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Thread: Europe Trip

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    Default Europe Trip

    As a graduation present to myself, I am going to Europe in the summer of 2014 for anywhere between one and two months. I'm in the early stages of planning so far, so any input on where and what to do would be appreciated. I've decided to visit Hamburg, Berlin, Istanbul, somewhere in Italy, somewhere in France (watch a stage of the Tour), the Swiss Alps, Girona/Roses, Amsterdam, Brussels, and maybe London. For all those who have been to any of these places or perhaps even reside there, where should I stay? (For most of these locations I am considering homestays, as they will allow me to meet locals and live like they do.) What should I see? What to avoid? (I want to skip the touristy spots.) Any other tips or suggestions on traveling alone in Europe are welcome...Planning for this trip has been so exciting and yet so daunting.

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    Default Re: Europe Trip

    you going to bike tour?
    have a bike w/ you?

    should be great fun.

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    Default Re: Europe Trip

    Divide the # of destinations in half and spend twice as long in each.
    my name is Matt

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    Default Re: Europe Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by robin3mj View Post
    Divide the # of destinations in half and spend twice as long in each.
    Yep and definitely go for two months.

    Berlin. Barcelona. Florence. Budapest. Zagreb. Istanbul. Fit the other things (like the Alps) in "on the way to".

    Do Paris and London some other time. Or fly in and out of them. They will seem familiar and easy, so good way to enter and exit Europe perhaps.

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    Default Re: Europe Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by j44ke View Post
    Yep and definitely go for two months.

    Berlin. Barcelona. Florence. Budapest. Zagreb. Istanbul. Fit the other things (like the Alps) in "on the way to".

    Do Paris and London some other time. Or fly in and out of them. They will seem familiar and easy, so good way to enter and exit Europe perhaps.
    Good point. Also, think smaller, and you may have more fun. You can/will always get to the big capitals. Cities are cities.

    Edinburgh>London
    San Sebastián>Barcelona
    Biarritz>Paris
    my name is Matt

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    Default Re: Europe Trip

    Thanks for the suggestions. I thought about bringing the road bike, but with all of the travel I figure that it may just be too much. But it's definitely not out of the question yet. And two months is what I'm aiming for. Of course, as a college student, my budget is pretty small, so I'll need to figure out how to live and travel cheaply.

    Yes, in the back of my mind I know that I"ll enjoy the smaller towns more than the big cities. Plus, I've already been to London, Paris and Rome, so maybe I don't need to see those again. I"ll probably skip the UK. Zagreb is something I didn't consider, but now I'll look into it more. Croatia is a fascinating country and one I admittedly don't know much about. Has anybody been to Monaco?

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    Default Re: Europe Trip

    been through Monaco a couple of times, it is just a short ride from Nice. Its very flashy, so not really my kind of thing. Really, in my eyes the only real benefit of staying there is to stay you have stayed there, if you see what I mean.

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    Default Re: Europe Trip

    This is a pretty broad question, but I support narrowing your targets as suggested above. And unless this is destined to be a bike tour, I'd leave the bike at home. It is my opinion that you shouldn't 'skip the touristy places'. In general, they're touristy for a reason. Mostly because they are awesome. Take Florence (just because its the city I know best): if you skipped to Uffizi, the Duomo, the Bargello, you'd be insane. Over the course of 2 months it will certainly be nice to get away from the crowds, and there will be if you're going mid summer, but it would be a shame to miss some of the more historically important sites.

    Will you be traveling via train, bus, or plane?

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    Default Re: Europe Trip

    If you don't bring your bike at least bring kit, shoes and pedals and (maybe) saddle. You could rent a bike occasionally and get a taste of the roads out here.
    PM me if Brussels or Belgium fits in your plans.

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    Default Re: Europe Trip

    Sounds fantastic. Give yourself at least 2 months with all those destinations. Need to sort out how you will get around. Renting a car? Trains? Have you considered a touring bike for when you get off the train to get you into some of the smaller towns and villages? Bikes can be rented over there you just have to look hard and do some searching before you go. Maybe borrow a VS'ers bike while over there?

