Help with European vacation plan

Dec 16th, 2014, 05:05 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 190
Help with European vacation plan

My wife and I would like to plan a trip to Europe for 2015.
Late April or early May has worked for us before, but would also consider September thru December (maybe see some Christmas decorations?).
We have already done a trip that included London, Paris and Rome.
We have also done a Mediterranean Cruise. Both were wonderful.
We would have 13 days for the trip. Fly in on a Saturday and fly home on the Friday 13 days later.

On this trip my wife would like to see the Warner Brother Harry Potter Studio tour outside of London.
My thought is to fly to London from Tampa, Fl, rent a car at the airport and stay somewhere close to the Studio. See that then maybe drive the English country side to see Stonehenge.
Then return the car and go to Amsterdam using the Overnight Ferry with cabin with the Stena Line.
Stay in Amsterdam for 2 days, the take a train to a city in Germany, maybe Cologne, and rent a car and drive the Romantic Road, staying in places along the way.
Now I don’t know if I would like to end in Munich and fly home from there, or end in another city and take a train to Lucerne Switzerland, stay there 2 days, then fly home from Zurich or Geneva.

I would appreciate any input anyone has.
Bindery is offline  
Dec 16th, 2014, 07:08 AM
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Seems like a lot of stops and misc. driving for 13 days.

Often, it makes better use of vacation time to see more things in the same area? Personally, I recommend England and Germany or The Netherlands (with Belgium) and Germany; not England, The Netherlands and Germany - too many stops with time used checking into and out of hotels, etc. You are trying to cover a whole lot of ground in a short period of time.

Is your wife absolutely set on the studio bit? If you are set on going back to England, that is a lot of time and money to go to only two things. Why not do a bit more of England, so you won't wish to return there on the next trip?

Visit Bath and drive through a bit of the Cotswolds' villages. Perhaps Salisbury Cathedral just south of Bath. See the beautiful Abby and impressive Roman Baths in Bath. Take a brief tour (free) for the history of Bath. Maybe visit Oxford and Blenheim (hated by some people, but interesting to others). You could actually do most of this, except for the villages, by train. If you stayed a couple of nights in Bath, you could take a mini-van tour of Stonehenge and the villages, from Bath on a Mad Max tour. No need then for a car rental.

Going to Amsterdam? See more of the beautiful Netherlands and Belgium: Bruges, Ghent, etc. easy to take a train to all.

Consider flying from Brussels (or Amsterdam if you choose not to see Belgium) to Munich. Rent a car there and work your way up to Frankfurt for your flight home.

England, 4/5 nts
Netherlands - Belgium, 4/5 nts
Romantic Road- 3/4 nts
Sassafrass is offline  
Dec 16th, 2014, 07:11 AM
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This one ?

This might help you may want to avoid driving after a long flight (we Brits would rather you did )

Then rent a car for Stonehenge

Ferry great

Cologne is ok but maybe a bit meh

I think there is enough to do between Amsterdam and say Constanz to fill your holiday needs and think Munich (what is the drawer for Americans of this conference city? ) is too far. You could fly out of Frankfurt easily after enjoying the Rhine, the beauty of the Pfalz wine route, Alsace, Mulhouse etc etc
bilboburgler is offline  
Dec 16th, 2014, 09:58 AM
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Too much moving for my taste. Have you added up just how much time you will LOSE with all this moving around? You will spend little time actually IN places and a good deal of time in BETWEEN places. Unless all you hope to achieve is ticking places off a list, I don't see this as best or even good use of time.

You don't even have 13 days. I'm guessing you are doing a Friday departure from Tampa arriving on the Saturday. That Saturday is basically lost to jet lag. The Friday you leave is also a write-off, so you really only have 12 days to work with. I would not plan on more than 3 stops in total. Each for 4 nights/3 full days IN those places.
Sojourntraveller is offline  
Dec 16th, 2014, 12:56 PM
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the Romantic Road is anything but romantic IME - a busy two-lane road filled with lorries, camping cars, etc the two times I took it. Oh the cities like Rothenburg and Dinkelsbuhl and Nordlingen are dreamy but they are also in season super crowded - especially Rothenburg.

The Romantic Road was conjured up by the German Tourist Office in the 50s I believe to lure tourists here. There is nothing exceptional about the road though after you get south of Augsburg it does because more bucolic till Fussen and 'Mad' Ludwig's Neuschwanstein Castle.

I'd propose driving down the Rhine from Cologne via Bonn (nice old town - one of few not totally blitzed in WW2 - to the Mosel Valley, one of the most wondrous motoring/biking places in Europe IMO - the river runs in a deep gorge lovingly carpeted with vineyards on southward-facing slopes and dotted by picture postcard wine towns like Cochem - a type of town many love to stay in but never really find themselves being able to.

Burg Eltz near Cochem is one of Germany's most famous castles and one of the few on the Rhine and Mosel not to be decimated in wars in this militarily important place.

Then drive along the famous Rhine Gorge (Koblenz-Mainz) and then over to Heidelberg - another rare German town not blitzed in WW2 and a lovely university town known for its many student pubs (German students it is often said do little academic once in college) and take the Castle Road - a really scenic road along the castle-studded Neckar River dotted with neat old towns - to Rothenburg to join the Romantic Road if you want.

