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Old 08-16-2011, 06:02 PM
 
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I'd also highly recommend Belgium, probably one of the most underrated countries in Europe. You could do Paris and then head to Belgium by train and get there in a few hours. The best part is that Belgium is small and is absolutely gorgeous in many parts. You can also take a day trip and see Luxembourg in a day.
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Old 08-17-2011, 06:31 AM
 
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Best way too see europe is to buy an inter-rail pass, really inexpensive, great way to see europe and they also offer packages including accomadation etc..

My grandmother did it last year and said it was really good value for money..

InterRail Europe Train Pass, European Train Travel & Europe Train Tickets
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Old 08-17-2011, 07:31 PM
 
Location: American Expat
2,189 posts, read 4,728,115 times
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My picks would be: Berlin, London, Amsterdam, maybe Paris. Madrid would be too far to include.
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Old 08-19-2011, 01:23 AM
 
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Paris is absolutely stunning & as a first time visitor to Europe you will probably be amazed by it's beauty. I think flying there was a good choice, plus it's fairly easy to get to other places in Europe from there. Don't miss London, by far my favorite city in Europe. Imho, it really does live up to all the hype. It's very hip and cosmopolitan, my only complaint is that it is indeed very expensive. Another must see in my book would be Rome. The Coliseum, the Vatican, The Roman Forum, the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, etc. are all fantastic. After those three, if you have the time & finances, I would try to go with either Berlin or Barcelona. Berlin also has a very cosmopolitan and alternative feel to it. Great mix of new and old architecture. And Barcelona is also great. Fantastic restaurants and nightlife. Great attractions and museums, plus the Gaudi architecture all over the city is not to be missed.

Wherever you end up going, I hope you have a fabulous trip!

Good Luck
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Old 08-19-2011, 04:04 AM
 
Location: Sverige och USA
702 posts, read 2,801,342 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickOgle View Post
So im 35 and am planning a trip to Europe with my mother whos nearly 60. We havent either ever been and im begining to think it impossible to narrow the trip to a few countries. We plan on using the eurorail and flying into Paris due to its low costs from the States. My first choices are Prague, Amsterdam, Rome ,Madrid, Barcelona. Also the trip is in November so weather can be a factor. Any help would be great!!
What are the things you like to do? Is it just a city adventure you are looking for. I agree with most of the posters that not doing too much in the two weeks will be the key. Try not to get to far afield so that you spend most of your time on trains. Prague and Amsterdam are wonderful but November will be relatively dark in Prague and Amsterdam and cool. However, there will be less tourists and more relaxing times. Amsterdam is relatively close to Paris so might be a good bet distance wise. However, if you are looking for sun and warmer temps than obviously southern Europe is the best. If you don't go to too many countries, it might make better sense to buy country passes or just buy the tickets individually rather than the Eurail Pass. Good luck.
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Old 08-19-2011, 05:45 AM
 
Location: Maryland
1,534 posts, read 3,789,777 times
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Just heard directly from our Program Director (Giuseppe) in Italy about US credit cards and debit cards for our up coming trip. CC are fine, debit cards MAY NOT work in ATMs and that Italian banks are not friendly to exchanging USD into Euros. Below is Giuseppe's note:

"As for changing money is concerned, I would like to suggest bringing credit cards able to withdraw money directly from ATM machines, and please remember that " Debit Cards" do not always work in Italy. Important detail is to inform your bank that you are going abroad. Lately, due to world economy crisis, most of the Italian banks do not change cash USD dollars into Euros."

We're using a local Maryland bank (Susquehanna) to get our cash in Euros before departing. Their fee is only 1% for the service. Its not that much cash as most of the trip basics are prepaid. Our experience with CC (as opposed to debit) charges for withdrawals is that it is considerably more costly.
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Old 08-19-2011, 08:42 AM
 
Location: Maryland
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Default UpDate: Cost of Bank Obtained Euros

Just got our local bank to obtain Euros for us, delivered to the bank for pick up and in our specified denomination of 50 Euro bills. The numbers are:

2050 Euros cost us $3,116.72. That is composed of: Wells Fargo's exchange rate of $1.5/Euro (2050 x 1.5 = $3,075) plus local bank fees (Susquehanna Bank) of $41.72.

The current exchange rate via the Net at 10:30AM EST is $1.44379 per Euro
(www.xe.com/ucc/convert/?Amount=1&From=EUR&To=USD)
So our Euros in total equate to an "exchange rate" of $1.52035/Euro (3116.72/2050). The difference between our total cost and the Net exchange rate is $0.07656/Euro. That equates to a percentage cost of: $0.07656/$1.44379 = 5.3%.

That cost would be the metric to compare to using your credit or debit card for ATM transactions.

Safe travels.
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Old 08-19-2011, 08:58 AM
 
26,596 posts, read 52,485,278 times
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My experience is European Banks love Credit Card Cash Advances which seems to be one of the most expensive ways to get cash... Interest usually starts at day one and is almost always at a higher rate than purchases...

In addition, the local Bank tacks on fees...

I have received some of the best rates by wiring money to a colleague that was also working for the same company in Germany... the wire rate at that time was $20 and the exchange rate was good.

Cheapest International Wire Fee I know today is $30 at the Credit Union.

Friends just returned from Sicily and Palermo Italy... the only way they could exchange the $100 US bills were at their Hotel... 3 local banks didn't want them... part of the reason was counterfeiting along with the dollar's continual slide.

US paper currency can be confusing... hasn't the $100 bill gone through several security enhancements? Prior to the introduction of the Euro, it was not uncommon to pull all the old bills from circulation when updated bills were introduced...

A friend's girlfriend became very upset when she found she could not use the German Marks she had saved from an earlier trip to buy anything in Germany... she actually got pretty insulting when a local bank referred her to a National Bank as the only place...

She said, it's no wonder your country lost two wars... In America, a $100 bill from 80 years ago is just as good as a new one... didn't make for a fun day...

Last edited by Ultrarunner; 08-19-2011 at 09:07 AM..
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Old 08-19-2011, 10:15 AM
 
Location: Midwest
4,635 posts, read 3,990,364 times
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London, Paris, and possibly Rome....I think you should also visit Omaha Beach...like a day trip between London and Paris.


You shouldn't even worry about the weather. If weather is a primary concern...go to Hawaii or Key West.


I also agree with those that believe this should not be treated as a race. Visit the most historic and well known cities. Get a feel of what it is like.
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Old 08-21-2011, 01:35 PM
 
Location: Orange County, CA
85 posts, read 132,331 times
Reputation: 91
Prague, Budapest, Vienna,Bavaria (Germany). Luxembourg, Swiss, Italy.
or
Greece, Cyprus, Croatia, Turkey.
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