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Old 08-13-2007, 01:15 PM
 
Location: Prospect, KY
5,269 posts, read 11,718,649 times
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My husband retires next September and we are contemplating a 3 to 4 week European trip either in October of next year or in the Spring of 2009. We have not been to Europe and would like this trip to really be memorable. We know we want to go to Italy and Switzerland but beyond that, we are open.

We love history, gardens, music, architecture, art, hiking, walking, biking, boating, food (although we don't drink) and antiques. I will be 58 next Fall and my husband will be 62 - we are in good physical condition and we should hold up well for such a trip. Our budget is about $20,000 (we know our dollars will be weak against the Euro). Would you rent a car, travel by train or what?

I know there are some experienced travelers here and we would very much appreciate your input - thanks so much.

Last edited by Cattknap; 08-13-2007 at 01:36 PM..
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Old 08-13-2007, 02:23 PM
 
Location: Oxford, England
13,036 posts, read 15,254,886 times
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In Italy Rome, Venice and of course the whole of Tuscany and Umbria as well as the Italian Riviera are a must. Make sure you visit Florence and Sienna. If you are coming from Switzerland the Northern Lakes region ( Cuomo, LUgano etc...) are absolutely gorgeous.

I would definitely put SouthWest France on my itinerary ( From the Dordogne southwards, down to Tuscany and maybe take in the Pyrenees too). Provence is absolutely stunning too and it should be quieter in October and cheaper . The Dordogne ( chose the "Perigord Noir) is just perfect in autumn and IMO the best place in France. It has over a thousand chateaux and medieval castles, great scenery, fantastic architecture, beautiful food and wines, and is littered with little fairy tale stone villages. Visiting Prehistoric painted caves is also a must ( some of them are as old as 30000 years!) too.

I love Austria and Bavaria in Germany and it should be quite an easy hop from Switzerland. Vienna and Salzburg and Munich and the Bavarian countryside are well worth a visit. If you visit Vienna it's very easy to hop on a train to Budapest and from Budapest to Prague . I would also recommend Bratislava a gorgeous and vibrant city in Slovakia and beautiful country too.
If you wanted to head North I would consider flying to Tallinn, in Estonia ,Europe's best preserved Medieval city and pure joy to wonder around. If In Estonia , it is worthwhile to visit Riga ( Latvia) and Vilnius ( Lithuania).



The trains are very good , reliable and good value in Europe but if you intend to be more independent hiring a car is probably a better option for some of your trip anyway.
Bratislava - The Official Website of the City of Bratislava - Home (http://www.bratislava.sk/en - broken link)

I would also recommend Croatia , an absolute Jewel of a place ( Dubrovnik is not to be missed) and the Dalmatian Coast.
Visit Croatia - Dubrovnik
Congress centers - Croatian National Tourist Board



A few websites below to get a better idea about the area in France:

sarlat sarlat en perigord périgord dordogne, (towns, villages and cities in the dordogne perigord): a town of art and the medieval capital town of the Perigord Noir
Carennac, Lot from FrenchEntrée.com
The Gascony Region of South West France
France - Provence Beyond French Riviera : Maps Travel Villages Hotels ... by France Beyond
Rocamadour

Remember that Europe is a lot bigger than it looks and that it takes a while to get around so it is probably better to decide on a rough geographical area, rather than trying to see everything. I'm sure you will have a wonderful time .

If you want any more info about France don't hesitate to PM me, I'm French !
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Old 08-13-2007, 05:32 PM
 
Location: Prospect, KY
5,269 posts, read 11,718,649 times
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Wow! Thank you so very much - I'm saving everything you listed...my research is just beginning and I think planning is half the fun. I really appreciate your post and all the great info!

I can't seem to load the Congress Centers website - would you mind posting the link once more? Thank you!
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Old 08-14-2007, 04:59 AM
 
Location: Oxford, England
13,036 posts, read 15,254,886 times
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Does it work now?


