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hdswofford Jul 5th, 2014 09:21 AM

First time trip
Fellow Travelers:
I need recommendations on a first time trip to either the British Isles or the European Continent. I have so many places I would like to go. I don't know if I need to try and just make this first trip minor sightseeing expedition and hit several places or really settle in somewhere and enjoy that location. I am not opposed to Western or Central Europe. I am just excited to start planing and go. I am still in Grad school and working full time right so I am little limited on time and will probably be restricted to 8-10 days max. Need the seasoned travelers minds and wisdom. Thanks!!

janisj Jul 5th, 2014 09:32 AM

You need to narrow things down just a <i>little</i> or no one can give useful suggestions. Hundreds of different people will have hundreds of different ideas.

Are you from a country that requires a visa to visit the UK or Europe/Schengen?

When are you thinking of traveling -- time of year can make a HUGE difference where you might want to visit.

W/ just 8 or 10 days you need to pick one country and maybe 2 or 3 places in that country - or - a couple of cities (up to three if you have 10 days) in different countries.

You need to help us a bit before we can help you. Do you have any guidebooks?

PalenQ Jul 5th, 2014 09:37 AM

Way too wide and open ended question for a meaningful response.

What places are at the top of your list?

What are you interests?

In 8-10 days you may want to do just two mega tourist cities - like London and Paris and take the Eurostar high-speed train that goes under the Channel in the Channel Rail Link Tunnel and take only about two hours now.

Or Paris and Amsterdam (gorgeous city but also one that is a mecca for folks you age - some of whom come for legal sales of cannabis in a few hundred coffeeshops, in which you can smoke with many others.

So it depends on what your interests are - what time of year is also important - weather can be a factor.

Trains are the way to go for any short trip most likely involving major cities like the three I mention - could easily do all three if into rushing around - anyway for a good fix on European trains I always spotlight these superb sites -; (download their excellent and free onliine European Planning & Rail Guide for lots of places to go by rail; and

So for any meaningful response you must give much more info - time of year - interests (mountains or museums?) (castles or beaches?), etc.

hdswofford Jul 5th, 2014 09:44 AM

I have not started with guide books but I been looking at Fodors Website trying to narrow things down and read some recent blogs from other travelers. I am from US and all my travel has been to the neighboring countries,Central America and Carribean islands. I considered Prague initially but wasn't sure about the full time in and around that area. I considered train connections between cities and changing to London, Paris, Rome. I have also some people do the Paris to Prague train but I think it's not direct. It's difficult to start planning. What do you know about train travel?

bilboburgler Jul 5th, 2014 09:46 AM

I'd chose 2 bases max. If the whole English concerns you then I'd limit it myself to Ireland, UK or perhaps the Netherlands. Bases could be London and Dublin/Edinburgh/Amsterdam. If English is not a concern (though you will find it at most place) then look at Paris and Strasbourg or Rome and Venice

NewbE Jul 5th, 2014 10:10 AM

IMO, you could survey the UK somewhat comprehensively in 10 days, with the obvious caveat that you could spend years in London alone and not see all it has to offer. So I would suggest choosing either the UK or the continent and then going from there.

But a lot depends on what calls to you.

hdswofford Jul 5th, 2014 10:20 AM

Thanks for the suggestions so far. I know the original question was very broad. I am starting to lean toward train travel between cities.

Any pros/cons on flying in and out same city vs different cities or would you end up back in same place to round trip out?

And anyone done overnight train travel? Best way to cut down on time or no?

annhig Jul 5th, 2014 10:21 AM

are you prepared to do an "open jaw" flight [into one place, out of another, often called multi-city on airline websites] or do you want to have a return flight into and out of the same place?BTW, contrary to popular opinion, the cost shouldn't be very different - you are NOT booking two singles, which would be much dearer.

that can affect what you do, as it is much more time efficient a) to keep all your nights in one place together and b) to stay in the place that you are flying out of, last. so the classic "fly into Rome, spend 3 nights there, get the train to Florence, spend 3 nights there, then get the train to Venice and spend 2 nights there and back to Rome for the last night" is not the best idea. Far better to fly into Venice and out of Rome, but if you have to fly into and out of Rome, it is better to go straight to venice when you arrive, then work your way back to Rome for the end of your trip.

that's just an example of course, but it can affect where you choose to go. for example, if you chose London and Paris, with a eurostar train connection half-way through the trip, it would be much better to fly into one and out of the other, rather than to have to do the train journey twice. In places like London [obviously] Paris and Amsterdam language shouldn't be a problem - english is widely spoken and they are used to tourists. Also you will not run out of things to see and do.

for more than you could possibly need to know about train travel, go to - they can answer most of your questions. but if you are not familiar with train travel, I would suggest keeping it simple - no complicated changing of trains, just direct trains, point to point.

StCirq Jul 5th, 2014 10:23 AM

You're talking about a part of the world that has at least 50 countries, so you seriously need to start narrowing this down before anyone can help at all. Since you ask, there are loads of people here who know a lot about train travel, but again, we'd need to know what country or countries are involved. 8-10 days is actually a very short trip, so you'll need to make the most of it.

