12 weeks in Europe

Old Dec 1st, 2015, 11:44 PM
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12 weeks in Europe

My fiance and I are planning on backpacking (as cheap as we can) around europe for 12 weeks for our honeymoon next year from sept to nov. We have contacted our local travel consultant and they have come up with a rough itinerary. I'm concerned that we are going to be too rushed and not get to see everything we would like to. We have not been to Europe before and this will be our last horah before having kids. So basically I'm looking for advice on what can be missed and where we need to stay longer or shorter and the best and cheapest way to get from one point to the next. We are not big party goers and are more into history, music (opera, classical) and architecture. Major Harry Potter fans so need a bit of time in the UK to see all the places Harry Potter was filmed. Also big Game of Thones fans =Ireland.

5 sept Depart Brisbane
6 sept Arrive in Warsaw stay 3 nights
9 sept Train from Warsaw to Krakow to stay 2 nights (we want to visit Auschwitz)
11 sept fly from Krakow to Berlin stay 3 nights
14 sept Train from Berlin to Prague stay 3 nights
17 sept Train from Prague to Munich stay 3 nights (Oktoberfest)
20 sept Munich to salzburg stay 2 nights
22 sept Salzburg to Vienna stay 3 nights
25 sept Vienna to Budapest stay 3 nights
28 sept fly from Budapest to Athens stay 3 nights
1 Oct Fly from Athens to Santorini stay 3 nights
4 Oct Fly from Santorini to Rome stay 3 nights
7 Oct Train Rome to Florence stay 1 night
8 Oct Train Florence to Cinqure Terre stay 3 nights
11 Oct Train from Cinqure Terre to Venice stay 3 nights
14 Oct Train from Venice to Milan stay 2 nights
16 Oct Train from Milan to interlarken stay 1 night
17 Oct Train from interlarken to Lucern stay 2 nights
19 Oct Train to Zurich then fly to Ljubljana stay for 3 nights
22 Oct Fly from Ljubliana to Paris stay for 3 nights
25 Oct Train Paris to Brussels stay 1 night
26 Oct Train Brussels to Amsterdam 2 nights (Is this too much, we are not interested in pot)
28 Oct Fly Amsterdam to Lisbon stay 3 nights
31 Oct Fly Lisbon to Madrid stay 2 nights
2 Nov Train Madrid to Barcelona 3 nights
5 Nov Barcelona to Copenhagen 2 nights
7 Nov Copenhagen to Stockholm 3 nights
10 Nov Stockholm to Helsinki 3 nights (1 night in glass igloo)
13 Nov Helsinki to Oslo 2 nights
15 Nov Oslo to Dublin 4 nights
19 Nov Dublin to Edinburgh 3 nights
22 Nov Edinburgh to London stay 6 nights
28 Nov Fly London to Brisbane

OR

5 sept Depart Brisbane
6 sept Arrive in Warsaw stay 3 nights
9 sept Train from Warsaw to Krakow to stay 2 nights (we want to visit Auschwitz)
11 sept fly from Krakow to Berlin stay 3 nights
14 sept Train from Berlin to Prague stay 3 nights
17 sept Train from Prague to Munich stay 3 nights (Oktoberfest)
20 sept Munich to salzburg stay 2 nights
22 sept Salzburg to Vienna stay 3 nights
25 sept Vienna to Budapest stay 3 nights
28 sept fly from Budapest to Athens stay 3 nights
1 Oct Fly from Athens to Santorini stay 3 nights
4 Oct Fly from Santorini to London stay 7 nights
11 Oct Train London to Glasgow stay 2 nights
13 Oct Glasgow to Edinburgh stay 3 nights
16 Oct Edinburgh to Dublin stay 4 nights
20 Oct Fly Dublin to Rome stay 3 nights
23 Oct Train Rome to Florence stay 1 night
24 Oct Train Florence to Cinqure Terre stay 3 nights
27 Oct Train from Cinqure Terre to Venice stay 3 nights
30 Oct Train from Venice to Milan stay 2 nights
1 Nov Train from Milan to interlarken stay 2 night
3 Nov Train from interlarken to Lucern stay 2 nights
5 Nov Train to Zurich then fly to Ljubljana stay for 3 nights
8 Nov Fly from Ljubliana to Paris stay for 3 nights
11 Nov Train Paris to Brussels stay 1 night
12 Nov Train Brussels to Amsterdam 2 nights (Is this too much, we are not interested in pot)
14 Nov Fly Amsterdam to Lisbon stay 3 nights
17 Nov Fly Lisbon to Madrid stay 2 nights
19 Nov Train Madrid to Barcelona 3 nights
22 Nov Barcelona to Copenhagen 2 nights
24 Nov Copenhagen to Stockholm 3 nights
27 Nov Stockholm to Helsinki 3 nights (1 night in glass igloo)
30 Nov Helsinki to Oslo 2 nights
2 Dec Oslo to Brisbane
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 12:37 AM
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Wow, what a great opportunity which, as you say you may not get to again for a bit.

