Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page > First time to Europe, only speak English
Notices

First time to Europe, only speak English

Reply

Jul 6th, 2014, 08:08 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 3
First time to Europe, only speak English

I really want to take a trip to Europe this fall. I just finished grad school and wanted to give it to myself as a present.

I'll be traveling alone and plan to stay 7-10 days. I don't want to spend a fortune on lodging and meals.

My goal is to see as much of history as possible in this short time frame.

I was considering Rome and Florence so I can see the vatican, sistine chapel, uffizi etc.

Another thing I'd like to see is England and Scotland. I'd also like to see Germany, France and Greece.

I know I need to narrow it down to two cities in such a short time frame.

What would be good for a first timer that only speaks English?
tr7111 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 6th, 2014, 08:17 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,190
People dealing with tourists in any major city in these countries will speak English. It's the lingua franca in Western and Central Europe. If a Belgian, who doesn't speak Italian, goes to Italy he will speak English to communicate. Choose your country by what you want to see and forget the language.

I would go to Rome and Venice. Although I love Florence, Venice is very special.
adrienne is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 6th, 2014, 08:20 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 5,904
It all depends on your interests. You have listed well trodden places where you can get by on English. But is always polite to learn a few phrases of the language of the country you are visiting.
IMDonehere is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 6th, 2014, 08:26 PM
  #4
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 3
I really want to see the uffizi gallery in florence.

My main interest is seeing historical architecture. That's why I'm leaning towards Italy but I'm really not sure. I also would love to see some of the old castles in scotland.
tr7111 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 6th, 2014, 08:43 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,190
Rome and Florence will be an easier trip than the castles in Scotland as you'd need to rent a car.
adrienne is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 6th, 2014, 08:43 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 18,423
You can't go wrong with Italy as a first trip to Europe. Rome, Florence, Venice is a typical itinerary, but ten days would be a tad rushed given the arrival/departure days.

Sure you can't add another week? That would make it easier to see a lot more. I assume you'l be flying a long way to get there.

Don't worry about the language at all. I've done numerous solo trips to Europe with knowing the local languages. I do learn a few words or phrases when I travel but not much, and I've never had any major issue knowing only English. True, sometimes I run into a person who does not speak English, but if I am trying to check in to a hotel or something, we both know why I am there and therefore can figure things out. More than once I've checked into a place where we could not communicate at all in language, but somehow I managed to check in just fine and enjoy my stays.
Andrew is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 6th, 2014, 08:50 PM
  #7
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 3
I could probably do two weeks but I'm worried about how much it's going to cost me in food and lodging. Plus the fact that I'll be traveling alone makes two weeks seem pretty lonely. I dunno.

How many days would you want to spend in each city? Rome/Florence/Venice.

I really need to explore the vatican, ancient roman buildings, uffizi etc.
tr7111 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 6th, 2014, 08:59 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,190
You can find people to talk to and hang with. Lots of people travel solo and meet others, especially if you stay in hostels. Just start talking with people your age. I doubt you'll be lonely.

My first trip was for 3 weeks; I was 20 years old. I found lots of people doing the same thing and we chatted and traveled around together.

Rome - 5 days
Florence - 3 days
Venice - 2 days

Factor in travel time between cities.

Get a Let's Go guide book for Italy and learn how to travel on a budget.

In Italy it costs more money to sit at a table and eat/drink rather than stand up and even more to sit at a table outside. Often take out is the cheapest price. Bars are great places to get cheap lunches/snacks. Never eat in a restaurant near sights; walk a few blocks away for cheaper food.

Get cash from ATM machines rather than exchanging currency - much better exchange rate. Do not buy traveler's checks or those travel cards loaded with Euros. No need to buy Euros at home - get them at the airport in Italy and then any time you need more cash.

You've been a student and should know how to live inexpensively. It's not much different in Italy than at home.
adrienne is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 6th, 2014, 09:02 PM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 9,614
It's not difficult to learn some basic language - greetings, please, thank you etc. that will get you a long way as most people appreciate an attempt.

Read up on the uffizi before you go. I didn't, and as it turned out I really disliked a lot of the art in that particular gallery. My fault entirely.
cathies is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 6th, 2014, 09:13 PM
  #10
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 5,904
You will be thrilled with Italy. And you will hear more English near Il Duomo in Florence than Italian.

I would suggest you look at Time Out on line and in the paper versions for Rome. http://www.timeout.com/rome/.

And look at highly readable but well-researched and entertaining book about Il Duomo called Brunelleschi's Dome by Ross King.

Whatever you do, do not get Rick Steve's anything he has a superficial regard for art and architecture.

For history and good explanation of the sights look at the Michelin Green Guides. They are simply the best.
IMDonehere is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 6th, 2014, 09:22 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 18,423
IMDonehere: Whatever you do, do not get Rick Steve's anything he has a superficial regard for art and architecture.

