Italy & France trip

Old Jul 6th, 2006, 12:04 PM
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Italy & France trip

Hello. I'm planning a trip to Europe, namely France and Italy. I'm now 28 years old and I have put off this trip for far too long. My families derive from both of these countries, and I just have to go. I'm planning a 45-day trip. Currently, the cities I'll be visiting, including the number of days I plan on staying in each, are:

1. Rome, 10 days
2. Venice, 4 days
3. Florence (incl. Pisa), 8 days
4. Paris (incl. Versailles & Fontainebleau), 11 days
5. Strasbourg, 4 days
6. French Riviera, 4 days
5. the Loire Valley, 3 days
6. Mont Saint Michel, 1 day

Total: 45 days

My Expenses:

food per day: $20 * 45 days = $900
bed for day: $20 * 45 days = $900
museums, exhibitions: $15 * 25 visits = $375
entertainment per night: $30 * 18 nights = $540
shopping expenses: $500
transportation: ~ $1100 (europass ($500), taxi & bus & train ($300), bike ($300))

Total: $4315

the trip:

Paris-MSM-Loire-Strasbourg-Nice-Venice-Florence-Pisa-Rome-Paris

I haven't worked out the minor details, like what museums and exhibitions I'll be visiting, and other things. So, my question is directed to people who know the countries intimately and can offer some advice. Your help will be much appreciated. What are the must-sees in each city? Are my expenses reasonable? Have I overlooked certain expenses? Thank you.

Francisco
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Old Jul 6th, 2006, 12:28 PM
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Francisco,

Welcome to Fodors!

May I suggest you do a lttle reading first before asking about "must sees"?

Here a list of "miniguides" here on Fodors. Click on each city you plan on visiting and come back with more specific questions about the tourists sites you are interested in.

http://tinyurl.com/khnjq

The itinerary you have mapped out looks just fine. It allows you to see the important sites in each city and also allows travel time between them.

Your expenses also look feasible although I'm not sure about your lodging expenses. Are you planning on hostels? camping? staying in peoples houses?
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Old Jul 6th, 2006, 12:28 PM
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As to your itinerary, unless MSM is directly part of your heritage, I would skip as out of the way and too short a time.

As to your budget, check out www.hostels.com which can give you an idea of the costs of budget accomodation. If your heritage is close enough, track down relatives no matter how distant and no matter how out of the way the location. You might get a free room and you will definitely get more of the "actual" Europe. Also consider an open-jaw air ticket, into Paris and out of Rome so you can save some time and $.
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Old Jul 6th, 2006, 12:33 PM
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Hello. Thank you for replying. I'm planning on staying in hostels, and I figured $20 per day is a reasonable average. Hotels would be far too expensive. Although i'm fairly unaware of other inexpensive lodging options.
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Old Jul 6th, 2006, 12:49 PM
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Hi frrodriguez,

Did you calculate this in Euros and take the exchange rate into consideration? 20Euros for bed seems low - in Paris you can easily find yourself paying 27Euros/night for a hostel for example. If you've got some hostels in mind - check out BUG backpackers reveiw site to see comments. I can't speak for other large European cities on hostel prices and hosteling is not a popular activity on this forum. I also think you are low-balling the cost of exhibits - in 45 days you are going to see more than 25 sites. Probably more in the range of 2-3 sites or so a day don't you think? You can manage on 20Euros/day for food as long as you are carful and hit grocery stores mainly (perhaps you can steal a bit from your evening entertainment some times - lol!)Transport looks ok to me.

I was on a very tight budget for my 3 month trip and finally sat down calculated the cost of everything I could think of and rounded up (bottled water, laundry (7Euros), exchange rate etc). I was pretty close overall....

Cheers,

Murphy
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Old Jul 6th, 2006, 01:05 PM
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At the moment, I'm going to make some general observations.

The biggest thing that strikes me is your allowance for food and bed. At today's exchange rates, $20 is worth E15.60. That's not much in anybody's book. It's been a while (longer than I care to think) since I've stayed in a hostel or pensione - and I haven't checked on their prices lately either - but I would think your budget would be very tough to do, especially in the larger cities. My own opinion is you're going to have a problem even if you double your room budget, but check some youth hostel sites.

Same with food. Even if you plan to go to a market for do-it-self lunch (bread, fruit, cheese etc), you're not leaving much for dinner. Depending on your taste and needs (and whether you plan to be on a strict diet - which no one should do in Europe), you might get by with doubling that to about $40.

Generally, the number of days in each place is pretty good and you're leaving enough time in Rome, Florence and Paris to do them some justice.

You're going to get lots of advice and comments on here, but I'd also spend lots of time looking at travel/guide books to focus on things that interest you in particular.

Will provide additional thoughts later, but wanted to give you some general input on some things I think you might need to rethink.

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Old Jul 6th, 2006, 01:29 PM
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Yes frrodriguez, for sure your plan is budget wont work in dollars. Run your budget through an online currency converter to get a better estimate (any bank site).

