12-14 day Europe vacation

May 10th, 2015, 04:27 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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OMG--you are going now.
Gretchen is offline  
May 10th, 2015, 04:40 PM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
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>>vacation packages via a website <<

What website?

Water under the bridge now -- but seldom do these sorts of packages give value for $$ (except some packages from airlines that combine air+hotel. Though those usually offer inconvenient/down market hotels at the lowest cost and one has to upgrade to get a decent location.)

Why did you think it was necessary to buy a package?

Now you just need to make the best of things -- does the package include transfers from/to the airports etc? Because with the times of your flights you going to need them . . .
janisj is online now  
May 10th, 2015, 05:10 PM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Wow, you started off late and went downhill from there. I sure hope you end up enjoying what you have bought. If you need value (which I do too) you need to research, make decisions, shop and plan. You don't get value by booking last minute when it comes to anything.

Wishing you a good experience for your first trip!
Dayle is online now  
May 10th, 2015, 05:16 PM
  #24  
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 58
Maybe it's not ideal, but you can still have a great trip! You really need to get a guide book, maybe Rick Steve's who caters to first-time travelers and will spell out everything for you.

It looks like you have 2 full days in each city. Pick one main/popular site to see every day, such as Tower of London, and get there first thing in the morning. Have a list of other things you could potentially squeeze in after lunch. Personally, I would not try to cram too much in because I like to have a leisurely pace with a lot of time for walking around and soaking up the atmosphere or sitting in a cafe.

I would recommend walking a lot on your arrival day in London to stave off jetlag. Since you are staying in Camden Lock, you could walk or take the tube two stops to Hampstead (like a little village in London) and go to a pub like The Flask http://www.theflaskhampstead.co.uk/

Definitely check on transfers to/from the airport, especially for early departures.
sfmurphys is offline  
May 10th, 2015, 05:39 PM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Strongly suggest you get a couple of decent guidebooks, a street map and a transit map of each city - so you can find your way from the distant hotels to the city centers where most major sights are.

Agree you have time for one major sight each day (plan on getting to places when they open which may mean early am starts from your distant hotels) and then have a list of other places nearby that you can fill in depending on how long the major sights take and what you like nearby.

Strongly suggest you not head for anyplace that has a long line (like Eiffel Tower etc) unless you can get advance tickets (probably too late) or you will spend a very large part of your vacation just standing and waiting.

Also suggest you identify a couple of cute neighborhoods in each city so you can go there and explore on foot before having dinner there - to give you at least a tiny feeling for the cities you will be in.
nytraveler is offline  
May 10th, 2015, 06:20 PM
  #26  
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Join Date: Apr 2015
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Thank you everyone for all the suggestions, really helps a lot. I did not feel like I was ridiculed but instead they were comforting advices. Now I have a lot of home work to do. Thanks again everyone.
danaprincess is offline  
May 10th, 2015, 06:53 PM
  #27  
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,576
Every situation is a learning experience.

I think you will have a great time - it's probably best that you are not on a formal tour, as you would be incredibly rushed, and getting around with a tour group would waste what time you have.

Yes, find a few guide books for the cities where you will be. Study up on what the public transportation is - and if your hotels are way out from the city attractions, budget in a little extra for a taxi into the city and back to the hotel at the end of the day. The time saved will be well worth it.

In London there are free walking tours offered by Sandemans - http://www.newlondon-tours.com/daily...free-tour.html You meet up with a guide and other tourists and the guide (often an ex-pat or a student) takes you around various areas. The tour that meets at Covent Garden is interesting, and worthwhile if you only have a short time to see the city, as it covers many sights, albeit not in depth, but the guides are fairly knowledgeable and entertaining. They will expect a tip at the end of the tour, your call as to the amount - and one caveat: don't go to the pub they "recommend" for lunch afterwards. Not the greatest.

Look for other walking tours of the city centers where you will be - sometimes there are free ones (tips expected) and others that are not too expensive. I think walking tours are a great way to see any city - I would avoid the van tours, or even the hop-on-hop-off, as traffic congestion can mean you are stuck.

Yes, your time is limited - but consider that you will have a taste of each city, and perhaps it will whet your appetite to return.

Enjoy your trip for what it is - and have a great time with your daughter!
scdreamer is offline  
May 10th, 2015, 07:17 PM
  #28  
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 58
Sorry - I realized Hampstead is 3 (not 2) stops from Camden Lock station, which is right near your hotel.

You definitely need to figure out public transport for London because Camden is a little out of the way for Central London. Same applies to Paris. The hotel in Rome is fairly central and you could walk everywhere if you are good walkers.

I second the rec for walking tours. Check out London Walks, too. I travel with my 2 teens a lot and we love walking tours. It's a great way to learn a bit of history of a particular area. I would also avoid hop on/off bus because the traffic is gridlocked much of the time.

