First Time to Europe Tips

Mar 24th, 2007, 01:05 PM
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Fall (September) is actually high-season in Italy. Late Fall can be November and by then it's cold in London and Italy. Cheap/spur of the moment might not fit after you pay for airfare - Europe is expensive. The USD isn't worth much compared to the Euro and definitely not to the GPS. Hotels will run at minimum $200/nt, then the meals even at inexpensive local restaurants in neighborhoods off the regular tourist routes.

Figure out for how long in Europe; your budget for hotels, meals, tours/entry fees, transportation, souvenirs, etc. Then, I'm sure you will get more specific ideas.
Mar 24th, 2007, 01:27 PM
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Hi RG,

For a first time visit to Europe I suggest fly into London and out of Paris.

My second choice is Paris and Paris.

Third is Venice and Florence.

ira is offline  
Mar 24th, 2007, 01:31 PM
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In Rome, I suggest checking out a convent. The one I stayed in was like a small hotel and was very nice. Nothing fancy but clean and nice. It had a 11:00PM curfew so not too many young people..mostly couples. THe Santa Susanna web page has a section that lists convents you can stay in. Since you're not planning a summer trip, you won't need AC (which they don't have)
Fibonacci2358 is offline  
Mar 24th, 2007, 01:32 PM
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,..USD isn't worth's cold in minimum $200...expensive food...

Don't listen to her, none of that is true (well, there's expensive food but you don't HAVE to eat it). November is lovely 50F or so time to visit because few crowds with small drawback of short days; I always travel Thanksgiving in Europe. You know about Priceline and $80 hotel rooms, you know tips about eating cheap. But I don't think you're traveling "cheap," you just want to save a buck on the airfare. And the dollar is NOT worthless against the Euro and Sterling, it goes up and down and doesn't keep even budget travelers away. And OP is not hysterical about the exchange rate anyway.

Above poster is way off base and seems to be advising you to stay home.
Fidel is offline  
Mar 24th, 2007, 01:34 PM
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sorry, I was referring to third post know where I mean.
Fidel is offline  
Mar 25th, 2007, 08:29 AM
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RE: Fidel's mention of Thanksgiving.

Have been to Paris over our big holiday and definitely would travel to Europe then again.

Some advantages: almost no US business travel going on it seems. And Americans traveling that weekend seem to be staying close to family at home. So you'll find good airline offers and possibly even some offers at hotels. If you haven't made plans by the end of summer, start watching then for bargains. Take advantage of Air France, Alitalia and other airline website:; register now, and they'll send you offers when they have low booking periods.

There's a relaxed quality to travel in late autumn, even if weather is chillier. You're midway between the end of and real tourist crowds and the holiday rush. People in European capitals, from those in the hospitality industry to those on the street, have begun to recover from the onslaught of the previous season and seem glad to see you!

Of course, April.May and Sept/Oct are great times to be almost anywhere. Otherwise, I'd gladly take the possible chill and relative lack of crowds of November over the heat and mob scene that can be July and August.

Thanksgiving in Europe? Sign me up.

And here's a bonus: you can knock out some Christmas shopping for a few special people. Also I was inspired once by some beautiful Parisian postcards of winter scenes - scribbled notes to half my Christmas card list while enjoying my morning coffee or a glass of wine later: a two-bird-one-stone project.

A final note in praise of Thanksgiving - the week before is when the Beaujolais Nouveau arrivees, so if you happen to choose France as a destination, people seem to be in a particularly light-hearted mood.
tomassocroccante is offline  
Mar 25th, 2007, 10:22 AM
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Hotel minimums are not "at least $200" in Europe...we are not paying more than $110 any night at any of the places (mostly B&Bs) that come highly rated here and elsewhere and include a heavy-duty breakfast to boot!

Half the fun is in the research, raleighgirl. Even tho DH doesn't want to be involved when he sees your excitement about your discoveries, I bet the travel bug will nip at him too.

Best of luck and have fun figuring it all out!!
vanw is offline  
Mar 26th, 2007, 05:56 AM
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Indeed - i am by necessity a low low budget traveler - just returned from a month and my average hotel bill was about 35 euros or $50 - of course this was winter but still the $200/night myth floated by such entities as the NYTimes Travel Section is just that.

Try B&Bs - everywhere now to cut costs and gain an insight into local culture you won't get staying at the Hilton.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 26th, 2007, 06:18 AM
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Advantage for London is there are usually more transatlantic flights so theoreticall you can get a better bargain on airfare. Also museums and many attractions (eg changing of the guards) are free of charge. It is also possible to eat relatively cheap if you avoid expensive restaurants. Hotel bills can be steep though there are enough budget accomodations.

Paris is beautiful, esp in fall. Though airport can be less user-friendly than other cities. London-Paris are easy two-city combination with Eurostar. Though there are many budget airlines within Europe, which makes it easy to add Italy (just watch out for low-cost airlines frequant usage of less convenient airports and their punitive luggage policy).

