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Family Tour of Europe/Critique Travel Plans

Family Tour of Europe/Critique Travel Plans

Sep 10th, 2011, 12:02 PM
  #1  
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Family Tour of Europe/Critique Travel Plans

Asking for a critique or suggestions for our 2012 trip to Europe. We are a husband, wife and 13-year-old twin daughters. I've been to Europe twice (once on a 10-day tour, once staying with a friend for a month) and have conversational German skills. Rest of family has traveled only within the eastern half of the U.S., but they're fit, healthy and adaptable, with basic German skills. We're going to work on some basic French language skills, too, over the next year.

We have 17 days total, including flight time from Detroit.
We do NOT want to see tons of churches (one church total would be more than enough), museums or memorials.
We DO want to see a castle or two, do some hiking, visit some family-friendly places (Berlin Water Park, Europa Park and zoos are all high on our list).
We've already done U.S. backpacking trips as a family, along with train travel and youth hostels, and we're comfortable with that, though it will be nice to sleep in an occasional hotel and have a day of down time here and there.
The kids are motivated and usually take half the time people tell us it will take to do things. Husband and I try to match that pace with caffeine.

So here's the itinerary I sketched out ... your thoughts?
Day 1 Fri: arrive in Berlin a.m.
Day 2 Sat: Berlin all day; fly to Vienna p.m.
Day 3 Sun: Vienna (SRS)
Day 4 Mon: a.m. train to Salzburg / Salzburg all day
Day 5 Tue: a.m. train to Munich
Day 6 Wed: Munich & Neuschwanstein
Day 7 Thu: a.m. train to Rust (Europa Park); p.m. train to Strasbourg
Day 8 Fri: Strasbourg/Haguenau/Durrenbach
Day 9 Sat: Strasbourg/Haguenau/Durrenbach
Day 10 Sun: a.m. train to Luxembourg; day and overnight in Luxembourg
Day 11 Mon: a.m. train to Paris
Day 12 Tue: Paris
Day 13 Wed: a.m. fly to York, England/spend day in "Herriot Country"
Day 14 Thu: a.m. train to London
Day 15 Fri: London
Day 16 Sat: London all day/p.m. depart for U.S.
Kandace_York is offline  
Sep 10th, 2011, 12:07 PM
  #2  
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PS -- not sure why it's showing strikeout through all our itinerary ... let's try that again.

Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

So here's the itinerary I sketched out ... your thoughts?
Day 1 Fri: arrive in Berlin a.m.
Day 2 Sat: Berlin all day; fly to Vienna p.m.
Day 3 Sun: Vienna (SRS)
Day 4 Mon: a.m. train to Salzburg / Salzburg all day
Day 5 Tue: a.m. train to Munich
Day 6 Wed: Munich & Neuschwanstein
Day 7 Thu: a.m. train to Rust (Europa Park); p.m. train to Strasbourg
Day 8 Fri: Strasbourg/Haguenau/Durrenbach
Day 9 Sat: Strasbourg/Haguenau/Durrenbach
Day 10 Sun: a.m. train to Luxembourg; day and overnight in Luxembourg
Day 11 Mon: a.m. train to Paris
Day 12 Tue: Paris
Day 13 Wed: a.m. fly to York, England/spend day in "Herriot Country"
Day 14 Thu:
Kandace_York is offline  
Sep 10th, 2011, 12:08 PM
  #3  
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Sigh. And here are the last three days:

Day 14 Thu: a.m. train to London
Day 15 Fri: London
Day 16 Sat: London all day/p.m. depart for U.S.
Kandace_York is offline  
Sep 10th, 2011, 12:11 PM
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I think you are planning to do too much. I think you should plan to go to less places. You seem to be spending so much time traveling from place to place and will not get to enjoy the places you are staying at. But, I guess if you are wanting to do a whirlwind tour and just see the places quickly you will be fine. I have taken my children twice to Europe and have done similar activities but limited the trips to closer areas therefore allowing more time to enjoy everything local. I would get tired of the constant traveling. But, everyone is different. My kids enjoyed Europa Park. They also enjoy seeing zoos in different cities.
kkukura is offline  
Sep 10th, 2011, 12:12 PM
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Wel - I don't think you meant to strikeout the whole itinerary.

