Europe 30 day Itinerary, first trip

Old Mar 12th, 2001, 02:26 PM
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Europe 30 day Itinerary, first trip

Our first trip to Europe begins May2/01 when we land in Frankfurt and pick up our rental car. I feel comfortable driving most anywhere and my wife also enjoys it. I would greatly appreciate any comments on the following itinerary that we have planned. We are 50 yrs.young, reasonably intelligent, don't particularily like big cities as a rule, like to stay away from tourist traps, are not paupers but try to spend our money wisely, will be looking for reasonably priced small hotels or B&B's for accommodation, (by calling one or two days ahead, following a lot of Rick Steve's recommendations), and really enjoy good food and good wine. Thanks for any help.

05/02 Wed. Arrive 10.30, pick up car, drive to Rothenburgh via Romantic Road, overnight
05/03 Thurs. Explore Rothenburgh & area. stay overnight
05/04 Fri. Drive to Fussen, see Mad Ludwigs Castle, Luge,and ?????, overnight Fussen
05/05 Sat. Drive to Koblenz/Bonn, overnight
05/06 Sun. Tour Rhine by boat one way, return by train to car, overnight Koblenz/Bonn
05/07 Mon. Drive to Amsterdam, meet and stay with Rotary Friends
05/08 Tues. Holland with Rotary friends
05/09 Wed. Holland with Rotary friends
05/10 Thurs. Drive to Paris, stay on Rue Clare, Louvre, etc.
05/11 Fri.Paris tour, stay overnight
05/12 Sat. Drive to Beaune, tour wineries, stay overnight
05/13 Sun. Explore Beaune, Dijon, stay overnight
05/14 Mon. Drive to Salon de Provence with lunch stop at Lyon, overnight in Salon de Provence..NEED ACCOMMODATION SUGGESTIONS
05/15 Tues. Drive, explore French Riviera, overnight at Genova or nearby????
05/16 Wed. Drive to Italian Riviera, stay in Vernazza
05/17 Thurs. Explore Cinque terre, stay in Vernazza
05/18 Fri. Drive thru Milan to Lake Como, NEED ACCOMMODATION RECOMMENDATIONS for two nights
05/19 Sat. Lake Como area, overnight stay
05/20 Sun. Drive to Venice where we drop our car, explore and spend the night
05/21 Mon. Explore Venice and stay the night
05/22 Tues. Train to Florence, where we hope to stop for three or four hours, then back on the train to Rome, wher we stay the night. This may be a long day.
05/23 Wed. Explore Rome, stay overnight.
05/24 Thurs. Fly to Athens, pick up rental car, ferry to Poros Isl.for the night.
05/25 Fri. Explore Poros Isl. stay overnight
05/26 Sat. Ferry to Pelopenesse, explore fishing villages in the south east, overnight
05/27 Sun. Relax/explore small villages, overnight
05/28 Mon. Relax/explore, overnight perhaps in northern part of Pelopenesse
05/29 Tues. Drive to Athens in AM, explore ruins, overnight at BW Hotel Fenix (the only actual hotel reservation we have booked from home)
05/30 Wed. Fly home
Old Mar 12th, 2001, 02:53 PM
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What a wonderful itinerary -- for a three month trip! Multiply each of your stops by 3 and you'd get to actually experience a lot. Maybe that seems like an exaggeration, but really -- 3 hours to see Florence?, 1 day to "explore" Rome?, 1 day in Paris? It's your trip and I know you want to do as much as possible, but frankly spending an entire day to drive somewhere to spend one day then driving another full day seems like too much to me. Frankly, I'd first cut this into half for two separate trips. You could manage to do the Germany, Holland, France portion as one trip, and the Italy and Greece as another.
One other thought. You say you don't particularly like big cities. Maybe you could consider this entire trip, but cutting out Paris, Rome, Venice, and Florence all together. The time spent driving or arriving in those cities for a one day stop is what bothers me the most about the itinerary, so maybe just ignore them all together and stick with the idea of a "countryside" trip. I suspect you have included them because it seems like something you "have" to do on your first trip.
Old Mar 12th, 2001, 03:17 PM
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Whoa! I feel an itinerary migraine coming on......
Old Mar 12th, 2001, 03:25 PM
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Hi Blair,

I agree with Patrick. You are going to see a lot of highways and not much else. I went to Europe for two months one summer and travelled a great deal, but didn't do one tenth of what you are planning. Just because it's your first visit doesn't mean it will be your last. Do you rate the success of a vacation by how much you see, how many miles you travel, how many sites you took pictures of? I doubt it. A great vacation is much more than that. Cut the itinerary in third and be ready to throw it out the window if some wonderful invitation comes your way in the course of it.
Old Mar 12th, 2001, 03:44 PM
wes fowler
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If you attempt what you've spelled out, you will have cheated yourself badly. You'll have lasting memories of highways, traffic congestion, toll booths and packing and unpacking every other night or so. You'll have few memorable experiences to retain until your next trip. Do, by all means, consider reducing your trip by half. Concentrate on northern Europe: the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France or southern France, Switzerland and northern Italy. You'll come away retaining far more memorable impressions at a more liesurely pace and be raring to go on your next trip.
Old Mar 12th, 2001, 04:32 PM
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I love to drive, and Americans "see" America this same way all the time, moving every day.

