YOUR first Europe trip itinerary

Jul 4th, 2014, 04:13 PM
  #1  
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YOUR first Europe trip itinerary

I always see posts about people's first itinerary before they go to Europe but I would like to know what your first trip itinerary was after you went. I would also like to know the pros/cons, and if you would have done anything different.

Thanks
leafman31 is offline  
Jul 4th, 2014, 04:29 PM
  #2  
 
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Went on a tour in 11th grade. 7 days/6 nights. Don't remember much beyond our chaperone not letting us have a second mug of beer at the Hofbrauhaus, beer was available in the hotel vending machine, we had to get up damn early to be on the bus and we saw SOMETHING in Innsbruck. And then the travel bug latched on for life .
mokka4 is offline  
Jul 4th, 2014, 04:34 PM
  #3  
 
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A thousand years ago we spent six months in Europe, basically in Spain and spent at least a week in most places but up to a month in others. We stayed a week in Paris and another week would have meant cutting off a month in Spain.
IMDonehere is offline  
Jul 4th, 2014, 04:42 PM
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Our 1st trip to Europe was a perk from MDH's company. It was bought out by a Swiss company and was 5 star all the way. Were we spoiled? Yes, but it did give us the travel bug on a smaller scale.

Our real 1st trip to Europe was on a sailboat from Rome to Rome, Star Clippers. It was during the 9/11 attacks on NY. We were in Nice on a small van tour when the drive tried to tell us that they were evacuating NY city. The next day in Potofino we saw the twin towers come down on a TV in a bar.

From there we went on to Elba, Corsica, Florence, Monte Carlo, and back to Rome. Thankfully we were booked on a flight from Rome to Paris for a few days as no flights were going to the US. In Paris, the French people were hugging us on the street when they heard our accents. They could not have been any kinder. We were lucky to have the 1st flight back to the US in a few days time.

Pros---we learned that we certainly could travel on our own in Europe and have been back yearly ever since.

Cons---None except being away from our family at a crucial time in the US.
TPAYT is offline  
Jul 4th, 2014, 04:48 PM
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The first time I went to Greece for 10 days (none of the islands), plus Turkey for 2.5 weeks.

Second time I went to London for four months, then Paris for 3 months, and then London + southern England for 2 more months.

It would take a book to write up all the pros and cons (I was 18 when I went the first time) and fortunately I really had no idea what I was doing "right" or "wrong" my first trip except for those moments when even I knew I was utterly lost and had to be rescued by locals (sometimes summoning them with screams!) However, I can't now imagine changing anything about those first 2 trips. I did what I wanted to do, for better or worse, and in my subsequent travels, I have learned that following guidebooks and the insistence of well meaning friends is more likely to be a mistake than doing what I wanted to do in the first place.

You are right to ask this question because a great many of the frequent posters on Fodor's have never faced much of a time restriction on their travels and have very little appreciation of what it means to put together a first-time trip to Europe within the vacation framework that 90 percent of real life travelers are wrestling with when they ask questions here.
sandralist is offline  
Jul 4th, 2014, 04:59 PM
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I must add to my post above and say that a cruise is a great way to see some of Europe on a 1st trip.

You get a taste of a few places and don't have to drive or train between them. It gives you an idea of what you would like to come back and see later in an easy manner. The bad part of a cruise is that you never have enough time in a port and you want more.

Just sayin"!
TPAYT is offline  
Jul 4th, 2014, 05:09 PM
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I grew up in England, so I suppose to many posters here I was already IN Europe. We didn't think so at the time - "the Continent" started on the other side of the Channel. My first trip across the Channel was Christmas on Malta, which involved very little touring.

My second was several weeks hitch hiking around Portugal and Southern Spain, returning through France, with my then boyfriend, between graduate school and full-time employment (This was back at the end of the 60s, when such activity was much safer.)
thursdaysd is offline  
Jul 4th, 2014, 05:12 PM
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My first trip to Europe was a week in London.

My second trip, I spent a week in Athens with a couple of day trips before going to Egypt.

My third trip was a week in Madrid before our trip to Morocco.

I think the next one was another week in London.

And the following one was a week in Amsterdam on our way home from Jordan.

I think you get the picture. A week stay in a major city in Europe seems like a minimum to me. I've also done a week in Brussels, a week in Istanbul, another week in London, and recently, 10 days in Paris. I'm sure I've missed some, but as you can see, I'm pretty consistent. For me a cruse would be a terrible way to see Europe. A day in a wonderful city isn't so much tantalizing to me as it is frustrating.

