Sep 22nd, 2006, 10:59 AM
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Oh don't get me wrong. I still stand by my first statement that it is too much and needs to be narrowed down.

My last post simply was in answer to bobthenavigator's response "See Spain, or southern Italy, or Greece but not all 3."
I firmly believe that with three weeks it's not necessary to spend them all in ONE country!
Sep 22nd, 2006, 11:12 AM
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Acting as if this itinerary were not too ambitious (and knowing that I have no personal experience in Greece), I would go with:
A'dam: 4 days (get over jet lag and see the city. . . I hate moving on when still whacked from tiredness)
Barcelona: 4 days (go to Girona for one)
Rome: 4 days
Southern Italy: choose 1 other city/village and do 2 days)
Greece: 1 week, doing Athens for 3 days, then using 4 days for maybe 2 islands.

This is serious skimming, which is not my style, but you can definitely see what you want and will certainly be glad you took the trip.

laclaire is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2006, 06:07 PM
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The geography minded folks often overlook that some people travel to Europe to learn about history. Seeing Amsterdam in conjunction with Spain is quite powerful to me because of their conjoined histories. Seeing Napoli/Pompeii on the same trip I see Greece is also powerful, for the same reason.

The OP is well advised to consider alternatives and a more modest schedule, and to know that that any time you add destinations in a limited time frame you are sacrificing depth and serendipity (and relaxation). But plenty of wonderful and glamorous and rewarding experiences are had by people who do unorthodox things, if they've the energy to do it.
nessundorma is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2006, 06:16 PM
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Nessie, You really do intrigue me. I really need to know who you are. Please send me a private email--you know how to find me.

To the poster, look at the flight connections and cost for your intended itinerary and then come back. This all could be moot.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2006, 07:53 AM
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If money is another consideration... Flying between so many places necessarily adds expense to the overall trip budget.
suze is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2006, 08:02 AM
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And don't forget: a lot of these budget airlines use airports that are time-consuming to get to.
kleeblatt is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2006, 08:06 AM
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For what it's worth, I'd recommend about 3-4 days in Barcelona, at least 5 in Rome, 4 in Venice and 4 in Florence (including a day trip). More day trips outside of that =s more time. That's about 2.5 weeks right there. Adding Amsterdam in will get you to three. So, as it's been said, I don't think you can do the whole of your itinerary in the time allotted. I'd skip Greece or just do Italy and Greece.
JoeTro is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2006, 08:30 AM
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My vote:
1 week Amsterda
1 week Spain OR Italy
1 week cruise of Greek islands
suze is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2006, 08:55 AM
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I've just had a look at a Cosmos bus tour itinerary called "European Masterpiece" and it visits all the places on your list in 30 days or 28 nights.

Using this itinerary as a guide, you can see that if you lop off the 3 nights this tour spends in London and the 4 it spends in France, such that you fly open-jaw into Barcelona and out of Amsterdam, then you now have an itinerary of 21 nights duration, as required. You could also delete the 2 nights in Vienna and add them to make 3 nights in Amsterdam.

The problem is, even without getting into whether it is desirable to keep such a pace, it is extremely difficult for the independent traveller to go as fast as do these these budget bus tour companies. Flying sounds fast, but as others point out, you can spend a lot of time getting to the airport in question and hanging around in airports.

The other thing to remember is that Europe - particularly Italy - not infrequently has 24 hour air traffic controllers' and/or train strikes. This is another reason why independent travellers sometimes need to allow more time than what might be expected for just physically fitting in the desired locations.

Good luck with your plans.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2006, 09:13 AM
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Hi - Mx - hope you aren't too upset by all this cold [well, coolish] water being poured on your plans. However, the advice is well worth listening to because it is bornw out of hard experience - we've all liked you bitten off more than we can chew and wished we hadn't.
you reasons for flying into amsterdam as sound and it's a great time of year to go to see the bulb gardens and fields as well as the art of will need to factor in a day for jet-lag.

After that, please listen to the advice and concentrate on a maximum of 2 countries, preferably one. Remember, every time you move from one place to anther, you effectively lose at least half a day, and if you fly, a whole day. You could fly to Venice, spending 4 days there, then train to one of the italian lakes to spend some down time - essential in such along trip, IMO.
THen train to florence or Siena, and use that as a hub for seeing Tuscany.
Finally, a short train journey will bring you to Rome.
If you were prepared to drive in Italy, you could be a bit more flexible, but even so the buses and trains should allow you to see quite a lot in that time.

