First Trip to Europe

Old Apr 20th, 2013, 04:30 PM
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First Trip to Europe

We are starting to plan our first trip to Europe this December and are overwhelmed with all the options we have. Our options include; London, Paris, Milan, Venice, and Rome, but Paris is non-negotiable. We are foodies, shoppers, and like museums and art. For London, I feel it would be a good transition into Europe (as there is no language barrier, although I can speak French pretty well), and there is the Big Ben, Hyde Park, and shopping on Bond streets and Harrods. For Milan, they have excellent shopping and the Duomo, as well as being a good travel base to the rest of Italy. In Venice, they have the unique canals, aqua alta, and there isn't much like it in the world. And Lastly for Rome, they have the ancient temples, the Roman Forum, The Colosseum, great food, and good shopping. We will be going for 10-14 days (including travel time), and won't have time for all the destinations. I planned on staying in Paris for 5-7 days (including travel days), but don't know about the rest. Thanks in advance for all your help.

-lhenry
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Old Apr 20th, 2013, 04:35 PM
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Is there a question there, ihenry?
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Old Apr 20th, 2013, 04:44 PM
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Sorry, my question is, I know that I can't cram 5 cities into 2 weeks (at the most), what is the best combination to see Europe for the first time?
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Old Apr 20th, 2013, 04:57 PM
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Also, I was wondering what the best way to exchenage $ for euros? What has the most fees?
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Old Apr 20th, 2013, 04:58 PM
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* exchange
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Old Apr 20th, 2013, 04:58 PM
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The good thing for travel in December are your likes: food, shopping, museums, and art. Europe is your oyster. Do Paris, Milan, and Rome. (Venice is best done by better weather; and while any of your chosen destinations might be gloomy in that period, London will be gloomiest). Keep Milan ultra-short though, because it is not that spectacular. Unless you really, really want to see London; if so, London, Paris, Rome.
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Old Apr 20th, 2013, 05:05 PM
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Even in gloomy December, I'd do London, Paris, and Rome. Lots of indoor ops in all those cities.
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Old Apr 20th, 2013, 05:10 PM
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Would 3 countries in 10-14 days be too much? What would be an ideal breakdown of days?
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Old Apr 20th, 2013, 05:17 PM
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If you have 10 days just do London and Paris. If you have a full 14 days (not counting the day you arrive and the day you depart) you could do Paris and a very quick look at Italy. But if it were me I would still do London and Paris.

And yes, in 10 days 3 cities is too much - esp in December when days are short and many sights may be open shorter hours - rather than extended hours they are open in midsummer.
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Old Apr 20th, 2013, 06:30 PM
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How about:

(Not Including Arrival and Departure days)

2-3 days in London

5 days in Paris

3 Days in Rome
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Old Apr 20th, 2013, 07:59 PM
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If you're arriving in London after a long, overnight flight, you'll probably be jetlagged for a day or two. So 2 days in London would pass with you in a mental fog. And there's lots to see in and around London.

So I agree, stick to London and Paris, especially given the short days in December. Or see if you can wangle more time.

BTW the best way to travel between London and Paris is by the Eurostar train under the Channel. It only takes about 2.5 hours. You can save a lot by buying the tickets early, as soon as they are available.

And fly open jaws (multi-city) into London, out of Paris or Rome. This should cost about the same as round-trip and save you the time and expense to backtrack.
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Old Apr 20th, 2013, 08:26 PM
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Whichever city you hit first needs an extra day or two just for the jet lag + acclimating. Plus London is ENORMOUS - much larger than Paris or Rome so w/ 10 days I'd do 5.5 in London and 4 in Paris (you need to account for travel time between the two). W/ 14 days I'd probably do 5.5-6 days in London, 4-4.5 days in Paris and 4-ish in Rome.
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Old Apr 21st, 2013, 01:24 AM
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"I was wondering what the best way to exchenage $ for euros?"

You'll need £'s in London not the Euro.
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Old Apr 21st, 2013, 06:00 AM
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And the best way to get Euro or Pounds is to use the ATM. Don't use an exchange, it is more expensive.
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Old Apr 21st, 2013, 03:10 PM
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Thank you for your help so far, but the other members in my party really want to see Italy. I'm leaning towards spending more time, as I want to see all 3 countries. Milan and Venice will have to wait until next time, as Rome is far too interesting. Would an ATM be cheaper than a Visa Debit Card? Also, Is there a maximum (dollar, euro, pound) amount one can take back? Maximum VAT Refund?

P.S. Would it be better to take a plane from Paris to Rome, as the train would take too long?
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Old Apr 22nd, 2013, 07:35 AM
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I assume your Visa debit card deducts directly from your bank account. In which case, you use it in an ATM. How cheap it is depends on the issuing bank; the banks in Europe do not charge for ATM withdrawals. My credit union debit card charges no transaction fee and an exchange rate of only 1% over the interbank rate.

For use in Europe, your card should have, on the back, the logo of one or more of the interbank networks, like Cirrus, Plus, etc. (And don't use a credit card for cash except in an emergency; interest is charged starting immediately.)

Not quite clear on your next question. You want to know the maximum foreign funds you can bring into the US?

Re: transport between Paris and Rome, there's a night train from Paris Gare de Lyon to Rome, leaving at 7:14 PM, arriving at 10:12. The day trains take at least 10 hours with a minimum of 1 change. But I'd fly Easyjet from Paris Orly to Rome -- as long as you're not carrying lots of heavy bags, which Easyjet will charge for. Orly airport is smaller and closer than Charles de Gaulle, easier to get to with public transportation, and less crowded.
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