3 week European trip

Old Aug 25th, 2011, 12:17 PM
  #1  
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3 week European trip

My friend and I are planning on backpacking Europe at the end of the school year in May. He is already going to be in Ireland for the semester, so I was planning on meeting him there and then starting our trip. We were thinking of starting in Ireland, then traveling to Paris, making our way down to Switzerland and Italy, and then ending in Greece. We were wondering if this is a reasonable 3 week trip and if anyone has any suggestions. This isn't a strict itinerary, so we are open to anything. Thanks!!
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Old Aug 25th, 2011, 12:23 PM
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IMO yes but in the opinions of many Fodoreites no as they think yoo must spend a week in each little city - but young folk tend to travel a lot and when I was your age I certainly did go much faster than even that.

And the train system can get you around quickly - especially if you hop overnight trains that connect zillions of European cities you can cover ground quickly and also save on a night's lodging.

If under 26 be all means look into the bargain Eurail Youthpass of some kind - either a Select Pass or Global or one of the 2-country options if you narrow your scope down.

anyway check out these fantastic IMO sites to help plan a rail trip - www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com - all these sites give itineraries and details on using trains as well as passes.
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Old Aug 25th, 2011, 12:28 PM
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I would say Greece makes the list too long. Even four countries in 21 days is moving fast.

You need to create a timetable of how you're going to get around because you lose more time than you realize just moving from place to place. Narrow your focus in Switzerland and Italy to what you most want to see, maybe two destinations in each country.

Where will/can you fly home from?
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Old Aug 25th, 2011, 12:35 PM
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We really want to end in Greece/Mykonos because he has family there, whom we can stay with. And just doing some research, it seems like it would be cheapest to fly from the United States to Ireland and then taking Ryan air to the mainland, and vice versa on our way back to the states... is this the best approach?
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Old Aug 25th, 2011, 01:11 PM
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It might be better to get an "Open Jaw" ticket. One that takes you to Ireland, and back home from your last destination, Greece. You fill in any gaps in the open jaw with cheapo European airlines like Ryanair or Easyjet. It would same both money and time, as you avoid back tracking.
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Old Aug 25th, 2011, 01:40 PM
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Would it be efficient if we flew using Ryan air from Dublin to Paris, and then took a train between France, Switzerland and Italy, then took the ferry from Italy to Greece?
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Old Aug 25th, 2011, 02:47 PM
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You need to do some research, or you are going to spend an awfully lot of your time in transport. Trains for shorter distances in Europe work really well, and are economical if you buy your discounted tickets well in advance. When you start using trains for longer distances that require overnight journeys, you eat up time and bucks. Ferries, too. The overnight fast ferry from Ancona to Patras costs around €90, for example, plus you have to get to Ancona, then to Athens, then to Mykanos, etc. Flights would be quicker, and might be cheaper.

I'm not familiar with the rail pass option, so you should be guided by PalenQ, our resident expert in the field.
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Old Aug 25th, 2011, 06:32 PM
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That is a reasonable trip if you have 6 weeks. In 3 weeks you will see very little of anything and spend a lot of time (and money) in transit from one place to another.

A general rule of seing europe - if you actually want to do more than check off a list and see the one major sight - is to allow 5 nights for a major city such as Paris and Rome - and 3 night for smaller cities - like florence or Venice.

You can of course move evrey day if you want - but you will see next to nothing, not get any "feel" for the cafe life of europe - and spend a lot of money on travel.
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 09:22 AM
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Young people tend to travel more quickly than us old FodorGeezers do - when I was that age with a railpass I actually traveled faster and LOVED it - on trains there were so many other young folk my age traveling - especially on overnight trains it became kind of a party.

I do not find the OP's plans for three weeks that rushed

3 days for most is enough for Paris IMO

five days in Switzerland

a week in Italy

take the overnight ferry to Greece (again lots of young folk from all over the world on that boat)

and a week in Greece

for young folk I say that is a typical trip and one that yes FodorGeezers may find fatiguing but younger folk exciting.
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 10:52 AM
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Can't argue with you there, PalenQ. You make good points, and bring back memories of when I was full of piss and vinegar. A good party that lasted all night could still see me ready to go the next morning. I would die, now, but then --- Oh My!

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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 11:08 AM
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Hi PT,

>We were wondering if this is a reasonable 3 week trip <

You have one country too many.

However, you are young and healthy.

You will be able to do it, and then sleep for a month.

