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Itinerary for two months in Europe

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Feb 4th, 2015, 08:08 AM
  #1
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Itinerary for two months in Europe

I'm planning a solo backpacking trip through Europe. It'll be my first time there, so I'm trying to plan pretty extensively so that I have less anxiety about being in a foreign place. Here is my tentative itinerary:

Fly into Dublin > 4 nights
Budget airline to Edinburgh > 4 nights
Bus to Loch Ness* > 3 nights outside
Bus to London > 6 nights
Bus to Paris > 6 nights
Bus to Barcelona > 5 nights
Fly to Brussels > 3 nights
Bus to Amsterdam > 3 nights
Bus to Munich** > 6 nights
(Eurail pass) Train to Interlacken > 3 nights, possibly homeless
Train to Rome > 3 nights
Train to Florence > 3 nights
Train to Innsbruck > 2 nights
Train to Prague > 2 nights
Train to Copenhagen > 2-3 nights
Fly home from Copenhagen

I planned to take the megabus uk for most of the bus rides, but it doesn't operate in Italy, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Austria, or Denmark, so I was going to get the 15 day continuous Eurail pass because there's not as much I wanted to see there. It isn't the most direct route, but I wanted to get as many cheaper bus rides before hitting the last train stops.

My budget is smallish, and I plan to make up for that by not drinking alcohol, eating cheap supermarket breakfasts/lunches, staying in hostels or couchsurfing, and going to mostly free attractions. I really don't want to take more than two budget flights because I can get sinus headaches for days afterwards, and I wouldn't want to go through my trip like that.

I'm under 25 and traveling alone, and my budget is going to be about $5000 (inbound and outbound flights are looking to be around $1100 total). To people who have done this before, does this seem realistic?

Anyone with experience couchsurfing: Was it easy to book your nights? Was it an experience you wouldn't recommend?

*I don't even want to go to Loch Ness, I wanted to go to Glencoe, but there isn't really service from Edinburgh. If anyone has a better Loch to go to that's accessible by bus from Edinburgh, tell me. (But not Loch Lomond, because there are camping restrictions).

**In Munich I'll be taking several day trips to see castles, I won't just be hanging around the city.
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Feb 4th, 2015, 08:27 AM
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If getting a Eurail Youth Pass why hassle with cramped buses - trains run those routes quicer and the pass can be used on them except of course London to Paris - www.eurostar.com has some really cheap youth fares and in just over 2 hours you'll be in Paris rather than on an all-night or all-day bus ride - not sure why you are mixing bus and train in separate segments - if buying a pass anyway use it instead of buses which are not nearly as comfy as trains.

consider the Eurail Youth Flexipass for 10 or 15 days instead of a 15-straight day pass - the price is not much difference and you could use it for all your Continental trips - overnight trains run those routes too - save the cost of a hotel and sleep muchmore comfy than on a mobbed bus - lots of folks your age will be hopping trains.

Anyways for loads of great info on European trains (but not much on buses) check out these IMO superb sites: www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com.
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Feb 4th, 2015, 08:41 AM
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Oops, I actually am taking a train from London to Paris, so ignore that!
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Feb 4th, 2015, 08:59 AM
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You can save $ and time by reducing your number of journeys on the ground...

...skip Barcelona this time and the two long trips you are making just for it. Trade that flight for a flight from Paris or Brussels to Rome (to avoid the long train ride to Rome.)

...take the Eurostar from London to Brussels or Paris. Faster than flying. And you can save that flight for the end - Prague - Copenhagen

Itinerary as I see it:

Dublin - budget flight to Edinb. - Loch Ness - London - Eurostar to Paris or Brussels - Paris or Brussels - budget flight to Rome - train to Florence - train to Interlaken - train to Innsbruck - train to Munich - train or bus to Prague - budget flight to Copenhagen.

The days you save by skipping Barcelona can be spent in Rome (you need 2 more days there IMO) and maybe in England (it's not only about London.)

I think your train journeys do not require that railpass you have in mind.

If you're under 26 a youth select pass for Italy, Switz, Germany, and Austria, 5 travel days in 2 months for $333 in 2nd class, will cover Rome - Florence - Interlaken - Innsbruck - Munich - and maybe a 2nd trip in Switzerland somewhere.