If you would like to fly home from Rome, why not do
annhig is offline  
Oct 11th, 2006, 07:10 AM
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Wow, thanks for all the input. Listen guys, we're not new at travelling. We've been all over the world so I'm aware of the pitfalls, big time. I too hate one nighters and I certainly know about jetlag. I have been to some of the cities in Europe you mentioned already and I know about culture shock as well. But I do know that sometimes when you spend a lot of time in one country you're seeing the same thing over and over. My husband and I know when we want to take a "relaxing" vacation and when we want to move it. I will investigate to see what I want to see in each place and if I don't have enough time, I'll do exactly as you have suggested, cut off something. If the Amsterdam flight is too expensive, forget Amsterdam. I'll go wherever the flight is cheaper to get into Europe but sometimes when you go to say Spain, you get caught up in the big cities and although they are a bit different, a city is a city. I'll take Barcelona on the water and see if there is any other small town, etc. that looks different from that. If I think it all looks the same, I'll move on. I know people who flew into Athens and couldn't wait to get out after a day or two to get to the Islands. Since I haven't investigated the whole situation, my plans are still to see what we intended. Nikki has got the idea. I'm taking into consideration flights and timeframe as well. Flying from one place to another will take up at least 5 days but with counting weekends, we'll still have 18 days. I'm working on that principle. If, after reading up on the countries, I find that 5 days in each place and two days in Amsterdam is not enough, well we start chopping. Thanks so much for the input and I'll keep looking for your informative info.
MxSmrs is offline  
Oct 11th, 2006, 07:26 AM
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As far as time of year is concerned, don't some of the Greek islands practically 'shut down' during the off-season, and the ferries between them, too? You'll probably want to find out more about that, before you decide. Have fun planning!
Oct 11th, 2006, 05:55 PM
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My wife and I did a similar trip on our first time to Europe many years ago and then we said, never again. and we only did Barcelona Nice and Florence and Tuscany in 2 weeks. Trim your vacation and enjoy it more...relax, that's what a vacation is all about.
If you want to start with Amsterdam, that's great,it's a very interesting suggestion get there between April 20th and May 10th as this is when the tulips are in full bloom-go to Kuekenhoff's a must. You can keep Amsterdam as a homebase and do daily train trips to most of this area, The Hague, Delft, etc..not to be missed in this corner of Europe is Brugge, Belgium, a medieval jewel. If you include Brugge..make this an overnight trip(possibly 2) Now pick a southern area..Spain (barcelona's a great a Goudi tour) But, here remember if you start in Amsterdam and then go south, you will need to pack 2 types of cloths(more luggage)
Also I have seen advertised cruise ships which include Barcelona, Italy and Greece. I have learned over the years that the more hotels you use on any vacation..the more packing and's just more hassle and less relaxing. Replan and make this 2 or 3 seperate trips. Hope this helps
vacaluvr is offline  
Oct 11th, 2006, 06:30 PM
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Got to agree with Janis: You seem to have your minds made up, so why post? A quick look at a map of Europe shows how far apart the places are that you want to visit - in 18 days. 18 days is nothing, IMO. 18 days for me is 2 contiguous countries at most, or 2 countries very easily flyable- or trainable-between at little expense.

Also wondering about your statement "won't drive in Europe." Seems to contradict your desire to see the "terrain."
StCirq is offline  
Oct 11th, 2006, 07:17 PM
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Whoa - my post was nuked?! Sorry, but I don't see how it was controversial. I merely asked what the OP wants to know - there must be a question buried in there somewhere. (StCirq - you responded to my message - but Fodors deleted it)
janisj is online now  
Oct 12th, 2006, 03:08 AM
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Try Elder Hostel for offered foreign excursions. Use a spread sheet and prepare an hour by hour plan. Use train, bus and air schedules. Search each country site for special events; think opera and theater.
GSteed is offline  
Oct 12th, 2006, 07:16 AM
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Sounds like you're well on your way with your own plans. I'm not sure what we can add for you. Maybe once you are further in planning you can check back if you have some particular question people could help you with?
suze is offline  
Nov 6th, 2006, 11:12 AM
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OK, I've realized that we can't do it all. Now I have to decide between Rome and Athens and maybe an Island. I've been to Florence and Venice years ago. One of our colleagues has just come back from Athens and hated it. Crowded and dirty. Has anyone got any comments about which place would be better? Thanks.
MxSmrs is offline  
Nov 6th, 2006, 11:17 AM
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Glad you've seen the light -haha

I'd suggest keep Rome and skip Greece simply because the logistics will be much easier.

suze is offline  
Nov 6th, 2006, 11:29 AM
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It's POSSIBLE to do, the question really is if you want to do that much.

In 2003, my husband and I (we're late 30s/early 40s) went from London England to Istanbul Turkey in 23 days. I'm sure Fodorites everwhere are dizzy with the very thought of it, but here's how we did it:

London 2 nights
Train to Paris / Eurostar
Paris, 3 nights
Overnight train to Venice, 2 nights
1 night in Florence
Train to Rome, 4 nights
Flew to Athens, 2 nights,
Overnight boat to Samos Island, 1 night,
Ferry to Kusadasi/bus to Izmir, 2 nights
LONG bus ride to Istanbul, 4 nights.

SO, suffice to say, yes you can do it...for me it was a first time trip I believed I'd never do again, and I wanted to see it all. I did.

When I went back, I realized Paris needed a week on its own, and we did that last year. Now we want to go back and give Italy more time.

Consider your energy level, what you want to see, and try to spend a minimum of 2 nights in each place, because each time you get up to move, you lose time traveling, and it's exhausting to move.

You'd probably enjoy skipping Spain and making that its own trip, Starting in Amsterdam and training your way through italy, then flying from Rome to Athens (you can get cheap tickets, and it saves you all sorts of time, and giving yourself a week to enjoy Greece.

That's what I'd do. Or skip Greece and do Spain...but they're a lot farther flung from each other than you'd think, and travel in those countries (particularly Greece when you start getting into Ferry schedules) can be slow and cumbersome.

You might also get some travel videos from your library and buy a couple of guide books like Rick Steves Europe through the Back Door (which gives a very good overview of ALL things travel related in Europe, including budgets, best times to go, and travel itinerary ideas).

I always go in the fall because all the other people's kids are back in school, rates are less, weather's not hot, etc.

Happy travels.

jules4je7 is offline  

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