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Please help with intinary for first trip to Europe

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Jan 15th, 2005, 06:18 AM
  #1
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Please help with intinary for first trip to Europe

Good-day,

I am planning our FIRST European tour for April 20, 2005-May 24, 2005 with my 64 yr old mother and 4 yr old daughter. We will be joined by two family members from Canada will be with us for the first leg of the trip April 20-30.

My initial plan was to take the Eurorail and visit the two main countries of intrest for the party that will be leaving on April 30 (France and Italy). I have heard about packages with bus tours that will take you to 8 countries in 10days... which may give them a greater experience but might be too fast to appreciate each country. I am afraid the Eurorail will still leave the need for hotel and ground transportation in both countries vs a package tour which would include hotel and ground transportation.

We are on a tight budget and would like to make the most of our time and travel dollars. Your recommendations and advice is needed.

Thanks,
Jackie
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Jan 15th, 2005, 06:54 AM
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Jackie

Having done both...a whirlwind drive by of a number of countries and an extended stay in one or two countries...might I suggest that its really up to the individuals.

However, I personally would opt for the one or two country plan , however that is only my personal opinion.

We have been to Paris three times, three days each the first two trips and ten days on the 3rd...we loved the 3rd...very relaxing and we saw so much that we did not have time for the first two trips.

We have never been on a bus tour. Not our style...crammed onto a bus with a bunch of people you do not know, herded from one place to the next with little time for improv is just not appealing to us.

May I suggest the following?

Get your Eurail pass...and with 30 days, you could stay in Paris for 10 days, and be able to see ALL of Paris and even take a couple of day trips to the Loire or Givenchy.

Then take a meandering journey to Italy through one of my favorite areas, Bavaria.

After about five days in Bavaria based in Munich...and be certain to include a day trip to Neuschwanstein..Mad King Ludwigs glorious castle...take the train to Salzburg for the day and on to Venice!

Spend three or four days in Venice...then on to Florence for about four days...then to Rome for the balnce of your stay.

It will still be expensive...but...if you search the net you can find wonderful little two star pensionnes and smaller hotels for reasoble prices. Cut back on meals...eat a brat and a beer in Munich for lunch at the Victualenmarkt for example...and many of the pensionnes serve a huge breakfast included in their price.

Good luck!

TheUncleSam

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Jan 15th, 2005, 07:04 AM
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There's really no reason to get a rail pass unless you plan to be in motion constantly. Point-to-point tickets will probably be much cheaper. Once you know what stops you'll be making, add up the ticket prices and compare the total to the cost of a pass. There are online tools that do this, but they have been found to be unreliable.

To minimize the amount of packing and unpacking you have to do, pick a small number of cities to use as "base camps" and take packaged day tours from them.

I highly recommend using evening trains to move from city to city, as it allows you to maximize your daytime sightseeing and lets you start out each day refreshed rather than tired from traveling.
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Jan 15th, 2005, 07:56 AM
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"Point-to-point tickets will probably be much cheaper."

Perhaps...but I'll bet they're in 2nd class.

"Once you know what stops you'll be making, add up the ticket prices and compare the total to the cost of a pass. There are online tools that do this, but they have been found to be unreliable."

Good idea..try Deutschebahn

"To minimize the amount of packing and unpacking you have to do, pick a small number of cities to use as "base camps" and take packaged day tours from them."

Another good idea..I think I may have inferred that.

"I highly recommend using evening trains to move from city to city, as it allows you to maximize your daytime sightseeing and lets you start out each day refreshed rather than tired from traveling."

Antoher great point...we took an overnite train from Munich to Florence...used Eurail pass..got first class selloing comopartment for same price as 2 star hotel

TheUncleSam

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Jan 15th, 2005, 08:34 AM
  #5
ira
 
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Hi anakar,

I strongly advise against "8 countries in 10 days" tours. They are exhausting.

Two weeks in France and two weeks in Italy would be a very nice trip.

Will the be the first time for you?



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Jan 15th, 2005, 08:37 AM
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>"Point-to-point tickets will probably be much cheaper."

Perhaps...but I'll bet they're in 2nd class.<

First class PtoP are often cheaper than the 1 cl railpass, even for people traveling together.

One has to do the numbers.

See www.railsaver.com after you have an itinerary.

Remember to click "only if it saves me money".

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Jan 15th, 2005, 08:43 AM
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ira
 
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OOPs,

Since this is your first trip, may I suggest

Fly into London - 1 week
Train to Paris - 1 week
Fly to Milan from Paris Orly
See www.whichbudget.com for budget flights.
Train to Venice - 4 days
Train to Florence - 5 days
(bus to Siena daytrip)
Train to Rome - 5 days
Fly home.

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Jan 15th, 2005, 09:46 AM
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Ira's suggestion looks good, but I'd suggest Ryanair to fly from Paris Beauvais to Venice Treviso, if this flight is available. The slight difficulty in getting to Beauvais from Paris (a bus ride) and from Treviso to Venice (another bus ride) would be outweighed by not having to bother with the Milan airport and subsequent train, IMO.

Also, Canadians often have trouble getting a reasonably priced open-jaw flight into London and out of Rome. If so, I'd just get a roundtrip ticket to London, and then fly Ryanair or EasyJet back from Rome Ciampino to London. You would need to overnight near a London airport to be confident of your connections.
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Jan 15th, 2005, 10:10 AM
  #9
mjs
 
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I really like the above two suggestions for a first rip to Europe.
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Jan 15th, 2005, 11:00 AM
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If I understand your question correctly, the only firm part of your plan so far is to spend April 20 to 30 in France and Italy.

If that is the case, I would suggest 5 days in Paris (with one or two day trips) and 5 days in Rome or Florence or Venice (with one or two day trips).

From May 1 to 24, you can then go to the two Italian cities (and the surrounding countryside, particularly around Florence) that you have not seen with the other members of your family and then return -- through France and perhaps parts of Switzerland -- to Paris for your return flight to Canada. (As a Canadian, I know that there are numerous inexpensive flights between Paris and Canada.)

If you want to add London, be aware that it will most likely be the most expensive city to stay in. (In Italy, Venice is the most expensive.)

Like the other posters, I would advise against an accompanied bus tour. If you do your research carefully, you can travel as cheaply and far more enjoyably without joining a tour group.

I also agree with the other posters who have suggested that using budget airlines (if needed) and point-to-point tickets for the trains will most likely be much cheaper than using Eurail passes.
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Jan 15th, 2005, 07:29 PM
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Please take your four year old into consideration. She will be miserable on a whirlwind tour. I would suggest a minimum of one week in each city you choose with daytrips from that location to surrounding areas of interest. Rent apartments and houses so everyone has space and your daughter can play. Plan on lots of downtime in places like parks. Visit www.slowtrav.com for more info. You can't travel like a normal tourist with a young child in tow.
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Jan 16th, 2005, 05:44 AM
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Even more than that - many bus tour groups won;t take children that young - they are simply way too disruptive for the other passengers. (I believe the lower age limit is usally about 7 - but don;t know specifics for all tours naturally.)

In any case, I think such a tour would be hell for your child and everyone around her. Really, with a child that young you need to do either a farily settled vacation in one of two places - probably with an apartment - so you can do snacks drink wheneveryou want - and have a place for her to play when touring is to much. Or, perhaps to do a road trip - where you are in control of all the details - and can stop for a half hour when she needs to run off some excess energy.
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Feb 27th, 2005, 10:21 AM
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Just out of curiosity. Is there a reason no one is mentioning areas like the Czech Republic/Germany etc? I've heard great things about these places, but it seems to be Paris/Rome repeated again and again. Any reasons?
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