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First Trip to Europe- Italy, Germany, Amsterdam

First Trip to Europe- Italy, Germany, Amsterdam

Old Apr 3rd, 2016, 02:44 PM
  #1  
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First Trip to Europe- Italy, Germany, Amsterdam

Hello All!
I am very excited to begin planning my first trip to Europe with my boyfriend. We have about 2 weeks to travel (give or take a couple days). We will probably leave at the end of June.

We are hoping to visit Italy, Germany, and Amsterdam.

We are hoping to get some helpful tips on....
-best places to visit that is also practical for getting from one country to another.
-best ways to travel to each country (plane or train?)
-how many days are recommended.

We are really just beginning our research, so any ideas or tips would be extremely helpful!
Thank you!!
kriskross89 is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2016, 03:25 PM
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best ways to travel to each country (plane or train?)>

Trains inside the country for sure - go everywhere all the time - you can take overnight trains between say Amsterdam and Germany and Germany and Italy - fly open-jaw - land in Amsterdam and fly home from Italy. Overnight trains save daytime travel time and the cost of a night's accommodation- you can get a private compartment for the ultimate relaxed ride - caution - my friend swears his son was conceived on a night train to Venice!

Or to save money get a couchette for a lot cheaper than a private compartment but then be in with stranger - both sexes but you get your own berth and bedding, etc. But no privacy!

For lots on European trains check these IMO superb sources - www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com- check out their free and excellent IMO European Planning & Rail Guide on their site for tips on rail itineraries in those countries.

If under 26 check out bargain Eurail Youth Passes (Select Passes good for the countries you chose - if over 25 the adult passes cost more but still could be a good deal depending on how many longish train trips you end up taking.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2016, 03:58 PM
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train or plane. we are big fans of overnight trains (many are not, and have a hard time sleeping.) we like that it's easy-on, easy-off. we like getting on in one country and waking up at our destination.

having said that, we are flying from paris to italy next month. we got our flight well ahead, and found fares of just 50E, which is much cheaper than a sleeper would be.

are you going to do this without renting a car??? that will really direct which towns you want to try to visit... also let us know what most interests you. big cities or villages. enjoy the planning!
kawh is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2016, 05:21 PM
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"best places to visit that is also practical for getting from one country to another."

If you began in A'dam... I would want at least 3-4 nights there. Take an outing to Zaanse Schans by train.

http://www.dezaanseschans.nl/en/

After that... It's an easy trip from Amsterdam to the Middle Rhine Valley in Germany. Spend 3-4 nights here and visit the Mosel Valley (Cochem, Trier, Burg Eltz Castle) as well. If you left A'dam on the 8:05 train you'd be in the town of Boppard (very good base town for both rivers) by noon. (That said, a stopover of several hours in Cologne is worthwhile if you want to see some museums and the Cologne cathedral.) Middle Rhine Valley highlights include Marksburg and Rheinfels Castles, the river cruise, old-world towns like Oberwesel and Bacharach. MRV info:

http://www.welterbe-mittelrheintal.d...php?id=288&L=3

From the Rhine you can fly inexpensively using Frankfurt Hahn airport on Ryanair to several Italian cities.

Of course you could spend two full weeks in any ONE of these countries and save a lot of moving-around time! But based on what you've said, this is roughly how I'd cut it up.
Fussgaenger is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2016, 07:11 PM
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First of all you really need to clarify how many days your have. Two weeks plus weeks and leaving on a Friday evening will give you 15.5 days in europe - the first half day probably being jet lagged. But there is a huge difference between 15.5 day and 10.5 day.

Second IMHO if you want to see much of any one place you need to spend 3 nights (2 days) or 4 nights there (3 days). Which means you are really limited to 4 cities at the most (or 3 if you only have 10.5 days).

Finally Germany and Italy are entire countries and you easily spend more than a month in each just seeing a few highlights.

So if you can tell us where you want to go - something must have made you pick those countries - we can help you refine the trip.

For a young couple I would reco Berlin in Germany and probably Rome in Italy. those 2 plus Amsterdam will easily take the time you have.

