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Ambitious 1st time trip through Europe whilst pregnant??

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Oct 10th, 2017, 04:09 PM
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Ambitious 1st time trip through Europe whilst pregnant??

Hi,

My partner and I are in our early 30's and planning to visit the broad region of "Europe" for the first time in Jan 2018. This will be our 'babymoon' before the crying, screaming, vomiting poop machine is born. We live in Brisbane, Australia, have never been to Europe however have traveled through North America and all through SE Asia, Maldives, etc. We are pretty versatile travelers who enjoy a mix of crowds, sightseeing, shopping and most of all FOOD. We've been known to sacrifice sleep for fun, however with one of us being pregnant we may have to tone it down a bit.

No bookings have been made and time is running out! Our plan is to depart late Dec 2017 or early Jan 2018 for 4 weeks total. Our bucket list cities include:

Iceland - We want to try and catch some 'Northern Lights' but understand they're unpredictable. Alternative locations include Finland, Sweden, Norway, however Iceland appears to be in the right latitude.
Barcelona
Venice
Paris
Amsterdam

Geographically they are all pretty streamlined except for Venice. We'd obviously like to reduce the amount of back tracking to save transit times.

We'd most likely fly Brisbane via Singapore/Dubai into Europe. Maybe Barcelona first??

First 2 weeks:
Barcelona > (worth stopping in southern France somewhere?...in winter?) Venice > Paris >
Week 3:
Reykjavik
Week 4:
Amsterdam > London??
Back to Brisbane, Australia.

Curious to see what people's thoughts are in terms of streamlining travel times and destinations....or are there other burning suggestions on cities we should be visiting for our first time there?

How busy is winter in the suggested destinations? We are hoping by early Jan crowds would have settled down a bit? Since we haven't booked anything yet, we are worried Iceland tours/hotels would be booked up already.
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Oct 10th, 2017, 05:12 PM
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Hi, welcome to Fodor's!

They usually suggest travelling in the middle trimester because that is when there are usually the fewest physical problems likely to manifest themselves ... don't know if that is when you have timed it. I had unforeseen problems in my third trimester and remember dragging myself through a long weekend in Geelong at the beginning of that trimester so I can only think what a big disaster I would have had, had I gone all the way to Europe then. But not all pregnancies are like that (fortunately )

I would opt for an easy trip, something on the less ambitious side in spite of the 4 weeks timeframe and within easy reach of medical help. Given the current instability in Barcelona I would probably knock that off the trip and focus on your other destinations. I think your outline is not a bad one but will point out that you will need full-on winter clothing in Iceland which you won't need in Paris / Amsterdam / London so you will have that in your luggage. Paris / Amsterdam / London would actually make a really fabulous first time trip to Europe and would be easy places to seek medical advice with a minimal language barrier and with normal, good winter clothing and sturdy shoes and umbrella. You probably could fit in more destinations but consider basing yourselves in those cities and doing day trips from there. If you had some days where you were tired you could just take some days off here and there to just people-watch from a café. Hopefully you will get some other good critiques of your plan here. I realise what I am proposing will not fill 4 weeks for an active couple and maybe some others here with experience of a European babymoon will chime in.

Do you have the right kind of winter gear for Iceland in maternity size?

Lavandula
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Oct 10th, 2017, 05:18 PM
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You know it will be winter so you are likely prepared for the very short days and cold/wet/snowy weather.

And most European cities are wonderful in winter because of all the museums, concerts, theatres, restaurants, etc. But an exception can be Venice. It a totally beautiful city of course, but in winter it can be miserable w/ the Acqua Alta.

Maybe cut out Venice???
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Oct 10th, 2017, 05:27 PM
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Prices plummet second week of January. That's what I would aim for. A flight in late Dec will cost you unnecessarily. And then you miss NYE, which will cost you in terms of lodging.

I don't think it helps you because you're Australian, but if it was possible, I'd enter Schengen through Iceland and visit Reykjavik first. It's small, easy airport. I would possibly consider extra time in Iceland because it gives you extra time for the Northern lights and because of weather, in case you do book a tour and it gets delayed. For me, it would depend on what location is the cheapest. Iceland is not cheap and a week is a long time for reykjavik. I went there as a free layover, but if I was going to spend the money to fly, I'd probably go elsewhere for the NL.

Why Venice and not Rome? I'm just curious. Venice is fascinating but Rome is really one of the world's great cities like Paris and London. Or why just Barcelona and not other places in Spain?

I was in Paris in mid-ish January. Still lines for museums. But by then, most of my roommates were Australians and it was easy to change dates for hostels and stuff. Much more flexibility in comparison to the period around Christmas and NYE.
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Oct 10th, 2017, 09:20 PM
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I would not go to Venice in late December. There is a real possiblity of "acqua alta" and many things are closed.

It will be positively freezing in Iceland and you will need more layers than if you go to Paris or anywhere else. Since the aurora borealis is highly unpredictable, I'd skip it.
If you are pregnant, it might not be a good idea to go in the hot springs, either.
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Oct 10th, 2017, 09:23 PM
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There are modestly-priced hotels in Paris, in the 11th and 12th arrondissements.
It would be better to depend on a hotel desk staff instead of renting AirBnB or other vacation rentals. There's a crackdown by the Mayor's Office in Paris, which makes things complicated.
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Oct 10th, 2017, 10:24 PM
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I would do London (get over jetlag, easy city to start) - Eurostar to Paris - Thalys to Amsterdam - fly to Rome - home from Rome.

