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Planning first trip

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Sep 7th, 2011, 11:15 AM
  #1
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Planning first trip

Hello, my husband and I are planning our first trip to Europe and would appreciate input. We plan to travel three weeks next summer. Ideally we will fly into Amsterdam, travel to France, and then fly out of Barcelona. We will visit friends in Amsterdam, spend time with friends in Normandy, and then travel to spain. Please provide any recommendations. THANK YOU!
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Sep 7th, 2011, 11:27 AM
  #2
ira
 
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Hi K,

Where does the UK come in?

>Please provide any recommendations.<

Start with the travel guides for each country under "Destinations".
Proceed to searching the forums for specifics on cities/towns, hotels, sites, etc.

After you have decided on a draft itinerary, come back and let us help you tweak it.

Enjoy your planning.

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Sep 7th, 2011, 11:45 AM
  #3
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the UK was a mistake; a mess-up when choosing tags. SORRY! Thanks, I will do more planning!
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Sep 7th, 2011, 11:58 AM
  #4
 
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Hit San Sebastian in between France and Barcelona. Drop Amsterdam? Only kidding, the old part of town is great.
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Sep 7th, 2011, 12:07 PM
  #5
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Beginning in Amsterdam as friends live about 30 minutes from the city. After a few days there, travel to France. While in France, we wish to visit Paris and Champagne and will most likley spend a few days in Normandie. Any other recommendations? Then onto Barcelona (with a stop in San Sebastian? Thanks Egbert). While in Barcelona we would like to enjoy a beach (prefer one that is not too touristy), visit Gracia, and would like other recommendations. My husband and I prefer to avoid typical tourist areas, and enjoy walking quite a bit. Therefore, any places away from the tourists that you could recommend would be great. Also, would like to rent a small apt. rather than stay in a hotel. Any ideas? Thank you! Kelly
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Sep 7th, 2011, 12:13 PM
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Rather than thinking only in terms of "Spain," I find it helpful to think in terms of cities - a week in Spain would only give you time for two or three places, max, depending on what they are. So you could spend three nights in Barcelona and three in Seville, or whatever. But Spain is relatively large, so you have to plan on time to get between the cities you visit. When thinking only of countries, it seems easier to forget about that transit time.
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Sep 7th, 2011, 12:35 PM
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imho...if it's your first trip to Europe and you don't plan on coming back for awhile, it's a good idea to add a couple of "tourist areas" (in addition to "non-touristy", I guess) to your itinerary. That's what I would do. Basically, you don't want to go to Paris and miss the Eiffel Tower (which is definitely touristy)!
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Sep 7th, 2011, 12:49 PM
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www.ricksteves.com great tips for you

www.seat61.com usually do trains cheap nice see a lot

So maybe AMS Bruges Paris Burgundy then into Spain

Head over to Santiago very green then down to Madrid

Andalucia the Parador at Ronda is awesome then Barcelona

eurocheapo.com good lodging info city tips

insuremytrip.com wise... Have fun,
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Sep 8th, 2011, 03:47 AM
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Relatively small San Sebastían (pop 180 000) in Spain, almost on the French border is a fabulous place. A great many Spaniards would hold this as their favourite city in the country. I've come back for almost every year since the late 80's. European Capital of Culture in 2016. The culinary capital of Spain if not all of Europe. Fabulous city beaches and a culture that people take great pride in.
"A different kind of Spain": http://marshlands.blogstream.com/
About San Sebastián in New York Times a month ago: http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/08/07...tin-spain.html
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Sep 24th, 2011, 05:42 AM
  #10
Set
 
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if you're into 'touristy' you should skip Barcelona altogether. It's one big tourist attraction. Not to say it isn;t nice, but if you don't want to run into too many tourists, it might not be the place for you...
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Sep 24th, 2011, 06:23 AM
  #11
 
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Consider by all means taking the train and with that wide-ranging travel investigate some kind of railpass, such as the Eurail Select Saverpass for 3 countries - Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg as one country for this pass purpose) and France and Spain.

Great sites to help plan a European rail/railpass trip - www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com. Check out the first site's superb IMO online European Planning & Rail Guide for lots of rail itineraries in those countries.
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Sep 24th, 2011, 12:46 PM
  #12
 
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With 3 weeks, you already have about as many stops as I would recommend. Start in Amsterdam, travel to Normandy and Champagne country and then to Paris. Spend a week in Paris, taking a couple of day trips (Chartres, Giverny, Versailles for example). Then fly to Barcelona and find a nearby beach. Fly home from Barcelona.
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Sep 25th, 2011, 03:34 PM
  #13
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Thank you everyone! After studying a bit, I believe that my husband and I will travel to Amsterdam to spend about 4 days with friends, then travel to Paris for a few days, onto San Sebastain and then to Gracia (close to Barcelona without being in Barcelona). We will save Normandy and the champagne country for the next trip. I have read quite a bit about San Sebastain and feel that it will be a lovely area. Any recommendations? Also, we are considering renting a flat or apartment in most locations. We have used homeaway.com and vrbo.com in the States and the Carribean, any recommendations for renting in Paris or Spain?
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Sep 26th, 2011, 12:03 AM
  #14
 
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Apartments in San Sebastián: http://www.friendlyrentals.com/en/ap...-bedroom-5.htm

All about going for the world famous pintxos: http://www.todopintxos.com/home/home.php?lang=en

Just come back with more spesific questions, I've lived in San Sebastián and kept returning almost every year since the late 80's.
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Sep 26th, 2011, 09:55 AM
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Two ways of getting to Donostia, as San Sebastian natives prefer to call San Sebastian I believe - or most of them - the majority Basques - no direct trains from Paris but you can go from Hendaye on the cute little Train Eskro direct to Donostia pr you can change trains at Hendaye and take a Spanish train to Donostia but these do not run nearly as often as the commuter type train from Hendaye so check schedules if doing the latter route.
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Sep 26th, 2011, 12:33 PM
  #16
 
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If thinking of a railpass you would only consider the 3-country Eurail Select Saverpass, valid in Benelux, France and Spain - but be warned that going between Amsterdam and Paris there is a steep supplement with the pass and that could well make the pass not viable economically. However if you are going to Bruges, to me the absolute highlight of Belgium, then you can take regular non-Thalys trains from Amsterdam to Bruges and then normal non-Thalys trains Bruges to Paris (via Lille) and then the pass could be a great deal.

Keep in mind that the pass is first class only if over 25 yrs old and IME of decades of incessant European train riding for the average tourist on the trip of a lifetime, esp those hauling luggage around, first class is a much much more relaxed experience - so when comparing prices consider the pass is first class so if wanting first class luxury compare with first class fares.
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