we've been outside of London. Sorry, but we found the national dish, pierogis, to be bland in taste, color and texture. The sights were fun but didn't seem to have the "wow" factor of the other locations we've visited. Even the Poles asked us, "Why are you visiting Poland?"

If we forego the "must-see" sights of the world in order to get off the beaten track and find better prices do I need to settle for less "wow"?

We loved seeing the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum/Flavian amphitheater, Neuschwanstien, the canals of Venice, the Hagia Sophia and the touristy spots, but we also have greatly enjoyed small towns like Harleem, touring the Czech wine regions, Cesky Krumlov, the walls of Lucca, hiking in Zakopane, staring at the stars in the Berner Oberland. We don't want a beach or somewhere to just lay in the sun. We love good museums and galleries - I could spend a week in the Musee d'Orsay alone. Flea markets and funky second hand stores are always fun for us. The history in Rome and Turkey was mesmerizing.

To us, budget travel is small, clean and safe B&B's or apartment rental. Certainly less than $100 a night . We splurge one time a trip for a fancy dinner but often picnic lunch and fix some of our food if the apartment is so equipped. We usually travel in the shoulder season to maximize weather but avoid the crowds and high season rates.

We've been kicking around Croatia, but it doens't seem like it's "cheap". Numerous Central/Eastern European countries have been mentioned but none have leapt off of the page screaming "visit me". Portugal has been mentioned. We have never been to Asia other than Turkey. Some travelers have suggested numerous spots in Asia as a budget destination but the mrs. will take some convincing I think.

So I'm guess I'm throwing it out there to the experienced and knowledgable Fodorite world travelers. Save up and shut up? If I want to see the big name sights - prepare to pay the price? Suggestions on places you loved that also didn't break the piggy bank? Do I break out of our comfort zone and venture further afield?

Thanks in advance for your candor and ideas.

Cordially, the turnip

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