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Calling all Europe traveling EXPERTS please!

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Oct 2nd, 2015, 06:32 PM
  #1
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Calling all Europe traveling EXPERTS please!

Hello, my husband and I along with our 7yr old daughter want to take a trip to around Europe. First of all we have never been and feel lost. We are doing a lot of research online and would like some helpful tips on how we can make this possible the cheapest way. This is were we want to go. First from Orlando, FL to London and stay there 2 days, then take a train to Paris and stay there another two days, then take a train to Geneva and stay in Switzerland about 3 or 4 days, then we want to go to Munich and Frankfurt Germany. Then fly back to orlando from Germany. We are not picky when it comes to hotels and wouldn't even mind staying is hostels. So how can we make this happen? we will have 14 days total?
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Oct 2nd, 2015, 06:51 PM
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I suggest you cut the number of destinations in half. Otherwise, you'll be spending half of your time on trains and barely get to see anything. Consider doing just London and Paris - and then perhaps Geneva. However, given your interest in saving money, note that these are some of the most expensive cities in Europe.

If you care about cost, you need to start by creating a budget. How much can you spend on this trip? Then figure in the airfare and see how much you'd have left to spend on lodging, food, and trains per day. Go to Kayak.com and look at airfares flying into London, out of Paris or Geneva or somewhere else. Figure airfares may fall going forward but perhaps not by that much. Then put together an itinerary and see if it meets your budget. You need to be able to say something like, "OK, based on our budget, we have say $70/per night to spend on a hotel or hostel." If you only have $30/might, then it's probably not going to work.

Also, WHEN You go will have an impact on costs. Going at high season will cost more than going off season.
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Oct 2nd, 2015, 06:52 PM
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My advice: Stop moving around so much. Transportation costs money. With two weeks, probably minus the days of trans-Atlantic arrival and departure when it is hard to do much sightseeing, you could cut your wanders down to two or three cities and spend the time actually getting to know the places you are visiting. Less expenses, more satisfaction.
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Oct 2nd, 2015, 08:06 PM
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You have already gotten some good advice. Choose two cities (or an absolute maximum of three). If you have 14 days total, you'll lose one or two days in transatlantic travel, you'll likely have a maximum of 12 nights on the ground. That means 11 days. If you choose two places, you will have 5 days in each place, not counting travel days. This will give you an opportunity to actually get to know two cities a bit, and it will be less costly than moving around more. While all of these places are expensive, Switzerland is the most expensive. So I would start by cutting that.

As you choose among the other cities, it would help to have a guidebook or two or three. You can start by going to your local library to look at guidebooks. Figure out what the things are that you most want to do/see/experience and build your trip around those.

Happy planning!
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Oct 2nd, 2015, 08:17 PM
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Fodors is a great place for info and opinions from experienced travelers. Some people travel more in one country and become experts on that country. Others use trains a lot and can give best advice about that. Several live in Europe and and offer advice on unique places and experiences.

Tips:

Need total budget. Some countries and cities are much more expensive than others. Switzerland is one of the more expensive countries. After your itinerary is set, people can give advice on saving money on other things.

When are you going? That affects cost, how you travel, etc. Summer allows for sitting out at sidewalk cafes, longer days, fewer clothes, etc., but more tourists and higher prices on hotels. Winter, days will be shorter and cooler, so you want more indoor activities. Spring and Fall, both nice, but also more tourists than winter.

Rather than so many places requiring so much travel between, consider fewer cities with some day trips to nearby places of interest. The more you move around, the more it will cost, and often, you see less.

Plan on slowing down a little with a seven year old - bathroom breaks, snacks, etc.

Buy "multi-city" or "multi-destination" tickets, into one city, home from another to save the cost and time of backtracking.

Paris and London are huge cities with so many things to do and see, you could spend days. I agree you might want to add time to London and Paris, and cut at least one other place. When moving from place to place, figure total travel time to include getting from hotel to airport or train station, journey time, then time getting from airport or train station to next hotel. It is often longer than you may think. It is important so you do not over estimate how much time you have in each city.

Stay your last night in the city from which you are departing.

Is there a special reason for Frankfurt? It is an OK city, but is not usually a choice for first time visitors to Europe, and not one I would recommend, even though I lived there for a few years. I would cut it right off.

