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8 week Europe itinerary for Summer 2012- Advice/Suggestions?

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8 week Europe itinerary for Summer 2012- Advice/Suggestions?

Old Sep 2nd, 2010, 08:23 PM
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8 week Europe itinerary for Summer 2012- Advice/Suggestions?

My husband and I are in the initial planning stages for an eight week trip to Europe in summer 2012. Neither of us have been to Europe, but we both have experience with international travel. My husband is interested in military history (primarily WWI and WWII), while my interest lies mostly with Gothic and Baroque architecture. I tried to take these interests into account when selecting cities. Our timetable is somewhat flexible...this trip could take up to 9-10 weeks if we want. We have no idea if/when we will be back, so the schedule may seem somewhat aggressive. However, we are fairly young (mid-20s) and up for a fast pace. We are going to be on a tight budget, so we will likely split our time between hostels and budget-friendly hotels. Dubrovnik may seem like a random add-on, but I have heard wonderful things about the city from friends and family who have travelled there. Greece and Ireland both seemed like a stretch, so I left them out for now. I tried to get a rough idea of travel times between locations and have included these estimates. If you see any places where I have back-tracked or have ideas about a better way to get somewhere- that would be extremely helpful! We would appreciate any and all feedback you may have. Anything we should skip altogether? Spend more/less time? Any "can't miss" locations that we've left out? We'd also be interested in hearing about any side trips that match our interests. Thank you in advance for your feedback.

Fly into London (5 days)- side trip(s) to Bath, Cotswolds, York, or Cambridge
(+ ½ days travel time)

Train to Paris (5 days)- side trips to Versailles and Normandy
(+ ½ day travel time)

Train to Bruges or Antwerp (2-3 days)
(+ ½ day travel time)

Train to Amsterdam (2-3 days)- visit to Anne Frank house
(+ ½ day travel time)

Train to Berlin (3 days)
(+ ½ day travel time)

Train to Prague (3 days)
(+ ½ day travel time)

Train to Vienna (3 days)
(+ ½ day travel time)

Train to Munich – via Salzburg (4 days)- side trip to Dachau
(+ ½ day travel time)

Train to Zurich or Bern (3 days)
(+ 1 day travel time)

Train to Venice (3 days)
(+ 1 day travel time)

Ferry to Dubrovnik (3-4 days)
(+1 day travel time)

Ferry to Bari, Italy
(+ ½ day travel time)

Train to Rome (5 days)
(+ ½ day travel time)

Train to Cinque Terre (2 days)
(+ ½ day travel time)

Train to Nice (3 days)
(+ ½ day travel time)

Train to Barcelona (3 days)
(+ ½ day travel time)- fly??

Train/fly to Seville (3 days)
(+ 1 day travel time)

Train/fly Lisbon (3 days)?? May skip this and fly back to the US out of Seville or Barcelona instead.
amwillaert is offline  
Old Sep 2nd, 2010, 08:46 PM
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Random thoughts. Do you mean 2011? Look at whichbudget.com for cheap flights. Look at seat61.com for info on European trains and bahn.de for timetables.

If you're going to Switzerland you should head for the mountains, not the cities (try Lauterbrunnen or Murren). Dubrovnik is pretty, but it doesn't take much more than a day unless you're doing a day trip to Montenegro, and try to avoid a day when the cruise ships are in town. If you're going that far there are other places worth seeing in Croatia.

If you're going to southern Spain you should absolutely not skip Granada (for the Alhambra). I love Lisbon, but it's hard to get to from Seville. Aside from the Cinque Terre this is very heavy on cities - consider getting out into the countryside.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2010, 02:26 AM
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Do not rent a car for London, Belgium and the Netherlands! It makes no sense at all. A hire car is a liability in the cities you mention and since public transport is so good I wouldn't bother with a car.
You would still need to get from London to Belgium. British car hire companies are not keen on hiring cars to be taken abroad, and even if they did you would be stung with a huge drop off fee, or the need to return it to the UK. Even hiring in one in France for the France/Belgium/ Netherlands part of the trip makes little sense.
Book your train tickets as far ahead as you can and you will get really cheap fares, at least as cheap as the cheapo airlines in some cases, and with a lot less hassle involved in travelling.

If your husband is interested in WW1 why have you not included a visit to Ypres?
And for WW2 there is the Arnhem area (Bridge too far and all that), amongst other possibilities.

I agree it is very city based, but if that is what floats your boat fine. There is a wide variety of countryside to be enjoyed though.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2010, 09:16 AM
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Thank you so much for all the wonderful advice. I did mean 2012 (I know this really far ahead to be planning, but what can I say I’m excited!) I agree this itinerary is currently very heavy on cities. This is due not so much to personal preference as it being unsure about where exactly to go outside of major cities. My husband and I both enjoy spending time outdoors, so spending some time in the countryside (especially in the Alps) is a must. I did some initial research on Murren and Granada. Excellent suggestions! A friend of ours also suggested Geneva and Villars-Gryon as other options for Switzerland. I feel strongly about leaving Dubrovnik on our itinerary, so maybe we could add a bit more time there (maybe visit Montenegro while we are there?) and skip another place on the coast like Nice. We will look into renting a car for at least part of the trip. It might be nice to have it for some of the side trips. I will have to ask my husband about specific places he is interested in visiting as he in history buff! We have heard from other friends who have taken trips of this length that taking 5-7 days somewhere in the middle of the trip to just relax is important. Any suggestions for places we could take a “vacation from our vacation”? Preferably somewhere near a city in the middle our itinerary.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2010, 09:42 AM
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Well, Vienna and Venice are both great cities that could easily absorb more time. But if you're going to Dubrovnik anyway you could chill out on one of the nearby islands for a bit. You should also try to get to Plitvice national park.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2010, 09:43 AM
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Outside Geneva the Lac Leman area is very nice (Lausanne, Vevey, Montreux) and would give you a taste of smaller towns/cities.

As far as the vacation from vacation, really all you have to do is STOP and stay put for 5 days. I don't think the exact locations matters as much (could be city could be countryside) it's about staying put and not having to check in and our of hotels, catch trains and planes, etc. Just stopping gives what you are looking for.

I never understand the '1-2 days is enough for Venice' comments. I would not shorten your stay there! It's one of the most magical places I have ever seen.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2010, 09:59 AM
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For London and Paris, I would do 5 days + side trips, not take any during the days in the city. I might add a day or two at the beginning to London, since jetlag will wipe out first day.

With an interest in WW1 and WWI, I don't see any trips to the scenes of these wars, Vimy Ridge, Normandy beaches,etc. I would leave Paris and head to those areas, with a car rental.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2010, 10:23 AM
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Well with all those longish train trips in so many countries a Global Eurailpass IMO is a no-brainer. Perhaps a Flexipass where you buy 10 or 15 unlimited travel days (calendar day midnight to midnight) and have a 2-month period in which to use them - thus you hop between the bases you have organized.

The first ten days you would not use the pass, until leaving Paris perhaps.

Anyway here are some superb sources i always spotlight for folks planning a European train trip - www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com - download the latter's free and superb IMO European Rail & Planning Guide (title?) for suggested itineraries and info on train travel in each country. For schedules i always use the Wunderbar www.bahn.de - German Rail site that has schedules for all of Europe.
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