I've always wanted enough time to settle in and experience some of what each city has to offer.
Kathie is offline  
Jul 4th, 2014, 05:36 PM
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Almost 6 weeks with my boyfriend in summer vacaation when I was 19 (and he 23 and had gone to school in Pairs for a semester). We did a road trip with a VW beetle (his bother was buying and imported and this way it was taxed as a used vehicle at a much lower rate. We did a cricle from Frankfurt to pick up, and drop the car.

Saw Paris, drive south through France to San Sebastian, across the north of Spain to Barcelona then the riviera to Nice, through the edge of Italy, stopped in Innsbruck, then Garmisch and back to Frankfurt. It was too much territory to cover and I wanted more time everywhere - although it was a reasonable taste. And that was 7 places in almost 6 weeks - plus time on the road. This is why I don't understand 8 places in 2 weeks.
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 4th, 2014, 05:44 PM
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I think a cruise is a great way for a couple or a group to see Europe for the first time. Just see the major sights and then come back later to the cities that you like. I think Leafman is a single guy, so a cruise wouldn't be for him.

My first trip I was in college and went by myself. I went to London, then to Cambridge for a couple of days, where I visited with some classmates taking a summer course. Three or four of us went to Amsterdam, and then one of the guys and I went to Copenhagen for a couple of days. I went back to Amsterdam for a couple of days and then to Geneva, where I had to wait to get a visa to travel through France to get to Spain.

I met a couple of American girls and an English guy on the train to Barcelona and we spent a few nights there. I went on to Madrid where I spent a few nights with my cousin who lived there. She was able to give me a nice tour since she had a graduate degree in museum curation that she earned in Madrid. Then back to London and back home. Total time about 3.5 weeks.

I should point out that everything was kind of free-flow, except that I had plans to meet my cousin in Madrid.
FHurdle is offline  
Jul 4th, 2014, 06:10 PM
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First trip; Andalusia for 10 days with a friend who was an experienced traveler. We hit the highlights; Madrid, Granada, Toleda etc.

Second trip, 2 weeks in Prague before it became popular. We rented an apartment for $19 a day from an older woman. We slowly explored the city and did day trips. We had 20 words of Czech between us and we had a great time. The same friend and I went back 10 years later with a small group that included my husband and another friend. Prague had exploded into a "must see" it was good and bad.
LSky is offline  
Jul 4th, 2014, 07:33 PM
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My first trip to Europe was when I was 26 yrs old. My friend, who travelled a lot when she was younger, was looking for a travel companion to go to London for a long weekend. She found one of those cheap package deals for 3 days (Day 1 included the day we arrived). So, off we went to London. I remember going to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard march, Clarence House, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, seeing a play, having tea at the Ritz, Kensington Palace and seeing Diana's dresses and lastly the London Eye. While on the London Eye, I joked with my friend I could see the Eiffel Tower. She didn't think that was funny but I had a strong urge to keep traveling.

On the plane ride back home, I sat across from a young lady who had visited both Paris and London. She had these huge chocolate bars from Paris. As soon as she told me where she got them, I just knew Paris was next on my list.

Pros - That's how my travel bug to Europe started. I did actually see a lot with only 2 1/2 days.

Cons - It was too short. My first day did include the day we got in so I was tired. That only gave me 2 days to catch up on sleep and then had to leave to come back. I did however return to London about 2 years later, again a long weekend package deal but slept in the day I got in.
sassy27 is offline  
Jul 4th, 2014, 08:09 PM
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My first trip was a TWA Getaway tour -- remember those? -- 21 days in Greece and Italy.
azzure is offline  
Jul 4th, 2014, 09:03 PM
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First trip to Europe was as a 30-something. DH called me in my office to say that a colleague had fallen ill and he had been asked to step in, and asked if I could join him. Inside of two weeks I had my first passport, arranged a flight for the grandparents to come to our house to stay with our 2 1/2 year old, purchased a guide book on Vienna and lots of film for the 35mm camera, and threw some clothes in a suitcase.

Pros. Didn't have time to fret over an itinerary or whether I would look "like a tourist." Just enjoyed each of the five days doing whatever seemed interesting in the guidebook. The trip definitely gave us the travel bug. And now, less than 20 years later, we live in Vienna!