From my middle aged perspective you are doing too much, it will cost you a bit to travel so much and you are going to see more of the train/airport than you will of Europe. Seriously clock up the hours traveling and you will be amazed.

You also seem to be jumping around all over so much so I need google maps to sort it all out

Finally it gets cold in the north in October and November (it even rains a lot in October in Italy) Cinque Terre could well be a mud bath by then.

I suspect I might sack my travel advisor but lets see what others say.

Poland, Germany, Hungary, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Slovenia, France, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway

Of these Norway and Switzerland will cost you a lot of money. I think I'd start by crossing those two off the list just to calm it down.

I think I'd do the warmer ones first just to enjoy them. So I'd do Italy, Greece, Slovenia (and other Ex-Yugo countries), Spain, Portugal(I might drop as Spain is just so big and wonderful). Then France (and buy warmer clothes and dump cooler clothes) Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Hungary.

Then start looking at smaller cities, capital cities are not all they are cracked out to be.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 12:48 AM
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Most of your time will be spent in rail station and airports. Unless you can get super early/late trains and air travel, your 2 night stays will be a blur and your 1 night stays will be virtually pointless. If you can depart a city on a flight at 6am or 10pm, that will maximise your time on the ground.
Bear in mind the Australian dollar's very poor exchange rate against the euro and maybe ditch Scandinavia (yes, Sweden & Norway don't use euro but point being Scandinavia is a very expensive part of the world).
There is way more to Amsterdam than pot. You need to do some research. Try the Lonely Planet Europe on a Shoestring guide book.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 01:15 AM
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»I'm concerned that we are going to be too rushed«
I totally agree with bilboburgler it's way too much. Your itinerary very much looks a list of all the usual highlights taken from some travel brochures put together into one long tour.
You will be burning a lot of money and losing a lot of time with all that travelling, You won't have much opportunity to appreciate the history and architecture you're looking for, let alone to visit some concerts along the road.
Concentrate on the countries and regions you're really interested in, make them into a coherent trip which can be done by not too long train journeys, invest in staying there longer, and spoil yourself with the luxury of staying in smaller cities. It will make your trip much more worthwhile.
Italy, Austria, Germany followed by either the Czech Republic/Poland or the Netherlands/Belgium/France would be such a trip.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 01:56 AM
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There is so much more to Amsterdam than pot. Including plenty of history, museums, concerts. 2 nights=1 day. You won't even scratch the surface.
The same applies to most of the places on your list.

It is your honeymoon. You need to slow down, and enjoy your time together, making memories. Decide what you really want to see, allow some relaxing time, and leave the rest for a post kids trip.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 02:10 AM
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If you like opera and classical music, why not organise the trip around taking advantage of visiting some of Europe's famous historic music venues and eliminating places that don't really offer that? At the beginning of your trip, the performance season won't have begun in some places, so you might start out with relaxing scenic destinations first, or the Harry Potter/Game of Thrones fix, and take advantage of the nicer weather. But for the remainder of your trip, plan to take in a concert or opera once a week or more in Vienna, Venice or Milan, London, Berlin, Amsterdam... pick your faves.

For what it is worth, I am a bit shocked a travel consultant came up with this itinerary, even if you told them you wanted to see as much as humanly possible. I would pay them for what they've done but not continue with them.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 03:52 AM
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Poor travel agent! Most of his/her clients want a tour along the usual things they've heard of, but want to see in reality.
My best memories are the smaller, unexpected things which took a little bit of trouble of getting there and without the crowds to take away a lot of the appreciation. With 12 weeks on their hands OP and fiancé have a perfect opportunity to get that experience.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 03:58 AM
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Sorry - but yo are moving WAY too fast for me. There are many stops with just one day - and you will get to see not much of anything. You are spending a very large percent of your time just in transit rather than actually seeing/doing anything. And I think after a coupe of weeks exhaustion will set in and everything will become a blur.

Also some of your choices seem odd - 3 days in CT (tiny villages with some hikes) versus 1 day in Florence (a huge number of museums and historic sights).

Also I think you need to reorder the trip. Putting Scandinavia and England/Ireland at the end of the trip - when days will be shorter, weather colder/rainier and days very grey is a really bad idea. I wold move them much earlier to the front of the trip to get better weather and leave the southern areas for the end of the trip - to get less cold weather and somewhat longer days.

