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Old 02-13-2013, 10:28 AM
 
Location: Berkshire, England
488 posts, read 543,479 times
Reputation: 1344

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You're certainly packing it in!

I'd ditch Rotterdam if I were you. It's just a dull industrial city with little to see.

Amsterdam is probably my favourite place, so I'm biased but spend longer there and also take a side trip to Haarlem. One day just won't do it justice. Concentrate on the western canal ring for the best sights in Amsterdam.

If you have access to a car while in the Lake Distict, try to see Wast Water - stunning views.

Rome wasn't built in a day, and you won't see it in one either. Try to spend Longer there and in Venice.
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Old 02-13-2013, 05:08 PM
 
Location: Minnesota
400 posts, read 1,564,895 times
Reputation: 412
Wow! Awesome feedback everyone! I've whittled down my trip now (still 29 days, but less places to visit).

My new itinerary is based on everyone's input. Please let me know if this seems more realistic of a trip.

I still plan to fly from Minneapolis to Ireland where I will spend 5 days.

After that, I will spend the next 10 days touring Rome, Florence, and Venice, Italy. That takes care of the first 15 days of my 29 day trip.

Days 1-5 Dublin, Ireland **Note: I will probably ferry it over to England and spend 2 days in the Lake District before I return back to Dublin.

Getting to Rome, Italy from Ireland: Should I buy a France-Italy Eurail 5 or 10 day train pass? Or should I fly from Ireland to Rome instead, bypassing Paris completely.

Days 6-9 Rome

Days 10-13 Rome to Florence (3 days in Florence, 1 day to get there by train)

Days 14-18 Florence to Venice (3 days in Venice, 1 day to get there by train from Florence While in Venice, I could take a quick trip to Verona since I LOVE Shakespeare. It would mean a lot to me to go there.

Then, from Venice, I will take the train to Paris where I will meetup with my French friend for the 3 scheduled days she is available.

Days traveled so far: 18

Places seen so far: Dublin, Ireland; Rome, Florence, Venice, Italy; Paris, France. 6 cities, 2 countries.

With 11 days left on my vacation, I still need to figure on at least a minimum of 6 days in Portugal but frankly, I'd like to limit it to 5 so that I have 6 days to go see Belgium, Amsterdam, Vienna, and Innsbruck.

So, after Venice, I think I will:

Day 19 Take the train from Venice to Austria

Day 20 Sight-see Austria for two days, where I will visit with my friend who lives in Tyrol

Day 21 After two days in Austria, leave by train for Vienna.

Day 22Arrive in Vienna, stay for one day. Contact my friend who lives in The Hague. Tell them to meet me in Amsterdam.

Day 23Take the train to Amsterdam from Vienna. Since it's an 11 hour train ride, do an overnight train and ride second class (a sleeper car isn't necessary is it? I should be safe riding second class overnight or not really?)

Day 24 Arrive in Amsterdam in the morning (hopefully). Go find a hostel. Eat breakfast. Then call my friend who lives in The Hague to take the train to meet me in Amsterdam (I was told the train from The Hague to Amsterdam is less than 2 hours). Hopefully spend the day with my friend hanging out in Amsterdam.

Day 25 Take the train to Belgium (it's only 2 hours train ride) and sight-see for the day. I can't imagine that photographing windmills and eating lots of dark chocolate will take me more than a few hours. Then I'll head back to Amsterdam to my hostel. So, a total of 2 days in Amsterdam with a quick afternoon trip to Belgium and back.

4 days left in my trip. Since I don't really want to go to Portugal but promised my friends there that I would, I will let them know I only have 4 days, and can split my days between them since one lives in Lisbon, and the other in Porto.

Day 26 I will fly from Amsterdam to Lisbon (the flight is only 2 hours) and arrive in the afternoon some time after lunch. I'll settle in with my friend and her husband and plan to sight see for Day 27, then on Day 28 take the 2 hour train to Porto, and spend the next day and a half with my friend who lives there.

Day 29 Take a flight back to Dublin before my flight from Dublin leaves that day. Yes, it's a bit harry-carry of me to do, so maybe I could extend my trip to 30 days.

So, I'm anxious for everyone's feedback on my new itinerary. What do you think? More doable? More realistic?
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Old 02-13-2013, 09:00 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, QC, Canada
3,402 posts, read 4,262,666 times
Reputation: 4399
You should factor in some time for messing up or missing trains and stuff. It would suck if your whole schedule got messed up over one delay or missed thing which is fairly likely to happen to anyone over a month's time.

I used to be turned on by these massive flash tours, but the more I travel the more I like to settle in to only a few places and really get to know them. I know I said that before, but I think a lot of people end up feeling this way too.
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Old 02-13-2013, 10:56 PM
 
Location: Australia
8,015 posts, read 2,729,482 times
Reputation: 38469
Your second itinerary is much better than your first... but, unless you're going to Bruges, I wouldn't bother with Belgium. Even if you are going to Bruges, that part of your itinerary is way too "drive-by" for my tastes!

You'll be fine (safety-wise) overnight in a 2nd-class carriage if you're young and aren't too bothered about not sleeping soundly. Just keep your valuables (cash, credit cards, passport etc) on your body, rather than in your bag on the luggage shelf. Not saying theft would happen, but it can - and it's a hassle you don't need.
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Old 02-14-2013, 12:07 AM
 
Location: Minnesota
400 posts, read 1,564,895 times
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Hmmm. Well, if i didn't have a friend who lives in The Hague, then I would agree with you about forgetting Belgium and even Amsterdam because it is too much. Should I just email my friend and tell this person that I can't make it to their home city, and ask the friend to meet me somewhere like Paris instead?

