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Need help in deciding!! Trip in end of July


May 25th, 2013, 04:30 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2010
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Need help in deciding!! Trip in end of July

Hi everyone,

So I am planning on a trip in the end of July with my mom and me. We both have birthdays in the last week of July, so this is my treat to her! On a side (and important) note, I have to be in Cambridge, England for 2 weeks for a music festival after my vacation.

I am having a really hard time deciding whether I want to go to Lisbon, Munich/Salzburg, or Paris (I have never been to any of them). This is comparing oranges to apples, but here are my interests for this vacation: relaxation, baroque/rococo churches (my mom loves them), cityscape, fun time, not a lot of tourists (not this time), good food (esp. sweets), good weather, and relatively not too expensive.

LisbonPros) I've read so much about this city, and it truly fascinates me. It looks like San Francisco but with even more history, so the cityscape is a plus for Lisbon! I think the weather will be good, the Pombaline architecture will be interesting, and the Mediterranean ambience and lifestyle is a plus for me. I speak Italian, but I do not know if that will help me in Lisbon. I've also heard that it's not very expensive to eat/live there. Not too touristy.
(Cons): far away from Cambridge...must take airplane to get there.
(Q): How do the churches in Lisbon compare to Paris or Salzburg/Munich?

Salzburg/Munich (Pros): The baroque churches/monasteries here look really amazing, I've seen photos and researched their histories. English is spoken nearly everywhere. Weather won't be too hot. Salzburg's cityscape looks beautiful in pictures. Not too touristy?
(Cons): Not really interested in German history, though Salzburg is really interesting for me since I am a classical musician (However, I am not looking for some touristy Mozart thing, I just want to check out the place where he was raised up). And it's far away from Cambridge + I think it's expensive to get there.
(Q): How is the food (esp. sweets) there? Is it a relaxing place to go for our birthdays? How is the architecture there in terms of its uniqueness and artistry?

Paris (Pros): It's Paris! History fascinates me. The art will be amazing. I'm sure there are great baroque churches there, although from my research, I get a sense that Paris is very gothic-heavy. Still, I am sure my mom would love beautiful stained glass/rose windows with flying buttresses and exotic heights. It is closer to Cambridge which means that I can take a train via London to Cambridge. The cityscape looks beautiful, though, I am not sure if it's as appealing to me as Lisbon (the huge bay!). The Food!
(Cons): Too much art will probably not be relaxing, probably too expensive to live and eat. There will be too much tourists, and I feel bad for not taking my dad with us if we go to Paris, since he's always wanted to go, and I think it's unfair that we get to experience Paris first.
(Q): Do the tourists interfere with the sense that you have Paris to yourself?

Thank you!
ilovevienna1 is offline  
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May 25th, 2013, 05:47 PM
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I am not a particular fan of Lisbon, While pleasant IMHO it is a 3rd rank city in europe. And while is is fairly cheap we didn;t like the food a lot (even in some well-recommended places - way too much olive oil).

I would reco doing Salzburg/Munich - and include Innsbruck - as having great architecture - including outskirts, being moderately priced, much better food than Lisbon and less crowded and expensive than Paris.

(If it were me I would do Paris - but then I'm not a huge fan of baroque/rococo.)
nytraveler is offline  
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May 25th, 2013, 06:41 PM
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I think all of the places you mention will be working alive with tourists at the end of July, so be prepared for that, whichever city you choose. Relaxing - in what way? Being a tourist and seeing the sights is fun and rewarding but, IMO is not necessarily "relaxing." If you want relaxation, stay in your hotel room because it's not especially relaxing to deal with the metro and/or bus and the crowds at all the interesting sights. "Invigorating" would be the word I would use. All that said, my choice would be Munich/Salzberg because they are somewhat less frantic than Paris and much more appealing (to me) than Lisbon. As far as expensive to get there, we have found flights into Munich as cheap as flights into London. From Munich, it's an easy train ride to Salzberg. Paris, of course, is closer to Cambridge and Paris has much to offer. However, it's crowded with tourists as well as Parisians, the metro is crowded (and you'll need to use it to get around)so don't go there expecting a quiet, Monet landscape with Parisian music being played on every street corner. Paris is a huge, bustling city. I love it for what it is.
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May 25th, 2013, 07:21 PM
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I'm a huge fan of Lisbon, although I also like Paris. Alas, I've not been to the other places you are contemplating. What jumps out at me is your feeling about father always wanting to go to Paris, and how you feel about that. So think hard about that one.

The food in Lisbon is wonderful to me, but I love seafood and olive oil and the fact that so many cultures have influenced the cooking of Lisbon, from India, Africa, France, Spain, Jewish and Arab cooking, plus south America. Lisbon was the heart of a great worldwide empire, so how anybody can go there and imagine it is a 3rd rank European city is rather odd to me. I

All and all, Lisbon is also fun because it is so inexpensive and friendly, and because it is so easy to slip out of the city to the seaside.

I completely disagree that if you want to relax you need to stay in your hotel room. I have no idea why that was said to you, other than to put you down for wanting something more than just a touristy time. Lisbon is a relaxed city, period. You don't have to spend all day at the most crowded tourist sights of Paris to find Paris interesting. There are lots of quiet strolls and cafes in Paris, and empty churches of great beauty.

