Lots of help needed on a trip to Europe

Jan 3rd, 2012, 11:01 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2010
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Lots of help needed on a trip to Europe

Hi, This will be my wife and I's only trip to Europe. We are active people in our mid fiftys. We leave LAX on Feb 7 to Rome and return March 13 from Paris. We plan on seeing, Rome, Athens, Milan, Venice, Monoco, Barcelona, Madrid, Zurich, Munich, London and Paris. I have planned nothing yet and this bothers my wife. Need help on plane or train travel and tours. I was thinking of using Milan as a base to fly out of. We are a 2 or 3 star couple when it comes to hotels. Thanks in advance for your help and tips
Mike_Meservey is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2012, 11:18 PM
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Question - why do you believe this will be your only trip to Europe?

I'd be nervous too. You're leaving in a month and haven't even booked your airfare? No hotels booked, no sightseeing planned?

Did you get passports and visas if you require them?

You're covering a lot of ground in only 5 weeks - 11 destinations in 35 days - a new place every 3 days and with transportation between locations that means you only have 2 to 2.5 days in each place. Not much time to see major cities so you'll need to plan every detail to maximize your time.

Why not cut down your itinerary and have more time to enjoy the places you visit.

Go to your local library or book store and get some guide books. Decide on just a few of the most important things to see in each city.

Book airline tickets and hotels quickly.

I would fly into one city and home from another so you don't have to back track.
adrienne is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 12:13 AM
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Have a look at this for Europe http://www.skyscanner.net/ it gives you an idea of the low cost airline routes. Generally check where the airport is (Ryanair famously puts their version of city airports miles from the city required).

Their is no international good railway site but the best is http://www.bahn.de/p/view/index.shtml.

Your prefered cities
Rome, Athens, Milan, Venice, Monaco, Barcelona, Madrid, Zurich, Munich, London and Paris. Basically look ok, though Monaco looks like the wierd one there unless you are addicted to gambling or have a load of friends in the "lets avoid paying tax but still benefit from the taxes, industry" .

2 or 3 star no problem though in the dates you have described you may find that the hotel you want has closed and you get shunted to another (fuller one). Zurich may be full already as I think there are some conferences on at the moment (similarly Milan).

Not sure where you are based but you will need layers of warmer clothes for most of these, Madrid and Zurch will be cold the rest may be/or not.
bilboburgler is online now  
Jan 4th, 2012, 12:26 AM
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I'd be a little concerned too, but as it's technically low season you should still be able to book hotels, transport, etc. That said, you need to hop to it to make sure you get the places you like/will suit you.

As you have already booked to fly in to Rome and out of Paris (good call), this will determine your route. Is the route in the same order as you've listed above? If so, it might need a little tweaking to make it "flow" a little better as it kind of zigzags across Europe as it stands. The order of visiting will also determine the type of transport between each destination, and that's the bit you need to get on to ASAP in order to get decently priced flights on some of the sectors. No need to base yourselves in Milan (or anywhere else) for flights as some sectors might be better served by trains (eg London-Paris on Eurostar, Rome-Venice fast train, Barcelona-Madrid fast train, etc).

As has been mentioned, you don't have a whole lot of time to play with in order to cover all of the places you've mentioned. For the places noted, the usual recommended time in each is approx Rome 5 nights, Athens 3 nights, Milan 1-2 nights (depending on reasons for going there, if it's shopping then 1 full day, if it's for The Last Supper then one full day and book ahead online, if it's both then 2 days) Venice 3 nights, Monoco 1 night (NOTE: if you're planning to stay in Monaco then you need to fly/train to Nice and head up the hill from there as the easiest route), Barcelona 3-4 nights, Madrid 4 nights, Zurich (1 night, or drop it and spend more nights in Luzern or somewhere in the Bernese Oberland), Munich 3-4 nights depending on day trips, London 4-5 nights and Paris 5 nights. Of course this all depends on what you plan to do/see in each city, so adjust accordingly. Once you've sorted the route order, you can sort transport types and book accommodation according to your budget, but you will have to get onto that now to save anymore stressing for your wife. Not a good way to start a trip!
madamtrashheap is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 01:22 AM
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Dont use Madrid as a base to fly in and out of - fly open jaw - into say Athens, and out of London to save time and cost of travelling back to Milan.
jamikins is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 02:23 AM
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For low cost airlines check Ryan Air and Easy Jet but pay close attention to the fees they'll add for checked baggage. For info on train travel check the very informative website www.seat61.com. I too think that's a pretty busy schedule. Remember that every time you change locations you lose at least a half day or more of your vacation time (check-out, get to train/airport, travel time, get to new hotel for check-in).

I too would cut Monaco out of your plans. It's a place to spend money, not time. Personally I would exchange Milan for Florence. I also agree that maybe you should exchange Zurich for some other place.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 02:32 AM
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Just out of curiosity, how did you come up with the list of cities you plan to visit? Are there specific attractions you wish to see in each of them? Some are obvious, e.g. Rome, Paris, & London. But why Milan, for instance rather than Florence? Why Zurich? Why Monaco, particularly in winter?