Paris-Brussels is cheap, €19 for a bus ticket. The trip from Munich to Prague is €29 if bought in advance.

It's also possible you could buy individual tickets instead of the railpass for those trips for less. I'd look into that.
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Feb 4th, 2015, 09:21 AM
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You are on a budget -- fine. But all that moving around (even by bus or rail pass) GREATLY increases your expenses.

All those 3 night stays will net you two days and the two-nighters give you ONE day in those city. Instead of painting half of Europe w/ such a broad brush . . . slow down, cut the number of destinations and have enough $$/££/€€ to actually enjoy yourself.

>>*I don't even want to go to Loch Ness, I wanted to go to Glencoe, but there isn't really service from Edinburgh. If anyone has a better Loch to go to that's accessible by bus from Edinburgh, tell me. (But not Loch Lomond, because there are camping restrictions).<<

Instead of going someplace simply because that is where the bus goes, consider a tour w/ Rabbies instead. Will it cost money - sure. But you'll actually get to see/do things in more scenic areas. https://www.rabbies.com

OR - take the train to Mallaig and ferry across to Skye and explore the island using local buses like hundreds of other back packers do.
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Feb 4th, 2015, 09:24 AM
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You've done a good job with a fairly realistic itinerary. So often we see posts from first-timers who want to visit 20 or more locations in that amount of time!

Still, if you want to reduce costs, consider fewer locations. The locations that are outliers are Barcelona and Copenhagen, so consider cutting those. And look at the time you are spending each place. You have just two nights each in Innsbruck, Prague and Copenhagen. Two nights is just one day. Is one day enough in each of these places? I'd cut these places rather than just spend one day in each.
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Feb 4th, 2015, 09:49 AM
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Agree that 1 day stops are really not a good idea. They add significantly to your costs and you have very little time to see anything.

Also, if you are cousurfing - this is a whole lot more arrangements to make. Plus Copenhagen - while a charming city - is definitely on the expensive side - even if being careful.

As for sticking mostly to free sights - I wold do a ot of reseach on this. Some places havea lot of free sihts (in London many museums are free) but other must see sights are not - I think the Tower is about $25 entrance fee. And in some countries most sights have fees.
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Feb 4th, 2015, 09:53 AM
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"In Munich I'll be taking several day trips to see castles..."

There's a small problem here...
1.) The buses and trains from Munich to the Hohenschwangau bus stop at Neuschwanstein (the usual "castle" trip) and back take nearly 5 hours. Then you walk up (40 minutes, says the N'stein site) and back.

2.) The tour lasts all of 30 minutes.

3.) N'stein is a late 19th century palatial home - not a castle.

Real castles (700+ years old, with fortifications, etc.) are a big part of Europe, but Munich's not the best place to see them.

I suggest you slice 2 nights off of Munich - and maybe cut those 2 nights in Innsbruck as Kathie suggests - and spend 4 nights in Salzburg. Real castles with centuries of history there/nearby. See a bit of Austria. Day trip to Hallstatt? And into the Alps for Königssee and Berchtesgaden?

http://www.salzburg-burgen.at/en/

http://images.fotocommunity.de/bilde...366c66aa75.jpg

You can get to Salzburg from Munich for less than €25 by train.
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Feb 4th, 2015, 11:20 AM
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I love Neuschwanstein Castle as much for its environs as the tour itself - the castle - yes a real castle - don't know what else you could call it though it is Ersatz - a late-18th-century creation of a medieval castle by 'Mad' Ludwig - dubbed Mad for his castle building spree that bankrupted the Bavarian Tresury - causing officials to pull the plug on him and have him crowned in a lake near Munich.

The inside is like no castle you've ever seen - no not your grandpa's castle - not the usual boring castle interior with ancient furnishings, etc but for its time way of ahead of its time - a bizarre and different surprise at every turn.

And the area - at the foot of the Bavarian Alps - walk up behind the castle to the famous Marienbrucke bridge and what a picture you have of the castle framed by the large lake a few miles below it. Mad Ludwig used to come here they say to sit and ponder his fantasy castle being built - too bad he never could stay in it more than a few days and never did after it was finaly finished - years later when it became a tourist attraction.

