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Old 02-12-2013, 09:08 PM
Location: Minnesota
400 posts, read 1,819,935 times
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I contacted the friends I plan to visit abroad and asked for their input. So the itinerary below is based on what my European friends suggest. However, I'd like your opinion, especially where the train vs. plane route works best.

In another thread in the United Kingdom forum I asked for advice about the Eurail. Well, I decided that is too expensive for me. And I also decided that flying to London, England is too expensive for me as well. I had to pay a penalty to change my plane ticket to Ireland but who cares. It's a better choice to fly to Ireland for me financially-speaking. But anyway, back to my currently proposed itinerary for this summer, for 30 days.

States to Ireland (fly)

Ireland to Lake District (ferry or fly) round-trip
*This will happen 3 days after I've already been in Dublin. I will spend 2 days in the Lake District where I will do a walking tour, visit Wordsworth Cottage, and maybe take a boat ride. I'll stay in a hostel in Derwent Water or Keswick.

Days total so far: 4

Ireland to Amsterdam (fly)
*I'll walk around Amsterdam, soak in the sights, then take a quick train trip to Belgium, come back and then take another train trip to Rotterdam and also to The Hague, then back to Amsterdam.

Travel day to get to Amsterdam: 1 (overnight stay in hostel)
Sight see day: 1
Days total so far: 6

Amsterdam to Paris (train)
*I plan to meet a friend in Paris for 3 days.

Travel day to get to Paris: 1 (will stay with friend for free for 2 nights)
Sight see days: 2
Days total so far: 9

Paris to Vienna (train)

Travel day to get to Vienna: 1 (overnight stay in hostel in Vienna)
*Sight see days: 2
Days total so far: 12

Vienna to Salzburg (train)

Travel day to get to Salzburg: 1 day because it only takes 2 hours to get to Salzburg but its the day I leave Vienna so I count it as a travel day (I think?).

Salzburg to Innsbruck: 1 hour and 50 minutes (I'll do this train trip the same day so I can visit my friend who lives in Tirol)

Sight see days: 1 (to see Salzburg then hop on the train to Innsbruck to see my friend for a bit but not stay overnight)

Innsbruck to Rome, Italy airport (that's where the train route goes via raileurope.com): 4 hours

Days so far: 13


Train: Eurostar Italia (Rome to Florence, Florence to Venice)


Sight see days: 1 day in Rome (find a hostel to stay overnight)


Sight see days: 1 day in Florence (find a hostel to stay overnight)


Sight see days: 1 day in Venice (find a hostel to stay overnight)

Venice to Rome, airport

Fly Rome to Lisbon, Portugal

Days total so far: 16

Arrive in Lisbon, Portugal (day 17)

Stay with friends and sight see in Lisbon for 3 days, then take the 2 hour train to Porto and stay with friends there for 3 days.

Take the train back to Lisbon, and fly to Dublin.

Days so far: 22

Stay in Dublin visiting with same Irish friends and family for the last 7 days of my trip, then fly back to the states.

Total days of trip: 29
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Old 02-12-2013, 10:43 PM
Location: Gatineau, QC, Canada
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I find this pretty packed...you might exhaust yourself.

I like to really dig in to a place and not sort of pass-by all frenetic-like. For a month, I would probably only visit four major cities and day trip/travel to smaller places in their regions. The longer you stay in an area, the more you will become savvy to the non-touristy cool events/things that are going on. That, to me, is the real magic of travelling. I like staying somewhere long enough to mingle with a local(s) and see where it takes me. I just don't know if moving every 1/2/3 days is enough to see everything and not burn yourself out somewhere along the way. One day in each of Italy's most significant cities doesn't even seem physically possible, for example.

Also, your backtracking at times. I don't want to tell you what to do because I don't know which aspects of your trip mean the most to you, but I would try to order it in geographical sequence only if possible. You'll lose money needlessly if you don't.

I hope you know about Easyjet/Ryanair because they beat the train almost every time in price.

Hostels are great and fun for meeting people, but I've found great bargains on AirBnB too ($10 CAD spare rooms sometimes). If you're a little braver, try Couchsurfing even.

