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Old 07-13-2008, 03:05 PM
 
Location: FL/TX Coasts
1,456 posts, read 3,764,176 times
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azoria & BlueWillowPlate,
I am debating to either do this trip on my own i.e; purchase airline tickets, then once in place purchase day trips(or even purchase day trips on-line from the US) OR purchase a package deal, all the amenities are included, and go with the flow.
Which one would you do and why?
Thanks
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Old 07-13-2008, 03:55 PM
 
Location: rain city
2,958 posts, read 11,355,283 times
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Just buy the plane tickets. If you purchase a package deal you will be having a vacation designed by someone else. If it turns out you don't like their ideas of fun, you're screwed.

Europe is very very easy. You can do this. You'll have to do some research in advance to determine what interests you, where it is, and how to get there. English is everywhere.

On every trip I've taken I've just gotten the original arrival/departure tickets and a room in advance for the nights of arrival and departure--not taking any chances missing an expensive flight ticket. I wing everything in between.

Met some amazing people. Been lost. Lost is good, you find places you would never have otherwise seen. Then you get to strike up conversations with strangers trying to find you way back to where you were going.

Maps, train schedules, bus schedules, easy to find, all widely available in English. A humble attitude works wonders when traveling, take a dose of humility with you.

Pack light. ONE bag only. Something you can throw up on an upper train berth, haul onto a bus, drag across a cobbled town square. Like a smaller wheeled airline suitcase. You can always buy an extra little bag if need be and you've bought too much stuff to fit into the original bag. You can bungee a smaller bag on top of the little wheelie suitcase. Bungee cords rock. Also a small day backpack where you can keep your lunch, maps, unexpected souvenir purchases.....

However you haven't said when you're going? Summer is high season. Better to wait till after August. Rooms are easier to find and much cheaper. Crowds thin out. Vendors are more willing to deal on prices.
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Old 07-13-2008, 06:44 PM
 
Location: FL/TX Coasts
1,456 posts, read 3,764,176 times
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Azoria,
I am thinking to visit those three countries at the beginning of October, this year.
would you recommend booking hotel rooms from the US or wait until I get there?
Thanks.
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Old 07-14-2008, 04:15 AM
 
Location: on an island
13,382 posts, read 40,919,576 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cougar31 View Post
Azoria,
I am thinking to visit those three countries at the beginning of October, this year.
would you recommend booking hotel rooms from the US or wait until I get there?
Thanks.
I would book my first stop. You need a place to go to when you arrive.
After that, I would wing it.
The beginning of October will be pleasant weather and not too busy.
That's a really nice time to be in France.
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Old 07-14-2008, 07:46 AM
 
Location: St. Louis
9,596 posts, read 17,176,886 times
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Yes, Europe is easy and doesn't need to be done on a tour. The trouble with tours is that you really need to read the fine print. My mom was booked into a tour with a roommate--who was arranged by the tour company--but the roommate canceled, so my mom was charged for the roommate's trip. That cost her $2000, and and I've talked to enough people who've been thru similar incidents that I think this is standard practice in the industry.

Azoria, I respectfully disagree about going in the month of august though--everyone in Europe goes on vacation in August, and while most of the crowds are vacationing on some beach in southern Spain, a lot of businesses are closed for the whole month in more northern places, which will be a disappointment to those who were hoping to eat at the great restaurant mentioned in the guidebook.

Favorite places in France: all the usual big sites are great of course, but some lesser known ones are Chantilly, which is just outside Paris and anywhere in Brittany. Jocelyn castle is beautiful.

In England, I just love Oxford. You can take an all day bus tour in London, or book one of the short tours that cater to your family's tastes, like "haunted London" or "famous author's London".

In Switzerland I loved Montreaux and the castle over by there. Everything is beautiful in Switzerland and you can't go wrong--no bad areas like we're used to. Be prepared to laugh if you ask someone if a town is near, and they tell you that's it's nowhere close--it's 3 miles away!
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Old 07-14-2008, 09:08 AM
 
Location: New Hampshire
2,257 posts, read 6,972,002 times
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If you're staying in Geneva, I would second the recommendation for Montreux. It's a short distance away and it's a beautiful place. Take a walk along the "Quai des Fleurs" down to the Château de Chillon - one of my favourite castles in Europe. You can also take a train up to the Rochers de Naye, giving you a spectacular view of the area, or you can take the train further east along the "Golden Pass" towards Interlaken, which is a breathtaking voyage.

