Help! Planning my European Adventure!

Dec 9th, 2010, 08:35 AM
  #1  
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Help! Planning my European Adventure!

I need help! I am studying abroad in Italy in May for 4 weeks, I will start in Venice, and travel around to Tuscany, Florence, as well as other places in the North, and end up in Rome. In Rome is where MY adventure will begin, I will have 2 weeks ( I have to be back for my best friends wedding) to travel wherever I please. I am trying to plot out the best possible use of my time. I am thinking of a Switzerland/France trip or a France/Ireland trip, or maybe Barcelona, Madrid, and fly out of London. I am also looking at Southern Italy.
I would prefer to fly out of London, since it seems to have the cheapest flights back to the states, but flights out of Dublin don't seem so bad either.
I am a single women traveling alone, so I am hoping to keep my trip as safe as possible, while also keeping it on the inexpensive end of things.
So far, I love Paris, and would really really like to visit there, but I am hearing so many horrible stories, I am not sure it is the way I would like to spend my travel. Staying awake on the train to make sure someone doesn't steal my bag!? Chaining my luggage to my bed in the hostel!? Crazy stuff, and def. not the kind of stress I want.

So any tips or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!

Thanks!
and happy traveling!
heathermarie is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 08:41 AM
  #2  
 
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First of all, ask here about Paris. There are such crap stories (almost urban myths) about how rude people are there, they don't speak english,etc.. There is absolutely NO reason for you not to at least consider Paris.

Paris/London is a nice combo (Eurostar between the two). Dublin is not that big, so if Ireland is on your list, I'd plan on renting a car and seeing the countryside.

Have you considered Amsterdam?
Michel_Paris is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 09:11 AM
  #3  
 
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So far, I love Paris, and would really really like to visit there, but I am hearing so many horrible stories, I am not sure it is the way I would like to spend my travel. Staying awake on the train to make sure someone doesn't steal my bag!?>

ditto to Michel Paris' retort about that - all European tourist meccas have some problems with pickpockets, etc but if one is IMO the least bit vigilant it should not happen to them. Paris is no worse or better than many other European cities and FAR more safe IMO than the typical American city. I have visited Paris annually for years and have never been victimized - yet yes there are stories of others who have been. Use common sense - and I have also ridden European trains for decades and never have had any bag stolen - yet again on occasion it may happen if you are not reasonably cautious. If taking an overnight train like many younger folk do and which I have done literally zillions of times then I would pay extra for a berth in a couchette, which has doors that lock. Anyway the train seems the best for a young single traveler and with two weeks I would investigate the Eurail Youthpasses (if you are under 26 you qualify) but there are now zillions of various passes - one-, two-, three-, four-, five-country passes and the Global Eurail that covers about 28 countries - but in two weeks narrow down your geographic scope and look at say the Eurail Youth Select Pass good in 3, 4 or 5 countries. Or you may want to just do like Michel Paris suggests - spend a week in Paris and London and in that case you would not want a pass. But if I were you from Italy I would head up thru Switzerland and stop off at the Interlaken/Jungfrau region - the essence of the Alpine Wonderland Switzerland etched in our minds' eyes and a great place for young folk - lots of cheap hostels and ski dorms and lots of young folk from all over the world flocking to this Alpine Wonderland. Then either go via Germany to Amsterdam or head over to France and London. But taking European trains is easy and the system is so so dense - trains going everywhere all the time - for loads on planning a European train trip I always spotlight these info-laden web sites: www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com - check out the latter's free and superb IMO European Planning & Rail Guide for rail itineraries in each country. And also consider the fact that most railpasses are flexipasses good for X number of days of travel over a 2-month period - thus you could use a pass whilst in Italy say on weekends and then for the two weeks you have to travel after your program ends.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 09:18 AM
  #4  
 
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Most horror stories about Paris aare aobut people who are careless or not used to large cities.

A couple of thngs you mention are true:

You must hang onto you belongings at all times or they are likely to disappear - just as they would in a large city in the US - or in the lot of your local supermarket. If you take an overnight train (I reco flying instead) you must wither stay awake and watch you thngs (if the train offers seats) or secure everything n your compartment.

