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First time travelling to Europe, requesting suggestions

First time travelling to Europe, requesting suggestions

Old Sep 2nd, 2023, 06:05 AM
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Like others who posters here, sudhaeci, I have some questions, but I'm also excited for you. Oh, to be young and exploring Europe for the first time!

1. What time of year are you visiting? As others have said, winter in Switzerland and summer in Switzerland are two different animals. Paris, not so much. I fell in love with Paris in the dead of winter, and I've fallen in love with every other Paris season since. It's my favorite "don't do anything, just walk" place ever.

2. Are your "To Paris/From Paris" flights locked in stone? If it's too expensive to change, then don't worry! We'll all help. Who knows? Your return trip to Paris might work timing wise for sights you missed on your arrival. You don't need to be locked into rail trips. Often, cheap flights fill gaps. Check and compare.

3. What is it that you want to see in Switzerland? Everyone wants to see something different, even if they don't think they do. EXAMPLE: I wanted to see the Eiger (OMG, I LOVED the movie Eiger Sanction for some reason), I wanted to walk an Alps trail and eat Swiss bread and cheese like Heidi (both the original book and Shirley Temple version), and I wanted to see The Chateau de Chillon because of the Bryon poem The Prisoner of Chillon. I got to see more when we finally went, but I can report that my night at Kleine Scheidegg looking at the Eiger, my hiking repasts of cheese, chocolate and bread, and the actual hikes lived up to every expectation. The Chateau de Chillon was a bust, but I loved our boats and trains and funiculars around Lake Geneva anyway.

4. You seem to have made it clear that you a) want to see Paris and something of Switzerland and b) want to branch out into other areas of Europe. What third and then fourth area fulfill your trip vision? Is it another part of France that you have in your mind? Was there something about Amsterdam that drew you? In other words, lean into your dreams.

I wish you every bit of enjoyment in this planning stage. Get rid of FOMO, because there is no one perfect trip, and ditch naysayers. This is YOUR adventure.

AZ

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Old Sep 2nd, 2023, 06:28 AM
  #22  
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Wow, what a helpful forum with amazing people!

Thanks everyone for your kind replies and I'm finding useful tips in each of your replies.

My flight to & fro Paris is booked [November] due to the budget and next time, I'll defintely book very much in advance for the multi-city flight. The ones I saw when I booked were much dearer.

And I'm planning to return to Paris to cover whatever I couldn't visit during my initial stay.

I'm used to long journeys as I travel on my motorcycle for thousands of Ks across weeks. So train journey between countries shouldn't be a problem as I still get to watch out the windows [hopefully] and enjoy the landscapes.

And to be precise about the cities I would love to visit are;
Paris -> Interlaken [I love mountains as I hike up Himalayas whenever I visit India & Nepal], jungfraujoch and Zermatt if possible -> Rome for its history and architecture. If time permits, I wanted to visit Amsterdam and there is no specific reason but going with recommendations from friends. So if I need to take train from Rome to Amsterdam, I thought why not stop at Munich for a day or two. Please correct if this sounds stupid.

I'm happy to take all suggestions and feedbacks so I can revisit my plan to make adjustments.

Thanks again & happy weekend.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2023, 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by tomboy
The original poster is an Aussie.
He wants to see England......yet it's culture is much like Australia, but greener. Does he really want travel to be not much different than home?
He wants to see Switzerland....no tall mountains in Oz? He'll find they don't look much different in real life than in photos; I once drove down the mountain from St Moritz, thinking it was much like a gravel pit back home, only bigger, and more of a slope. Also MUCH more costly
He wants to see big citiesl......yet I find one big European city to be much like a big American city
The differences in culture are more to be found in the hinterlands.
As someone who has lived in Australia and visited England, I can say they're more different than alike. And even they weren't who cares?

Comparing Australia's mountains - the highest at 2,228 meters - to Switzerland's 208 mountains over 3,000 meters is like comparing apples to oranges.

And comparing American cities to European cities - not even close IME.

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Old Sep 3rd, 2023, 08:43 AM
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I think you may be eating up valuable time with some of your suggested routings, especially by train, but it's YOUR train hours, not ours. Again, it's your adventure. I'm content on long train journeys because I always carry a Kindle loaded with four books; my very active husband goes crazy when any journey goes beyond two hours. You be you.

No matter what, I'd cut Rome, not only for the ridiculous travel time but also for your ability to appreciate it in the short time you will have. There is an advantage to having contiguous travel experiences, and in your routing, Rome becomes an outlier. In a future trip, Rome-Florence-Venice and more becomes a realistic trip--and even that routing involves a jam-packed schedule.

So to realistic from my point of view:
I don't know how you'll route it, but if I were you with your two stops in Paris and November weather, I'd KEEP Amsterdam, especially since you are drawn to it. I consider Amsterdam to be a unique city, one easily experienced in multiple layers and ways, and one does not need tulips to appreciate it. Daytrips from there are wonderful. If you are into art, the Mauritshuis in easy-to-get to Den Hague is better than all the art museums in Amsterdam--and that's saying something.

And I'd certainly stop by Brussels then whenever you're doing a Paris-Amsterdam train run. Its Grand Place is a spit from Central Station, and seeing it is a weather-proof experience where the architecture wow pays immediately. If you only stop for a beer there, you'll get a payback.

You can stop at other places along the way if you like.

