First time in Europe questions

May 11th, 2003, 01:17 AM
  #1  
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First time in Europe questions

Hello everyone, I am a 23 year old female, and will be travelling through Western Europe with two friends this summer. We will be there for one month, taking only what we can carry in a backpack. What I need to know is--what are the essentials for clothes and shoes?

Also, we will be travelling by train (using a Eurail pass), but realize we can't use our pass from London to Paris. What is the best mode of transportation connecting these cities, and should we book in advance?

Thank you in advance!
Eskimogirl is offline  
May 11th, 2003, 01:36 AM
  #2  
 
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Along with the obvious, I reccommend, one bathing suit, and 2 pair of shoes. I'd say a comfy pair of tennis shoes. Opposite of what a lot of people say, retro Addias, modern Nike are worn by Europeans everyday. Especially someone under 40. The rule of thumb is that the shoes cannot be white and they don't wear white socks. Use the peds. I have pairs in sky blue, red and have lived here for 8 years.
Then bring a pair of black sandals that you can wear in a more dressed up night, or in the day at the beach.
Bring 7 pairs of underwear, and wash them as you go along. Bring a small amout of Victoria's Secret Delicates Hand Wash Soap. It has a wonderful perfume that will leave the bathroom smelling great. Plus it's one of those scents that you'll smell later on in life, and you'll say "Oh, this reminds me of when I was in Europe".
My last bit of advice for you is this.
Often Americans don't realize that in cities especially in summer, very few people wear shorts and tank tops. Please wear capris and sleaveless tops. At the sea side however, it is appropriate to wear them. Otherwise women tend to look down upon you, and men think you're easy. Living in Italy for 8 years, I can tell you it is really true.
Have a great time! Hope you love it!
Melissa
Melissa1 is offline  
May 11th, 2003, 01:39 AM
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Hi,
I got thinking about the clothes that I forgot about the last question.
London-Paris is a popular route, so I reccommend going to www.go-fly.com or www.easyjet.com.
Both airlines have low cost fares between the two places. Ciao, Melissa
Melissa1 is offline  
May 11th, 2003, 05:05 AM
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For lots of tips on how to pack light, go to the Europe Through the Back Door site (www.ricksteves.com). Click on "Travel Tips" for Rick's suggestions and on the "Graffiti Wall" for tips posted by readers. Since you'll have a Eurail Pass, you should qualify for a hefty discount on a Eurostar ticket between London and Paris. By the time you add the cost of of getting to the airport in each city to the cost of the no-frills airline ticket, you may just about break even. And taking the train is faster than flying because you leave and arrive in the heart of each city.
TimS is offline  
May 11th, 2003, 05:10 AM
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I forgot one thing. Reservations are required on the Eurostar. However, if you're going to be in London for a few days before you go to Paris, I think you should be safe booking your ticket there rather than doing it from home.
TimS is offline  
May 11th, 2003, 06:28 AM
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The airline go which Melissa referred to no longer operates, as it was bought by easyjet some time ago, but there are several other low-cost airlines to choose from. To find the lowest fares, try www.aerfares.net or www.easyvalue.com

You need to be aware that the fares on these budget airlines rise (sometimes daily) the closer you get to departure date, so unless you book well in advance you won't get a very good deal and like Tim says, you have to add the cost of transport to and from the airport on to your ticket.

As far as clothes are concerned, this may be stating the obvious, but try and do any hand-washing you need to on your first night whenever you plan to stay somewhere for a couple of days or more. Otherwise your stuff could still be wet when you come to pack it up the next day.
Xenos is offline  
May 11th, 2003, 08:40 AM
  #7  
rex
 
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Point-to-point low cost air travel, plus a few well chosen point-to-point rail routes would allow you to see more much of Europe for much less money than you would spend on a "railpass", almost regardless of what kind you propose to buy.

When you can fly from one end of the continent to the other for less than $25 - - example: London to Graz (Austria) on www.ryanair.com - - I cannot under stand the appeal of a railpass.

And I will further sound like an old fogey here - - but do you plan to actually hike (walk) from one destination to another? If not, you can move your belongings from one place to another much more easily with a 22 inch rollaboard on WHEELS (with or without a small, lightweight duffel/pack) than something you strap on your back.

Best wishes,

Rex
rex is offline  
May 11th, 2003, 09:02 AM
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Rex, I think that the appeal of a railcard is in the flexibility that it offers. If you fancy staying somewhere a bit longer than you had planned then you can do, or if you find that you don't like a place as much as you thought you would, then you can move on - all at no extra transport cost. As I said in my earlier post, budget airline fares get more expensive the closer you get to your departure date. So, unless you want to plan an entire month's trip in advance and plan to stick rigidly to it, flying from place to place can get very expensive. The current Ryanair price for London (Stanstead!) to Graz for TOMORROW is 105.37 pounds including taxes - 164 USD!
Xenos is offline  
May 11th, 2003, 11:21 AM
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We saw and met plenty of Italian tourists in the cities wearing shorts. The people who live in the cities and are going to and coming from work don't wear them, but many Italian tourists in Rome, Venice, Florence, etc. do.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
May 11th, 2003, 12:02 PM
  #10  
rex
 
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Well. I'll respectfully disagree. She knows she wants to go to England and destinations on the continent.

