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Highlights of Europe- 13 Days/12 Nights, Help required planning a trip.

Highlights of Europe- 13 Days/12 Nights, Help required planning a trip.

Mar 16th, 2013, 04:50 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Mar 2013
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Highlights of Europe- 13 Days/12 Nights, Help required planning a trip.

Hello people, Khawaja Talha here, I'm a 17 years old teenager doing his A'Levels that just loves to travel. Due to my managerial skills and devotion to travelling I've been allocated the task of planning a trip by my school. I've been given a basic outline to work with but still I'm completely torn at some areas. The following are the basic outlines:

Countries: Spain, France, Austria and Switzerland
Days: 13
Time of Visit: Late June or Early July

Except for the air tickets and hotel bookings I've got to manage EVERYTHING. To be really honest with you people, this is totally not my style of travelling, I would have chosen just 1 country and thoroughly visited instead of just skimming through 4 but then again majority is authority. Anyhow. look below for my questions:

1. Which Cities to visit (keeping in mind, its only a highlight tour)
2. How many nights to spend in each listed city?
3. How to travel from one country to another while keeping the budget low?
4. What to do (not to be confused with What to visit), I mean to say, which things should we do that limited to the country or its culture only? Something off the beaten path, something different yet enjoyable.

Thanks a lot in advance!
Khawaja is offline  
Mar 16th, 2013, 06:34 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
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Well you may want to take trains around - and for a good fix on the fantastic European train system check out these IMO fantastic sites - www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com - download the latter's free and excellent IMO online European Planning & Rail Guide that gives lots of sample rail itineraries in all those countries.

Not sure if you are a resident of Europe or not but if not check out the bargain Eurail Youthpass - a 15-day pass would let you ride any train in those countries anytime you want. Also check out youth hostels - the cheapest place for groups and again book ahead.

Yup lots of planning - hats off to you for taking on this daunting task!

Cheers!
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 16th, 2013, 06:39 AM
  #3  
 
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Forget Spain---too hot then.
Pick a max of 4 destinations in 2 adjacent countries.
Use trains and fly open jaw--into Paris and home from Venice for instance.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Mar 16th, 2013, 10:23 AM
  #4  
 
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You can also take overnight trains between many cities - save on costs of a night in a hostel or hotel and time too - like an overnight train between Paris and Germany or Paris and Italy.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 16th, 2013, 10:29 AM
  #5  
 
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Strongly suggest you look at the Lonely Planet section of the Thorn Tree website. This is aimed at student/backpack/super budget travelers - and has a lot of great tips that many of us have never used - or heard from.

I know there are some long-distance buses that re cheap - but since you are trying to do so many places in so little time - I think you will have to take the fastest trains yuo can fin d- and damn the expense.

Also I agree I would not touch Spain at that time of year - except the north Atlantic coast - just way TOO hot.
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 16th, 2013, 12:24 PM
  #6  
 
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Whoever the majority with authority is here, he or she simply has no grasp on the realities of trying to visit four European countries in such a small amount of time. Even if logistically possible, what would these students get out of it, other than memories of train stations or airports or drive-bys on a bus? Isn't the point of student travel to experience and learn?

OK, anyway, I agree you should check out Thorntree, where lots of young people who speed through Europe tend to post. Good luck!
StCirq is offline  
Mar 16th, 2013, 12:32 PM
  #7  
 
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How many people will be on the trip? If you are a large group, it may actually be cheaper (and also easier) to go with a packaged tour who deals regularly with school groups.
msteacher is offline  
Mar 16th, 2013, 12:55 PM
  #8  
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PalenQ Thanks a lot that really helped!
Had a look at Thorn tree, some real good stuff. And to people stating that Spain will be too hot for us, I forgot to mention we come from Pakistan and the highest temperature there is normal for us
msteacher, we'll easily bypass 25+

Still need to know which cities to choose!
Khawaja is offline  
Mar 16th, 2013, 01:14 PM
  #9  
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Also guys I've planned the following:
03 Nights Austria
02 Nights Switzerland
02 Nights France
05 Nights Spain

Let me know if it's okay and for Spain I've planned to spend 2 nights in Barcelona where would you recommend me to spend the rest 3 nights?
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Mar 16th, 2013, 05:39 PM
  #10  
 
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>>03 Nights Austria
02 Nights Switzerland
02 Nights France
05 Nights Spain<<

Sorry but your managerial skills and the majority/authority need some serious retooling here.

