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Apr 2nd, 2014, 08:21 AM
  #1
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Itinerary Help

Hello - I am trying to plan a vacation for my husband and I. We are in our twenties so are looking for a mix of history/sightseeing and fun. We live in NY and it will be his first time in Europe. We have 2 weeks time and want to include as much as possible while still be able to enjoy it. Is the following to ambitious?

Fly to Amsterdam (stay 2 nights)
Train to Pairs (stay 4 nights)
Overnight Train to Barcelona (stay 4 nights)
Fly to Rome (stay 4 nights)

Any and all advice is appreciated!
KtEileen is offline  
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Apr 2nd, 2014, 08:51 AM
  #2
 
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Sounds like it to me.
vjpblovesitaly is offline  
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Apr 2nd, 2014, 08:52 AM
  #3
 
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Yes, it's too ambitious.
StCirq is online now  
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Apr 2nd, 2014, 08:54 AM
  #4
 
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What time of the year? Basically, since you're flying into Amsterdam, I'd stick with northern Eiurope and save Italy and Spain for future trips. You'll find that two weeks isn't that long and there is a lot to see and do in the north any time of the year.
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Apr 2nd, 2014, 08:54 AM
  #5
 
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First of all, have you already bought air tickets?

Some of it depends on what you what to specifically accomplish in your chosen destinations, what time of year you are going and how well you deal with both jet lag and sleeping on trains. As you know, business travelers and concert pianists move around Europe at a face pace, but they are very focused on what they need to get done.

If there is only one or two things you dearly want to see in Amsterdam, it is as nice a place as any to get over jet lag provided you aren't going in winter, when available daylight is really short. But if you are going to Amsterdam to "see" Amsterdam in hopes of crossing it off your European list, it is a much more interesting city than a day will allow you explore, especially when you are coming from New York City because of their shared history and architectural style. You might be really sorry to be whizzing in and out like that.

The other issue is whether you are being realistic about your tolerance for overnight trains and hanging around another airport mid-vacation. Some people shrug it off but for others it is a mood killer.
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Apr 2nd, 2014, 09:01 AM
  #6
 
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Kt--I will not be the last to tell you that this is too ambitious for two weeks because, even though you will go to a lot of places, you will not be able to really see much or enjoy much. Also, you have only large cities, and the real charm of Europe is in smaller cities, villages and the countryside.

Finally, you are young enough to be able to make many trips to Europe so you don't need to try to see everything on your husband's first trip.

If it were my first trip, and money was not a problem, I'd do Italy--my favorite country--and I'd be torn between Rome-Florence-Venice with day trips (or in-transit stops) in some outlying places like Tivoli or Ostia Antica, Siena, Padua or Ravenna, and picking either Rome and Florence or Florence and Venice--but with some overnights outside of the big cities. If you choose Rome, you could spend a couple of nites around the Bay of Naples so you could see Pompeii and Herculaneum. The Bay of Naples and the Amalfi Coast to the south are some of the most beautiful places in the world.
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Apr 2nd, 2014, 09:03 AM
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Robert's itinerary is also good. The Low Countries and northern France.
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Apr 2nd, 2014, 09:09 AM
  #8
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I have not bought airline tickets yet. Still doing lots of research which is making the decision process harder and harder. We are planning to go at the end of July. I wanted to see Paris and my husband really wants to see Rome. I wish this was a little more geographically convenient. I think I need to save either Amsterdam or Barcelona for another trip so that we can spend more time in each of the 3 cities.
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Apr 2nd, 2014, 09:13 AM
  #9
 
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Some areas in central Barcelona that might interest you. All within easy walking distance from the heart of the city Plaça de Catalunya.

The vibrant and medieval Born area, plenty of cafés, tapas bars and great nightlife close to the 14th century Gothic Santa María del Mar church: http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.c...s/el-born.html

Barceloneta, the local atmosphere old fisherman's quarter, close to the city beach with the same name: http://www.theguardian.com/travel/20...taurants-spain

Upmarket nightlife, bars, clubs, cafés and restaurants in and around Carrer Aribau in the Left Eixample, close to the university from 1450. http://suitelife.com/2011/02/28/arib...treet-profile/

The famous Gothic quarter: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractio...Catalonia.html

And the once shady Raval district is up and coming, among other things a cutting edge, multicultural art and bar scene: http://www.timeout.com/barcelona/things-to-do/the-raval
http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.c...al-barrio.html

And Barcelona is of course the architecture of Antoni Gaudí: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/320
The Sagrada Familia is plain fantastic work in progress since 1882. I very much recommend the guided tour. An exceptional experience: http://www.sagradafamilia.cat/sf-eng/?lang=0
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Apr 2nd, 2014, 09:37 AM
  #10
 