This is a unique castle and the German Tourist Office lists it the number one tourist site in Germany - book a time slot online to avoid a lengthy wait in line - even in the off season.

Trains take two hours each way and you can do a lovely few-mile walk thru a forest to the castle or take a mini-bus, bus or share a taxi - yes it is 5 hours all told getting there and back - one drawback but to me it was awesomely worth the trek out there - if going by train use a Bavarian Pass, sold in train stations, for unlimited regional trains there and back - hop any train anytime.

I can see where some folks refuse to call this a castle - at least a castle in many folks minds - looking more like an old ruin or fort - but Neuschwanstein - whatever you call it is the world's most recognizable castle - yeh because Disney modeled their Sleeping Beauty Castle after it.

If you have six days in Munich one day coming here and back and plus bopping around one of Germany's most gorgeous areas could be well worth the trip or for purists it would not be. Neuschwanstein Castle is a fun castle and the other one next to it, where Ludwig grew up and also renovated is interesting too.

You see more than enough 'real' castles on your trip - this is one a special castle - one that will bore only the most jaded of folks IMO.
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Feb 4th, 2015, 11:54 AM
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I would eliminate 3-4 of the stops you have listed. Either the ones that are the furthers geographically out of the way, or the ones you have the least interest in. If you move around a teeny bit less it will be a smoother (less expensive) trip, I think.
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Feb 4th, 2015, 12:09 PM
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Possible day trips from Munich:

Dachau - in suburban Munich - 1/2 day

Nurnberg - nice large city and also if inteterested in Third Reich the largest intact relics remaining of that Fascist era just a few miles south of town - the old Nazi Parade Grounds - with long avenue goose-stepping Nazi troops used to be reviewed by gthe Fuhrer from his stadium balcony - stadium and balcony still there along with other edifices of this rather unique place.

Salzburg, Austria - one of Europe's most beuatiful cities with gilded churches galore and yes a real authentic old and awesome castle perched high on a hill above it

Fuessen and Mad Ludwig Castles

Rothenburg - one of Europe's most intact medieval walled cities

The Chiemsee for another of Mad Ludwig's creations - this one is a palace - the Bavarian Versailles lovingly set on a lake in the placid Chiemsee (train to Prien)

Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the Zugspitze, Germany's highest Alp - thrilling train goes up it.

All of these places can be reached cheaply on a Bavarian Pass if you use regional trains - if you have a Eurail for everyday just hop the fast trains.

Unless day tripping I agree with others six days a bit too much for Munich alone especially if not into drinking beer!
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Feb 4th, 2015, 12:50 PM
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I take the Germans at their word. They call Neuschwanstein "Schloß Neuschwanstein" - or Neuschwanstein Palace.

Yes, N'stein is very well known.

About those day trips from Salzburg and Munich...

Burg Hohenwerfen (Burg = castle) is not nearly as well known as N'stein. Some people know that the Clint Eastwood / Richard Burton film, Where Eagles Dare, was filmed there. There's a falconry show there as well. The trip from Salzburg by direct train takes 45 minutes to Pfarrenwerfen station.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...ohenwerfen.jpg

http://www.salzburg-burgen.at/en/werfen/

If it sounds and looks interesting to you, bethanypug, you can read what others have to say about it and about the other Werfen attraction, the ice caves:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractio...rian_Alps.html

There are many possible outings from Munich. Some are quick, some not so quick. Like the Neuschwanstein outing, taking the very fastest trains from Munich to Rothenburg and back will mean 5 hours on the train.
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Feb 4th, 2015, 12:59 PM
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I have to admit I never heard of Burg Hohenwerfen and the picture looks so dreamy and with its recent history that is always a plus. Nice knowing about that - putting it on my wish list.

As for the meaning of Schloss:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/schloss

says it's "a German castle".
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Feb 4th, 2015, 01:01 PM
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Well the link above has hoops to go thru to get the meaning but it says:

Full Definition of SCHLOSS

: a German castle or manor house
One of our all-time favorite lists:
10 Charming Words for Nasty People »
Origin of SCHLOSS

German, castle, lock, from Middle High German sloz, from Old High German, lock, bolt — more at slot
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Feb 4th, 2015, 01:44 PM
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bethanypug, you probably aren't that interested in the Burg-Schloß difference so I'll just keep this brief and say only the following.

