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Never been to Europe. Need help picking a country!

Never been to Europe. Need help picking a country!

Aug 18th, 2004, 12:47 PM
  #1  
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Never been to Europe. Need help picking a country!

I plan on doing a nice Europe vacation sometime next year, 7-14 days and I don't know anything about Europe, ie; time of year to go, country(s) to visit (easily for an American;language), and would prefer maybe a guided tour-a country rich in culture. Some countries I'd like to visit are; Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Monaco, Spain... Can someone help me at least start there? Thanks.
jen24 is offline  
Aug 18th, 2004, 12:48 PM
  #2  
ira
 
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Hi Jen

For a first timer, for two weeks, I recommend London and Paris.
ira is offline  
Aug 18th, 2004, 12:52 PM
  #3  
 
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I'd also recommend London. Since you are interested in Italy, you could always do Venice, Florence and Rome.

I would suggest getting a good guide book of Europe with an overview of the continent and of the countries in it. Once you pinpoint one or two you are interested in, then purchase another book on just those areas.
tcreath is offline  
Aug 18th, 2004, 12:58 PM
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If you may only get to Europe once, I wouldn't miss Italy. The people, climate, culture are awesome. In 14 days you could cover Florence, Rome, Amalfi and perhaps Venice.

Paris snootiness and the language barrier can turn off a first-timer, the French get more friendly outside of Paris, but the language barrier gets worse.

I would save London, Germany and Spain for later trips. Also, you should consider Ireland..many escorted tours available and the people and sites are great. Generally, July and August are crowded and more expensive. Almost anywhere in western Europe, May, Sept and early Oct are good months for travel.
Parrothead is offline  
Aug 18th, 2004, 01:01 PM
  #5  
ira
 
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>If you may only get to Europe once, ...<

Definitely Paris. Think of how disappointed you will be if you die and go to heaven without ever having been to Paris.
ira is offline  
Aug 18th, 2004, 01:43 PM
  #6  
 
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"Think of how disappointed you will be if you die and go to heaven without ever having been to Paris."

And all these years I thought Paris was heaven.

I don't know how you are going to make this decision, but it's a tough one.

Paris for five days - Fly to Florence

Four Days Florence (with a day trip to Chianti or Tuscany to get the feel of the countryside - I guarantee you will return).

Train to Venice or Rome (depending on whether you're looking at Romance or History).
Four Days Rome or Venice

Fly Home and Prepare for your next trip to Europe.


maitaitom is offline  
Aug 18th, 2004, 01:52 PM
  #7  
 
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One more suggestion: Go in May, September or October when the weather is a little cooler (usually), but is still warm. Don't forget to take time and drink wine.
maitaitom is offline  
Aug 18th, 2004, 01:52 PM
  #8  
rex
 
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I would never pick one of these countries for you without playing twenty questions with you, and about you.

Can you tell us - - in a single sentence (about each country) - - why you THINK you want to go there?

Only Monaco would be hard to pick (solo) for a 7-14 day trip.

Best wishes,

Rex
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Aug 18th, 2004, 02:00 PM
  #9  
 
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Hard to advise strangers with so broad a topic, but I'll take a shot, assuming a two week trip, with 12 actual days in Europe.

To take care a few of the places on your wish list, book an open jaw ticket,that means you fly into one city and fly home from another. Your budget may affect time of year. Late spring and early fall are best for weather, moderate crowds, and moderate day length, but air fare prices tend to be higher then.

Choose winter or even summer if you're looking for some bargains (that was the case this year, anyway) but you have to cope with cold/rain vs heat and crowds.

You didn't mention England, so I'll assume you've eliminated it for whatever reason.
I'll assume spring summer or fall for now.
Fly into Paris, stay 4 days.
Take TGV train to Avignon, daytrip or stay there for 2 days. Continue on train to Nice, rent car to see Monaco.
By now you've used 8 days. Get back on train, or fly to save time, from Nice to Venice. Fly home from Venice.

My one caveat with the above is that everytime you go from one city to another, even if you fly, even if the train is only 3 hours, you essentially lose at least half a day for sightseeing. So fewer destinations, and more day trips, is better in terms of time wasted on intercity travel.

On the other hand, if you really can't decide, and if reading about these places (try clicking above on Destinations) doesn't help you narrow it down, then consider one of the tours that hits 5 or 6 places in 2 weeks. It doesn't appeal to most people here, but it is an alternative for some.


