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chasingthesun Dec 30th, 2014 10:52 PM

Itinerary for European trip with 18 year old son
 
Hello Travelers,
I'd like to take my son on a trip to Europe next year when he graduates high school, and would really like some help with my itinerary. He would love to go to Germany(WWII buff) and Norway(family roots). However, I've never been to Europe, so I'd like to see certain places as well. I teach Medieval history, so Gothic architecture and history interests me. We also like nature and hiking. Realizing that I can't do everything, I've come up with an itinerary that would give both of us something we like, but I'm wanting to see how realistic it is and if it would work for a first trip to Europe. I'm getting frustrated with the process because there's so much I want to see! I know I have to look at things as if I will return, but it's easier said than done because who really knows? Any input would be appreciated. Thanks

Day 1- Fly to Munich, Germany
Day 2- Land in Munich-Walk off jetlag and get a feel for the city
Day 3- Munich-Tour Residenz
Day 4-Munich- Explore Munich
Day 5- Day trip to Salzburg, Austria- Sound of Music tour
Day 6-Nuremburg- WWII tour
Day 7-Nuremburg-Albrecht Durer museum, watch making shops
Day 8-Rothenberg- Walk the city, take night watchman's night tour
Day 9- Fussen- Neuschwanstein castle by day, enjoy evening after tourists leave
Day 10- Lucerne, Switzerland- Tour Old Towne
Day 11- Lucerne- morning hike, then kayak on the lake
Day 12- Fly or train (not sure yet) to Paris- Eiffel tower and bike ride where he chooses
Day 13- Paris-Hop on/off bus morning; Louvre afternoon, evening Siene cruise
Day 14- Morning- Notre-Dame, afternoon- Museum of Middle Ages, dinner in Latin quarter
Day 15- Rent scooters and explore Paris! Eat in a delicious restaurant so son can practice his French!
Day 16- Versailles
Day 17- Sacre-Coeur,opera house, Musee d Orsay,
Day 18- Brugges, Belgium- explore historic center
Day 19- Brugges, waterways tour
Day 20- Day trip to Ghent- Explore the Gothic city!
Days 21- London- Hop on/off tour, go to a cool London restaurant
Day 22- Westminster Abbey, British Museum, bike the city, possibly Churchill war rooms (time permitting)
Day 23- Beatles museum (He's a musician)
Day 25- Bath- Roman bath tour
Day 26- Bath- explore city
Day 27- London- His choice
Day 28- Fly to Oslo, Norway- Viking museum, explore Oslo
Day 29- Oslo- His choice
Day 30- Train to Bergen- explore Hardanger fjord on boat
Day 31- Bergen- Hike Mt. Floyen
Day 32-Train to Oslo- Enjoy a delicious meal
Day 33- Back to Cali

ribeirasacra Dec 30th, 2014 11:40 PM

I personally do not think you have looked at travel times. Like how long do you think it will take to get between Ghent and London? or from London to Liverpool and then onto Bath?
One cannot walk off jet lag. It is all about sleep.
For me you are hopping around far too much and not allowing yourself enough time to see anything.It is all timetabled out like a military action. It has been known that military actions go wrong, leave some time for a pause and rest.

Gretchen Dec 31st, 2014 01:46 AM

I think the day in Munich on arrival is a good cure for jet lag--not very scheduled, just wander around enjoying. Go to bed early and be up and about the next day.
It is certainly a lovely trip. Lots of stops, and as mentioned, not really taking into account travel times to get to the new places.
It also looks like an unlimited budget to me!! Hope so. Two days in Bath seems a lot.

cathies Dec 31st, 2014 02:19 AM

It's well documented that getting out into the sunshine helps with the effects of jetlag. It's a very good idea.

As to the itinerary, some of this is ok, some is awful. I can't get my head around it just now, but it looks like too many one njght stays which equate to more travel time than exploring the destination. I'd drop about 1/2 of those cities/towns if it was me.

bilboburgler Dec 31st, 2014 03:48 AM

Well there is a lot here, I suspect I would plan for fewer stops and more walking in the country. I might cut out the Switzerland bit just for the cost.

Next we need to know which month are you coming? Just that August tends to be very busy you might prefer June or July

Bath is pretty enough but two days is a bit generous. You will find enough to do in London with the time.

Jet lag, get out in the sun.