I like October best--remember you will have less sunlight once we move the clock back.
W9London is offline  
Mar 26th, 2007, 07:15 AM
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If you are going to take a mobile (or buy pre paid SIM card in europe for your mobile phone (euro standard mobile) then programme the ambulance and police once in the country. In UK its 999 in others it is others. If nothing else check in the $20 dollar guide book and note the numbers down
bilboburgler is online now  
Mar 27th, 2007, 04:16 PM
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As usual, you all have given wonderful advice. I have some Italian heritage and would love to spend a month in Italy (I say a month because it seems like it would take that long to see everything but I know it would probably take several trips) but lack of money, time and language skills prevents me from taking "my dream trip". Your posts about Italy make it sound like the most fabulous country on earth. So much beautiful scenery, warm people, great food, fabulous sites, etc. etc. London is so expensive right now, but also a place I have always wanted to go. I have alot to think about - but you are right - planning is half of the fun. Thanks to your travel expertise,I'm sure I'll make it to Europe soon.
RaleighGirl is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 06:06 PM
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London is fun and England is beautiful. We love Paris. However, if I could have seen only one country in my life, it would be Italy. I would choose it regardless of language, no matter how cheap a hotel I had to stay in, etc. Food, Art, Architecture, history, landscape; it has it all. We have been there March & April, July, September & late October. Just go - whenever you can. If you can stay three or four days in Rome, look into renting an apartment. If you want some web sites, I can send them. There are also some very nice hotels in the $130.00 to $150.00 range and we've stayed for much less in basic B&Bs. Florence isn't that far by train. You could also see a bit of Tuscany. I would not miss Venice and hate to save save it for another trip, but the worst flooding is late October through November, making it difficult to see things if you don't know your way around. You might be lucky though and have a time with less flooding. Italy is amazing. Go and enjoy. Sassy
Sassafrass is offline  
Mar 28th, 2007, 06:20 AM
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Indeed i just stayed for a week in a B&B in London for a whopping 20 pounds a night, with breakfast. It was a 20-minute commute by train from central London but the B&B was right by a train station. Clean and i was the only one there so had a private bathroom to boot. So don't cross out London because of the world's most expensive hotels - there are other options.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 07:40 AM
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I often stay in B&Bs now in Europe and not only save tons of bucks but it's like moving into the neighborhood - a much more personal type of accommodation. Just Google the city and B&Bs to be linked to thousands.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 07:26 AM
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I have done a little research on cell phones for Europe through Verizon. This is what a Verizon representative told me yesterday: From the states, you can rent a cell phone that will work in Europe. It is $4 per day rental fee and $1.30 per minute to send or receive any call. There is no activation fee. The charges are added to your current bill as a current Verizon customer. The rented cell phone uses your current phone number, and the number is canceled from the rented phone when you turn it back in to Verizon after your trip is complete. You have to sign up for the international phone and service ahead of time, and it take 2-3 days to receive the rented phone in the mail, so that delay needs to be worked in to your travel schedule.
travel_novice is offline  
Apr 13th, 2007, 06:35 PM
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Thank you so much for the info regarding the Verizon phone. I've taken the advice of several posters and I made airline reservations today for London in May. Now, I get to start the fun part. I'm currently researching the forum for the best approach to finding a moderately priced hotel in Central London. I really haven't had a chance to read the London posts yet because I just found a great deal today on airline tickets and purchased them on the spur of the moment. I do have a couple of guidebooks that are a couple of years old but I will purchase a current one before I go. I'm looking forward to reading your trip reports from London. This is my first adventure to Europe. I'm really excited but a little apprehensive. At least we speak the language, although communication may still be difficult with my Southern accent. (Just kidding).
RaleighGirl is offline  
Apr 14th, 2007, 03:52 AM
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For a first timer to Europe the site is a good introduction.
hopscotch is offline  
Apr 14th, 2007, 08:15 AM
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I don't think you need to buy new guidebooks. Unless you are using them for things like hotel prices or restaurant recommendations, which may have changed in a few years. All the basic tourist sight-seeing information would be OK for planning purposes.
suze is offline  
Apr 14th, 2007, 10:34 AM
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we're planning the same sort of thing you are, although ours was 3 months in advance rather than one. Although I haven't been there yet, so I hope other posters will correct me if I'm wrong, but we got a great hotel deal on the south bank. It has the london eye, and it close to buckingham palace. I've looked into the London Underground and it seems a very accessible way to get around. Either way, have a great trip and enjoy the planning of it.

sbmarti2 is offline  
Apr 14th, 2007, 01:47 PM
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Shawn, how does one go about getting a good deal on a hotel in London? I'm more concerned about the hotel being located close to tube/bus stops as long as the price it right. I've looked at several web sites. I've even tried Priceline but was rejected after several bids. I currently have a reservation at the Marriott Hotel Regents Park for less than $200 US but I'm pretty sure I can do better.
RaleighGirl is offline  

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