Last edited by Jesse44; 02-12-2013 at 10:53 PM..
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Old 02-12-2013, 10:52 PM
Location: Minnesota
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Hi Jesse,

Thanks for your post. I'm totally open to suggestions so don't feel awkward telling me where I need to make changes.

Yes, I packed in a lot but this is just a rough draft. It's not set in stone at all.

The only thing is, I don't want to spend a lot of time in Portugal with my friends. Just for 6 days. The other 23 days I want to spend sight-seeing and obviously will have my travel days.

My priorities are to visit my friends but I also really want to see Italy if I can. I'm willing to be flexible with my travels around Amsterdam as I've never been there before.
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Old 02-12-2013, 11:09 PM
Location: Gatineau, QC, Canada
3,400 posts, read 5,029,074 times
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Hmmmm. Do you have to visit all these people? Is it a vacation or a visit-vacation thing?

If it were me, I would cut the towns of Austria out, eliminate Venice, Porto, one other city, and the day jaunt to Belgium. I'd restructure the part about having a week in Dublin after already spending three days there to begin with. Just slide that all together so you're not going back and forth, and then cut the time down to about 5 days total in that city. It makes room for other places and will be more proportional. I would fly home with an open jaw ticket from where ever I ended the trip. It would save money although it won't appear to at first glance. The fights together will cost more, but you have added more value, savings and convenience from a day-to-day budget standpoint.

I like 4-5 days to a major city. Especially since you have things like Paris and Rome up on the board. Rotterdam seems cool, and somewhere I think you would get a cool experience out of, but that also seems like it could get in the way of having more time to relax. I don't know. Try to fall in love with a smaller group of those places and see what happens.
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Old 02-13-2013, 12:01 AM
Location: Minnesota
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Jesse, thanks again for your response.

Well, it's a vacation-visit-vacation thing. I have friends and family in Ireland (my birthplace) whom I haven't seen in 20 years. I've been to Ireland a lot during my childhood and young adult years, but stopped going over for visits after my father died when I was 21. Plus, I double back on my itinerary because I didn't know that you can buy an open-ended ticket. I thought airfare has to be one way or round trip. Tells you how often I fly (which is nil these days).

My friend in Paris is only available for 3 specific days, and I want to see Hemingway's Paris (the clubs he went to, restaurants he ate at, etc.) along with the touristy things there.

My two friends in The Hague and Innsbruck (Tirol) are more acquaintances and I could do without going to their countries, if it meant getting to spend more time in places that I really want to be, like Italy and England's Lake District.

I agree that 4-5 days in a major city is ideal. I also am on raileurope.com searching out non-eurail train passes that will allow me to make quick trips to nearby cities of major cities. But I can see from your POV that may be pushing it too much, and that I should be more economical with my travel days and vacation days so that I can slow down and enjoy the cities/countries that I visit.

I have to go to Portugal to visit these two friends because I haven't seen them in 15 years. And they are really close friends. One lives in Lisbon, and the other lives in Porto. It's only a 2 hour train ride so that doesn't bother me.

If I removed the Amsterdam/Netherlands/Belgium/Innsbruck/Vienna travel leg, then I'd have a few extra days to spend in Italy. And I really want to visit Venice and Florence and Rome. I'm not flexible with Italy though.

I just have to figure out the travel days via the raileurope website and see if I can save myself time and money on the train for my travel days, versus spending gobs of money on flights between cities. Not to mention I won't have to spend barely anything on hostels because my friends will let me stay with them for free which means free food too. So there is savings there to be considered.
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Old 02-13-2013, 12:49 AM
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Well, having done some trips I would have the following advice. (Again this is alll predicated on what types of sights you deem most important.

I find 2-4 days per city is sufficient (but then again I wasn't visiting friends/ family). I would advise based on your fixed must stops Ireland, Paris and Portugal to ideally pack the most active sightseeing early in your itinerary the longer stay in Portugal with friends to give you a respite midway in your itinerary to regroup relax.
With 29 days I would target 7-8 major cities (and associated side trips) to allow time to enjoy and soak it in, versus cramming as much as possible. Again this all depends on the mindset you take into what you want to accomplish. Some go for the ticking off 'places been' approach, versus epxeriencing the cities. I think the fact you are visiting friends will help contribute to experiencing the cities as they can play guide saving you planning time in some cases. I would peruse some travel cds/ tapes of certain cities you deifinitely want to visit to list what things you must see and then play it by 'ear' when you are there to determine your approach the remainder of time (say, based on friends, weather, etc...)