You might like http://www.beatlesinlondon.com/ for a walk.

nytraveler Dec 31st, 2014 04:08 AM

This is an extremely dense trip and agree that you appear not to have allowed any time to get from one place to another. Getting from city A to city B typically takes from 1/2 to a full day depending on the routing - and your itinerary is a very high percentage of travel time versus time actually doing/seeing anything. And nowhere do you have any down time to just relax or spend time soaking up the culture of each place. Where is the time to sit in a cafe in Paris with a glass of wine and watch the world go by for a couple of hours?

This is the classic mistake of people on their first trip to europe.

To understand what you are doing go to bahn.de - the Germain rail site - which has train schedules for all of europe. Times for next summer won;t be exact - but not far off - and the length of the trip will be correct. On top of actual train time you need to include time to pack, check out of hotel, travel to train station, get tickets and at the other end locate and travel to your hotel, check in and unpack. Also don;t see any time allowed for doing laundry - and mostly you will be in places too short a time to have the hotel do it. I hope you hadn't planned on taking a giant body bag with clothes for the entire trip.

On the other hand on some days you have practically nothing listed- but these are usually NOT travel days. For instance in Munich you have a whole day listed for the Residenz - which is only a couple of hours. You could easily visit many other places the same day - for instance Schloss Nymphenburg - or other major sights. Suggest you consult Michelin green guides - which not only rank sights and give full details for a self-tour but also tell you how long it will take to tour.

Suggest you relay out this itinerary, listing for each day where you will start, what you will do/see, what travel is involved and where you will sleep. In many places you just have Day ? in X and Day ?plus 1 in a completely different place - with no time allocated for travel. Are you assuming all overnight trains (don;t exist between most places) or ?

Also - and this is personal - I find HoHo buses to be a big waste of time and money. You are just seeing outsides of buildings without any real content and tend to spend a large amount of time just sitting in traffic at a very high cost versus just picking where you want to go and walking or taking the tube of metro there.

Finally I don;t see any time for your son to connect with local students - he should check out some of the student guides to find the most popular pubs, cafes or clubs for nightlife.

mamcalice Dec 31st, 2014 04:49 AM

I agree with what has been advised above. You are moving too much and leaving too little time to enjoy your destinations. Some days are not crowded but others (e.g. Day 17 and Day 22) are impossible if you actuall want to see anything. If your son is a WWII buff, you actually want to plan a time for the Churchill War Rooms rather than "time permitting".

Sounds like a nice itinerary but far too rushed and jammed to do your destinations justice. I'd probably cut out either Belgium or Switzerland or both as you aren't really seeing much of either place.

luciafamily Dec 31st, 2014 05:22 AM

I suggest to skip the Bruges-Gand and the Bath parts. They are both more for a romantic escape rather than for a youngster looking for thrilling experiences. I would just keep more time in Paris and then fly to London and spend time there: there is so much to do and see for all ages!!

annhig Dec 31st, 2014 05:26 AM

personally I can't believe that you are taking your son with his interest in WW2 to Europe without going to Berlin and only spending 2 full days in London. If you started in Berlin, then worked your way to Munich, then up to Paris and London, I think that you could have a decent trip.

I also agree that you are trying to cram too much in, and i would lose Switzerland and Norway - they are the outliers on your itinerary, and the most expensive places.

that would give you something like this:

Day 1- Fly to Berlin.
Day 2- Land in Berlin -Walk off jetlag and get a feel for the city
Day 3- Berlin
Day 4 - Potsdam
Day 5 - Berlin
Day 6-train to Nuremburg-Albrecht Durer museum, watch making shops
Day 7-Nuremburg-WWII tour
Day 8 - train to Rothenburg. Walk the city, take night watchman's night tour
Day 9 - train to Munich-explore city
Day 10 -Munich- Day trip to Salzburg, Austria- Sound of Music tour
Day 11 - Munich - day trip to Fuessen
Day 12 - train/fly to Paris. afternoon exploring.
Day 13- Paris- Eiffel Tower/Louvre/ Siene cruise
Day 14- Morning- Notre-Dame, afternoon- Museum of Middle Ages, dinner in Latin quarter
Day 15- Rent scooters and explore Paris!
Day 16- Versailles
Day 17- Sacre-Coeur,opera house, Musee d Orsay,
Day 18- travel to Brugges, Belgium- explore historic center
Day 19- Brugges, waterways tour
Day 20- Day trip to Ghent- Explore the Gothic city!
Days 21- Travel to London- Hop on/off tour, go to a cool London restaurant
Day 22- Westminster Abbey, Churchill war rooms (time permitting)
Day 23- Beatles museum (He's a musician), biking tour
Day 24 - British Museum, Science museum, British library
Day 25- travel to Bath- Roman bath tour
Day 26- Bath- explore city
Day 27- London- His choice
Day 28- Fly to Oslo, Norway- Viking museum, explore Oslo
Day 29- Oslo- His choice
Day 30- Train to Bergen- explore Hardanger fjord on boat
Day 31- Bergen- Hike Mt. Floyen
Day 32-Train to Oslo- Enjoy a delicious meal
Day 33- Back to Cali

