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Beleith Sep 28th, 2014 05:58 PM

7 countries in a month
My husband and I will be taking a month to travel Europe next July. I've been, but he hasn't and I want to show him as much as possible without rushing it. I've been told I'm ambitious, but I'm pretty proud of this itinerary. However, I'm all about asking for tips and advice -- let me know what you all think! Thank you!

4-Jul Arrive in Edinburgh,
Drive to Oban (Scotland) via Perth (3 hrs),
Overnight in Oban

5-Jul Daytrip to Mull & Iona,
Overnight in Tobermory (Scotland)

6-Jul Oban to Durham (5.5 hours by car),
Overnight in Durham (England)

7-Jul Explore Durham & surrounding towns,
Overnight in Durham

8-Jul Durham to Cotswolds (4.5 drive),
Overnight in Chipping Campden (England)

9-Jul Explore Cotswolds,
Overnight in Chipping Campden

10-Jul Cotswolds to London via 2 hr train,
Overnight in London

11-Jul London to Brugge by train,
Overnight in Brugge (Belgium)

12-Jul Explore Brugge,
Overnight in Brugge (Belgium)

13-Jul Brugge to Amsterdam (4 hr by train),
Overnight in Amsterdam

14-Jul Begin Rhine Road Trip @ 7AM,
Eltz Castle (3hrs30min from Amsterdam),
Overnight in Bacharach (Germany)

15-Jul Explore St. Goar & Bacharach,
Overnight in Bacharach

16-Jul Wine down the Rhine,
Overnight in Kientzheim, France

17-Jul Slowly drive to Basel, Switzerland,
Overnight in Basel

18-Jul Explore Basel,
Overnight in Basel

19-Jul Basel to Gimmelwald (4 hrs by train & gondola),
Overnight in Gimmelwald

20-Jul Explore Gimmelwald area,
Overnight in Gimmelwald

21-Jul Gimmelwald to Zurich (2 hrs by train),
Overnight in Zurich

22-Jul Zurich to Venice by Train (7 hrs),
Overnight in Venice

23-Jul Explore Venice,
Overnight in Venice

24-Jul Venice to Lucca (by car 4 hrs),
Overnight in Lucca

25-Jul Explore Lucca,
Overnight in Lucca

26-Jul Day trip along SS222, Chianti Road,
Overnight in Lucca

27-Jul Lucca to Rome by train (4 hours),
Overnight in Rome

28-Jul Rome (Vatican),
Overnight in Rome

19-Jul Rome back to USA

Dayle Sep 28th, 2014 06:29 PM

You just might be heading for a divorce.

Actually, I think you need to look at EXACTLY how many hours (and hours it is, not days) you have in each place you to plan to visit. List what you hope to see/do their in the time you will actually BE in each place.

Decide if this is realistic for what you want to show your husband. Since it's his first trip, I would think it would be more successful if he has input. What are his interests and top priorities?

The way you have this planned, it's mainly a road / train trip driving through countries / scenery. If this is what you want fine, but a half day in Amsterdam? Why bother?

Also consider this - if one flight or train is late, or if you get a little bit lost driving, you will miss the hours you have planned for the next destination. You will have spent time and money getting somewhere without being able to see anything at all.

You will return. Less is more.

Sassafrass Sep 28th, 2014 06:33 PM

OK, do not know your DH's interests, but I am going to be totally honest with you. I would absolutely hate you and never travel with you again.

It is his first trip and you are spending as much time traveling from place to place as you are sight seeing. You are going to a couple of wonderful, major cities (London and Rome) with world class sights and seeing nothing in either one.

You are going to places like Basel (why?) and spending a day, but only an afternoon in London! Why?
You are going to the Cotswolds, but skipping Bath with fantastic Roman ruins.
You have three nights and a whole day in Luca, but only one day for Rome! If you do not think Rome is actually worth a visit, then skip,it.

What are your husband's interests? Maybe each of these places have some unique thing like a business or car factory or something he especially wants to see. I don't know, but few of them would be on a first trip for me to Europe, and the ones that would be, you have allowed no time.

If you are set on Zurich, then fly to Venice, don't use most of the day getting there.

I know you are proud of it, but this is not a great plan.

Sassafrass Sep 28th, 2014 06:35 PM

The good thing is, you have started planning early enough to read, think, plan and come up with a great trip. This one is not it.

Kathie Sep 28th, 2014 06:41 PM

Ghastly! I agree. This is a trip spent mostly in transit - no time to see, do or experience in any of these fascinating places.

And the time you spend in these places makes no sense to me. You actually have a full day in Brugge, but half a day (at best) in London.

MmePerdu Sep 28th, 2014 06:57 PM

It's an odd itinerary, to be sure, and I'd go so far as to say something of a nightmare. Please don't take it personally. Itineraries are posted here with the idea that they'll change or why post them.

