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First time in Europe!

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Feb 28th, 2001, 08:29 PM
  #1
blair
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First time in Europe!

My wife and I will be in Europe for our first time for the month of May. We land in Frankfurt to see Germany,Holland, France, Italy and Greece.We plan to travel light staying in small Hotels or B&B's, travel by train (Europass) and car rental to get to the rural areas and wine country.Any suggestions for accommodation, restaurants, and specially things that are "must see".
Thanks and I hope you can help.
Blair & Jackie
 
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Feb 28th, 2001, 09:08 PM
  #2
Rex
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On the one hand, this is an ambitious list of destinations (well, countries are not exactly the same as "destinations") - - and a lot to tackle for first-time Europe visitors - - and moreover - - it sounds like you have "only just begun" to think where you want to go, why and how.

On the other hand, trips like yours have been made by 22 yr olds with a backpack and a "Let's Go" handbook, thousands of times, and nothing bad happened to them - - unless you count "inefficient" wandering around as a bad thing.

But I am going to talk to you as if you are my cousin, who is mid-forties, a professional, resourceful, has a little bit more money than he has time, no particular skills in any second language, and has never been to Europe before.

You say "the month of May" - - I assume this is part figurative, part literal. And I'll guess that you have a goal of 8 or more destinations in these five countries. (I could pick you 8 destinations in any ONE of these countries!)

You need a SMART itinerary. And you need to plan wisely if you really do intend to get to Greece. If I were you, I wouldn't have bought the air travel before I knew how the rest of the trip fit together, but it sounds like you have already bought it. You don't say when or from where you are departing Europe to fly home. On the website, you will find some of your best options for getting to Greece and back. you can fly into or out of Paris, Venice or Milan to Greece and back (the former two the better choices, I suspect).

A rough general outline might be make a beeline to Amsterdam from Frankfurt. It's a good place to "ease" into Europe, and from there you can get to Paris easily. These first two segments require no car (in fact, little or no advantage to have one).

Now fly to Athens. Others will have to offer you advice on how best to use 2-7 days in Greece, as I am not current on travel in Greece. Probably no car there either, and maybe rely on a little bit of "guided" assistance.

Now fly back to Venice. Spend 2-4 nights there. I will leave off my advice there, as I don't know about your return flight situation. You might be at day 8 or 18 at this point. And so, how much Italy and Germany fit into the end of your trip depends on things I can't surmise.

I'd be glad to hash ideas out further with you. Here. Or by e-mail.

Best wishes,

Rex
 
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Feb 28th, 2001, 09:28 PM
  #3
Rex
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Rex,
Thanks for your reply, your assessment of us is fairly close (late late forties)! We arrive in Frankfurt May2/01 and depart from Athens May 30/01.Our first two days will be spent on a short tour of the Rhein. We have friends in Holland to show us that country, want to drive Rural France (particularly the wine country, spend very little time in Paris,(we don't particularly like cities except for the culture), by rail to Florence, then Venice, train to Rome, train again to East coast of Italy where we take an overnight ferry to Greece. This itinery is rough but we like to have a lot of flexibility in our travel plans.What we are looking for are people's highlights from various areas.
Thanks, Blair
 
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Feb 28th, 2001, 11:26 PM
  #4
Eli
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Blair: for a first trip, one must not miss the Romantic Road (romantischestrasse) in Germany, which is within easy reach from Frankfurt by train. The jewel in the crown is Rothenburg, but there are numerous medival quaint towns along the road, really charming. You might begin planning by searching this site for Rothenburg...
 
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Mar 1st, 2001, 05:14 AM
  #5
Rex
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I hope you will forgive me when I tell you that answering a question like yours is a somewhat souring experience. There was so much more that could have gone into your initial question. I figured that you were probably in one of three "pigeonholes" - - 20's and what-the-heck-ambitious and more constrained by money than time, 60's (plus) and hoping to pack in a lifetime of wish-we-had travel in an unrealistic context or in-between and (at least a little bit) naive (this might be my cousin).

I was hoping that I was throwing out some info that was a fit for what I considerd the most likely, but still useful if you were in one of the other camps.

So, alas, you're a bird of a slightly different feather - - people with a plan that you HAVE thought through (a little or a lot - - perhaps we still don't know), but didn't share in your first post.