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Old Jul 6th, 2006, 01:36 PM
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thank you for your replies. Your point about hostel costs is well taken. I've updated my daily lodging expense to $35, after calculating average hostel expense in each city (hostel.com) and adjusting for length of stay. Of course, there are more expensive hostels, but I don't mind the average youth hostel. It's only sleep, after all. Most of these hostels offer breakfasts included in their fees. So, the $20 a day would be for lunch and dinner. Regarding museums and tourist sites, nearly half of these are free, and the other half, almost everyone, cost less than $15 to get admission. I'm guessing I'll be visiting from 4 -5 museums in each of Paris, Florence, and Rome. Then there are the castles, which I estimate that I'll visit about 8-10, and i'll leave about 8 entrances for unscheduled visits. So, yes, I'll update the total admissions to 30.

One question I forgot to ask...is it feasible and a good idea to buy a bicycle, use it for city exploration, and take it with me on the train?
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Old Jul 6th, 2006, 01:56 PM
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I think we could give you better advice if you appoached this in Euros not dollars - what dollar? Where are you from?

What do you mean half the sites are free? Not in the Europe I went to. Say one day when in Paris you see the Louvre (15EUROS - which is more expensive than anyones dollar save the British Pound). Then the next day wandered over to St. Chappelle and the Concergerie (12Euro combined ticket)- that will only take part of the morning, so you also head over to the Arch de Triumph (8Euros) which still wont take all day by any stretch - so you head to the Cluny Museum (8Euros). That can all easily be accomplished in one day and it way exceeds your budget. Chateaux are around 8Euros a piece, Versilles is a lot more - around twenty something if memory serves. In 11 days in Paris you think you'll only see 4-5 sites? Same for Rome? What are you doing with the rest of your time? Be careful frrodriguez you need to be realistic - Europe is NOT cheap, backpacking or not. I would pull out a calender and a guide book and start slotting in the (for budget sake not for firm plans) how you think you will spend your days. List the sites and the prices and start calculating it out in proper currency. Otherwise you run the risk of running out of money.

Just a thought.

Good Travels,

Murphy
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Old Jul 6th, 2006, 02:08 PM
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Thank you, Murphy, for your insight. So, let's leave out site expenses for the moment. I will calculate those after I pickup more information. Let's discuss transportation and night entertainment. The currency i'm using is U.S. dollars. I'm estimating that I'll be having fun at night about 20-30 nights out of the 45. I'm not a heavy drinker, nor do I smoke. I'm usually happy with 4-5 drinks a night, mostly beer and wine. I'm aware that a drink usually costs about 3-4 euros each. One thing I don't know is whether it is common for european bars to charge admission, and if so, how much? Currently, I have allocated about 25 euros for a night out in the city. Is this enough? Also, regarding transportation, do you think purchasing a bicycle is a good idea for city exploration, or is bus and metro + walking a better idea?
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Old Jul 6th, 2006, 03:09 PM
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bump
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Old Jul 6th, 2006, 03:10 PM
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Paris can be very expensive for night clubs. Admission can be as much as 15 to 20 Euros and drinks can be as much as 8-10 Euros each. I find alcohol very expensive in Europe in comparison to drinking wine but even that can be pricey in a night club.
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Old Jul 6th, 2006, 03:15 PM
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well, my initial thought of a night out was your usual bar or cafe. I'm not a big dancer or anything. I'm just not sure if bars or cafes charge admission, and if so, about how much?
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Old Jul 6th, 2006, 03:32 PM
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I've never been to a pub or cafe that charged admission - that is usually reserved for clubs. I think 4-5Euros is resonable to expect/drink.
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Old Jul 6th, 2006, 05:36 PM
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thank you. a question: would buying a bicycle be a good idea? I could use it to explore the cities and carry it with me on the train to other cities...
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Old Jul 6th, 2006, 06:32 PM
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Sorry, I wish I knew. I think it might be a huge hassel personally, I am trying think of what you'd do with it on the train, but I am just not sure. I know you can do some bike tours in Paris or rent a bike....

cammci on an early post today made this recommendation for example:
Highly recommend "Fat Tire Bike Tour," the night version. Inexpensive and it comes with a boat cruise on the Seine at night. You could do this on your first night or on the open Tuesday night. Best part of my last Paris trip was riding around the Lourve courtyard at 9pm. http://www.fattirebiketoursparis.com/

It is really easy to get around via walking, the bus and the metro (at least in France).




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Old Jul 7th, 2006, 04:13 AM
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As Murphy said, nightclubs are quite different from bars and cafes. They usually don't charge a cover but you make your own entertainment. The drinks are less expensive as well.
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Old Jul 7th, 2006, 04:28 AM
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Hi fr,

>...$20 a day would be for lunch and dinner.

You will be doing a lot of sandwiches from the grocery store.

A slice of pizza and and a drink will be about 5-6E.

It's going to be hard to find dinner for under 15E.

I'd budget at least 25E/day.

The euro is currently $1.28.

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Old Jul 7th, 2006, 04:31 AM
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PS,

Re bicycles.

Some trains have space for bicycles.

Enter your planned route at http://plannerint.b-rail.be/bin/quer...n?L=profi&

Under "details" it will tell you if there is room for bicycles.

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Old Jul 7th, 2006, 04:32 AM
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PS,

Rome, Florence, Venice is better than the way you have it listed.

You can fly cheaply from Venice (VCE) to Paris (ORY) on www.myair.com.

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