COVID-19 Travel Advisory: Stay up to date with the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.   Learn More >

Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

6 weeks in Europe--Does this actually work?

6 weeks in Europe--Does this actually work?

Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 06:47 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 56
6 weeks in Europe--Does this actually work?

Hi, I'm helping my parents to Europe. They are two active adults in their 60s who are a bit apprehensive about getting around/not understanding the language (s). They have been to England/Paris on a trip a few years ago. They are do not want to do tours. Any comments on this itinerary--changes, things that should be added/skipped? Are there any train tips?

Here is their initial itinerary:
  • Arrive in Naples: spend three nights (go to Amalfi coast for a few days?)
  • Take train from Naples to Rome, spend three nights (this seems too long?)
  • Take train to Venice (spend two nights)
  • Take train from Venice to Milan (spend two nights)
  • Take train from Milan to Interlaken, Switzerland for two nights (they mentioned a side trip to Jungfraujoch. Thoughts?)
  • Take train from Interlaken to Bern (spend three nights. Too long? Is this a place to go?)
  • Take train from Bern to Salzburg (spend four nights. Too long. Different place instead?)
  • Take train from Salzburg to Vienna (spend three nights)
  • Take train from Vienna to Prague (spend four nights)
  • Take train from Prague to Berlin (spend four nights)
  • Berlin to Boston (two day stopover over in Lisbon)
I understand why they want to focus on western Europe and not hop around too much--but I feel like they could make their centers Rome. Munich, Salzburg and Venice and work on day trips from there? Thoughts?
GF74 is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 07:24 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 5,512
If your parents survive this, they will disown you.
AJPeabody is online now  
Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 07:40 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,735
Far too much moving around, too little time in most places. Did you/they get this off some tour brochures? Rome is not one of my favorite places, but since three nights only gets you two days, I cannot imagine why you would think it is too long. Two nights in Venice is ridiculously short. Etc, etc. They have the luxury of time, they should make the most of it, not run around as if they were on the Amazing Race.

What are their interests? Have they spent time with guidebooks deciding what to see in these places?
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 08:02 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 66,891
Why would you think 3 nights is too long in Rome? That will only net 2 full days. And 2 nights in Venice = one full day.

For people who don't want to jump around too much this itinerary would make them bat s#it crazy after a few stops. Just IMHO . . .
janisj is online now  
Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 08:12 PM
  #5  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,984
Ditto!

When planning, please remember that going from place to place takes more than the actual transportation time -- it also takes time to pack / unpack, check in / out, get to / from one's lodging, get lost / oriented, etc. While it depends on the traveler, planning to "lose" a half day with EACH change of location is not unreasonable.

Good luck!
kja is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 08:28 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,902
Hi GF74,

I am 65 and have been travelling to Switzerland often since about 1996. The older I get, the more I hate moving bases, and I never really enjoyed it very much. So, yes, probably the best thing is to limit your moves and think of doing day-trips instead (I always limit my day-trips to 2h of transport, or else that's the strongest memory).

One instance is the move from Interlaken to Bern. They are only 1h apart by train, so absolutely no reason for the move. They could stay in either one for 5 nights and do day-trips to what they want to see.... or better yet, spend those 5 nights in Thun, a lovely town on the lake with great transport links.

Have fun as you plan for your parents!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 09:01 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,687
With a short trip of a week or ten days, one can push it, but anybody gets burned out and things become a blur if you keep up such a pace after even a few days. They will see more by spending less time traveling.

The amount of time allotted to places seems disproportionate to the things to see. Example: Four nights in Salzburg and only 3 in Rome? Only 3 nights for Naples and the AC?

IMHO, your plan is crazy, but without knowing something about what your parents want out of this, no one can really help narrow things down or help with organizing it. I hope your parents are reading guide books for themselves so they are figuring out what they want to see and do. Do they know what specific things they want to see in each place? Is that the reason for the unusual allocation of time? On the Amalfi Coast, do they want to see Positano, Amalfi, Pompeii, Paestum, Herculaneum, Naples, etc? If they are interested in art, do they not want to stop in Florence? Are they interested in any smaller, walled cities in Tuscany such as Siena or Luca? Perhaps ride a bike on the wall around Luca? I would trade Milan for these. What is their interest in Milan? Bern? The islands in the Venetian Lagoon are wonderful, plus good day trips, so why not relax in Venice for a few days?

