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-   -   HELP!!!Never Been to Europe... (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/help-never-been-to-europe-132439/)

deedee Jun 26th, 2001 12:49 PM

HELP!!!Never Been to Europe...
 
Neither my husband nor I have ever been to Europe. We want to plan a trip in late August-early September. Any suggestions? We don't want to do too much, no more than 2 locations. While we plan on getting over there to see all of the must-sees in the future, for our first trip, we wanted to be more laid back and just "experience" a European city or two. I just need a jumping off point, we'd thought about Barcelona-but after reading all of the posts about muggings, I'm a little wary. We've also considered Greece, but know little about it. I know all of you well-seasoned travellers can offer great suggestions! We came to you for honeymoon suggestions a few months ago (Grand Lido, Negril) and were not disappointed. Thanks!

dave Jun 26th, 2001 01:32 PM

For first timers, I always suggest the cities - London, Paris, Rome, Florence. That type. Lots of things to do, easy to get around. If nothing else, select a couple based on personal interests and taste in food and drink. Any of the first or second rate cities have enough of the "must see" stuff. <BR><BR>Very good idea to limit it to two. Five days in London and five in Rome (or whatever) is much better than two days in each of five. Limiting it to two will let you do both the must see and laid back, sit in a plaza and drink wine.

james Jun 26th, 2001 01:40 PM

Take your pick from London, Paris, Rome,or Venice - they are all must see's - all quite expensive, all packed with things to do, see, eat - and would all be memorable. Barcelona is a fun place, but should be well down your list!!

Lori Jun 26th, 2001 01:46 PM

My husband I were first-timers too and just got back from Florence and Rome a few weeks ago. We had a wonderful time and I was really happy we chose Italy - based on the advice of many - for our first time to Europe. See my post on our trip if you're interested in any details. We stayed in some fabulous places outside of Florence. Besides, the food is 10 times better in Italy than in London/Paris!

StCirq Jun 26th, 2001 01:58 PM

Lori:<BR><BR>If you were first-timers and went to Italy, I don't see how you can possibly compare Italian food to that in Paris and London, though I'll agree the food in Italy is 10 times better than that in London, as a general rule. <BR>Anyway, for a first trip to Europe, you're wise to limit yourself to getting to know a couple of places fairly well. Barcelona IMO should not be on a first trip to Europe itinerary, nor should Greece. Both places require a healthy bit of shall we say adjusting to the local culture that really only comes with a few trips under your belt. Stick to the basics - London, Paris, Rome, Venice, Berlin, Prague...the major cities that have lovely country areas nearby that you could at least get out to for a day or two. Read all you can and figure out what cultures appeal to you most and which countries might best suit your particular interests. Also, if you have the choice, go in September as opposed to August.

lisa Jun 26th, 2001 02:12 PM

If you are limiting yourself to two places, I would definitely choose Paris for one and for the other, either Venice or Rome. You don't say how much time you have, so that would be the determining factor. Rome and Paris need about 5 days each; Venice can be seen in 3-4 days.

stine Jun 26th, 2001 02:36 PM

although i agree with the suggestions for italy...beautiful...excellent food...barcelona was my first trip to europe years ago and i thought it was great! we traveled from there to sitges, madrid, grenada, sevilla, toledo, then up to paris and amsterdam. it was a great trip...i love rome, florence, venice, paris, london...but don't discount spain because of pickpockets...they are everywhere....have a great trip. my suggestion is to pick the one place you have always dreamed about and jump in!

Capo Jun 26th, 2001 03:05 PM

Hi deedee. I'm curious, what made you consider Barcelona for your first trip? I LOVED Barcelona and would say that if you're *really* interested in going there, I wouldn't let your fear of crime keep you from visiting. <BR><BR>If you don't mind going to a non-English speaking city on your first trip, I'd highly recommend Paris, Rome, or Venice. Otherwise, London would be a good choice. <BR><BR>If you wanted to visit two cities, relatively close together, then a good duo would be London &amp; Paris.

Cindy Jun 26th, 2001 03:08 PM

For first-timers, I like the combination of London followed by Paris. London really allows you to get your sea legs (easy language, lots to do, easy to navigate). Paris is Paris. <BR><BR>Rome can be difficult for a first-timer because it intimidating in a New York kind of way. Graffiti, pick pockets, wild traffic and cabbies. All of these things can be found elsewhere, of course, but I think Rome can be a handful for first-timers. Rome is one of my favorites, though, so if you really like the art and history, go for it.

Mika Jun 26th, 2001 03:14 PM

I would go with a group for the first time, and go by yourself the next time. It is not so easy to get around Europe if you are a beginner. For us Europeans the US is like Kindergarden to travel.Think about it, you will loose a lot of precious time, trying to find your from one place to the next. If you are ashamed to go with a group, dont tell anybody. Have fun - greetings from Switzerland.

Rosenatti Jun 26th, 2001 04:08 PM

Rome and Paris are my two favorite first-timer cities, but combining the two might be a little exhausting -- so many museums, so much history! I don't know how long you're planning to be in Europe, but if it's two weeks or less the London-Paris route might be a good idea. Excellent introduction to that part of the world and very little travel time between the two.