I've left Norway in there, but i would suggest going to York and/or Edinburgh instead - lots of history in both.

Gretchen Dec 31st, 2014 06:04 AM

In spite of family background, Norway is the outlier here. Let him go another time on his own, if he wants to.
WWII doesn't get much more "real" than the D-Day beaches. Is his WWII interest in the Third Reich?
Dachau should not be missed.

janisj Dec 31st, 2014 06:05 AM

annhig has laid out a good variation -- but maybe not realizing that Day 23- the Beatles Museum would mean a trip all the way to Liverpool. it is 2.5 hours each way on the train (just station to station) so count on 3.5 hours London hotel to Beatles Museum.

The problem w/ losing Norway is it is one of the 'musts' due to family connections.

If Germany/Norway/London and music are the basic musts I'd stick to Germany, Paris since you seem to have put a lot of study into it so must want to go there, and the UK.

7-10 days in Germany, 6 or so days in Paris, 5 days in Norway, and the rest (10-13 days) in England. 1.5 days/2 nights in Liverpool, 1.5 days/2 nights in Bath, the rest in London.

annhig Dec 31st, 2014 06:24 AM

jj - you're right about the Beatles museum - blame the fact that I've dosed myself up because I've got a cold. I'm not sure whether the OP's itinerary took account of this either - but I think that it could be working into the itinerary by going there from London on Day 24, Bath on days 25 & 26, then the train from Bath to LHR to fly to Oslo on Day 27. And I'd missed the family connections to Norway, but it's still in my itinerary so nothing lost there.

Of course this could be played around with e.g. an extra day in London &/or Bath

thinking about it, even better than Bath would be Bristol for a 3-4 night stop [and better connections from Liverpool] - lots of history to see including the medieval cathedral, the SS Great Britain, concerts/theatre, and the possibly of a day trip to Bath.

chasingthesun Dec 31st, 2014 09:43 AM

Thank you all so much for your thoughtful replies, and yes, looking at my itinerary, I can see that I have scheduled too much. Berlin was also a place I really wanted to take my son, but thought things were too overloaded. However, I do like annhig's idea of flying into Berlin. It's drenched in history, and it's a modern city. I think I just have to trust that I will be back again, so I can see more of the places I do visit. So, I will cut out Lucerne, Brugges, Ghent, Oslo, and Bergen. I will also cut out the Beatles museum due to distance. I would still like to go to Bath, but will just do a day tour from London. I'll also ditch the hop on/off tours and just take the metro. I'm also adding a Normandy day trip, as my grandfather landed there 2 days after D Day, and can't believe I didn't include it. We plan on leaving around June 10th, 2016. So here's a revised and hopefully more sane itinerary:
Day 1- Fly to Berlin
Day 2- Land in Berlin- walk off jetlag and get a feel for the city
Day 3-Berlin-walking tour beginning in Reichtag, extending to Brandenburg Gate and Museumsinsel
Day 4- Potsdam-Red Berlin or Third Reich tour
Day 5- Berlin- Museum of Technology and Berlin Wall
Day 6- Train to Nuremburg- Albrecht Durer Museum, watch making shops
Day 7- Nuremburg-WWII tour
Day 8 - Train to Rothenburg. Walk the city, take night watchman's night tour
Day 9 - Train to Munich-explore city
Day 10 -Munich- Day trip to Salzburg, Austria- Sound of Music tour
Day 11 - Munich - day trip to Fuessen
Day 12 - Fly to Paris in morning, Eiffel Tower by evening(just an outside look). Take in the city, and enjoy a café.
Day 13- Paris- Arc de Triomphe/Louvre/ Siene dinner cruise
Day 14- Morning- Notre-Dame, afternoon- Museum of Middle Ages, dinner in Latin quarter, explore more of the city
Day 15- Rent scooters and explore Paris, stopping at Sacre-Coeur at some point during the day.
Day 16- Versailles
Day 17- opera house, Musee d Orsay, and bike around the city if there's time.
Day 18- DDay beaches (take trains to and fro)
Day 19- Fly to London in morning, get Oyster Card for sightseeing travel, visit Westminster Abbey
Day 20- Tower of London, Churchill War rooms
Day 21- British Museum, Shakespeare theater, (Science museum if there's time)
Day 22- Day trip to Bath
Day 23- Free day in London, maybe some shopping
Day 24- Back to Cali