If you are staying in a hostel you should receive a locker with your bed (and keep everythihng of value in it). And avoid using a back pack - since anything behnd you - you can;t see - and an disappear in an instant (also like every place else in the world).

paris is a fantastic place and perfectly safe for a woman to trvel alone - as long as you take the basic precautions you need to take everywhere. (Don't think you can avoid these precautions in Italy - if you do you'll lose everything you have.)
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 09:20 AM
  #5  
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Thank you so much for your replies! I love Paris, and my Dad says it is something I defiantly have to see, I just was reading all the stories and getting freaked out. I am not usually a worried person, just didn't really want to be robbed haha. I am thinking saving Ireland for another trip is the best bet, so I could really see a good amount of the country, my family just took a trip there 2 weeks last year, and they said they didn't even get to see everything!
I would prefer not to do Germany on this trip either, I am from German descent so I would love to see as much as the country as I could on a trip.
So maybe Switzerland, and France, and then one or two days in London ( I have already been to London, with my family, we stayed in a flat in Kensington(?) for two weeks, so I have seen a lot of London, so it is not on the top of my list.
I know I will have a rail pass while I am on my trip in Italy, I don't know when it expires though? I will have to look more into that.

Keep the tips coming! Thanks!
heathermarie is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 09:39 AM
  #6  
 
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Check out some books, like a Lonely Planet or Let's Go guide. While you are getting some great encouragement here, I don't think you are quite ready to ask specific questions--you need to mull over the big picture and decide what you want to do.
I don't even quite understand what you are asking--am I correct that you have 2 weeks to work with after a 4 week study session?
I'd spend those two weeks in Italy. You are fortunate to have that much time there, and you could have such an amazing experience.
yorkshire is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 10:29 AM
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A question not asked yet...what are you interested in? What sort of budget do you have? Are you willing to rent a car? City or country?
Michel_Paris is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 12:11 PM
  #8  
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What I am asking is just for a little direction help. I am trying to see as much as I can, and get the most out of my money and time while going to countries that I will be safe traveling alone in.
I am not willing to rent a car, I would prefer to walk, take a train or fly.
I have put together some ideas, but I run into dead ends in the most of them.
I love history, and of course I love beautiful sites. I love basically everything. Beaches, Mountains, Castles, Cathedrals, Churches, Basilicas, I am not huge on museums, but I will go see them too.
I am not really interested into the nightlife of things, just more interested in the food and wines of the countries, immersing myself in the culture really and seeing what I can find.
The budget I am looking at is about 1500 dollars. Which is not including my flight back to the states. That is my budget for spending money, boarding, and travel in Europe. My trip time is between one and two weeks. I would begin May 29th in Rome, and have to be back in the states by June 15th. All the rest is up in the air.
My possibilities are Rome - Milan - Paris - London.
Rome - Bari - Dubrovnik - Zagreb
Rome - Naples - Ponza?? - ?
heathermarie is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 01:05 PM
  #9  
wug
 
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It's too bad you don't start in Rome and end up in the north part of Italy. But, such that it is, I would say if you're interested in Paris, definitely put that on your list. I've been to Paris more times than I can count and even moved there on my own when I was about 23, having never been there before the move. I've never had any issues in Paris so ignore the stories. Just don't ignore the common sense things as far as any where you would travel, and you'll be fine.

I'd say if you can figure out your departure city, that'd be the place to start. If you decide on doing the route of Zagreb, you may get your heart set on it but then realize it's VERY expensive to get home from there. It may be cheaper to fly out of London but, once you add in getting from Paris or another city to London, are you still coming out on top or is it the same as if you just flew out of Paris?

I think a great route would be to work your way up into Switzerland, or just up to the Annecy/Chamonix area and get a taste for the Alps. If you enjoy incredible beauty and hiking, it's awesome! Then work your way to Paris via the Loire Valley or even via Belgium and then down to Paris.

I know it's a tough decision because there are so many wonderful options. You want to see as much as possible but, take care not to see so much that you don't really "see" anything. Take the time to enjoy the place you do visit and soak in the culture and the people.

Once you decide where you'll be flying out of, let us know and we'd love to give you more help. Anything you decide is going to be great.
wug is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 01:18 PM
  #10  
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I am most likely flying out London, it is the least expensive option, plus I have a lot of US Air points ( or my family does) so I can redeem them for the trip!

Love the information!! It is great!
heathermarie is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 03:16 PM
  #11  
 
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You're getting good advice regarding so-called "horror stories" of Paris. Just take the precautions nytraveler recommends and you'll be fine.

I've in fact found that people in Paris are as friendly as anyplace else in Europe. It does help a lot if you speak even a smattering of French, as that will be very much appreciated by those you meet. Even taking the time to know a few basic phrases ("Bonjour," "Bon soir," "Au revoir," "S'il vous plait," "Merci," "Parlez vous anglais?" -- translates to "Hello," "Good evening," "Good-bye," "Please," "Thank you," "Do you speak English?") will be helpful. Many folks in Paris speak English but prefer to do so if you at least try to speak a little French, no matter how badly.
bachslunch is offline  

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