7 countries in a month

Old Sep 29th, 2014, 07:07 AM
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Seven countries in 25 days isn't really that crazy. It really depends on what the traveler hopes to accomplish.
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Old Sep 29th, 2014, 07:12 AM
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It isn't the 7 countries . . It is the 20 destinations.
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Old Sep 29th, 2014, 07:24 AM
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Yeah, that is crazy.

OP needs to come back and explain the why of her choices.
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Old Sep 29th, 2014, 08:29 AM
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I agree with all of the above. Remember, we're all very experienced travelers, and I think we know whereof we speak.
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Old Sep 29th, 2014, 08:50 AM
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Whew! So critical for a first draft, lol.

bvlenci, thank you SO much for your input. Absolutely wonderful advice, and thank you for picking up on the details. I definitely have a much more detailed plan in a massive excel spreadsheet and only put the basics up here to see what people thought.

I agree with you regarding the trains throughout Italy, and have since revised my plan. I have allowed one full day to explore Lucca -- having been there before I thought that might be enough?? Also, great tip on Chianti, thank you.

Those of you who assumed I did not ask my husband about his opinion before creating this (or that we'll get a divorce!) are sadly mistaken. That man has done quite a bit of fast paced traveling throughout Asia and the USA (he's Australian) and is excited about the idea. He doesn't want to be in large cities, and while I LOVE London, he detests the idea. Therefore, it's just a travel hub to get to Brugge. Time to hit up Harrod's and that's about it.

Brugge is at the recommendation of my mother, so I thought it would be a lovely stop. I suppose I'll have to just deal with the other tourists...is it still worth it when it's crowded? All of Europe is going to be packed since it's July so I'm preparing for it.

Basel is included in the trip because I have a friend living there and I thought it would be nice to visit, particularly since it's conveniently located at the end of our Rhine road trip. I plan on being there for my friend, not the town. However, this might be a stop I can cut, though I'm not sure it would be convenient.

Scotland is essential because my husband is a part of the Rankin Clan, a sept of the Clan MacLean, and their castle was the Duart Castle on Mull. This is the reason for that specific trip...but it's even more cold and windy than the rest of Europe and I desperately don't want to spend several days there.

As for the smaller towns in England, I'm happy to choose either Durham or a town in the Cotswolds -- any advice on which is best? Or Oxford? We have friends in Oxford and that might be a possibility.

Zurich is just a travel hub and simply a way to get to Venice from Switzerland. If anyone knows a more direct route from Gimmelwald (non-negotiable destination), I'd LOVE to hear it because I couldn't find anything other than train to Zurich then Venice.

I've been to Lucca and Venice and think that the time allotted to them are reasonable for our purposes. The day trips from Lucca are more appealing to my husband than the glass/lace tours from Venice.

My overall goal is to have a whirlwind of a trip while we're still young and then make notes to go back for extended holidays later on, possibly with kids (or even without). It's 7 countries in 25 days, but most of them run right into each other, like France & Germany along the Rhine.

Thanks again for the great advise regarding driving throughout the UK, bvlenci. I'll definitely recalculate based on those suggestions.
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Old Sep 29th, 2014, 09:04 AM
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Do be careful about the driving time estimates. At least when in Scotland, Wales, or Ireland, I always add 50% which can be too much on occasion but not if you plan on having a meal or doing anything other than flat out driving. So 4 hours becomes much closer to 6.
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Old Sep 29th, 2014, 09:08 AM
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Great advice, ceezee, thank you! Driving in Europe is definitely something I've never done, so that's great to know. I was just rounding up from what google maps told me.
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Old Sep 29th, 2014, 09:16 AM
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If you really want to do this, then go for it. I would hate it but it's your trip.
Going to Amsterdam just to spend one afternoon and evening there? Go to Maastricht from Brugge instead, and on to Germany from there.
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Old Sep 29th, 2014, 09:19 AM
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Mull is one of my favorite places but to get off a ferry and drive 35 miles on single track road(being stopped periodically by Highland cows) to the Iona ferry, visit there and then drive all the way back and then north to the tip of Tobermory is impossible. You will not see Duart, which is lovely, or much of anything but the scenery along the road. Better to skip either Iona or Tobermory, or see if you can get a tour from Oban that will do Iona and Duart.
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Old Sep 29th, 2014, 09:25 AM
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Thanks, oliverandharry. Do you think it's worth it to just do Mull and see Duart/Tobermory? And skip Iona? Duart is the reason for the visit so that's a must, and Tobermory just looks really neat so I thought it'd be great to stay there a night.
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Old Sep 29th, 2014, 09:39 AM
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I take it you're picking up the car in Amsterdam and dropping the car in Basel? If so note that you will have huge drop off fees for picking up in one country and dropping off in another. Probably $500 or more.

You can get the train from Gimmewald to Venice via Milan - there are a lot of changes, but it's certainly more direct than going all the way up to Zurich and spending a night. I see 7.5 hours total on bahn.de

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Old Sep 29th, 2014, 09:45 AM
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THANK YOU Hez, that's perfect. Skipping Zurich is highly welcomed.

I'm definitely concerned about the car from Amsterdam to Basel, but I want to be able to freely explore the Rhine area and hit the points I have on my itinerary. I'll be doing some more research to see how people have explored those towns.
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Old Sep 29th, 2014, 09:53 AM
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I'm still sort of scratching my head that you are going to Scotland, yet never visiting Edinburgh.

