Very First European Trip


Mar 10th, 2015, 09:32 AM
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Very First European Trip

This August my husband and I are celebrating our 10 year anniversary. We are hoping to plan a trip to Europe. We have family in Bamberg that we can stay with, however, we'd like to see more than just Germany. We have budgeted around $3000 for the trip. Our airfare is covered. Any recommendations as to the best bang for our buck would be helpful. Not really into super touristy stuff, more into experiencing the different cultures and local folks. Finding a beach for a few days would be nice too. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks.
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Mar 10th, 2015, 09:46 AM
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I forgot to mention that we are interested in the Eurail pass. Perhaps visiting Amsterdam and France and Italy. Would this be the best way to do that?
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Mar 10th, 2015, 09:51 AM
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Sounds wonderful. We are big fans of the passes that allow you to travel all over, not to mention that train travel in Europe is much easier and pleasant and, I feel, allows you to be more in the "thick of things" - no need to spend lots of extra time or money getting to the airport, and you get to see how many locals do it. We've used the BritRail Pass, Swiss Pass, and European East passes from Rail Europe and haven't regretted it. We've done trips where we've skipped around practically every day/every other day (like our most recent trip), and we've done trips where we've based ourselves for a few days in 1-2 places.

I believe that maybe France and Italy do require reservations, though? At least that is what we were told, there were about 5 countries where you need to have a reservation... someone correct me if I'm wrong. So, even with a flexible pass, you might still need to have a couple things planned and fixed.

You didn't mention how much time you'll have? And whether you want to limit to a certain number of places?
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Mar 10th, 2015, 10:08 AM
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You don't say how much time you have. The Rail passes may or may not be the best way to travel or spend your money. And if you buy from RailEurope you pay much more than from other sources. Just an FYI. Make your itinerary, with time spent, and then check point to point rail cost.
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Mar 10th, 2015, 10:31 AM
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We will have 14 days total. So not too much unfortunately.
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Mar 10th, 2015, 10:47 AM
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You only have 2 weeks and 2.5 days of that is spent just flying to/from Europe.

Plus you want to stay at least a few days w/ your rels in Bamburg leaving maybe 8 or 9 days free.

Pick a couple of places - say Paris and Amsterdam (but just about any two would work). Absolutely no need for a rail pass on this sort of itinerary.

The $3000 is doable (not however if you fork over for expensive rail passes). The Euro is currently way down so your 'bang for the buck' is good.
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Mar 10th, 2015, 10:57 AM
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Well 4 countries in 14 days (and is this 14 days on the ground - not counting day you arrive and day you depart?) is just not realistic. You can do 4 cities - but not entire countries.

Suggest you do some work with basic guide books to decide specifically where you want to go.
Then sort out the best means of transit for those 4 cities (a pass may be a really bad idea depending on where you are going and how many days you will train).

And what beaches are you thinking about - the French Riviera? If so, then You will need to choose other places carefully so you're not bouncing around too much.

Experiencing "local folks" is not easy unless you spend a significant amount of time in one place to meet locals. People in the tourist industry - yes, but a bunch of locals - not easy, esp if you are on the move.

Of course if you have family that's a start - and perhaps you want to focus on Germany - which is quite budget friendly - and could keep you occupied for months.
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Mar 10th, 2015, 11:00 AM
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How much time do you plan in Bamberg? That budget isn't expansive, and even at low-price no-frill lodging of $100-125/night when not with relatives, you'll be a bit tight.

Do not underestimate time or distances. Venice to Nuremberg (which is the next closest significant town to Bamberg) is nearly 12 hours by train. Frankfurt to Paris is about four hours, but you have to get to Frankfurt first (tack on another 2.5 or so). You're not going to be able to see a whole lot of France or Italy, so pick where you want to go in each country.

And leave the beaches for your domestic/North American vacations. Seriously, the beaches in the US, Caribbean (whether US owned or not), Mexico, Central America, etc., are generally far superior to European beaches. Plus, you'll be in central Germany, there are no convenient high-quality beaches to you.
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Mar 10th, 2015, 11:01 AM
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I'd hang out in Germany/Netherlands/Belgium/Northern France. If you want a beach go to a river or a lake (Mosel/Constance) or if you must head up to the Baltic and the fantastic beaches by Lubeck. Meet "locals" on holiday.
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