1st timers- Stuck on where to go-2 weeks

Dec 31st, 2014, 08:45 AM
  #1  
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1st timers- Stuck on where to go-2 weeks

My husband and I are looking to spend about 2 weeks in Europe. We want to have children in the next year or so and realize this might be the last chance we get to go to Europe before kids. We are looking to go in September or October There is so much to choose from. Ideal we would love to do London, Paris and Rome. We are struggling with keeping Rome on the agenda or if we are tackling too much. I keep trying to leave it off but struggle with not visiting Italy. We also struggle with wanting to visit amsterdam. I want to see everything but from reading blogs and forums suggesting not to cram too much, how do you decide where to go???!!!! Suggestions are strongly welcomed!
Vicky
VickyPaut7 is offline  
Dec 31st, 2014, 09:13 AM
  #2  
 
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When you talk about "doing" London and Paris, do you have very specific ideas of sights you would like to see in these cities or are you hoping to have time to explore without a fixed set of targets? For some people, a skip and a hop through London, Paris and Rome would be glam and fun, and they would cherry pick some sights and restaurants and call it a lark. But for others, it would turn into a cram and frustration, hoping to see all the highlights with only so many hours of daylight and opening hours in each place.

Part of it is a personality thing. There really is no one formula for this. A lot of people really can't enjoy a trip unless they go slow and feel they have done a place "justice". Others figure they'll see what they can and enjoy it the nibbles and bites, and figure they'll be back some day.
sandralist is offline  
Dec 31st, 2014, 09:30 AM
  #3  
 
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You could do London, Paris and Rome in 2 weeks fairly comfortably. Two calendar weeks is 14 days, adding the ending weekend makes 16 days. If you're coming from North America, leave on the Friday night to cram in a little more time. Allow an extra day or so at your arrival city to get over jet-lag.

And buy open jaw plane tickets, into London, out of Rome. These tickets are called multi-city on airline websites and should cost about the same as round-trip tix. Especially given you save the time and money spent backtracking to your arrival city.

Take the Eurostar train from London to Paris. City center to city center in 2 hours 15 minutes. (Buy these tickets early for a considerable savings.) And fly Easyjet from Paris Orly to Rome Fiumicino. Orly is smaller, less crowded and easier to get to than Charles de Gaulle, the main Paris airport.

Or substitute Amsterdam for Rome and take the train from Paris to Amsterdam. Amsterdam has less to see than Rome so you could put more time in London and Paris.

Trip planning is like dieting. You're always having to give up some thing you really like. Only you know your must-sees.
Mimar is offline  
Dec 31st, 2014, 09:35 AM
  #4  
 
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We enjoyed our two-week trip London-Paris-Amsterdam, by trains.

Or London-Paris-Rome would work, too, without stretching your time too thinly.

You're young and you have no children in tow, so that's the best case situation for travel.

Enjoy planning your trip!

Look at airfares for best itinerary, flying into and out of two different cities.
Tabernash2 is offline  
Dec 31st, 2014, 09:54 AM
  #5  
 
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I usually suspect a lack of clear objectives when people get stuck like this. Clear objectives will help them optimize what they want to get out of the trip while helping them to throw away fluffs taking time away from what are meaningful to them without sense of regrets.

You probably have objectives. A list of usual European cities would unlikely to match what YOU want to get out unless going to “usual known destinations” is your actual goal.

You also have constraints. 2 weeks is a constraint. You are also bound by transportation schedule and accommodation availabilities, etc.

You will get nowhere trying to randomly put things together hoping to magically come up with something meaningful to you within your constraints. You will have to put together many possible scenarios using realistic travel times using actual plane/train/driving travel estimates. For each scenario, ask yourself, what do you get out of it? Are you staying within your constraints? You will start getting a sense of an envelope of possibilities.

Also, think about future possibilities. If you have chance to travel with your children in the future, which destinations are still possible with small children? That destination may be postponed without kicking yourself later, “I wished I thought about that and could have visited somewhere else instead.”
greg is offline  
Dec 31st, 2014, 11:19 AM
  #6  
 
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The other posters are spot on about having clear objectives/ideas while planning, especially with limited time. It will help immensely to narrow down what, exactly, attracts you to these places, and what you must see, which can help determine what time you need.