Check out the canal boat tour right near your hotel. Very nice and maybe a good afternoon activity when your feet are tired.

Have a great time!
sfmurphys is offline  
May 10th, 2015, 11:16 PM
  #29  
 
Join Date: May 2008
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I agree with picking one sight per day, or perhaps two, and fitting in more only if there is time. Consider using the Hop On Hop Off bus tours for one day in each city. They will drive you by all the major sights, and if it is one you have identified as one you want to see on this trip, you get off and see it, then catch the next bus. You have so little time, this can be an efficient way to get at least a glimpse of things. Just don't be tempted to jump off at every sight, or you won't make it to the ones at the top of your list.
artsnletters is online now  
May 11th, 2015, 05:35 AM
  #30  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
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>>You have so little time, this can be an efficient way to get at least a glimpse of things. <<

I disagree -- especially in London. the H-o-H-o buses are not at all efficient because they often just sit in traffic for long periods. You simply don't have enough time in London to spend most of a day sitting on top of a double decker looking across at other buses stuck in the same gridlock.

Pick your 2 or three 'musts' and concentrate on visiting/seeing them. Anymore will be a bonus.
janisj is online now  
May 11th, 2015, 06:46 AM
  #31  
 
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Another strong "no" to the HOHO buses. Waste of time when traffic backs up.
scdreamer is offline  
May 11th, 2015, 07:28 AM
  #32  
 
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A big NO to HOHO buses in London, Paris and Rome.

London gets bogged down with traffic and in Paris it is a boring view through a bus window. You won't remember anything much that you see, won't have any experience that will make you feel you are in London or Paris and will waste valuable time that could be spent seeing something special.

The center of Rome is great for walking. You don't have time to start learning the bus system. Save your precious time there and grab a taxi to get to places too far for a quick walk.

Figure out what you want to see during your short time. Visit those sights as directly as you can. A bit of walking lets you commect with the local environment.
Sassafrass is offline  
May 11th, 2015, 08:58 AM
  #33  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
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To danaprincess:
Have a great trip and don't let many of the comments here worry you.

Most people on here have traveled a lot so keep that in mind ... they have lots of good advice from experience that you should heed ... but because of their experience they may have a point of view entirely different from yours. Earlier in my life I thought I'd never be able to afford a trip to Europe and when the opportunity first came up (1) I was intimidated by the planning (2) had no idea what to expect (3) tried to see too much all at once.

From my perspective:

Organize your trip to EU to do the same sorts of things you do on your trips in the US. There are different languages and different histories and many more "must-see-sites" that you won't have time to see ... but the essence of experiencing a city is the same no matter where you are. Do what YOU normally like to do.

If you like to explore a city on your own, do it and enjoy it. If you like to go on guided tours and be shuttled to some major sites with some commentary from the guide thrown in, do it and enjoy it. If you'd like to get on one of the hop-on-hop-off trips (they'll all pass by some of the major sites with some commentary thrown in), do it and enjoy it. Each of those has pluses and minuses.

A few things you may not be aware of: There are guided walking tours and guided bicycling tours of most major cities now ... if you like that sort of activity those are excellent ways of getting a feel for a city and meeting some fellow tourists while getting some explanation of the city.

But in any case, remember:

1. It's you graduation present to your daughter - involve her in the planning and do lots of things that she would like to do as well as the things you'd like to do.

2. Get a few guidebooks and read, read, and read before you go, then sort through and make a short list of what you'd like to see and do. Then winnow that list. Then shorten it even further. Plan on only one or two things a day ... you'll easily be able to fill up the rest of the day spontaneously.

3. And just plain enjoy the trip doing what you'd do on a trip here in the US.

I thought I'd never be able to travel outside the US, but somehow now I've managed to travel on a number of trips throughout both Eastern and Western Europe and Asia. Who knows, this currently may seem like a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for you, but you might be back in the future to see even more.
elbegewa is offline  
May 11th, 2015, 09:18 AM
  #34  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Agree to do a lot of reading to see how things are done in each city so you know what to expect. Do not assume that everything will be the same as at home - assume many things are different - as simple as which way you look to cross the street in London since the cars are coming from the opposite direction.

And be sure your daughter has a look at the Let's Go student guide books - will help her find out good places for nightlife for young people - and a chance to interact with some kids her own age - as well as possibly some special activities she may want to do.
nytraveler is offline  
May 11th, 2015, 09:49 AM
  #35  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,469
We just did a walking tour with New Rome Free Tour that we enjoyed quite a bit. It went through the historic center of the city, starting at the Spanish Steps and ending at the Trevi Fountain, with several churches and other sites in between. It is tip-based, so you pay your guide whatever you think your tour was worth at the end.
http://www.newromefreetour.com/

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  

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