first time to europe

Jan 25th, 2003, 11:10 AM
  #1  
margievill
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first time to europe

hi, i'm a college student, and i'll be spending a month in europe next summer. i was wondering if you had any suggestions for places to see and things to do/ buy in england, scotland, ireland, wales, france, germany, switzerland, austria, belgium, and the netherlands. we'll only have a short time in each country, but they want to see them all - would you suggest eliminating some countries from our 'tour?' - thank you for your time and consideration -
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 11:20 AM
  #2  
patg
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I would keep the trip to the British Isles (eliminating Wales - sorry, but I don't think it would be that interesting to college students) and northern France and Amsterdam. Make sure you all share in the preparation - assign destinations to one or two participants and let them plan the days required. And remember to roll with the punches - traveling with a disorganized group tends to drive people crazy. Plan out only two of every three days or 1 and 1/2 of two days so you have time to do things that strike your fancy.
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 11:25 AM
  #3  
Rex
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Yes. Eliminate two out of the four on the British Isles, and three out of the six on the continent of Europe.

Or eliminate any five of the ten, in any pattern you wish.

In particular, I would recommend eliminating Ireland, Switzerland and Austria at a minimum.

But then, I know nothing about you. Maybe you have grandparents or some other connection somewhere. Maybe you studied German.

Tell me the first five things you see when you close your eyes and think "I can't wait to get to Europe so that I can ....."

and it might be possible to help you refine the plan.

If your school is out in early May, as so many are, consider starting your trip as early in May as possible.

You might also want to post this question on www.lonelyplanet.com (ThornTree) - - not that there are separate forums for the British Isles and Western Europe there. The participants there include a much higher percentage of students and budget travelers.

Best wishes,

Rex Bickers
Westerville, Ohio
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 11:40 AM
  #4  
Patrick
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Lucky you, I never got to do that while in college, but have done a whole lot of European travel since. I disagree with the above. In your case and with one month, I'd get a one month Eurrail pass and use it. I'd incorporate a variety of countries as it is worth getting a good overview of Europe and the differences from country to country. You can take overnight trains if you want (splurge for a sleeper if you want, or just sleep sitting up). I agree that you'll want to spend several days in each place, but if it is primarily the major cities you want -- go for it. But obviously you know you won't have really experienced France (maybe just Paris) and your stop in Switzerland might be confined to a few days of hiking in the alps, not an in depth exploration of the country, but I still think that is fine. You will learn what countries you'll want to go back to later to explore in greater depth. Meanwhile you will have had an experience of a lifetime.

The one suggestion I would make however, is either to concentrate on England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales only -- or to eliminate them except for London and spend most of your time on "the continent".
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 11:50 AM
  #5  
janis
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As I see it you will have an average of 3 days in each country -- and that includes travel time. So you will actually have about 2 days is each country - less when you factor in the two days gettin to anf from Europe.

I definitely agree w/ Patrick. Do the British Isles with maybe a very short hop to Paris -- OR -- stick to the continent with maybe a short jaunt to London.

A rail pass is your best bet on the continent - whereas point to point tickets MIGHT be a better option in the UK. For Ireland - you'll basically have to rely on buses which are pretty slow.
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 11:57 AM
  #6  
Rex
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I quite disagree that a rail pass is a good idea. Depends on your age, and how many traveling together, and when/how long you plan to be in big un-car-friendly cities, on the continent.

Check out www.railsaver.com and look into a 17 day car lease, if you are old enough.

Travel around less, see where you are more.
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 12:12 PM
  #7  
kindly, susan
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Get a copy of Rick Steves' guidebook Europe thru the Backdoor, if you don't have one already. Great place to start. Also post on (BB is called Thorn Tree) www.lonelyplanet.com Both of these resources are better matched to student-travel than Fodors (IMHO).

And yes *!* to me 10 countries in 1 month is WAY too much. Which you'd want to skip depends on your interests.

I understand your desire to "see them all" but in fact you'll spend your time seeing the insides of trains, train stations, busses, checking in and out of hostels/hotels, rushing around, and not really "seeing" things at all.
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 12:14 PM
  #8  
duh
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Duh, Rex, did you happen to read the post? The part which says it is a college student, making it almost impossible to rent a car -- and meaning that a rail pass becomes a great deal -- especially with more than one traveling together (note the "we").
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 12:21 PM
  #9  
Cat
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Definately do London! I love that city!
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 12:22 PM
  #10  
Rex
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Car is NOT a better choice if the itinerary is Paris to Brussels to Amsterdam to Cologne to Geneva to Lyon, back to Paris.

But of course, I would never recommend an "all-big-city" itinerary like that.