What are some of their particular interests? Do they enjoy great art museums, History, cathedrals, hiking, mountains, lakes, food, cooking?

When is this trip?
Sassafrass is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 09:35 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 1,364
The best way to overcome nervousness about language and being in a strange place is to spend longer in each place. I suggest they visit fewer places but stay longer in each. Using a town/city as a base for day trips can work very well. Also, the title of your post suggests that they have 6 weeks but you've only described 32 nights. I'm guessing you've already booked flights if you plan 3 nights in Lisbon enroute home (that sounds unusual but no doubt there are good reasons for it).

I would start with a plan which has them spending 5 nights in each place, then adjusting number of nights up or down as needed. That's 8 places maximum, and possibly within fewer countries. Perhaps something like this:

Amalfi coast
Rome
Venice
Dolomites
Munich
Salzburg
Vienna
Lisbon

There are, of course, a million choices but limiting the number of hotel moves and the travel time between places will make for a much more rewarding holiday. Day trips can be added as desired, and decided the day before rather than now.

I wouldn't pay too much attention to other people's expectations that you spend a certain amount of time in place x, as everyone likes to do/experience different things. I have spent a week in places that others might spend an hour or two, and vice versa. Go with what you think they would enjoy.
dreamon is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 10:34 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 17,825
In a 6 week period most people want to do some odd stuff
wash clothes
Have an illness
Not eat hotel food
Go to the gym
Meditate

So when I do a long trip I want to stop at an Airbnb or apartment to do normal stuff. So try and get a 4 or 5 nighter in there. Or two 4 nighters

Then let their interests drive the length of time. One night in Salzburg would drive me crazy but if they love classical music why not.

You don't say when this is. It does help guide the advice
bilboburgler is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 11:31 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 536
Hi
It's doable.
Some suggestions

Here is their initial itinerary:
  • Arrive in Naples: spend three nights (go to Amalfi coast for a few days?)- Sorrento makes a better base.
  • Take train from Naples to Rome, spend three nights (this seems too long?)- 3 nights are necessary in Rome.
  • Take train to Venice (spend two nights)- Great
  • Take train from Venice to Milan - Skip Milan... Better places to spend time at
  • Take train from Milan to Interlaken, Switzerland for 6 nights (they mentioned a side trip to Jungfraujoch. Thoughts?)- Lot of places around. Slow down and do day trips. Switzerland is quite compact and public transport is very good.
  • Take train from Interlaken to Bern - Skip changing hotels... Do this on day trips from Interlaken
  • Take train from Bern to Salzburg (spend four nights. Too long. Different place instead?)- Worth it. Go to Salzkamargut lakes on day trips
  • Take train from Salzburg to Vienna (spend three nights)- Great
  • Take train from Vienna to Prague (spend four nights)- Great.. Take an overnight train from Vienna to Prague. Saves time. Trains are extremely good.
  • Take train from Prague to Berlin (spend four nights)- 4 days Berlin is good, but may be you can keep it for the next trip if its getting too much.
  • Berlin to Boston (two day stopover over in Lisbon) Lisbon is a great place.
Staying for 3 to 4 nights minimum is the key. Avoid changing places in 2 days. Gives a bit of stability.
Paragkash is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 02:36 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 6,821
Skp Switzerland and travel through the Austrian Alps instead, may be like this:
Venice -. train Desenzano or Pesciera - Lake Garda boat - Riva - bus - Rovereto - train - Trento - Bolzano/Bozen - Senales - bus and gondola - Grawand (highest situated glacier hotel of Europe) - Meran - bus - Timmelsjoch - Oetztal - train - Innsbruck - Salzburg - Wachau - Danube river boat - Vienna.....
neckervd is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 05:07 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 48,556
Good lord, what a horror! Are you lining up for an inheritance? I would not characterize this as "helping your parents," though I'm sure your intentions are good.

