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7 1/2 Weeks in Europe- Itinerary Suggestions

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Jul 12th, 2012, 08:07 AM
  #1
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7 1/2 Weeks in Europe- Itinerary Suggestions

Hello Fodor's Posters,
My friend and I will be traveling to Europe for a portion of our Gap Year in May. We have assembled an itinerary (but have not booked anything yet) in accordance with our personal preferences, research, and friend's recommendations. We are both interested in History (Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Granada) as well as some partying and nightlife (Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Barcelona), adventure activities (Interlaken) and some relaxing on the beach (Nice and the Algarve). Time is not factor for us (as I mentioned we are on our Gap Year) and we are looking to purchase a EuroRail pass and travel via cheap hostels. She has been to Paris and London, while I lived in England for four years (and have visited Barcelona, Valencia, Paris, and Normandy). I adored Barcelona and that shows in my itinerary! . I am hoping that I can get some feedback on my itinerary in regards to:
Does my geographical progression make sense?
Am I skipping over cities/areas that are must see's (in your opinion)?
Am I visiting too many cities and will I fall into the fabled "its wednesday so it must be Seville" syndrome?

Here it is:

Amsterdam- 3 nights
Night Train= 7 hours- 1 night
Berlin- 3 nights
Train= 4 ½ hours
Prague- 3 nights
Train= 4 ½ hours
Vienna- 3 nights
Train= 3 hours
Salzburg- 2 nights
Train= less than 2 hours
Munich-1 night
Train= 6 hours
Interlaken- 4 nights (base to explore Jungfrau region)
Geneva to Nice Flight= 1 hour
Nice- 3 nights
Flight= 1 hour 13 minutes
Barcelona- 5 nights
Flight= 1 hour 25 minutes
Granada- 3 nights
Train= 3 hours
Seville- 4 nights (day trip to Cordoba)
Bus= not sure about time
Algarve (not sure about exact itinerary)- 10 nights
Bus= not sure about times
Lisbon- 4 nights (day trip to Evora and Sintra)

Thanks so much,
Beau
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Jul 12th, 2012, 04:12 PM
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Beau;

You don't need very much advice.

You know what you want to do and you have planned it out very well. I can't wait for the "How could you not go Italy and back to Paris? responses).

I presume that you have checked the pricing on your 3 flight legs and compared it to the relative time and expense of a bus/train leg on the same route.

The only other things I noticed was just a 1 night stop in Munich. Are you just considering it a place to break up your Salzburg to Interlaken journey? A "1 night at the Hofbrauhaus" kind of thing?

Granada does not really "need" 3 days, unless you arrive late from Barcelona and leave early for Seville. You are giving it as much time as Berlin. But, I get the impression you think you are going to love the rest of Spain as much as Barcelona - probably true. Also, bus is probably the better way to get from Granada to Seville. You might want to do Cordoba on the way to Seville and eliminate the day trip.
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Jul 12th, 2012, 04:25 PM
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Nice trip, but I have one comment---too many big cities.

We have done 27 trips to Europe including an 8 week trip in 1999. Our favorite destinations have often been smaller cites or rural areas. And, they are often less expensive.
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Jul 12th, 2012, 05:15 PM
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Unless they wants to see big cities, of course. What a novel concept.
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Jul 12th, 2012, 05:44 PM
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Are you stuck on your itinerary? I think you should plan to be flexible. What if you meet great people in Vienna who want to take you to the countryside for a few days? My only advice is just to be open to experiences like this that and be open to changing your itinerary as you travel. I agree with Bob that the off-the-beaten-track experiences are usually the best! Also, I'd take 1 or 2 nights from Granada and add them to Berlin, or add 1 to Prague and 1 to Vienna.
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Jul 13th, 2012, 09:13 AM
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Reading your itinerary, I got as far as Nice and retired from exhaustion.
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Jul 13th, 2012, 09:23 AM
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By the way, when you say things like "Flight= 1 hour 13 minutes", the time you spend in the air is probably the least part of your journey.

You also have to factor in:
(a) all that schlepping from your hotel to the public transport that takes you to the airport
(b) getting to the airport
(c) getting to the airport early so you do not miss your flight
(d) hanging around in the departure lounge
(e) collect your bags from the carousel
(f) getting from the airport at the other end to your new hotel
(g) check in
(h) unpack
By then it is usually time to find somewhere to eat.

