So much to do, so little time!

Old Sep 11th, 2014, 07:59 PM
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So much to do, so little time!

Hi guys,

So I'm attempting to plan a trip to the UK and Europe next April/May with my mum and my boyfriend. We're restricted to about 6-7 weeks (which sounds a lot but barely covers the itinerary I've be working on). Basically I'm now trying to figure out which places to cut down/cut out of the trip because we need to lose some days and also I'm concerned that there might be way too much to do in the time we've got and I don't want the trip to be overwhelming. In terms of interests, I'm mostly looking for awesome historic architecture and landmarks, special sites etc. I'm more of an up and go adventurer kind of person, but my mum and boyfriend would prefer the trip to be more leisurely. I would really appreciate any suggestions for places to cut out or places to swap etc. Thanks in advance!

Here's my itinerary so far (we'll be travelling by train):

- 5th April arrive in Paris
- 8th April Paris to London (Eurostar)

Great Britain
London (4 nights)
-12th- 18th April Great Britain Tour
- 19th April London-Paris (Eurostar)

- 20th April Paris - Tours
- 22nd April Tours-Bordeaux
- 24th April Bordeaux-Toulouse
- 25th April Toulouse- Carcassonne
- 26th April Carcassonne- Montpellier
- 27th April Montpellier-Nimes
- 28th April Nimes-Marseille
-29th April Marseille-Lyon
-30th April Lyon-Brussels

Rest of Europe
-2nd May Brussels-Berlin
-4th May Berlin-Dresden
-5th May Dresden-Prague
-7th May Prague-Vienna
-9th May Vienna-Budapest
-11th May Budapest-Salzburg
-12th May Salzburg-Munich
-14th May Munich-Zurich
-15th May Zurich-Lucerne
-16th May Lucerne-Milan
-18th May Milan-Verona
-19th May Verona-Florence (via stop in Venice)
-21st May Florence-Rome
-24th May HOME
cassie15490 is offline  
Old Sep 11th, 2014, 08:08 PM
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Why don't you start the trip in London? It would save a trip to Paris first, then back to Paris.

It seems as you will spend almost all of your time in transit, on trains. You need to spend more time in a place and less traveling.

And this is by no means a leisurely trip! Too many cities. No time to see anything.
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Old Sep 11th, 2014, 08:16 PM
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I don't even know where to begin. This is not an itinerary as much as series of train stops. You really need to eliminate at least half of your stops just for a start.
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Old Sep 11th, 2014, 09:02 PM
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You are absolutely right - way too much time spent traveling and way too little seeing great sights. You are traveling a half day to a full day to get to some places, then staying a day or less, barely enough time to see any of the riches these cities have. You said you are an up and go kind of person, but you can do that and see more by spending more time in places rather than on trains and in train stations. Your itinerary is kind of like a knock this off my list, buy a post card and take a picture to show I was here. It some cases, I wonder if you have a keen interest or they are just places you have heard the names of before. This pace will get more exhausting and become a blur half way through. A trip this long must have some down time.

I feel certain you are just overwhelmed and that is not the kind of trip you want. You also want to still be friends with your Mom and not have the boyfriend jump trip half way through. You do have a lot of work to do!

Suggest your Mom, your BF and you each pick two major sights or places that you dream about seeing and focus on fitting those in. Hey, give your Mom three, just do!

Many people here will have more advice than me, but to start.

First, why go to Paris twice? Fly into London. Visit GB. Then go to Paris.
Why do a tour of Great Britain? That is an awful lot of your time, nearly two of your 6-7 weeks, and only two days in Paris.

As you work things out, a cheap flight might be better than train sometime.

Cut your agenda to no more than an average of a week per country, major city or area, but some more and some less.

Based on what you have,
1 week England
2 weeks France
10 days to 2 weeks Italy
Think carefully about the rest.

Consider renting an apartment in two or three places for 4-7 days.

Others can give you better advice on other places. I will advise only on those I know well.

Do not do a tour of GB. Three days are fine for London. Certainly more is nice, but you must cut someplace. Pick two or three places outside of London, go to them on your own and be done with that. I suggest a week, tops for England, unless you have researched and have your heart completely set on many places there.

Paris - minimum of four nights, three full days. Personally, on this long of a trip, I would do more and do a day trip or two.

Unless you have a can't miss this sight, skip Brussels. At the very least, if you must go, then give Belgium another day or two and go to Brugge.

Do not try to go to Venice as a quick stop on your way from Verona to Florence. Allow two nights in Venice or do not go.

Skip Milan unless the cathedral is a big draw, you plan to get tickets for the last supper or you are into shopping and high fashion.

Verona is pretty, but you do not have enough time in other places, so skip it unless you cut lots of other places.

Allow at least a full day just for Florence and another for a day trip. Actually, somewhere in Tuscany would be a nice place for a break. Visit some hill towns, a winery, etc. Take the train to Lucca or the bus to Siena.