I'm not mad. You didn't make me answer you. But I think I will wait for your third post to advise you on wine country traveling in France. No point in "pontificating" (does anybody do that here? wink...) on the Cotes du Rhone, when what you really mean (but haven't said yet) is Alsace.

Best wishes,

really - - I do mean that...

Rex
 
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Mar 1st, 2001, 07:20 AM
  #6
hyperactive
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Wow Rex---Take a Valium---your brain is in overdrive.
 
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Mar 4th, 2001, 11:38 AM
  #7
John
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I would highly recommend to break your trip down to just Germany, Italy and Greece.... My wife & I visited Greece last year for a month & felt we still hadn't seen & done enough... so for the sake of sanity & to really enjoy your vacation, try not to tackle so much...
 
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Mar 4th, 2001, 12:00 PM
  #8
Santa Chiara
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I am curious why you are going to Paris-Florence-Venice-Rome-Adriatic. Wouldn't it make more sense to go Paris-Venice-Florence-Rome-Adriatic?

 
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Mar 4th, 2001, 12:13 PM
  #9
Leslie
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Blair - Your comment about not spending much time in Paris makes me think you might change your mind once you get there..It is a fabulous city!!! I think you are right not to go to Europe for the first time and then just hop from city to city like so many people do, w/o seeing rural areas. The French Countryside is also beautiful. If you have friends in Holland, then I would definitely go there as making people contact enhances a trip vs. just being an outsider looking in..since the French countryside is also beautiful. Given the general direction you are going, I'd recommend picking up a car in Paris and driving the Loire Valley, though not wine country, the Chauteaus are great. We loved the cathedral in Chartres. A special surprise was a visit to Clos Luce (spelling?) in that area where Leonardo Da Vinci lived during his later years. We loved the city of Blois, France. We also loved seeing Fountainbleu, south of Paris. Good luck.
 
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Mar 4th, 2001, 12:24 PM
  #10
Rex
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Dear hyperactive:

I've been popping one Valium after another since you suggested it. Qow, am I mellow!

Actually, Blair wrote back to me and told me tons more about the how's and why's of their itinerary. It turns out there is still more that he didn't tell in either of his postings.

Although it smacks of violating private correspondence from him, I am opting to quote from his e-mail to me:

"I didn't want to make my first message too long in the fear that it wouldn't get read. I know that I asked very broad questions not really knowing exactly what kind of responses I would get."

I post this because I would like other newcomers to know that there is never anything offensive about providing TONS of information about how and why you may have come to certain decisions. Anyone that doesn't want to read it probably won't - - and if someone should make a rude or sarcastic comment like "Gee, did you have to tell us your whole life story?" - - well, just ignore them.

I hope Blair comes back with more of his itinerary details and questions. I don't feel like it is my place to post those here - - but I hope he will, because I am sure others have ideas to contribute as well.
 
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Mar 5th, 2001, 07:33 PM
  #11
Rex
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to the top... for Kay...

 
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Mar 5th, 2001, 08:11 PM
  #12
Lauren
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First, let me say I'm not used to posting here, so please bear with any mistakes I make.
I was in Italy last summer, in Rome (Roma) and Florence(Firenze). If you want to find some of the less touristy places, all you need to do is walk a few blocks from the major tourist attractions. There are countless little restaurants in Italy; the food is spectacular wherever you go, and the people friendly.

In Rome, I would suggest the Vatican. Long wait outside the walls, but it has an amazing collection. Afterwards, if you want to travel off the beaten track, walk outside the walls. Rome is a very modern city.

As for Florence, go to the Piazza del Signoria. From there you can visit the Uffizi museum of sculpture, walk along the river(very touristy though) go to a few churches (admission is often free, but be sure to dress nicely) or the Medicci building which is a museum. (Entrance to the courtyard is free.)
One of the churches near there houses Michaelangelo and Dante's tombs which are impressive. Italy's churches are works of art. Also, try the gelatti ice cream.
I would visit the Accademia to see the statue of David. It's quite beautiful close up.

I will also suggest a stop in Orvieto. It's a town on cliffs between Florence and Rome with a spectacular view, and a black and white striped church. It personifies the movie image of a little old Italian town. Just walking around it is entertaining.

Finally, be careful of driving in Italy. There seem to be no driving laws or police that enforce them. People on mopeds drive on the sidewalks occasionally too. Pickpockets can be a big problem there too, so watch out.


Hope I was helpful! Enjoy your trip!
-Lauren
 
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