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Old 10-25-2012, 12:09 AM
 
601 posts, read 656,930 times
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Turning 30..giving this trip as a present to myself..any advice out there? Never been abroad.
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Old 10-25-2012, 01:29 AM
 
Location: rain city
2,958 posts, read 11,354,208 times
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No advice in particular except a thumbs up for traveling in the off, off season.

Lodging should be much much cheaper.

Find your own fun. Museums where nobody is going, bars and clubs left to the locals, rooms without reservations. You're in the catbird seat.

Insofar as lodging goes, I reserved rooms in Ecuador on Booking. com and found they had the best supply anywhere of small unheralded lodgings of all the umpteen reservation websites I looked at.
Booking.com: 246,981 hotels worldwide. 17+ million hotel reviews..
Lots of little neighborhood places that never turned up on other travel websites.

Small lodgings, few tourists, cheap time of year--wander at will.

One thing, I don't know if you're into that kind of stuff, is that the classical music and theatre season is in full swing in Europe in the winter. I love it, don't know about you.

Last edited by azoria; 10-25-2012 at 02:19 AM..
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Old 10-25-2012, 07:39 AM
 
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It will be cold. Or may be cold. If you don't speak some French you will find England and Amsterdam more comfortable. (They say that if there are any Dutch who don't speak English they don't let them out of the house. I think that may be true.)

Since you are unfamiliar with travelling in these places, allow yourself plenty of time to figure things out and don't try to be excessively ambitious about what you do.

You will find surprising things just plain different. For example, the English have a bizarre taste for coffee diluted with an equal portion of milk. Restaurants will never give you a bill before you ask for it. I could go on and on...there will be many things to discover.

Consider (1) Cambridge or Oxford (2) towns outside of Amsterdam (Delft, others).
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Old 10-25-2012, 08:03 AM
 
Location: New Zealand
1,872 posts, read 5,787,996 times
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England: if in London, definitely do not miss the museums (British, Natural History, National Gallery, Tate Modern, etc.) -- all free with fantastic things to see. Great restaurants abound, but they're not always obvious -- look on Yelp or something to get away from the touristy places (some of the best places are very inconspicuous). Get a Tube travel card for however many days you'll be there -- cheapest/most convenient way of getting around. An early evening ride on the Eye, although touristy and expensive, can be quite pretty. Walk the Southbank from Westminster to Tower Bridge.

Amsterdam in January can be quite gloomy. Definitely try an Indonesian restaurant (I can recommend Sampurna). Definitely make sure you're not walking in the bike lanes -- they come barreling down and don't stop for anyone.

France -- just walking around Paris is interesting enough for me. I loved the Louvre and going to the top of Tour Montparnasse for skyline views.

Oh, and pack your camera. Lots of great photographic opportunities.
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Old 10-25-2012, 12:28 PM
 
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While in London, I recommend visiting the City of London Museum as well as the British Museum. London is easy to get around due to the excellent public transportation system.

In Amsterdam, don't miss Anne Frank's home/museum.

Paris too should be easy to get around on the Metro system.
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Old 10-25-2012, 02:23 PM
 
Location: God's Gift to Mankind for flying anything
5,327 posts, read 11,047,644 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rational1 View Post
the English have a *bizarre* taste for coffee diluted with an equal portion of milk.
Not sure where Rational comes from but if he does not have some bizarre taste for some thing *I* would think is bizarre ... I would be utterly surprised. For instance I, living in the USA, think that eating scrambled eggs with ketchup on it, is rather *bizarre* (using the same wording as the OP used) !

In Holland, staying on the subject of coffee.
Ask for *Koffie verkeerd* (In English, Coffee the wrong way).
They have more milk in that *drink* than coffee !
Some English drink their tea with an enormous amount of milk in it also !

For Americans where some, usually, have their coffee black, with NO sugar ...
It becomes a *What the heck !*

But ... , that makes visiting foreign countries such an interesting experience !

Last edited by irman; 10-25-2012 at 03:48 PM..
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Old 10-25-2012, 04:07 PM
 
Location: God's Gift to Mankind for flying anything
5,327 posts, read 11,047,644 times
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If one really wants to get to know the local people in Holland, then having dinner with them is one of the best ways to get to know them.

Check this out (not cheap, but worth it)
Dine With the Dutch
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Old 10-25-2012, 04:10 PM
 
Location: Gorgeous Scotland
4,123 posts, read 4,748,248 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rational1 View Post
It will be cold. Or may be cold. If you don't speak some French you will find England and Amsterdam more comfortable. (They say that if there are any Dutch who don't speak English they don't let them out of the house. I think that may be true.)

Since you are unfamiliar with travelling in these places, allow yourself plenty of time to figure things out and don't try to be excessively ambitious about what you do.

You will find surprising things just plain different. For example, the English have a bizarre taste for coffee diluted with an equal portion of milk. Restaurants will never give you a bill before you ask for it. I could go on and on...there will be many things to discover.

Consider (1) Cambridge or Oxford (2) towns outside of Amsterdam (Delft, others).
That's news to me. Never saw anyone do that. Maybe you're thinking about them putting milk in their tea? Only it wouldn't be by half.
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Old 10-26-2012, 02:08 PM
 
Location: Toronto, Ottawa Valley & Dunedin FL
1,409 posts, read 2,354,730 times
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Yes, a side trip to Oxford could be really nice.

Do be prepared for cold. I remember Amsterdam being particularly cold in November, so January more so. It's a damp cold. But you never know--temps in England could vary quite a bit.

But being there in the off-season sounds great. Amsterdam's one of my faves.
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Old 10-26-2012, 04:29 PM
 
Location: San Francisco
9,033 posts, read 8,747,295 times
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I lived in Amsterdam for three years, and the word for January is: gloomy. If you're really lucky it might snow -- Amsterdam is unbelievably gorgeous in a coat of fresh snow. Otherwise, not so much.

Sustain yourself on erwtensoep (pea soup), and koffie met gebak (coffee and apple pie). Weather permitting, wander around the Jordaan and/or rent a bike.
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