And if you use train or planes really depends on exactly where you go.
nytraveler is offline  
Old Apr 4th, 2016, 11:37 AM
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krisskross - what do you think?
PalenQ is offline  
Old Apr 5th, 2016, 04:29 AM
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Berlin indeed will be a better option in Germany for you, guys! The city of fashion, music and groundbreaking creativity. So many things to do and to see there!
Even if you're not a museum goer, there are always some interesting events on, parties, exhibitions, performances, whatever!.. Just wandering along the city streets is pure joy, with all that landmarks and cute bears statues around you!
I would advise to spend at least 3 days in the German capital..
Cindy_McGregor is offline  
Old Apr 5th, 2016, 04:34 AM
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I'd focus on Amsterdam, Mosel and Hamburg. Cuts the travel time and costs down, lots to do and places to see.
bilboburgler is offline  
Old Apr 7th, 2016, 04:29 PM
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Wow! This was all so helpful! Thank you.

After some more research and discussion, we have a few more details ironed out. The 2 weeks is based more on prices rather than time. Although we don't have an exact budget yet, we would like to stay as long as we can (most likely 15 days).

We are interested in Amsterdam and Berlin. However, we are really interested in Roman history. With that said, would 3 days be enough to really see it? Or would you recommend a separate trip to Italy?

PalenQ--
You said... If under 26 check out bargain Eurail Youth Passes (Select Passes good for the countries you chose - if over 25 the adult passes cost more but still could be a good deal depending on how many longish train trips you end up taking.

I am 26 and my boyfriend is 25, would we both qualify for Eurail Youth Passes?
kriskross89 is offline  
Old Apr 7th, 2016, 07:14 PM
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Berlin is so interesting and we found the hotel prices much lower than other cities we visited in Europe.
For Roman history you have many choices. The obvious choice is Rome, Ostica Antica and Pompeii but there are Roman sites all over Europe including London and Paris.
Amsterdam is a favorite of mine, small, walkable and charming.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Old Apr 8th, 2016, 01:05 AM
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Trier (Mosel) was the capital of the Roman empire for some 20 years with a fair few buildings still standing (city wall gate, baths, horse racing track etc), Ravenna (east coast northern Italy, lots of stuff standing but we are talking 300 500 AD) for the western empire for a few hundred years and Split (Croatia the palace is still here if being used in a variety of ways) was the capital when the two empire were "split". You might find stuff here that interests you.

Are there specific periods of Roman history that you are interested in or is it just "Roman"? Within Italy there were other cultures that the Romans "took-out" and their remains are interesting, southern Italy was actually called "Greater Greece" to indicate the large number of colonies present, while Etruscans linked together around 12 cities in mainly Tuscany. The Sabina hills are supposed to be where the Sabine women came from which is now part of Rome.
bilboburgler is offline  
Old Apr 8th, 2016, 06:28 AM
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"I am 26 and my boyfriend is 25, would we both qualify for Eurail Youth Passes?"

Before you jump on a EURAIL Pass, check out the GERMAN RAIL PASS. It's €408/2 for 7 days of train travel within a month. And it also gets you to destinations in Italy, Belgium, France, Austria, Poland, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Croatia, and the UK:

https://www.bahn.com/i/view/USA/en/p...ss-flexi.shtml

26=adult

7-day Eurail select passes for you two will cost around €900.
Fussgaenger is offline  
Old Apr 8th, 2016, 06:56 AM
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If you really like Roman history, then take a separate trip to Italy.

However, on this one, as Bilbo indicates, you can see a lot of Roman stuff around Trier: Porta Nigra, ruins of Roman baths and amphitheater, Constantine's palace, among others. Also an archaeological museum with lots of Roman stuff.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
Old Apr 8th, 2016, 08:06 AM
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I see that you have 2 weeks and 3 major destinations:

1. Amsterdam (with daytrips to Utrecht, Alkmaar, maybe the coast).

2. Berlin (with daytrips to Potsdam, Schwerin, maybe even Dresden).

3. Rome (with a daytrip to Ostia Antica, maybe even to Florence).

With this itinerary, the cheapest way to travel are flights between these 3 cities.

