2 Week European Itinerary

Old Dec 12th, 2013, 09:17 AM
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>>I don't see how riding a train from London to Paris in 2 hours is inconvenient.
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Old Dec 12th, 2013, 09:20 AM
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It is your trip - only you know if all the trains/stations/transit time fits your style - or if you'd rather a little more time in a few less places. (No one is suggesting you need to spend a whole week in any one place -- that is a canard PQ pulls out whenever he pooh pooh's other's ideas)
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Old Dec 12th, 2013, 09:41 AM
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A tour can cover way more than independent travelers in the same amount of time"

Everything is organized in advance for you, pick ups times, 7 am starts, long days sitting on a bus, pre-arranged check in and meals etc). Also they typically do just 1 or at most 2 stops in each place.

If you want that type of travel you should take a tour.

If you want the benefits of traveling independently - that means everything takes more time - as you figure out how everything works in each country - and presumably you want to spend more time in each place and get to actually see something of it. Figure you can do - if lucky - half as many stops as a tour int the same amount of time.

As for an ideal 16 day itinerary - that depends entirely on your interests. I would do 3 places (3 cities, not countries - total of 3 hotels) and you can perhaps do a day trip from a couple of them.

IMHO you need to allow at least 5 nights (4 days) for London, Paris, Rome and other major cities. Smaller cities you might do one day/night less. You have to allow a full day each time you move from one city to another. And you can;t count the days you arrive or depart.

Look into open jaw flights - into the first city and out of the last - to avoid wasting time and money backtracking. (These are often called multi-destination city flights on web sites. You don;t have to fly between the cities - can do train or whatever you want.)
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Old Dec 12th, 2013, 10:31 AM
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DomRep--Rome/Florence/Venice and fly to Paris for a few days. Fly into Rome and out of Paris I don't think you need to spend more then 4 full days in any of them on a first trip--in my experience, three full days in the city and a day trip from the city for each of Florence and Paris, four full days in the City for Rome--maybe a daytrip to Tivoli or Ostia Antica via train or bus. Do take some time to see some of the smaller cities and the countryside in Italy and around Paris. Three days is plenty for a first trip to Venice and if you get bored (which you probably won't), you could take the vaporetto to Torcello or the train to Padua. From Paris, Chartres is a wonderful, fairly short day trip.

All of this can be easily done by train and plane, and you won't need to worry about languages, even if you just speak English.

You could also do London/Paris/Bruges/Amsterdam as Bruno suggests and that would be a nice, compact trip. However, for me, Italy is the country and Rome/Florence/Venice the "big three" cities there.

Although you didn't ask, the following are some "how to do it" tips. It's not hard to do independent travel, but it does take quite a bit of planning.

If you haven't already, get a good guidebook (Fodor's, Lonely Planet) and read up about Italy and France, particularly about the smaller places around the bigger cities. You've got enough time to choose the places that suit the interests each of thetwo of you have.

Then, once you've decided, build a written calendar for your trip by night--not day. E.g. say you fly to Rome on a Saturday. The flight will probably leave in the afternoon or early evening, and it will be Sunday morning when you get to Rome, so the first night will be in the plane. The second nite will be in Rome, etc. If you do this, you won't book two rooms for the same nite or leave a gap in your itinerary. One thing I'd urge you to do is to book the last nite right after you book your hotel in your first city, and try to stay near the airport for the last nite. Most European flights leave in the morning for the US and there is nothing more stressful than having to get up in the middle of the nite, pack, check out, wait around for the cab or the airport train, etc., meanwhile worrying that you'll miss your flight.


Use Tripadvisor to look for hotels and be sure to read the comments of people who've stayed at those you're interested in. The most important thing IMHO in choosing a hotel is proximity to transportation--for London, Rome and Paris, that means a nearby Metro stop, for Venice, a vaporetto stop. Florence and Bruges are compact enough to walk. When you click "Book this hotel", it will link to the major booking services--Booking.com, Hotels.com, etc., when you find a hotel you like. Booking hotels used to be the biggest hassle for me (guidebook, faxes or phone calls to hotels to learn the one you wanted was full, repeat). Now it's easy to find and book just the right spot.


So pick your places, then come back and post your proposed itinerary for comment.
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Old Dec 12th, 2013, 10:32 AM
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I would leave out Amsterdam, as it would increase your time on the road considerably.

You could fly into London, spend four nights there. Then take the Eurostar to Paris and spend four nights there. Fly to Venice, spend two nights there; then to Florence, again two nights, and finally four nights in Rome, flying home from there. That's 16 nights in Italy, and wouldn't be an outrageously rushed visit.

