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Denise Nov 22nd, 1997 06:19 PM

First Trip to Europe - Where to go?
We're in our early 50's. We would love some advice on where we should start. We will only have four weeks. Have been considering Spain Greek Isles and Turkey - maybe Italy but definitely not all this trip. We would love to hear your ideas on where to start our first trip (and not last hopefully) seeing perhaps 2 countries. We have been considering tours for ease this time, but are prepared to listen to good ideas

Rod Hoots Nov 22nd, 1997 08:10 PM

Suggest that you take an all-inclusive package tour that covers the most popular countries and places. This gives you a broad base to plan future trips and saves you the trouble of arranging transportation, lodging, sight seeing, baggage handling, etc. Depending on your finances, I would take the best you can afford - better accommodations make the experience much more enjoyable. Also try to go in the spring or fall. If you can afford to upgrade to business class air, that also helps. A middle of the road tour, for example, is Grand European Tours 25 day "Leisure Europe," including England, France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, and Holland. I'm not necessarily recommending that specific tour but it gives an idea of what I'm talking about. I would save Spain, the Greek Isles and Turkey for later - they are places you want to visit after you've seen the main countries of Europe. Find a good, reputable travel agent and they will have several tours to choose from.

Donna Nov 22nd, 1997 09:29 PM

I, too, recommend that you book yourselves a terrific tour. Pick up a Trafalgar tour brochure at your local travel agent and select what most appeals to you. You could go on your own, but the way to become a seasoned traveller is through experience. Once having "breezed through" Europe, you want to know where you'd like to return and be much better prepared for doing it. We've taken various tours, and Trafalgar is definitely a good value for the dollar and a terrific experience.

Denise Nov 23rd, 1997 12:07 AM

Thank you very much - yes we like the idea of tours from Australia for the first visit - Trafalgar or Insight at this point. thanks

Denise Nov 23rd, 1997 12:10 AM

Thank you Donna for the help

Betty Nov 23rd, 1997 12:56 AM

Denise, just recently returned from Europe and Britian. Both my husband and myself throughly enjoyed ourselves. We did a mixture of independent travel and an Insight tour. The travel we did on our own was far more enjoyable. Actually I would never do another organised tour. Too rushed, limited time in each location etc. The only way to become an experienced traveller is to go and do it. Plan well and read as much as you can. Eyewitness are a wonderful series of travel guides - maps, local info etc. We are also in the 50 age group and are already planning our next trip. Favourites are France and Italy - especialy the north of Italy. As yet haven't been to Greece or Turkey but they both are on the list of must see places. Oh almost forgot Austria - beautiful. Get a Eurorail pass and stay in guest houses - the only way to reallly experience a country. Have a great time.

Denise Nov 23rd, 1997 01:57 AM

Thanks Betty. How long were you away. Was it more expensive to do it yourself than on an organised tour? Denise

Marcie Nov 23rd, 1997 07:39 AM

Unless you're planning to return to Europe, I can't imagine going to Europe and not spending a fair amount of time in Italy. Rome is certainly worth a few days alone. Good luck!

BOB THE NAVIGATOR Nov 23rd, 1997 12:36 PM

There is no question. The best of Europe is where
the Alps meet the sea and the Lakes. Get a map and
draw a big circle from Nice to Lugano to Garmisch
to Salzburg to Venice to Tuscany and then back to
Nice. If you want the best of scenery, culture, food
and European ambiance then you have it. Give me a
holler if you want to know more----you don't have to
be herded like sheep, you can do this route on your
own and enjoy it as your own. I am 60 and we do it
every year.

Betty Nov 24th, 1997 01:59 AM

Hi, agree with the above suggestion - certainly the best of Europe, although I wouldn't go to Europe without visiting Paris. As for costs- Europe is expensive but it is possible to see plenty and stay within a budget. While organised tours initially sound less expensive, the optional tours can really add up - two weeks cost an additional $1000 each . Contact the Tourist Information office of the country you choose to visit as they can give you heaps of really good info re accom etc. Many countries have offices in Sydney. May and September are also cheaper and less crowded. Also ask your travel agent for the Explore European brochure for independent travel. Good Luck.

Bob and Anna Nov 24th, 1997 06:50 AM

For the over 50 set, why not try one of the tours by either SAGA HOLIDAYS, or GRAND CIRCLE, both based in Boston, MA. Both have 2 week tours staying 1 week on the Costa del Sol of Spain with sightseeing tours, buffet meals and nightly entertainment and then 1 week in Cascais, Portugal, a copy of the first week. We recently returned from such a tour of Spain's Costa Calida in October and it was 2 weeks well spent. We no longer need the beaches, so an off-season tour is a greater saving for us.

Tom Nov 25th, 1997 08:11 AM

My vote in order of preference: #1 Italy (Rome for sure) #2 France (Paris for sure) #3) Switzerland (Lucerne)#4 & #5 TIE: Amsterdam & Costa del Sol (Spain) both are wonderful. Italy and France should be your main choices...don't overdue it. Have fun. Tom

Trina Nov 25th, 1997 03:33 PM

I spent 5 months in Europe sampling a variety of countries. My top three places to visit are
1) Paris ( I could live there it is so wonderful!)
2) Riomaggiore ( when I return it will be for my honeymoon - this is a little, quaint fishing village on what I call the Italian Rivieria); no pretenses, just great times and relaxation
3) Prague

I recommend that you visit in the summer however.

Two favourite countries?
1) Italy, particularly the north
2) Belgium (especially if you like beer!)

Bed and breakfasts or guest houses that you arrange are best. Read and plan your own tour with a Eurail pass. You can't go wrong!

lee gruenwald Nov 25th, 1997 07:01 PM

Denise: Just returned from a month in Europe to celebrate my 50th birthday in Florence (27 years after the first visit). I would never recommend a tour for someone so 'young'. As someone mentioned it's a rushed affair, with lots of people you might not necessarily want to spend all your time with. Remember trains in Europe are fabulous (go 1st class for a little more $ but well worth it). Eurail passes are great -include boat cruises on the Rhine as well. I concur with the suggestion for Prague. It was incredible-look on the chat line for more info. Very reasonable (I have a great pension if you want to e-mail me) in both food and drink with dozens of spectacular sights to see. It's really beautiful. Italy is a must from the big cities of Venice, Florence, Siena and Rome to the smaller towns of Lucca, San Gimignano and Montepulciano. You will be amazed how much you can see in 4 weeks.I concur with the suggestions to see a broad range first time around and then go back for longer times to the places you like the best. Paris is a must (returned there for 40th birthday). You could start there and end up in Rome easily in a month's time. Have a wonderful holiday. You will definitely want to return again and again.

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