3 nights in Austria after flying in from Pakistan means you have 2 full(jet lagged) days and couple of extra hours.

2 nights in Switzerland will give you one day there.

2 nights in France will give you ONE day there.

5 nights in Spain will give you 4.5 days there.

And w/ a LARGE group? That is crazy and a huge waste of money. Who picked those places? Obviously someone who has never taken such a trip.

Unless you can convince them to change things you and your fellow students will see next to nothing but a bit of Spain and a smaller bit of Austria.
janisj is online now  
Mar 16th, 2013, 05:44 PM
  #11  
 
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So, why did you ask???
Good advice above.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Mar 16th, 2013, 07:30 PM
  #12  
 
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You - and the "authorities"-have completely unrealistic ideas about travel in Europe...bottom line. You seem like a really smart fellow, but seriously, this trip is doomed.
StCirq is offline  
Mar 16th, 2013, 09:12 PM
  #13  
 
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Any chance you could at least reduce to 3 locations? I'd suggest dropping Switzerland since it is extremely expensive, and you could still see the Alps in Austria. Then, pick only one city to visit in each country (such as Paris, Barcelona, and Salzburg), giving you five nights in each. You will not have enough time to move 25 people to a second city in each country. Of course, you will need to fly between each of these three cities, which eats up a day each time, giving you only four days to explore each.

But id suggest rather than visit one city in three (or four) different far-apart countries, you will save significant time and money visiting several cities within the same country. It may be helpful to ask your "authorities" more about why they have selected these locations. What is it they actually want to DO on this trip? For example, if what they really want is to spend some time at a beach, in the mountains, and in a large city, you could travel by train within France or Italy to these three locations.

So, in short, think in terms of cities not entire countries. And get more info from your travel group about the types of experiences they would enjoy, rather than just the names of locations.they think they want to see. Then you will be able to begin to start planning.
msteacher is offline  
Mar 16th, 2013, 09:15 PM
  #14  
 
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Oops, I was thinking you had 15 nights, not 12. So you would only have 3 days in each city if you visit 3 locations.
msteacher is offline  
Mar 17th, 2013, 06:11 AM
  #15  
 
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In Spain you could visit wonderful San Sebastián on the Atlantic coast, the culinary capital of Spain if not all of Europe. Some of the finest city beaches on the continent, popular with surfers and great climate in summer: http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/08/07...pain.html?_r=0

The train from Barcelona to San Sebastián stops in Pamplona where the famous San Fermin-festival (running with the bulls etc) takes place July 6-14. http://www.sanfermin.com/index.php/en/
kimhe is offline  
Mar 17th, 2013, 06:19 AM
  #16  
 
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... and San Sebastián is European Capital of Culture 2016 and just across the border from France. Little more than an hour with bus to Pamplona. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUdOeA0GeEg
kimhe is offline  
Mar 17th, 2013, 10:03 AM
  #17  
 
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uh uh that would be Donostia - the Basque name they prefer vastly over the Spamnish colonials St Sebastian - I've seen the Spanish version scrapped off innumerable road signs in the Basque country.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 17th, 2013, 01:40 PM
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PalenQ,

Donostia is Basque for San Sebastián, the dona/dono/doni element in Basque place-names signifies "saint" and is derived from Latin domine. The second part of Donostia is a shortened form of Sebastián.

And it's by no means so easy as "they prefer" Donostia over San Sebastián. For most of the post-Franco period the majority of people in the Basque country have been perfectly happy voting for pro-Spanish parties (PP/PSOE), and I've never heard any of my Basque friends have anything against San Sebastián, although they might frequently use Donostia as well (and they all call themself Donostiarras). There are nevertheless some true militants on this issue who do alot of painting on road signs etc.

Strong local cultural identity in the region, but it's historically also very much linked to being a part of Spain since the early 16th century (when Spain became Spain). Basque nationalism is very much a product of the late 19th century, as so many other European nationalisms and it was of course boosted after decades of repression under Franco.
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