Bear in mind there is much to see in the surrounding areas of each city, rather than just in the cities themselves. For instance, from Florence you could travel to Siena or Pisa. Also consider that you have picked 11 destinations the length and breadth of Western Europe, some of them, e.g. Athens, quite distant from the others. Five weeks may seem like a long time, but much of it will be taken up with travelling between destinations rather than with sightseeing. Were it me, I would make a plan of what specific sights you wish to see, and draw up a more compact itinerary.

Heimdall is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 02:33 AM
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Question: Why wouldn't they want to go to other places in the future? Were I going to India or Russia or Israel or Thailand, I would plan on the basis of it most likely being my only trip there.
zeppole is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 02:51 AM
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Flying into Rome and out of Paris is a good plan. I don't think the lack of bookings for hotels, trains, & internal flights should be a major worry at this point, as it is possible to find hotels and buy tickets on the spot. My major concern would be to have a plan for what to see, and then figure out how to get from point A to point B, and point B to point C, etc.

Heimdall is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 02:53 AM
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Is your aim to tick places of a "To Visit" list, or to get a glimpse and experiece some of your destinations?
I have seen many people with itenerary less hectic than yours to go back home and scratch their head over pictures to remember if this was Rome or Athens. Everything comes on a blur after some time...
I totaly understand that eveyone has a different traveling style, and I totaly understand that coming the distance you might want to see as much as possible. But does it worth it to be eg in Athens and see no other must see than the Acroppolis?
Stamina is one more thing to concider. I am not into trips that take in more than one country at the time, but I am into long trips, often more than 4 weeks long and I can tell you that after 10-15 days of moving around, I really need to slow down a bit. Towards the end of your trip you will really need some breath, so alocate some time to relax and preferably easy your iteneray on each area a bit.
I think you can really ease your itenerary by cutting out 2-3 cities. It will still be fast paced, but a tad bit more doable. You need to decide based on travel logistics and interests which places to cut down.
mariha2912 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 03:09 AM
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I am working out a similar plan...only that, it is more than an year away. Going by the good advice available here, I too had to drastically cut down on my desired itinerary. From that experience, I can suggest( hope the experts agree) that you may consider cutting out Greece and Spain altogether( as these are slightly far off from your core-area, that is western and central europe).........and your schedule will be more workable.
Blwetorch is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 03:10 AM
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I would cut Athens, Monaco and Zurich out as well as exchanging Milan for Florence. As noted, there are great day trips you can make outside these cities. Flying into Rome and out of London sounds like it might be the most cost effective (assuming you cut out Athens).
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 03:40 AM
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Much as I love Greece, I would cut it, along with Spain, out of this trip as well. I have been to Monaco a couple times (for the grand prix), but don't see the point of visiting in Feb-Mar. Don't see the point of Zurich, either, but the nearby Bernese Oberland would worth seeing. It will be the height of the ski season, so very busy, but it may be possible to stay in Interlaken, for example, and take the train up to Jungfraujoch.
Heimdall is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 10:29 AM
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Question: why would going to other places preclude never returning to europe? And since they have never been to europe how do they know they won't want to return?
adrienne is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 10:53 AM
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I never dreamed I would go to Europe more than once or twice, but we have been there nearly 20 times. Especially to Italy. Probably have included Italy in 16 of those trips. Chances are most people will return.
charnees is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 12:48 PM
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Well if traveling that much on trains investigate some kind of railpass and keep in mind that overnight trains connect zillions of cities - saving time and some of a hotel cost - check out these fab IMO sites for helping plan a rail trip - www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.seat61.com and www.ricksteves.com. For schedules and dope on all European trains I always use the Wunderbar www.bahn.de or German Railways official site - easiest to use for me and yes has schedules for practically any European train IME.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 01:51 PM
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Thanks so far. I am now cutting out Zurich and Monoco for sure, and Milan was listed for the low airfares I saw. Yes, this will be our last trip out of the U.S. 13 grandkids with more to come keep us plenty busy traveling. Please if you have any favorite hotels in my cities, please list them, Thanks
Mike_Meservey is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 01:55 PM
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I would get a guidebook or two--one of those "Best of Europe" types. I usually have a Frommers, a Rick Steves, and a Fodors.

You'll get lots of information from them. I wouldn't dream of planning a trip without a guidebook or two.

The guidebooks will list hotels that they consider worthwhile. Then you can go on TripAdvisor and see how guests have rated them.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 10:55 PM
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Mike - if you want help with hotels can you please give us a price you are willing to spend. No point in us recommending a hotel for €300 a night if you only want to spend €150...
jamikins is offline  
Jan 5th, 2012, 12:41 PM
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and there are loads of hotels well less than 150 quid as well - way way lower.
PalenQ is offline  
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