Approximately 5 weeks in Europe

Apr 28th, 2008, 07:17 PM
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Approximately 5 weeks in Europe

Well, I booked our tickets. My 11 year old daughter and myself are offically leaving LAX to London on September 25, 2008 and return on November 4, 2008 via Airfrance frequent flyer miles (Delta). Thanks to everyone on all the great information. I opted not to do Business class (and may regret that) I felt as though we would be able to use those additional miles for other trips and did not want to "blow the wad". Airfrance has inflight entertainment so that will help. We were planning on going in the spring of 09 but things got a little turned around so fall it is.

Now... let the fun begin! I need serious advice and help. One must know that doing this trip is stepping so far out of comfort zone that even as I type this I am a little sick to my stomach. I was going to do 8 weeks but could not bring myself to be away that long.

Dh is going to come for a week in the middle and that makes me VERY happy.

Goals of our trip:

1. We will be spending 3 weeks in Southern Italy at a school called: Scuola d'italiano per stranieri Porta d'Oriente - it is outside of Lecce - in Otranto.

2. Doing a World War tour of sorts - dd and I are both very interested in World War 11 and I do want this to also be an educational process.

The school has availability currently for both the apartment and classes so there is flexiblity on when we arrive there (It has to be a Sunday arrival and we would depart on a Sat am or Friday night after the last class).

I am leaning towards the school Sunday Oct. 5 - Friday Oct.24 (or Sat. Oct 25).

So here is what that looks like:

9-26 - arrival London
10-4 Rome - meet Dh
10-5 - 10 - 24 - Lecce
11-3 London
11-4 Depart London

DD and I want to go to Amsterdam, and Munich and possible Salzburg. Want to go to Harlem to see Corrie Ten Boom's house, Anne Frank's house and Dachau.

DD has expressed an interest in Barcellona but I do not see that fitting in on this trip unless I am over looking something.

I do not want to rent a car - period. Train travel ideal, will do night trains - will do flights in Europe if best way to travel.

I am considering paying someone to help me with this as I am feeling overwhelmed with the best way to put this together.

Very open and flexible to suggestions! I will be in Paris in December/Jan so I am not interested in spending time there on this trip, that is about the only no can do - that and London is a bit pricey with the exchange rate.

MomDDTravel is offline  
Apr 29th, 2008, 03:24 AM
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Hi Mom,

>I will be in Paris in December/Jan so I am not interested in spending time there on this trip,...

DD hasn't been to Paris, though.

You've got 8 nights in London at the start and one on the return.

Why not split is as 3 at the start and 3 at the end?

That will give you 5 nights in Paris for DD.

You then fly from Paris CDG to Rome FCO. See

You have 7 nights left.

The obvious choice would be to stay in Italy and visit two of Rome, Florence and Venice. (You do want to practice your Italian, don't you?)

Fly back to London. from whichever city is most convenient.

However, since you want to traipse all over Western Europe:

9-26 - arrival London
9-27 - London
9-28 - Fly to Amsterdam
9-29 - Ams
9-30 - Ams
10-1 - To Brussels by train
10-2 - Brussels - Daytrip to Bruges
10-3 - Brussels
10-4 - Fly to Rome - meet Dh
10-5 - 10 - 24 - Lecce
10-25 - Train to Rome
10-26 - Rome
10-27 - Rome
10-28 - Train to Munich*
10-29 - Munich
10-30 - Munich - visit Salzburg
10-31 - Munich - Visit Dachau
11-1 - Fly to London
11-2 - London
11-3 London
11-4 Depart London

* has SmartPrice fares of 59E pp in a T3, 69E pp in a T2.

In Munich, I can recommend

Hope this helps.

ira is offline  
Apr 29th, 2008, 04:02 AM
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My immediate reaction to your post was that you should certainly stay in Rome since you are meeting your husband there 10/4.You could do this either before meeting him or after the Lecce stop--maybe after the Italian lessons makes most sense as Ira suggests.
I think you need a minimum of 4 nights, 3 full days in Rome to enjoy the city. Shorter stays are much more frustrating since there is so much to do.

I would also add more time to London since you are flying in and out of that city. There is a recent thread on free things to do there. We enjoyed staying overnight in Windsor on our day of arrival at Heathrow during our last trip to England. Visiting the town and castle was a good way to spend the jet lagged first afternoon.

Night trains are a good way to cover a lot of territory, which you will have to do given your desire to travel from Amsterdam to Lecce. However, the train trip over the Brenner pass is really spectacular in the daylight. You could stop on the way back from southern Italy--maybe Verona?