What caught my eye first was London 1 night, Bruges 2 nights. I cannot imagine why. I'd like to know which are the places you feel the most attached to seeing and which are the ones just thrown in between the important ones. That would be the most helpful information to know here.

You call it a month but, if I'm counting correctly, you've got 24 full days, not counting arrival & departure days. That's a whole week short of a month. Significant practically and in other ways. An indication that you aren't seeing things as they are.

Hez Sep 28th, 2014 07:20 PM

Personally I would throw this itinerary out and start again. Being able to do 7 countries in a month isn't an achievement, it's a waste of time and money. You're going to spend huge amounts of time getting to and from trains/airports, checking into and out of hotels and generally knackered from all the stress of having to figure out logistics rather than enjoying Europe.

IMDonehere Sep 28th, 2014 07:27 PM

Do you plan on seeing anything?

colduphere Sep 28th, 2014 07:37 PM

I love Norse mythology.

fmpden Sep 28th, 2014 09:14 PM

You are proud of this schedule? Why? What are you trying to accomplish? All you are doing is traveling. You want to show your husband as much as possible and not rush it. I would hate to see what you think is a rushed schedule. I truthfully no idea how it could be any more rushed. It makes little sense unless it is just a drive by vacation. Then it is a good one.

janisj Sep 28th, 2014 11:21 PM

I see this is your first post. Welcome to fodors, please don't be put off or offended. Everyone above is trying to help. This is a REALLY ambitious plan - There are parts that are almost impossible.

Some other problems not already mentioned: you have greatly underestimated drive times in the UK. From the on-line mileage calculators you need to add 25%-50% and sometimes more. You will get off an overnight flight, maybe w/ multiple connections, and want to drive. Not a good idea. It usually takes a day plus at least to recover from the jet lag and be able to drive safely. Why no time in Edinburgh? You say Oban to Durham, but you will be staying in to remora so need to add a lot more time to that days travel.

And on and on. Seems like a laundry list of places you want to show your husband but you are giving him no time to do much except check in/check out/pack/ unpack/ travel, repeat.

adrienne Sep 28th, 2014 11:22 PM

A few brief comments.

Day 1 - Viamichelin shows Edinburgh to Oban, via Perth, to be 4 hours driving. I always add 25% to internet drive times and always need the extra 25%. That means 5 hours driving. This does not allow for food and rest breaks, getting lost, picking up the rental car.

All your drive times will take longer than you think.

For train travel, you've listed the amount of time on the train but not getting to and from the train stations. Allow an additional hour for this.

Do you and your husband enjoy brief looks at places and would rather not see anything in any depth? Is that why you've created an itinerary like this? If so, it may work for you. It's more of a forced march to me.

Good luck!

janisj Sep 28th, 2014 11:26 PM

Oops meant to add:

As an example, tobermory to Durham is a 7.5-8 hour drive w/o any stops and it could take longer. I think you need to get back to the drawing board and decide which maybe 3 or 4 countries you want to taste and then work out a more reasonable plan (and save your marriage)

sparkchaser Sep 29th, 2014 12:24 AM

<i>...and I want to show him as much as possible without rushing it...</i>

I suggest taking the advice of the posters above me and redo you itinerary.

janisj Sep 29th, 2014 12:38 AM

Oops, my iPad pulled a weird autocorrect. That should read >>will be staying in Tobermory so need to add . . . <<

bvlenci Sep 29th, 2014 02:03 AM

To be fair, most of the stops have two nights in one place, giving at least one full day to explore the area. The things to be explored will have to be cut back, but that can be determined on the spot.

I imagine, reading the itinerary, that you don't care for large cities. That's probably the reason for the very brief times spent in cities like London and Rome. If I'm right, I'd just skip those cities altogether, except to spend a night in order to make a connection, and add the time to some of the other places. In fact, I'd skip all the places where you have only one night, unless it's needed for transit.

To get into details, sticking the places I know from experience, here are some suggestions.

It took us nearly a full day to drive from Glasgow to Oban, making very brief stops along Lough Lomond and in Inverary. That includes picking up the rental car and making a mistaken detour, but these are things to be expected. Glasgow to Oban is a shorter drive than Edinburgh to Oban, and Inverary is less of a detour than Perth, so I think you can expect this to be a very long day.

It sounds as though you're planning to take the car on the ferry to Mull. We left the car in Oban and went to Mull and Iona as foot passengers. Having seen the roads, I would under no circumstances drive on Mull. The roads in Scotland are narrow, but the roads on Mull are half the width of the rest of Scotland. Someone on this forum encouraged us to drive so that we could do a little exploring, but getting to Iona and back left no time for any other exploring, so we were glad we took the bus. I'm sure we could have got to Iona no faster than the bus did; even though it does make a few brief stops on the way, it barrels down the very narrow road much faster than we would have.