Just so you understand, for instance - 2 days for Amsterdam is nothing, you can easily use 3 or 4 days there. IMHO the only place you have enough time is London.

Also you have listed only cities and don't really have much time for the countryside or smaller towns.

There are times when less is really more and this is one of them. I would cut a least a third of your stops to allow more time in the most important ones and so you will have a more relaxed and less hysterical rushing from place to place.

Suggest starting your work on guide books (Michelin green is great for info/ratings on sights, other for pix) and figure out what you want to see there and then how long it will take. And double check on opening days. Many museums are closed one days a week - often Monday or Tues but it varies - and you don;t want to be in town the one day things are closed.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 07:10 AM
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This sort of itinerary makes me wonder what you do if a delay-causing issue occurs at the start or actually anywhere in the trip... You will have purchased many, many air tickets, possibly train tickets, and perhaps booked economy lodging with no last-minute cancellation. Will your budget handle potential losses if you have to make itinerary changes as you go?

This sort of itinerary also makes me wonder when you'll do laundry. Yes, you can do the under bits most nights, but in 12 weeks the over bits will need to be properly laundered several times.

Packing for weather you'll encounter between Sept. 5 and Dec. 2 in all of these places will be a challenge, esp. if you're trying to travel fast and nimble.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 07:33 AM
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This sounds like the worst possible mash-up of every canned big bus tour of Europe. It's appalling that a "travel consultant" would come up with this. Perhaps one who's never set foot in Europe?

Scrap this. Get a bunch of guidebooks and videos and maps and plan out a trip that will actually be rewarding, insightful, geared to YOUr interests, and not ridiculously expensive.

If I were to take a death march like this, I'd probably abandon the thought of starting a family and check into a sanitarium for a month or two afterwards.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 07:33 AM
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Well, it is potentially doable but it sounds exhausting. You could likely keep up that kind of pace for a week or two but not for twelve.

Which places interest you the most? I would definitely try to avoid the one night stays and as many of the two night stays as possible. You have to figure it takes a good half a day (at least) to travel from city to city and transport is not cheap. You don't want to spend a lot of time and money going somewhere you will barely have time to see.

I would not shortchange Florence if you are interested in history, art and architecture.

You are fortunate to have time for a lovely trip but can't do it all. If you enjoy Europe you will return someday. I would try to decide which places are the "musts" for now.

If you grabbed your itinerary and listed the cities mentioned, which ones would you give 5 stars to? 4 stars, etc. I would then research some of the things you would like to do in your 5 starred places which will give you a better idea of how long you'd want to stay in each place.

You can also come back here saying these are our 5 starred places, which other 4 starred (or 3 starred) places can we comfortably add? You'll get lots of advice (and some varied opinions.)

Happy planning!
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 09:54 AM
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>>I'm concerned that we are going to be too rushed and not get to see everything we would like to.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 01:28 PM
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Thank-you everyone for your advice it is greatly appreciated!! I find it funny that most of you have said maybe the travel agent has never been to Europe, the reason why we chose her is because she is from the U.K. and goes on holidays around Europe every year and basically just told us where we should really go and where she enjoys visiting which seems to be everywhere! I also find it interesting as one important fact I told her was that we aren't interested in the major tourist places we like to get to meet the locals and learn their culture so I did say small towns were best but maybe she has never been to these. Don't get me wrong we want to see main historical sites and famous landmarks but really we are there to experience each culture. We were originally going to be doing a year away but couldn't afford our mortgage and rent at the same time so scrapped that idea but these were the countries we had originally said we wanted to cover.

Some people have said to do uk first then the others but others have said do Italy and such first as it rains a lot in October which would be a better place to start? I'm going to see my grandparents today who have travelled a lot for extra tips so may put up a new itinerary tonight.

Sorry if I offended anyone regarding Amsterdam, I am only 23 and most of my friends stories from there are just about getting high, I will do more research here.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 02:05 PM
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You are doing so much train travel that you are the rare person to warrant looking at a Eurailpass - which comes in first class only if over 25 - and that to me is much more relaxed on train rides, especially longish ones and in most countries you can just hop on any train any time - no laborous pre-booking in multiple national rail sites and then being stuck to a train you booked far in advance to get discounted tickets.