Your Italian will help you a little when it comes to reading things, but when you listen to Portuguese (or try to pronounce their words), then Portuguese is pronounced in ways you wouldn't guess.

I think it is great you have put so much thought into this. Is your mother giving you any specific input about what she would enjoy? Is she okay with hot weather? Have you looked at websites like kayak to get an idea of how much the flights would be compared with the train to Paris?

If you decide to go to Lisbon, renting an apartment can be incredibly cheap. Check out Rent4Days.

Good luck to you and your mom coming to a decision on this. You are considering some very interesting places, so I am not surprised you are having a hard time deciding.
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May 25th, 2013, 09:40 PM
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ilovevienna1 - My comment about relaxing in your hotel room wasn't meant as a "put-down" as stevewith suggested, although on second read I can see that it could be taken that way. Traveling folks each have different ideas about what a vacation means to them so if offended you, I apologize. I was seeing things through my eyes, not yours. A trip to Europe perhaps means something different to you than it does to me. To me, it's invigorating, exciting, and I'm on the move each day. For relaxation, I like a vacation at the lake or seashore, sitting under an umbrella sipping something cool. As I said, I was seeing things from my viewpoint, not yours. I'm sure you can find quiet areas in any of the cities you're considering and can go at your own pace.
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May 26th, 2013, 06:42 AM
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Lisbon, as others have said Italian will help with the reading but not the speaking until you get your ear in (it is tough) the city also has some art deco and even a trireme in the old Arsenale. I like Lisbon and since it is coastal July will not be too hot.

I don't have much time for Munich but I've had to work there of and on. I'd struggle to chose it out of your three options. So I would chose Paris as my other site (actually, after getting to Lisbon I'd chose, in no particular order, the Azores, Seville, Cordoba, Malaga and Granada) but on your list Paris (I'd also try and make trip after the weekend of the 3 August when many Parisians will have left)
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May 26th, 2013, 07:42 AM
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I am a big fan of Lisbon. Of course, I'm also a big fan of Paris, but it will be more expensive, and you have left it a bit late to book accommodation. Flying from Lisbon shouldn't be a problem, check fares at EasyJet..

For the TR for one of my Lisbon trips see:

and for photos (don't miss the ones of the stunning monastery at Belem), see:
thursdaysd is online now  
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May 26th, 2013, 08:07 AM
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crckwc1-what I mean by relaxing is not to deal with lines at sights, be in the midst of tourist crowds, not be too overwhelmed by art, and not to be stressed over what to see or not to see. I feel like I would be stressed out in the Louvre and hushed rather than spending quality time with my mom, and I dont see how I can spend quality time in a hotel room either. We will probably just fight, lol. But thank you for your reply. I didn't take anything personally. I actually could relate to what you said. If I really want complete relaxation, I would have chosen a cruise. But, I do want some place invigorating, captivating, and reflective, and at the same time, not so crazy and overwhelming. Lisbon so far is the only place that is becoming more and more attractive to me. The pombaline architecture will for me be a reflection of the 1755 earthquake, which is something I can reflect on while walking through the streets of Lisbon. This earthquake changed everything: philosophy, art, enlightenment, and even music. Something to really reflect on, esp., if you read Voltaire or the diaries of King Joan V.
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May 26th, 2013, 04:59 PM
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Sorry to have put an unnecessarily negative interpretation on the "hotel room" remark.

One place you certainly should not miss on your visit to Lisbon is the Carmo Convent (Convento da Ordem do Carmo), which was destroyed in the great earthquake, except for its shell. It is still an exceptionally beautiful place but resonates with that awful moment of the earthquake meant for Lisbon and all of the Portuguese empire


Another place that is exceptionally rewarding is the Gulbenkian museum, and you needn't worry about long lines. It is a truly amazing collection -- the founder, Gulbenkian, lived in Paris almost all his adult life and amassed his amazing collection of interntational classic art in Paris -- but ultimately decided to give it all to Lisbon. It is as fascinating as a mini-Louvre, not for painting, but for rare one-of-a-king treasures from all over the world -- the most beautiful tiles from Iran, the most beautiful silks from Japan, the most beautiful greek vase or french inlay cabinet. What makes this museum so wonderful is the amazing variety of the just the most exquisite objects of art and craft from so many civilizations.

The modest modern gardens surrounding the Gulbenkian museum are also very much worth strolling through, because the Portuguese developed a particular talent for urban gardens and green space, employing all the plants and influence of their empire, which is still very alive in Portuguese culture.

Something else I found quite exceptional Portugal is that in so many of its cafes and restaurants, one never hears piped-in music. It seemed to me that the Portuguese had a keen sense music should be heard live, and preferred their own music to generic world pop.
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May 27th, 2013, 10:53 AM
Join Date: May 2013
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I know pretty well the 4 cities you mentioned. It´s hard to decide which one to choose because are so different in culture, food, people, etc.
Some inputs:
- All are very expensive, except Lisbon.
- As far as English speaking: Lisbon no problem, however I wouldn´t say the same for Munich and Salburg. In Paris, one can find pelople speaking English or not.
After visiting one of the cities, going to Cambridge is easy, there is several connections daily
Hope this helps
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