But I agree that getting into and out of some cities is going to eat up a lot of time. You can cover a lot of ground, driving 160 kph, but you can't count on covering as much ground as you think, hour after hour.

Are you an early riser? (I am not, but I become one on trips a lot of time). This itinerary does not look QUITE so over-wrought if you depart at 6 or 7 am on the following mornings:

May 4 - - actually this morning, you better leave by 5 am, getting to Neuschwanstein after 9 am means BIG, BIG lines.
May 5
May 7
May 10
May 12
May 14
May 15 - - you cannot really "explore" French Riviera on this day, maybe a picture-taking stop in Monte Carlo. And I recommend San Remo as a place to stay, rather than Genova.
May 18 - - actually okay to leave at 8 or 9 am, this day; stay in Menaggio or if you can afford it, Villa d'Este in Cernobbio.
May 22 - - yes, take the earliest train available; I don't think this is TOTALLY insane, but for your own sanity, have a confirmed hotel reservation waiting for you in Rome.
May 24 - get the earliest flight possible to Athens.
From Athens onward, I am not qualified to comment.

I could not keep up a pace like this and call it a vacation at all. I hope you have a week after this to TAKE a vacation, even if it is in your own home.

This is a "tapas" trip - - never a "proper meal". It will be interesting to see if you really enjoy it or not.

Best wishes,

Old Mar 12th, 2001, 04:56 PM
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Hi Blair.

Oh, dear, I can see you put a lot of effort into your itinerary, but I have to concur with the others - it is a potential disaster. You need to allow 'slack time' for unexpected events - traffic jams, car trouble, even getting the laundry done!

My biggest concern is that you have apparently already booked the flight - too late now to advise you to change gateways. The only way out seems to be to confess to your Rotary friends that you made a mistake, and cannot see them this trip. This allows you to delete Amsterdam and France, which is important; by trying to include these, you are ruining the advantage of open -jaws flights, which is to enable a 'straight line' (more or less) itinerary. As it is, you are turning around at Fussen, going backwards, and then turning around at Amsterdam. Much better to connect to Italy from Germany through Switzerland. And as others say, add some days in Italy....very important!
Old Mar 12th, 2001, 04:57 PM
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Blair, I have to agree with my learned colleagues. This reads like you overdosed on a Rick Steves book. But, you can salvage this if you drop some extra baggage and recompute. First, drop all of Greece---that is a seperate trip and does not fit with this one. And, you need to drop either Venice or the Cinque Terre---tough choice. You may be able to handle the rest in that time but it will still be moving fast.
I have planned dozens of itineraires in these areas and this one is way too much
Old Mar 12th, 2001, 04:59 PM
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Good grief, what am I saying...I meant to say, connect to Italy from Fussen (Germany) through Austria, not Switzerland!
Old Mar 12th, 2001, 05:38 PM
wes fowler
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Blair,I was so stunned by the ambitiousness of your proposed itinerary that, despite having already responded to your posting I thought Iíd take a closer look. Iím even more overwhelmed. In your first nineteen days in Europe youíll be spending eleven on the road for anywhere from slightly more than one to over five and a half hours. To that must be added the drive times and mileage for your local explorations. Youíll have traveled over 2140 miles, an average of 195 miles a day and 3 Ĺ hours drive time at a very optimistic minimum. To those hours, add stops for lunch, fueling and the hunt for accommodations and parking in your arrival cities and in many cases, Fussen to Koblenz, Amsterdam to Paris as examples, the better part of your day will be behind the wheel.

Many prospective travelers planning to drive in Europe have visions of high speed autobahns and motorways that are conducive to lengthy journeys accomplished in a short period of time. Such is not always the case. The motorway from Amsterdam to Paris is heavily congested with commercial traffic for example; the five and Ĺ hours drive time quoted by route planners is highly optimistic, at best. The drive from Genova to Vernazza is relatively short (less than 60 miles) but because of the type roads being driven on will easily take you an hour and a half. Traffic in all major European cities is as bad, if not worse, than in comparable American cities. Safe parking is at a premium; free parking at a minimum; convenient parking a rarity.