Rosenatti Jun 26th, 2001 04:10 PM

Wow, I used the word "two" four times in a five-line post. Time to expand my vocabulary and work on avoiding repetition repetition.

Lee Jun 26th, 2001 05:09 PM

Try this: Get to veince for about 4 or 5 days. The place empties out after 7 p.m. and the day trippers leave. It is a marvelous, weird, civilized, magic place for two people. The take the overnight train to Paris. I have a great hotel on the left bank to share with you, but I ain't giving it out on this bulletin board. I know. Stingy me. But I want a room when I go back! Write to me, deedee.<BR>Lee

aimee Jun 26th, 2001 05:13 PM

I agree with Capo and others who have suggested London and Paris. Both are wonderful! About 3 hours through the chunnel is all it takes to get from one to the other. Paris is my absolute favorite city, and the first I ever visited in Europe. I also agree w/the poster who said that September is a much better time to travel than August. Many places are closed in August b/c that is when most Europeans are on holiday (though not so much anymore). Have a wonderful time wherever you choose to go!!!!

everyonehas Jun 26th, 2001 09:18 PM

I would do either London/Paris or Paris/Brussels/Amsterdam (yes, it's one more city than you'd like, but they're not as overwhelming as Paris or London). <BR>Brussels is only 2 hours from Paris and Amsterdam is only 2 hours from Brussels (same route), and both "feel" completely different from Paris and each other. Brussels you can do in a quick enough day (or stay overnight and get out to Brugge), Amsterdam and environs (Keukenhoff, Delft, etc) in 4 or so days. <BR><BR>In September, you'd be "in season" for the shellfish in Brussels (month with an "R"!)<BR><BR>The latter option would give you a "small city" feel, after the hustle and bustle of Paris. <BR><BR>

deedee Jun 27th, 2001 10:50 AM

Wow! Thanks you guys! It's sounding like Paris and London, although Amsterdam and Italy, in general,also peak my interest. Too many interesting choices! Would you suggest staying in Paris the whole time (we figured a week for each) or taking a day/overnight trip outside of the city? Also, about how much does the Chunnel cost from Paris to London? I just can't help thinking about that Seinfeld episode. I speak a little french, is that enough to get by? What are some cool parts of London? Ideally, we'd like to submerge ourselves in the cities we're in, so we'll feel like we've really 'done' them, then next time, we'll move on to two other cities...and then there's Costa Rica! We want to see as much as we can before we have any kids!

Jane Jun 27th, 2001 11:49 AM

I also think Paris/London is a great combo. I can't help you with prices on the Chunnel (I used it in '95) but try www.eurostar.com It is a fast and scenic way to get from Paris to London (or vice versa). We went on an early morning train from London and by 11 am, we were walking along the streets of Paris!<BR><BR>To answer your other questions, yes, I would recommend a day trip from Paris. Versailles is close by or I *think* Giverny could be a day trip...many of Monet's paintings are based from scenes from his home here. A day trip from London is do-able too- consider Bath.<BR><BR>As for speaking French, besides the most basic (Bonjour, etc.), I speak none. I have been to Paris twice and have found the French to be warm and helpful. Many speak English and a simple "Bonjour" and "Merci" is enough to open many doors.<BR><BR>Have a wonderful trip! <BR><BR>

Cindy Jun 27th, 2001 12:13 PM

I went to Paris for the first time last fall. Four days was plenty for the city, so I'd guess that moving into the countryside for the remainder of that week is a good plan. I'll let others tell you the best day trips.<BR><BR>Don't worry about the language, in Paris anyway. I didn't speak a word of French, but I learned enough to open every conversation in French. My accent was so horrid that my attempt drew smiles and replies in English. My mom failed to open a conversation in French once, and, well, that was the end of the conversation.

Chris Jun 27th, 2001 01:13 PM

You might be able to do some chateaux in a day, using Tours as your base. There's a train into Tours from Paris and you can go to the tourist office and request a taxi to take you around. Don't miss Chenenceau. <BR><BR>You can stay overnight in Tours (there's a Best Western not too far from the train station -- not too fancy, but clean) and take a tour the next morning too. I think it's Touraine Evasion or something like that. They have a website.<BR><BR>With the TGV you can now even visit the Cote d'Azur -- only a few hours from Paris. Nice, Cannes, etc. <BR><BR>And you thought you had options before?!<BR><BR>There are tour buses that go to Giverny from Paris (Cityrama) -- it's a 1/2 day trip. <BR><BR>Don't worry about not speaking French -- you'll have no problem in the tourist areas. Outside of these areas, just greet and then ask if they speak English. You won't have a problem.

elvira Jun 27th, 2001 10:27 PM

We've made several trips to Europe, each place so wonderful that we've vowed to return.<BR><BR>This fall, we're too braindead to be adventuresome, so we're going to London and Paris because we know them and they're easy and there is still so much to see.<BR><BR>Split your time evenly between the two cities: you can go to Hampton Court, Oxford or Cambridge for a short daytrip from London; you can go to Versailles, Giverny or Malmaison for a short daytrip from Paris.<BR><BR>If you are planning a two week trip or longer, then you can travel as far afield as Edinburgh from London and Brussels from Paris.


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