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LetsRoll57 Aug 4th, 2010 01:22 PM

Europe by Train in 28 Days
We're planning a trip in Europe for April. Never been there, been mostly in the Pacific Rim. We want to see the best of the best in Europe -- not so much as a vacation but more of an adventure. Would like to visit cities in Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany, and France. Prefer not to drive...some places we plan to fly. Doing most of this by train will mean we spend more time travelling, but still prefer not to drive. I've seen the national train companies for all five countries and have a good idea of their schedules. Much of this is from watching the Travel Channel, Rick Steves, Rudy Maxa, and checking out an infinite number of web-based travel advisors. The research is driving us nuts! Here's how our wish list goes --

Fly into into Frankfurt, then by train to Paris (a stop in between maybe?), circle to the Normandy Coast. Some places on our list: Battlefields on the coast, the cemetery, Mont St Michel, Brittany. Then onward south to Spain.

In Spain, we'd like to visit two cities (maybe Madrid or Salamanca) and end up in Barcelona. From Barcelona, fly to Rome for a few days and nights -- visit the Vatican, Roman catacombs, Coleseum, Sistine Chapel, ... Then head north to Florence to take in Tuscany. We're split on whether to spend time in Pisa. Verona or Venice? Undecided as our last stop before going into Austria.

The Garmisch-P area in Bavaria looks quite magical on all the sources. Plus friends who've visited or lived there say it's a must-visit. We want to visit Innsbruck, Oberammergau (The Eagle's nest is a must), and Salzburg. Maybe drive (or train) to Munich and back --- not quite sold on what so see and do in Munich. Munich to Berlin is a long shot -- need advise on how to best navigate that leg. Definitely want to spend time in Berlin to visit the Cold War relics and the museum.

We'd like to end up in the Black Forest before going home. We need advice on a world of possibilities. The most important thing to us is to see as much of these five countries as possible in the time we plan -- best train routes, what fabulous things to see and do, where to stay, and where/what to eat..and drink. We are interested in history, museums, a little culture, and music -- we're looking to see which Classic Rock bands are touring Europe.

We are absolutely going nuts on the research -- so many choices, loads of possibilities. We've narrowed down several "must-sees" and "must-do's" but thought we'd consut w/ experienced travelers and see what other have to say.

As we say in Maui -- Mahalo!

sam86 Aug 4th, 2010 01:55 PM

In the interest of clarity -

Germany - Frankfurt
France - Paris -> Normandy -> Brittany
Spain - Madrid, then Barcelona - outlier compared to the following places
Italy - Rome -> Florence
Germany - Munich ->Berlin

I'm not super experienced, but geography and a map tells me this is VERY complicated.

Why must you fly into Frankfurt? Why not go, at the end of the trip from Munich to Frankfurt to Berlin and fly out from there?
Do you want to spend time in Paris?
Your post suggest you are interested primarily in history, correct?
What's your time frame?
When do you want to go?

janisj Aug 4th, 2010 02:00 PM

sam86: "<i>What's your time frame?</i>"

Well - I can answer that one :) -- see the title.

LetsRoll57: That is a LOT of travel to a LOT of places in 4 weeks - which nets you approx 22-24 days free after deducting all the travel time.

sam86 Aug 4th, 2010 02:01 PM

Oh sorry! You said 28 days in the title! And in April! Apologies!

That gives you, if you believe in equality, across 5 countries - 5 days in each country and 3 days extra which will be covered in travelling time anyway.

Some people say that in 5 days, you can do justice to just Paris or Rome or just Florence and Venice. That is your choice. So you might want to come up with just a rough estimate of how long you want to spend in each country or even particular cities.

Your list of things to do in Rome requires I think a minimum of 3 days. Your list of places for France would probably come to over 5 days, especially if you want to stay in Paris.

31gawo Aug 4th, 2010 02:05 PM

The train ride from Nice to Firenze is absolutely beautiful! I also heard report that the ride from Barcelona to Nice is gorgeous....maybe you should train all the way from Barcelona to Rome, then you can see South of France and la Riviera; I would skip Normandy, but this is only a preference. Have a wonderful time!

tom18 Aug 4th, 2010 05:04 PM

If you have to fly into and out of Frankfurt, then you should plan your trip so that it is a good circle trip and that you don't have to backtrack or lose a lot of time traveling.

On the other hand, if you don't have to fly in and out of the same airport, you could get an open jaws ticket and fly into one airport and out of another.

In that case, given your proposed itinerary, I'd suggest flying into Paris and then going right to Barcelona, skipping Normandy. Do Rome, Florence, and Venice. Then go to Bavaria. You could either fly out of Munich or go through the Black Forest to Frankfurt.

A lot of this depends on exactly what your priorities are, and you need to figure these out first.

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