For example, I visited Paris for the first time in early October, tacked onto a work trip. I only had three nights to spare, so got very clear with my priorities. I wanted to spend a good deal of time wandering the streets and parks for photography, so I knew I could not spend all my time in museums. I've been a lover of Impressionist art and Monet from an early age, so I narrowed my museums to d'Orsay, de l'Orangerie and Marmottan. Yes, I skipped the Louvre and Rodin and countless other "must see" places, but I didn't have time to do all of them justice, and hopefully will return someday.

So try to determine what attracts/interests you to each place, and what you can/can't live without seeing. You can definitely see London-Paris-Rome or London-Paris-Amsterdam in that time, but balancing your sightseeing time with experiencing time is the key to an enjoyably filled trip.
inspiredexplorer is offline  
Dec 31st, 2014, 02:40 PM
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As soon as I see, 'Europe' in the post I know they are in trouble. You might as well say, 'I want to see the world, how do we decide where to go'.

The words that we use affect how we think. Using 'Europe' is useless in deciding where you want to go. You must think in much smaller and manageable terms.

Let's say for example you started with, 'I have 2 weeks, can't visit more than 3 places and there are 982 places that interest me.' What would you do next? That is in fact where you are now but by using the word 'Europe' you don't see it as asking yourself where in 982 places should you go.

Common sense should tell you that if there are 982 possible places that interest you then you are going to have to come up with some criteria to narrow down that list. Those have to be YOUR criteria and asking anyone else how THEY decide is useless.

If I had 2 weeks I would pick 2 places to visit for a week each. The two places would be those 2 that interested me most today.

So pick 2. Go on, just decide, that is HOW you decide where to go, the question you asked for an answer to.
Sojourntraveller is offline  
Dec 31st, 2014, 05:15 PM
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Vicky, I think some posters are being too hard on you. You have narrowed your plan down to two or three options. And you've chosen very interesting cities.

Don't get discouraged. It's not as much work as some are making it out to be. Do your research, and decide on your choices. I don't know anything about Sept/Oct in those cities, so I suggest you take a look at the weather for those months, for starters.

You can post specific hotel questions, once you're firmed up your itinerary. You have plenty of time to decide.
Tabernash2 is offline  
Dec 31st, 2014, 06:06 PM
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(ignore some of the harsher comments above -- in fact one of the pills was easier on you than he usually is - don't take it personally)

No one can choose for you -- but London/Paris/Rome (or London/Paris/Amsterdam) would be a terrific trip -- if a bit rushed in two weeks.

14 days actually nets you about 11 days free on the ground -- then you need to subtract 1/2 a day or a bit more every time you move. So 2 weeks for London/Paris/Rome would really net you a little over 3 days per city. Si I;d either add a few days . . . or . . . cut back to two major cities. Which two is up to you. Paris/London is about the easiest city pair you could imagine. Fly open jaw -- into one city and home from another -- to maximize your time and simplify things.

If you could stretch to 17 days then you could easily do 3 cities.
janisj is online now  
Dec 31st, 2014, 08:49 PM
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I agree that it is possible to visit London, Paris and Rome in two weeks (whether it's 14 or 17 days). But I will interpret your question as being "how to decide where to go and how much time to spend."

Will it be too rushed for YOU? Look at prior travel, even though it's not in Europe, to help you figure out your travel style. Have all of your prior trips, for example, been to the beach where you spend hours lounging? Or to cities where you have days full of museum visits? Do you have many activities planned in a day, or is one activity good for you? If you have been active travelers on previous trips, that's likely to be the case in Europe, as well.

If all of your prior trips have been to rural destinations, let's say hiking in the Rocky Mountains, then you should ask yourselves if you would enjoy two weeks in big cities, and possibly include time in a more rural location.

In terms of London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, etc., what are your interests? Do you love gourmet food and fancy dining? Then maybe more time in Paris. Ancient history - then obviously more time in Rome. You love the Impressionists? Paris again, and maybe even Amsterdam if you really love Van Gogh.

Get a bunch of guidebooks and videos from your local library, or spend some time looking at destinations on YouTube. You may both find that one destination appeals to you more than the others (or not), and it may help you decide how to allocate your days.
Lexma90 is offline  
Dec 31st, 2014, 11:11 PM
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Some very wise words there.
I can't add much except to emphasize what someone said on another recent topic: which cities call to you?
Paris and London are classics. But perhaps you may like to keep them to be seen later with children. Depending on your interests you could go for something more challenging as you are young and on your own. My own top two would be Venice and Vienna but there you go....as sojourntraveller said " 2 out of 982".
Appia is offline  
Jan 1st, 2015, 04:10 AM
  #12  
 
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London and Paris with a side order of Amsterdam, I'd drop Rome. It gives you two cities where English is a major element and just Paris where you might just be stuck a bit.

