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-   -   looking for advice for trip to europe w kids - Ireland/Scotland in October or Germany/Austria at Christmas?? need opinions please! (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/looking-for-advice-for-trip-to-europe-w-kids-ireland-scotland-in-october-or-germany-austria-at-christmas-need-opinions-please-358331/)

jujubean May 11th, 2008 08:40 AM

looking for advice for trip to europe w kids - Ireland/Scotland in October or Germany/Austria at Christmas?? need opinions please!
 
I love travel so much that I've become mired in indecision!

My husband and I have two daughters 6 & 10 - they are adaptable and fun kids with great imaginations. They love the Sound of Music and are mad about faeries. Thus, our choices - My eldest has researched the legends of the faerie folk in Ireland and wants to go there for her holiday to see some rings - probably in October. My other daughter and husband love Christmas and want to go to Germany then Salzburg for Christmastime - and the Kristkindle markets.

I love both ideas! but they are so different. I am the travel planner and love to sink my teeth into the planning - but this trip has me lost with indecision - either one is great. We can only afford one trip to Europe every few years and this will be our first with the kids.

Please help - give us your thoughts on which trip would be best and why...thanks!!

jujubean May 11th, 2008 01:50 PM

ttt -

janisj May 11th, 2008 02:00 PM

Well, I can't help you w/ your decision since I've not been to the Christmas markets.

But just one comment -- If you end up choosing Ireland/Scotland -- make Ireland <b>OR</b> Scotland, not both. Both are fabulous (Scotland is my favorite place on Earth) but you cannot travel fast in either one. If you are going for say - 2 weeks - then you would barely scratch the surface of either Ireland or Scotland. Especially when you factor in jet lag and travel to/from the States.

janisj May 11th, 2008 02:01 PM

Well, I can't help you w/ your decision since I've not been to the Christmas markets.

But just one comment -- If you end up choosing Ireland/Scotland -- make it Ireland <b>OR</b> Scotland, not both. Both are fabulous (Scotland is my favorite place on Earth) but you cannot travel fast in either one. If you are going for say - 2 weeks - then you would barely scratch the surface of either Ireland or Scotland. Especially when you factor in jet lag and travel to/from the States.

janisj May 11th, 2008 02:01 PM

oops - sorry for the double post . . . .

cambe May 11th, 2008 02:04 PM

Hi J,

I live in Ireland and have been to Salzburg and did the Sound of Music Tour.

Much as I love my country I would opt for Salzburg at Christmas.

I was was there in the summer but would truly love to go back at a cold, frosty, snowy time. I think it would be magicical.

Having said that I don't know of any fairy rings in Ireland - others may help you there.

I loved the SOM tour - OK, it is a bit cheesy but if you like the music and the film you will love it.

I was in Baden Baden just before Christmas last year and it was brillent. Would love to go back again this year. I was also in Berlin several years ago at Christmas and loved it also. The Christmas markets are wonderful.

Good luck

Helen

travelme May 11th, 2008 02:09 PM

I respectfully disagree with Janisj. If you have two weeks you could visit both countries easily. You could see Dublin and Galway or Dublin and Cork in the first week then take a quick Ryan AIr flight to Scotland and see the sights for another week. Its doable.

gruezi May 11th, 2008 02:48 PM

I think the OP is referring to the stone circles - fascinating but I don't think they have anything to do with fairies...I believe their ancient origins are speculation...

I don't know where you live but there is an island off of Maine, US that has a fairy forest - very fun and the island is without electricity and gorgeous and primitive. Monhegan Island... My kids loved it at about 6 and 10 and there are also seals to watch off the harbor.

Romantic trip...

I agree pick Ireland or Scotland but not both. Lots of driving - do your kids like time in the car? If not, I vote for Austria. All great itineraries but depends on your family.

g.

Lexma90 May 11th, 2008 02:51 PM

Both ideas sound wonderful. I've been to Scotland and Ireland, and would love to return some day, and have been to Germany and Austria, though never at Christmas time.

I would that this time, go with your older daughter's top choice. She'll be leaving the nest sooner than her sister, so you'll have more years for other trips with the younger daughter. And on your next trip, in several years, your younger daughter's interests will take perference.

janisj May 11th, 2008 03:02 PM

&quot;<i>If you have two weeks you could visit both countries easily.</i>&quot; Visit - yes. Easily - nope . . . .

Sorry - but since one is lucky to average 35 mph in W and SW Ireland, you can't really see Dublin and/or Cork and/or Galway in a week, and especially not w/ small kids.

Same w/ Scotland. The driving is a bit faster but 40 MPH is still all you can count on. One advantage to Scotland is the trains are a bit more useable for touring - but neither place is a one-week country.

You <i>could</i> try to squeeze in both - but the kids will hate you afterwards since they will spend hours a day in the back seat of a car not being able to see anything over the hedgerows and walls - and possibly car sick the whole time.


travelme May 11th, 2008 03:15 PM

Janis, I think that you are offering some extreme circumstances but perhaps ones that could be considered nonetheless. A week per country is doable without tiring oneself out and certainly without having children hating their parents. Afterall Jujubeen is providing her kids with a wonderful opportunity to visit two magnificent countries. They may not return to Europe for a few years so they should take advantage and see more than one country.

janisj May 11th, 2008 03:44 PM

How many times have you driven around Ireland or Scotland???

