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Newbie - seeking any advice

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Jul 29th, 2015, 02:06 PM
  #1
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Newbie - seeking any advice

I've decided to go to Europe — and that's as far as I've gotten.

I'll have 16 days (not including travel). I'm interested in doing non-touristy things, but feel obligated to do a few museums and historic spots. I'd love to do a bike tour somewhere. I also want to party like a European on a few occasions. And I want a diverse mix of surroundings and activities.

I don't know how much I should save, best time of year to go, etc.

I'm interested in Prague, Berlin, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Paris, Vienna, Croatia, Spain but am open to the smaller cities.

Where do I start?
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Jul 29th, 2015, 02:38 PM
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gee, I don't know but first, narrow down where you want to go. YOu know you can't go to all those countries in 16 days.

Think about what makes sense logistically. Spain is the outlier, drop that. Croatia, too. Even 6 countries in 16 days is too many.

Of course you could go to Spain if it were the most important, but then maybe only do Spain, Paris, Amsterdam. That's feasible, if you fly between Spain and Paris. Train from Paris to Amsterdam isn't that long. Lots of alternatives, but you get the idea.

AS for money, it seems RT airfare is around US $1200 at least nowadays from US to some city in Western Europe, outside winter. For general hotel, food, etc., you need at least 100 euro a day, I'd say, and that is going very budget. Maybe too budget, it would mean hostels probably, you can't get too many single hotel rooms for 50 euro, at least not in big cities.

And that doesn't include major transportation between countries or anything, but it's a start on a budget.

I think Spring through Fall can all be fine. Peak summer not so good for real hot countries (a lot of Spain), though. Otherwise, it's not bad, I like going to Europe in summer as you can take lighter weight clothing, it stays light late, etc. But if you stay in real budget places you won't have AC which I like. But if anything goes, try Spring or Fall. Airfare is usually a little cheaper, also, from October onwards, and before May.
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Jul 29th, 2015, 02:46 PM
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>>I'm interested in doing non-touristy things, <<

This always make me wonder. Why are you going to Europe? A bike tour . . . absolutely touristy. Nightlife -- pretty touristy. Scenery -- yep, mostly touristy. What sorts of thing do you thunk of as 'non-touristy'?

>>I don't know how much I should save, best time of year to go, etc. <<

Since you have listed countries over a huge part of of Europe, it is very VERY hard to give you advice re costs or seasons. In general though -- August is not the best time to visit most places.
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Jul 29th, 2015, 03:16 PM
  #4
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Christina: Thank you! That's helpful — what would you narrow or recommend of the other places I mentioned? Putting together an itinerary for the limited time is the hardest part. Would love suggestions.

Janisj: I appreciate the snarky reply. Let me clarify.

I had a friend that said he did his own self-guided bike tour (he just went out for a day via bike on his own accord) and I'm hoping for suggestions of the best, prettiest, most-convenient and bike friendly places to do that).

As far as "non-touristy":
I want to behave and see as a local would. I'm a food and culture writer.  I'm interested in street food, local night life, favorite book stores, holes in the wall; more so favorite local spots than something "trendy."
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Jul 29th, 2015, 03:38 PM
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Don't think Janisj was snarky.
Holes in the wall ?
For someone who doesn't know where to go and spend 16 days ?
Bike -> go to holland. Amsterdam, and bike from there.
Amsterdam = party, coffe shops (understand smoking things that are illegal anywhere else).
Food ? bof, musueums, yes, beautiful, yes, book stores, yes, trendy, yes.

Ps : I know I can't write English, but - culture writer who write 'a friend that said', is it ok in English ?
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Jul 29th, 2015, 03:47 PM
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wasn't snarky -- I asked >>What sorts of thing do you thunk of as 'non-touristy'?<< and based on your answers could maybe make suggestions.

Nothing you mention in 'non-toruisty' IME/IMO. >>I want to behave and see as a local would.<< sorry -- but in 2 weeks you won't be living like a local. Especially if you plan on moving around a lot.

You have listed half of Europe, how can anyone advise you the best time of year and how much $$/€€ you'd need? Every region will have different 'best times' and cost of living. Plus we don't know hat sort of traveler you are: Couch surfer, hostels/backpacker, 'mid-price', or up-market/posh.
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Jul 29th, 2015, 05:32 PM
  #7
 
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I read an interesting article in AFAR magazine. The writer's mission was to travel through Italy...using ONLY recommendations from people he met. Places to stay, places to eat, things to see and do, all came from suggestions of those he met. He had a fabulous trip and definitely got off the beaten path. Definitely a travel style for the adventurous. Maybe it would work for you?
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Jul 29th, 2015, 05:38 PM
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Agree that we can;t do this for you.

You need to define:

Your budget range: rock bottom, modest, moderate, business class (Are you trying to do this for $3500 or $10,000?)

Your must sees: can be a specific site or a city or?. Look at tour brochures, pictorial guide books etc.