As for France, it depends on where you're staying. Paris is nice and all, but if you want to *really* experience France, you have to get out of the city. The most popular tourist destination outside Paris is probably Provence and the French Riviera, and rightfully so, as cities like Avignon, Cassis, and Nice are simply gorgeous (especially Nice and the nearby villages like Eze). Another popular destination is Brittany, the northwest region of France, where you can visit St-Malo, Dinan, and Mont St-Michel. These places have a true Medieval feel and look like they haven't changed in 500 years (especially Dinan). There are also some incredible Medieval castles in Vitré and Fougères. I only really know the region around Rennes, though.

Another option is Alsace, the eastern portion of France along the German border, which almost looks like it comes out of a fairy tale. The architecture in Strasbourg, Colmar, and the charming surrounding villages is wonderfully colourful. A very charming area. And if you're going to be in the Swiss Alps, you might as well check out the French Alps too, particularly the lovely little city of Annecy (on one of the cleanest lakes in Europe) and the ski resort town of Chamonix, at the base of Mont-Blanc. If the weather's cooperating, you can take a lift up to the top of the Aiguille du Midi or to the Mer de Glace glacier. Pretty awesome stuff.

If you're planning on getting out of London, a nice day trip would be down to Brighton on the channel, and over to the Seven Sisters between Seaford and Eastbourne. The castle at Arundel is also definitely worth seeing. Oxford could also provide a nice daytrip, and if you feel the need to visit Stonehenge, you might as well check out Bath while you're at it.

If you have time to travel far from London, then my highest recommendation for England would be the Lake District in Cumbria. Absolutely incredible scenery and some good opportunities for walking and hiking if you're into that. Of course, you can find equally beautiful scenery in Wales and Scotland, but I don't know if you'll have time to travel that far. Definitely worth considering though...
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Old 07-14-2008, 10:44 AM
 
12,617 posts, read 28,105,389 times
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Someone gave me this excellent website for European travel: Budget Airlines / No-Frills Airlines - Low Cost Flights to Europe I would suggest getting the Rough guide to Europe just for an overview.
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Old 07-14-2008, 01:25 PM
 
Location: on an island
13,382 posts, read 40,919,576 times
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We've used several of the budget airlines in the above link, and they were fine.
I agree with many of the previous recommendations.
All you need is time and money.
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Old 07-14-2008, 02:14 PM
 
12,292 posts, read 18,409,613 times
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Cougar you forgot one huge detail - how much time in each city? A day? A couple days? A week?
Makes a big difference in the recommendations you are getting.

Not sure why people are giving you airline sites. By this choice of destinations I must assume you already have an airfare agenda preset...otherwise I would recommend a different agenda altogether for your trip.

edit: I note you say you haven't purchased tickets yet. In that case my suggestion, based on a typical vacation of a week, to stick to ONE country only. There is much more to England than London, much more to France than Paris, and much more to Switz. than Geneva. Geneva's practically part of France.
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Old 07-14-2008, 03:55 PM
 
Location: FL/TX Coasts
1,456 posts, read 3,764,176 times
Reputation: 431
Quote:
Originally Posted by stepka View Post
Yes, Europe is easy and doesn't need to be done on a tour. The trouble with tours is that you really need to read the fine print. My mom was booked into a tour with a roommate--who was arranged by the tour company--but the roommate canceled, so my mom was charged for the roommate's trip. That cost her $2000, and and I've talked to enough people who've been thru similar incidents that I think this is standard practice in the industry.

Azoria, I respectfully disagree about going in the month of august though--everyone in Europe goes on vacation in August, and while most of the crowds are vacationing on some beach in southern Spain, a lot of businesses are closed for the whole month in more northern places, which will be a disappointment to those who were hoping to eat at the great restaurant mentioned in the guidebook.

Favorite places in France: all the usual big sites are great of course, but some lesser known ones are Chantilly, which is just outside Paris and anywhere in Brittany. Jocelyn castle is beautiful.

In England, I just love Oxford. You can take an all day bus tour in London, or book one of the short tours that cater to your family's tastes, like "haunted London" or "famous author's London".

In Switzerland I loved Montreaux and the castle over by there. Everything is beautiful in Switzerland and you can't go wrong--no bad areas like we're used to. Be prepared to laugh if you ask someone if a town is near, and they tell you that's it's nowhere close--it's 3 miles away!
Now, I am really debating if I should this travel via a package/tour purchased from the US or just plan it on my own.
Are the debit (pulse machines) pretty safe to use for cash widrows?
Thanks
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