I'll be glad when this kind of senseless, cowardly, anonymous slamming is curbed.

Duh, your own self.
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 12:23 PM
  #11  
janis
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While I am reluctant to agree with someone named Duh , I have to. Rex - I would not usually recommend a rail pass but for college students it is a MUCH more realistic choice than renting or leasing cars. Many car firms will not rent to anyone under 25.
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 12:26 PM
  #12  
janis
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I didn't see rex's post as I was posting at the same time.

Well - Rex - I am not anonymous, nor cowardly. So now do you want to take me on? A car is a stupid suggestion for a college student.
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 12:33 PM
  #13  
Rex
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It is not a stupid suggestion. Have you traveled with a 21 year old college student? I have.

And of course, there will still be slamming. Just less senseless, anonymous slamming.

Your is neither of those adjectives. Though I do not understand your use of the word stupid. Any opinion with which you disagree is stupid?

Without knowing the number of travelers and the itinerary, it it is not realistic to advise car, versus point-to-point train travel, versus a rail pass - - despite how overpriced they tend to be.
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 12:35 PM
  #14  
Patrick
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Well, Margievil, I guess you can see that opinions vary and some are pretty firm about their beliefs. I think you're going to have to decide whether you prefer to see a lot of different cultures or concentrate on a couple. You'll also need to decide if you're looking for the things you'd find in big cities, or looking for the quaint and romantic of the countryside and smaller villages.

But one thing I am firm about. I can't imagine college kids doing this by car!! Bad idea, if even possible. Rail travel is great in Europe and in my opinion the only way to go in Europe and certainly the best if you want to cover a lot of territory, which I take it you do.
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 12:37 PM
  #15  
Patrick
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OOps. Did not mean to imply that rail travel is "the only way to go" in Europe, but rather that from what you have said it is the only way for college kids to do what you are suggesting.
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 12:41 PM
  #16  
a regular
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Let's let cry baby Rex have his way. We all know every rental agency is happy to rent to 21 year olds, right? Wrong!!!! I think Janice and Duh were being very moderate in their responses. Janice probably snapped when know-it-all Rex posted that basically anyone who disagrees with him is cowardly. I don't think I have ever seen her use words like "stupid" in any post so maybe she has just finally had enough, like the rest of us.
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 12:51 PM
  #17  
margievill
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thank you all for your suggestions. i will pass them on to my group. i want to see the countryside, but i think they're more inclined to see the cities. i'm the oldest, but i'm not 25, so i don't think we'll be using a car; however, i'll keep it in mind for the future. we will be spending most our time in london for a class, so i'll try to get them to narrow in on a few select countries that they have to see. thank you again.
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 01:02 PM
  #18  
Carol
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A little testy, today? Seems to me this site is for advice, various forms of it. There is no right or wrong and I'm sure margievill knows her/himself well enough to choose what is the most workable for the group.

To add my two cents worth: I agree that your initial plan is much too broad to really do more than say you were there, and not really experience the culture/people. I'd trim it down, going to highest priority region first. I prefer a general itinerary which is flexible to one that is so regimented that you are run by the clock.

In my youth I did the hitchhiking/eurailpass/youth hostel experience. I am very glad I did it and if I were young and on a tight budget again, I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. I was usually alone or with 1-2 other young people. I never tried this with a large group, but I suspect with each addition this choice would become exponentially more and more disagreeable.

That being said, the best way to see a country (IMHO) is by car, as you can stop whenever and where ever you care to. You can change your itinerary in the amount of time it takes you to brake, back up and choose the other fork in the road. If you're having a great time at a meal, or getting an individualized tour in some wine cellar you don't have to stop in the middle because you're going to miss your train.
La liberte de choix-the freedom of choice. That is what the car would provide.

Regardless, I'm sure you will have a memorable first experience.
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 01:06 PM
  #19  
Ira
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Hi Margievill,
You say you will be spending most of your time in London in classes. Does this mean that the London portion of your stay will be in classes or that you will be spending a lot of time in class?
If the latter, you don't have time to see it all.
May I suggest that this will not be your only trip to Europe, and that for this first trip, since you are starting in London, you tour the British Isles and Ireland?
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 01:11 PM
  #20  
another
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Margie: do you now mean you have a month INCLUDING the course time in London? If that is the case you will have to cut WAY back. I think we were all under the impression you had a month to travel. If you are only talking about a couple of weeks you will need to limit yourselves to one or at most two countries.

Carol: we all agree the best way to see most countries is by car. However, when one is a college student that is simply not practical in Europe. So drop it ALREADY. It sounds like margieville is sharp enough to figure that out.
 

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