first european holiday itinery

Dec 9th, 2013, 02:24 AM
  #1  
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first european holiday itinery

Hi we are an Australian family of 2 adults and 2 children (11 and 8) who are planning on visiting family in Malta and incorporating a 5 week European holiday( as it is very expensive for 4 of us to fly to europe so would like to see as much as possible). We are planning on going June/July and wish to visit London, Paris, Malta, Berlin, Munich, Salzburg, Venice, Verona, Florence, Tuscany and Rome. We plan to fly from Australia to London and fly home from Rome.

Is the following itinery doable?
London 4 days then Eurostar to Paris
Paris for 4 days including Versailles
Fly to Malta for 1 week
Fly Malta to Frankfurt (visit family in Kassel so take the train from Frankfurt airport)
Train to Berlin
2 days Berlin then night train to Munich
In Munich want to see city, BMW plant, day tour to Neuschwanstein castle, day trip by train to salzburg (kids want to do sound of music tour)
Fly munich to venice and spend 2 days in venice
Train venice to verona and stay overnight
Train verona to Florence. Spend a day sightseeing in florence, then do a day tour to siena, pisa and san gimignano
train to Rome and spend 3 nights before flying home

We realise this is a busy itinery - trying to squeeze in as much as possible.
No idea about where to stay suitable for a family - wondering about an apartment in london and paris.
would be interested in your thoughts or suggestions including rail passes
thanks
emmamarie is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 05:04 AM
  #2  
 
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You need to lay out your itinerary and include travel time between locations. I don't believe you've done any research on the train schedules.

When you have Paris for 4 days on your itinerary, does that count the time to get there from London? Or are you really spending 4 days in Paris and London?

I don't see a night train between Berlin and Munich. There are trains that run at night, of course, but they make connections. You have young children and I don't think you want to wake them in the middle of the night and sit in a train station for an hour.

Venice to Verona is only 1 hour 10 minutes yet you're packing up and changing hotels for only 1 night. Why not make Verona a day trip from Venice?

It's a packed itinerary and you won't get to see much (except for Malta) but it's your trip. You will spend a lot of time getting to the next whistle stop. For instance, your 2 days in Berlin will involve 1.5 days traveling to and from the city.

Will your day tour to Siena, Pisa, and San Gimignano allow your kids time to climb the tower in Pisa? I'm sure they'll want to do this. I can't imagine covering these 3 towns in one day.

Rail passes won't help you much. German train tickets are deeply discounted when you buy them 3 months ahead. Same with Italian train tickets. Munich to Salzburg you can do with a Bayern pass for the family (about E30). You need to do the math on passes vs. point to point tickets but advance purchase is usually the most economical.
adrienne is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 05:15 AM
  #3  
 
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There is no rail pass that would save you money, though in Germany you can use Bayern Tickets and other day tickets.

I presume there's a reason you're going to Malta in the middle of your trip rather than at the start or end?

"We realise this is a busy itinerary"

Yes, and I would say it's too busy. A lot depends on what you mean by 2 days, 4 days, etc. If you mean 2 nights, etc. that does not take into account travel time so that 2 nights really means 1 full day. In particular, the Berlin part is too short a time to justify the time and expense getting there. It's not a compact city you can just get a quick feel for. I would just cut it from your itinerary and go straight to Munich.

And Italy seems too rushed to me.

I understand wanting to squeeze as much as possible, but as planned you will be spending a lot of your time on trains, planes, or buses. And, really, by week 4 you may be so sick of historic churches, you'd just rather sit in a caffe or piazza and simply enjoy being in Siena rather than being whisked away to the next stop. I know I get that way by week 2 of a European vacation.
oedipamaas is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 05:20 AM
  #4  
 
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I was posting at the same time as adrienne - sorry for the duplication.

There is a night train Berlin to Munich. The night trains do have their drawbacks as well as advantages.
oedipamaas is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 07:01 AM
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<< There is a night train Berlin to Munich >>

Where did you find a night train without a connection where you're not changing trains in the middle of the night?
adrienne is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 07:03 AM
  #6  
 
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Well, you're Aussies and travel as such.

Adrienne is dead-on: (1) changing hotels for an overnight in Verona is daft. Just add a night to Venice and do Verona as a day trip; (2) a night train with kids on a 6-hour ride (Berlin-Munich) is questionable on two levels - how much sleep you will be able to have, how early you'll arrive tired and without access to your hotel room in Munich until the afternoon.

Your Italy itinerary is a rushed mess. Worse, it's at the end of the trip when the kids will be tired and so will you. Sometimes less is more - as in, fewer places = more enjoyment of what you do see.
BigRuss is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 07:24 AM
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The efficacy of a railpass depends on several factors - whether you want to go first to second class - and whether you want flexibility to in most of your countries just hop on any train anytime and chose your trains as you go along not lock them in stone weeks or months in advance to get the discounted but limited in number tickets that typically cannot be changed nor refunded.

If you are satisfied with 2nd class and having to pre-book tickets weeks in advance then that would be the cheapest way to go - not necessarily the best for everyone though - I always have a first-class pass and love the benefits of first class - especially in countries like Germany where there are always IME empty seats in first class but not as much in 2nd class - just show up at station and hop aboard.

And kids under 12 pay 50% of what adults pay for a pass. Yes the Fodor's mantra is a railpass is always a waste of money but I do not agree with that - it depends on what you desire in terms of flexibility or first or second class - and my decades of European rail travel tells me there is a very significant difference between classes - especially for those hauling often way too much luggage around.