elaine is offline  
Aug 18th, 2004, 02:13 PM
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Like Ira, I would recommend London and Paris, with day trips outside the cities for a first trip. Since you didn't mention England in your list of countries you'd like to visit, my second thought would be to visit either France (Paris, Burgundy, Provence or Paris, the Loire and Normandy) or Italy (Venice, Florence and the Tuscan countryside and Rome). Best times to go are May and September/October. If you visit Italy, plan on an open jaw - into Rome and out of Venice - flight. Use the suggestions in the responses you get and do a little research. Do you like cities, rural areas, museums, nountain climbing? Then when you have a better idea of what you want to do, come back with more questions.
mamc is offline  
Aug 18th, 2004, 02:14 PM
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Boy...where to start. First of all, I know that no one has a crystal ball, but do you think this may be your ONLY trip to Europe? That may help in your decision. Also, you have to remember that you will have only just begin to scratch the surface. My first trip to Europe was in 1999. I went on a tour with my two brothers and one of my sisters-in-laws. Since then, I have been back once to London and Paris on my own. Trying to get back somewhere next year. In the meantime, my brother and sister-in-law got the Europe "bug" and have been back every year since 1999. I envy them but I'm not willing to go into debt for it. Personally, being on a tour the very first trip was a good thing for me. Made me much more comfortable about individual travel, allowed us to cover a fair amount of ground and it sure "wet my whistle" for wanting to return. We did a Brendan/Globus tour called Thames to Tiber. We were in London 3 nights, Paris three nights, Lucerne 2 nights, Florence one night, Venice 2 nights, and Rome for 3 nights. Flew into London, and returned home from Rome. We covered a lot of ground but it wasn't one of those different city and hotel every night kind of things. We had a full "free" day in London, Paris, and Rome. Actually, you could have more free time if you elected not to go on the extra tours offered, or got tired of the group and wanted a break. We actually had a good group-from 13 years old to 60's but I didn't feel I had to live with them. Some of the group still keep in contact from what I understand. Anyway, it was an excellent start without being run ragged. It gave the opportunity to experience several different cultures, different food, see some woderful sites with excellent guides and so like I say, at that time in my life it worked for me just fine. By the way, the Thames to Tiber was 16 days total so you had the full two weeks in Europe. The hotels were all very nice but not all centrally located. Transportation was great in the cities so it didn't matter, in Luceren we could walk everywhere. If you do opt for a tour, please don't try to do the 8 countries in 14 days type. You will be run ragged, totally exhausted, will be rushing through places like mad, and won't even remember what you saw..well actually a blur as you whiz by. However, only you can judge what is the best thing for you to do and again whether you think this will be a once in a lifetime thing or you will be able to return again. I also agree with the London/Paris suggestion. You can get some really good package deals..air, hotel, transfers,eurostar from London to Paris, etc. You are on your own the entire time. If you can only do 7 days, that would for sure be my suggestion. Not enough time but a "taste"
crefloors is offline  
Aug 18th, 2004, 02:32 PM
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You didn't mention England, and obviously, that disappoints me! It's my favorite place in the world, so I must recommend it to you. I'll recommend it for another reason. If this is your first visit to Europe, you are bound to suffer some culture shock. And while England is a different culture from America ("two nations divided by the same language"), you may feel more comfortable traveling in a city where you can at least read the newspapers and the menus, and you can understand the radio and TV stations. It might be easier to talk to the locals, too.
Merseyheart is offline  
Aug 18th, 2004, 02:49 PM
  #13  
 
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If you don't have a rhyme or reason yet for choosing a country, then consider other factors -

1) What's your family heritage? Sometimes you can find you're more curious about history when it's your own.
2) When are you going? Weather can make a difference on how much you can do.
3) What's your age and interests? Need nightlife? That sort of thing may be better in some places than others.
4) How do you plan on traveling (mode of transport)? I love Ireland for instance, but it's not the best choice for someone wanting to stick to trains. Car is best there.

Just some things to think about. If Europe is calling - what does it sound like? I'm sure my version of things is different than other posters on this thread, and different than yours.

Clifton is offline  
Aug 18th, 2004, 03:00 PM
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I would suggest that you more carefully define what interests you. If by culture, you mean history, then I think Rome, Florence, and Paris would be good. If you mean music, the answers may be very different. Our interests are in art, and I went to a knowledgeable person who suggested London, Paris, Florence, Rome, and Venice.

Once you decide what you really want to see, the destinations will fall into place pretty easily.

There are different thoughts on how to tour; some people like to see as many places as possible in their time; others favor seeing fewer places, but learning and seeing more in those places. You will have to decide which type of person you are. My suggestion would be to go for the longest time you can (better 14 days than 7, 21 is even better), and plan to stay in at least your initial destination for a week, so you can learn to become comfortable about being in a strange place.

I have not found language (I speak only English) to be a limiting factor. Once you know where you are going, you can pick up a phrase book and learn the few phrases necessary to get by, and convey that, while you don't speak the language, at least you have made some effort.
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Aug 18th, 2004, 03:05 PM
  #15  
rex
 
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More history in France and Italy than in Greece and Spain? or Germany?

tsk, tsk...
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Aug 18th, 2004, 11:19 PM
  #16  
mjs
 
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If it were me I would opt for an open jaw London/Paris if I had about the shorter part of your 7 to 14 day time frame. If I had 14 days I would consider an open jaw London/Paris/Rome trip. I know this does not include anything outside the cities but you can't do everything in one trip. Time of year to go for me would be late April or early May, late September or early October depending on airfare costs and personal time issues.
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Aug 18th, 2004, 11:32 PM
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Can't really help without knowing your interests and expectations. I found Germany an "easy" country for my first time. Many speak English, but it's different enough to blow you away. Try the Rhein area, Rothenberg-ob-der-Tauber, Munich etc. Open jaw Frankfurt - London or Frankfurt-Paris might be good, but don't linger in big cities too long. Smaller towns are more relaxing - not to mention friendlier. Also, stay in B&Bs (zimmer frei in Germany, chambres d'hote in France, pensions anywhere) - you'll get more friendly help and advice re what to see, where to go.
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Aug 19th, 2004, 05:28 AM
  #18  
ira
 
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>And all these years I thought Paris was heaven.<

No. Paris is better.

Do they have fois gras in heaven?
How about macarons?
ira is offline  
Aug 19th, 2004, 05:48 AM
  #19  
 
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and ira, there's no Hotel Bonaparte in heaven!
elaine is offline  
Aug 19th, 2004, 05:50 AM
  #20  
 
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As you can see by reading the posts Jen, you are bound to enjoy any of the countries you choose! I agree that you need to tell us a little more about yourself! My first Europe trip was years ago to Germany and so I am a little partial for a first trip. I am in love however with every country I've been to. I have never had a bad time anywhere - even while on business!

I would suggest should you decide on Germany that you could easily (having done it myself) visit also Austria and Italy.

Whatever you decide, please keep us posted! Have fun planning.
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