Get serious with a bunch of guidebooks and maps and the internet and come up with a proposed plan or two. THEN, and only then, can anyone offer you guidance.

hdswofford Jul 5th, 2014 11:04 AM

Everyone, thank you. I will work narrowing things down a bit and get back to you. I know it was a terribly broad question but I do appreciate the input. I do like the idea of flying in and out of separate locations. I think that will save travel time.
Thank you again.

nytraveler Jul 5th, 2014 12:02 PM

If you are interested in Prague you can easily pair it with Berlin - and get a taste of two places with lower prices, lots of nightlife and popular with younger people. In the limited time you have - and especially for a first trip - I wuold not do more than 2 cities.

Remember - you are talking about 2 countries with entirely different languages, cultures and way s of doing thins that you will have to get used to.

If you want more traditional biggies do London (no language issues and less culture shock) and Paris. This will be more expensive but will also have more recognizable major sights. (P and B have an incredible amount to see/do and the average non traveler won;t have heard of most of them).

For us to really help you, you need to tell us:

Time of year

Your major interests (if you want hiking/active the responses will be totally different than museums/major sights)

Budget - the $ is low versus the euro and pound - so everything is more expensive than the US - but some places are outrageously so

And definitely do open jaw flights - no more expensive and save time

hdswofford Jul 5th, 2014 01:20 PM

I love Seat61 site. Thanks for that recommendation annhig and PalenQ

PalenQ Jul 5th, 2014 03:53 PM

And anyone done overnight train travel? Best way to cut down on time or no?>

Done zillions of overnight trains and love them - saves time and money on a night in a hotel other accommodation. Paris to Venice is one possible - Paris to Munich another and Paris to several places in France itself or London to Scotland.

Amsterdam to Berlin or Zurich or Vienna or Munich for example.

can get some nice cheap fares if you book on national rail sites weeks in advance and are willing to use multi-person unisex couchettes. Private compartments can be quite pricey - the web sites I gave you have lots on overnight trains.

If a light sleeper however be leery - arriving early in the morning in a new city wiped out is NO fun.

PalenQ Jul 6th, 2014 09:23 AM

Any pros/cons on flying in and out same city vs different cities or would you end up back in same place to round trip out?>

Well unless the extra expense is prohibitive it usually pays to fly into one city and out of another so you do not have to circle back.

but if your trip is in a circle then it is kind of nice coming back to a city you already know and an airport you already know.

but a liner trip is great for the so-called Open Jaw ticket - into say London then out of Rome, Spain, Munich, etc.

suze Jul 6th, 2014 09:34 AM

In the early planning stages, like you are, and wide open to suggesions, I think guidebooks are a lot more helpful than the internet. I'd check out a few from the library.

For 8-10 days for myself I'd pick two cities. Fly into one, home from the other, and connect them by train.

Or just go to Prague!

The internet is great for detailed research once you know where you're going, but I find it too overwhelming at the intial planning stage.

annhig Jul 6th, 2014 09:46 AM

suze makes a good point. like her I find books are more informative in the early stages. your local library may have some that will help.

PalenQ Jul 6th, 2014 03:17 PM

but a liner trip is great for the so-called Open Jaw ticket - into say London then out of Rome, Spain, Munich, etc.>

Oops typo - meant to say "but a linear trip" -= that in a kind of straight line and did not mean cruise liner trip.

AJPeabody Jul 6th, 2014 04:22 PM

If you are not used to jet lag and travel minutiae, London is a great first stop. Since it is also a transportation hub, your other place could be anywhere. If you have any foreign language facility, go with it.

PalenQ Jul 7th, 2014 08:17 AM

Yes London has a big plus for folks not speaking a local language in Continental countries - get your feet wet without a language barrier (well....)

AJPeabody Jul 7th, 2014 03:54 PM

Yes, the British language is not American English. Just ask for a napkin at a restaurant!

suze Jul 7th, 2014 04:06 PM

Oh please, I could understand my French-speaking friends in Switzerland better than I could understand her husband London born & bred.

nytraveler Jul 7th, 2014 07:02 PM

I flew back from Dublin to NYC seated next to 2 young Irish men and we had (apparently) a new to international FA. They spilled something and were asking desperately for a serviette - and she didn't have a clue. I said "napkin" - they looked mortified, she gave them a couple and I explained that in the US there is no such word as serviette.

And the thing you put on a baby is a diaper. (I guess if one were desperate and out of diapers one could try a cloth napkin - if you had one - as a temporary solution - but it wouldn't work for very long. I mean a large napkin sort of looks like a cloth diaper - but nothing like a Pampers.)

annhig Jul 8th, 2014 04:39 AM

Yes, the British language is not American English. Just ask for a napkin at a restaurant!>>

In fact, "napkin" IS the proper english word for "serviette" - the queen I'm sure refers to the cloth that she puts on her lap as a napkin.

and you put it in a napkin ring - no-one would say "serviette" ring - though you'd be unlikely to put a serviette in one anyway as they are usually paper.

and everyone calls what you put on a baby's bottom a nappy.

LucyStanmore Jul 8th, 2014 04:51 AM

I would recommend you to visit maximum 3 cities, so that you have time to see the main attractions in every one of them. How about Copenhagen, Amsterdam and/or Brussels or if you are looking for warmer cities, you could go for Rome and Barcelona.

bilboburgler Jul 8th, 2014 06:42 AM

serviette, is that like a little service?

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