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Help with 2 week Europe destination decision!

Help with 2 week Europe destination decision!

Old Jul 6th, 2022, 09:03 AM
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Help with 2 week Europe destination decision!

Hi everyone. I need help deciding on where to go. Next summer my husband and I will be heading to Europe for 17 days (figuring 2 travel days plus in between travel so really I am planning for a two week trip.) after that we want to settle down and start a family so it will be awhile before we can go back to Europe again. We live in the Pacific northwest. Trees, mountains, etc. Seattle is our closest big city:

I was in Belgium for a year a decade and visited Barcelona, Italy, London, and Amsterdam. I did not love Spain or Italy all that much. Though I was only in the big cities, not the countryside. Loved Paris and want to go back for longer as I was only there for a day. So we plan to fly into Paris and stay 4-5 nights.
for the remainder of the trip I can’t decide between the following:
Wengen/Murren (Bernese Oberland) to explore the mountains and hike and trail run

Alsace region in France, perhaps Colmar and biking through the wine route between small towns.

Croatia (which I have always wanted to visit) to see the lakes, island hop, Dubrovnik and maybe Hvar. Wine tasting.

my husband and I are active in our early 30s. We love beautiful romantic settings where we can walk and take in the old buildings and scenery. We arent super interested in touring museum/cathedrals. Love wine and local food.

does anyone have recommendations or have been to the above places and have a preference?

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Old Jul 6th, 2022, 09:35 AM
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Report from Croatia and Slovenia

Trip report you might find of interest.

Last edited by Sassafrass; Jul 6th, 2022 at 09:36 AM. Reason: Spelling
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Old Jul 6th, 2022, 09:38 AM
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Trip Report - Three weeks in Croatia

another trip report you might like.
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Old Jul 6th, 2022, 10:19 AM
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Starting in Paris is, of course, a great choice. I, too, am in the PNW with Seattle as the closest main airport. CDG is one of the few places in Europe we can fly to non-stop (via Delta/Air France). And these days, it's best to fly non-stop when possible to avoid missing connections, airport chaos, lost baggage, etc.

One idea would be to fly into Paris, spend a good 5 nights, then take the train out to Strasbourg (Alsace), maybe rent a car for a few days, then take the train to Bern and rent another car to see the Berner Oberland.

Paris 5 nights
Alsace 3 nights
Switzerland 4 nights

Something like that. Depending on your schedule, you can add more time in places for day-trips such as Versailles or Giverny (sp?) from Paris, etc.
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Old Jul 6th, 2022, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by halfapair View Post
Starting in Paris is, of course, a great choice. I, too, am in the PNW with Seattle as the closest main airport. CDG is one of the few places in Europe we can fly to non-stop (via Delta/Air France). And these days, it's best to fly non-stop when possible to avoid missing connections, airport chaos, lost baggage, etc.

One idea would be to fly into Paris, spend a good 5 nights, then take the train out to Strasbourg (Alsace), maybe rent a car for a few days, then take the train to Bern and rent another car to see the Berner Oberland.

Paris 5 nights
Alsace 3 nights
Switzerland 4 nights

Something like that. Depending on your schedule, you can add more time in places for day-trips such as Versailles or Giverny (sp?) from Paris, etc.

thank you so much for the advice. Given that you are from the Seattle area, what are your thoughts on the alps? I know they are older and different from the mountains we have here but I’m just wondering to see something completely different that I would never get to experience in my own region, would the alps be a little too familiar?
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Old Jul 7th, 2022, 07:55 AM
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The Alps are glorious and not like anything we have here. There is no comparison. The Cascades & Olympics are very nice, and quite pretty when they still have snow on them and the sky is blue. But the Alps eclipse them in every way.

Our first trip to Europe as a couple was in 2005, and we started in Switzerland. We stayed in Lauterbrunnen, which is a darling little town (recommended by Rick Steves). The waterfalls there are simply amazing.

Lauterbrunnen is 1.5 hrs from Bern via train. Or you could rent a car in Bern and do a 1 hour scenic drive up there. It's a bit out of the way, so a car might be a good option.
We did not rent a car while there, but able to take public transportation, either train or bus, everywhere we wanted to go.
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Old Jul 7th, 2022, 09:14 AM
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Another idea, different mountains: 5 nights in Paris, fly to Verona, rent a car and spend 5-6 nights in the Dolomites (2.5 hour drive Verona-Ortisei), spend the last nights in Venice, fly home from Venice.

https://fullsuitcase.com/dolomites-best-hikes/
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Old Jul 7th, 2022, 09:47 AM
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[QUOTE=Jean;17379512]Another idea, different mountains: 5 nights in Paris, fly to Verona, rent a car and spend 5-6 nights in the Dolomites (2.5 hour drive Verona-Ortisei), spend the last nights in Venice, fly home from Venice.

Thank you everyone for the ideas. Would it be a horrible idea to do Paris, Bernese Oberland, and Croatia? We are in our early 30s and active and do not mind packing things in. Something like this

Day 1-4 Paris
Day 5 Travel to Switzerland (Bernese Oberland)
Day 6-9 Bernese Oberland
Day 10 Travel to Split and do day trips or just stay in Hvar)
Day 11-14 Day trips from Split or Hvar
day 15-18 Dubrovnik
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Old Jul 7th, 2022, 10:35 AM
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You have identified wonderful choices. But what makes sense might depend on what it really takes to get from the one place to the next. No reason not to pack in a lot but you might be packing in a lot of time for transit to airport, security lines in airport, transit from airport to actual destination, etc. and not as much actual fun time. If you aren't familiar with rome2rio.com you might have a look at what your choices are for transit between places.
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Old Jul 7th, 2022, 10:44 AM
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Well, now you're talking about 2.5 weeks (19 nights), so there are more options. If you want to include Croatia, include Croatia. Personally, I think you're short-changing Paris (esp. coming from Seattle) and the B.O. by at least a day each. The transit logistics between the B.O. and Split (or Dubrovnik) would probably turn me off to the idea, but it's your trip, not mine.

Have you looked at what getting home from Dubrovnik or Split would look like? Split might be easier...
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Old Jul 7th, 2022, 10:50 AM
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I'd be tempted to limit the amount of zigzagging or bouncing around with just ten days or so (after the Paris days.) But what about the Julian Alps in Slovenia? This would make including Croatia quite simple. Fly from Paris to Ljubljana (one of the most scenic and romantic capitals of Europe) and take a couple of days to head up to the Julian Alps - Lake Bled etc. You could then include some of the Istrian coastline - google Piran (Slovenia) and Rovinj (Croatia) - a couple of seaside towns similar (but less crowded) than Dubrovnik et al. You could get a car in Ljublana and see a lot in 10 days, then back to LJU, back to Paris, then back home.



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Old Jul 7th, 2022, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Jean View Post
Well, now you're talking about 2.5 weeks (19 nights), so there are more options. If you want to include Croatia, include Croatia. Personally, I think you're short-changing Paris (esp. coming from Seattle) and the B.O. by at least a day each. The transit logistics between the B.O. and Split (or Dubrovnik) would probably turn me off to the idea, but it's your trip, not mine.

Have you looked at what getting home from Dubrovnik or Split would look like? Split might be easier...
thank you so much! If we cut out Croatia to have an extra day in Paris and B.O. where else might you suggest to go that would be a nice contrast? At first I was interested in the Alsace region but I worry besides biking between smal towns there wouldn’t be much to do or see. I love the Plitvice lakes, a day island hoping, and the vineyards of Croatia. Thank he French Rivera doesn’t appeal to me for some reason unless there is a smaller region or area other than Nice and Marseille. I don’t know about Provence - seems like a lot of driving.
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Old Jul 7th, 2022, 12:45 PM
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“Beautiful romantic settings where we can take in the old buildings and scenery” + wine + good food encompasses many regions of France. Cycling offers the ideal speed to take these things in, too. White wine? Alsace. Pinot noir? Burgundy. Gamay? Beaujolais. Shiraz/Syrah? Northern Rhone. Complex spicy red blends? Southern Côtes du Rhone. Pick one. Cross-reference your wine tastes with the maps and snapshots of “Lex plus beaux villages de France” and you may find your dream four or five days.
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Old Jul 7th, 2022, 01:05 PM
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You can always combine Alsace with Germany - the Black Forest is just over the border.

Slovenia and Croatia would probably offer a more active holiday whilst also giving you romantic settings, good wine, old buildings, and scenery.

I know I am odd but I don't get the need to always visit Paris.
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Old Jul 7th, 2022, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by FTOttawa View Post
“Beautiful romantic settings where we can take in the old buildings and scenery” + wine + good food encompasses many regions of France. Cycling offers the ideal speed to take these things in, too. White wine? Alsace. Pinot noir? Burgundy. Gamay? Beaujolais. Shiraz/Syrah? Northern Rhone. Complex spicy red blends? Southern Côtes du Rhone. Pick one. Cross-reference your wine tastes with the maps and snapshots of “Lex plus beaux villages de France” and you may find your dream four or five days.
I agree, I keep going back-and-forth with just sticking to France and then over to B.o. but which region. Would we get bored with 4 days in Alsace?
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Old Jul 8th, 2022, 09:47 AM
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We love Croatia and definitely want to return. The country doesn’t have a great transportation system like Switzerland or France so we hired a a tour guide service to take us around in Zagreb, Split, Hvar and Dubrovnik and took a day trip to Montenegro. It was very inexpensive (restaurant meals) since they haven’t join (yet) NATO and European Union. We flew into Split and stayed for a few days then took a catamaran service to Hvar where we stay for a couple of nights and then had a tour guide drive us from Split to Dubrovnik where we stayed within the walls of the old town castle. You can walk the walls in the morning before the tour groups invade Dubrovnik. We watched all the seasons of Games of Thrones before our trip since many scenes were filmed here.

From Paris, you can take a TGV train to Dijon, heart of Burgundy region. It has a pedestrian only area within the main center. I forgot when you are planning to go but we went in mid-Sept and hired a wine touring service to take us around and it was during their harvest time. The smaller vineyards are owned by French families and few spoke English so we needed a tour guide who could translate. This was different than in Bordeaux region which has larger vineyards and beautiful chateaus that are often owned by businesses from other countries. Comar is a very charming town and Strasberg is a much bigger and busier but lovely as well.

We also enjoy hiking and are from Seattle. The alps are gorgeous and different than the mountains that are in WA. When we first started visiting Switzerland in our 20’s I admired the older Swiss people hiking and wanted to be just like them (fit and healthy) so hiking has been in my life. Switzerland is a very clean and beautiful scenic country and their train system runs like clockwork. Where ever you go Happy travels!
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Old Jul 8th, 2022, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by portobelloB View Post
We love Croatia and definitely want to return. The country doesn’t have a great transportation system like Switzerland or France so we hired a a tour guide service to take us around in Zagreb, Split, Hvar and Dubrovnik and took a day trip to Montenegro. It was very inexpensive (restaurant meals) since they haven’t join (yet) NATO and European Union. We flew into Split and stayed for a few days then took a catamaran service to Hvar where we stay for a couple of nights and then had a tour guide drive us from Split to Dubrovnik where we stayed within the walls of the old town castle. You can walk the walls in the morning before the tour groups invade Dubrovnik. We watched all the seasons of Games of Thrones before our trip since many scenes were filmed here.

From Paris, you can take a TGV train to Dijon, heart of Burgundy region. It has a pedestrian only area within the main center. I forgot when you are planning to go but we went in mid-Sept and hired a wine touring service to take us around and it was during their harvest time. The smaller vineyards are owned by French families and few spoke English so we needed a tour guide who could translate. This was different than in Bordeaux region which has larger vineyards and beautiful chateaus that are often owned by businesses from other countries. Comar is a very charming town and Strasberg is a much bigger and busier but lovely as well.

We also enjoy hiking and are from Seattle. The alps are gorgeous and different than the mountains that are in WA. When we first started visiting Switzerland in our 20’s I admired the older Swiss people hiking and wanted to be just like them (fit and healthy) so hiking has been in my life. Switzerland is a very clean and beautiful scenic country and their train system runs like clockwork. Where ever you go Happy travels!
this has been so helpful! Thank you so much. A couple quick questions. Between the regions around Dijon vs Colmar/Strasbourg area, which would you say was more spectacular. I just love the old villages and buildings up against the vineyards. We would really like the rent bikes and spend the day exploring. Never really looked into Burgundy much but also heard it was beautiful.

in regards to Croatia. How many nights would you recommend in Hvar (would you stay there vs split?) and also how many days in Dubrovnik. We would also like to day trip to Montenegro - was it worth it?

finally, where in Switzerland did you go to hike?

thanks again!!
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Old Jul 14th, 2022, 08:59 PM
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I thought I had replied but it doesn't look like it went through so sending again.

I would choose Dijon. We went in mid-Sept so it was during their Heritage Day so all admission to the Duke Palace and museums were free. We didn't do any bike riding in the area and hired a wine tour guide to take us to vineyards. You will have to make reservations for the vineyards.

We stayed 3 nights each in Zagreb, Split, Hvar & Dubrovnik (I would shorten the stay in Zagreb if you are flying in there). I'm not sure how to advise you on Montenegro because it depends on how many nights you stay in Dubrovnik and how you are getting there. It is a tiny country and our visit was made interesting because we hired a Croatian driver and had a tour guide from Montenegro with us. You do have to cross the Bosnia border and pay toll frees. Our crossing didn't take long but I was told it can take sometimes up to an hour. I think the toll fees was 30 euros when we went in 2017.

Our hotel in Split was next to the Diocletian Palace (built for a Roman Emperor) which is amazing to see. Short distance to the main square where lots of restaurants line up with views of the Adriatic sea. You can hike up to the small mountain and have a majestic view of the city.

We were in Grindelwald, Switzerland. Bernese Oberland region. It is a quaint Swiss village surrounded by the alps. There are many trails at the base of the north face of the Eiger, Moonch & Jungfrau mountains. We took a bus to Bussalp and hiked up to snow covered grounds at Simelihorn. It was snowing hard (July) so we turned back and hiked all the way to Grindelwald. It looked so close but we didn't get back to village until evening. It is beautiful hiking in the alps with Swiss cows grazing through the fields.

I do recall that we thought our Swiss Euro pass would cover the trip to Grindelwald but it does not. You have to pay a separate fee to get there.
The Swiss conductor was not pleased with us and marched us to the train station. Hey, we were in our 20's when we first went to Switzerland but we have been returning many times to see other parts of the country. Hope this helps you.
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Old Jul 15th, 2022, 06:05 AM
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I always tell people to go with what inspires them. In your OP, you say that you "have always wanted to visit" Croatia. That seems quite compelling to me. Yes, other places in Europe have many wonderful things to offer, but a place you've always wanted to visit should be a priority. If not now, when?
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