If you're passionate about Renaissance art, you add some time to Florence, taking it from somewhere else, or adding a few days to your trip. Florence is close enough to both Venice and Rome that you can get almost an extra full day in one of the three cities by leaving early or arriving late. I wouldn't advise any fewer than four nights in any of the three largest cities (London, Paris, and Rome).
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Old Dec 12th, 2013, 11:00 AM
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This is an extremely, extremely rough outline, but I used the tour company's itinerary (at least the dates, not necessarily the excursions, etc) and used the ideas that have been suggested here (which I greatly appreciate), and came up with something:

May 8 - fly to London
May 9 AM - arrival at London
May 10 PM, 11 PM, and 12 PM in London


May 13 AM - Eurorail from London to Paris
May 13 PM, May 14 PM - Paris

May 15 PM - overnight train (Thello) from Paris to Venice
May 16 PM, May 17 PM - Venice

May 18 AM - Italia Rail to Florence
May 18 PM, May 19 PM - Florence

May 20 AM - Italia Rail to Rome
May 21 PM, May 22 PM - Rome

May 23 - Flight back to the US

Like I said earlier I can add a day or two extra, and maybe spend that extra day in Rome and Paris. One thing I did notice was that hotels were cheaper in Florence and Venice than they were in Paris, London, and Rome (at least the hotels the tour company is using, which were rated 3-4 stars each). Not sure if that's a general trend or not.
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Old Dec 12th, 2013, 11:04 AM
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Do you guys recommend any websites where you can book day tours ahead of time or do you guys not recommend that at all?
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Old Dec 12th, 2013, 11:22 AM
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You have extra time in London, good for getting over jet lag.

I would definitely consider adding days to Rome and Paris. And I'd drop one of Florence and Venice. (Gotta be tough when making an itinerary.)

Also when you arrive in London and Venice, it will be morning, too early to check into your hotel. But they'll probably store your luggage for you so you don't need to drag it around.

When considering independent travel vs. a tour, add in the time to learn your way around. Every time you arrive at a new location, you have to find your way to your hotel from the train station, then find your way around town, to the sights, restaurants, etc. If it's a bigger city, you'll have to learn how to use public transportation. (No gimme in London in particular.) Unless you travel around town in taxis.

I much prefer independent travel. I feel I learn more about a place than I would inside the bubble of a bus tour. But it does take more effort. The more you learn ahead of time the better use you can make of your time on the trip.
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Old Dec 12th, 2013, 11:55 AM
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You seem so logical in this--can't see it all, like to really experience the place. You are after a Fodor's dream.
I might make the suggestion to leave London out and really enjoy Paris, Rome and Italian countryside--staying on the continent per se.

While "learning the ropes" of the transport does take time, you have a LONG time and you can get the feel for it.
As for day tours, you'll be able to do these yourself by deciding what you want to do and reading the guide books that will tell you how.
Don't forget to do an open jaw air ticket--in one way and out the other.
You don't mention budget as a concern.
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Old Dec 12th, 2013, 12:14 PM
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Do you guys recommend any websites where you can book day tours ahead of time or do you guys not recommend that at all?>

You can avail yourself of the ubiquitous hop on hop off open top deck doubledecker bus tours that circulate now around just about any city in Europe - can get on an off for a whole day on one ticket - commentary given en route - a great way to orient yourself to a city like London and then go back to places you really liked, etc. These tickets are bought from the bus driver or attendant - no need to pre-book.
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Old Dec 12th, 2013, 12:16 PM
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@gretchen - The goahead trip I mentioned in the original post is $10K, it includes airfare, hotel accomodations, daily breakfast, 3 five course dinners, and taxes. The excursions are optional and if we wanted to do all the excursions (i.e. gondola ride, etc), it's an additional $3K, so the trip will be about $13K.

The itinerary I had planned out a couple of posts above yours comes out to about $6K, using the same hotels that goahead will be using, airfare from DC to London, and then from Rome to DC (I think that's the open jaw air thing you suggested, never heard of that term before). It also includes transport using Italia Rail and Eurorail. We haven't taken into account food and day tours, which at this time, I don't know how much it would be. But I reckon we're going to save half, it won't involve an 8 hour bus ride, and we're at our own time and pace.

It's a rough estimate, and it's a rough outline that will change between now and...18 months from now.
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Old Dec 12th, 2013, 01:27 PM
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It appears that DomRep, will hear only what he wishes to hear. A not uncommon trait.

But while that is your choice DomRep, why bother coming here asking for advice if you don't intend to listen to any that disagrees with you?

When you ask 10 people, 'what do you think' and 9 say, 'not good' and one says, 'good idea', listening to the one rather than the 9 generally indicates no actual desire for good advice, just agreement.
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Old Dec 12th, 2013, 02:37 PM
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But while that is your choice DomRep, why bother coming here asking for advice if you don't intend to listen to any that disagrees with you?>

Kind of haughty statement - you telling him/her what she wants or should - he/she has listened and found what he/she wanted even if it is a lone wolf howling in the wilderness. My way or the highway is what some say.

How can you say he/she did not listen to disagreements and then consider them - must be a mind reader!

