3 Months In Europe

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Jul 29th, 2018, 10:40 AM
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3 Months In Europe

Hi to Everyone

I figure that on this forum there are those whose travel experience may be able to give me some feedback on a 'journey' I am planning. Please excuse if this post is a little longer than usual but I'm what some would call 'old school' in terms of explaining something.

I already have some years, shall we say, in the vest pocket. What that basically means is that while I'm still fit, can walk/hike a few miles and so on, I still have to take the laws of entropy into account as time continues its march. With that in mind, then I guess a good subtitle for this posting could be, 'A Once In A Lifetime Experience'. Mind you, I don't want to think that I may only be doing this once, it may happen that in 2022 or whenever I may decide to visit a particular place in Europe for a longer time. But life being what it is and the fact that I am not in my twenties and can put off things till my 30s, 40s, and so on, well, I think you get the picture.

If someone were to ask me about travel in the U.S., especially the southwestern western states, I think I could give them reliable information to make their experience a good one. But I have never been to Europe and so the reason for asking here in this forum.

At the moment, I'm thinking about 3-months of travel in Europe. This would be in 2020 from June till the end of August; if it goes a little into September that's okay. Following is the link to a map where I outline the travel, 'as the bird flies'. In other words,just to give an idea of the basic points along the way. In this case the points are cities. The map is interactive, you can zoom and move it.

Note: apparently I can't post urls till I have 5 points so just add http to this > ://bit.ly/2LyDa35

Now, I'm mindful of the phrase, 'The map is not the territory'. But from my position at the present all that I have is a map to get an idea. So, just in terms of the 'direction' of travel I see it as beginning in London then in the sequence that follows: Manchester >> Dublin >> Edinburgh >> Copenhagen >> Oslo >> Stockholm >> Helsinki >> St. Petersburg >> Moscow >> Warsaw >> Prague >> Berlin >> Amsterdam >> Belgium >> Paris >> Bern >> Vienna >> Athens >> Rome >> Venice >> Milan >> Monaco >> Marseille >> Barcelona >> Madrid >> Lisbon >> Canary Islands >> London. I use cities for ready reference but of course there are going to be side-trips to other areas. Since I like the outdoors then for me it's more about the natural areas than wondering what the 'night life' is like in whichever city. Cities for me would mostly be about the architecture, some museums, etc.

28 cities. If calculated by the give-or-take-a-day period of 90 days (3 months), I'm looking at something like 3.2 days per city. 3 days is not a whirlwind but neither is it what I would call a pace that is altogether leisurely. Take into account the transit periods between cities, the side-trips, etc., and the time gets used up swiftly. If I calculated all of this for 4 months (120 days), i.e., till the end of September, then we're looking at 4.2 days per 'point'.

With the numbers that I have given I'm sure some readers have already done rapid calculations from their own experiences. Some might say about a particular city/area that 1 day is all you really need for it while others will say that another place would be more like 5 days.

Another aspect of this for me is the form of travel. At the present I live in Las Vegas, Nevada and with a car I can get to many places in other states in a matter of hours. Los Angeles or the Grand Canyon? No problem, both clock in around 5+ hours. But in considering Europe then - at least from what I've learned thus far - there doesn't seem to be the option of renting a car to go to all the places I've mentioned. It seems more a mix of planes, trains, and ships.

The other factor is the 'perception' of the areas and distances. For example, "From the southern tip of England to the northern end of Scotland would stretch from Los Angeles to the Oregon border."_travelersdigest.com. From LA to the Oregon border? I can do that in 12 hours at a pleasant 60 mph. With that kind of perspective on distances I'm accustomed to then comparatively it makes it seem that my driving from Berlin to Amsterdam would be no more taxing than from LA to San Francisco. Lunch around Big Sur? No problem.

Anyway, I could continue bringing up this or that detail as I see it but I think the readers get the idea of where I'm at and how I'm trying to get a clearer view of the situation than: "Today here, tomorrow there, then repeat."

Insofar as the money for all of this, that's not the issue here. That does not mean that it will be a carousel of private jets, yachts and five-star hotels. What it means is that for myself and the other person it would be decent enough traveling conditions. Now, if some of you know of places where the bill is going to be stratospheric, then please let me know so I can make a note of it.

By the way, if anyone needs info on Southwest US travel or Las Vegas area, let me know.

Thank you for reading this and I look forward to suggestions, advice, and whatever else may be relevant.

Daniel V.