I make this itinerary knowing how important it is to be flexible. Nothing is set in stone, but I want to make the best use of my time as well. I think this gives us more time in the places we want to see, and is more financially sound as well. I'll just have to get to Norway on a Scandinavian trip in a couple of years. At 47, I've hopefully still got a few good years ahead of me! Thank you all so much for all your advice. I appreciate it immensely! To nytraveler, I will check out the rail sight, for sure. Thank you! Feel free to comment on my new itinerary as well. I'm sure it's not perfect, but headed in the right direction.

chasingthesun Dec 31st, 2014 09:48 AM

Looking at everything, I may just skip the Salzburg day trip on Day 10 for another day to explore Munich. I may add another day in Munich so I can do both.

PalenQ Dec 31st, 2014 09:59 AM

If you are taking that many trains look into some kind of Eurailpass which in most o fyour countries still lets you hop on any train anytime (except the UK which is not part of the Eurail sceheme) -and the pass is first class if over 25 - another huge perk IME - hopping on trains I always find ample empty seats in 1st class when 2nd calss is typically quite full or full.

Anyways for loads of great info on European trains I always sp[otlight these IMO superb sites: www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com (the latter good info on discounted tickets which however to get you must book in stone weeks in advance and then usually can't change nor refund and a string of those may be as much as a pass - look at a 10- or 15-day in 2-month Eurailpass - pout your British time in the other month and the first few days when landing or leaving you would not need a pass.

Christina Dec 31st, 2014 10:09 AM

I don't think renting scooters is a realistic way to see Paris, nor very practical. If you really wanted to experience the city more, you'd take public transportation. You may have difficulty finding a place to park them, and your son cannot legally rent one at his age if it is 125 cc or bigger. And you'd need a motorcycle driving license if it is that size, and experience driving them in city traffic. I believe you can rent small ones without a special license in France, not sure.

Gretchen Dec 31st, 2014 10:15 AM

For your Paris day of Notre Dame, don't forget Sainte Chapelle nearby.
Seine River boat ride NOT NOT the dinner cruise! Food is bad and overpriced. Do the ride and have a better meal afterward.
Carnavalet, Orangerie,Rodin, Marmottan?
As pointed out, ditch the scooter idea. Go sightseeing. Ride the bus/metro.

ribeirasacra Dec 31st, 2014 10:18 AM

*****I make this itinerary knowing how important it is to be flexible. Nothing is set in stone, but I want to make the best use of my time as well.****
Sorry but have to break this to you, but most of the travelling you are planning on will mean prebooking. Travelling a lot also does not make for the best use of your time. During that time you are either waiting for some form of transport checking in or out of a hotel, checking in or purchasing tickets (airlines or trains or buses) or sitting down in some form of transportation. I feel you have not really understood a lot of our comments about taking time to really visit the places you need to see and do some slow travelling.

bilboburgler Dec 31st, 2014 10:42 AM

segways at fat tires might replace the scouter in Paris

janisj Dec 31st, 2014 10:43 AM

Don't worry about planning your specific daily activities now -- just get the itinerary nailed down.

There are several tweaks you'll want to do to your plans - like ditching the scooter idea, biking around Paris (unless you take one of the Fat Tire tours), flying to London from Paris, etc. Plus organizing specific sites -- it is usually best to arranging sightseeing geographically w/i a city. So pairs like the Tower + The Globe theatre make more sense than the British Museum + the Globe. That is just one example but there are others.

FYI is it MUCH better to take the train from Paris to London - faster, easier, and usually cheaper.


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