My post was not extreme. 35 mph is about average in Ireland and 40 mph in Scotland. As I tried to explain, BOTH countries are absolutely fabulous. But NEITHER country is fabulous when trying to squeeze them into a mad dash week.



travelme May 11th, 2008 04:16 PM

Take a deep breath Janis and try not to get your knickers in an uproar. You misread what I wrote. I said that perhaps you were offering some extreme cirmumstances not an exteme post. Far from it! Read it again. I also mentioned that what you suggested should be considered. I was not being dismissive so I think you owe me an apology here.

Barbara_in_FL May 11th, 2008 04:49 PM

Oh, dear. I think both of you are right. There is no sane way to see both Ireland and Scotland in two weeks. I think there's no way to see EITHER of them in two weeks. But you can see selected sights in both countries in two weeks without killing yourselves, as long as you don't try to pack too much into each week.

Having said that, the idea of Germany and Salzburg for Christmas is very appealing. I have only been there in summer and fall. (I absolutely loved the SOM tour, cheesy as it is.)

Having kids just a little younger than yours (9 and 4)...I would tend to lean towards the older child's preference, especially if she has actually done some research.

If you wait and do the &quot;Christmas&quot; trip when your youner daughter is a little older, she will remember more of it. Six-year-olds remember quite a bit, but not as much as 9- or 10-year-olds (and the older one will still be at home in a few years).

Looking forward to seeing what you decide!

jujubean May 11th, 2008 06:32 PM

Thanks for all of the suggestions so far! I love it - sometimes such conversations can open up lively discussions...

Thank you for the suggestion of the Fairy Forest!! What a great idea - and doable this summer. We live in the midwest but are already planning a trip to the East Coast in about 2 months - we really like to do spur of the moment stuff while on trips.

My girls are great travelers - last year for spring break, the 3 of us (mom and girls) took a trip from Baltimore to NYC. We did lots of driving (I love GPS) and did public transport easily in the City. It just seems to bring out the best in them to travel - they really step up to the plate.

I hadn't thought of the angle of the oldest being gone the soonest - scary thought!! But so true. We bought maps at the bookstore today and my oldest was very into it!

The primary appeal for me of going to Europe at the Christmas holidays is more time to travel due to recognized holidays (we both work outside the home) and it gets us away from the family confusion and dramas of the holidays - but those can be fun too...I have a very large family.

keep those thoughts coming!

jujubean May 11th, 2008 07:01 PM

Issue Resolved!!!

My oldest daughter and I just looked up Maine and she definitely wants to go there &quot;before anything else&quot; - please Mom!

So, we'll go to Europe over Christmas and save Ireland for another time - maybe when they both are old enough to appreciate a wonderful pint of Guiness.

Thanks for your ideas!

AisleSeat May 11th, 2008 07:01 PM

I am guesssing this is a first trip, at least for the kids. I love the German and Austrian Christmas markets but I would pick October over December for a trip with a 6 and 10 year old.

I suspect you can build their enthusiasm about the whatever destination you choose. I am thinking of all kinds of things like the Sound of Music, Neuschwanstein, faeries, Harry Potter in London or Madaline in Paris. We Fodorites can give you ammunition to help you plan and sell them on a great trip.

Rent the National Lampoon European Vacation movie and watch it with them.

janisj May 11th, 2008 07:10 PM

jujubean: As I said back at the beginning - I can't really help if you opt for Christmas since I haven't been to the Markets. Though I do have friends in the UK who travel to Germany for the markets every year and wouldn't miss them. I've been to Germany several times and Salzburg once. And a winter trip back to Salzburg has always been on my to do list.

I personally would pick Scotland - Edinburgh and Skye (and the Fairy Glen) during the Fall can be bliss.

But honestly - w/ what your older daughter wants, my real recommendation would be Ireland, but not Dublin. If you skip the east coast you will have time to really see lots of castles and sites on the W/SW/S side of Ireland. You could even rent a cottage on a farm or in a village for one week and spend another week-ish touring around from point to point. A well located cottage in the SW would be a good base for day trips w/i about 60-75 miles so it would cover quite a wide area w/o having to pack/un-pack/re-pack every night or two. You can fly in/out of Shannon and save all the schlepping back and forth across the country to Dublin.

(travelme: My examples were not at all extreme. They are practical info based on having lived in the UK for 5 years.)

janisj May 11th, 2008 07:12 PM

oops - was posting at the same time - guess you won't be renting a cottage in Ireland :)

Grcxx3 May 11th, 2008 07:29 PM

Can't help with Ireland/Scotland (still on my list!) - but we were in Salzburg for Christmas when my boys were 8 and 9 and we all loved it. It was just magical. Went skiing one day (long day trip, but quite do-able), went to a saltmine, went ice skating, saw all the sights in the city, bought little plastic &quot;sleds&quot; for the hill near our hotel.....just had a blast.

We were in Germany for Christmas when they were 13, 14 - and we all loved that. Visited Heidleberg, Rothenburg, and Munich (with a day trip to Neuschwanstein). Beautiful cities, lots to see and do.

The Christmas markets are great fun - lots to see, buy, eat, and drink!

I think our favorite city for the markets was Heidelberg - but to be fair, we missed the one in Munich because we arrived on Christmas day.


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