But that is what I'd do.

You have 13 locations/cities in 16 days. This is really REALLY too much in too little time.
janisj is online now  
Sep 10th, 2011, 12:24 PM
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Meant to add . . . Not by a long shot your biggest problem -- but you can't fly from Paris to York. The nearest airport is Leeds/Bradford which is more than an hour from York by road. And Herriot Country in not IN york but farther north. How do you plan on seeing Herriot Country --renting a car is about the only practical way . . . This York/Herriot bit is about 2 days worth minimum -- not just one afternoon.
janisj is online now  
Sep 10th, 2011, 12:28 PM
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It's almost pathological to go to Berlin, Vienna, Munich, Paris, and London with the idea of spending 1-1.5 days in each. You'll spend most of your time looking at each other in the trains. Maybe you're all very attractive. But you could do the same at home more cheaply.

OK, I'll try to be more constructive. Since you know German and want hiking, castles and theme parks like Europa Park, I'd suggest focusing on southwest Germany as a given. There you'll find dozens of real knights' castles and some nice hikes in the Middle Rhine Valley, and Europa Park is only about 3 hours on the fast trains from this area. You could do some hiking in the nearby Black Forest as well.

Then you'll need to sort out your priorities. You need 3-4 days minimum for London and the same for Berlin and Paris, close to that for Munich and Vienna. No matter how "fast" your kids are or how short their attention spans, there's much to see and do in these places; I'm sure once you investigate your actual activities in each place, you'll see how impossible your current itin. really is.
Russ is offline  
Sep 10th, 2011, 12:30 PM
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I see someone else is doing a thesis on European train stations. Honestly, this borders on criminal, especially with kids along. This will be a Europe Went By in a Blur experience.

I would cut the number of places you plan to visit at least in half.
StCirq is online now  
Sep 10th, 2011, 12:43 PM
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StCirq: I agree but I'd cut it even more: Either Just Germany. Or just a bit of Germany plus Paris. Or Paris/London/Yorkshire. Or Germany & Austria.

Those would make good 16 day itineraries.

Kandace: If the flights have already been purchased you are semi-boxed in w/ Berlin and London. So Germany and 4-ish days in London may be the best you can manage.
janisj is online now  
Sep 10th, 2011, 12:52 PM
  #10  
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Wit and candor much appreciated -- this is what I needed to hear. Thank you.

If I drop Berlin, fly directly to Vienna and add a day to the trip ... does this look better? Still too ambitious?

(and I hope the site does not strikeout the itinerary again, not my intention!)

Day 1 Fri: arrive Vienna
Day 2 Sat: Vienna (SRS)
Day 3 Sun: a.m. train to Salzburg / Salzburg all day
Day 4 Mon: Salzburg
Day 5 Tue: a.m. train to Munich & Neuschwanstein
Day 6 Wed: Munich
Day 7 Thu: a.m. train to Rust (Europa Park); p.m. train to Strasbourg
Day 8 Fri: Strasbourg/Haguenau/Durrenbach
Day 9 Sat: a.m. train to Luxumbourg/day and overnight in Luxembourg
Day 10 Sun: a.m. train to Paris
Day 11 Mon: Paris
Day 12 Tue: a.m. fly to Leeds, England
Day 13 Wed: rent car, spend day in "Herriot Country"
Day 14 Fri: Yorkshire
Day 15 Sat: a.m. train to London
Day 16 Sun: London
Day 17 Mon: London all day/p.m. depart for U.S.
Kandace_York is offline  
Sep 10th, 2011, 01:01 PM
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Yes.
Russ is offline  
Sep 10th, 2011, 01:04 PM
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That is better. Still fast and a LOLT of transit time though.

Is there a vital reason for Strasbourg/Haguenau/Durrenbach/Luxembourg? If not, consider dropping them, fly from Munich to Paris spend 4 days there (you could even add Paris Disneyland).

re Yorkshire: You actually could make better time by train than flying. Eurostar from Paris to St Pancras is 2 hours and Kings Cross (adjacent to St Pancras) to York is 2 hours.

Center of Paris to Center of York in less than 5 hours. Eliminates traveling to CDG, advance check in, driving from Leeds to York.
janisj is online now  
Sep 10th, 2011, 01:05 PM
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OOPS >>a LOT of transit time<<
janisj is online now  
Sep 10th, 2011, 01:15 PM
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Thanks ... trying to whittle this down.

