YOUR first Europe trip itinerary

Jul 6th, 2014, 07:25 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,070
In 1972, between my third and fourth years in college, I flew to London. Met up with Ellen, one of my roommates, and another friend. We saw The Mousetrap and Merchant of Venice, spent I think five days walking everywhere. Took the train and the boat and the train again to Paris, changed trains and went to Mont St. Michel. I remember that dinner in my first French restaurant, in Pontorson. A cold seafood platter including snails so tiny I didn't know how you were supposed to eat them.

Then to Saint Malo for a night. Train to Quiberon, ferry to Belle Isle. Train back to Paris, spent five nights in a hotel where the rooms opened into an alley and the proprietress watched to see who was taking showers in other people's rooms so she could charge for it. Saw Cyrano de Bergerac at the Comedie Francaise and Die Walkure at the opera, some American trumpet player at a jazz club in the Latin Quarter. Walked to 10 Place d'Italie, where the fictional family lived who starred in the learning method used in my junior high school French classes.

Train to Tours. Toured some chateaux, saw the son et lumiere at Chenonceaux. Went swimming on a little beach in Larcay. The steak at the restaurant in Tours was so excellent that I overlooked the bugs crawling on the wall.

Left one friend behind, who went in another direction, while Ellen and I took a train south. Spent a couple of nights at Rocamadour and hitchiked to the Gouffre de Padirac. Took another train south, had a couple of hours in Toulouse, had cassoulet for lunch. Stayed a night in a very hot room over the kitchen in a hotel in Carcassonne, walked on the ramparts of the old city.

Train to Narbonne. A day at the beach there, got a sunburn, which I remember because on the bus someone pointed to me and said "Rouge comme une carotte". Spent a night or two in Collioure, saw a performance of Catalan music and dance, then a night at an old hotel hanging over the tracks in Cerbere, where the you had to switch trains from the French gauge to the Spanish gauge.

Train to Barcelona, where we met our roommate Barbara and another friend at 10 AM on July 28 at the Museum of Modern Art. We had planned this rendezvous months earlier. With no cell phones, we had to arrange where to meet and hope for the best. It all worked out.

After a night in Barcelona, we headed to Valencia, where Barbara was spending the summer studying Spanish. Then I left everyone and took the train to Granada. Long, long, long train ride, very crowded, sat in the aisle on my suitcase. After spending a night and touring the Alhambra, I took the train to Malaga.

My mother was staying in a condo on the beach with a friend, and I joined them for several nights, with a side trip to Seville. Flamenco. Ran into Ellen again, unarranged this time, and had dinner in a restaurant where you walked past the urinal to get to the dining room.

I had arranged for a seat on a student charter flight from Malaga to Vienna. It connected in Amsterdam. Barbara was on the same flight, which was late and I missed the Amsterdam connection so spent the night there at a youth hostel. Ran to the Rijksmuseum and then caught the flight to Vienna.

I met up with our roommate Carol in Vienna. She was at the end of a summer spent studying in Russia. Went swimming in the Danube, saw an opera at the Schonbrunn Palace. Bought a dirndl in a department store and took the train with Carol to Switzerland.

At the train station in Switzerland, Carol's parents greeted us. They drove us to the chalet rented by Carol's uncle and aunt, where a large family reunion was in place. I met all her aunts, uncles, and cousins. Everyone except her brother Alan.

I met Alan the next year. We have been married since 1979. Those people at the chalet have all been my family for the past thirty five years.

I always smile when I read the comments here that if you spend only a night or two in a place on a whirlwind itinerary, you won't appreciate or remember anything.
Nikki is online now  
Jul 6th, 2014, 07:42 AM
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 9,171
My first trip was when the internet was just showing some travel options, enough that we could book a car and the first and last night hotel and air. I had travel books for everything else and we did a whirlwind tour of Ireland. We had a blast and now every fodorite would tell us we were crazy but we stayed two nights in places that we like and moved on after one night in others. No reservations was fun but am older now and must have those reservations.

