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First trip to Europe, need help with final itinerary

First trip to Europe, need help with final itinerary

Feb 16th, 2004, 09:19 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 28
First trip to Europe, need help with final itinerary

Hi there, I'm planning my first trip to Europe in late April/early May for my 40th birthday. YAY! Will be travelling solo by train. Trying to finalize my itinerary & can't decide on a few details, so thought I'd consult the experts.

p.s. this started out as a trip to France but after reading all the comments here, I MUST go to Italy

Zurich 1 nt (flight arrives early am)
Colmar 3 nts
Nice 4 nts
CT or vicinity 2 nts (no rez yet)
Venice 3 or 4 nts
Lakes (Orta or Como) 1 or 2 nts (no rez yet)
Back to Zurich 1 nt - then fly home early am

Has anyone stayed at La Petite Sirene on Rue Maccarani in Nice? Can't find any reviews other than Fodors but it fits in my solo budget.

I'm thinking of splurging for the last night in France & spending my b-day (a Tues) at the Marriott in Cap D'ail. Recommendations for restaurants/nightlife?

CT or vicinity - So many beautiful places, I can't decide which town. Any favorites? Suggestions for something a little less touristy?

Friends say I will love Venice, though I'm thinking of cutting one nt & staying 2 at one of the lakes (or adding one nt in Venice & do the lakes another time). Thoughts?

Thanks for any help/suggestions.
Katkins is offline  
Feb 16th, 2004, 09:50 AM
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Hi katkins,

If you have decided to do Italy, why are you going to Nice in April?

Do you already have your airline tickets?
ira is offline  
Feb 16th, 2004, 10:54 AM
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Why Colmar for three nights? I would consider Strasbourg or Basel as better for that length of time. Or from Zurich take the train to Geneva and Lyon.
Michael is offline  
Feb 16th, 2004, 10:59 AM
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Hi Ira,

I'd really like to do both France & Italy and plan to celebrate my 40th in Nice the first week of May.

From there, I'm off to Italy.

Made my flight arrangements a few months ago & they are pretty well set.

Katkins is offline  
Feb 16th, 2004, 11:09 AM
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I wanted to start out in a smaller town & this seemed like a good spot. Plus, my sister lived in France for a few years & loved Colmar. She though I would like it too.
Katkins is offline  
Feb 16th, 2004, 12:22 PM
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I still think that there are other small cities that might be better than Colmar (e.g. Dijon, Beaune, Annecy) and better connected to Nice.
Michael is offline  
Feb 16th, 2004, 12:29 PM
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I'd skip the lakes and put the extra night in Venice. Venice is truly one-of-a-kind and a magical place (and you're already moving around quite a bit in a fairly short period of time this trip). I've been to Venice twice and would return in a heart-beat (was there solo female also).
suze is offline  
Feb 16th, 2004, 12:36 PM
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One thing I see often underestimated in first time itineraries is the amount of time, money, effort it takes to get from place to place (when you say "1 nt" for example).

On the day you're going from one town to the next - you need to check out of your hotel usually by 11am, then get yourself to a train station (walk, bus, taxi), make the journey of how ever many hours, then do the whole thing in reverse (train station, transport to the hotel, check in if your room is ready or leave your bag if it's not).

My point is that with each switch, you could possibly spend 1/2 to 3/4's of a day devoted to getting to the next stop.
suze is offline  
Feb 16th, 2004, 03:31 PM
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For a trip that looks to be 14 days, I'd only plan on staying in three places (plus a fourth if necessary re flight home). Suze is right about time lost travelling between places. You need to factor this into your itinerary which is geographically rather spread out.

Late April is a strange time to go to Colmar. Not winter, not summer and really not even spring yet. I'd skip Zurich and fly immediately to Nice.
Jean is online now  
Feb 16th, 2004, 03:55 PM
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I waffle back and forth on this "too many places in too short of a time" deal, but frankly I think your intinerary sounds perfect (so long as you make that 3 nights in Venice, and add the other one to the lakes).

The arrival and departure via Zurich seem odd considering your intinerary, but I assume there is a good reason for that.

I think Colmar is a lovely town, and if anything three days is almost too long there -- but never mind, you can do a day trip or two from there (Strasbourg, for example). Gee, I would think the last week of April would indeed be spring there.
Patrick is offline  
Feb 16th, 2004, 04:31 PM
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My guess is you've already bought your air ticket, otherwise I would have suggested flying open jaw into Nice and then out of Zurich.

First, consider ditching the first night in Zurich and heading straight for Colmar, it's not that far from Zurich according to viamichelin and your flight arrives early. Put this freed up night on at the end - perhaps in Lucerne, before your last night in Zurich. I suggest this as a failsafe in case of train schedule difficulties on your return to Zurich (strikes, delays, whatever.)

Second, steal a night from each of Nice and Colmar. Spend these 2 nights at one of the Italian lakes en route to Nice, since that will help break up the journey to Nice from Colmar (don't know the train schedule, but viamichelin says it's almost 7 hours by road - kinda long.)

Head to the CT, Venice as before.
Back to the lakes - perhaps a different one this time, or even just stop off for a night at the same lake en route back to Zurich/Lucerne for 2 nights, as discussed above.

So you'd have Colmar - 2
Lakes - 2
Nice - 3
CT - 2
Venice - 3
Lakes - 2
Zurich/Lucerne - 2
Bon voyage.
Sue_xx_yy is online now  
Feb 16th, 2004, 05:36 PM
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I don't know why, I just guessed Katkins wasn't planning on a car, but trains instead. Am I right? If so that train trip from Colmar to Nice is nearly 10 hours, but you change in Lyon about midway. If you can swing getting to Colmar on your arrival day, rather than staying in Zurich, you might break up the long trip with an afternoon and overnight in Lyon -- a large city, but quite interesting, and spectacular food!
Patrick is offline  
Feb 16th, 2004, 07:37 PM
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Thank you all so much. Your collective input is super!

Booked my flight months ago (before changing mind several times about where to go). It's $100 for each change -- will keep as is & spend the $$ on a nice dinner & a few glasses of vino. Plus, I do want to see Zurich, if only for a day.

I will be traveling by train, and agree that staying in fewer places is preferable, but I'm having a major commitment problem...

Will now go straight to Colmar, cut Colmar by one nt, leaving 2 nts open for Annecy, Beaune, Lyon? on way to Nice. Need to read some add'l travel guides.

The end of the trip is still up in the air. May do as Sue_xx_yy suggests & stop in Lucerne before Zurich. Then start saving immediately upon my return home so I can go to the Lakes, Rome & Amalfi coast next year...

Again, thanks for all the fabulous suggestions!

Au revoir or Caio for now
Katkins is offline  
Feb 16th, 2004, 08:50 PM
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You don't need to cut Colmar. Not only is it a lovely little city, it would be a great base for day trips to Strasbourg and the wine villages. It's a beautiful area and there's a lot to see.

Happy Birthday in late April!!
SalB is offline  

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