By time you get to Rome, you will be tired. Rome is huge and wonderful. Give it at least 4 days. Consider giving it 5-6 days, renting an apartment and doing some day trips.

Rather than going to so many countries, consider doing more in Italy. You will already be there, so what about going to the Amalfi Coast for a couple of days after Florence and before Rome, and seeing Pompeii? The weather should be perfect by then.
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Old Sep 11th, 2014, 09:34 PM
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You need a map of Europe and need to plan this geographically and logically.

Do not spend a day going back and forth between Paris and London.

You're not giving enough time to any of the major cities. Your trip will be a blur of train stations and packing/unpacking.

I know it's difficult to determine what to eliminate. Start with Tours, Bordeaux, Marseilles, Milan.
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Old Sep 11th, 2014, 09:36 PM
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All I can see is packing / unpacking / checking in / checking out / buses to train stations / lugging bags / lots of sitting on trains / repeat / repeat. And the few days you aren't doing that - you are sitting on a coach tour for a week in the UK.

The whole thing seems just a total waste of time/money IMO.
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Old Sep 11th, 2014, 09:37 PM
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This trip sounds quite unpleasantly rushed to me. I recommend that you get some good guidebooks (or spend some time with a few in your local library), identify the things you most want to see in each location, note their opening/closing times, and mark them on a calendar. Then pencil in your transportation, add some time on either side (for getting to/from the train/bus station or whatever, checking in/out, packing/unpacking, getting oriented, etc.). Then see how things fit together. I think you'll find that you need to pare your wish list quite drastically. Unfortunately, none of us can tell you WHAT to cut -- that really depends on your interests.

Good luck!
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Old Sep 11th, 2014, 09:41 PM
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Thanks for the quick replies guys!

To address the arrival in Paris not London - originally my plan was to arrive in London but the tour doesn't start until the 12th April so we would have had a lot of time to wait (which is by no means a bad thing because there is so much to see in London and outskirts!) but that meant we were cutting down time on Paris, so my mum suggested flying to Paris first then going to London. I will re-consider this.

I am also re-thinking the GB tour. It just seemed like a good idea because it covers Scotland, Wales, and England quite nicely, and at $1000 for 7 nights, I felt it would be easier and cheaper than trying to cover those places ourselves. However, I probably could look at doing short trips out from London, and a flight to Edinburgh might not be a bad idea if we want to see Scotland. This would definitely reduce our time in GB.

Sassafrass - I know it seems like I've just been picking the top cities to tick off my list, I guess some of them are but I've done a lot of research on each place to find which ones have the sites we'd like to see most. Unfortunately Europe just has too many awesome cities! And you're right, I do still want to be on speaking terms with them afterwards!

My boyfriend and I have been to London, Paris, Venice, Florence, and Rome before, so in a way we probably wouldn't need as much time to explore because we kind of know which places to see and show my mum. This is particularly so for Venice and Florence, my mum just wants to see the highlights. Paris, Rome, and London definitely require a good few days for sure.

I missed out on seeing Milan and Verona on my last trip so I would really like to see them this time around. The Duomo in Milan is definitely a big pull.

I think you're right about getting each of us to choose a few destinations - the problem is that both my mum and boyfriend give me the 'I don't mind where we go, its up to you' whenever I try and include them in this, so in my attempt to try and cover all the grounds for all of us I have gotten in over my head. I'll have to crack the whip and get more input from them!
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Old Sep 11th, 2014, 09:44 PM
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Also, I have marked everything on a map and checked the times it takes to get to each city by rail. At most we'd be travelling 6 hours on a few occasions.
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Old Sep 11th, 2014, 10:49 PM
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Is that 6 hours train time or did you also count the additional time needed to get to and from train stations, packing/unpacking, checking in and out of hotels? These extras will add 30 to 60 minutes at each end of the train trip. In smaller towns you can probably get to your hotel quickly but in larger towns you could wait 20 or 30 minutes in a taxi line.

I would not want to cover Scotland, England, and Wales in 7 nights (6 days). This means lots of bus time. Check the trip again and figure out how much bus time and how many sights you will actually visit (as opposed to see in a 5 minute stop).

If the others have left all the decisions to you then you decide where you want to go and how much time in each location. Those who do not plan cannot complain after the decisions have been made.

The highlights in Paris, London, and Rome could take a couple of weeks each. Your mom won't be able to see the highlights in 2 or 3 days.
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Old Sep 11th, 2014, 10:51 PM
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>>It just seemed like a good idea because it covers Scotland, Wales, and England quite nicely, and at $1000 for 7 nights,can do is drive you past a whole slew of sites and take you inside very few. But after sitting on a coach for 7 nights/6 days you will know very little more about those countries than when you started.

