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Ideas for a New and Different Europe Trip

Ideas for a New and Different Europe Trip

Nov 12th, 2007, 11:38 AM
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Ideas for a New and Different Europe Trip

Only back from Italy for a couple of weeks, and it's well past time to think about the next trip (probably late May or June).

We've had several recent trips to gorgeous places with lots of history, culture and good food, and the troops (DH, 12yo son and possibly also 9yo daughter) are itching to try something new and different. I've done some research, but would love some first-hand advice and suggestions.

Nominees that have bounced around the house so far are (but provide any other ideas, PLEASE):
- The Dalmatian coast, Croatia, Slovenia (Istria), Montenegro (Kotor), Bosnia (Mostar), etc.
- The Pyrenees, the Spanish and/or French side
- Prague/Hungary region
- Norway/Sweden/Finland/Denmark

We are quite active, but also like big cities, art and culture. We are not beach types at all. We love good food, though some of us have had enough for now (but when it really comes down to 10 days of goulash and pizza, will that feeling stay the same? When these same troops picked restaurants for our upcoming long weekend in La Jolla, they DID NOT choose simple and casual.) I THINK we all are looking for something more active. We rent cars with no hesitation, take trains, no qualms re languages we can't speak, like small hotels, chambres d'hotes or B&Bs if clean and nice. (Us grownups have been to Switzerland, Austria & Germany, so they might not be different enough for this trip; but maybe there are some areas there we're not thinking about.)

The Dalmatian coast sounds fabulous, but it seems like the things we would want to see are pretty spread out. Also, the main draw seems to be laid-back ocean-front time, and while we'd enjoy that a bit, I think 1-2 days would be enough FOR US. Also, the art/history stuff is not huge (or rather, what is there, is spread out). Would we miss art/history on this trip, I'm asking myself that? I'd love a combination.

Pyrenees. We visited near here earlier this year, so it might be too familiar. But it looks so beautiful, and we had a great time doing the short hikes up to the "Cathar" castles in the Languedoc area!

Norway, etc. Well, it would be different...

I'd love more ideas of places that I haven't thought about yet - I'm sure the local librarians are wondering about the variety of guidebooks I've been checking out!

(Without listing everywhere we've been, which is definitely not everywhere, assume that we've visited the most common destinations in the most common countries, and we're looking for somewhere more remote. And Turkey and Sicily have already been vetoed, unfortunately).

I'm looking forward to some interesting suggestions.
Lexma90 is offline  
Nov 12th, 2007, 11:57 AM
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>>And Turkey and Sicily have already been vetoed, unfortunately).<<

I don't know Turkey well, but why was Sicily vetoed?

It has everything you seem to be looking for:

Things to see: Greek temples, Roman ruins and mosaics, Byzantine churches, Norman-Arab palaces and cathedrals, wonderful Baroque architecture.

Cities and nature (beaches, mountains, nature reserves).

Great food, including seafood and sweet-and-sour dishes with an Arab influence.

Many nice agriturismi in the country and small hotels in the cities.

Zerlina is offline  
Nov 12th, 2007, 12:05 PM
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Perhaps you're looking for the kind of trip you won't find in Europe?

Like maybe a Costa Rican or Dominican Republic type trip where the kids (and you) could ride zip lines, visit rainforests, etc. Something more active sounding.

Otherwise I think the Scandinavian region would be interesting... you could visit Copenhagen and visit Tivoli....
jenblase is offline  
Nov 12th, 2007, 12:06 PM
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With the combination of travelers you have, the Dalmation coast combined with more of Slovenia would be ideal. While the coast is nice, the interior of Slovenia is beautiful and a haven for sports. So, go canyoning with your children. We took our nephews and son (ages 8, 14 and 15) and they had the best time. They rated Slovenia higher than Italy! Besides canyoning, you can do kayaking, white water rafting and specialized cave trips. The history of the Soca River valley is amazing with wonderful hiking trails along the battle sites of WW1. The food is good, but may not be what you expect. Hisa Franko is as good as any restaurant in Europe (in other words, fabulous) and also runs a small, personal hotel in Kobarid. The local food is meat oriented but if you like mushrooms, there is no better place in the world to have them.

Prague and Budapest are also fabulous. If you go to Hungary, read Mitchnerīs Bridge over Andau. It is an account of teh 1956 revolution and is very accurate. You will see the damage wrought by the Soviet troops. Also, Szetendre is cute. The Puszta in the east is interesting, esp. from an historical horsemenīs viewpoint. Prague is wonderful but I am not familiar with the rest of the Czech Republic. You could rent a car and drive there via Slovakia which is a nice country.

We went through the Pyrenees this summer. It is beautiful, but I think I would vote for Slovenia over this region for an extended holiday.

