Multi-country travel

Jul 19th, 2010, 04:52 PM
  #1  
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Multi-country travel

Hi all.

I'm in the early stages of thinking about planning a trip for myself. Ideally, I want to go to England, Spain & Germany. I'm thinking 5 days or so, all around England, 2-3 days in Spain (not sure where), and a day or two in Germany. (I really just want to go to Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria.) This would be either in March, May or June of 2011, most likely.

I'm curious about what's the best way to travel between countries in Europe? Price-wise, etc, particularly these three countries. I'm not sure what the best way to order the three would be. Also, any suggestions on must-see places in Spain? Certain areas of the country I should look at more than others?

To give you an idea about myself, I'm a 21 y/o female. I'm interested in art, history and fashion. I really want to see beautiful places, and learn a lot. I'm not so much interested in nightlife and bars, or that sort of thing. I'm really an old soul, you could say.

i don't even know if what I want to do is at all reasonable, or kind of insane! If anyone has any tips, suggestions or info I would really appreciate it! Every little bit helps.
runwayxvogue is offline  
Jul 19th, 2010, 05:06 PM
  #2  
 
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While I admire your enthusiasm to try to see as much as you can this is just not possible. If I understand correctly you have only 10 days and want to visit England, Spain and Germany.

I know it's tempting but you really need to limit yourself to at the most 2 cities in which to base yourself or at most 2 main areas. I'd even recommend sticking with one country for this little time.

For example, 10 days in Spain could mean 5 in Barcelona and 5 in Madrid OR 5 in Barcelona, 3 in Sevilla and 2 in Granada. You could easily spend a week in London alone.

The good thing is you have plenty of time to read up on your places of interest and narrow down your choices.
CathyM is offline  
Jul 19th, 2010, 05:09 PM
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You lost me at 5 days or so, all around England. Exactly what do you want to see? Trains, train stations, airplanes, airports? You won't see much else if you try to see England in 5 days. Your choice, do you just want to go there, or do you actually want to see anything?

Geographically, England, Spain and Germany are NOT near each other to make your plan doable. Choose, one country and spend all the time there to see things. With 5 days in England, 2-3 in Spain and a day or two in Germany, you won't see any "beautiful places and learn alot". You'll torture yourself travelling from a to b and you will see NOTHING.
Sorry, but that's the truth.

Which country appeals more? Can you spend longer travelling?
justshootme is offline  
Jul 19th, 2010, 05:12 PM
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You don;t have time for 3 countries - you would spend half your time getting from one place to another. Pick one country - and then 2 or at most 3 places there that are near each other (so you can easily train between the 2 in a couple of hours).

Only you can know what you want to see most (I would suggest several weekends with guide books to hone in) and then people can help you make a doable plan.

Do remember that moving from one city to another will waste an entire day - as well as really driving up trip costs.
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 19th, 2010, 05:24 PM
  #5  
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Thank you for the responses! As I said, this is in the very early stages so I have no grasp on details and logistics quite yet. I'm looking at a map, travel times, etc...what if I were to eliminate Spain? Save that for another time (hopefully!) It seems like England and Germany aren't TOO far from each other, while Spain is quite out of the way. Am I right in this thinking?

And when I say England, I mostly mean London. But I may be interested in a trip or two outside the city, though to where I'm not quite sure yet!
runwayxvogue is offline  
Jul 19th, 2010, 05:42 PM
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London and Munich (which is the capital of Bavaria) are as far apart as Los Angeles and Albuquerque - and separated by a body of water (the English Channel). I guess it's all relative but I don't think that is close at all.

Stick with one country - at most 2 cities to base yourself.
CathyM is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 04:55 AM
  #7  
 
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Very good plan to plan so far ahead; the sooner the better. If possible I wouldn't travel in March--my husband encountered major snow in late March in Germany!

The advice above is good--3 countries is at least 1 too many! You really could spend all your time in 1 spot, especially (for me) in England. But I do understand the energy and enthusiasm. But to avoid just traveling around from spot to spot, which does take hours and hours or even days, I'd urge you to stick to 2.

For example: Fly into London, find a place to stay there for x number of days (half of your time or more). London is expensive but places can sometimes give discounts for multiple nights. From London there are lots of choices for day trips by train or coach/bus (Oxford, Dover, Stonehenge, Campbridge, even a long day to maybe York) if you wanted to see something outside of London. (You could just spend all your time in London, but having a day trip or two might work).

