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18 days in Europe (Flying Open Jaw into Istanbul and out of Barcelona)

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Apr 10th, 2012, 12:56 PM
  #1
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18 days in Europe (Flying Open Jaw into Istanbul and out of Barcelona)

Hi Everyone,

Firstly, thank you so so so much for any help you can give me.

I will be flying from JFK to Istanbul on May 29th and returning back to JFK from Barcelona on June 16th. I am looking to spend 3 nights in Istanbul, and 2-3 nights in Barcelona. Beyond that I am looking for suggestions for places to go in the middle of the trip. I am graduating in May and going on the trip with my girlfriend so we will likely be staying in hotels and not hostels (unless the hostels offer private rooms... and we are definitely on a budget!). Not including flights we are trying to spend less than $2500 USD each.

I have been to London and Paris, so we are not looking to return there, and looking for a memorable trip for us both.

Some ideas we have: (Not sure what is feasible and how much it will cost to fly to these places)
--Prague or Budapest
--Amsterdam
--Madrid

Or I was thinking about Istanbul taking a cheap flight to Italy and then taking the train around Italy, and ending in Barcelona.

Thoughts and any suggestions or advice would be HIGHLY appreciated!!

Thank you so much!
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Apr 10th, 2012, 01:18 PM
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You've only listed larger city destinations. No interest in the countryside anywhere? For that matter, what are your general interests? It's impossible to recommend an itinerary without knowing anything about you.

FWIW, if it were my trip, and I was flying all the way to Istanbul, I'd want to see more of Turkey than just one big city.

As far as points between Istanbul and Barcelona, obviously you have all of Europe to choose from (although I think Amsterdam is pretty far north of your other ideas). You should look into the transportation options and costs between various cities as you could eat up a large part of your budget just moving around. Ditto budget hotels everywhere because you're late in planning.
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Apr 10th, 2012, 01:21 PM
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If your open jaw is fixed, I would suggest staying in Turkey until you are ready to go spend a few days in Barcelona. There are cheap flights from Istanbul to other parts of the country.
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Apr 10th, 2012, 01:36 PM
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Well for rail info and planning a rail trip in Europe I always highlight these IMO superb info-laden sites - www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com. If you all are under 26 then be sure to investigate the bargain Eurail Youthpass which lets you in many countries hop any train anytime - in Italy, France and Spain you do need to make mandated seat reservations however but pretty much elsewhere just hop on.
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Apr 10th, 2012, 02:05 PM
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I would strongly recommend spending half in and around Istanbul and half in and North of Barcelona.

My daughter spent honeymoon that way and loved it.

They flew to Barcelona from istanbul, rented a car and drove to the Langue Doc region in France and stayed at some very reasonably priced B&Bs in france and in Spain on the way back to barcelona.

Some areas to consider around istanbul would be Assos, Cunda, Gokce Ada, or Bodrum, Fethiye, Marmaris, Kas, Side further South. Beach, history, nature, antiquity in Turkey. Medieval world, wine tasting, art, architecture, nature, castles in France and spain. And fabulous food in all three countries.

Sure Italy is great and so are other spots in between Istanbul and Barcelona, but the areas I mentioned will be harder to get back to once you've missed them. And Dali will turn in his grave if you do not visit Port Ligat or Figueras.
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Apr 13th, 2012, 10:48 AM
  #6
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Thank you so much for the great replies!

We are now thinking about flying from Istanbul on June 2nd to Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg Airport and potentially taking the train around Switzerland/France/Spain until we leave from Barcelona on June 16th.

Any suggestions for this?
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Apr 13th, 2012, 11:20 AM
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Why would you go to the trouble and expense of buying a ticket to Istanbul and leave after just a few days? I agree with those who counseled spending half the time in Turkey and the other half in or near Barcelona.


You do not have nearly enough time to travel around France, Spain and Switzerland AND Istanbul.

I spent 3 weeks in Turkey the summer after I began college so your post brought back memories.
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Apr 13th, 2012, 11:48 AM
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I doubt you will like this as it is not a common route but we went Istanbul, Cairo, Barcelona two years ago. With teenagers. Three amazing places. We would do exactly the same thing again.
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Apr 13th, 2012, 12:07 PM
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Your starting and ending destinations, Turkey and Spain, are lower cost destinations. Costs in France are higher and everything is expensive in Switzerland. If you are on budget, estimate your expenses appropriately if you want to include Switzerland.
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Apr 13th, 2012, 12:14 PM
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I'm not an expert but I do agree with everyone else. My daughter went to Istanbul when she was studying in Barcelona & it was one of her favoriate places of all her travels. It doesn't make sense to go all the way to Turkey for just a few days.

2-3 nights in Barcelona isn't nearly enough of time. We were there in october 2010 & spent 5 nights in Barcelona & didn't see everything. We also spent 3 nights & 4 days driving north of Barcelona along the Costa Brava. Dali's house at Port Lligat is amazing, so is Cadaques, Girona, the Pyrenees, etc.