Another suggestion is Andalucia. Seville, Granada, Cordoba and Ronda are beautiful and the history is amazing. Read James Restonsīs book, The Dogs of God. Amazing, nonfiction recount of the Inquisition and the Muslims in this area. It reads like a novel. Not as many sports etc. there but fabulous museums, architecture and food.

Canīt help on Scandinavia...thatīs a future trip also!
SloJan2 is offline  
Nov 12th, 2007, 12:07 PM
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Hi L,

>..several recent trips to gorgeous places with lots of history, culture and good food, and the troops .. are itching to try something new and different.<

I think that Molvania would interest them.

Certainly very different from your past trips.

ira is offline  
Nov 12th, 2007, 12:23 PM
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If the Pyrenees, I would do both sides of the border, possibly starting and ending in Barcelona, and using San Sebastian as the western most point.
Michael is online now  
Nov 12th, 2007, 01:06 PM
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For our 25th trip to Europe we will be going to northern Spain in May--our 5th trip to Spain. I think you may like it, especially with a start in Segovia and ending in Salamanca. Holler if you want more info---I am doing my homework now.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Nov 12th, 2007, 02:09 PM
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Wow - lots of great ideas; I'll have to look into northern Spain and the Andalusia area. Ira, I'll have to suggest Molvania to DS - see how long I can keep that idea going! And, of course, I didn't mean to suggest that we wanted to go somewhere that didn't have good food and lots of history and culture, but maybe a place with less focus on that and more on the outdoors, mountains and all that!

Slovenia - I'd love to hear more about the inland areas. The Karst caves did catch my eye. We all enjoyed the cave visits we made in the Dordogne. Canyoning, we'll have to see. We live in the U.S. Rockies, where that's a big activity. But I'm sure that area is also beautiful for other activities, as well (hiking).

Sicily we'll visit someday, but we've been to Italy twice in the last two years, one time including 5 days in Rome. If we went to Sicily, we'd probably combine it with Rome, so we'll hold off on that for now.

If nothing else, this pre-planning phase is very good for me learning more history and geography!
Lexma90 is offline  
Nov 12th, 2007, 03:02 PM
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Why not think outside the box? Head to South Africa or South America. Buenos Aires and South Africa are reasonably favorable places in the world to spend US Pesos nowadays, and believe me, there's more than enough variety to satisfy everybody.

Other thought is to do a house swap someplace and go "deep" instead of "wide."
Gardyloo is online now  
Nov 12th, 2007, 03:08 PM
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I think you probably saw my trip report to Barcelona and Morocco this past March. I would strongly suggest a trip to Morocco might be just what you guys are looking for. Tons of culture and outdoors stuff. While we didn't do any trekking in the high Atlas, we did do a camel trek and a night in a berber tent - to be honest one of the most amazing things we have ever done!! Definitely a wonderful and fascinating country. We were there with our kids (ages 11 and 14 at the time).

I would pair it with something else. We paired it with Barcelona which was great, but if you have already been there, perhaps the south of Spain.
jgg is offline  
Nov 12th, 2007, 03:31 PM
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- Norway/Sweden/Finland/Denmark
any or all.
danon is offline  
Nov 13th, 2007, 06:40 AM
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Thanks, all, for the additional suggestions.

JGG - we travelled to Barcelona, I think, shortly after your family trip to Barcelona and Morocco. (We started in Barcelona, then a day in Figueres/Girona, then into France, where we spent the rest of the trip in the Languedoc and Dordogne.) Morocco's a possibility.

Lexma90 is offline  
Nov 13th, 2007, 06:50 AM
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How about Bosnia-Hi? We are planning a trip there and so far trip research is yielding fantastic information. It looks so gorgeous and is less touristed than many places by the looks of things.
travel2live2 is offline  
Nov 13th, 2007, 09:23 AM
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Having read all of the posts above in reply to your request, it seems that we travel in a similar mode. We've been doing it 99% independently, only twice having to resort to tours, 1984 China and 1985 USSR when it was next to impossible to do it otherwise. Luckily, I had been to Russia before (on US Business) and since without a tour...as for China, we went this last spring on our own, just hiring guides in two of the cities mainly for their cars! What a difference from '84 in more ways than one....a pleasure indeed.

Even at 78 I still hold tightly onto independent travel as the favored way to go. Dear wife agrees!

If you decide to go in June, my #1 suggestion would be Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. The kids would love that part of Europe, as will you and the DH... a fine mix of city and countryside in each country (Bergen, Trondheim, Tromso, Oslo, Stockholm, Goteburg, Helsinki, Copenhagen). Anything less than three weeks, it may be wise to skip Finland.

