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Old 09-04-2011, 11:57 AM
 
26 posts, read 87,574 times
Reputation: 18

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Hello.

I want to go to Europe with my girlfriend and one or two other couples sometime in the next year. We're all about 25. I haven't been out of the country in the last 20 years (not counting the Caribbean) so I have basically no experience traveling anywhere in Europe. I was hoping I could tell you what kind of stuff we are looking to get out of the trip and then someone could give some advice on where they think we might want to go. We've only decided that we want to go somewhere in Europe. We'd prefer to go some "off-peak" time so that we can get big discounts. We can get off work any time.

Anyway, here is some info:

How much can we spend: $1,500 each NOT counting hotel or RT flight to Europe. Flights within Europe count toward that 1.5k max.
How many days: 6-8
Preferences/likes and dislikes:
a. Active stuff: Attending Oktoberfest, Snorkeling, Seeing the Running of the Bulls, watching the Olympics live, riding a camel, hiking through a rainforest, hanging with dolphins, skiing on a beginner course, playing poker, attending a comedy show, listening to live music, etc.
b. I love good authentic food.
c. Having a day or two to really relax would be great. Laying on a nice beach, going to a high-end natural spa, chilling at a ridiculously nice pool, maybe going for a day cruise or something. Warm weather and awesome natural sights are cool (my girlfriend really hates the cold).
d. Being in scenic areas would be cool. Seeing the Coliseum, Big Ben, or the Eiffel Tower (etc.) would all be awesome. That said, I don’t know that I’d love to take a 4 hour trip to the top of a building where I stand in a slow line the whole way (did that for the Empire State Building).
e. We drink a little but don’t party like we did in college by any means.
f. To some extent I feel like if I go to Europe I really need to see some kind of plays, listen to a symphony, go on tours, go to the opera, walk through museums, etc. I think some of that would be all right, but I don’t get overly excited about it.
g. We basically want to see as much of the world as we can.
Flying from: I'm leaving from ATL and our friends will probably leave from DCA and/or ATL.

I'd also like some advice on how many cities I should reasonably expect to see. I don't want to spend my whole trip in the airport, but I also want to see as much as possible.

My plan is to take advantage of points programs and credit card offers to get a ridiculously discounted flight/hotel. See: thepointsguy.com. (Would prefer this to not siderail the discussion).

Anyway, if anyone can give advice on which cities we should go to that would be awesome. Any general advice would be great as well. Thanks a bunch.
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Old 09-06-2011, 02:24 AM
 
Location: Earth
24,639 posts, read 24,822,206 times
Reputation: 11318
My suggestion, fwiw, get a map, guidebooks, watch Rick Steves videos, listen to The Amateur Traveler podcasts.

You'll need to narrow it down a bit to something more realistic. That's not a lot of time.

Make a game of it with your friends.
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Old 09-06-2011, 04:17 AM
 
Location: Oxford, England
13,036 posts, read 22,016,442 times
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I agree with ChielGirl. If you only have 6/8 days I would personally only "do" one country but do it a bit better. Europe is a big place and a very varied one in terms of culture, scenery and attractions so you really need to narrow it down. Seeing France reasonably "well" would take you well over a month IMO unless you spend every single waking moment on the road, on a train and running around "attractions" which to me is not travel at all.


Paris alone is at least 4 days just to imbibe the bare minimum. I think the best you can hope to do in a week unless you just want to literally a "Zooming by" visit just to tick things off a list is possibly a two city trip , something like Paris and Rome/Florence ( either or not both) or Paris/London for example. You won't really see much of either countries just their Capitals which is not really what countires are about either.

Try to narrow down places you really "must" see first then the planning can happen.
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Old 09-06-2011, 10:40 AM
 
Location: Miami/ Washington DC
4,836 posts, read 10,186,086 times
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First time Europe travlers one ONE city comes to mind: Barcelona. IMO it has everything Europe has to offer. Amazing food. Best in the world IMO, culture, beaches, art, old buildings, modern city, great transit system, beaches etc.. If you want you can do a Barcelona-Rome trip or a Barcelona-Madrid or Barcelona-Madrid-Paris etc.. But I honestly thing Barcelona is a great place to start off a trip to Europe. 4 days in Barcelona 2 days in Madrid a day in Rome. Or 3-3-2 Barcelona-Paris-Rome etc.. I been to Europe 5 times, one of those times I lived in Barcelona for 5 months and travled all over Europe. I will say Barcelona is the best spot for a first timer. Think of one or two other places at most. I would suggest Paris, Rome, Madrid, London. And go there too if you want. I think a Barcelona-Rome or Barcelona-Paris combination is a good one. If just one country Barcelona-Madrid.
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Old 09-09-2011, 04:16 PM
 
Location: Sverige och USA
702 posts, read 2,796,898 times
Reputation: 417
Best time to go is shoulder season around May and then possibly September. I agree with most posters to not do that much. 6-8 days is just not a lot of time. I think Barcelona is a great suggestion. If you do that, head onto Montserrat too. I wouldn't go to Paris or London unless all you want is the city experience, they are too far from the coasts.

I would vote for North/Central Italy. The best thing about Italy is that you have amazing cultural and natural sites relatively close together. You can fly into Milan and just travel around base on your whims. Some possible places: (Although I don't think you should do all of it in 6-8 days)
- Cinque Terre - cliffs, stunning views, quaint villages
- Pisa - Touristy Leaning Tower (worth an hour stop)
- Florence/Siena/San Gimigniano and Tuscany - Historical towns/country
- Venice -one of a kind
- Lake District (Lago di Como, Maggiore, Garda)- Cute villages and alpine scenery
- Dolomites

I wouldn't go to Rome as it is a bit further South so you'll have to add traveling time and I'm not sure it is worth it for such a short time. Otherwise, just concentrate on Rome, Pompeii, Amalfi Coast.
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Old 09-09-2011, 11:10 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,555 posts, read 39,934,465 times
Reputation: 23683
Short time frame to see much of Europe.

From your requests I would recommend the East coast of Spain and wrap around the continent to southern France and Italy. (all along the Mediterranean). (maybe fit in Carcassonne )

There are plenty of great spots to 'relax', as well as some fun cities Valentia, Barcelona, Monte Carlo.

I would NOT stay in hotels. I much prefer local / private; 'rooms for hire', Argitourismos, (farm stays) or my most preferred 'Private Guest Homes' ($10 / night). I use 2 different directories (for over 25 yrs now). You get the BEST info AND travel experience from being as close to locals as possible. Go to some of your Hosts music rehearsals / performances. (often for free, and you get to meet cast / performers).

Be VERY flexible and adventurous. Don't pack too much in, schedule 'downtime' everyday.
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