Last edited by danielv; Jul 29th, 2018 at 10:44 AM.
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Jul 29th, 2018, 11:06 AM
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For most of those places trains would be best and are super fast and modern. But consider some kind of railpass and look into booking tickets far in advance for discounted fares. Take overnight trains between far removed cities (or overnight ferries) and save daytime travel time - for lots on trains and night trains check www.seat61.com; BETS-European Rail Experts and www.ricksteves.com. Stratospheric costs - well Scandianvia can be very pricey as can Switzerland but you can economize too like with restaurants and pubs in those places - prepare own food and such.
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Jul 29th, 2018, 11:22 AM
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Where in Belgium - that is a country not a city. Which Canary Islands? Not all islands have a connection with London, and not all have connections with all the others.
You will need a visa for Russia and have to get those dates and lodgings set in stone.
You will need good travel/health insurance to cover the entire period - many policies have a maximum of 90 days.
If you are planning on returning to Europe then at least halve the list and spend more time getting to really see the places you want to see.
Roads are smaller and busier than you are used to in the South-West (my favourite bit f the US so far), so you need to allow plenty of tme if you are driving. Use trains where you can, or fly if it is easier.
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Jul 29th, 2018, 11:44 AM
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You can't spend more than 90 days in the Schengen Zone without a long-term visa, so start off by figuring that into your plans.

3.2 days each in a gazillion different places sounds like a nightmare to me, but maybe that's your travel style. It will surely be very expensive to do so, with all those changes of venue. If I had 3 months to spend in Europe I would approach it entirely differently, probably picking 3 countries and getting to know each of them a bit. But you're on a different track.

I'll also add that driving in Europe isn't anything like driving in Las Vegas and environs, even if you stick to the autoroutes (which, with 3 months, you'd be silly to do).

As for costs, I don't know what your definition of "stratospheric" is, but Scandinavia and Switzerland are off my money radar.
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Jul 29th, 2018, 11:49 AM
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As for costs, I don't know what your definition of "stratospheric" is, but Scandinavia and Switzerland are off my money radar.>

What's your definition of "stratospheric costs"? I think any place, especially Switzerland can be affordable depending on where you go (Interlaken area has many affordable hotels and hostel accommodations and airbnb has too - food can be fixed yourself - picnicking nice - supermarkets everywhere have ake-out stuff and bread and cheese of course - so don't rule out any place because it's expensive but ralize that you may have to change spending habits there to make it affordable to you.
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Jul 29th, 2018, 01:03 PM
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That isn't an itinerary -- it is a mish mash laundry list of cities (and one country and one archipelago). And then you throw in >>but of course there are going to be side-trips to other areas.<<

With that whirlwind plan you won't have time for no bleedin' side trips.

>>it seem that my driving from Berlin to Amsterdam would be no more taxing than from LA to San Francisco. Lunch around Big Sur? No problem. <<.

Man, have you got a lot to learn. Sure, England/Scotland is about the same length as California. But there is no I-5 (or even 101) where you can race up to Scotland. Yes there are motorways so sort of I-5-ish. But they are not the scenic bits. Would you advise a visitor to stick to I-5 and miss among others Carmel, Yosemite, Tahoe, Mendocino, the Redwoods? Dunno -- maybe you would?

A 3 (or 4) month trip of nothing but check in, unpack, pack, check out, travel, check in, unpack, check out . . . and repeat . . . is a HUGE waste of time and money. A bigger waste of money even than time. All that expense and you will see hardly anything. With 3 months, think of 3 or 4 - maybe 5 - countries and explore them . . . or maybe 10-12 cities with a few of those 'side trips' you mention. Otherwise you'll wake up about day 35 or 40 wondering where the heck you are . . . .
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Jul 29th, 2018, 01:32 PM
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90 days and but 10-12 cities - that's about 9 days in each base? I'd say about half that is fine - and yes figure in travel time between cities - but nine days in each city? Europe is compact - and some countries small so don't count countries but areas.

Anyway I'd start in southern Europe before huge crowds of July and August materialize and work way north - also bit cooler in southern Europe earlier in summer. eliminate some outliers too.
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Jul 29th, 2018, 01:52 PM
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When you say the length of your trip would allow for a bit over three days in each place you have listed, you have forgotten to figure in travel time. You will lose anywhere from half a day to a full day each time you change locations. And you have forgotten that it takes 4 nights in a place to get three full days. You don't have nearly as much time as you think you do. You will need to be more discerning about where you want to go.
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Jul 29th, 2018, 02:13 PM
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You might want to add more detail to your wish list of major cities to include nearby sites, places of interest, lovely villages, etc. that you'll also want to include. When you have more detail, that will give you a better idea of how much time you need in each place.

One thing to remember is that in order to spend one day in a place you need to stay two nights. Just the process of checking in and then later packing up to leave takes up a bit of time and you'll need to figure that into your plans. (With a 3 month trip you'll need to schedule time for laundry!)