There are any number of factors not readily thought of that must be taken into consideration in so ambitious an itinerary as yours. Your six or more hour drive from Amsterdam to Paris coupled with your search for your hotel and a parking space will allow little or no time for a tour of the Louvre as you propose on your arrival day. Your drive of slightly less that 2 Ĺ hours from Rothenburg to Fussen will bring you to Ludwigís castles at just about the same time as the tour buses arrive from Munich and long lines to the attractions begin to form.

At this late stage of your planning, I suppose thereís little you can do to change your itinerary into something more realistic, relaxing and meaningful. By now your flight arrangements have been made so youíre committed to Frankfurt and Athens. With that in mind, were I you, Iíd probably take a train to Koblenz, tour the Rhine by boat and train, train from Frankfurt to Amsterdam and then on to Paris and extend my Parisian stay to four to five days. Iíd consider an overnight train to Florence and a three day stay there, in Venice and in Rome as well and on to Athens, saving France. the Italian Riviera, Italian lakes and Germany for a future trip.

Old Mar 12th, 2001, 07:49 PM
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Don't assume that you have to see all of Europe on this trip. Assume that you will enjoy it so much you will want to go back every year and see a little bit more. We are pretty quick travelers, but this itinerary exhausts me! We often follow Rick Steves advice also, but everyone needs down time, even he recommends "a vacation from your vacation" once in a while.
Old Mar 13th, 2001, 10:51 AM
marco polo
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Would really appreciate it if you'd post your impressions of Europe when you get back. What were highlights. What were disasters.

Ive got a prediction for you based on your ambitious plans. Either you, your wife or both of you will be at each others throats by day 19 and trying to figure how to cut short the rest of your trip without getting nailed with excess airline fees.
Old Mar 13th, 2001, 12:14 PM
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Thank you ALL for your responses! It is great to know that there are really people that actually care enough about others to take the time to respond and give such good advice. We are going back to the drawing board and severely reducing our destinations. We still have to fly into Frankfurt and out of Athens, but we really do want to see the Peleponnesse in Greece. We are considering eliminating Holland, Fussen, Paris, Lake Como, and Florence.This should stop some of the back tracking, give us the rural flavor that we enjoy, and yet still see some of the culture. You are right, this probably won't be our last trip to Europe.
Thanks again and I look forward to your comments on something more realistic.
Old Mar 13th, 2001, 12:38 PM
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Hi, Blair!

If you have a chance, please post your amended itinerary. I would love to see how the vacation is shaping up for you. Plus, you will probably get some additional terrific input.
Old Mar 13th, 2001, 12:38 PM
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Things never wrk out as smoothly as you have them planned on paper. This itenarary seems exhausting and as will probably cause you and your wife to get sick with flu or a cold. It also seems impossible.

If you want to ensure that you do a ton of things meet up with an organized tour group like Trafalgar or Cosmos etc. for a week or two and let them take you around. Organized tours are tiring but not as tiring as when you do the same thing and have to cooridinate everything. Good luck
Old Mar 13th, 2001, 01:30 PM
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I make it unanimous that your original itinerary was too ambitious and I agree with the deletions you have made. Here are a couple of specific suggestions: Danube cruises may not be as rewarding as you might expect. If you need to drop something more (and you will), this would be a good choice for the "delete" button. Unless you have a special affinity, Greece (including Athens) can be a bit boring. One day in Athens is plenty. Italy is spectacular in every way. Our 17-day vacation in May 1994 from Rome to Tuscany, Pisa, Florence and Venice was about perfect. In Venice I recommend the Hotel Flora. It is located about 100 yards from San Marco, isolated down a narrow walkway very close to the docks where you will be dropped. Take breakfast in the charming flower-covered courtyard and have a late Campari in the small bar. English spoken; probably about $150.00-$180.00 per night and worth every penny. There is a web-site somewhere with pictures; sorry I don't know the specific web address but you can find it easily enough.

Sounds like a great trip! Will look forward to your comments afterwards.

Bon Voyage!
Old Mar 13th, 2001, 01:34 PM
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Now you're talking, Blair. It's starting to sound like a great 30 days, still covering a lot, but you'll be able to absorb all you see and really enjoy it. Yes, please post an ammended itinerary and we'll try not to tear you apart so much -- but we really are trying to be helpful.
Old Mar 13th, 2001, 04:39 PM
wes fowler
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Hello Blair,
Iíve been posting responses to Fodors queries for a little over three years and must admit your proposed 30 day itinerary posed the most interesting challenge Iíve encountered. It did, after all, prompt me to respond to you on the forum twice! Iíve traveled extensively through Europe, always by auto, so I can perhaps empathize with your desire to drive Europe.