Then fly to maybe Frankfurt and ?rent a car? You can be in Bavaria in about a half a day; from Frankfurt you can also do the Rhine valley and all those castles! Or Koln. Or Munich. Or the Mosel Valley. Or the oldest city in Germany, Trier with its Roman ruins. Anyway, you could do a loop of some sort, depending on what you most wanted to see (Bavaria and the Romantic Road back?) for 4-5 days, turn car back in and fly out of Frankfurt.

There are other options for travel to Germany from London. My husband has flown in and out of Frankfurt often with business and has been able to do a good bit of weekend sightseeing from this base.

Keep your maps out, decide what you'd most like to do, how long you really have, what sort of flying arrangements you can make, and go from there. Happy travels! (and come back to the Forum with specific questions once you make your itinerary "plans" whether rough drafts or final copies. Keep a bit of a thick skin here--sometimes responses may come off as a bit harsh. Emoticons just do not convey enough nuances of tone. And I can't imagine planning a big trip, esp. overseas, without using this Forum but I am still the only one who really knows what I/my family are like, what we want, what we think we can do, and what our actual nitty-gritty budget and time constraints are. So listen to the advice, but sometimes you have to filter out what might come across as negative.) (You have not encountered that in the responses above, however.)
texasbookworm is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 06:15 AM
  #8  
 
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You could fly into London - take a flight from London to Frankfurt - and fly home from Frankfurt.

Decide what in England you would like to see - you can't see it all in 5 days so list the things you most want to see.

Decide what you would like to see in Germany. We went to Rothenburg, which we loved, and from there drove to Bavaria to see the castles.
bratsandbeer is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 07:29 AM
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It is not worth it to go to Germany "just to see Neuschwanstein." First of all, the castle isn't worth it. And secondly, you're missing the rest of a fabulous country. I agree with others that you are trying to cover too much ground in too little time. If you really want to visit two countries, I'd do England (London) and Germany or England and Spain, but not all three. And if you really want to get a taste of Germany and some fantastic castles, take texasbookworm's advice of flying to Frankfurt, renting a car, and touring the Mosel/Rhein area. I lived in Germany for a couple years and that was my favorite part of the country.
hausfrau is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 07:31 AM
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Just read your post again and had another thought...if you aren't really keen on renting a car alone, London and Barcelona might be a nice combo for you, given your interests.
hausfrau is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 08:24 AM
  #11  
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Thanks again for all of the responses. I guess I will try to narrow it down to one country. I'm trying to decide between England and Spain, though maybe leaning more towards England. I'm thinking it might be a little less overwhelming as I'll be traveling by myself and don't know much Spanish! I will keep everything you've all said in mind, as I decide and begin planning. Thanks again!
runwayxvogue is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 09:02 AM
  #12  
 
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I'm going against the flow here, but I don't see any problem with 2 or even the 3 countries. As long as you understand that what you will see is 2 or 3 cities, not the whole countries, it's doable and not too bad. I've been for plenty of city weekend breaks in Europe, they are quite popular here. You get a good taste rather than an in depth immersion, but sometimes that's all you want.

I'd split it more evenly though, 3 days London, 3 days Germany, 3 days Spain, and look for cheap flights between them to pick the exact cities. It's only half a day travel each time. Ok, 2 would be easier and less stressful, so that's what I'd do, but it's up to you.

I don't hold with this 'you must spend 2 weeks living like a local or it's not worth going' idea that is prevalent on Fodors. Also fun, but not the only way to go. I had huge fun on my 2 day trip to Athens and my 3 day trip to Rome and the 12 hours I spent in Amsterdam once, and the 2 days I spent another time in Amsterdam, and so on...

Linking up loads of these little trips in a 14 days 9 countries type of way is too ambitious, but I think the OPs plan is fine.
nona1 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 09:14 AM
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London and Barcelona are a good combo, the latter especially in
March. In May or June, you can pick whatever you feel like.

If you want to see Germany you should chose Berlin over Munich, especially at your age. But since you mentioned "beautiful" in your list, I'd lean towards Barcelona.

Barcelona sees many tourists from many countries. Few of them speak more than 5 phrases of Spanish (or Catalan). Great city beaches. No worries about the language: I do speak Spanish and some Catalan, but usually end up talking English with the people. It's just easier for both sides.

But don't expect too much: You won't be seeing "England" or "Spain", but two great cities that will keep you busy easily with the option of a daytrip to a place outside of each if you want, like Oxford or Montserrat.