The Dreamy Mosel Valley:

Dreamy Cochem:
PalenQ is online now  
Dec 22nd, 2014, 06:08 AM
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OK-new plan. Wife wants to see the Harry Potter thing.
Delta has a flight on Friday May 22nd that leaves 6:55pm and transfers in New York and arrives London Heathrow at 10:40am Saturday. So we could leave Friday after work. We rent a car, have a Bed and Breakfast arranged somewhere near the Harry Potter experience. See local things Saturday, see the Harry Potter thing on Sunday or Monday.
Tuesday go to Amsterdam either by the ferry or Eurostar. Get a place to stay in the city. Later Thursday take a train to Frankfurt.
Stay there and rent a car and do day trips out. Leave Frankfurt the next Friday. Delta has a flight going out at 1:40pm.
Our plan in Germany is to see local towns, see castles and drink beer.
How does this plan look?
Bindery is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2014, 06:23 AM
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You do NOT need to drive to visit the HP Experience. See:

You should not drive after a night flight.

Stay in London and use public transport for HP, then take the Eurostar. If you stay in London you could look into taking a tour to Stonehenge as well, I believe London Walks runs one.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2014, 08:38 AM
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Is there time for a connection in NYC?

Assume this is the same airport and a single ticket - so once you are checked in you don't have to do so again (you will still have to go through security). Flights into NYC are often late and tend to get later further into the day.
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 7th, 2015, 06:42 AM
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This is the plan I have now.
Fly non stop Tampa to Gatwick arriving Saturday morning. Rent a car a go to a bed and breakfast somewhere in the Slough area. Walk around and explore on Saturday. Sunday drive around, see Stonehenge, pubs, and other sites. Monday go to Warner Brother Harry Potter Studio tour. Tuesday drive to Harwich, drop off the car and take the Stena Line Overnight Ferry with cabin to Amsterdam.
Stay in Amsterdam Wednesday, Thursday. Friday take a train to Cologne and rent a car. Drive and see the sites Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Tuesday end up in Stuttgart. Drop off the car and take a train to Lucerne Switzerland. Stay in Lucerne Wednesday-see the sites-take a late train Thursday to Zurich, stay Thursday night and leave early Friday back to Tampa.
Bindery is offline  
Jan 7th, 2015, 07:02 AM
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You're going to explore Slough???
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 7th, 2015, 07:28 AM
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There are some lovely places near Gatwick, but Slough isn't one of them. And it's out of your way for getting from Gatwick to Stonehenge and the roads are horrendous - not what you want to do when you've just stepped off an overnight flight.

A much better plan, IMO would be to get the train from the airport station [mainline into London] to historic Winchester [one change at Clapham Junction] then pick up a car in the morning and drive to Stonehenge via lovely Salisbury. [a 45 minute drive on easy roads]

personally I would then continue onto Bristol via bath and fly to Amsterdam, but I understand that doesn't give you your Harry Potter experience.
annhig is online now  
Jan 7th, 2015, 08:25 AM
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"come friendly bombs and fall on Slough
It isn't fit for humans now,
There isn't grass to graze a cow.
Swarm over, Death!

Come, bombs and blow to smithereens
Those air -conditioned, bright canteens,
Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans,
Tinned minds, tinned breath. "

bilboburgler is offline  
Jan 7th, 2015, 11:55 AM
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I spent a year in Slough one afternoon whilst waiting a few hours for a train!
PalenQ is online now  
Jan 7th, 2015, 01:27 PM
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>>rriving Saturday morning. Rent a car a go to a bed and breakfast somewhere in the Slough area.<<

Sorry but that is a very bad idea.

Bad things:

1) driving after an overnight flight
2) staying in or anywhere near near Slough
3) Driving on a monday morning over one of the most congested motorways in Europe

Just bad all around.

I'd get back to the Drawing board.
janisj is online now  
Jan 8th, 2015, 05:05 AM
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We have been to Europe twice and I dont think driving after a flight will be an issue.
Just trying to pick a spot to land after getting the car.
Just picked Slough because it seems to be centrally located.
We would just stay somewhere and do the day trips.
Would like to be able to walk to a town area to visit a pub or two.
What is the issue with that area? Do you have another suggestion?
Bindery is offline  
Jan 8th, 2015, 06:04 AM
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If you want a base for day trips the obvious place is London, using public transport.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 8th, 2015, 06:09 AM
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Bindery - you have had several alternatives suggested above - and all of us agree that Slough is a bad idea. apart from anything else, if you really want to drive to Stonehenge from Gatwick, it takes you well out of your way and means a longish drive on some of the UK's busiest motorways including the M25 which has been called the world's biggest car park with good reason. and as we have all said, there is nothing which recommends it as a place for tourists to stay.

Winchester and Salisbury would both be terrific places to stay if you want to do day trips in the south of England. they both have historic centres with lovely old buildings and plenty of cosy pubs to have evening meals.

as I stated above, you could get a train to Winchester with only one change of train from Gatwick, and stay there the night. Stay several nights, within 1 hour's drive there are any number of lovely places to see - Stonehenge, salisbury, the whole of the New Forest, Portsmouth [for the dockyard and Mary Rose] Chichester, Bosham - how man weeks have you got?
then an easy train directly back into London.

trust me [and everyone else here] - just because you have drive twice in Europe [where, I wonder] it does not equip you for driving on the left in heavy traffic just after you get off an overnight flight.
annhig is online now  
Jan 8th, 2015, 07:24 AM
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Driving in Europe is on the right side of the road. Driving in England has you on the LEFT side of the road . . . not at all easy to acclimate after an overnight flight.

Honest -- after flying in long haul the best base for Gatwick/Stonehenge/Harry Potter/other day trips is central London car-less.

The next best base might be somewhere like Windsor - but that would still give you an unadvisable drive from Gatwick, and a nasty drive to Harry Potter on Monday morning.

Why do you think you need a car???
janisj is online now  

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