Unfortunately it is not an uncommon trait here also to post comments that are phrased rudely and denigrating a poster!
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Old Dec 12th, 2013, 05:00 PM
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I'm not entirely sure where I said I didn't intend to listen to anyone. I came in here not knowing where to begin, and asking for advice. I gave a rough outline, and apparently that plan, news to me, is final when the trip isn't even booked and won't be happening for another 18 months. It's not like I'm booking tomorrow, I probably won't even book for another 6 months.

Based on all the feedback I've received from EVERYONE, I've got a general idea of what to do and what not to do when it comes to planning this out. I'm not sure where I disagreed with people, maybe there was a mis-communication. IDK, I truly am confused.
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Old Dec 12th, 2013, 05:40 PM
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Like many have said, to each his own, and that's especially true when it comes to traveling styles.

My partner and I love to travel fast. It's almost like we're on a rush to get somewhere, and our vacations often include early mornings, evening drives, or even staying up all night to catch a 6am flight. I'm sure many people here would never want to travel that way, but for us it's perfect.

I'd say our main thing is we like to get the feel of a country rather than a city - so we spend some time in the main cities but very quickly set out towards the country side and smaller places.

We usually rent a car so we can get to places the trains don't go or are harder to get to. There's so much to see and such a huge difference between the big cities and all that's around them.


All that said - DomRep, your itinerary made me feel rushed just from looking at it. Every one of those cities is a fantastic destination where you could find so much to do. (Except maybe the 4 days in London - 4 days is enough to get a good taste of any city IMHO).

Personally I would side with some of the other rec's above that said to cut down on number of countries. Instead of your "Europe trip" maybe choose one country or two you are most excited about. That way you can really get to know it outside the main cities, get used to the language and pick up some phrases, try out cuisines and see more local culture from various parts of that country.

From your countries above I'd choose two from Britain, Italy or France:
Britain - for London, Stonehenge, the Royal Family, and the relative ease of travel b/c of language (check this out: http://lovewall.visitbritain.com/en)
France - For Paris, the beautiful towns and countryside of Provence (esp. in Spring), Wine and other french spirits, and amazing cuisine.
Italy - For its history (Rome, Florence,..), magical small towns of Tuscany, delicious food and warm culture
(http://www.italia.it/en/home.html)

Have fun planning an amazing trip!
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Old Dec 12th, 2013, 06:42 PM
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One other thing--do check carefully on where the Goahead hotels are located. You don't want to stay in an inconvenient location.
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Old Dec 12th, 2013, 07:43 PM
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Domrep, I would highly recommend forgetting about whatever hotels that tour uses; research and book your own hotels actually IN the cities, not in some far-flung suburb.
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Old Dec 13th, 2013, 12:07 AM
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Agree...hotels on tours are rarely well placed and are chosen to fit huge bus loads of people at a cheap price (generally)
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Old Dec 13th, 2013, 03:06 AM
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DomRep, your budget is terrific and ample as you have priced out.
AND no one but one misanthrope has said you aren't listening!! Good job.
And having been on tours with civic groups (to Paris) the advice about the hotels is good. Our hotel for that trip was across from the Gare du Nord, and was fine for our group--and the bus pickup. However it DID introduce us to our favorite place to get mussels each time we go to Paris--a string of cafes across from the Gare--eat on the tarrace. But mussels are available everywhere.
I think Pal has outlined a nice itinerary. I think you can move ahead now with a goodly amount of time and "connect the dots" of places you all would like to go.
Have fun!!
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Old Dec 13th, 2013, 07:57 AM
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I'm piling in/on about the tour hotels. Often they're in less convenient locations and are bland standard hotels of no particular interest. For the same money or less you can find a more centrally located hotel with lots of local charm. I seek out smaller hotels (too small for a tour group) in a very central location. I avoid hotel chains and don't require a hotel have a bar and a restaurant. Or even an elevator.

Your destinations have lots of restaurants and bars and bistros and cafes, usually with better food than at a hotel. If you choose the hotel location carefully, not only will there be plenty of restaurants around but also plenty of sights you can see just by walking.

Specifically, in Paris look for hotels close to the Seine and Notre Dame. In Rome stay around the Campo dei Fiori/Piazza Navona/Spanish Steps. Splurge to stay in Venice proper, not Mestre and not the Lido; it's an important part of the Venice experience. London is a little more spread out, so find a hotel central but also near a Tube station.

With so much time to plan you can research hotels at length. Look at tripadvisor.com and booking.com -- as well as Fodor's of course.

Have you looked at London Walks (walks.com)? They have a huge list, not only 2 hour walks in London, but excursions out of the city. There are similar walks (though fewer) in Paris and Rome. Paris also has bike tours and Segway tours. Viator lists options, mostly bus tours, for all over Europe and the world.

Gotta run. Enjoy the research. But don't add too much to your itinerary or plan it down to the minute.
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