To get a sense of your trip plan, lay it out day by day with travel times, or by number of nights, knowing two nights net one day. Allow for jet lag the first day. This is per your list, which I am sure will change as you plan.

Day 1, depart US
Day 2, arrive (London?) get to hotel, check in, etc. late morning, relax, walk.
Day 3, London
Day 4, London
Day 5, train to Paris (time to train, train, time to hotel) mid morning. 2/3 day
Day 6, Paris
Day 7, Paris
Day 8, depart Paris, train or fly to ?
Day 9, ?
Day 10, ?
Day 11, ?
Day 12, ?
Day 13, transfer to city of departure
Day 14, depart for home

Personal advice.
Add a day to London and see Hampton Court palace. Your daughter would love it.
Add a day to Paris, may possible day trips, or Versailles. Explore the gardens. Rent a boat.
Sassafrass is online now  
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Oct 2nd, 2015, 08:37 PM
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Take your plan . . . assuming you mean night's stays and not 'days' London will be a blur. You will have 1.5 days and (probably) jet lag.

Then Paris - another 1.5 days -- but at least no jet lag.

Switzerland will be 2 or 3 days.

And then maybe 1.5 days each in Munich and Frankfurt.

That will be a huge waste of time and money. More than 1/3 of your time in trains/plane/airports/train stations and transfers.

W/ 14 days you will have 11.5 days free on the ground. Pretty good for London and Paris - about 5.5 days each.
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Oct 2nd, 2015, 09:48 PM
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Keep this in mind.

Two nights at a destination only equals one full day of sightseeing.
To me any destination you think is only worth one full day .. well maybe its a place to eliminate from this very full schedule.. and give yourself a bit more time to enjoy the places you do go to..

Slow down..

I really believe a lot of people end up getting travel stressed and sometimes not liking a place because they have set unnaturally fast paces to enjoy them..
Build in time for visits to the park for goodness sake.. I went to Europe at seven and trust me.. park breaks are important.

Build in time to get a treat from the bakery down the street and eat it on a park bench.

Remember just finding bathrooms( and waiting in line for them ) can take time.
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Oct 3rd, 2015, 01:46 AM
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A lot of good advice above. With only two weeks the temptation is to do a lot in terms of places, but little in terms of what you can do in those places. Plus the costs of all the time and money which is involved with moving around.
Both London and Paris deserve a good three full days: one day for walking around and soaking up the atmosphere, one day for doing one or two museums or other attractions, and one day for a day trip, for which you've already got suggestions.
The main problem is to find a nice route from Paris to München. Unless you've specific reasons to do so, Frankfurt is not high on the lists of German priorities. Directly from Paris to München is six hours minimum on a train, which would make it a long day. You could have a stop in Heidelberg, which is some two hours from Paris and about the same time from München. There are some wonderful palaces with parks around München, such as Nymphenburg. And try to stay out of the Neuschwanstein tourist trap, please!
Train planning can excellent by done by using the pan-European planner of the German railways: http://www.bahn.de/i/view/GBR/en/index.shtml Any train starting or arriving in German can be booked here (credit card, printing at home). Do it well it advance (some two or three months), and you get huge discounts which can be invested in the holiday itself.
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Oct 3rd, 2015, 01:48 AM
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Sorry for the typo: Heidelberg is four hours from both Paris and München, not two.
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Oct 3rd, 2015, 02:10 AM
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Neuschwanstein may be a toursit trap but is a great castle to go to.

Frankfurt - there is nothing there. Probably a nice city to live in but as for tourists?
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Oct 3rd, 2015, 02:42 AM
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Neuschwanstein is no castle, it's a nineteenth-century castle fantasy.
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Oct 3rd, 2015, 03:34 AM
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I've done some further research on trains to München via Heidelberg, just to give you an idea what's possible.
Having chosen a random date next November (timetables for 2016 are not available yet), leaving Paris with the 9.10 from the Paris Est station, you can be in Heidelberg at 12.44 with only one change, leaving you with the best part of an afternoon and an evening to enjoy this stop. Advance booking from some EUR 90 for your whole team.
Heidelberg to München can be done with the 9.36, arriving at 13.11, also with one change, at the most affordable price of EUR 48 for the three of you.
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Oct 3rd, 2015, 03:48 AM
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It's a castle, tom. The fact that it was built in the 19th century, was not principally designed to resist attack, and does not meet your expectations, does not mean it has to forfeit the title.