And I'd surely agree in trying to find a way to cut out that trip to Amsterdam just to spend a couple hours in the afternoon there.

I hate to be too negative as I've done a number of 3 to 5 month European trips that covered a whole lot of ground and had a number of one and two night stops. But unless I spent three nights (two days) in one place, I never really felt I had "experienced" that place (other than some very small picturesque rural stop, perhaps). If I'm reading right, the only three night stop you have is Lucca?
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Old Sep 29th, 2014, 09:53 AM
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If you are not used to driving on the left side of the road keep in mind that will take some getting used to. Also, most rental cars in Europe are manual drive. I love driving but not everyone feels the same. Plus I lived in Japan for a couple years and was totally comfortable driving on the left. Even so it did take a bit of time to acclimate to doing it again. I see you're flying into Edinburg and immediately setting off to Oban. It might not be as quick as you are figuring.
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Old Sep 29th, 2014, 10:00 AM
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NeoPatrick, I would love to explore Edinburgh, but the point of Scotland is to see Duart Castle where the MacLean Clan lived. Unfortunately, it's quite out of the way.

Ceezee, my husband is Australian and I've lived in Australia so left side of the road is natural for us. Also, we both drive manual -- no problem there, either.
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Old Sep 29th, 2014, 10:10 AM
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If you want to avoid London then skip the Cotswolds, visit Northumbria or Yorkshire instead and then leave the car and get the night ferry, either from Hull to Zeebrugge for Brugge, or Hull Rotterdam or Newcastle Ijmuiden for Amsterdam.
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Old Sep 29th, 2014, 10:14 AM
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If someone will be on Mull for more than one day, then driving might be a reasonable idea, provided they're willing to do all the driving on very narrow single-track roads, which means that they'll have to pull over (into designated pull-out spots) when they see a car approaching. Sometimes, on a curve, you don't see the approaching car until too late, and have to back up to the nearest pull-out spot. This happened to our bus several times on the way from Craignure to Fionnphort, where the Mull ferry leaves. I've done this kind of driving in isolated areas in the US and in Italy (and on worse roads), but on Mull, there is rather intense traffic, including tour buses. I was very glad we didn't listen to Janisj on this subject, although we followed a lot of her other advice and found it very useful. One of the things that put us off was the hassle and cost of taking the car on the ferry, for just one day, but when we got there, we realized that the idea was just daft.

For someone who will be on Mull on a day trip, I don't think a car makes any sense at all. There will be no time to do any exploring of the little byways of the island if you want to see either Iona or Tobermory, and there are buses that go to Fionnphort (where you get the ferry to Iona) and to Tobermory. Taking a car on the ferry means you have to reserve in advance, especially in the summer, and costs £90 more (round trip) than traveling as a foot passenger. (If you have a little fender bender on Mull, your costs for having a car there could be considerably more.) You can't take cars on the smaller ferry to Iona, so you'd have to park near the ferry port, and we saw people parked quite far away. The bus from Craignure leaves you off at the port.

Duart castle is very near Craignure, where the ferry from Oban arrives. When we were there, we saw buses waiting to take passengers to the castle. This page tells you how to get there by bus:


It doesn't give the timetable for getting back to Craignure, but I assume the buses leave for Craignure about 20 minutes before they meet the next ferry.

I don't know whether you would want to combine the castle with a trip to Iona or Tobermory, but you really would have to choose one or the other.

Here is this year's summer ferry schedule from Oban to Craignure:


Here are the bus schedules from Craignure to Fionnphort:


... and from Craignure to Tobermory


Here is the ferry schedule from Fionnphort to Iona:


I myself would prefer to visit Iona, although I've never been to Tobermory. When I made the decision it was because, realistically, there is more to see on Iona. In the end, Iona was one of the most enchanting places I've ever seen.

In your case, if you spend the night in Tobermory, you'll have to make a very early start if you plan to drive to Durham that day. I'm not even sure it's possible to start from Tobermory and get to Durham. On the other hand, if you stay two nights in Oban, you can probably see Castle Duart and Iona in one day.

Don't count on Iona being rainy and windy, although it's possible. When we were there (June 2014) it was sunny and warm, a good deal warmer than it was back home in Italy this June. I actually got a sunburn on Iona.
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Old Sep 29th, 2014, 10:16 AM
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"NeoPatrick, I would love to explore Edinburgh, but the point of Scotland is to see Duart Castle where the MacLean Clan lived."

But that's kind of my point. Since you ARE going to Scotland and even arriving in Edinburgh, it only makes sense to spend some time there while you're there, instead of trading that off to be able to say "we did 7 countries". Cut Amsterdam for starters and a few other places and stop to smell the roses.

Assuming there will be other European trips in the future -- then is the time to add other places, but for this trip why not at least EXPERIENCE the places where you are going to be anyway?
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Old Sep 29th, 2014, 11:00 AM
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bvlenci you are amazing, thank you so much. I'm excited to review all of those links and suggestions tonight and make some adjustments. I like the idea of staying in Oban for two nights and seeing Duart and Iona. Thank you!

hetismij2 thank you for those suggestions -- I'll research those towns tonight. That might be a great way to avoid the transfer in London.
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Old Sep 29th, 2014, 11:01 AM
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It's 7 countries in 25 days, but most of them run right into each other, like France & Germany along the Rhine.

That is a failed argument for doing this. It IS your trip, but to me it looks like a train wreck.
Why not see "some" things in depth, and THEN move on the next time to some other things in depth.
You really don't have to see Everything.
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