Ideally, I'd like to cut out Vienna and Tyrol too, but I have a friend who lives in Tyrol whom I haven't seen in 3 years. And this friend is married with a young child. Is it rude to ask this friend also to drag her family to meet me somewhere that is more convenient for my travel itinerary? I'd like to hear what you all think. Would that be rude of me?

Honestly, if I could just focus on Ireland, Italy, France and Portugal I'd be happiest. I really don't want this to be a "drive by" vacation. When will I ever have the chance to visit my friends abroad again also?

And Jesse, thanks for the heads up about being prepared for early/late/no show trains. That can screw up a travel itinerary. I'll try to be ready for those instances. And I think I'm gonna get a sleeper car for those overnight trains. I'll still sleep with my passport and money in my money belt on my person, even when I am in the sleeper car. Better to be safe than sorry.
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Old 02-14-2013, 01:29 AM
 
Location: Australia
8,015 posts, read 2,729,482 times
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I travel overseas quite a lot and meet up with friends along the way. I don't think it's rude to explain to a friend that, while you really want to see them, you're having trouble finding a way to fit a visit into your itinerary/time frame and asking if they could meet you somewhere else.

In the case of your friend in Innsbruck, do you want to see her family, or just her? Could her husband stay home and take care of the family for a couple of days? If so, I'd offer to pay for your friend to travel on the train to Venice and meet you there. It's a five hour train ride each way. The fare for her (I found one for $40 each way in May) will be cheaper than you travelling to both Vienna and Innsbruck (not to mention a huge saving of time for you), and she can share your hostel/hotel room in Venice, adding very little to the cost. She might love the opportunity to have girls time out, and see Venice as well!
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Old 02-14-2013, 02:49 PM
 
Location: Minnesota
400 posts, read 1,564,895 times
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I just emailed her to ask her if she wanted to meet me in Venice or Rome. So hopefully she'll be up for that. Good suggestion. Thanks!

Here's another question I probably should have asked from the very beginning: What is the best direction of my trip? Fly to Amsterdam and make my way down to Portugal? Or fly to Italy first, go up to the Netherlands, then go back down to Portugal. If I didn't want to meetup with my friend who lives in The Hague, I'd cut out Amsterdam and the Netherlands completely.

And also, will my US student ID work abroad for travel discounts? I called an STA Travel agent and was disappointed to learn that their age cutoff for students is 34 (I'm 42). I'm a graduate student so shouldn't that get me ticket discounts if I show my university ID?

Finally, once I finalize my itinerary for my trip should I try to buy my train tickets online before my trip, or just wait until I get there? I also thought maybe I would take the bus if that's cheaper, although it will take a lot longer than a train ride.
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Old 02-14-2013, 06:32 PM
 
Location: Hong Kong / Vienna
4,557 posts, read 4,861,885 times
Reputation: 3896
What i'd do: spend one extra day in Innsbruck, don't go to Vienna and fly from Innsbruck to Amsterdam. Can be as cheap as 70 and you'll save a lot of time. Innsbruck is actually a really nice town. Even better when you know a local.

Also, i wouldn't go to Belgium just for an afternoon.

As far as your Student ID is concerned: some places will accept it, some won't. Most of the discounts require you to be under 27 anyway.
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Old 02-14-2013, 07:03 PM
 
Location: Minnesota
400 posts, read 1,564,895 times
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Wait? So the world is bias against graduate students older than 27? That stinks!

I do know a local who lives in Tyrol. We met when she lived in my city a few years ago. I'm excited to visit her actually. Just getting to her town is what's frustrating to figure out.

So many of the websites online that offer information about European train schedules and fares actually contradict each other. It's hard to know which website's information is accurate.

I'm kinda scared to go up to the Netherlands. I've never been to Colorado which is high altitude and can cause altitude sickness. I know it's a lame reason not to go visit my friend who lives in The Hague, but that's how my mind works: I don't want to experience altitude sickness there. Will I?

Frankly, I'd rather just try to convince my friend in the Hague to meetup with me somewhere like Austria or Paris. I think I'd be much calmer. I already asked him and he said no. So maybe I just have to disappoint him and make up some reason why I can't visit him after all.

Figuring out this trip itinerary is giving me a migraine. Seriously. I really don't know which direction to start my trip?

I have to make a circle regardless of the direction too, because my round trip ticket is for Ireland as an arrival and departure back to the states.

So the question is, is it cheaper for me to start way up in the Netherlands and work my way down to Portugal, or vice versa?
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Old 02-14-2013, 08:34 PM
 
Location: Minnesota
400 posts, read 1,564,895 times
Reputation: 412
I have thought about my packed itinerary and my shoe string budget. I made the decision to cut the Netherlands and Austria from my itinerary for budget and time reasons. I am going to keep Ireland, France, and Portugal and that should be enough. I emailed my friend in Tyrol as I said and asked if she wanted to meet me in Venice (which I've cut from my plans unless she agrees to meet me there as its not a bad train ride from Tyrol to Venice). I also emailed my friend in Rotterdam/The Hague and asked him to meetup with me in Paris. I don't know if he'll go for that idea, but I need to cut the Netherlands and Belgium and Amsterdam from my trip. It's just too much for me to handle. And this trip is meant for me to enjoy myself.

Do you think this is a smart move on my part?
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