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I'm usually in the category of less is more, but I don't think this is absolutely terrible. You are young and mobile. I think you might get to a couple of these places and say, I wish we were staying longer.
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Apr 2nd, 2014, 09:44 AM
  #11
 
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Well I'd suggest cutting out Barcelona for this trip - do Amsterdam / Paris / Rome - plenty to do in each of these cities - all very different. Plus you get Paris, husband gets Rome - Amsterdam is a nice entry point to recover from jet-lag. Book open jaws airline ticket - into Amsterdam, train to Paris, train or plane to Rome (do you think an overnight train would be fun? I do!) then depart Rome.
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Apr 2nd, 2014, 12:38 PM
  #12
 
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We avoid southern ares in July and August since

1)it's usually incredibly hot - high 90s or 100 and humid
2) many modest places do NOT have AC
3) tourist places are mobbed and hte southern places get a lot of northern tourists

We do Spain or Italy in April or May and inthe summer do Switz, Germany, the UK - even northern France - where the weather is more bearable.

You should seriously take into consideration the number of places in europe that either do not have AC at all or have "air cooling" which lower the temp a few degrees - but not from 95 to 75.
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Apr 2nd, 2014, 12:51 PM
  #13
 
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Good point NYTraveler - Rome could be uncomfortably hot - we stay at mid-range hotels and sometimes the thermostat is nothing more than a dial that you can twirl around. Maybe the high priced Rome hotels really have air-conditioning?!
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Apr 2nd, 2014, 12:52 PM
  #14
 
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Maybe one more day in Amsterdam and one less in Barcelona or ideally add a few more days - otherwise it is fine - if you land in Amsterdam then that day if coming from afar may be a wash out - preferably two more days in Amsterdam.

As for the two train trips book really early to save tons of money - www.thalys.com has Amsterdam to Paris for as low as 39 euros often and www.voyages-sncf.com and www.capitainetrain.com have similar discounted fares for the overnight train Paris to Perpignan - where in the morning you change to a TGV or AVE train to Barcelona - the direct Elipsos hotel train - direct from Paris Austerlitz to Barcelona has been scrubbed with the opening of the new trans-Pyrenees high-speed rail route allowing for the first time direct TGV trains between Paris and Barcelona.

The French nigh train has only I believe 4- and 6- person couchettes - no private compartments though I am not certain of this on this new night train terminating at Perpignan.

For lots of great idea on European trains I always spotlight these fine sites - www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com.

Beware discounted tickets are train-specific and non-changeable non-refundable I believe and as they are sold in limited numbers often sell out way before the train - sometimes as soon as they come on the system - 90 days in advance I think but not sure. But the early bird doth get the proverbial worm - just show up and buy tickets on either you'll pay maybe $100 more for each perhaps.
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Apr 3rd, 2014, 03:52 AM
  #15
 
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Paris and Rome is a wonderful combination. Yes, you will have one lousy day of being at the airport and hauling around luggage but you can psyche yourselves for that and also think about treating yourselves to some air conditioned taxi rides that day and economizing elsewhere.

In these days of climate change (and even before) nobody can predict where a July heatwave might land. I have been in northern Europe in 90+ weather in June and July, and those people don't have ANY air conditioning at all. Not even in taxis. Yes it is likely that Rome will be hotter but Rome has lots of ways of coping with the heat, and joining them in living like Romans in fun.

I do think the July time frame makes it prudent to think about planning an itinerary that does allow for relaxation during the heat of the day and not a huge amount of luggage dragging to keep on the go. The compensation is the very long hours of daylight, which means some sightseeing can be pushed back to the cool of the evening (especially in Rome, where everything stays open later).
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Apr 3rd, 2014, 07:07 AM
  #16
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These are great tips!! Thank you!
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Apr 4th, 2014, 05:15 AM
  #17
 
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The thing to consider is that nights do not equal days, to two nights in Amsterdam really means one full say to spend there. The same with the rest. I agree unless you LOVE the heat, Spain and Italy in mid summer will be HOT. I also agree pick 2 places and do that rather than race around like crazy folks just skimming the top. Get there, dig in a big, sink your teeth in.
My first instinct was just do the two cities you both want to see most, but don't forget that heat. Like a previous poster said, you are young, do it again and again and again!
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Apr 4th, 2014, 05:32 AM
  #18
 
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I would say Amsterdam - Paris - Rome and fly back from Rome.
Train Amsterdam - Paris, and fly Paris - Rome.
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Apr 6th, 2014, 07:51 AM
  #19
 
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Yup gotta cut one place - either like Tulips says or

Amsterdam-Paris-Barcelona (night train like you say in OP) - fly back from Barcelona or Madrid if cheaper - high-speed trains now connect Barcelona and Madrid in a few hours.

Rome or Barcelona

Or drop Amsterdam and do Paris-Barcelona-Rome with perhaps Venice or Florence.
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