Planning my 1st Europe trip

Jun 11th, 2007, 11:39 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
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Planning my 1st Europe trip

Hey! I am starting to plan my first trip to Europe for summer '08 (late May). My husband and I both have never been and I am trying to figure out what will work best for us. I would like some advise on travel and hotels. Our plan includes:

-2 weeks in Europe (my husband only gets 2 weeks vacation)
-Will visit London, Paris, Rome, Venice
-Want to spend about $250 per night for a hotel in London and $150 for other cities
- Is it worth our time (and do we have enough time) to visit Bath, Edinburgh and Amsterdam?
- Since we are trying to see so much in such a little time should we train from city to city or fly (and what is the least hectic?)
- Any hotel recommendations for the major cities?
- We are thinking of flying in and out of London but may fly out of somewhere else (if it saves us good time and is not too much more expensive)

Anyway... I really appreciate any info you can share. I do not have any family that has gone to Europe and I firmly believe in personal recommendations! Thanks!
scosner is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 11:47 AM
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Hi S,

>-2 weeks in Europe ...Will visit London, Paris, Rome, Venice

I think that you have one too many destinations.

I suggest for first timers,
A. Paris and London
B. Paris, and Venice and Florence
C. Paris and Rome
D. Venice, Florence and Rome

>do we have enough time to visit Bath, Edinburgh and Amsterdam?

See above

>We are thinking of flying in and out of London but may fly out of somewhere else

Fly into one city and home from the other. It's called open-jaw. Fares are about the same as RT from a single city.

Enjoy your planning.

ira is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 11:47 AM
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I always refer three sources to anyone planning a European rail trip who is fairly clueless: has lots on trains, passes and even cheap flights to mix in with train travel - i.e. start in London, end up in Rome and fly back cheaply to London. for on their home page the chance to get the excellent and free European Planning & Rail Guide - a great primer on planning a rail trip- country by country rail itinerary planning - using trains, passes, etc. rail maps of each country.

3- Fodorites - constantly amaze me with the wealth of information they provide - on rail travel, packing, etc. any Q posed will have someone very knowledgeable answer it.
PalenQ is online now  
Jun 11th, 2007, 02:06 PM
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I agree with ira on this one. You need to consider a couple of things: jet lag & travel time between cities. One idea is to start in London, get over an jet lag you might have & get your bearings. Spend 7-9 days. You can easily see Bath in one day as a day trip from London. Other great day trips include Windsor Castle & Hampton Court.

Even with the devalued dollar you should be able to find a hotel room in London for $200-250 US. We stayed at the Copthorne Tara for just under $200/night.

Take the Chunnel to Paris. Spend the balance of your time there. Do not waste time at Euro Disney. Do see Verseille. You can also day-trip to Chartre or Givergny to see Monet's gardens.

Fly home from Paris (open jaws) as previously mentioned.

Go on your trip knowing that you will return to Europe to see Amsterdam, Florence, Venice, Rome and all the other glorious sites.
halfapair is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 02:14 PM
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I agree that you have one too many cities in there. Visit London and Paris, or Paris and Rome. If you must kill yourselves, you could try London, Paris and Rome. We did Rome in a week and felt rushed. Same with 6 days in London. We're about to do 4 days in Paris (and 4 on the Riviera) and I'm already realizing we won't see a lot of what we want. If you want to enjoy yourselves, pick two. Really. That will also mean less traveling between cities, which should free up some cash for hotel rooms, which are very $$ in Europe. I agree that you should buy your airfare based on "multiple destinations"-- for example, your home city to London for the outgoing flight and Paris back to your home city for the incoming flight. You could take the under water train or a short flight between Paris and London, or see if it is cheaper to do a 3 leg flight-- your city to London, London to Paris, and Paris to home. And so on. We loved Bath and Edinburgh, but we did them on a 2 week vacation that included London, so that was a totally different ballgame than what you propose. I would not even think about adding these cities to what you have listed. Again, I vote that you do either London and Paris or Paris and Rome. If you do Lon and Par, you could always do an "Italy" trip later on to include Rome and Venice together, or vice versa. If you do Paris and Rome, you could do an England/Scotland trip later (we did this as one and loved it), to include London, Bath and Edinburgh. You will travel later, so relax a little and have a better time and enjoy these cities.
lukesaunt is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 02:37 PM
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I, too, think you should drop 1 city. IMO, Venice is the one that takes the least amount of time. I think Paris, London and Rome could be a little much for just 2 weeks. I'd fly between them, although the Eurostar is nice as well between Paris and London.

As for hotels, I can only recommend Paris ones, which are definitely in your budget: Hotel de la Porte Doree and Residence de les Gobelines. However, these are a little farther out and a little too budget than you may want , perhaps, so you may want something a little nicer in the 4-7 eme. There is a ton of past information here about these kinds of Paris hotels, but I can't give a first-hand rating of them, as I've only stayed at the 2 listed above.
JoeTro is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 02:38 PM
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Paris and London with side trips.
Both are very large cities with more to see than you can imagine. There are number of terrific day side trips you can take from either place .
If you try to do too much you will be spending time on planes and trains
and will just "skim" the surface.
On the other hand, some people like to do just that: spend a few days in each place to make the "most of " their trip.
If that is what you wish, plan very carefully( be mindful of jet lag effect for a few days
and the time and money needed to travel from one destination to another)
Jun 11th, 2007, 06:34 PM
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Just prioritize what places you and companions would most like to see based on your intuition and then construct rai/air/overnight train route between them.
PalenQ is online now  
Jun 11th, 2007, 06:42 PM
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extra travel means extra costs - and less time actually seeing things.