Congress centers - Croatian National Tourist Board
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Old 08-14-2007, 05:15 AM
 
Location: Oxford, England
13,036 posts, read 15,254,886 times
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I thought this might help too .

European Rail Passes, European Trains, Eurail, Eurostar by Euro Railways - Official Site
European Trains and Rail Tickets - European Rail Guide
European Rail - Train Timetables, Travel and Fare Information for all Continental Journeys

Budget Airlines / No-Frills Airlines - Low Cost Flights to Europe ( weblink for all European budget airlines )
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Old 08-14-2007, 07:17 AM
 
Location: on an island
13,327 posts, read 30,297,812 times
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I have to go to work in about 5 minutes, wish I'd seen this post earlier, but just want to echo Moose about southwest France.
You can do a lot in 3 weeks without straining yourself too much because Europe is so much smaller than the USA.
Catt, if you feel like it, PM me and I can go into more detail about trips we've taken.
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Old 08-14-2007, 07:58 AM
 
Location: Ohio, but moving to El Paso, TX August/September
431 posts, read 1,212,520 times
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Luxembourg is very interesting architectural wise. The city almost has an "upstairs" and a "downstairs" and you have to walk stairs or take an elevator to get from one part to another.
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Old 08-14-2007, 02:12 PM
 
Location: on an island
13,327 posts, read 30,297,812 times
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Catt
You've got a nice budget there.
I know that pesky euro is strong, but I bet you could stay a month.
I adore all of Moose's recommendations--have not been to Estonia and would love to.
One thing you might consider doing is Open Jaw:
Flying into one city, say, London or Amsterdam, and out of another, such as Rome. This allows you to make a nice journey without backtracking. If you book enough ahead of time it should not cost any extra, but if it costs a bit more, it really can be worth it.
If you do not want to do that, you have enough time that you could still make a nice loop: last summer we flew into Frankfurt (Germany), train to Berlin, out of Berlin to Dubrovnik, ferry to Hvar, then plane to Strasbourg, France, then we trained it back to Frankfurt--that was just under 3 weeks.
To me, Europe is small compared to the United States.
However, whenever we rent a car, we never plan more than 2 and a half hour's drive per day, because we want to take our time, stop for leisurely lunches and sightseeing etc.
We usually do a drive/train/plane combination.
If you want to more *thoroughly* see a region, you could plop yourself in one spot for a couple weeks.
There are some incredible gardens to see all over Europe.
Actually one of my favorite places in Italy is Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli, just outside Rome. The Amalfi coast is breathtaking, and the gardens at Ravenna are lovely too, though they will not be at their best in May or October.
Maybe you'd like a barge trip through France? A bike trip out of Interlaken would exercise those leg muscles.
We used EuropeByAir coupons last summer and everything went great with no hitch.
We also flew Condor Airlines (cheap and efficient) and HLX Airlines (cheap and efficient) which has now become TUIFly (http://www.tuifly.com/en/service/bestimmungen_5161.html - broken link).
But until you know what you want to do, this info might be overkill.
Look at an atlas, read some more about appealing locations, and then you (and we!) can figure out your itinerary.
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Old 08-14-2007, 03:38 PM
 
Location: Journey's End
10,184 posts, read 18,781,445 times
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You might also think about someplace like Sicily-beautiful, and a sheer joy for a 3 or 4 week holiday. English spoken, great food, wonerful vistas, and far more cultured and sophisticated than people outside of the area suspect.

Trieste is another place I think is just beautiful (the other side of Italy, the side less frequently visited.

Wherever you go---enjoy!
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Old 08-14-2007, 07:23 PM
 
Location: Brentwood, TN
8,002 posts, read 13,266,668 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ontheroad View Post
You might also think about someplace like Sicily-beautiful, and a sheer joy for a 3 or 4 week holiday. English spoken, great food, wonerful vistas, and far more cultured and sophisticated than people outside of the area suspect.

Trieste is another place I think is just beautiful (the other side of Italy, the side less frequently visited.

Wherever you go---enjoy!
I have to agree!! I visited Sicily for three weeks, it is absolutely beautiful!!
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