Cons. Returning from an overseas flight the day before having to return to the office. We were both exhausted and have since learned to return earlier from any travels.
fourfortravel is offline  
Jul 4th, 2014, 10:03 PM
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My first overseas trip was when I was 5 weeks old -- and because we were living in Saudi Arabia, it was an around-the-world voyage through the Middle East, then Europe, then the US, then the Far East, then back home to Arabia. Until we left in 1968 (I was 13 years old), we would do that every other year.

My first independent Europe trip was a year in Paris in school in 1977-78.

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Jul 4th, 2014, 11:08 PM
  #16  
 
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First trip was a charter flight thru a Social Club.
One had to join & after 6 mos, one could take advantage of any trips offered. Remember those?

Rome for 5 days, rented a car & drove to Bologna, then
Milan where I dropped off car before going to Venice.
Then Athens & Mykonos before picking up return flight
in Rome to the States.

Con: Travel companion was n.g.
Pro: It started a lifelong wanderlust over the big pond
& try to go once a year.
Rhea58 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2014, 02:38 AM
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My first trip to Europe was at age 16 with one of those high school tour group companies so the organizers controlled the itinerary. We went to the Loire Valley, Versailles and Paris. Angers was the first place we spent the night and I loved it -- it's still one of my favorite cities in Europe. For a while, DH and I thought seriously about retiring there.

The second trip was as a Rotary exchange student living with two different families near Beauvais. One of the families also owned a second home in La Baule on the French coast, and that has also become a favorite place. It's where I learned to water ski.

The first trip I did on my own was to London, spending a few days with the staff of the London College of Physicians, then the train/boat/train combo to Milan where I met up with a friend who'd started her solo trip in Greece (as I recall). After a few days in Milan-- which we liked a lot! -- we headed up to Interlaken, did some hiking, and finished in Paris. A great trip.

DH and I met at a Learning Annexe course in Philadelphia on how to get a job overseas. We got engaged three months later. It took us a while longer to make the move to Europe, but we eventually did it and we've now spent more than half our married life in European countries (Belgium, Germany, UK, and Switzerland).
WeisserTee is offline  
Jul 5th, 2014, 05:37 AM
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These days I am among the first to caution travelers to spend time at each destination to enjoy the experience rather than rushing all over Europe to see as much as possible in as short a time as possible. My advice is based on experience.

My first trip to Europe was with 5 college friends between our junior and senior years. We were fortunate enough to have very generous parents and spent 5 weeks. We took an ocean liner from the US to Scotland, rented a car in Glasgow, visited Edinburgh where we saw the queen, drove to London, dropped the car, trained/ferried to Belgium, picked up another car, visited the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Croatia, Italy and finally, France. We turned in the car, flew from Paris to Lisbon where we spent a couple of days then flew home.

We didn't have Fodor's Forum in those days to give us advice so we saw a lot but certainly missed a lot. The best thing about that trip was that it gave me a love for travel and we've been on the go ever since.
mamcalice is offline  
Jul 5th, 2014, 06:16 AM
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I went with family when I was 20. I planned it all using the Fodor's Europe 1970. Flew to Paris. Rented car, drove to Loire Valley, Dordogne, Carcassone, Riviera. Flew from Nice to Geneva. Geneva, Zermatt, Lucerne, Zurich. Flew to Munich. Day trip to Neuschwanstein. Drove to Baden-Baden. Next to Mainz, next day boat to Koln. Flew to Copenhagen. Next to Amsterdam, then London. Parents and one sister went home. I continued with older sister to Salzburg, Vienna, Florence, Rome, Athens, Palma de Mallorca, Sevilla, Cordoba, Granada, Madrid.

Great trip. Should have added an extra day in Loire and Dordogne. We flew to Munich but just stayed the night and made a day trip to Neuschwanstein and left the next day. Should have taken the train to Germany and skipped Munich.

We stayed in very nice hotels as a family. The dollar was very strong. A few months ago I looked up the rate at the Munich hotel we stayed at - about $600 per night! Since we had 3 rooms, that would be $1800. That's more than my wife and I paid last fall for an entire week, everything included in the Black Forest.

On the portion with just my sister,we stayed in some hotels that were closer to $10 per night. We had just as good a time at the lower priced hotels.
bigtyke is offline  
Jul 5th, 2014, 11:12 PM
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This post is a bit long, but I hope you will humor me.