Anyway for loads of great info to plan the rail part check www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

For Switzerland a 4-day Swiss Pass can be surprisingly cost-effective if only there a short time - www.swisstravelsystem.com for lots of details on Swiss trains and passes - also consider the Berner Oberland Pass - extending from the Interlaken area to Lucerne or the Jungfraubahn Pass - good on most conveyances in the Jungfrau (Interlaken) area. Passes are also good on lake boats on the two lakes bookending Interlaken and postal buses and city transports and give free entry to 470+ Swiss museums.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 02:13 PM
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You won't have time to 'meet locals and learn their culture' as you are not staying anywhere for long enough to even unpack.

I would start wherever your airline can deposit you for the cheapest price - which will probably be London if you're arriving from Brisbane.

I would start there (London) in September and move south as it gets cooler. It doesn't necessarily rain 'a lot' in Italy in November and it is actually a good month to be there as the crowds diminish substantially.

PalenQ - Eurail is all well and good but if the OP wants to get from A to B quickly in Italy they will still need to pay a supplement for their Frecciarossa/Bianca train travel. Given their punishing schedule I am thinking high speed rail rather than IC or regional is their most plausible option.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 02:46 PM
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>>I told her was that we aren't interested in the major tourist places we like to get to meet the locals and learn their culture so I did say small towns were best but maybe she has never been to these.did tell her that - she certainly failed you. The only places you are staying more that 2 days are Dublin and London (3 nights nets you just over 2 days free on the ground)…

Back to the drawing board - she may be a Brit (that doesn't guarantee she has any sense ) but she doesn't know how to 'plan a trip'.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 09:08 PM
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Been there, done that (but not for as long a time) When we went to Europe the first time we wanted to see as much as possible - we doubted if we'd ever be back ... lots of one night (or two night-one day) stands - and you don't want one night stands on your honeymoon

Some of my friends when I was in college spent a 3 month summer backpacking around Europe ... hostels and eating cheap ... without any plan, just drifting around as interest suggested. They had a grand time.

But, now to you ...
like most above have suggested ... get some guide books and focus in on a few things

And then consider how you'll travel. When you say "backpacking" is that literally what you intend, using primarily hostels and either scrounging rides or using railpass? Or renting or buying an old van and doing a road trip? Or are you planning to stay in hotels (or apartments) and flying around?

Now, just a thought ... (and what I'd do if I were going to spend 3 months in Europe).

1. possibility 1: pick 6 places central to areas you'd like to see and stay in each for 2 weeks plus or minus (or less places for longer each). Rent an apartment in each (or stay in a hostel). Use each as a base, getting comfortable with the place, slowly exploring the place plus taking side trips to nearby places.

2. possibility 2.: pick 3 or 4 places central to areas you'd like to see and get a place for 3 or 4 weeks and take excursions from there.

In all cases (especially if staying in hostels) leave lots of flexibility for things that you discover (or are told about) and change plans as needed within what flexibility you have.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 09:33 PM
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elbegewa give some good advice. Just one other thought . . . I'm not saying you can't do a lightening trip. 2 or 3 weeks of dashing about -- especially when you are young. -- is totally doable. One can always rest and recover when they get home.

But not three months of constant on the move. After about 4 weeks of this you won't know here you are or what's next. Heck, you don't even have time to do laundry . . .
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 10:42 PM
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Still crazy I know but I've cut out a couple of places so we could stay longer in some. This is not in any order yet just nights in each place I may increase the 3, 1 night stops to 2 depending on what I find to do there. We plan on mostly training to places in the evenings or overnight so not to waste our days.

12 weeks in Europe

France
5 nights in Paris
2 nights in Nice

Italy
2 nights Milan
2 nights Cinque terre
Stop in pisa on the way to florence
2 nights Florence
4 nights Rome
2 nights Venice

Switzerland
2 nights Zurich or Lucerne
2 nights Village in alps ? Melchsee-frutt
1 night bern

Germany
3 nights Munich
2 nights Berlin
2 nights Hamburg (recommends 3-4 days)

Belgium
2 nights Brussels
1 night Antwerp
1 night Bruges

Netherlands
2 nights Amsterdam

Slovenia
3 nights Ljubljana
- one day trip to lake bled
- day trip to postonja or skocjan caves
1 night in piran

Spain
2 nights Barcelona
3 nights Madrid
2 nights granda

Czech Republic
3 nights Prague
2 nights Cesky krumlov

Poland
3 nights Warsaw
2 nights Kraków

Austria
2 nights Salzburg
3 nights Vienna

Hungary
3 nights Budapest

18 nights uk ? 7 England 2 Wales 5 Ireland 4 Scotland
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 11:28 PM
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PK better, I think I'd now focus on the north south plan for weather and the idea of inter-rail (or equiv) makes sense.

My view is it is better to be in cities when it rains as there is always somewhere to go to keep dry.
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