Look at open jaw and I suspect with taxes Amsterdam or Paris is the flight out place. Use the train to get around unless you want to do the whole Ferry thing from London to Amsterdam.

Get a plan, remember jetlag is best walked off in the sunshine and that in London you will need a plan B (for jet lag and rain) for a few days.
bilboburgler is online now  
Jan 1st, 2015, 06:08 AM
  #13  
 
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Fly into London and out of Amsterdam

London to Paris by Eurostar, Paris to Amsterdam by Thalys.
menachem is offline  
Jan 1st, 2015, 10:12 AM
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That's how we did it, menachem. It is a convenient way to go. We had 2- weeks: 3 nights London, 3 nights Paris, 5 nights Amsterdam (DH had a conference). Ending in Amsterdam is a good plan, because we found it to be a very friendly, easygoing place.
Tabernash2 is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2015, 06:04 AM
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I don't think there is anything wrong in choosing an itinerary based on a desire to understand Europe, not just have vacation fun in different cities. A great deal of my own travel has always been motivated by wanting to learn more about Europe, and there are some itineraries that really do make for good introductions and serve as a basis for later travels that deepen the understanding. This kind of travel is really pooh-poohed by some people as too intellectual, but even people who aren't history buffs or terribly interested in politics often enjoy making connections.

A itinerary that stems from a desire to learn something about Europe isn't always about a chronological, classical history tour. A lot of people developed an interest in seeing Europe because of books or movies, or because of a personal connection to WW2 or their own ancestry.

I know a lot of people think the way to approach European travel is to see one country at a time, but not only is that at odds with history (the present map of European nations is less than 20 years old) but experiencing several distinct and different cultures of Europe in one two-week span is an eye opener in itself.

The biggest pitfall of a trip to Europe that includes too-brief days in cities with lots of famous tourist sights is that the tourist sights exist in bubbles that, like airports, have a uniform globalized culture to make everything easy, or else have truly corny "yesteryear" commercialism to give you a quick Tinkertoy experience of "Europe" that conforms to pre-existing prejudice (cheese and wooden clogs, perfume and artists with berets, pizza and pope pictures). But you can easily defeat that with a little planning.
sandralist is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2015, 06:14 AM
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Come to think of it, the present map of Europe still isn't 10 years old -- and may not last another 10 weeks, let alone 10 years. So no reason not be fluid in one's concept of European travel.
sandralist is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2015, 06:20 AM
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I think you can do three big cities in two weeks, just no more.
sanderskn is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2015, 06:53 AM
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If you can spend 14 full days on the ground in Europe, you can easily visit London, Paris and Rome. They are all great cities and would make a wonderful first trip. Keep in mind that many of us are seasoned travelers and giving advice based on the way we like to see Europe now. We forget about our first trips which, in many cases, were often busier than you are considering.

You can get a good idea of what you want to do on later trips by visiting London, Paris and Rome. And while you may not think so now, you will return as we did, once the child rearing years are behind you. I would save Amsterdam for then - while it is a worthwhile destination, it is not nearly as wonderful as London, Paris and Rome.

Have fun planning and a great trip.
mamcalice is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2015, 07:02 AM
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>>If you can spend 14 full days on the ground << . . . operative words 'on the ground', which requires a minimum 16 days total (possibly 17 days - depending on your flight times and where you are arriving from)
janisj is online now  
Jan 2nd, 2015, 07:56 AM
  #20  
 
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As first-timers, you will arrive in a city and have some degree of disorientation due to total lack of geographic familiarity. So, I suggest that for London and Paris you take one of the orientation half day bus tours that basically show you where the sights are and what the city looks like. Hop on hop off with recorded commentary is nice for this. Amsterdam and Rome have sufficiently small compact central tourist zones as not to need this. Personally, I would favor Amsterdam over Rome for a third stop as you can't see as much of Rome as you will want to in the time alloted. Another choice would be just two cities, London/Paris or London/Rome.

Practical things: Some purveyors of package tours offer air plus hotel and intercity transfers in a single package, saving you the complexities of logistics but leaving your touring and dining to your own choices. This can also save money. Just be sure you want the hotels they offer. Your city choices are sure to be available.

Also, pack with one carry-on per person, no more. The less you take, the easier it is to get around. Buy any liquid personal care items on arrival, if your hotel does not supply them, and discard the extra when you fly home. And make sure you can walk all day in the shoes you bring. No new shoes!
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