Even if you drive, I think you'll have to choose either Iona or Tobermory, not both. We had originally hoped to see both, but I realized that it would be impossible. We loved Iona, and I would have hated to rush away.

We also went to Durham, but stopped over in Edinburgh for two nights on the way. I think your driving time is overly optimistic. We left Oban fairly early, and made only two stops (at Lake Monteith and at Falkirk) and still got to Edinburgh at around 8 PM (counting the time to drop off the rental car). Neither stop is out of the route, and we didn't linger very long at either place. If you want to get to Durham in one day, and also stop to have lunch, you'll have to leave at the crack of dawn.

We also loved Durham, and wouldn't have had time to explore surrounding towns if we had stayed only two nights, arriving late on the first night and leaving early after the second, which will give you one full day. We did some exploring, but we arrived early the first day and left late on the last, so we really had three full days. I suggest you choose either Durham or the Cotswolds.

You might want to read my trip report, since we visited many of the places you want to see.

I've been to Brugge twice, but over twenty years ago, when I was living in the Netherlands. It's a pretty little city, but it was full of tourists even then, and I've heard that the number has increased greatly in the intervening decades.

One night in Amsterdam isn't worth the trip from Brugge. I would skip it and get on with the rest of the trip. I would also skip Zurich and one other destination along the way between Brugge and Venice.

I haven't been to Basel, but we really loved Lucerne, which has pretty good connections to Italy.

I wouldn't drive from Venice to Lucca. I live in Italy, just trust me. It's an awful drive, mostly on the autostrada (only two lanes much of the way, the very slow lane and the speed demon lane), with lots of tunnels and heavy truck traffic. Lucca is one of my favorite cities in Italy, but you aren't giving yourself much time to enjoy it. With your schedule, you'll just be sleeping there. If you skip some of the places I've suggested skipping, you could add a night there.

However, if you want to see a bit of Chianti, Lucca isn't the best place to stay. It's a long and tedious drive from there to the Chianti region. I would suggest Montalcino, another town I really like. It's also a bit of a drive from Chianti, but at least it's a scenic drive. If you stay there, or somewhere else nearer to the Chianti area, skip Lucca.

Whether you stay in Lucca or closer to the Chianti region, pick up the car closer to the destination. The high speed train gets to Florence from Venice much faster than you can drive, and then you can take a bus to the Florence airport, which is a good place to pick up the rental car.

I would suggest skipping Rome as well if you can spend only two nights there. You could drive to the airport on your last night and drop the car there. (Once again, however, the train from Florence to Rome is much faster than driving.) If you really must see the Vatican, you can do it on your last afternoon. It would be an exhausting end to an exhausting trip, though. The crowds there are not to be believed. I've been to the Vatican Museums four times and all four times I was packed into the space, shuffling along shoulder to shoulder with thousands of other people. I would only return if I could go on a midweek afternoon in early February.

addysson32 Sep 29th, 2014 02:38 AM

I admire the idea ;)

nytraveler Sep 29th, 2014 04:25 AM

Ifyou are not intereted in large cities then don;t waste time going to them.

What you have is a very lengthy and expensive tour of the train stations and airports (not clear how you are getting where) of europe. You will be spending more time in transit than actually seeing/doing anything.

If you hate London and Rome don;t go at all and put the time someplace you do like. If you think your DH will be interested - then spend at least 3 full days (4 nights) in each one.

I wold talk with your DH about HIS expectations - and what HIS must sees are - and make sure you have the time to see them (and that the places he wants to see will be open on the days that you are there - many museums are closed one day per week - and it varies).

Not to be mean - but this looks much more like the plan for an invasion than a vacation.

bvlenci Sep 29th, 2014 04:55 AM

I don't think it's quite that bad. As I said, there are at least two nights in most places, and most of them are small places and more or less along the main route. I do think some trimming is in order, but let's not exaggerate, and try to help improve the itinerary instead of just blowing it out of the water.

The itinerary does indicate whether cars or trains are being used, if you read it carefully.

I realized, reading over my earlier post, that I didn't say that we spent three nights in Durham, making it less than obvious that we had three full days there (and actually a bit more than that), with an early arrival at the beginning and late departure at the end. You never get three full days by staying two nights in one place, unless you travel by magic carpet.

janisj Sep 29th, 2014 07:04 AM

Sorry, bvlenci, but it IS that bad. Many of those 2 nighters nets only one day. For instance those 2 nights in chipping Campden, it will take most of the day to get there from Durham. So one day to 'see' the Cotswolds, why drive all that way for one day?

(BTW, IME over several visits, driving on Mull is absolutely fine . . . It is just that the OP won't have time to enjoy it.)

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