Husband insists on London and Herriot Country (actually, he also insisted on Rome and Greece -- he gave up those two after I showed him on a map how truly impossible that was).
I insist on Vienna and Strasbourg, otherwise I don't want to go at all.
Daughters don't really have a concept of what they want or expect; they like traveling, hiking, art, music, etc., so they'll be OK with all of it.

Day 1 Fri: arrive Vienna
Day 2 Sat: Vienna (SRS)
Day 3 Sun: Vienna
Day 4 Mon: a.m. train to Munich
Day 5 Tue: Munich/day trip to Neuschwanstein
Day 6 Wed: Munich
Day 7 Thu: Munich/day trip to Rust (Europa Park)
Day 8 Fri: a.m. train to Strasbourg
Day 9 Sat: Strasbourg/Haguenau/Durrenbach
Day 10 Sun: Strasbourg/meet friend halfway to Luxembourg
Day 11 Mon: Strasbourg/Haguenau/Durrenbach
Day 12 Tue: a.m. fly Strasbourg to Leeds, England
Day 13 Wed: rent car, explore Yorkshire
Day 14 Fri: Yorkshire
Day 15 Sat: a.m. train to London
Day 16 Sun: London
Day 17 Mon: London all day/p.m. depart for U.S.
Kandace_York is offline  
Sep 10th, 2011, 01:17 PM
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Skip Luxembourg - you are allotting no time there anyway - and head to Paris after Strasbourg. Even with the extra day in Paris, you've got only 2.5 days there. I would also axe days 12-14 in Leeds/Yorkshire in favor of a one-day outing nearer London - the adorable Cotswold villages spring immediately to mind. This would allow a decent amount of time for London, but still not a lot.

Also, I don't see any hiking or genuine castles (N'stein doesn't count) if that matters to you.
Russ is offline  
Sep 10th, 2011, 01:28 PM
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This is more better

But there are no flights from Strasbourg to Leeds. You could fly but you'd have to connect through Amsterdam.

Do you really want to spend 1/4 of the trip in/around Strasbourg?

Do you know of an evening flight from London to your home airport? If you are flying to the US -- most flights leave late morning/early afternoon. Usually can't do too much on the departure day.
janisj is online now  
Sep 10th, 2011, 01:30 PM
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Didn't see Russ' post. I might agree w/ - except you say Yorkshire is a must for the DH. So you should definitely keep it in. And it can be done -- but you have to compromise somewhere.
janisj is online now  
Sep 10th, 2011, 04:22 PM
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Thanks -- appreciate your insight, everyone.

Yorkshire has to stay in. Strasbourg is the ancestral home for both husband and me, so that's critical, too. And one of our former exchange students lives in Luxembourg; this is likely the only chance we'll ever have to see her again.

I'll do more research on flights -- I admit, I just did a quick Google search without considering they wouldn't be direct flights for short distances.

Thanks again. More homework for me (but much appreciated!).
Kandace_York is offline  
Sep 10th, 2011, 04:37 PM
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It is apparent that there are reasons you HAVE to be certain places - but days are still only 24 hours long, travel takes as long as it takes (and usually longer than you have planned) and you are trying to fit in too many places to see much of anything. (Esp if you use low cost flights the airports are often at the end of hell and gone and they can be draconian both in terms of luggage allowed (minute) and how early you must check in (several hours in advance).

You actually have 15 days - the ones you arrive and depart will be eaten up with those activities. And I would do no more than 4 destinations (4 hotels). You can do a day trip or two - but you heave really left yourself very little time to see/do anything - esp the castles and hiking you mentioned.
nytraveler is offline  
Sep 10th, 2011, 05:29 PM
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OK - Strasbourg/Lux., London and Yorkshire are the MUSTS. So plan your trip around those. 3 nights in/around Strasbourg, 3-ish nights in Yorkshire, and 5 nights in London leaves you 4 or 5 nights for one other destination. That could be Paris --OR -- Berlin --OR -- Munich/Salzburg.

BTW - there are MANY wonderful real castles all over England, while Neuschwanstein is barely 125 years old.
janisj is online now  

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