As for living like a local - for that I would rent an apartment in 2 places for a week each and get to know the local neighborhood - otherwise you are just doing what every other tourist does - skimming the surface and not connecting very much. Do realize that staying in multiple places for two days each will give you practically no contact with locals except in the tourist industry.
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Jul 30th, 2015, 02:19 AM
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I think you really need to decide on where you want to go ypurself. We are all travellers and some of us have a good general knowledge of Europe but I doubt any of us would claim to be experts on the whole country.For myself I live in Scotland and can give a lot of info about that I am also a regular traveller to the Czech Republic and again give advice on that country. In my younger days (about 35-40 years ago) I travelled all over Europe on my bicycle staying in hostels and cheap hotels in various countries but any of that info would be too far out of date to be useful.
What are your main interests and try and plan around them, for me these days it is beer festivals and I try to hit a few around the Czech republic when I can ,I also try and get to various sporting fixtures and was at the World Ice Hockey Finals in Prague a few months ago.
Focus on what you really want to do maybe even visit some specialist forums on the subject. Once you decide what you want to do and where you want to go ,then we can all help you plan your trip.
Personally I think the Fodors community though excellent may not be the ideal community for you to get your info and ThornTree which is the Lonley Planet Forums may have other folk that may be more in line with the things you want to plan.
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Jul 30th, 2015, 03:29 AM
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I would do what nytraveler suggests: rent a room (not in a hotel) in two different cities., a week in London and a week in Paris. Fly on an open jaw ticket to one and home from the other, using the Eurostar to go between them.

Actually, I personally would rent the same room in the same city for the whole two weeks (we did this in June in Paris) but this is your first trip, so you will want to see more.

If you mostly want to party like a European, go to Amsterdam to smoke dope, then Berlin, which I gather is the Techno/House (or whatever it is called now) capital of the world.

Berlin is the New Brooklyn, I gather, and they love their bikes in the Netherlands, so that might do it. If you can't afford a room or apartment, a hostel is probably fine, though you will meet lots of other hostelers rather than experiencing local life.

If you only want to party, Riga and Mallorca are pretty much the places, though probably not out of season.

Finally, don't bite the hand that feeds you. You asked where to begin, and you got beginner's advice. Nothing snarky about that.
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Jul 30th, 2015, 08:22 AM
  #11
 
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unclegus: (off topic) have you seen the updates on the Edinburgh GTG thread?
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Jul 30th, 2015, 08:25 AM
  #12
 
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I think you need to get a Europe guidebook that covers most of the countries in Europe and decide from that where you would want to go. Or find maps online and kind of map out an itinerary.
Then come up with a budget, how many nights in each place and your mode of transportation and come back and we can then help you out.
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Jul 30th, 2015, 08:36 AM
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MallyG, you didn't mention when you want to go or how old you are but if you want to "party like a European", consider going to one of the huge raves (Tomorrowland in Belgium or Ultra in Croatia or Sensation in Amsterdam or Sonar in Barcelona) or music festivals (such as "Rock am Ring" or "Rock im Park" in Germany).

As a food writer, a bike tour through Flanders might be worth looking into (Trappist Breweries and great restaurants).
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Jul 30th, 2015, 08:47 AM
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Janisj, I have replied. thanks
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Jul 30th, 2015, 12:18 PM
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You need to narrow down your list. A lot. You can't see 5 cities and 3 entire countries in 16 days! You need to prioritize which ones are of most interest to you, we can't really help with that part.

Because you want to try to travel "like a local" it's even more important not to go so many places. I would choose no more than 3 locations for a 16 day trip, especially since you want to get off the beaten tourist path.
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Jul 30th, 2015, 12:21 PM
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2 places, with an apartment rented for 1 week in each, even better!
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Jul 30th, 2015, 12:36 PM
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Someone above mentioned that Berlin is the new Brooklyn, I just read recently that Budapest is the new Berlin, so there's that.

But I'm confused, if the desire is to seek untrendy places & content then wouldn't that eliminate Berlin? Wouldn't it also eliminate street food for that matter? I can think of fewer things trendier than street food right now.

To be totally untrendy, to really stick it in the face of trendy, I think a tour of Hard Rock Cafes would do the job. Hit as many as possible in the time given.
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Jul 30th, 2015, 01:47 PM
  #18
 
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Welp, most people who post here are not locals (pariswat is), so perhaps it's not the board for you. Assuming you speak French, Spanish, or German, or all three, I'm sure the information you seek about local hangouts is available online.


That was snarky, lol, but no, it's not OK.
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Jul 30th, 2015, 01:50 PM
  #19
 
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"I had a friend that said he did his own self-guided bike tour (he just went out for a day via bike on his own accord) and I'm hoping for suggestions of the best, prettiest, most-convenient and bike friendly places to do that)."

If you are really interested in a bike trip but want to do your own, I would start with browsing packaged bike tours, reading about the towns, terrain, sights, difficulty level, wine, etc of the various regions and routes offered. I would use that to zero in on a region at least, then buy guide books to research further and develop my own route.

Are you a major cyclist or experienced bike traveler already? Will you be bringing your bike from home or do you need to rent one? I'm not sure how long of a bike tour you're looking for. I know if it were me, having never been to Europe before and the major factor of transporting luggage from place to place via bike, I would seriously consider just buying into one of the pre-packaged but self-guided tours. This way you'll have back up assistance if you need it and someone else will transport your stuff day to day. But maybe you've already DIY biked all over southeast Asia and are an old pro, I don't know.

candj83 had an interesting suggestion above. Maybe you could combine that method with a bike trip.

The thing with "non touristy" experiences by the way, is that you can't really plan them. They just happen. They are the serendipitous things that happen when you allow yourself to be open to them. And that sometimes means not over planning your time. You just need to have some flex time built in to your itinerary, curiosity and a good attitude. Don't try so hard up front to foster some non tourist fantasy. You are a tourist, that's ok. You can have interesting, unique experiences none the less pretty much anywhere.

You can browse package bike tours either guided or self guided here (among many other places)
http://www.eurobike.at/en
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Jul 30th, 2015, 02:13 PM
  #20
 
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Every one of my true non-touristy experiences happened when I was with friends who live there. Do you know anyone living in Europe you could visit?
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