Like I said, I rely on the Germans - not the English language - for defining the difference between Burg and Schloß, an important distinction for them. Germans do not turn to a German-English dictionary to decide what's what. They call some things Burg, and others Schloß - and they do this for a reason. It's their their language. And it's their country, and they have something like 20,000 of the things in their country (which is about the size of Montana.) I think they are qualified. Occasionally there are buildings that are ambiguous - a Burg that was ruined and rebuilt as a Schloß, for example. But the concepts are distinct and easy to explain - and understand - if it's something you're interested in.

This explanation keeps it nice and simple so that even a child can grasp it.

http://kids.t-online.de/burg-oder-sc...67383670/index

In a nutshell: A Burg is for protection; A Schloß is for fine living and was built later than the Burgs.

If you doubt that Germans call N'stein a Schloß, try google. The ratio of results for "Burg Neuschwanstein" to "Schloß Neuscwhanstein" is about 1-to-45. (There are always a handful confused folks and non-German speakers trying out their German on the web, it seems.)
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Feb 4th, 2015, 02:38 PM
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Interesting Russ - really and I take your take - but to me a palace is a sprawling edifice that is not as tall as a castle. Anyway I applaud you for taking so much time to respond to folks and hopefully we can disagree on more important things or agree!

Cheers!
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Feb 4th, 2015, 02:41 PM
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But as a final salvo on the issue see what the official Neuschwanstein site calls it - a castle not a palace! This is an English forum and we don't use German terms - like we don't say Munchen or Wein - so I think calling it a castle is right on on this forum!

http://www.neuschwanstein.de/englisch/tourist/index.htm
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Feb 4th, 2015, 04:40 PM
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Well, here's what I think about using our language in reference to things European... the words we normally use at home just might not be exactly right on. A Bichon au citron is not a piece of pie, even if it might look like one to us. There is room for enlightenment.

Americans of the past cut their teeth in teepees and log cabins and the like. We're castle/palace-free and castle/palace-ignorant. We have both words, but we are mostly undisciplined about their use. We don't know one from the other and use the words indiscriminately. Our only widespread, real cultural reference for "castle" is a fake one - Cinderella's castle in Disneyland.

So the folks at N'stein probably figure, hey, why not call it a "castle" in our English promotional materials? Ludwig faked up his late 19th century house to LOOK like a castle. Let's just call it what the Americans and Non-europeans want it called - a castle - and then N'stein gets a free Disney tie-in. Movie studios pay millions for that kind of tie-in.

But if they started calling N'stein a Burg (castle) in their German materials, there'd be real trouble at home. "Schloß" (palace) it is and always will be in German.

It may be that Americans and others have little interest in the cultures they visit in Europe - maybe they don't care if they're seeing a Burg or a Schloß, maybe foreign visitors to Germany feel it's their right to cling to their home language habits and call a Schloß a castle, no matter what Germans think, since that's what they'd call it at home. Maybe the whole historical and cultural picture just doesn't matter.

But somehow I think Americans might look askance at a European tourist who insisted on calling a teepee a cabin, or vice versa, when he could just learn the difference. And I just don't see anything wrong with learning a thing or two about European culture; adjusting our indiscriminate understanding of the word "castle" just isn't that much of a stretch. Why go to Europe at all if you must resist the European concepts and the words that reflect these concepts?

Whatever something might be to you at home, it might not be the same thing in Europe. Nothing wrong with pointing those things out on a European travel board, IMO.
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Feb 4th, 2015, 04:45 PM
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"...like we don't say Munchen or Wein - so I think calling it a castle is right on on this forum!"

PalenQ: I'm glad you don't refer to Vienna as Wine.

My name is Fussgaenger.
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Feb 5th, 2015, 05:04 AM
  #20
 
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Ok Fuss - but Neuschwanstein looks more like a castle than a palace - palaces are surrounded by gardens, ponds, sprawling grounds. Anyway it's all polemics.

Anyway interesting discussion. I appreciate your technical take on things.

Cheers!
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