You are welcome to your opinion, but I swear by Rick Steves for my travels to Europe. His books have been invaluable to me on numerous trips to Europe. It's true that I'm not an art major and don't spend the majority of my time in museums in Europe, but some travelers are like me.
Andrew is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 6th, 2014, 09:46 PM
  #12
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 5,904
The OP is specifically interested in history, art, and architecture and for a professional travel writer Little Ricky is embarrassingly superficial.

He is also a lazy writer in that he writes about this town or that and omits nearby places that are worthwhile.

I swear by Rick Steve's also.
IMDonehere is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 6th, 2014, 10:06 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 18,423
I'm a history buff myself, and I find Rick Steves's historical summaries of the places he covers adequate and accurate. I'm NOT an art buff, so I can't comment much on his museum walking tours, except to say they have been more than adequate for me when I visit museums. Rick Steves offers practical advice and pragmatic travel tips. I don't always agree with him, but I LIKE that he's subjective and suggests you see certain things and avoid others. Some travel books try to avoid saying anything negative about anything in a country they cover, and it's hard to know from reading them where I ought to spend time and where to avoid.
Andrew is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 6th, 2014, 10:33 PM
  #14
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 17,157
You can visit any of the places you mention (and MANY more!) without a working knowledge of a language other than English. Nonetheless, like others, I strongly encourage you to learn at least a few civilities -- they go a VERY long way.

Given your interests and time frame, I think honing in on just 2 cities would be perfect, and Rome and Florence would be a GREAT pair with which to begin your travel life!

You might find The Rough Guide and/or Lonely Planet helpful for planning your time -- they both provide good coverage of architecture and art, as well as a more comprehensive coverage of other things than most guidebooks. I'm with IMDonehere on Rick Steves's books -- I find them exceedingly thin (actually, appallingly thin) on the arts. JMO. Fodor's, Frommer's, and the Michelin Green Guides can be very helpful in identifying priorities, as they all provide ratings of sites. And you can probably get many of these books from your local library, so you can select one or two to buy and take notes from the others. It won't take all that long in comparison to preparing for any of your courses! (And congrats on finishing your degree!)

(An aside: Over the years, I've noted that Andrew almost always recommends less time in cities than I do, and I've often wondered whether that's because he relies on Rick Steves's guidebooks, rather than other guidebooks that provide better coverage. Just a thought....)
kja is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 6th, 2014, 10:47 PM
  #15
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 32,129
Could someone list a few of the local Scottish phrases one should learn please?
colduphere is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 6th, 2014, 10:55 PM
  #16
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 17,157
@ colduphere: "Haggis? Naw!"
kja is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 6th, 2014, 10:57 PM
  #17
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 18,423
kja: (An aside: Over the years, I've noted that Andrew almost always recommends less time in cities than I do, and I've often wondered whether that's because he relies on Rick Steves's guidebooks, rather than other guidebooks that provide better coverage. Just a thought....)

Oh, the reason I spend less time in some cities than you do must be because I'm a dumb, uneducated rube who reads Rick Steves, not because I happen to have a different travel style or interests than you have. I doubt me could understand all of them big words you educated folks use. Me like the Rick Steves!

Honestly, I have no idea why some of the posters on the Europe board are so incredibly snotty and intolerant of views they disagree with! If you have have travel books you like, why not recommend them and be done with it? Why the need to knock books/authors you don't like and posters you don't agree with???
Andrew is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 6th, 2014, 11:15 PM
  #18
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 17,157
@ Andrew -- Wow, Andrew, I don't know what to say! I was not trying to knock you or in any way criticize you. We disagree about Rick Steves's guidebooks; that's not news. I HAVE wondered whether our use of different guidebooks is part of the reason we differ in our recommendations. I don't think it is unreasonable for any of us to point out perceived limitations to guidebooks or any other resources; that's part of the subjective perspectives that all of us provide here, isn't it? I have also pointed out, on MANY occasions, that I agree with you about X or Y or Z-- and there are MANY times that we DO agree. While we have sometimes agreed, and sometimes disagreed, I can assure you that I have never intentionally "knocked" you (or any other poster). I voiced my opinion about guidebooks, as you did; and then I raised what I thought was a legitimate question. Period. And yes, of course, having different interests is a very plausible reason for our differing recommendations. And thank goodness people do differ in their interests! Life would be AWFULLY boring if we all thought the same things, wouldn't it? And isn't it a GOOD thing that people -- you and I and others -- bring different perspectives to the table? Seriously, Andrew - I intended no offense.
kja is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 7th, 2014, 12:39 AM
  #19
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 5,904
Cold

As you probably know the Scots forgot to conquer Italy and during WWII looted all the Scots paintings from the Uffizi obviating the need to learn to a learn the language while in Florence.
IMDonehere is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 7th, 2014, 12:40 AM
  #20
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 7,722
OP, just remember: if they don't understand you, speak louder.
sparkchaser is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:00 AM.