You might think about splitting this into (at least) 2 separate trips and then going in deeper to each place you do visit. Give yourself time to soak in the atmosphere, write in a journal, have a coffee, people watch. I envy you being able to do 3 or 4 months at one time. Enjoy!
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Jul 29th, 2018, 02:22 PM
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Base cities are great- so yes can spend several days in each stop and do easy day trips from them by train. And this lets you see a different Europe from just large cities you list.

For example Paris - yeah 4-5 days for city itself but also can day trip to many neat places like Reims, Chartres, Normandy's D-Day beaches, Loire Valley and umpteen more. Yes relocating is a pain and takes a lot of time. Spend a week in each stop maybe and take day trips - Europe's gems also include smaller cities outside the tourist meccas which are also typically very crowded in summer.

Your listing in first post allows little time for this type of day trips.
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Jul 29th, 2018, 03:03 PM
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I would never want to try and sustain a 3 days per city itinerary for 3-4 months! Moving at that pace will be exhausting and somewhat of a blur.

Start over. Take that LONG list you posted and pick the top 10-15 places that really, truly, interest you most, that you actually have a reason for visiting (trust me it's not 28 places with "side trips"!). Then look at a map and make a route that makes sense geographically. Figure if you can travel by train or if bus or air is better for certain connections.

If you stay 1-week in a few places you can catch your breath, rent an apartment, do your laundry, regroup, before jumping back into an aggressive itinerary (which it IS even if you cut it in 1/2).

suerte, have fun planning, suze

Last edited by suze; Jul 29th, 2018 at 03:06 PM.
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Jul 29th, 2018, 03:05 PM
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It is great that you are starting with plenty of research and planning time. The planning will be a good experience.

Start with some general guide books, like Europe through the Back Door. Follow with Fodors, Fromers, Eyewitness or Rick Steves guidebooks of countries and individual cities.

Right now, you have a list of cities that does seem kind of random. As you plan, don't think just about cities you have heard of. Think about what you really want to see, what you may have dreamed about seeing and what your personal interests are. Examples: Off hand, do you wish to see The Last Supper and the cathedral or do upscale shopping? If not, why Milan? Do you wish to get of glimpse of the rich and famous gambling? If not, why Monaco?

Travel will eat up a lot more time than you think, allowing time to get from hotel to train station, train time, time to get from station to hotel, etc. at least a half day on average when you change places.
Right now, you have so many cities, so far apart, you would spend a ton of money and half your time flying around, seeing airports.

Think in terms of a few major cities which have a lot to offer (London, Paris, Rome, etc.) and areas that offer interesting history, towns and landscape (Tuscany, Provence, etc.) to explore. Add in places close to the cities for day trips or to include enroute from city to city or area to area. Allow aprox. 3 to 5 days for cities, plus time for day trips, and 4 to 7 days for areas.

Save money and see more by cutting a lot of places and expanding what you see within areas. Examples of possibilities: cut Milan, Monaco and Marseilles, but between Venice and Rome, include Florence and Tuscany. Cut Lisbon, but include Granada, Seville, Córdoba, Toledo in Spain. Don't go to Dublin unless you can spend a few days in Ireland to see more of the country. If you are going to Athens, than see at least one or two of the Greek Islands. What you ultimately do depends, of course, on your personal interests.

Realistically, you will need to cut at least half of the places on your list. Researching for a trip is fun though. By the time you go, you will be happy with your choices.
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Jul 29th, 2018, 03:59 PM
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I took a trip that covered almost as much territory in a bit more time, but I was 25 at the time and I did a lot of it on tours, where I didn't have to handle the logistics, especially on a first European trip. Being realistic, you are likely to find what's essentially two days per city to be frustratingly short. I know well the temptation to try to go everywhere and see everything - it costs so much to get there and you are so close to all those wonderful places! But the more places you go in your time frame, paradoxically the less you will see, because you'll spend so much of your time in transit and getting oriented rather than seeing all those terrific things you came to see. You're also not taking into account time you will need for such mundane things as laundry. I would strongly recommend that you cut at least a third of your destinations in the interest of getting at least a modicum of quality of your trip, rather than merely quantity.