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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 11:37 AM
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Thanks for all the advice!! Are the rail systems pretty easy going or are they on a strict schedule? For example, if we were planning on staying in Paris for 5 days, but spur of the moment decided to leave after 3 days and head towards southern France or Switzerland, would we be able to just jump on a train with our railpass or do you have to be on a strict schedule? Because both my friend and I enjoy being free to do spur of the moment things and not have a strict itinerary. Granted we will know where we want to go, just not on a strict time schedule
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 12:09 PM
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I think it might be easier for you to fly to Paris and meet your friend there. If you do that I think you might be able to fit everything into your timeframe. 1 week Swiss/Paris, 1 week Italy, 1 week Greece

If you have a railpass, you can hop on the next train to whevere you want to go, unless that train requires reservations and then you have to make that before you get on the train. I know France and Italy require reservations but we had no problem getting them at the last minute in Italy.
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 01:50 PM
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For example, if we were planning on staying in Paris for 5 days, but spur of the moment decided to leave after 3 days and head towards southern France or Switzerland, would we be able to just jump on a train with our railpass or do you have to be on a strict schedule? Because both my friend and I enjoy being free to do spur of the moment>

yes as lindy27 said and IME I also never have had any problems getting the required seat reservations when going from Paris to Switzerland - there are so so many trains on three different routes (Paris to Basel; Paris to Lausanne; Paris to Geneva) and the reservation should cost all of 3 euros - less than a cup of coffee in many Parisian cafes. and thus the value of a pass should not be judged in dollars only - you can if you want to book weeks in advance get discounted tickets but would lock you into a certain train and which cannot be changed nor refunded - full fare tickets often cost a fortune and this is what the pass provides - plus first class full fare tickets cost two fortunes!
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Old Aug 27th, 2011, 05:19 AM
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Ferries from Italy will connect you to West mainland of Greece or Corfu island. Then it's a long way to Athens through public bus, or train from Patras, unless you grab a flight from Corfu. Then an other flight or ferry to Mykonos. I suggest to look into flight from Rome, easyjet runs those in summer season and will save you much time (and money if you book in advance). From Mykonos you can then go to Athens, spend a 3 nights to see some basic sites, then take your flight home, or to next destination. I think you'll prefer to spend more time on Mykonos rather than western Greece on end of May if you are into nightlife, beach bars and busy sandy beaches.
I think it is not a matter of age but it is a matter of different traveling style and interests to decide how long you spend on each place and how many destinations you fit in in your trip. I am 30 and I travel abroad since I am 17, but I like to take it very easy. I spend a couple of weeks in Paris last year and it was not enough for me, I spend 17 days in London a few years ago and again it wasn't enough for me, I spend nearly 1 month in Poland last winter and visited 7 different cities/towns because I visited friends in different parts of the country, and I felt that it was too rushed for me. So, different folks, different strokes ; )

Have you decide which parts of Ireland, Italy and Switzerland you want to see? To be honest I haven't quite understand what is the focus of this trip..Is it large cities? Countryside? Rural areas? Nightlife? Sight-seen? Food? Culture? Different areas suit some specific interests better than others, so you have to be more specific to narrow down your destinations. In such a sort time frame, you have to choose carefully which parts of each countries you want to see.
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Old Aug 27th, 2011, 09:57 AM
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Feasible yes, A bit rushed but ok. The Italy to Greece thing needs a bit more research as as you go south in Europe you pass from the organised to the disorganised. By the time you get to Greece you may get to undertand that a ferry leaving tomorrow could be a ferry leaving in two days.

Just a thought, if you stay in Ireland, France, Italy and Greece you only need one currency (though Greece may have gone bust again by May) and Swiss costs are very high right now and might be even higer by then. There is plenty to do in France and Italy on the way south.
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Old Aug 27th, 2011, 12:27 PM
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>>By the time you get to Greece you may understand that a ferry leaving tomorrow could be a ferry leaving in two days.
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Old Aug 28th, 2011, 04:26 AM
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I've sat on the dock
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Old Aug 28th, 2011, 08:37 AM
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You sat on the dock for two days? Greek ferries normally sail as scheduled, and for the most part on time. In all the years I have been travelling to Greece I've had only two ferries cancelled on me, both of them Sea Jets, and both due to mechanical problems.
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Old Aug 30th, 2011, 12:24 PM
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I have taken many overnight ferries Italy to Greece and never had to sit on the dock - but there are occasions due to rough seas when boats may be delayed or cancelled so it is a possibility due to weather but rarely - so you can depend on these as much as any form of transport.
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