From experience I can tell you that if your flight departs at, say, 14:00 (2:00 pm), most of that day will be spent on getting from A to B.
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Jul 13th, 2012, 09:38 AM
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Great sources for planning the rail and or railpass portion of the trip - wwwricksteves.com; www.seat61.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com - download the latter's free and IMO superb European Planning & Rail Guide for lots of rail itineraries in each country (http://www.budgeteuropetravel.com/si...s/rg011210.pdf). Consider taking overnight trains at times to cover long distances at night and to save on the cost of a hotel.
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Jul 13th, 2012, 03:09 PM
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@hpluss1- I will try and be flexible (I haven't booked anything yet), however there is some budget advantage in buying a ticket a couple months in advanced, if not every single one. But I do understand what you mean and will try and allow for this.
@TonyBishop- I do realize that the beginning of my trip is quite frantic, or at least sight filled. However, I hoped by breaking this up with Interlaken and Nice (both destinations in which relaxing takes precedence over sight-seeing for me- in the beach or the mountains). Then I go through another sight seeing week and a half or so, before spending ten days in the Algarve. Maybe my research is incorrect, but I feel this would be a definite break from the frantic city hopping. Maybe my itinerary is too rushed, but I hoped by including these destinations in the middle and then end of the trip, I would lighten the loud a bit. Let me know what you think? Thank you for your note about the travel time for airplanes! Of course realize this, but the destinations that I will be flying to are awarded 3,5, and 3 nights respectively. One of them (Granada) I have been advised does not require 3 nights, so losing the majority of the day is not a massive loss, also considering that I have a train to the next destination.
@PalenQ- thanks for the links!
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Jul 14th, 2012, 06:20 AM
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Beau, thanks for the feedback. I am going to give you my honest opinion of your itinerary.

I think it lacks focus and it will cost a massive amount of time, effort and money to cover all that ground. You cannot even start to scratch below the surface of eight countries in such a short amount of time.

If I were in your shoes I would focus on just 2 -3 countries and explore them more fully. As I am sure you already know, the regional differences in many countries are as pronounced as those between countries.

Given that fact, Andalucía (where I live) is totally different in feel, language, appearance and culture to Barcelona. Not better, just different. However, you will not be able to get to know Andalucía if you stick to just Granada and Seville, especially Granada which gets massive numbers of tourists in May - June.

But this is your trip, not mine and everybody has different priorities.

A couple of additional points.

Nice is a city with approx. 350,000 inhabitants. It is big. I used to live there and I can tell you that it is also expensive unless you are prepared to explore. To do that, you will need to speak French. Given the prices of night clubs there, and in France generally, you will need to have a LOT of money to go partying and enjoy the nightlife.

As you also know, in order to spend 2 *full* days anywhere, you have to spend 3 nights there. For 3 *full* days, 4 nights, and so on. I suspect that you will have to make some tough choices when it comes to partying and sightseeing. You cannot do both if you have just 3 nights/2 full days in a city.

bobthenavigator said "Our favorite destinations have often been smaller cites or rural areas. And, they are often less expensive." I agree with that 100%.

I chose to live in a white village (Montejaque, near Ronda) in Andalucía which, although very attractive and friendly with breathtaking mountain views, attracts very few tourists. Those that do get here, return year after year. Unfortunately your itinerary leaves little time for exploration and getting off the beaten track. In my opinion, that is a great pity.

Have a great time.
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Jul 14th, 2012, 07:05 AM
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Tony,
Thank you again for replying and providing advice for my trip, I really do appreciate it. I am looking at your comments and then back at my itinerary and am starting to see your point. I guess the variety of guidebooks and best of books led me astray, despite my best attempts to break up the city to capital to big city progression. As I mentioned earlier, my itinerary is in no way set (with nothing booked) and I am open to a complete revamping.

Given your suggestion of focusing on 2-3 countries and exploring them more fully, which I do see the advantage of, it appears the geographically logical option would be to either do Spain+Portugal+possibly another country, or the Netherlands+Germany+Austria/Czech Republic. Given the interests I have expressed and the time i would like to spend, what would you suggest in terms of the country progression? As you know, I adored Barcelona, but I my brother and his friends raved about Amsterdam and Berlin and said that they awesome. Obviously, depending on where I decide to go I will be able to separate myself from these major cities and explore the country side and smaller towns (although I would prefer not to rent a car).

What do you think?

Beau
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Jul 14th, 2012, 08:37 AM
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GapYearTraveler, I really appreciate your thoughtful response.

You said "it appears the geographically logical option would be to either do Spain+Portugal+possibly another country, or the Netherlands+Germany+Austria/Czech Republic." I think you are on the right track. That is the kind of direction I would take too.

I can only offer this advice. Both groups of countries provide ample opportunity to "explore the country side and smaller towns". So I cannot say more than that.

However, if a warm, dry climate is a consideration, Spain + Portugal must take priority.

If you want to know more about Andalucía, especially the parts around Ronda, just post again. In the meantime, here is a taste of what might be in store for you.
www.rondamountains.com
Eva lives in the same village as I do, Montejaque.
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