Iíve played around with your itinerary and come up with some ideas that you may find interesting. I wonít address anything after your departure from Rome to Greece. Your original itinerary, from Frankfurt to Rome encompassed 11 days devoted in whole or part to driving 3508kms/2140mi with 39 hours being spent behind the wheel coupled with 2 train rides (from Venice to Florence; Florence to Rome). I think I can reduce that to 8 driving days, 2405kms/1467mi and about 25 hours behind the wheel with 1 train ride from Freiburg Germany to Milan.

One of the most aggravating things one encounters on such a lengthy trip is the business of packing and unpacking every day or every other day and moving on to new horizons. The novelty wears thin quickly.
Obviously, too, a one or two night stay permits little time to even begin to capture the flavor and experience of the place being visited. What Iíve tried to do in the 22 days up to the time you fly to Athens is reduce the number of overnight stays. There are two of two nights duration and six of three nights allowing you time to truly ďexploreĒ as you said in your Fodors query.

What will you lose? What will you gain? Youíll lose Venice and Burgundy and the French and Italian Rivieras, Rothenburg and Ludwigís castles. Youíll gain additional days in Paris, Florence and Rome which youíll readily realize is a big gain! Youíll visit Belgium and Bruges, a badly, sadly under-rated delightful country and an astoundingly beautiful small, walkable city. Youíll have an opportunity to tour the Black Forest and a small town that rivals Rothenburg for its quaintness, but has few tourists. Youíll gain a break from driving and too frequent packing and unpacking.

Fodors has hiccups with lengthy postings. The suggested itinerary follows in the next posting.
Old Mar 13th, 2001, 04:41 PM
wes fowler
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5/2 Wed Arrive Frankfurt, pick up car, drive 75km/50 min to Assmannshausen on the Rhine. (Assmannshausen is a charming riverside village with vineyards and far less touristy than its neighbor Rudesheim. Itís located west of Frankfurt as is the airport so you donít drive into Frankfurt). Overnight in Assmannshausen
5/3 Thurs Tour the Rhine and Mosel Valleys by auto (I can provide you with some suggested itineraries). Overnight in Assmannshausen.
5/4 Drive to Bruges, Belgium, one of Europeís most charming small cities. 384kms/4 hrs. Overnight in Bruges.
5/5 Tour Bruges. Overnight in Bruges.
5/6 Tour Ghent and Antwerp. Overnight in Bruges.
5/7Drive to Amsterdam meet and stay with Rotary friends. 230kms/2 hrs, 40 min. (I can provide you with a couple of interesting detours on the way, one in which youíll see 19 working windmills, another in which youíll travel well below sea level and visit the astounding efforts of the Netherlanders in holding back the sea. Overnight in/near Amsterdam with friends
5/8 Overnight in/near Amsterdam with friends.
5/9 Overnight in/near Amsterdam with friends.
5/10 Drive to Paris. 513kms/5 Ĺ hours (if youíre lucky with traffic. Overnight in Paris.
5/11 Tour Paris. Overnight in Paris.
5/12 Tour Paris. Overnight in Paris
5/13 Drive to Strasbourg, France. 488kms, 5 hrs. Overnight in or near Strasbourg and the Black Forest. I can provide you with driving itineraries if youíre interested.
5/14 Tour the northern part of the Black Forest. Overnight in or near Strasbourg.
5/15 Tour the southern part of the Black Forest. Overnight in or near Strasbourg
5/16 Drive to Freiburg, Germany. 87kms/1 ľ hrs. Turn in car to save on out of country drop off charges and charges for more than a two week rental. Take train to Milan (approximately 5 Ĺ to 6 Ĺ hours with no changes, a distinct advantage since youíll be carrying luggage). You can then rent a car in Milan to tour Lake Como or take the train to Como and ferry to one of the lakeside villages. There really is no need for a car on the lake; all of the charming villages are lakeside and accessible by ferry. Overnight on Lake Como.
5/17 Tour Lake Comoís villages. Overnight on Lake Como.
5/18 Ferry and train to Como and rent a car or, if you rented in Milan, drive to Florence, 350kms 3 ĺ hrs Overnight in Florence
5/19 Tour Florence. Overnight in Florence
5/20 Tour Tuscan villages in proximity to Florence by car. Overnight in Florence.
5/21 Drive to Rome, turn in car. 278kms 3 hrs. Tour Rome. Overnight in Rome.
5/22 Tour Rome. Overnight in Rome
5/23 Tour Rome. Overnight in Rome.
5/24 Fly to Athens.

Okay, two nights in Assmannshausen, two on Lake Como, three in Brugges, Amsterdam, Paris, Strasbourg, Florence and Rome. Whaddya think?
Old Mar 14th, 2001, 05:18 AM
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Wow, Wes, impressive. I may use that schedule myself. Only leaves out Greece, which, I think Blair said he and his wife had their hearts set on seeing.

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