first time in Europe

Jun 28th, 2000, 09:38 AM
Kevin Forrester
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first time in Europe

Hello. I have a year to plan for my first trip to Europe. I want to hit Spain, Amsterdam, Italy, and Paris at least with my base being in London. Can anyone tell me if this sounds at all feasable in a months time? Also any estimates on how much money will be needed will be helpful. I don't mind staying in Hostiles in certain places. I'm travelling alone and am up for basically anything. I don't need to stay in the most expensives hotels. Are Bed and Breakfasts better than hotels? Do I need a Eurorail pass? Once again any strategies are helpful
Jun 28th, 2000, 09:52 AM
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Unless you want to fly everywhere - way too much territory to cover enjoyably in 1 month. Limit youself to just 2 countries (e.g. Britain and France/Britain and Netherlands/France and Spain/France and Italy) You will still be rushed but will have a MUCH better time since you wont be constantly in transit. In my opinion limiting yourself to one country is the most pleasant option (but thats just me - i like to get to know a country a little bit). If money is a consideration avoid hotels like the plague - they are very expensive. In Britain i recommend B&B or Guesthouse type accomodation or even Youth hostels ( if cash is a real issue - some are quite nice.) The last time i was in Britain (last fall) our B&B places averaged about 23 pounds (per person) a night (including BIG breakfasts). We stayed at mostly good quality B&Bs that had private facilities for each room. If you are willing to share a bathroom you can find stuff for about 15 pounds a night. Note in Britain, London is MUCH more expensive than the countryside. Have a nice trip
Jun 28th, 2000, 05:15 PM
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I think you could do most of your planned itinerary in a month - you won't see everything, but you would'nt in a year either.
One suggestion I would make, is to consider making a choice of EITHER Italy or Spain, not both, as the travel logistics between the two are not good, unless you fly.
You will see a lot more, and its more fun, if you travel mostly by day trains. For this I would research a suitable Eurail or Europass, with the flexibility to travel on a set number of days per month. These are not valid in England, by the way, but you can get a discount of around 25/33% on the Eurostar Channel Tunnel trains.
Regarding hotels, I normally budget between $60 and $90 a night for perfectly adequate 2 and 3 star hotels in Western Europe.By avoiding the premier locations in major cities, or even by staying just outside the major cities altogether, it gets cheaper.
Another way of cutting costs, if necessary,particularly on your own, is to miss out on the fancy restaurants, which are less fun on your own anyway. By doing this you can eat quite well and cheaply, with just the odd splurge every week or so.
As JMM said, watch out in London, accomodation prices are murderous for what you get. Research the suburbs, as the tube (subway) goes practically everywhere.
I have travelled quite a bit in France,Switzerland and Italy, although its a few years since I was in Amsterdam, so feel free to email me at anytime if you want some specifics later on.
You should first map out a tentative route and itinerary, before getting down to making any bookings. Consider an open jaw flight, say, into London, out of Rome or Milan. May cost slightly more,but will save you a lot of expensive backtracking. This way you may squeeze part of Spain in also.
Good luck.
Jun 28th, 2000, 10:32 PM
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Tony hit the nail on the head; get out a map and mark your wannas. That's a lot of area to cover in a month; it can be done, but at a breakneck speed.

I travel a lot, and when I got my six week sabbatical, I started with "yippee I can travel all over Europe!". Then I took out a map, marked the wannas, and said "(expletive deleted) I'm going to spend most of my time on trains" and decided to rent an apartment in Paris for six weeks.

That being said, yah gotta pick your druthers. The time it takes to pack up every few days, get to the train station, then get to your new lodgings, get the lay of the land...all can be more than you actually spend actually seeing anything. If you're on a packaged tour, all that's done for you and quickly. On your own? Eesh. It's your call.

Hostels are the cheapest (usually) for singles; in most big cities, hotels or b&bs will cost you at least $50, on average. Smaller cities and the countryside are cheaper. Restaurants in big cities are expensive, but if you do research, you can find decent meals at decent prices. Buying food in markets and shops for do-it-yourself is the cheapest. Entrance fees are expensive, sometimes running $10 or more; fun stuff like boat trips are in the same price range, or higher.

My suggestion is to pick one area: London, Paris, Amsterdam. Paris, south of France, Spain. Spain, south of France, Italy. In each place, park yourself and do day trips. A railpass will save you money, if you buy the right one.

You've got a lot of work cut out for yourself, but half the fun is the planning.

Jun 29th, 2000, 12:22 AM
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You can fly very cheaply between London & Paris or A'dam, bus/train to Spain is easy, Spain & Portugal are cheap.Italy doesn't fit well.Currently UK is expensive due to exchange rates.
Jun 29th, 2000, 03:37 AM
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If you're looking to save money and don't mind roughing it a bit, sleep on trains. If you have a Eurail pass (or some equivalent), it's like a free night's hotel. In most 2nd class compartments the seats can be folded down to make a sort of bed. It really isn't bad unless the car is packed and you're snuggled up to strangers that stink. If you spend more, you can get either a bunk in a special compartment with strangers or spend a bit more and get a cozy, private sleeping car. I prefer the latter! Anyway, if you take long trips at night, you can easily cover the ground you're talking about. What everyone else said about about slowing down is valid, but you can also see a heckuva lot in a month if you want. There's something exhilerating about bopping from country to country and wearing yourself out everyday. The other good thing about that is you can get a taste of a lot of Europe and decide where you want to go back and spend more time later.
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