My first trip to Europe was on a one-way ticket to Stavanger, Norway. I worked there for 2 years after I graduated from college. This was more than 25 years ago, and Norway was an expensive place to live (and travel in) even then—and I didn't have a lot of money—so I didn't see a whole lot of the country beyond Rogaland fylke. However, that included boat trips up the fjords to Sauda, hiking to Prekestolen/Pulpit Rock, walking the beaches of Jæren, and skiing at Sirdal (in Vest-Agder fylke). I did make it to Oslo twice and Bergen once, including the train between them (but not Flåm), as well as travel by car to Sweden and back (to just across the border from Halden, Norway).

My first trip out of Norway was to Scotland for 2 weeks (4 days on each side of a meeting in Glasgow that lasted a week or so). I stayed with different American friends before and after the meeting, and they planned most of my itinerary. Of course I went to Edinburgh (which, incidentally, I visited again 20 years later—and was amazed by all the things I remembered, as well as by how accurate some of those memories were and how inaccurate others were!). But we also saw wonderful things in places I had never heard of, like Pitlochry and Abergavenny and Stirling and Ayr and Troon. I had flown into Aberdeen, and my trip back there from SW Scotland was via Loch Ness, Inverness, Elgin (I really wanted to see the cathedral ruins), Fraserburgh (for lunch and later afternoon tea—the full big meal!—with a Scottish couple I had met), and Stonehaven.

Staying with friends was a huge advantage, of course. And though they were Americans they knew lots of Scots, so I did things your typical tourist probably would not have. But I'd say going with only a small list of must-sees was a huge benefit. I was free to enjoy the things my friends had planned out (and the things we planned together once I got there) and to enjoy spontaneous things because they didn't wreck anyone's plans. I had a GREAT time, and I don't recall any disappointment over something I wanted to see but missed.

Then I made two trips to the continent. The first was to see a friend (another American) in the Netherlands for a week. We went to Amsterdam, Haarlem, Scheveningen, Keukenhof, and Kinderdijk together. I went to Den Haag and Leiden on my own (and maybe Delft, but I'm not sure). We also ended up deciding to take the overnight train to Paris, touring all day after we arrived (I previously had said I would never ride the overnight train and then tour all day without a proper shower!), spending the night, touring the next day, and taking an evening train back to the Netherlands. It was a full week, and I saw a lot, but I didn't feel stressed.

The other was a 3.5-week Eurail Pass-abetted trip on my way back to the States that was more like what people come here for advice on: Brussels & Bruges; Wiesbaden, Mainz, Bonn (with a day trip to Luxembourg), Cologne (where my camera was stolen—the police found it and mailed it to me, with the strap but minus the lens, several weeks later) & Stuttgart (all West Germany—the Wall would not fall for a few more months); Paris (again!); the hovercraft across the Channel; southern Wales; & London (including matches at Wimbledon).

I again stayed with friends—except in Belgium and London, and those were the places that I found most stressful to visit. In part that's because I had higher expectations for "seeing things" while there, so I put more pressure on myself to do so. In part it's because everything was my responsibility. So this is one of my key takeaways/pieces of advice: travel to unfamiliar places is stressful, even if you are not conscious of the stress, just by virtue of being in someplace new. The more you are responsible for (as opposed to a tour director, or even a friend who knows the area), the higher the potential for stressors to kick in. That doesn't mean you won't have a good time. It just means there's more that might distract your attention and enjoyment. And build in some time to rest. You won't want to—after all, you're spending all that money, and your vacation time is precious! But it will make the rest of your trip more enjoyable. That doesn't mean sit in your room all day. It does mean take it easy so you can recharge.

My other bit of advice is to dial back your expectations for your trip. That doesn't mean prepare to be disappointed. It's actually a way to stave off disappointment. As others have said, don't try to do and see everything in one trip. But do plan out your trip—have things you want to see and know why you want to see them. And be familiar with what's going on where you'll be, and how to get current info on things. Then if you squeeze in more, you'll feel like you got a bonus, rather than feeling deprived because you planned too much and missed some things.

Although I love to travel, I've been back to Europe only 4 times since i left in 1989. Except for Edinburgh and London, I have not re-visited any of the places I saw when I lived there, but I'd love to. And only one of the visits (the first, in 2002) was purely vacation. The other 3 (in 2008, 2011, and 2013) were all work-related, although I had time for touring/visiting friends each time as well. Do I hope to go back to Europe? Of course! And when I do, I'll follow my advice to experience it rather than just see it. If you go intent on experiencing a place, you'll see a lot more than you expect. But if you go intent mainly on seeing it, you'll likely miss out on experiencing it, and you won't see as much as you hoped, either.
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