Vttraveler is online now  
Apr 29th, 2008, 06:42 AM
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Ira - as usual I simply love you! I will drink some coffee and digest what you said. DD was in Paris for a few nights and will be back with us in December that is why I did not want go that route.

Vttraveler we also spent 4 or 5 nights in Rome last July - It is dd's favorite - so we will spend time there - I was thinking of a weekend trip as well from the school. I am not a big city person. A few nights is great for me...

One thing I was thinking of last night was to go directly to the school on Monday September 29 do the three weeks and then travel back up Italy and yes, Ira we definately want to practice our Italian!

Then go up from Milan to Germany and then to Amsterdam to London in that order... It gives us 18 days - not including the last day of travel.
Thinking a week in Italy, 11 days for Germany/Amsterdam and then home.

I am just still numb with fear and excitement this morning..walking about "I booked it"!
MomDDTravel is offline  
Apr 29th, 2008, 06:43 AM
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Oh and Ira, I have booked marked that hotel from months ago when oyu recommendedit. I and am planning on staying there, it is in the perfect budget range of what I am looking for. Thank you.
MomDDTravel is offline  
Apr 29th, 2008, 06:57 AM
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My WWII favorites are:

The Normandy Beach area in France. It is an emotional journey - so moving. Great learning experience for your daughter.

Pre-trip renting & watching the movie, "A Bridge Too Far" & then visiting that area in The Netherlands. The museum is great with original artifacts.

And, The War Rooms in London - we call them Churchill's War Rooms, but I don't think that is actually the correct name. This was Churchill's WWII underground war operations bunker and it is fascinating. Many of the rooms are just as they were during WWII.

Hope you get over your jitters. Once you do your research & with all the help from the great Fodorite experts, you will not have any problems at all. And what memories you, your daughter, & your husband will have - wonderful!
JulieAgain is offline  
Apr 29th, 2008, 06:59 AM
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Forgot to mention the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. Your daughter will really be able to relate to her and her surroundings. And the house museum is done so well.
JulieAgain is offline  
Apr 29th, 2008, 07:01 AM
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Thanks Julie! I have never really traveled alone and taking an 11 year old makes it a tad more complicated but I am very excited.

I went to Thailand about 5 or so years ago without my family with a group from our church and I did "okay" LOL I just missed my family a LOT.

Thank you for the World War 11 recommendations. We recently watched "The Hiding Place" with Corrie Ten Boom and dd just read a youth version of Anne Frank's story and we are waiting on Netflix for that movie.
MomDDTravel is offline  
Apr 29th, 2008, 07:02 AM
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Julie we were posting at the same time.

Currently I want to do Corrie Ten Boom's house in Harlem, Anne Frank's home in Amsterdam, and Dachau.
MomDDTravel is offline  
Apr 29th, 2008, 07:51 AM
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If you really want to go to Brussels (did I miss that?), you could take the Eurostar (Chunnel) train from London to Brussels. Nonstop, only 2 hours, but get your tickets early for considerable savings. I think going from central London to central Brussels by train infinitely more convenient than schlepping to an airport -- hours early -- then getting yourself from the arrival airport into town.

After Brussels, you can continue by train to Amsterdam. See Anne Frank's house there, and make a daytrip to Harlem for the Ten Boom house.

Dachau is a daytrip from Munich.

Back in London, the Imperial War Museum has a lot of stuff from WWII, and you can experience a bombing raid in an air raid shelter. And the Cabinet War Rooms are fascinating because they're real.
Mimar is offline  
Apr 29th, 2008, 08:58 AM
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Mirmar - no, I have really no desire to go to Brussels. I might want to go to Brugges at some point and if it works out that is where I would go in that area.

I am thinking of heading straight to Rome from London on the 26 (or the morning of the 27 and just staying in an airport hotel at LHR) the flights are inexpensive - staying in Rome for a night or two - and then going to the school for the 3 weeks (minus a few days) and heading UP Italy - doing a week in Italy (we will also be doing possible weekend trips from the school not sure on that yet).

Head into Germany - to Amsterdam and over to London for our flight home.
MomDDTravel is offline  
Apr 29th, 2008, 09:36 AM
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As for train and railpass info (that much train travel outside of Italy dictates serious pass consideration IMO - i always refer two excellent sites that do more than give pass prices but tell you a lot about the rail system in general: and - and on this one ask for their free European Planning & Rail guide a great primer on using trains and railpasses for novice rail travelers. ricksteves similar has good info on his sight and also includes bits about discount airlines, etc. Both have itinerary tips, etc.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 29th, 2008, 10:01 AM
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PalenQ - as always thank you. I have been reading Rick Steves books as well as his website. I am looking for more budget accomadations then I have in the past so thought that might be a good idea.
I am researching rail passes and am rather confused but muddeling through it. Too confused at this point to even pose a question!
MomDDTravel is offline  
Apr 29th, 2008, 10:05 AM
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Here are some rules of thumb we have found helpful when first planning a trip in Europe.