Norway, in particluar will give you a choice of both boat and auto travel...in fact, on our most recent visit to these countries, we combined three days on board the Hurtigrute (the coasdtal voyage), getting on in Bergen for two nights, getting off in Trondheim for two days, and reboarding another ship for one night to the port of Bodo where we rented a car to take a ferry to the Lofotens, drive to Tromso north of the Arctic Circle, back to Narvik, and an overnight train ride to Stockholm. Worked out very well.

As you get into the planing stages, and guide books you will find many places of interest therein for each one and all of you.

If you need any further help at any time in the planning, I wuld be happy to suggest lodgings, restaurants, sites not to miss in all four countries.

Happy planning...

Ira: You should know better than to suggest MOLVANIA at that time of year. It's the "Return of the sheep from the Mountains Festival" and there is widespread slaughter of the poor bovine buggers from dawn to midnight, making for a distasteful odor throughout that glorious realm....and all restaurants serve only one dish...yep, you guessed it.

Lex, please write if you choose these countries and wish any further help in drawing up an itinerary and pix.

Stu T.

[email protected]
tower is offline  
Nov 13th, 2007, 10:34 AM
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Hi! I'm sure you will have a fabulous trip and deciding where to go is part of the fun! Enjoy.
Just wondering why Turkey was vetoed. I traveled around the western part for 20 days - but I still feel that there is so much I want to see, and the eastern part is just waiting to be explored. Would love to return.
Saira is offline  
Nov 13th, 2007, 10:38 AM
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All Europe is busy with weekend and week long activities. I watch DW TV and am amazed at the things people can do beside trudge through churches and museums and local eat shops. Bicycle tours, mountain trails, ski/board schools, cooking classes, language classes....Drive the Rhine or the Vistula, in Italy follow the WWII invasion route. Looking on gets boring, I suggest participation.
GSteed is offline  
Nov 13th, 2007, 01:08 PM
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At that time of year, Scandinavia. If you can be in the north in the weeks centered on midsummer, you'll have the longest days of the year in a place where they are really long. It never gets dark. The sun seems to set 5 times. On Midsummer itself there are bonfires and celebrations. It's the total opposite of December 21 here. Just thinking about it lifts my spirits. It was one of the most wonderful natural travel experiences we've ever had.
Coquelicot is online now  
Nov 14th, 2007, 11:09 AM
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Thanks, again, for all of the suggestions; we have enough ideas for several trips to come. The point about boat travel with a Norway trip was a good reminder - DH is not so fond of boats (which is not to say we're striking that option). And possibly our available dates will help us narrow things down. If we can travel at the end of June, then it sounds like Norway, Denmark, etc. are good choices, for the midnight sun and those celebrations. If we travel in late May, we may want to visit further south (northern Spain, Dalmatian coast; Hungary and the Czech Republic; Pyrenees).

Why was Turkey vetoed? That was by DH; DS and I really would love to visit there (DD is pretty much up for anything; though she told me "not Paris," because the only thing DS talks about for Paris is the museums, which she isn't so interested in! I thought that was pretty funny.)

South America is less of an option for us. DH has some health issues that make that part of the world a little more risky for him. And Africa some day - I've been saying for YEARS that we'll do that for our 25th anniversary, with kids (though the same health issues would apply here, too). And Asia, too.

On more active vacations, or vacations involving other activities. While I did say we wanted something more active this time, I'm always torn by what that concept may mean. Many of those other activities we can, and do, do here at home (we live in the U.S. Rockies). So given a choice, for example, between canoeing down a beautiful river and visiting a striking 15th-century castle, or even a modern art museum, our group has been choosing the castle and the museum. We can canoe at home (albeit with different geography), but there are DEFINITELY no castles, and not very good art museums, in our part of the world! And I have been toying for years with a biking vacation, as DH and I are doing more and more road biking, but if we did that, a certain number of hours per day would be on the bike, which means less time for other things. But that's life in a nutshell, right?
Lexma90 is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 12:06 PM
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I'm sure you are aware, but Scandinavia is absurdly expensive. Just got back from dinner in Copenhagen. Local Vietnamese place. A meal that, in Boston, would have been maybe $20-25 was over $70. This is not abnormal. There are no cheap dining options - a McD's value meal is $10, at least. And Danes make fun of how expensive Norway is.

I still think it a great trip, and Scandinavia will never be cheap and the timing is right. If you want some CPH recommendations, let me know.
travelgourmet is online now  
Nov 14th, 2007, 01:28 PM
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LexMa: I am surprised no one has mentioned POLAND to you as a possible destination. I did not see that you had been there, but maybe I've missed it. It has castles, incredibly complicated History (you could learn a lot) Krakow is full of both castles, churches, history, and Museums, and so are other parts of the country. You could travel down to the Tatra Mountains if you want some outdoor activity. Have a look. And enjoy wherever you go - you and your kids are lucky to be traveling so much.
taconictraveler is offline  

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