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you_do Jan 12th, 2013 12:37 PM

Obligatory "2 Weeks in Europe - First Time" Post
It's both my wife and my first time outside of the United States.

I've seen lots of itinerary-specific questions (which will be coming at some point, believe me), but I'm more curious in the general travel trips you may have for someone traveling to Europe for a couple of weeks (May 2013) for the first time.

The current plan is some combination of London, Paris and somewhere in Ireland - probably Dublin.

* The current plan is to fly from Boston to London, Eurostar from London to Paris, fly from Paris to Dublin and fly back home to Boston from Dublin. Is this the most efficient way of doing this?

* Do you know any tips around train tickets? I've only used Amtrak in the US, and it's pretty much one price, sit where you want. We're (actually) really excited about the train ride from London to Paris, and would hate to screw it up!

* What's the best way of handling money between USD, GBP and Euro?

* My common sense says to grab one hotel room in each city and use that room as home base for the duration of each stay. Is there a reason this would be a bad idea?

bilboburgler Jan 12th, 2013 12:48 PM

Sounds good common sense and the route makes sense. Chose a hotel near a tube or metro station as it saves you walking a long way at the end of the day. Dublin is much smaller but Temple Bar is a good area to start looking. Tripadvisor is useful in these cities.
Check rates a couple of weeks out, there are now some money sellers offering better deals than ATMs. If in doubt then just pick up £ at an ATM at the airport and at the station concourse in Paris.

Train tickets if in doubt read

janisj Jan 12th, 2013 12:51 PM

If it was me - I'd do <i>just</i> London and Paris. 2 weeks sounds like a lot but not when flying transatlantic twice, jet lag, losing half a day getting from London to Paris.

But if you <i>must</i> include Dublin - I'd perhaps spend only 2 days there - and at the front end of the trip. I'd do Dublin, then either London or Paris and finish up in the other city. Dublin is fine but there is so much less to see than in London and Paris. - I'd use my 'jetlag days' there.

"<i>My common sense says to grab one hotel room in each city and use that room as home base for the duration of each stay. Is there a reason this would be a bad idea?</i>"

Of course that is a good idea. No reason to lose even more time shifting hotels unnecessarily.

"<i>• What's the best way of handling money between USD, GBP and Euro?</i>

Use credit cards to charge things (Discover is not accepted) and your ATM/debit cards to get € and £ cash. Do not 'exchange' currencies - you lose on each transaction.

For the Eurostar train - buy you tickets as soon as your dates are firm. The later you wait the more expensive the fares.

flanneruk Jan 12th, 2013 10:03 PM

"Discover is not accepted"

No longer altogether true.

I recently got the bill in a poshish Florence restaurant, encased in one of those cases places with delusions about themselves often use.

It carried the Discover logo, revealing that the hotel the restaurant belonged to DID take Discover. Bit of googling, and it transpires that Discover is (at least supposed to be) accepted more or less everywhere in Europe that takes Diners.

Which isn't that common either. But - at least in relatively pricey European places - card acceptance is no longer always linked to Visa, Mastercard and occasionally Amex. Japan's JCB and China's Union Pay are accepted at more and more Western merchants as well.

Won't help you buy a sandwich at M&S or get a museum card in Italy (mind you few Italian cities take cards at all). But just worth knowing.

janisj Jan 12th, 2013 10:20 PM

Wow -flanner - I didn't know that. And I have a Discover Card (guess one really should read all that junk paper stiffed in w/ the monthly statement :) )

Just checked and here is the info from the horse's mouth

mamcalice Jan 13th, 2013 04:40 AM

I think the idea to begin in Dublin is a good one. The city is smaller and less crowded and will be a good place to get over jet lag. Then fly to London, train to Paris and fly home. I would spend 3 days in Ireland, and 5 each in London and Paris.

Enjoy your planning and your trip.

you_do Jan 13th, 2013 05:49 AM

Nice. Thanks for the tips, everybody!

mjs Jan 13th, 2013 05:51 PM

I have a slightly different take on your travel plans. Much depends on how much time you actually have on the ground. If, for example your time of a couple of weeks involves leaving and returning on a Sunday, you have 13 full days if you count your first day. I tend not to count the first day. If you can do Friday to Sunday you have 15 days. This distinction in number of days would not make much difference if you were to do Paris and London each for a week. One could rent an apartment in each city for a week and do day trips.
If you want to add Ireland to Paris and London it becomes more complicated. I personally think that the attraction of Ireland rests in the countryside and not the city of Dublin and if you wished to do Ireland I would recommend a week driving around the Island than the rest of the time elsewhere. If you only have 12 or 13 full days I would pick Ireland and either London or Paris. If you had the extra 2 days You could do a trip like this: Fly BOS-CDG on Friday evening and arrive Paris the next day and spend 4 nights in Paris. This only gives you 3+ days in Paris. Eurostar to London the next morning for 4 nights which gives you 3 1/2 days in London. Fly to Shannon or Dublin for 7 nights of touring around the Island including Dublin and fly back to Boston from whichever Irish airport you did not fly into. I think this itinerary does not give London and Paris as much time as they deserve so if you could squeeze two extra days to give both London and Paris an extra day it would be much better.
I choose BOS to CDG instead of BOS to Shannon or Dublin to begin as you might find it challenging to start driving around Ireland after a trans-atlantic flight when you are on the wrong side of the road and not quite sure where you are going. Aer Lingus does fly these routes and does have friday evening departures out of Boston in May.

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