    Sounds like you have a pretty good idea of where you want to go. We have been through Monaco. However we were only there because we were staying in the village of Eze. The French Riveria is beautiful but expensive man. Prepare for that if you hit that region. We spent some time in Salzburg and really really enjoyed ourselves there. Consider Salzburg.

    Lot to see over there man. Flying around Europe is pretty inexpensive. Just plan it out and have a good time.
    The mountains are calling and I must go.

    - John Muir

    The name is Guy Fazzio

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    Default Re: Europe Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Britishbane View Post
    This is a pretty broad question, but I support narrowing your targets as suggested above. And unless this is destined to be a bike tour, I'd leave the bike at home. It is my opinion that you shouldn't 'skip the touristy places'. In general, they're touristy for a reason. Mostly because they are awesome. Take Florence (just because its the city I know best): if you skipped to Uffizi, the Duomo, the Bargello, you'd be insane. Over the course of 2 months it will certainly be nice to get away from the crowds, and there will be if you're going mid summer, but it would be a shame to miss some of the more historically important sites.

    Will you be traveling via train, bus, or plane?
    I was going to suggest the same thing. I spent a couple months in Europe before college and I am lucky enough to have been back a number of times since. The off the beaten path places are fantastic and will give you great memories. But years later you won't regret having gone to see some of the "touristy" spots that are amazing landmarks. Also, I suggest adding Prague and, as liv2bike notes, Salzburg to the mix of potential locations.

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    Default Re: Europe Trip

    1. they are touristy spots for a reason, but you can go in mid May - tourist season in Europe does not start in full until first week of July.
    2. figure out mode of transportation first. train or plane? different experience, different abilities to bring luggage, etc.
    3. where I am from, small towns mean more private accommodations, not so reliable in the larger cities.
    4. expat Austrian here: if you need tips about the region (best monastery brewery far and wide, anyone?), just ask.
    5. I would consider Munich as a 'home base' for my stay - centrally located, good airport with int'l connections, really nice/clean/safe city, trains to all of Europe.
    6. good call on bringing down the destination list.
    7. Scandinavia in summer is very expensive, but so fun due to all the daylight. and I mean, $25 for a burger/$10 for a beer expensive.

    Have fun and take your time!

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Strongin View Post
    I was going to suggest the same thing. I spent a couple months in Europe before college and I am lucky enough to have been back a number of times since. The off the beaten path places are fantastic and will give you great memories. But years later you won't regret having gone to see some of the "touristy" spots that are amazing landmarks. Also, I suggest adding Prague and, as liv2bike notes, Salzburg to the mix of potential locations.

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    Default Re: Europe Trip

    My plan is to fly into Hamburg to visit a friend. Then I'll just rely on a 2-month rail pass to travel throughout the continent. I will definitely rent a car to drive on some famous roads such as the Stelvio. I hear diesel is (relatively) inexpensive there?

    I'm scratching off Monaco from the list. Thinking about Tallinn, Estonia and Lyon for France. Brewery recommendations are encouraged! I'm a huge lover of Belgian Trappist beers and anything with lots of hops. JoB, what can you tell me about Austria? Sounds like Salzburg is a city to consider. I've been teaching myself German for the past 6 months, so I'd love to visit the German-speaking nations.

    I get what you guys are getting at with the tourist locations. I'm from San Francisco, and places like Fisherman's Wharf which reveal nothing about the city's special qualities slightly bother me. So it's those types of spots I would like to skip over. I've been to Florence and Venice, so I don't need to visit them again.

    Thanks a lot for the tips and keep them coming!

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    Default Re: Europe Trip

    Every year I go ride in the Salzkammergut region around Salzburg. It's ride heaven. Or whatever.

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    Default Re: Europe Trip

    If you go to Girona / Roses be sure to check out Cadaques: a lovely fishing village on the Costa Brava that may be one of the most beautiful places in the world. I always describe Cadaques as the perfect place to do nothing. The last time I was there with my mom we played Boggle on the beach.