Keeping flights to a minimum, train travel is more relaxing. You may not need very heavy duty warm clothes - see what the weather is like. If you do need them; get some thermals at Uniqlo in London or Paris.
I think Rome is a better option than Venice in winter.

All cities have plenty to see and do in winter, good food and easy access to medical help in case it's needed. Make sure your insurance is up-to-date and includes pregnancy!
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Oct 10th, 2017, 10:25 PM
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Oh and book train tickets asap once you have booked your flights in and out of Australia - makes a big difference in price!
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Oct 11th, 2017, 01:01 AM
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Have you discusses your travel plans with your doctor?
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Oct 11th, 2017, 06:35 AM
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Just how pregnant are you? You might want to rest more than you realize.
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Oct 11th, 2017, 06:55 AM
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I'd leave Barcelona on the list, at the end of the day they are sensible people.

While I like Iceland, you will need the clothes and the food is ...well a bit odd. I will not eat whale and the idea of shark, puffin or seal flipper actually makes me want to vomit. The spas and hot tubs on the other hand are really really nice. So have a second thought on that.

Venice, the high tides, so no.

I might look at northern Finland myself, nice people, everything is built for the weather, they all speak English very very well and their coffee is good.

4 weeks I'd split it out into 4 bases, make sure I get a washing machine at least twice (may push you towards AirBnB)
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Oct 11th, 2017, 06:56 AM
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Timing, just check how many daylight hours you are going to get in Iceland.
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Oct 11th, 2017, 08:22 AM
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Barcelona > (worth stopping in southern France somewhere?...in winter?) Venice >

How about Nice and Riviera - the French Florida where seniors flock to enjoy some warmth? If going by train great place to journey

And Genoa/Milan - 2 really nice towns -

Amsterdam-London is about 4 hours by Thalys/Eurostar high-speed trains- www.thalys.com and www.eurostar.com.

Book train tickets very early to nab discounted tickets. Check www.seat61.com for lots on that and for general info like where to go by train check www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.
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Oct 11th, 2017, 10:23 AM
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Venice to Paris can be done by overnight Thello trains - save daytime travel time even over flying and the cost of a hotel room - though if want private compartments those may off-set that savings. Shared 4-person rooms can be as low as 59 euro all told book early at www.thello.com - for lots on night trains check again www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

Night trains ain't for everyone -notably those with sleeping/noise problems as there is always a modicum of noise from inside and outside the train but usually not a lot of noise. Get a private compartment and bring any food or drink aboard and have a cozy night (friends of mine swear their first child was conceived on a Paris-Venice overnight train!)
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Oct 11th, 2017, 10:59 AM
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The aqua alta in Venice only lasts for a few hours. The tide comes in, the tide goes out. It affects only certain neighborhoods, including St. Marks's Square.

The peak month is November, followed by December and October. Over 70% of the events happen in these three months. In an average year, there are about six aqua alta events, of which only two of those (on average) would occur outside of the three peak months.

There was exactly one acqua alta in January 2017, and it wasn't even particularly "alta". It affected 5% of the city, including, of course, St. Mark's Square.

I wouldn't rule out on this account a trip to Venice in January.
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Oct 11th, 2017, 09:49 PM
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But since most people want to see San Marco...

It's true that they do put tables and trestles up for the tourists, but it's not an ideal situation if you're really pregnant.
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Oct 12th, 2017, 11:48 AM
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I wouldn't rule out on this account a trip to Venice in January.>

Yes PBS or CBC had a special on the Aqua Water and said how rare it really is for any given day or week, etc. And not nearly all the city is affected.
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Oct 12th, 2017, 01:27 PM
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Since the acqua alta is rare in January, and since it only lasts a few hours, there should be no problem finding a suitable time to see St. Mark's Square even if you should be so unlucky as to be in Venice on a day when there's an acqua alta.
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Oct 12th, 2017, 01:43 PM
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Aqua Water>

Oops meant aqua alta!
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Oct 12th, 2017, 02:51 PM
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I don't know about aqua Alta. Loss of St. Mark's Square for a few hours wouldn't be a big deal- the crowds can be stressful and I spent very little time there. I don't think Venice sounds very fun while pregnant, with the bridges and vaporettos in the cold, but it's pretty lively in late December. I don't think much at all is closed. If you really want to go, then go- it's beautiful in December.

Finland is something to consider. It looks amazing. Iceland does have short daylight hours, but it really isn't as cold as you'd expectt. The only extra layers I wore was my thicker wool hat and my silk long underwear, so very little. However, I didn't do any hiking tours (although I would assume you won't either as you're pregnant). Iceland restaurant scene is actually pretty good even if you don't eat whale- few places serve it, and the ones that do, serve mostly other stuff. Reindeer is delicious. On no account should you ever get curious enough to try the shark. I've never tasted anything as foul as that.
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