And 2nd class is not a cattle car just not nearly as relaxed IME as first class. If over 25 Eurailpasses automatically come in first class.

For lots of great info on planning a European rail trip I always highlight these IMO superb sites - www.ricksteves.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.seat61.com - the latter having great info on discounted tickets.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 07:52 AM
  #8  
 
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>"Where did you find a night train without a connection where you're not changing trains in the middle of the night?"

bahn.de shows a City Night Line departing 21.04, arriving 7.05, at least for a couple of dates I checked.

"Yes the Fodor's mantra is a railpass is always a waste of money"

I think the mantra fits just fine here. In the OP's itinerary there are only 2 long-haul German train trips. The rest of the planned train trips a) either are not covered by the rail pass or b) have surcharges.
oedipamaas is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 08:26 AM
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Emmamarie, you wrote, "would like to see as much as possible" and also, "trying to squeeze in as much as possible".

Those indicate quite clearly that you are falling into the classic mistake of trying to see/do too much in too little time. You need to consider that the word 'much' is NOT synonymous with the word 'many'.

If it were, moving every day to a new place or even every half day would result in seeing more places and if that were the ultimate goal then doing so would mean you 'saw as much as possible'. I'm sure you realize that isn't really a good idea.

So, you do NOT want to see as MANY places as possible. What you want is to get as MUCH out of your time as possible. That means you need to think about what that means.

The way to get as MUCH as possible out of a given amount of time (in terms of travel) is to spend as MUCH time as possible IN places, seeing/doing things, not spend your time in BETWEEN places. So move less, see/do more. In travel, less is always more.

Theoretically, that would mean that the best use of time is to go to one place, spend all your time and then return home. But like most people, you probably wouldn't be happy with that idea so what you need to do is look for a balance. How to see more places at the cost of losing some time IN places that is an acceptable cost to you.

So what percentage of your total time would you be willing to give up to moving from A to B? A common amount is no more than 25%. That means not moving more often than every 4th night which allows 3 full days IN a place and a travel day between places. If you day trip from a place you must ADD a day/night to do so.

If you have 5 full weeks including your arrival/departure days, that would mean you had 33 days/nights to work with. Using the 25% max travel time as a starting point that would mean you could plan on visiting a maximum of 8 places for 4 nights plus one day trip somewhere along the way. Obviously, if you already plan on a week in Malta visiting family, it means even less than 8 places. Take a full week for Malta out of your 33 days/nights and that leaves only 26 days which would allow no more than 6 places plus 2 day trips. So that's 7 places to stay including Malta. You list ELEVEN.

Most people come up with a list first and then try to squeeze that list into a fixed amount of time available. That is what you have no doubt done. The better way to do it is to use a formula such as 25% max travel days to tell you how many places you can then list. Then make yourself prioritize according to that. Cart......horse.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 08:46 AM
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I see the night train from Berlin to Munich - didn't look far enough back the first time.

emmamarie - don't forget to bring lots of water for the night train so you don't have to buy bottles at an inflated price. Some food for the kids would be good too.
adrienne is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 09:52 AM
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don't forget to bring lots of water for the night train so you don't have to buy bottles at an inflated price>

good tip though on these night trains you should have IME a bottle of water for each person supplied gratis - but if you have to buy then ouch - you can bring any food or beverage, including booze on trains. On night trains the attendance will sell snacks and drinks for yes a rather high price.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 11:37 AM
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emmamarie--Although I am not a slow traveler, it appears to me that you have about four three-week vacations packed into this. dulcius is right on! I'd drop two.

First, why do you want to spend a week on Malta? That would be the first place I'd cut, or at least reduce. It looks like your relatives are in Kassel, not on Malta.

Second, Cut either the London/Paris part or the Italy part. If you do those two, then you've got a pretty nice, doable five-week vacation. If you leave them all in, then (except for a week on Malta), you've got a very rushed schedule without time to really see anything--particlarly with kids along.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 12:09 PM
  #13  
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Hi

thanks for all your responses. I am going to sit down and do some more research and then work out the best places. you have all been a great help!
emmamarie is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 12:11 PM
  #14  
 
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Dwdvagamundo - the op's opening
sentence says they have family in Malta

I agree Italy needs some changes, maybe base yourself in Verona, it would probably be cheaper than Venice and then do Rome and leave out Siena etc

There are only so many vistas and churches you can view before it gets repetitive especially for kids over a 5 week period
Geordie is online now  
Dec 10th, 2013, 06:17 AM
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Hmmm--you're right, Geordie. Skipped right over the intro to the itinerary. Still believe they are trying to cover too much ground.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
Dec 10th, 2013, 11:08 AM
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train to Salzburg (kids want to do sound of music tour)
Fly munich to Venice and spend 2 days in venice>

If into night trains you can take one from Salzburg to Venice as well - as usual save travel time and the cost of a night in a hotel - and would make a railpass more viable.

For Eurostar tickets the early bird gets the proverbial worm - www.eurostar.com - book weeks or months in advance to save a lot of money - in any case never just walk up and buy a ticket as you may pay hundred bucks or so more than pre-booking - but pre-booked discounted tickets are non-changeable non-refundable so be sure of your train dates and times.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 10th, 2013, 12:01 PM
  #17  
 
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In the middle of this whirlwind trip your kids might go bananas over all this checking out - relocating - checking in. You need some stability at some point - go to www.housetrip.com and book lodgings for a few days so you can live like a family for a change, with a fridge, a miocrowave, a normal breakfast, that sort of thing.
michelhuebeli is offline  

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