You don't want to waste a lot of time & money traveling from one destination to another. If you want to see 3 countries, maybe you should consider Turkey, Greece & Spain. Just some ideas.
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Apr 13th, 2012, 01:24 PM
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One more voice for more time in Turkey. I was there for the first time last fall and it is one of the most beautiful, interesting, countries with a rich and amazing variety of landscape and sights that I have visited. It seems a real waste to spend the money to fly all the way there, then not really see anything. Even for people who move quickly, 4-5 days in Istanbul would not be too much. Capadoccia is a most interesting place with a lunar-like landscape and fascinating history. If you enjoy any hiking, this would be a great place to do it. The coast is beautiful and Ephesus is astonishing. Food is wonderful and cheaper than many other countries.

Spain is another big country and you are also already locked into that. Spain has good train and plane connections. You could spend a week in Barcelona and do day trips or fly into Madrid or Seville, see that area, then take a fast train to Barcelona.

You only have 2&1/2 weeks. If you were not going to Turkey, you could do more traveling about in Europe, but you are already committed to Turkey and Spain, two large countries that are far apart. The point is, why spend more money to go other places when you are already in such an interesting place as Turkey, especially since it is not as easy to get to in the first place? Why not take advantage of being there now?
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Apr 13th, 2012, 03:41 PM
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I would go with otherchelebi's advice. Having been to both cities, I would love to return to see more as there is so much to see. We are going back to Barcelona in November, but would love to do Istanbul again and area, on a trip all by itself.
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Apr 13th, 2012, 04:07 PM
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I like Turkey, but I don't see anything wrong with your plan to taking the train around Switzerland, France and Spain.

You really shouldn't let your plane tickets determined your entire trip. Your main interest has been seeing the heart of Europe, and there is nothing wrong with your choice. I am surprised at the advice that you should simply split your time between Turkey and southern Spain because you have plane tickets. Of course there is always "so much to see" in these beautiful countries, but France and Switzerland are marvelous, and you should take the trip it excites you to take!

Cairo is marvelous and I know people would like to support its tourism, but it really is not wise to go there right now -- and even more so if you'd rather be in France and Switzerland.

One of the joys of being in Europe is how easy it is travel within Europe. Don't let travel-logistic-ideologues twist your arm. I don't care where you go so long as it makes you happy.
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Apr 13th, 2012, 04:11 PM
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PS: I spent a month in Turkey and loved it and will be heading back to Spain later this year for 3 weeks because I think it's a great destination. So I agree with people that these are worthwhile places (although I am not much of a fan of Barcelona).

But I also think France and Switzerland are great. Hard choices.
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Apr 13th, 2012, 04:12 PM
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One more thought:

It never occurred to me that Dali might turn in his grave if I didn't go to his museum, but I gave it a wide berth and don't regret it.
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Apr 13th, 2012, 04:19 PM
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"Cairo is marvelous and I know people would like to support its tourism, but it really is not wise to go there right now ..."

I double dare you to post that on the Africa forum.
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Apr 13th, 2012, 04:24 PM
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I know there are die-hard cheerleaders for every destination no matter what. And hey, coldphere, I'm hardly a chicken on these boards. (I'm even willing to risk ekscrunchy fiinally letting me have it.)

I am sad to post that it isn't safe for a couple of young grads to swing through Cairo in the next few months. But it isn't. My conscience won't let me post anything else.
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Apr 13th, 2012, 04:33 PM
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ExcitedtoTravel711

I want to amend my post to say don't let travel logistic *ideologies* twist your arm. (not ideologues). I think everybody is asking you to be flexible in your thinking.
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Apr 15th, 2012, 11:01 AM
  #19
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You have all been so wonderful in this planning process. I have definitely been quite indecisive!

I think as of now, I am between either going to Switzerland by way of flying into Basel, or potentially skipping Switzerland altogether and flying into St. Etienne,France (found a very reasonable flight http://www.skyscanner.com/flights/is...-2012.html)and traveling through the south of France.

I have a cousin who lives in Valence, and I would potentially stay for two days there and then venture south to Nice.

From Nice, I would want to take a trip to Monaco at least for the day, maybe for a night (I know its expensive). From there I would Like to go to Spain... I would probably fly from Nice to Barcelona for $61 http://www.skyscanner.com/flights/nc...june-2012.html.

Then spend the remainder of my trip enjoying Barcelona.

Any thoughts, critiques, and advice are completely welcome!
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Apr 15th, 2012, 12:03 PM
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Excited, you sound like a new parent wanting advice on child-rearing! We could all give you Too Much Information, but I think you just have to dive in and find out what you like. Your first trip is always just to see what you want to see more of when you go back.
Have fun!
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