If you do decide to visit Edinburgh from London -- consider taking the train instead of flying. Go to York for 1 day/1 night, Edinburgh for 2 or 3 days, and maybe add a day or two for a Rabbies tour to somewhere else in Scotland. That would be MUCH better than a 45 person cosh tour -- these are small groups - 10-12 people and they are terrific. Then you can fly from Edinburgh or Glasgow to Paris or wherever your next stop is.
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Old Sep 11th, 2014, 11:32 PM
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I would absolutely cut out the swing through southern France in April.

Consider starting in Brussels then going to the UK (or what's left of it by then) and then going to Paris.

Then I would discuss with your mother and boyfriend what you all want from the German portion of your trip. If Berlin is not a big draw then skip it.

I would also consider skipping Switzerland. Go to Verona from Munich. Take a day trip from Verona to Milan and likewise to Venice.

Just overall I think there is a lot potential for conflict if it is 2 against 1 for relaxation vs. adventure. Your travel partners don't want a fast pace. It would be the rare boyfriend who wants to spend 6 hours on a regular basis on a train ride with his girlfriend's mother. You are going to need some breaks from each other along the way and not always to be joined at the hips plus you need some breaks to do laundry. (You really don't want to be adding super-heavy suitcases to this rolling road show).
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Old Sep 12th, 2014, 12:00 AM
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Oh sandralist, still chuckling here, sound advice above from many.

Cassie, it's easy to travel in whatever's left of the UK, I'd avoid the tour, you will get really helpful suggestions on this forum to assist your planning.

Pre this forum DH and I spent 7 or so weeks travelling from the UK to Italy largely by train and covering 7 countries and many cities. It was great, we had two nights most locations, some for three, some one, but we were totally exhausted by the end. And, we didn't have my mother in law along !
I'd build in a week somewhere in the middle, rent an apartment, possibility for day trips, but also to chill and do nothing.

Agree that the family members who say "whatever" in the planning stages shouldn't be allowed to grumble, but, they might.....

Enjoy your planning.
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Old Sep 12th, 2014, 12:23 AM
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7 day tour of the British motorway system.
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Old Sep 12th, 2014, 04:20 AM
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The itinerary is "perfect". You take that list and as you go through the train station you check off the name.

It is a waste of time and money, and you will see nothing. Many others above have offered advice that is worth looking at--and believing. It is 'way too much and you will hate your trip when finished.

This is particularly true

Is that 6 hours train time or did you also count the additional time needed to get to and from train stations, packing/unpacking, checking in and out of hotels?
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Old Sep 12th, 2014, 05:53 AM
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Sorry - but this is just a gigantic hot mess. You will have spent a lot of time and LOT of money - for a very extensive trip of the rail stations of europe.

For many places you will have perhaps 1/2 days to see 1 sight, have dinner, sleep and repeat - and repeat and repeat.

Sorry - but you need to cut at least 1/2 of these places. You need to allow 3 or 4 days (4 or 5 nights) in major cities and at least 2 nights (one full day) in any city - or just don't bother going.

If you insist on doing this - no one can stop you - but don;t inflict it on other people - especially someone I assume is a senior citizen.

If you lay this out day by day - listing the sights you want to see in each city, how long they will take to see - and how long it will take you to get to the next place the following morning (with specific train times - allowing for packing, checking out, getting to the train station and reverse at the other end). I think this will show you how this simply won't work got.

My first trip to europe was almost 6 weeks - granted during the last ice age - but we visited 8 cities with a day trip from a couple of them - and I felt we gave the larger ones short shrift. You could not PAY me to sign up for this forced march.
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Old Sep 12th, 2014, 05:56 AM
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Sorry - this should not be "so much to do" - since you won;t be doing very much - it should be "so many trains to take" - since that's what your trip will be.
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Old Sep 12th, 2014, 06:41 AM
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If taking half of those trains check into some kind of railpass - for lots of great info on European trains check these IMO superb sites:; and You can also hop Europe's overnight trains to save daytime travel time and the cost of a hotel - with a pass you pay only for the optional extra sleeping accommodation.
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Old Sep 12th, 2014, 08:30 AM
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Two words: hub, spoke.

Pick hubs, do day trips.

You have time, therefore spend it - take a week in London and a week in Paris and a week in Rome and > 2 nights in Prague, Budapest and Berlin. All deserve the extra time.

Cities are not equal - Berlin and Prague and Budapest have more for the tourist than Brussels (hey! look at the little dude peeing! hurrah! we're in the capital of the EU!). Do not arrange a trip where you will change hotels each night for a week, straight (see end April) or 5 times in 7 nights (too often to count). Your current itinerary is a recipe for being disinherited and dumped.
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Old Sep 12th, 2014, 09:19 AM
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BigRuss is right on - use bases - packing up and unpacking, relocating is a pain and takes a lot of time. Use the base for day trips to nearby gems - like Brussels - my take is the same as BigRuss' about the city for the average traveler but it can be a nice base from which to hop to Bruges - the consensus 'nicest city' in Belgium or Gent or Antwerp - or bcase in one of those and day trip to Brussels.

Yes why spend half your vacation time relocating - finding the hotel in a new town takes time to sometimes.
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