EUROPE IN 5 MONTHS

Apr 23rd, 2015, 02:43 PM
  #1  
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EUROPE IN 5 MONTHS

Hi everyone,

My friend and I need your help! In July we are flying to London from New Zealand to travel Europe by Eurail within 5 months. So far the only route we have planned is to head to Guernsey from London.

This is where we get a bit stuck.

As Guernsey is so close to France, we're thinking of starting our Europe travels in France. But we're currently unsure as to what route to take from there.

Would it be better to start our journey Northern Europe or Southern Europe?

So far we've had mixed responses. Most people we know have done Southern Europe first then headed over to Northern Europe when it's colder and have had a great time! But many people are also telling us to head to Northern Europe first as it will be less busy during August/September then to head to Southern Europe when it's not so hot.

We're stuck and could really use your help!
ceepee is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2015, 03:02 PM
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Yes nothern Europe first when the south swelters in heat and cities like Venice, Florence and Rome are sinking under the weight of tourists - fall weather in northern Europe can be quite cool and damp but in the south brilliant and fewer crowds then. Makes total sense to start in north and end up in south, perhaps Greece or Spain and fly out of there.

Anyway for the rail part check out these IMO superb sources: www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com - download the latter's free online European Planning & Rail Guide for lots of tips and suggested rail itinerariesl

From Guernsey you can take a boat to St-Malo a really sweet seaside old town near which is Mont-Saint-Michel - then work over to Normandy, especially if D-Day beaches interest you - Bayeux being a swell city to base in and then over to Paris - up thru Belgium to Amsterdma over to Berlin or up to Scandinavia - down thru Germanuy, Prague, Vienna, Switzerland to Italy and then Greece or Spain, etc.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2015, 03:18 PM
  #3  
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Thank you so much for your help! That sounds amazing.

It's definitely seeming like that's the best way to go. But is it true that there are some places in Europe that are simply better to visit during their peak season?

We already have our flights booked from in and out of London so we were hoping to kind of do a big loop because we are greedy and want to see as much as we can!
ceepee is offline  
Apr 24th, 2015, 07:26 AM
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But is it true that there are some places in Europe that are simply better to visit during their peak season?>

Interesting question - I would say very few - like the tulip fields in Holland must be seen at their peak - or the lavendar fields in Provence but IME any city is better for the tourist outside of peak season - especizlly Italian tourist meccas - Venice in July and August is really sardine city - elbow to elbow on main drags.

So I would say generally no to that interesting question.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 24th, 2015, 07:46 AM
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You do need to check your Schengen visa status. As New Zealanders you are allowed to stay in certain countries for longer than other nationalities are visa free, but I am not sure that applies to touring the Schengen area in general.
hetismij2 is offline  
Apr 24th, 2015, 09:12 AM
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Here is a page from the New Zealand Embassy in Paris website that explains what hetismij2 wrote:
http://www.nzembassy.com/france/nzer...nce-and-europe
Heimdall is online now  
Apr 24th, 2015, 09:36 AM
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I think this is also a very personal consideration based on what you enjoy and want to experience. For instance, if you go to Greece in July August, you will have lots of resort type things happening-seaside restaurants, lots of European tourists, clubs, etc. And that will be very different if you choose to do that portion in September and October. While I am the last one to love to be caught up in the height of the tourist season at any beach mecca in Europe, it can be super depressing to hang out in a beach town after September when it is mostly just you and the retired grand parents

Also, if you are someone who enjoys lots of local cultural events like theater dance, etc. most of the types of things gear up again in September in the major capitals.

If you do decide to start Guernsey to St. Malo, the beach in Dinard is really nice and even in July much less crowded than beaches in the south of France-so you might like to spend some beach time there.
jpie is offline  
Apr 24th, 2015, 09:53 AM
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Beach time in Dinrd even in summer could mean a fairly cool weather - I have regularly gone to beaches with French family at St-Giles Croix de Vie and even in August it is often iffy if you want to really swim - maybe Dinard, farther north, is warmer but I doubt it. Much like English seaside resorts that have lost much of their custom to cheap flights to bone fide warm beach areas in southern France and Spain northern French beaches also see dwindling numbers from their halcyon days when folks simply drove for their seaside vacation to the nearest beach.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 24th, 2015, 11:20 AM
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5 months! jealous!!
Edward2005 is offline  
Apr 24th, 2015, 11:36 AM
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I agree with jpie that beach resorts in the Med are much more fun in the summer, especially if you are students and want to be there when other young people are around. I'm much too old for clubbing, but still prefer the Greek Islands when they are busy.
Heimdall is online now  
Apr 24th, 2015, 11:44 AM
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As said previously, a lot depends on your interests and what kind of activities and areas you have on mind on each country.
Personaly I would rather experience this
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxa_VixmFsk
than this
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTvCrEH31X0
lol
mariha2912 is offline  
Apr 24th, 2015, 01:27 PM
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Kiwis may not be interested nice beaches, assuming they have tons of them!
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 24th, 2015, 11:30 PM
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Yes, but often Kiwis I have met are interested to explore Greek Islands and other scenic sea-side spots on souther Europe and enjoy the (summer) ambiance.
Or many people are interested to visit archeological sites and museums. Those often have limited opening hours on winter and I do not think exploring outdoors under pooring rain or snow is equally tempting as on a milder climate.