1. stay at least 3 nights in a row in the same bed

2. a two hour train or flight really means a half to two-thirds of a day lost

3. mix big cities with rural or small towns

4. in a single day, mix different kinds of activities, for example a museum with an event like a market or a show and a site like a tower or a walking tour, 3 things planned in a day is enough

5. read lots of fiction and nonfiction books to get some inspiration about what appeals to you about a place (not just guide books)

6. not everyone is a Rick Steves fan, but his books do include helpful Europe rail maps that show good connections, travel time and cost that can help you plan.

So for five weeks, you might plan a week in London (perhaps split between the beginning and end of your trip, consider at the end staying somewhere not far from London such as Windsor), a week in France (Paris and Normandy, you can easily reach Caen or Bayeux by train), two weeks in Italy (one for school and one split between Rome and a piece of the countryside such as Tuscany or Umbria, if DH is with you consider the countryside by car) and a week in Holland (split between Amsterdam and perhaps one of the smaller towns or even Bruges in Belgium).

In London for WWII ideas, definitely the Churchill museum and related cabinet war rooms. Others have also raved about the Blitz walking tour from If you have time, you might consider also Bletchley Park, where they cracked the Enigma code to defeat the Germans. (google it, now a museum, good directions for train from London, train station is an easy 2 minute walk, verrrrrry educational.)

Have fun planning your trip!
laurie_ann is offline  
Apr 29th, 2008, 10:16 AM
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My Mom pulled me out of HS when I was 16 so that we could travel in Europe for 6 months (13 countries) (that was in 1966). It was one of the highlights of my youth. Here are some of the most memorable as a teen.

Ann Franks House
Rome Catecombs (sp)
St Peters
Ponte du Gard in souther france

We went to the WWII war museum in London a couple of years ago... it was wonderful and haunting. Your daughter might like the ferris wheel.

If it were me I'd take the chunnel either to or from England.

Have you given thought to Prauge?

jnjfraz is offline  
Apr 29th, 2008, 10:19 AM
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jnjfraz - I like your Mom

I am pulling dd out of traditional school for the next year and we will be doing a large amount of travel - here in the US in the sprng and in Europe in the fall.

Yes, I have heavily thought of Praque but thought Ira would surely slap me silly if I added one more country. No, seriously my cousin is there right now and said it is one of her favorite cities to date.

We went to the catacombs in Rome last July and dd has said that was also a highlight for her.

MomDDTravel is offline  
Apr 29th, 2008, 10:22 AM
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Laurie Ann - thank you for all your great advice and tips.

I have several Rick Steve's books as I find them to be an easy read and do feel they contain some great information esp. regarding train travel.

We are spending the bulk of the trip at a language immersion school. Part of me is tempted to only do two weeks but that seems like a waste in many ways.

We will be in France in December/Jan - 10 nights in Paris with most of our family - and will go to Caen at that time.
MomDDTravel is offline  
Apr 29th, 2008, 10:59 AM
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Dawn, go, go, go! Carpe diem, as they say.

I've been to Amsterdam twice to see the Anne Frank House. She is one of the people I admire the most, and it was awesome (and I mean that in its more traditional sense) to be there. Just to stand in the bedroom where she wrote her diary....

There is also a Holocaust museum, I can't remember the name right off the bat, near the centre of the city. You can take the tram there. I also visited a theatre where the Jews were processed before being sent to the camps, and there's a memorial there.

There are several books on Anne Frank, and a film or two. I'm sure you can find most of them at your local library.

Merseyheart is offline  
Apr 29th, 2008, 11:45 AM
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If not Paris and Normandy then I would choose a week in Germany, perhaps along the Rhine (good public transportation) or in Munich and Bavaria as a contrast to the other places.
laurie_ann is offline  
Apr 29th, 2008, 11:50 AM
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Merseyheart - yes that is what i need to hear - go go go!!!

It will be an adventure. Our church did a night of holocaust surviors as a community forum a few weeks ago - I was not able to attend but dd and I are watching it online. She read a youth book on Anne Frank and we are waiting on the Netflix movie.

Thank you for the encouragment. I need it.
MomDDTravel is offline  

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