Driving in Europe

Old Dec 29th, 2012, 11:10 PM
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<i>Lexma90 on Dec 29, 12 at 6:25pm
As a person with a fear of heights, if you could handle driving or riding in a car going south on Rte 1 to Big Sur, then you'll be ok driving in Europe!</i>
Which reminds me of a drive north from LA to Big Sur back in the fall of 1975. There were several sections of the coast highway southbound lane, up to 50 feet long, that were completely washed out. The sea side guard rail was hanging in the air.
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Old Dec 30th, 2012, 06:32 AM
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Regarding what type of weather to expect, you can check weather averages for the cities you plan to visit here: http://www.weatherbase.com/weather/c...ionname=Europe A few days before your departure date, check the weather forecasts for these places. Bring comfortable shoes because you will likely be walking significant distances and, in Italy, you will find many streets paved in paving blocks and other stones - many in beautiful patterns but hard on your feet!

Parking for many cities and towns is limited and usually expensive, and driving in the center of cities and towns is to be avoided. You can find yourself in an area that is restricted to drivers except residents (ZTL) or on a very narrow street which is difficult to drive on and almost impossible to back out of.
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Old Dec 30th, 2012, 07:02 AM
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About those ZTLs in Italian cities and towns, they take a photo of your license plate, the car rental company identifies you (and charges your credit card for the service), and the municipality mails you a ticket with a stiffish fine.

Generally in smaller towns it's better to park on the outskirts and walk in. The streets in the old centers can be very narrow and twisty. A reason to rent a smaller car.

In Italy foreign drivers are required to have an International Drivers Permit, a translation of your license. It's easily and cheaply obtainable at AAA/CAA; they'll also take your photo.

Also check your rental car insurance coverage for Italy. If you rent a car there, you're required to buy CDW. I'm not sure about cars rented in other countries and driven in Italy. Fodorites?

Sounds like you know how you like to travel. And how to plan such a trip. You'll have a great trip in Europe.
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Old Dec 30th, 2012, 07:16 AM
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This forum is quite interesting. May I add something?
We started going to Europe in 1981. Since then, we went back 32 times. Always rented a car (with good Insurance package).

We drove many times thru Mountains in all 5 Countries you are going to visit. My husband (age 58 and me 73 "yes, no mistake") feels more secure driving in Europe than on our Canadian Highways. Europeans take good care of their roads. In general, they keep them in pristine conditions. The last 3 yrs we noticed thet there are more cars on the road and, yet, the road sizes are still the same! We recently drove in Italy but not in Rome, better walk or use bus/train. The Italian drivers seem to always be in a rush to arrive at their destination! We feel safer to drive thru the Alps than driving three hours from the Airport to our home.

Two weeks to visit 5 Countries? In 1983, we drove thru France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland in 21 days! It was exhausting. And what do we remember? Not much. The last 12 years, we opted to rent an appt. for 1 week in one area, and 1 week in another area. We stay at a Hotel or B&B near the airport for 1st and last day. We take day trip from the appt. We usually spend 3 months to plan a flexible itinerary.

There are excellent ideas from the above blogs. Good Luck in replanning your Wonderfull European Vacation.
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Old Dec 30th, 2012, 10:07 AM
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Okay we are thinking about dropping Switzerland or Austria from our itinerary.
Can anyone recommend which one to drop from our road trip?
We might possibly make another trip to Europe, so we thought the more we saw this trip would help us know where to spend more time/visit on our last trip.
Thanks for the advice!
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Old Dec 30th, 2012, 02:49 PM
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Which of Switzerland or Austria to drop depends on what else you want to see in the other countries. If you are going to Italy, then you could pass through either of them, or both in doing so. If you go to Venice, or want ot see Munich, then Salzburg and the Salzkammergut area of Austria is in play. If you stay in West or central Italy, then you can get in and out via Switzerland and France alone - actually France alone if you must.

So, if Munich or Venice are on the list, then I would say Austria stays in and you start roughing something out for further advice. it is a bit difficult to advise on itinerary changes when your base routing is not clear.
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Old Dec 31st, 2012, 05:50 AM
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>>>Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy, and France<<<

Too much driving for 2 weeks. Maybe even too much for a month!

If you have a bad fear of heights why ever are you going to Switzerland? Austria is pretty mountainous too, so cutting the 2 of them out is the obvious choice. That leaves Italy as the outlier... and the direct route there is through mountains so drop that too.

Unless your husband wants to revisit his old haunts in Germany why not spend 5 nights in Paris, take a trip to Normandy and the landing beaches then on to London for a few days to finish the trip. This will be less hectic and avoids mountainous roads.
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Old Dec 31st, 2012, 07:47 AM
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i definitely suggest you to travel by train... you enjoy the journey while reading a book or simply looking at the landscape. You always reach the center of the city and you don't have to care about maps, gps or so.
especially in Switzerland you can reach all the destinations by train: the system is very efficient!
And don't forget that in Europe the price for the gasoline is double compared to the US.
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Old Dec 31st, 2012, 10:15 AM
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Well we have done numerous road trips in numerous countries in europe and enjoyed all of them. I do not subscribe to the train is just as good. IMHO the train is good between major cities but a PIA in the countryside.

However, we leave enough time so that we are not rushing madly from place to place, we share driving equally so neither is stuck looking at the road versus the scenery for most of the day - and neither of us is afraid of heights - so we can use whatever route we want.

I don't think you need to abandon a road trip - just plan it so it makes sense for your interests and needs. Have you looked at viamichelin.com to check driving times and routes?
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Old Dec 31st, 2012, 02:36 PM
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Sigh.....even more advice telling you to take the trip some one else wants, not the one you want.
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Old Jan 8th, 2013, 02:24 AM
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Aramis, you have a point in what you're saying about travel-advice very often being self-referential: answers are quite often taken as an opportunity to tell your own story rather than answering the actual question, but is that so bad? Talking about travel plans is naturally about telling stories of own experiences and of course, one is convinced of one's own style of travel and this can lead to a patronizing attitude or give at least the impression of it. But aren't you, to some extent, doing a similar thing, telling others to post here the way you want, not the way they want?
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Old Jan 8th, 2013, 07:49 PM
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If you are asking if I think it is rude, self serving, or condescending to tell people not be rude, self serving or condescending, the answer is no.

My primary goal is to let OP's know that they don't have to feel like they are foolish, wasting their time, or ruining what could be a valuable experience if they don't conform to someone elses idea of what constitutes the "correct" way to travel.

The need to find self-validation through directing others to do as they have done is might strong in some responders.
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