Fly into London. Allocate 3-6 days there. Whatever the number, there will be no shortage of ways to use them.

Fly cheaply far away from London. Take the train, using point-to-point rail tickets, ending up in Paris. Fly home from there.

I cannot understand the point of a total "no-plan" plan. You have to fly into somewhere, and fly home from somewhere. No extensive plan is needed, in fact, hardly any plan at all is needed to use this - - much more economical than a rail pass - - approach.

If Eskimogirl were my own daughter or niece, my advice would be exactly as outlined here. Why waste money?

rex is offline  
May 11th, 2003, 12:44 PM
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Thank you for all your replies.

We have chosen the railpass because we only have a tentative schedule planned. As we have never been before we wanted to keep our options open, so we could stay a longer or shorter time at any particular place.

Yes, we actually plan to hike to many destinations, as we are young, in shape, and find that exploring places on foot is a great experience. (We have trekked around several other countries). We will take the occasional taxi ride when necessary, but hopefully not often.

I am still confused as to what would be the best choice from London to Paris---what is the fastest/cheapest? Where can I book a ticket? I have searched through other posts on this board and can't get a clear answer.

Thank you for taking the time to respond--I really appreciate it!
Eskimogirl is offline  
May 11th, 2003, 02:11 PM
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A couple of basics:

Xerox your passport and keep the copy separate from your passpart. Invaluable in obtaining a new passport should yours become stolen or lost.

With three of you, the odds are not good that you all will lose your credit cards but it is worth thinking about a backup in a separate location.

Believe it or not, I always carry a $100 bill wrapped in plastic in my shoe. I travel solo so you may not need the same backups.
lweber is offline  
May 11th, 2003, 02:14 PM
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The ultimate flexibility is to buy your train tickets on the fly! If you do some fast math, you may be able to see how the pass quiet often doesn't end up paying for itself, or at best, you come out even.
usbeauty is offline  
May 11th, 2003, 02:25 PM
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Thanks for the great tips!

Does anyone know of a good site to look at a train schedule and prices for countries in Western Europe?

Has anyone ever bought the one month unlimited railpass? Was it worth it? Or would we really be better off buying the tickets as we go? All advice is much appreciated! Thanks again.

Eskimogirl is offline  
May 11th, 2003, 03:16 PM
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My strong suggestion on the Rail Pass is to go to www.ricksteves.com and read everything there. Then call them. They are one of the number one rail pass sellers in the country and are very good at guiding you into buying the right type of pass. (You might need a more limited pass for example!) As for London to Paris. Your cheapest method will probably be by ferry. It will take ALL day. I don't know how to book. I would go to www.ryanair.com and see what you can do for airfare if you know your dates.
CarolLA is offline  
May 11th, 2003, 03:21 PM
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For grins, I go to http://www.raileurope.com and punch in my cities, get the fares for 2nd class travel, then deduct about $50. Then I look at the pass options, keeping in mind the passes offer you first class travel and decide whether it's worth it or not.
usbeauty is offline  
May 11th, 2003, 06:00 PM
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This site has a map of ferries from England.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article...593737,00.html

I think you could plan a visit to any of the UK ports listed and continue by ferry to the continent. Dover has four choics and is worth a trip. Portsmouth has a wonderful shipyard and museum and you could go to Cherbourg for an umbrella. A google search for the ferry companies should give you all the info you need - price, frequency, duration of trip.

Melissa1 may be a fashion guru after 8 years in Italy but I saw plenty of tank tops in the UK in March.
jsmith is offline  
May 11th, 2003, 06:58 PM
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As said above, visit www.ricksteves.com and read the railpass guide there. You can download and print it, if you wish. The guide will help you determine if point-to-point tickets will be your best option. Also visit www.railsaver.com. Enter your proposed itinerary and it will calculate your best deal (pass or point to point) for you.

Here's a quote from Rick Steves' London 2001 guidebook: "For Eurostar tickets, compare fares sold by U.S. rail agents (www.raileurope.com) and British agents (www.eurostar.co.uk). In Britain you can book and pay for tickets over the phone with a credit card by calling 08705-186-186 and pick up your tickets at London's Waterloo station an hour before the Eurostar departure.
TimS is offline  
May 11th, 2003, 08:18 PM
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I just want to say that having a Eurail pass still doesn't mean you can jump on any train. You have to make reservations on some trains and pay extra for Eurostar and Thalys. I second the suggestion to fly to London, spend some time there, then use one of the budget airlines to fly to the continent and then fly out of a different location back to London.
You can also buy a youth voucher from raileurope.com for $79 from London to Paris.
www.fs-on-line.com - Italy rail
www.sncf.com for France and other countries.
UK has weird price structure for rail fares, you may want to book in advance there if want to venture outside London. But in Italy
And you wouldn't want to walk around Paris or Rome with a huge backpack, I think a rolling suitcase would be better.
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