I agree - drop one city - or two. LOndon and Paris w/ a day trip out of each is probably the easiest itinerary. But any 3 of those cities (or at most 3) would work.

Airfares in/out of London/Paris will be lower that in/out of Italy.
janisj is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 07:08 PM
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For Paris, three recently refurbished hotels with A/C that you might enjoy - very popular so book one for May around Jan-Feb.

Hotel Familia / sister hotel Minerve (Latin Quarter)
99-119E, incl. breakfast
104-118E, breakfast 8E

Hotel Muguet (Eiffel/Invalides)
2 people/double 130E, queen 170E

You will want to take the Eurostar from London to Paris, that way you are going city-center to city-center and don't need to deal with the airports again. Even the budget airlines have add-on cost as they use smaller airports and transportation may not be convenient.

For Paris-Rome, you probably do want to fly, as it is a very very long train ride. Paris-Amsterdam, however, is under 4 hours. Never circle back to the city you fly into if you can help it.
Travelnut is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 07:36 PM
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I, too, think you might want to drop one city, but if it's your first trip to Europe you should pack in as much as you think you can handle.
In London, I'd recommend The De Vere Cavendish (now just The Cavendish, I think?) 81 Jermyn Street. Great location, lovely hotel. Also look at TripAdvisor for reviews- they are usually fair & accurate. I don't think Bath would be worth a day trip from London. Take the train to Paris but definitely fly to Rome. I've heard that one night in Venice is enough - possibly you could train there from Rome (not sure on train times vs. flight times). There are lots of low price carriers like Ryan Air and EasyJet that you can easily use for intra-EU flights.
Lily622 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 08:14 PM
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If I was planing this, and wanted to see as much as I could, I would choose London - 4 days, Amsterdam - 4 days, and Paris 5 days with the understanding you will need to do some research on the places to visit to make these meaningful and memrable
Clea is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 09:57 PM
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If your holiday dates are flexible, try to plan so that Memorial Day falls somewhere in the middle. That way, you get an extra day's holiday but don't have to deal with crowds and congestion in airports on your way to or from Europe. Or, if that's not possible, plan it so that you're coming back on the end of the Memorial Day weekend (instead of starting your trip). If your plans get messed up because of the holiday weekend, you'll already have made it to Europe so it's less stressful.

You should investigate the dates of statutory holidays in the countries you're visiting. There are some holidays associated with the Christian Calendar in Continental Europe (e.g. Assumption, Pentecost, etc) but the date changes from year to year. There are also bank holiday weekends in the UK (although I think the Bank Holiday is earlier in May than your planned trip). On these long weekends, airports, train stations and hotels are busier and some places you might want to visit might be closed.
Kate_W is offline  
Jun 12th, 2007, 04:19 AM
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re Kate's info about Bank Holidays in the UK - The first AND the last weekends of May are both big holiday weekends. Things won't be closed - but tourist attractions will be more crowded.
janisj is offline  
Jun 14th, 2007, 11:09 AM
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and if going by train on Bank Holiday weekends expect chaos potentially on the railways due to 'essential trackwork' that is often carried out it seems on Bank Holiday weekends.

Was recently in UK for Aug Bank Holiday and buses were substituted for sections of London-Edinburgh line - train travel thru Reading was not possible - even though the Reading Festival was that weekend, etc. There were tons of complaints in papers, etc. because this should be a heavy travel period but some railways were shut
PalenQ is online now  
Jun 15th, 2007, 11:08 AM
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Hi, a good place to search for budget hotels is Apart from the fact that the site is very well programmed, you also get additional info like how far the hotel is from major points like bus terminals, airport etc, it also shows you a city map and lists all the facilities available at a hotel. You can book accomodation from B & B to deluxe hotels and get discounts upto 75%. And you can pay at the hotel directly.

They have also got an online travel guide. But wherever you go, make sure that you plan well and stay in reputed, secure places. Have a safe and enjoyable trip !

Jun 27th, 2007, 07:24 AM
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the earlier you go in spring the cheaper Italian hotels can be - except the hectic week before and after Easter.

thus you pay the same as you would in summer as per your budget but get a better place.
PalenQ is online now  
Jun 30th, 2007, 05:20 AM
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for example last january i had for me a rather nice hotel - en suite meaning shower and toilet in the room, clean, quiet, etc. for 39 euros right by the Florence train station. And there was an unlimited breakfast buffet on a top floor panoramic room.

But in summer this exact same room would have cost 85 euros according to the desk manager and may well not have been available.
PalenQ is online now  
Jun 30th, 2007, 06:25 AM
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I too think you should drop at least one city from your list. You don't want to exhaust yourself on your first trip to Europe. Jetlag will be a factor that you need to consider as well.

I can't really recomment the hotels we stayed at in London, as I don't think they were that great. In Paris we stayed at the Hotel du Champ de Mars in the 7th. Our room was small but charming, and we had a view of the top of the Eiffel Tower. Our room was about 90 euro per night.

Hotels in Rome can be pricy but with some research you shouldn't have a problem. We stayed at a lovely apartment near Piazza Navona on our last trip and it was arond 95 euro per night. j

I haven't been to Venice (yet) so I can't comment.

If it were me I would do London (4 nights), train to Paris (5 nights), fly to Rome (5 nights). Actually I would probably be tempted to take another night off of London because with the unfavorable exchange rate things are just more expensive.

Good luck and happy planning!
tcreath is offline  
Jun 30th, 2007, 07:21 AM
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I think we may all be just talking to ourselves - scosner posted her questions back on june 11 and has not been back since . . . . . .
janisj is offline  

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