After that my husband's job allowed me to tag along for trips and I fell in love with Europe. He has rented motorcycles and traveled Europe that way so he is a great travel partner. Nothing intimidates him much so he is open to wherever and figures it out quick for me.
We love apartments more than hotels, guest houses or inns over B&Bs. We also try and do public transportation and not rent a car.
Pros: Freedom not to be stuck in one place if we didn't like it.
Con: One place we really wanted to stay at we could never reach the women on the phone after we arrived. She had no email so knew we would be winging it. She had written a book on the filming of The Quiet Man and my husband wanted to pick her brain and visit all the film sites. This was back before it became a tourist attraction in Cong.
flpab is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 08:09 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 47,905
My first trip was as a singer/performer on a 6-week USO tour to France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, and Italy. We stayed mainly at Army and Air Force bases, performed 6 times a week, and spent a lot of time on buses getting from one place to another. It was the dead of winter. Hardly anyone but me had any interest in exploring, so I just took off on my own whenever we had free time and roamed all over the place on trains and public transportation. My fondest memory from that trip was performing outdoors for about 200 Italian soldiers on a small stage somewhere up near the Brenner Pass. The soldiers were all in uniform, and we were wearing paper minidresses. It was nighttime and snowing, and at the end of the performance the soldiers tossed red roses at us. Magic.
StCirq is online now  
Jul 6th, 2014, 09:35 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 118
My first trip was 50 years ago this September when I went with my friend ..2 footloose young nurses with our "Europe on 5 dollars a day" tucked in our bag along with a eurail pass...we sailed from New York and landed in Copenhagen ..traveled for 4 months seeing Scandinavia ,France Germany Italy Switzerland ending staying with my friends family in Holland sailing back from Rotterdam ...what a trip.... No cell phones, ATM's or even wheels on suitcases many great memories..have since traveled many times to try and recapture..but enjoy seeing new things now with "older" eyes
rosieg is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 10:48 AM
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StCirq, I remember those paper mini dresses! That must have been a very fun tour.
flpab is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 11:02 AM
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St.Cirq, I hope you have photos of you in the paper mini dresses. I remember them too but never had one.

My first trip to Europe was with a friend from high school, we were both 18. We started in Athens, took a 7 hour ferry ride to Mykonos where we stayed for a month meeting a host of other young people from all over the world. We all hung out together at the beach, hitting the nightspots and becoming friendly with the Greek-American owner of one of them. He also ran a bus service from Athens to Amsterdam. When we were ready to move on we took this bus, it was a crazy few days.

We spent four and a half months in Europe, hitch-hiking through Belgium, France, Spain, over to England where I had relatives. Back through France to Austria where my friend's parents were from. We stayed with her relatives in a couple of different places and in Graz, were given the use of someone's weekend house up in the hills above the city. That was from a total stranger, a young bank teller we got chatting with. It was his parent's house and they were the nicest people, so good to us. The kindness of strangers was a big theme throughout our trip actually

One of my friend's cousins in Graz owned a big Gasthof in the ski area above the city and we spent a few memorable weekends there, he also took us around to parties and clubs, he was older (probably mid 20's) and had a pretty sophisticated crowd of friends. Well, at least to our impressionable 18 year old eyes!

Doing that trip was one of my smartest 18 year old ideas.
raincitygirl is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 11:12 AM
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St. Cirq, I think I may still have one of those paper mini dresses somewhere!
Kathie is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 11:24 AM
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During that trip to Spain we stayed at the farmhouse where my FIL was born. At that time the bathroom was a hole a ground which was next to the cows and there was no heat. In the morning there was a crust of ice on the basin and ewer. The cousins worked their dairy farm where the water was hand cranked from a well.

I was a kid from Brooklyn, whose bedroom window was over eight lanes of traffic and it was one of the great experiences of my life.

And now we are friends with the latest generations whose world advanced 200 years in the last 40.
IMDonehere is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 11:26 AM
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 158
My first trip was with a high school group when I was 15. We flew into Milan, went to Verona, Venice, Salzburg, and Vienna. I remember being on a tour bus almost as much as we spent visiting (or so it seemed), but it was more than enough to get me hooked.
Danielle811 is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 02:53 PM
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The deal with the paper minidresses was that we were gone 6 weeks, had a grueling schedule, had to pack very light, and didn't have room for costumes or time for laundry. So we just wore a new paper minidress for every performance or two and tossed them as we went along. Besides, we were there to cheer "our boys" up over the winter holidays, so we were supposed to look fetching. I still remember how cold those dresses were, when we were performing in airplane hangars and on outdoor stages!