Of course up to now it is all assumptions as OP did not clarify what they are after...
mariha2912 is offline  
Apr 25th, 2015, 04:22 AM
  #14  
 
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Wow
Go North to South
"But is it true that there are some places in Europe that are simply better to visit during their peak season?" well there are two issues, if you want to get drunk with loads of young people in warm weather then Ibiza then don't go in October as it is dead. If you want to lie on a serviced beach in southern Italy in November it will be too cold and the bars on the beach all closed at the end of August.

If you want to see the small cities of Florence, Venice, Rome for their sights then don't go in July/August/Sept 'cause you will need to pay for the pleasure of being pressed into big queues. Think Tokyo peak time crush not buses on Queen Street in Auckland. Plus, of course it is hot in July/August

For larger cities like London or even Medium one like Paris it makes little difference as they are busy all the time

The whole Normandy/Brittany area is worth some time, inhabited for a long time, so loads of castles, monestries, dolmen, very cow based food with some good sea food.
bilboburgler is online now  
Apr 25th, 2015, 07:01 AM
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I agree - that is why one should start in north with still good weather and work south for still good weather
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 25th, 2015, 07:16 AM
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I could paraphrase that to read: "start in north for mediocre weather and work south for more mediocre weather".

It's no secret why most Europeans head south for their summer holidays, and many more head to the Alps for their winter holidays.
Heimdall is online now  
Apr 25th, 2015, 09:43 AM
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summers can be boiling in Italy - average high Florence July about 92 F I think with humid. Add that to the sweltering crowds and you have an experience that can be anything but relaxing.

Late fall in Italy does not necessarily mean mediocre weather - could be really nice and has been the times I've been there - plus no long lines at tourist places like Vatican or Colosseum, etc.

A factor is crowds and that is one reason to aim for say October in Italy when the weather may be wet in the north but in Rome downright perfect.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 25th, 2015, 01:29 PM
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About Eurailpasses - there is a 3-month long consecutive one but the flexipasses are at most I believe for a 2-month period. Rather than buying two of those look at the zillions of other passes avaialbe - one-country passes; 2-country; 3-4 country ones (like Eurail Select Passes) and regional passes like the Scan Railpass, the Benelux Pass; BritRail Pass or Eastern European or Balkans Railpasses - those passes can be much cheaper per day than a Global Eurail and they also may come in a cheaper 2nd class form.

For example if doing Belgium, Netherlands and Germany in depth the Benelux-Germany railpass may be the ticket to ride (and there is a cheap add-on fare I believe to use the pass to go to Prague and Verona Italy and Innsbruck, Austria I believe.

The Swiss Pass has many more benefits in Switzerland than does a Eurailpass, being valid on many mountain trains that Eurails are not and also on lake boats, postal buses, aerial gondolas, etc so if going to mountainous areas like the Jungfrau Region or Zermatt the Swiss Pass would be much more useful than a Eurail which at most would give a minor discount on some lines in those areas.

Think more than just Eurail as you do in your OP!
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 26th, 2015, 09:20 AM
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Indeed you could use a string of regional passes with down time in between in certain areas - like the Benelux-Germany pass - the an Eastern European pass for Czech Republic, austria, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary - take it to Switzerland - a Swiss Pass in any case may be much much more beneficial than a Eurailpass in Switzerland - then maybe start a longer Eurailpass or just buy point to points.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 27th, 2015, 07:17 PM
  #20  
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Thank you all so much for your help - we appreciate it so so much!

<"start in north for mediocre weather and work south for more mediocre weather".>

This is the only worry we have with doing Northern then Southern - we don't want to get a kind of "flatline" of weather, if that makes sense. If we're not going to be anywhere when it's particularly warm and we're not going be anywhere when it's particularly cold, are we going to be experiencing these places in their in between state? Because we'd love to see them in all their glory!

It's seeming like either way you win some & loose some.

So if Italy/Greece etc aren't particularly great to be in during September, October, Novemeber then the only place left that is worth exploring during those months is Northern Europe? Is this correct?

Sorry if any of our questions come across as silly or naive, we just have very little knowledge of Europe and know that if someone were to be visiting New Zealand and asking for advice we'd definitely be steering them away from visiting during the unpredictable inbetweeny seasons.
ceepee is offline  

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