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4 Months in Europe (advice, sugg.., etc.)

4 Months in Europe (advice, sugg.., etc.)

Old Jan 8th, 2005, 04:19 PM
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4 Months in Europe (advice, sugg.., etc.)

My wife and I (in our late 20s) are planning a "pre-children" European travel adventure from May 1st thru Sept 1st. We are trying to be extremely budget conscious (especially with the current exchange rate). Therefore well be looking for non-luxury B&Bs, single room hostels and accommodations from friends/family and hopefully friends of friends.

**We would appreciate ANY advice, comments or suggestions on: Our "rough Draft" Itinerary, Must See Places, Hidden Gems, Car vs. Train (when/where), etc.

Is our rough itinerary too aggressive? We do not want to be completely rushed or just visit big cities, but do want to see and get immersed in as many different places as possible. Also, we want to be able to adjust on the fly if needed.

*Dublin, Ireland on May 2nd (3 days in Dublin & 7 days driving around)
*Scotland (7 days) <staying at friends condo in Edinburgh>
*England (10 days)
*Belgium (4 days)
*Netherlands (4 days)
*France (14 days) been to Paris twice so looking to do other cities, countryside)
*Spain/Portugal (18 days) (trying to be in Pamplona July 8 for running of the bulls)
*Switzerland (7 days)(rent a car/camp?)
*Germany (7 days)
*Czech Republic (7 days)
*Hungary (4 days) (is Budapest worth going to?)
*Austria (5 days)
*Italy (10 days) (did Rome/Flor/Venice last year)
*Greece (10 days)

Look forward to all the responses!! Thanks!
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Old Jan 8th, 2005, 04:42 PM
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The plan to drive in Ireland is a good one, outside of Dublin.

is Budapest worth going to?

Yessss... absolutely.

Sounds like a trip to envy. I sure do.
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Old Jan 8th, 2005, 05:28 PM
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You can probably see most of Dublin in 2 days and put that extra day into driving around Ireland or Scotland.
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Old Jan 8th, 2005, 06:28 PM
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Good for you--I am green with envy.
Get your car when you get to France and keep it until you go to Greece. Use the Peugeot buy back program to save a bundle---see details at autoeurope.com.
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Old Jan 8th, 2005, 06:28 PM
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Congratulations on doing more than the standard 2 weeks! It looks like a great adventure.

Start spending time in your library looking through section 914 of the Dewey Decimal System. You need a lot of prep time, and the next 16 weeks will vaporize before you know it.

Use google to find hostels, pensions, and B&Bs, but be wary of the big directory type sites. Find places with their own site.

For budget accommodations do your overnights outside the major cities, e.g., use Haarlem as a base when visiting Holland.

Also, if you can be in Amsterdam before the end of April take in Queen's Day, if you want to see a whole city having the party of the year. It's on April 30 but don't try to get into or out of the city on that day. The tulips at Keukenhof should be in bloom at that time also.

Transportation is going to be a big budget item. Look carefully at the myriad of rail passes available. Two of you traveling together get a discount on many of them.

Shop in grocery stores for ready to eat lunches and dinners, or fixings for sandwiches. Picnic in your room and on the trains. Find restaurants in university districts.

For your itinerary, give Benelux more time.

Bring a camera and a log book. Post back here as you can, with the good and the bad. Everybody would appreciate reading your trip reports.
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Old Jan 8th, 2005, 06:36 PM
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Hello thenathans, just one question. Are you from the US? I am asking because I always thought that an American could only be in Europe for 90 days. Am I wrong?

Just curious. Or maybe you are from a European country and consequently can travel for 4 months (120 days). Or are you from a country that allows you to be in Europe for 4 months? I do hope I am not intruding, but always wonder about this when travelers say that are staying longer then 90 days.

BTW, I sure wish you a beautiful trip. It sounds fantastic.

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Old Jan 8th, 2005, 07:08 PM
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LoveItaly,

The 90 day limit is for the Schengen Zone. The last time I checked, UK, Ireland, Switzerland, Czech Republic, and Hungary were not in the Schengen Zone. These things change so it would be worthwhile for thenathans to check on this before they go. However, I've lived in France and Netherlands for 4 to 6 months at a time under radar with no problems. And passports are rarely stamped in Europe unless you ask for the stamp, so how will anyone know how long you're there? Unless thenathans are trying to get a job over there they will be the rare unfortunates who are busted on this technicality, if it applies to their itinerary. Heck, they could just cut a week off France and Iberia and see Poland, the Balkans, Romania, and other eastern countries if it was a problem. Those are definitely countries for budget conscious travelers.

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Old Jan 8th, 2005, 07:21 PM
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Wow! I am jealous! I wish I could do that! Anyway, here are some tips for you:

This is peak season for many locales - especially for the northern European countries so make sure you do book your hotel/hostel in advance.

Here is a site with some of the best hostels in Europe - used it to book hostels on my pan-European backpacking trip.
http://www.famoushostels.com/

I would absolutely recommend spending time in Brugge, Belgium. It's a great little medival town.

If you are just going to Prague in the Czech Republic, 7 days may be too much. Try going to other towns or cut down your time there.
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Old Jan 8th, 2005, 07:32 PM
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hopscotch, thanks for your info. After reading your post I pulled out my passport. It is stamped, and I did not ask for them to do that. But noticed that some trips had time when I arrived but no date when I left. And noticed that a few stamps showed when I returned but no date when I arrived. How confusing. I have never asked anyone to stamp my passport.