Other thoughts:

I have no idea of what Interlocken and travel into the higher elevations is like in November. I bow to experts for that. But while I was wishy-washy on Interlocken even at the height of summer (other than always being amazed by the perfect intersection of all Swiss means of travel there), I ADORED Berne. It's another place I'd consider to be a "weather-proof" destination. Our entire family still talks about the "wow" factor of climbing a tower and overlooking all those red roofs.

Unless you plan to travel further south (you already saw my opinion on Rome), cross out Zermatt.

Zurich was kind of fun, and that just might work within your possible routing with a need to get back to Paris, either by train or plane; however, I do believe Munich becomes an outlier destination for sure.

You know by now to map out your journey times vs your "on the ground times". It's the super tough homework assignment of all travel. Good luck!

AZ
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Old Sep 3rd, 2023, 09:04 AM
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I missed the reference to November...November isn't a good time of year in the Swiss Alps - many cable cars are closed as that's when they do maintenance before ski season. The weather can also be hit and miss. We have visited in November a few times, but we were fine with closures, as we're frequent visitors. Hotels and restaurants in holiday areas also close down to give their staff a break between seasons.

If you're committed to November, you'll definitely need to plan well in Switzerland.

And FWIW, Interlaken definitely wouldn't be my choice in the Berner Oberland. It's an unattractive small city. Go UP to Wengen, Murren or Grindelwald.

And a Eurail pass isn't much help in Switzerland.

Last edited by Melnq8; Sep 3rd, 2023 at 09:08 AM.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2023, 10:25 AM
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I missed the November bit as well. With the shorter days and much iffier weather, with 20 days (meaning 17+ days on the ground) - I'd pick 3 major cities. Any three would work one way or another. You can fly or take trains between the three cities depending on which you choose. IF you've booked flights in/out of Paris then of course Paris is a given - but I would put all the Paris days at the end. Fly in to CDG and immediately fly or take a train to your first destination -- whether it is Rome or Barcelona or Amsterdam or where ever . . . Then fly or take the train to city #2. And end up in Paris before flying home.

This would give you 14 or 15 days for three major cities plus three travel days in between.
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Old Sep 4th, 2023, 04:58 PM
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I don't think that a side trip to Rome is a good plan. You can easily spend 20 days in France alone but you can begin in Paris and then train up to Amsterdam and back to Paris. There is much to see and do in Amsterdam and day trips to the Hague would certainly be a possibility. In France if you didn't want to go that far afield from Paris you can do a trip to Rouen or farther by train to Bayeux and tour the Normandy battle sites but there are lots of options in France as well. Bayeux is a very charming town.
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Old Sep 4th, 2023, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by sudhaeci
So if I need to take train from Rome to Amsterdam, I thought why not stop at Munich for a day or two. Please correct if this sounds stupid.

.
First you need a kind person with a couch to talk you off that ledge.

So let's think about this for a bit

Paris to Amsterdam. Or Paris to London. Or Paris to Cologne. All easy enough.

Paris to Munich? More effort. More money. You're not flying open jaw for budget reasons and you're taking long relatively expensive train trips?

If you want to go from Paris to Rome you fly. Look at Easyjet or Vueling. You'll save money and time.

You can easily bounce around Europe on the various low cost airlines. Book an early flight and you'll be in the next city before lunch. Keep to carry on luggage and it won't cost much.

If you're set on the train look at the nearby pairings. Don't be crossing four borders with four train changes.

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Old Sep 4th, 2023, 07:48 PM
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I have been to europe 6 times. One of those trips was the Netherlands and Northern Belgium. The other trips were one country per trip. I only got 10 business days off work for each trip. I traveled solo. You mentioned Paris and Switzerland as your priorities. You might want to focus on just those two countries. Those two countries will work good because they boarder each other.

Last edited by michaelpianko; Sep 4th, 2023 at 07:48 PM. Reason: Spelling correction
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Old Sep 6th, 2023, 03:00 AM
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You are rushing it buddy, I would suggest you to visit your prioritized countries first. Europe is a big Continent. Take your time and Enjoy it.
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Old Sep 6th, 2023, 03:58 PM
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Thank you everyone for your valuable comments. I've decided to go with 3 countries for now [France, Switzerland & Italy] and only visiting a very few cities/places in a relaxed pace. I'll just need to start preparing for the travel passes and itinerary info now.
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Old Sep 6th, 2023, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by sudhaeci
Thank you everyone for your valuable comments. I've decided to go with 3 countries for now [France, Switzerland & Italy] and only visiting a very few cities/places in a relaxed pace. I'll just need to start preparing for the travel passes and itinerary info now.
I am guessing you mean Eurail passes. If so, look at how much it costs to go point-to-point overall and compare it with the cost of the pass. Eurail passes often are not the deal they once were.
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Old Sep 7th, 2023, 07:31 AM
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The advice from Janis bears repeating. A multi-destination airline ticket, researched through a multi-city function, could save significant time. It probably won't be much more expensive, and removes the costs of returning to your arrival airport. But it must be booked on an inclusive itinerary, not pasted together with one-way tickets.
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Old Sep 7th, 2023, 08:05 AM
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NOTE: OP has now settled on a plan and started a new thread about their specific itinerary. Probably best if we post any new comments on the new thread . . . here Requesting information on Paris - Interlaken - Rome Train travel

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Old Sep 7th, 2023, 08:21 AM
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As noted above, there is a new thread so we are closing this topic to new posts.
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