The first thing I would do is not plunk them down in Naples at the beginning of a trip. I love Naples, loads of people love Naples, but for two elderly people who are already worried about language (which isn't an issue), Naples would be one of the last places I would plop down Mom and Dad and say "Buon Viaggo!!!"

Have them land in Rome or Venice or Zürich or anywhere generally considered bland and civilized. Then let them REST and wander for a few days. After that, forget the train-crazy rockstar-band-type itinerary that has them hurtling from place to place every couple of days and actually settle them in to a few places and allow the brain to formulate actual memories.

Tear this up and start again.
StCirq is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 07:10 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,123
First of all, I think many of the posters here believe this is YOUR itinerary for them. It is clear to me that this was THEIR itinerary and you are trying to compact it a bit. Kudos to you.

My Dad and Mom regularly took trips like this when they were well into their 80’s, and they never regretted any of them. But this was after getting to know Europe, renting an Umbrian villa for 30 days, etc. We once blogged about a trip we did to 16 European countries in 30 days. It was wonderful, full of stories (100 blog posts), but it was a trip by seasoned travelers, designed to show a relative lots of Europe that she might not get a chance to do again.

Bottom line is that SOME people, regardless of age, can successfully do a trip like this. It depends on their travel style and what they want to see and do. I often hear about the “lost” time of getting from place to place. But taking a train between towns and cities can be a travel joy, relaxing and watching the scenery and interacting with other passengers. My niece picked up a lifelong Italian friend while traveling with my Dad and Mom on such a train. For others, especially with heavy luggage, this type of travel can be a nightmare.

I think Paragkash offered some constructive suggestions.
whitehall is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 08:28 AM
  #14  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,984
Originally Posted by whitehall View Post
I often hear about the “lost” time of getting from place to place. But taking a train between towns and cities can be a travel joy, relaxing and watching the scenery and interacting with other passengers.
I agree about the potential delights of train and bus travel! The time spent packing and unpacking, checking in and out, etc., not so much.
kja is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 08:31 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,687
We still do not know when. We still do not know any of their interests.
Sassafrass is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 09:02 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 48,556
True, Sassafrass, but NINE train trips on one vacation??? Even I, a devoted lover of trains, would balk at that. Really...it gets old packing up and getting to a train station, standing there watching the schedule board, schlepping down to the track, then rinse and repeat on the way back. I am gearing up for several trips right now that involve train trips, but NINE?? No way.
StCirq is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 12:00 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 1,364
I don't actually think 9 stops over 6 weeks is so hideous. I've done that sort of pace before (and more) and really enjoyed it. It doesn't work as well when combined with a lot of long journeys though or where there are several flights involved. I think it looks worse than it is because he has described an itinerary for less than 5 weeks. If they just combined a few stops and added the available days to the existing stops, it could be fine.
dreamon is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 01:54 PM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 56
Thanks, everyone.Yes, the trip is 5 weeks (not six as I originally said) and is slated for September. These constructive suggestions have been very helpful and I plan to pass them on to my parents. Since their main interests are hiking, walking and biking, I'd like to make sure that they have enough time to do that--in their current itinerary, that doesn't seem feasible. I plan on suggesting they pare it down to 5 countries and take day trips (maybe even hiring a driver if needed) and only take trains to move every week.
GF74 is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 02:46 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,735
In that case, if they are going to Switzerland, they should stay in Murren or Wengen, or at least Lauterbrunnen. And consider the Dolomites or the Lakes rather than Milan.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 03:28 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,687
European cities, towns and villages are great for walking.

Do not discount trains for short distances and day trips. They connect so many places, are often city center to city center and are so easy and cheap. No need for an expensive driver just to take them from one place to another on a quick trip.

Five weeks. September. Hiking, biking, walking. Good start. Now, what are they most interested in seeing on their walks or rides and in their base stays? What would they each say is their number one and number two things or places to visit? When they zero in on those, it will be easier to drop others things and focus on putting a plan together. Be sure not to book anything until the itinerary is firm.
Sassafrass is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO