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Help with European Cities Pt. II

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Aug 20th, 2015, 04:07 PM
  #1
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Help with European Cities Pt. II

Hi All,

I recently made a thread with too many cities and I decided to focus on a few at a time instead.

Some Background:
I visited Europe for the first time in May 2015. I got to see 9 cities (London (&Bath), Paris, Berlin, Prague, Rome, Florence (&Pisa), Geneva, Barcelona, and Lisbon (&Sintra)). My favorite things were the museums and tourist destinations like the Eiffel tower, Sistene Chapel, Stonehenge, Leaning Tower of Pisa, St. Vitus Cathedral, Ponte Vecchio, etc.). I'm not one for nightlife, drinking, or relaxation on these trips. The places I like don't have to necessarily be big cities (I really enjoyed Bath and Sintra), they just need to have a lot of things to do: history, arts, culture, museums, tourist destinations, etc.

Here are some cities I was thinking about visiting:
Disclaimer: this is not going to be all in one trip. Here is my request - based on your experiences, could you tell me the cities around my listed cities that you greatly enjoyed and that you'd think I would like based on my interests? If you could also tell me the things you liked doing in these cities (in addition to a general idea of why you liked them), I would really appreciate it. I would hate to miss out on any amazing cities that were a short train ride away due to my ignorance. The cities with a question mark next to them are ones I am unsure about. If you have visited them, I would greatly appreciate hearing about your experiences.

Edinburgh
Dublin
Amsterdam
Brussels?
Bruges?
Cologne?
Venice
Milan
Madrid
Toledo?
Granada?
Seville?

As well, for those that have visited these cities, how long would you recommend I spend in each of them? So far I believe I can take the train from Venice to Milan, Amsterdam to Brussels, and Madrid to Seville. If you notice any other cities that have a cheap form of transportation in between them, please let me know!

I know this is a very big request, but I really do appreciate all your help.

Thanks Everyone!
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Aug 20th, 2015, 04:18 PM
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Brussels, Cologne (ewxcept for a 2-hour stop to see the great Gpothic cathedral right next to train station - put bags in locker- Milan - those three I like the least and you may too - big big cities - flights can be really cheap if booked well enough in advance. www.whichbudget.com and www.skyscanner.net are two sites to find out about cheap flights between any two places - like Amsterdam to Madrid or Seville or to Edinburgh

fly open jaw - say into Edinburgh and out of Venice and use trains for the most part the rest - Edinburgh to Dublin; fly Dublin to Amsterdam - train to Bruges - fly to Madrid - train to all those Spanish places by high-speed AVE trains and fly to Venice.

Some of your places are real outliers like Venice and Edinburgh/Dublin and Madrid - maybe eliminate some of those and make a more compact trip or fly a lot.

Anyway for lots of great info on European trains and planning a rail journey - www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com all have lots of objective info.

Cologne is only a few hours from Amsterdam by train - a very possible day trip. If taking several long-distance trains look at some kind of Eurailpass - which is first class if you're over 25 and definitely in my decades of incessant European rail travel well worth it for a significantly more relaxed ride.

There are also overnight trains you could use if into that - I love em and have taken zillions but others just can't sleep - ther is always a modicum of outside noise.
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Aug 20th, 2015, 04:50 PM
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PalenQ - what an absolutely amazing response, thank you for that wealth of information! I definitely agree that the cities are a bit hodge podge in terms of geographical location. That is part of the reason why, if I find other cities based on recommendations, I'll split the trip up into multiple ones.

If I may ask, why did you not enjoy Milan, Brussels, or Cologne? In particular, I thought Milan would be a fun place to visit.
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Aug 20th, 2015, 05:21 PM
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Actually I agree with Pal that those three - Brussels, Milan and Cologne - are among the LEAST interesting. I have been to all the places you list. I would however, make short stops in each of them if you are going to be passing right by them - for example if you are going to be in Brugge then plan a day trip to see the Grand Place (main square) in Brussels, if it makes sense for a trip to fly into Milan then plan on a night or two to see the Duomo, etc. But I wouldn't make those cities a major focus. For the most part they are all business cities with proportionately fewer historic sites and 'quaint/picturesque' quarters than other cities such as Rome, Paris, London, etc.

You say this is not going to be all in one trip. So it would be helpful if you said how long a trip you like to take. For example, your Spain destinations can all be seen in one trip if you have a couple of weeks to devote. I would say Madrid is worth 2-3 days, I think Toledo is worth at least two (but many people are happy with a day trip while staying in Madrid). I would also add in Segovia, also worth a couple days but doable as a day trip from Madrid. Seville and Granada are are worth 2-3 days each minimum and while you are there Cordoba is worth a day or two, although it can also be done as a day trip from Seville or Madrid. Based on what you say you like I think you would enjoy all of those.

Another trip - or at least another week or two could be Amsterdam (and surrounding smaller cities of Delft, Haarlem, Leiden, Gouda) paired with Brugge (and day trip to Brussels) but also Antwerpt and Ghent.

I personally enjoyed Edinburgh much more than Dublin. For Ireland, Dublin was my least favorite part, the country side and west coast were the highlights, but a car is the best way to experience Ireland.

If you are interested I have photos of all those places here:http://www.pbase.com/annforcier
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Aug 20th, 2015, 05:37 PM
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If going to`Seville (4 days) definitely also do not miss either Granada or Cordoba (at least 2 days each) - and a couple of days in the White Villages such as Ronda.

If heading to Belgium Brussels is not your best bet. We loved Brugges and Ghent but also visited Liege, Spa and crossed the border into Germany to see Aachen (Charlemagne's capital). And if you have a car drive south into Luxembourg and see some of the lovely small towns along with a couple of fascinating WWII museums. Starting this trip in Amsterdam also makes sense with these cities.
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Aug 21st, 2015, 03:31 AM
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I have been in Madrid a few times in recent years, and I've previously posted these suggestions:

Have breakfast or lunch at Café del Círculo de Bellas Artes in down town Calle Alcalá, 42. One of the city's most emblematic cafés. Grab a window table and watch Madrid life on bustling Calle Alcalá. Take the lift up to the roof topp terrace (the azotea) for great views of the city.
http://www.lapeceradelcirculo.com/
http://www.circulobellasartes.com/azotea/

Have lunch or some tapas at Casa Granada, on the 6th floor of an apartment building just off Plaza Tirso de Molina. Hard to find and an excellent terrace. http://www.tripfilms.com/Travel_Vide...ada-Video.html

Watch the sunset over the Guadarrama mountains from the terrace at El Ventorrillo in the beautiful and tranquile Vistillas park close to the Almudena cathedral and the Royal Palace: http://11870.com/pro/restaurante-ventorrillo

Café Central, just off bustling Plaza Santa Ana, is the best jazz venue in town with live performances from top artists every night at 9pm. Artists shift every week. Entrance 15€. Good food also. http://www.cafecentralmadrid.com/

Experience world class flamenco in one of the best tablaos. Madrid is arguably the flamenco capital of the world. Although the art form comes from the South (Andalucía), everybody has to conquer Madrid to get to the top. On their way there, or as an opportunity to try out new things and get an up close audience, many of them work the top tablaos. I recommend Casa Patas and Cardamomo, both close to Plaza Santa Ana.
http://www.casapatas.com/
http://www.cardamomo.es/

Corral de la Moreria, next door to El Ventorillo (above) also stages fabulous artists: http://www.corraldelamoreria.com/en/index.html

A stroll in the beautiful Retiro Park. http://www.aviewoncities.com/madrid/parquedelretiro.htm

Asturian Casa Mingo for the best grilled chicken and cider: http://www.casamingo.es/
Watch the video, and you're sold:
http://11870.com/pro/casa-mingo/videos/bc313f19

Txirimiri in Calle del Humilladero, 6 gives you an idea of why the Basque kitchen is considered among the best in the world. In the midst of one of the best tapas/restaurant districts in town, in and around Calle Cava Baja in La Latina.
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restauran...ri-Madrid.html

I never leave Madrid without having had the squid in its own ink and the famous cod at Casa Revuelta, also in the same district.
http://11870.com/pro/casa-revuelta

The Reina Sofia contemporary art museum. The second floor with Picasso, Dalí, lots of other painitings, posters, films, photos etc., dealing with a couple of the greatest civilizational breakdowns of the 20th century, the Spanish Civil War and WWII, completely blew my mind off a couple of years ago.
(And of course Prado and the Thyssen-Bornemisza museums)
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Aug 21st, 2015, 04:45 AM
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Hi,
Personal perceptions of course
Edinburgh : We loved it - great city, nice castle, good feeling
Dublin : not been
Amsterdam : yes, quite nice, too much 'grass' and tourists coming for it.
Brussels? I love it, spent a lot of time there.
A lot of people like to say it is not nice -the gradn place is one of the most beautiful place on earth, though, and le sablon is very nice etc.
Bruges? : a lot of people like it, with reason, but it is like a kind of Walt Disney city - small, beautiful, for tourists only.
Cologne? Dom is great, some museums fabulous and a lot of animnation in the night especially along the Rhine and ??

Venice
Milan
Madrid
Toledo?
Granada?
Seville?
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Aug 21st, 2015, 05:05 AM
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Venice
perfect - superb and oh so romantic.
Milan
I don't really like this city, pizzas are fabulous
torino close by is much more beautiful
Madrid
I loved this city too, but didn't spend too much time
Toledo? never been
Granada? never been
Seville? never been, my wife loved it.
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Aug 21st, 2015, 08:03 AM
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I am truly taken aback by all of your amazing replies. I am definitely going to take all of your experiences into considerations. If there's one thing I have realized, it's that there are way too many cities in Europe that are worth visiting.

Honestly, what an amazing community.
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Aug 21st, 2015, 08:52 AM
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Sevilla is the undisputed queen of the cities in almost mythical Andalucía in the South of Spain. A fairy-tale of a city. Roman, Christian, Jewish, Moslem and Gitano history and culture everwhere and hand in hand with also very modern Sevilla. The Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset's words from 1927 in his "A theory of Andalucía" is almost as valid today: In Sevilla, the visitor might suspect that local people has accepted to play masquerade roles and take part in the display of a magnificent ballett called "Sevilla";-)
http://www.andalucia.com/cities/sevilla.htm
http://www.exploreseville.com/

And a little intro to the city by the out of this world and cutting edge Sevilla based flamenco dancer Rocio Molina: http://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/...ts/intl-cnngo/
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Aug 21st, 2015, 09:25 AM
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Since you didn't say how long you are travelling, it's a bit difficult to estimate. I personally don't like doing the "American tick off the list" travel tours, but here's my two cents anyway

Edinburgh - a couple of days should do you, it's a great place with some lovely bits to walk around, the castle is great, and Holyrood if you can get in. The countryside in Scotland is amazing and I'd recommend taking a jaunt out of the city if you can.

Dublin - really only need a half day here, personally I was a bit disappointed that we spent three days here. I'd like to go back to Ireland to see the rest of it as Dublin didn't really feel like Ireland to me.

Amsterdam- there's a fair amount to see here, I liked the synagogue and Anne Frank museum (get there early) and just walking around the place, it's beautiful with all the canals

Bruges- a lovely town, a day or two would suffice

Venice - I'd say about three days if you want to see everything, and take a boat trip to one of the nearby islands. I liked it but also got ill there and ended up in hospital.

Milan - only flew in to and then hopped on the train for the Cinque Terre. TBH there wasn't much that I had read about that I'd be interested in there, but it's all about preference.

Madrid- was ok but used as a transition from arrival from states to then take train south. Not much of a desire to go back. Again, depends on what you like. Not much architecture/history for time periods I'm interested in there.

Granada- spent a day there, could have done with a bit more time. Alhambra is a must, but a bit annoying with the crowds. We went late in the day/early evening and it seemed a bit better than the morning w/ all the tour buses. Make sure to book tickets in advance.

Seville- I spent three days there and it was plenty, did lots of walking around the town and it was relaxing. Went off to areas most tourists wouldn't go and enjoyed seeing them.

If you're going to Andalucia though you should definitely go to Cordoba as well. We spent a week in a villa in the Sierra Nevada's and had the most amazing time. It's lovely there.
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Aug 21st, 2015, 10:52 AM
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I'd take Cordoba over Granada as a city any day - no parallel to the Alhambra but Cordoba foe=rmer mosque turned cathedral is awesome as is the town itself. And it is more conveinelty fit into a Madrid-Seville trip as it is on the same train line. Could be a nice day trip from Toledo.
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Aug 22nd, 2015, 10:04 AM
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Hey Everyone,

So taking your advice into consideration, I have added a few cities and am thinking about taking out a few as well. I listed the major things I want to do in some of the cities and then an estimated amount of time I'd want to spend in each one. These definitely are not going to be all in the same trip.

-Dublin: (1-2 days) Trinity College, Kilmainham, Guinness tour. Considering taking this out completely
-Edinburgh: (2-3 days)

Can someone help me with what order would be best to see these cities in? I think I have too many listed in this area, is it possible to do some things like the Keukenhof and windmills in one day?
-Amsterdam: (2-3 days) Anne Frank House, Rikjmuseum, Van Gogh Museum
-Keukenhof - tulips
-The Hague (1 day?)
-Kinderjik - Windmills (are these worth stopping for?)
-Cologne - the only thing I really want to see is Dom, considering taking this out completely
-Brussels - the only thing I really want to see is the Grand Place, considering taking this out completely
-Ghent - this city caught my eye from the comments above
- Bruges - seems like a small city, easy to see in a day


-Venice - (2-3 days)
- Milan - maybe a day trip? I really want to see the Duomo, Last Supper and Mall

Can someone help me with the order of these cities as well?
Madrid - (2-3 days) Prado, Reina Sofia
Toledo - day trip?
Cordoba - day trip?
Seville - 2 days
Granada - 2 days - Alhambra
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Aug 22nd, 2015, 02:55 PM
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Edinburgh - Wonderful - worth it anytime
Dublin - Some bright spots but probably on as part of longer Ireland trip.
Amsterdam - Unique architecture, but can be bit grimy at times
Brussels? - Never again
Bruges? - Sublime - one of the three best small cities in Europe. Superb
Cologne? - Never again - pit stop for the cathedral only if in the area connecting
Venice - See it and die.
Milan - Never again
Madrid - Above average large city. I like it but not love it.
Toledo? - Above average city. Definitely worth a day trip from madrid
Granada? - Alhambra is mystical and awe-inspiring. Granada is average.
Seville? - See it and die. Magical, sensuous, alluring. Worth 3-4 days
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Aug 22nd, 2015, 03:48 PM
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Can someone help me with what order would be best to see these cities in? I think I have too many listed in this area, is it possible to do some things like the Keukenhof and windmills in one day?
-Amsterdam: (2-3 days) Anne Frank House, Rikjmuseum, Van Gogh Museum
-Keukenhof - tulips
-The Hague (1 day?)
-Kinderjik - Windmills (are these worth stopping for?)
-Cologne -
-Brussels -
-Ghent -
- Bruges -

Use only two bases - Amsterdam and say Bruges - day trip from Amsterdam to Cologne if bent on seeing the cathedral (really nice but IMO not worth losing a day and 5 hours on a train plus costs of train

Brussels is more than the Grand' Place - the town center has the royal palace and neat gardens - the Mannequin pis - the statue of a little boy peeing that has become the defacto iconic symbol on Brussels - day trip from Bruges

Gent day trip from Bruges

Now for Kinderdijk - it is isolated so hard to do much that day - but if you substitute Rotterdam for The Hague (and to me Rotterdam is a great city with superb museums - avant-garde architecture - take a boat from there to Kinderdijk and back - boat ride is neat too - that could be one day but othewise Kinderdijk is not near any train station or easy to get to.

Keukenhof could easily be twinned with The Hague.
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Aug 22nd, 2015, 03:49 PM
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http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ite-things.cfm

As for Amsterdam you could easily use more days there (but can see the sights you wish easily in a few days) - here are some things I and others like about Amsterdam!
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Aug 22nd, 2015, 05:13 PM
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Brussels is worth a day trip just to see the Grand Place. I think it's the prettiest square I've ever seen. We saw it at night when they turned the lights off and then relit the buildings a small section at a time. It was breathtaking.
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Aug 24th, 2015, 07:15 PM
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I haven't been to all of these cities, so it's hard for me to help with ordering and duration of stays, but I'll add my comments!

-Amsterdam - Can use as a base
-Keukenhof - Make sure you're there during tulip season! (It's still nice otherwise, but just keep in mind that tulip season in very short, around early May). But yes, a half day should suffice.
-The Hague - never been
-Kinderjik - never been
-Cologne - I agree, it's kind of out of the way. But if you're not planning on going back to that region anytime soon, you may want to visit now anyways.
-Brussels - never been
-Ghent - never been
- Bruges - Yes, charming little town that will take up a day... be sure to sample the chocolates!


-Venice - 2-3 days should let you see everything major. Wander around and you'll truly discover Venice.
- Milan - never managed to fit it into my schedule, but hope to go someday!


Madrid - To your list, I'd add Santiago Bernabeu Stadium (Real Madrid Football). You don't sound like a big soccer fan... Neither am I, apart from watching the world cup every 4 years. Nonetheless, I found the stadium tour pretty cool. It's one of the world's great teams and you get everything you'd want out of a tour (history, locker room and field visit, interactive, etc)
Toledo - Yes, day trip from Madrid. Highly recommended.
Cordoba - never been
Seville - I feel like it's a very underrated city, with more to explore than you'd think. Not as touristy as some of the other cities here, so the Spanish culture is much more pronounced. Good place to practice a new language!
Granada - never been

Hope that helps!
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