Between London and Barcelona (area) or Berlin you will find tons of low-budget flights if you book long enough in advance.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 09:17 AM
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and ditto on nona's remarks.. going for 2-3 nights from London to Barcelona, or from Munich to London are totally ordinary weekend trips.. especially since the rise of low-cost airlines it has turned into something almost not worth mentioning..
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 09:56 AM
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From what I have read concerning crime in Barcelona, I think I would shy away from that if I was alone and this was my first trip to Europe.

I think you would enjoy London, Paris and Rome if you like art, fashion and history. There is so much to see in these 3 cities.

Fly into London, take the chunnel to Paris and an overnight train to either Venice or Rome. If you could plan on 4 days for London, 4 for Paris including the travel day from London, and 3/4 for either Venice or Rome. Fly home from Italy.
bratsandbeer is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 10:51 AM
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If you want to check for cheap flights, these websites show who flies where (budget airlines only) -
http://www.whichbudget.com/
http://www.flycheapo.com/

The flight may only be 2 hours but often it will take all day by the time you leave your hotel and reach the next hotel in the next country. Also be aware that the first price you see on the budget airline website is NOT the price you pay. They add on costs for everything, including luggage, check in, payment, etc etc. You can play around on the websites and keep clicking to see how the price skyrockets then exit before you actually book - obviously don't put any credit card details in.

If you change the countries you are interested in, the Eurostar (train) is fantastic for getting from London to Paris or Brussels, it's easier and quicker than flying. Same goes for prices as flying though, book as early as you can. Prices will only go up the closer you get to your dates. You can book Eurostar online 3 months before your date of travel, this will give you the cheapest fares.

Have fun with the planning.

Kay
KayF is online now  
Jul 20th, 2010, 05:14 PM
  #17  
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Thanks all! I think I've decided on England. My sister, who will be 19, is now going to be joining me. She has no interest in Spain, and is planning on going to Germany abroad for a semester in the next few years. So that decides that! We may do a day trip to Paris - I've been, but she hasn't. Thanks for all the help, now time to start planning
runwayxvogue is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 11:32 PM
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Brilliant, you'll have a great time. If you are thinking of day trips from London, check out London Walks www.walks.com they do great walks in London itself and also day trips to places like Cambridge, Oxford, Bath etc and include a guided walk. Easy to do and you don't have to prebook.

You can also easily get the train yourselves to Brighton or Canterbury or Salisbury, etc. Ask on this board for help, there are lots of experienced travellers about who love to help.

Kay
KayF is online now  
Jul 21st, 2010, 03:06 AM
  #19  
 
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<<< Also be aware that the first price you see on the budget airline website is NOT the price you pay. >>>

However unlike in the US the price will be achievable as under EU law airlines aren't allowed to ignore compulsory items in their headline prices - whether you can actually achieve that price is another question and which leads to long threads on the *best* ways to do it on the flights forum of moneysavingexpert.com
alanRow is offline  
Jul 21st, 2010, 03:56 AM
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You will have a blast; and you will have fun planning too. There are as many ways to spend your time there as there are people, and there are benefits to almost everyone's suggestions. Here's mine: for your first trip to England, base yourself in London, where you really could spend all your time probably, but you can make several day trips if you want using public transportaion. I am putting a link to a trip report of a two-weeks-in-London with 5 day trips that my husband and I did in 2008
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-day-trips.cfm

Granted, you and your sister are much much younger than I am, but our experiences might give you some ideas. If you decide to do some day trips, I would recommend you look into the EnglandRail Passes--their flexibility were real drawing cards for us and I think there are student-aged discounts.

Secure travel and room accomodations fairly far ahead as that will then dictate how many days you have, either just in London or in other cities. But if you aren't going to mess with a car, then basing yourself in London and traveling back to a room there each evening will cut down on hassles of packing and luggage transfer.

I think you sound like the kind of person to design your own itineraries, which are fun to do and you have plenty of time--and resources. Tours can be good (Londonwalks get good reviews often--I have never taken one) but I'd urge you to use guide books and maps (get some good maps!) and the internet and teach yourself about stuff and make plans based on your interests and timing. It's always cheaper that way.

There are some advantages to flying open-jaw if you wanted to like fly into London and end up in Edinburg for example. But I'd suggest you keep in mind that you can't see it all in one trip and commit to enjoying London and where you can get to from it--this trip!

(Best easy day trips are IMO Oxford and Salisbury/Stonehenge; I think Cambridge would be easy too. Half day trips to Windsor, Hampton Court, or Greenwich are easy, too.)
texasbookworm is offline  

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