    If you make it to Barcelona and want to ride, have dinner, or get a local tour or anything don't hesitate to get in touch. Barcelona also makes a great jumping off point to other destinations such as Istanbul which is a 3-hour flight. BCN isn't a bad hub to search for cheap airfare options. You can even book a train if you book far enough in advance to San Sebastian for 19 euros for example.

    But overall I would get several major destinations settled and then pad a lot of flexibility so you can follow your whims. Part of the beauty of Euroland is hopping on a train in Brussels to Paris or jetting to Lisbon from Barcelona because you feel like it. A crazy night in Pamplona with the running of the bulls can be combined pretty easily with the Tour de France as the Tour is frequently in the Pyrenees around the time of San Fermin.

    My one piece of advice is to slow down and enjoy each place at a local's pace.

    ps, a place I have never been that i would like to visit is helsinki

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    Default Re: Europe Trip

    j44ke,

    Zagreb is a very small city with little interest. If you're going to Croatia, there are better places: Split, the isles and, of course, Dubrovnik.
    JoB is right for considering Munich a nice "home base". It's a lovely city.
    luis prado alonso

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    Default Re: Europe Trip

    If you want to have a 'local' experience, you will need to slow down on your whirlwind tour of Europe. You may also want to think about a travelling companion. Solo is fun, but a 'shared' experience as part of a small group can be more rewarding. Istanbul is a great city, but once there, it is a shame to leave quickly and miss the rest of Turkey. I think the home stay logistics will be tough, and youth hostels are probably a better bet. If you had a travelling companion, I'd suggest a short term furnished one room apartment where available. Heck, I can even see staying in France the whole time, reading Proust and Zola. But then, sometimes, I am a bit different.

    If you like food, go to San Sebastian.

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    Default Re: Europe Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by liv2bike View Post

    Lot to see over there man. Flying around Europe is pretty inexpensive. Just plan it out and have a good time.
    Just remember if you fly, the cheaper airfares usually service the outlying aerodromes (that's english for airports!). Take Charleroi for example, it is a Brussels airport, but sits 60+km outside Brussels. Guh, ask me how I know. So, before booking check and factor in transport to and from the airport. Not saying you shouldn't fly, thats how I did a great deal of travel, but its just another logistical consideration. Trains on the other hand, they'll get you right into the city center. Every city has at least one train station right in the heart of things. Though train tickets have gotten pretty spendy.

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    Default Re: Europe Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by BrandonC View Post
    Hamburg, Berlin, Istanbul, somewhere in Italy.
    I did all these and a few more a couple of years ago, and istanbul last year, I'll try and look through some things later tonight. We stayed in a lot of hostels, which can be ok, but some other places as well. I dont know how helpfull I will be, my interests during the trip were mostly based in architecture, but I can definitely point out some nice spots.

    For Italy, maybe check out Sienna, its a beautiful small city, but something coastal could be cool too. I liked Rome and its worth seeing, but I don't think I'd go back. I would think about something in Scandinavia too, maybe Stockholm or Helsinki.

    Btw, even the touristy spots of Istanbul are awesome. But check out Ortakoy, its one of the more contemporary neighborhoods as far as political and religious views. The people there are young, and the food is outstanding. It also is still amazingly old. I was there for 10 days and there was still plenty to do, I was traveling with a small group of students and we had a couple locals showing us around, as well as our teacher whom had been going there for about 50 years, and had lived there for a period as well.

    How long are you going for? you might consider "living" somewhere and taking small trips from there. I was in Berlin for four months and visited 7 other countries from there. Some as long weekend trips and some as longer trips. Some were planned last second depending on things we wanted to do in Berlin. I did not want to leave there not knowing Berlin.
    --------------------
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    REBAR

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    Default Re: Europe Trip

    When we lived in Prague, the train tickets were cheaper if you bought them in the Czech Republic than if you bought them in Austria or Germany. So say you were flying to Berlin, then taking the train back. The ticket from Berlin to Prague would be cheaper if you bought it in Prague. Same train, same schedule, cheaper ticket, just bought through the Czech Republic's national train service. I am not sure whether this is the same now that everything is EU and thus should be the same. But at any rate, if you take trains, check to see if there are price differences by country.

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