I think my last one disintegrated years ago.
StCirq is online now  
Jul 6th, 2014, 04:18 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
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In 1988 my eldest daughter and I began putting $5 a week into a special saving account and by April of '93 we had enough to head to Ireland. Of course that was in the days before the internet so we just went to a travel agent, got airplane tickets, rental car and B&B vouchers; as I remember it was an Aer Lingus tour package.

We were such babes in the woods but we had the best time! Our itinerary was loosely based on a tour package in our Complete Guide and Road Atlas (I use that to this day).

Day 1 Horrible weather "Worst we've had this year." Stayed at a B&B near the Gap of Dunloe.

Day 2 Bright and sunny so we decided to stay! Ring of Kerry, Torc Waterfall, Muckross House. B&B in Killarney

Day 3 Cahir Castle, Mallow, Rock of Cashel, Waterford. Stayed in the Waterford area.

Day 4 Waterford Crystal, Avoca Weavers, Glendalough. Stayed Loughlinstown.

Day 5 Bus into Dublin. No tours, it being Good Friday, so we walked up and down O'Connell street. Managed to drive through Dublin, went to Hill of Tara, Kells. Stay Carrick-on-Shannon.

Day 6 Drove through Sligo, Donegal and Letterkenney, around the peninsula. Stayed Rosse's Point, near Sligo.

Day 7 Easter Sunday! We were overdressed for Mass but what the heck. Back in jeans and sweats to visit the waterfall at Glencar Lake and climb up to Queen Maeve's grave in Standhill. Climbed under the gate at Carrowmore and checked out passage graves and rock circles. At Croagh Patrick we walked up as far as the statue. Stayed Westport.

Day 8 Connemara, Killary Harbour, Kylemore Abbey, Aughanure Castle, Galway. Stayed in Oranmore.

Day 9 Dunguaire Castle, Ailwee Caves, Cliffs of Moher, laundry in Ennis. Stayed Newmarket-on-Fergus.

Day 10 Craggaunowen, Lough Gur, Bunratty Folk Park and Castle, Medieval banquet. Stayed Newmarket-on-Fergus.

Just remembering this makes me tired, but I also remember having the time of our lives. We did somewhat the same circular trip 3 years later. And I am now preparing for Trip #8, with better planning.
jaja is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 04:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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My first trip was a 30-day, 6-country high school tour (1978) that started in Athens and ended in London (in between...Sorrento, Rome, Florence, Venice, Salzburg, Munich, Paris, and probably a few places I'm forgetting). Cons: if it's Tuesday, it much be .... Pros: lots of typical high school stories, some of which cannot not be reported here.

First trip with mr_go... Italy in late 1991, almost completely winging it. Stops included Merano, Verona, Bergamo, Santa Margherita Ligure, Florence, Cortina, Perugia, Asolo, and Munich. Would I do anything different? Probably. Maybe. Not sure. Not the way we travel today, but it was a good time...and some of our best travel stories ever:
ms_go is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 04:52 PM
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Oops, typo...Cortina should be Cortona.
ms_go is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 04:57 PM
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Oh, misty watercolor memories...thanks for posting that, ms_go. Have I mentioned lately that I love you?
mr_go is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 06:30 PM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 62
My first trip to Europe was on a summer study abroad program. 5 weeks in Florence, with overnight trips to Rome and Venice and day trips to Siena & San Gimignano and Pisa. Nearly 20 years ago, and wow have things changed. Used a travel agent to book flights, and traveler's checks! Lira and not the euro. There was a smoking section on my flight over to Italy and it was filled with smokers. Also both airlines I traveled on have since gone out of business. I got bumped up to business class on my way back from Rome (due to my flight being canceled and rescheduled), which is an experience I have yet to repeat. The flight attendant kept asking me if I was old enough to be flying by myself. She must have thought I looked young for 20.
travelingaunta is offline  
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