It is an imposing and elaborate structure in a magnificent setting. That is why people want to visit it.
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Oct 3rd, 2015, 04:09 AM
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It wasn't built for any defensive purposes at all. It was built to revive the Middle Ages. »Burgenromantik«, as Wikipedia quotes the German expression: castle romanticism. My remarks should just be taken as warning: if you think Neuschwanstein is a medieval castle, know it is not.
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Oct 3rd, 2015, 06:40 AM
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Well if you're going to pick nits about what's real and what isn't you would have to state that most of the gargoyles and statues of saints at Notre Dame and similar decorations on or in the majority of most other edifices in Paris are complete fakes. These are not meant to fool anybody just reconstructions due to the various Revolutions, wars, pollution, fires, lightning strikes, whatever. Most people believe it's all the real deal though.
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Oct 3rd, 2015, 07:56 AM
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manouche - you do understand that N'stein, was a completely new building in the late 19th century - not a reconstruction or a remodeling job. It was created by a theatrical set designer as a palatial home for Ludwig II with a faux castle exterior. Germans call it a Schloß (palace) not a Burg (castle) because that's what it is - a palace.

That N'stein is not a castle is not a matter of meeting ton's expectations - it's a matter of meeting dictionary expectations.

German kids have to learn the definitions too. This page in German does the job. Primary criterion, as ton points out - is defense: "Burgen sollten Schutz bieten."

http://kids.t-online.de/burg-oder-sc...67383670/index

Run the above through a translator?

Don't go to N'stein and think you're seeing a real castle unless you think Disneyland has a real castle as well.
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Oct 3rd, 2015, 08:12 AM
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"...would like some helpful tips on how we can make this possible the cheapest way."

Travel less.
Forget Paris, London, Geneva. Very expensive big cities.

Fly into Zurich or Frankfurt. Don't linger. Spend most of your time in smaller places in southwestern Germany (Rhine villages, Black Forest for example) the Alsace in France (Strasbourg, Colmar for example.) You can rent apartments fairly cheaply in these places. Spend just a couple of days in Switzerland - everything is expensive there.

Transportation: How about "free" ?? Stay in a romantic, old walled Black Forest town like Gengenbach and do day trips by train for free for several days - to other Black Forst towns, to Freiburg, to Basel Switzerland.

Gengenbach - http://www.stadthotel-gengenbach.de/...innenstadt.jpg
Free train and bus travel: http://www.dreisamtal.de/en/service/konus.php?lang=en
Black Forest info: http://www.black-forest-travel.com/places-of-interest/
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Oct 3rd, 2015, 08:12 AM
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Most dictionaries include a definition of castle that would cover Nstein.

But this isn't really about any academic assessment of the classification of Nstein. Millions of people want to see it and are thrilled to do so. Some others feel they must try and expose it as some kind of farce being perpetrated on masses of ignorant tourists.

But we have hijacked a thread so I will rest now. I won't even return to prove the dictionary point. Those who might care will verify it themselves.
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Oct 3rd, 2015, 08:29 AM
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What discussion have I started?
My only point is that N'stein might be a good example of nineteenth-century German nostalgia for the Middle Ages, but might not be the thing that many tourist might think it is.
It's not about dictionaries or definitions, but about what things are or not. If people love to see it, it's fine with me. It does, after all, has an interesting history. And the architects have undeniably done a good job.
(And to draw a parallel: for me one of the most interesting squares in München is the Königsplatz, although there is nothing much original Greek on the buildings. They represent an fascinating periode in German history.)
This is the last thing I'll say about it. Next time I will avoid all qualifications.
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Oct 3rd, 2015, 08:39 AM
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"Millions of people want to see it and are thrilled to do so."
True, like moths to light bulbs or kids to cotton candy. In part because of the Disney connection; also in part because it's deceptively called "Neuschanstein CASTLE" so often in English-language promotional materials and guidebooks - deceptive indeed since Germans call it a palace. And yes - North American tourists, anyway, ARE generally very ignorant about castles and palaces!

Question: Why is N'stein NOT listed in the European Castle Institute Databank?

http://www.ms-visucom.de/cgi-bin/ebidat.pl?a=a&te53=1

Answer: It's not a castle.
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