Railpasses are a thing of the past. Today, we use those super-saver fares which are more economical than the railpasses. But given the great distances between your 3 destinations, flying makes more sense and should be even less expensive.
traveller1959 is offline  
Old Apr 8th, 2016, 08:59 AM
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I agree with the notion of staying north for this trip, especially if you're going in summer when Italy tends to be hot, crowded and very expensive.

Visiting TRIER for things Roman isn't a bad idea at all - lots to see there. Also... Near the Dutch border a ways north of Düsseldorf is a charming German town and old Roman outpost called XANTEN which offers a lot to see at the "archaelogical park" there.

Xanten town:
http://www.xanten.de/index.php/uploa...n.original.jpg
Xanten Archaeological Park:
http://www.xanten.de/index.php/uploa...n.original.jpg
An operational windmill in Xanten still grinds grain for the bakery housed in the windmill's ground floor.
http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/50850910.jpg
Fussgaenger is offline  
Old Apr 8th, 2016, 09:20 AM
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I live near Xanten, but we have to be honest: It is mostly reproduction and mainly made for kids.

I agree that Trier is one the most significant Roman archeological sites - with large structures - in Northern Europe and I would add that in Cologne you find one of the best museums of Roman archeology in the world.

But Rome plays in another league. It is the orign and the center of the Empire. And travelling from Berlin to Rome is faster and easier than from Amsterdam to Trier. One or two hours flight time is nothing. And you get tickets for less than €100.

I just entered a dummy date in May for a flight from Berlin to Rome and found 4 airlines with direct flights. The fare was from €53.09 to €75.99. Flight time is 2:05.

So why not flying to Rome?

(We Europeans do such trips regularly for business or just for a weekend.)
traveller1959 is offline  
Old Apr 8th, 2016, 10:05 AM
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t...59 is correct that Xanten is a reconstruction - but it's reconstructed based on extensive archaeological study of the Xanten site - and it is not a theme park at all (if that's the impression you might have gotten.) Although German school groups do go there and there are a few things for kids, it is primarily an adult attraction IMO and IME. That said, I hope you don't think I'm equating Xanten, or Trier with Rome... XANTEN IS NOT ROME and is not a must - just something Roman that happens to be in a convenient spot for you, something you might include since you are "really interested in Roman history." You need to go to the real Rome; if you choose not to on this trip (and there might be reasons not to this time) then do see it sometime. To me it makes more sense to see Rome when you see Venice, Florence, Sienna etc. - places IMO that should also be on every bucket list.
Fussgaenger is offline  
Old Apr 8th, 2016, 11:48 AM
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"Railpasses are a thing of the past. Today, we use those super-saver fares which are more economical than the railpasses."

IMO railpasses still play a role in certain situations (I am using one myself next month.) Saver fares offer enormous advantages but come with a downside as well for certain travelers and itineraries. I don't think railpasses should be ignored as a matter of travel policy. One obvious situation might be the last-minute trip - what if you haven't had time to plan or to pre-purchase saver fares before they've gone sky-high? Just for example... If you land in Berlin for a few days then want to travel to Freiburg, the cheapest Berlin-Freiburg ticket costs nearly €284 for two at a ticket window. The smart consumer keeps the rail pass option in mind and buys a 3-DAY German Rail twin pass instead at €287/2. For €3, a couple gets two free days of travel.
Fussgaenger is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2016, 08:08 AM
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Hi Friends!
We've made a lot of progress in planning. We are going to visit Frankfurt, Berlin, and Amsterdam. Any suggestions on a 4th city? We love food, culture, art, and meeting new people!



Also, we were hoping to get more information on the trains...

How far in advance should we book the rail pass (baln.eurorail)? Do you need a reservation for each trip? Is there a big difference between first class and second class on the train? How easy is it to travel from one country to another? How early do you need to arrive to the train station prior to your departure?


And last....Any good sites/ suggestions for booking hotels?

Thank you for all of your help so far! You all rock!!
kriskross89 is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2016, 08:18 AM
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seat61.com to explain trains
booking.com is good for hotels but tripadvisor.co.uk best for advice
bilboburgler is offline  

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