Thanks for your answer. For sure right now I cannot spend 4 months in Italy but always wonder when people say they are staying for more than 90 days.
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Old Jan 8th, 2005, 07:47 PM
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I have stayed in Europe for 4 to 5 months four times in the past 10 years, and a couple more times for more than 90 days.
I've simply never worried about the time limits, and I've always been greeted when returning through customs with "sounds like a nice trip; I hope you had fun" or something similar. I suppose technically I've usually been in and out of the Schengen zone, but I've always been told that it isn't a concern unless you are young, unable to support yourself, or looking to work while traveling.

Have fun nathans, sounds like a great plan. I'm not sure if I'd go for the Peugeot plan or do a 3 month rail pass. We've done both. More cities than countryside stays, I'd take the rail pass. And rail will probably be cheaper anyway considering your distances and the cost of fuel, tolls, and parking in addition to the car lease expense. But I would stick to a car in Ireland.
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Old Jan 8th, 2005, 07:54 PM
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Readers of the current thread might be interested in the 47 replies generated by your questions a few months ago on these plans for an extended trip.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34531641

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old Jan 8th, 2005, 08:12 PM
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I thought that name was familiar. In fact I think we even exchanged some emails, didn't we?
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Old Jan 8th, 2005, 09:13 PM
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bobthenavigator - getting a car in Paris on buy back programme is a great idea and worked out to be much cheaper than a rental. We did exactly that (ours was a new Citroen) for a 4 month trip of Europe - Paris to Athens via Spain, Portugal, Andorra, south of France, Italy, what was then Yugoslavia, Greece - car ferry to Skiathos and from Corfu back to Italy, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and back through France to return car in Paris. Some 15,000km. Its such a long way for us from Australia, we decided to stay as long as we could. We then flew Paris to London and picked up a rental there for a few weeks.

the nathans, one "hidden gem" which comes to mind was Monasterio De Piedra out of Zaragoza, not all that far from Pamplona - accommodation in old monastery was inexpensive and the place is incredibly beautiful with wonderful gardens, lakes, waterfalls all carved out of arid landscape by the monks. Truly an oasis.
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Old Jan 8th, 2005, 10:07 PM
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Patrick...yeah we did exchange a few emails when we first started talking about doing this trip. Well, it's official and we are well on our way. Got the plane tickets in hand, but still need to plan a fair majority of it.

Any more advice would be appreciated. Keep the replies coming...

Thanks everyone! Sincerely, the nathans
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Old Jan 9th, 2005, 05:49 AM
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Did you list that itinerary in order? Or are you still looking at how to go from one place to another? Where are you flying into and departing from? Do you have any other reservations?
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Old Jan 9th, 2005, 08:00 AM
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What a great opportunity. I wish I'd had the sense to do a pre-children/post-college trip like that.

Re: train vs. car, the buy-back idea sounds like a smart thing to investigate. But remember when budgeting, that you'll have the expense and hassle of parking in cities, plus the price of gas.

This forum will be invaluable in steering your planning. Be sure to keep a journal so you can post it when you return. Have a great time.

 
Old Jan 9th, 2005, 08:52 AM
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Patrick,
Here is what we have so far. We are flying into Dublin on May 1st and flying out of Paris on August 31st. We have a car rented in Ireland and a flight purchased to Scotland. We have a place to stay in Edinburgh and that's about it.

So basically after Ireland, Scotland, England (3-4 weeks) we really don't have a specific route. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!
Thanks.
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Old Jan 9th, 2005, 09:21 AM
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This post is from the wife...

One of our big concerns with planning is <reservations vs. winging it>. We are trying to determine if it is feasible to have a few low budget options including hostels to call a week of so before we arrive in each city or should we make more concrete reservations?

We donít want this trip to be one where we feel rushed from city to city or country to country b/c we have already made a reservation, I donít think I can travel like that for 4 months. We feel this should be more of an exploration trip where we can stay as long as we want in a city or leave as soon as we want to move on to the next place. Basically we donít want a strict timetable, which is what I fear will happen if we have a whole lot of planned reservations. Do most hostels have options to cancel reservation without losing money? On the flip side we donít want to spend too many days wandering around a city trying to find a place to stay that fits into our budget. What are your thoughts on reservations vs. having a few options and winging it???
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Old Jan 9th, 2005, 09:56 AM
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We've had 3 3-week trips the last 3 years, without reservations except for first/last night. In small towns, tourism bureaus are in town center/zentrum/? with lists of available B&Bs/chambre d'hotes/pensions/etc. You can prepare ahead of time by researching lodging to find what towns are more/less likely to have numerous accomodations.

Each of us would alter your itinerary our own way-I'm sure you must have a reason for 18 days in Iberia vs only 7 in Germany or CR. But, have a wonderful time. You'll have some great memories whatever you choose.
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Old Jan 9th, 2005, 10:09 AM
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Regarding reservations vs. winging it, based on my past experience and wanting to feel somewhat free to be capricious in my travels, I think you will not have any problem just finding hotels once you are there. My experience is only in Italy and Paris, however, I was always there in the busy season and never failed to find nice hotels in my budget. There are usually tourist offices at train stations that can find hotels for you in the bigger cities (Florence, Rome, Milan, Paris). I also went online in a few places to find hostels and hotels and called ahead for the next day and that worked out for some of the smaller towns too. I do agree that reserving your first and last hotels is a good idea.
Good luck and enjoy, it will be quite an adventure.
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