How to Plan this Trip?

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May 12th, 2010, 07:08 AM
  #1
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How to Plan this Trip?

One of the joys of planning a trip early is that one can modify and incorporate new ideas as they emerge. For summer 2011, I might have 3 months off and would like to use it to see the remaining of Europe and some Middle East.

Ireland
Luxembourg
Belgium
Netherland,
Jordan (Amman, Petra),
Egypt,
Turkey (Istanbul),
Morocco (Fez , Marrakech, Essaouira),
Spain (Madrid, Siena),
Portugal (Lisbon),
Greece (Athens)
Also considering: Scandinavia, Croatia, Syria, India

I prefer to see the highlight and "best of" from each country. For example, for Turkey, I would be content to spend 5 days just in Istanbul. I really have no desire to travel throughout Turkey. While some people can spend 2 weeks in Rome, I was satisfied after spending 4 days. I was content to NOT have visited Cinque Terre. I seek to be exposed to different ideas, people, architecture, art, culture, and UNESCO sites. One of my main fear is to travel to another country and see split-images of countries previously visited.

I use public transportation to commute and am willingly to hire a taxi when needs be. I do not want to sleep overnight on any trains. I will be flying from California. I thought about driving for some parts of the trip, but realize that it might be dangerous for a female solo traveler. Is this precaution warranted?

Could well traveled Fodorites advise on travel logistics (a chronological order of countries to visit; airplane or train; how many days to spend in each destination and how to spend/what to do/where to visit each day). In addition, given the recent thread on exploring the "real" Tuscany (eg. Val d'Orcia; a place where I wish I had known about when I last visited Florence; kicking myself real hard at this time b/c I even had one extra day free in Florence!), I am open to suggestions on "hidden gems" in these cities as well as towns that I must visit in order to get a favor of local life. Last, if there are neighboring countries worthy of visit, please let me know (eg. I wish I had known about the cheap airfare from Rome to Istanbul/Athens. I would have gone to those places when I last visited Rome.) Some part of me is fascinated with India, but I do not know if I can tolerate some of the things that happened to my friends when they visited that country. Any advice for a potential solo female travelers to India? Also, would visiting Scandinavia, Croatia, and/or Syria open my travel to a new level?

Any amount of help (the whole trip or just segments) is highly appreciated.

Thank you so much
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May 12th, 2010, 07:38 AM
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Some part of me is fascinated with India, but I do not know if I can tolerate some of the things that happened to my friends when they visited that country. Any advice for a potential solo female travelers to India?>

have been to India twice for a few months and yes the first part about tolerating some of the things - like constantly being bothered by beggars, many of whom have hideous physical conditions and may stick a cut off limb in your face to get some 'baksheesh' - baksheesh being the word you will be innundated with all the time

But for the second i saw really no problem for women traveling along - indeed i've seen more unwanted attention towards women in Italy than India - very safe IMO to travel along for a woman
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May 12th, 2010, 09:02 AM
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Well re-examining your itinerary i think you should fly from Ireland, a good starting point and then work your way east - fly on like Ryan Air to Amsterdam or Belgium and then fly to Spain and fly to Greece as taking the train directly between these places would be really long - but if you want to stop of enroute - say in France when going between Belgium and Spain then the train is viable - there are overnight trains between Paris and Madrid or Barcelona and also to Lisbon that can save a hotel cost and re-located you quickly to the other end of Europe.

Check on www.whichbudget.com and www.skyscanner.net for cheap flights between any two airports.
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May 12th, 2010, 09:39 AM
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Regarding a woman traveling solo in India, I thoroughly enjoyed myself there alone. Never felt unsafe for a moment. It's a country that's not for the intrepid, however.
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May 12th, 2010, 09:54 AM
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Your comment about being intrepid is interesting.

Here is the story with my poor friend in India. She negotiated with a taxi driver to take her to a certain bus/train station. He dropped her off at the wrong one on purpose b/c the wrong one is closer, shorter distance. She argued with him and even went to people living/working near the wrong station to confirm this. However, the taxi driver followed her and told the people to tell them that this is the correct station. There was no language barrier, but a true deception.

I also read on Fodor about Morocco. If tourists ask locals for direction help, Moroccans do help but expect money in return.

Every person has a threshold of toleration, and being deceived like that (friend in India) and having to argue on a VACATION is not something I want to do on a VACATION. As for Moroccan's money issue; I lived in 2 developing countries and am very TIRED of being viewed as a walking ATM--another issue that I do not want to deal with on my VACATION. For these reasons,a part of me is thinking of scratching these two countries off my list.
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May 12th, 2010, 10:02 AM
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FWIW, some well-traveled close friends just returned from Morocco where they toured with a private guide/driver for nearly two weeks. They were underwhelmed, and I couldn't get them to give me a good reason to go.
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May 12th, 2010, 10:12 AM
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Many people have commented that overnight train will save on hotel. Is that true?

When I took the overnight train from Rome into Paris, I paid over $150 (maybe even $200)for a two person sleeper. How is that cheaper than staying at an economical hotel. Whereas friends who flew paid less than $10. Though I cherish the photo opportunities of train traveling, I question the price saving and the quality of sleeping on a train. I am a light sleeper and realize that sleeping train is not for me.

But thank you for your advice
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May 12th, 2010, 12:35 PM
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Night trains are not for everyone and if you did not want a private double you could have gone for much less. And in many cases you can do online advance booking of overnight trains (not the one you took as Trenitalia will not let Americans do it - if you are a Yank) and can often get overnight trains all fees for 39 euros - cheaper even than the dives i stay at.

And about that $10 air fare - i guess you got to and from the airport free and had no luggage and in today's terms even used the toilet.

and obviously it depends on your level of hotels - i was judging on what Fodorites say - and they usually pay more than what you paid for the train it seems.
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