If you are determined to go through with a trip at this pace, please take the following to heart: On any long trip, you are likely to need a break from a hectic routine of travel and sightseeing. Plan a vacation from your vacation about midway - preferably 3-4 days somewhere where there isn't a lot to see, so that you can have some down time to recharge. These days I can travel for 4-6 weeks at a time, and I always build in extra time at one or two points to rest up, even if just a day more than I feel I need somewhere. I just accept that I may spend that day sitting in a cafe sipping a drink or sauntering around town or taking a relaxing drive through the countryside, or even just chilling in my hotel room. I always feel restored when my day off is over, ready to get out there and go back to intensive sightseeing. When I didn't do this, I found that by the end of the trip, I wasn't investing much attention in the sights I was seeing - I was just numb to it all. Getting the most from your trip includes coming to the sights with as fresh an eye as possible. Again, quality over quantity.
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Jul 29th, 2018, 04:25 PM
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Agree with the advice about a vacation from the trip. You will usually get the best hotels, etc. for your money by booking ahead, but If you can even keep a few days now and then flexible, that is nice. Many times, we have been enjoying a place so much that we cancelled or changed our next stops and stayed several days unplanned in a place, 10 days rather than 3 on the AC, 7 days rather than 2 in Belgium, 7 days rather than 2 in Venice, 5 days rather than 2 in Arles, etc., etc. Those are always the most memorable parts of our trips.
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Jul 29th, 2018, 05:27 PM
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Don't be soooooooooo irritatingly literal. >> . . . but nine days in each city? <<

The OP wants to take day trips - right? So 9 days in say London with a couple of day trips would mean a mere 7 days in London. Now, you have posted many times that 3 days is 'plenty' in London or Paris or wherever. Some people do have longer attention spans.

10-12 cities - one would think (if one thinks at all) that 10 or 12 major cities would be in addition to a few days here and there in some rural areas or beach or lake or ???
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Jul 29th, 2018, 06:08 PM
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Now, you have posted many times that 3 days is 'plenty' in London or Paris or wherever.>

Yeah for many it is IMO in the city itself - Fodorgarchs often forget what they did on first trips to Europe and I bet that they did spend several days in each city - first trip natural desire to see as much as possible and then you know what you like for future trips - OP is on trip of a lifetime and may not come back - yes 3 probably 4 days in mega tourist meccas like Paris, Rome, London, etc. and figure travel time in between. OP'swish list is much faster than this - we all have our opinions and that is mine. 90 days about 20 stops max IMO with more days in some and fewer in others - Venice for example many here say 4-5 days I've read but again for average traveler I think 2-3 could be great - could well spend several days in each city itself of course but again seeing more cities in fewer days is nice.

But anyway for OP everyone agrees that Less is More.
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Jul 29th, 2018, 06:28 PM
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Pal, I understand what you're saying about first trips to Europe... been there, as well. The situation here is that this is not a 2 week sprint but a 90 to 120 day marathon. 3.2 days per stay for 90 days will be exhausting for someone with "years in the vest pocket." (I've never heard that phrase and I thought by now I'd heard them all so congratulations on that, OP!)
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Jul 29th, 2018, 06:46 PM
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Oh yeah, regarding driving. In addition to the fact that you will not save any time and will likely need more time, it is usually more expensive too. For one thing, in major European cities, mass transit is so excellent and parking so challenging that your car will sit in an expensive parking garage for the duration of your stay while you zip around by metro, bus, tram. So there is parking to consider. Also, fuel is much more costly in Europe and many of the fastest routes are toll roads. Try out some of the trips you might drive on viamichelin.com, which will give you an estimate of the fuel and road toll cost for the trip as well as the time it will take to drive. And driving requires your attention, unlike relaxing train travel from city center to city center, very comfortable and easy on the nerves.

Now, if you're talking about visiting more rural areas, that's a different story. But that's not at all the trip you have outlined, which doesn't propose going anywhere where a car would be an advantage. If you were to change some of your destinations - for example skip Marseille in favor of the gorgeous Provencal countryside with its charming stone villages - then it would make sense to rent a car for two or three days so you can explore. But otherwise, a car is a bad idea.
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Jul 29th, 2018, 07:00 PM
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These days I usually belong to the "less is more" school. But I have done faster trips and survived to tell the tale. and even enjoyed them. In 2004 I did a ten month trip that moved pretty fast - quite a lot of two nighters and night trains although a few longer stops. I was really tired at the end but I don't regret a day of it. However, it wasn't my first foreign trip, and I was in my mid-late 50s. (For those interested the itineraries are here: Rails Around the World 2004 -- Wilhelm's Words )

If the OP insists on traveling in the summer I would recommend starting in the north and working his way south. Also, flying into Dublin or Edinburgh and home from somewhere in the south - Madrid or Barcelona, perhaps. I agree that Scandinavia and Switzerland are seriously expensive, and therefore require careful planning.
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Jul 29th, 2018, 07:37 PM
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I'm in my 40s, physically fit and like to move fast/keep active. If this were my wish-list for 90 days, I'd prioritize and cut destinations by 1/3.

I'd ask myself: Why Monaco? Why Milan? Why Warsaw but not Krakow? Etc.
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