Italy is easy to get a lot in due to size and rail. One trip I managed to cover Florence, Pisa, La Spezia (base camp for the Cinca Terra region) and Milan (plus side trip to Mantua) in the first week easily using rail. Most train stations in major metros it was easier to just buy the round trip ticket for the side trip to nearby city (depending on the type of Eurail Pass you purchase). I did Gdansk to Malbork (as an example).

Safe Travels!
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Old 02-13-2013, 01:24 AM
Location: Minnesota
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Hi ciceropolo.

That's cool that you've done some trips abroad too.

8-9 cities in 29 days is definitely doable. 2-4 days per city is definitely something I can do.

I'll redo my itinerary and possibly repost it here for more feedback. It's a learning process that's for sure.
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Old 02-13-2013, 06:41 AM
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You might also want to post this on the Travel forum for more replies.
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Old 02-13-2013, 07:35 AM
Location: Near Tours, France about 47°10'N 0°25'E
2,872 posts, read 4,765,183 times
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France is not just Paris and the north of France, you have a lot of areas to visit to really understand what this country is about. Also, I find it sad you excluded Spain, which is in my opinion much more unavoidable than Portugal (even if I like Portugal).
An interesting trip would be to go from Italy to Spain passing thru France.
such as this :

It could be:
-Arriving in London (as many American like arriving in England for a more progressive contact with Europe)
-Boat to Amsterdam
-Train to Paris
-Direction to Spain passing thru Bordeaux and Pays Basque regions
-Spain to Madrid
-Train Madrid-Barcelona
-Barcelona to Provence (maybe by car to be able to visit the inside of Provence: Aix, Nimes, Arles, Luberon, and the the French Riviera)
-Nice to Italy (Venice, Florence and then to Rome)
-Going back from Rome.
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Old 02-13-2013, 10:14 AM
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When I was a teenager after travelling through Germany and Switzerland with my parents my brother and I set off and tried to visit Austria, Italy, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium in a couple weeks. Though we had fun, we had far too little time to really enjoy where we went--so now years later I'm re-visting a lot of places I went like Amsterdam or Rome and trying to give myself 3-4 days to really enjoy the city. And on my last trip to Italy with my girlfriend with 3.5 days, I really got to see stuff that was interesting in the lesser known neighborhoods outside the famous tourist sites. So point being, that some people can just spend a day in a city and feel they've seen it all--if you just want to see the famous tourist sites and move on that's fine--however if you like to take your time and actually get a more unique sense of the city--you need a few days to take it in...

A couple thoughts:

Trying to see Salzburg and Innsbruck in the same day--along with travelling from Vienna means that you're not really going to see Salzburg, outside of a quick hop in a cab from the train station to the central area. And Salzburg is a beautiful small city worth a day just walking up to the castle and around the old town. And part of the highlight of Austria for me was just going into the surrounding Alps. If I was going to see Austria I'd want a day or two to take a day-trip from Salzburg or Innsbruck into the mountains. Trying to see Salzburg, Innsbruck, Rome, Florence, and Venice in 4 days(if I got that right) is way too much to pack in. Two to three days in Vienna or Paris is good for those cities.

The other thing to remember is that it sometimes seems easy to just wake up a hop a train for 2-3 hours to your next destination and have the rest of the day to see it. The reality is that, sometimes trains are late or delayed, sometimes the trains available leave too early or late for when you need to go, or sometimes you end up taking a while to get to your hotel or hostel and check in--so sometimes it's later in the afternoon when you can go out and see stuff. Unless you just stay at somewhere right near the train station, but a lot of times the best hostels are in other parts of town that require another metro or bus ride across town. That's why to see somewhere it's good to have two days minimum--one day to get there and a full day to just enjoy it.

Though some people just like a whirlwind tour of Europe--when I was in the Balkans a few years ago, we met people who were basically just going from train station to train station with maybe an hour or two for some countries. Seemed sad to come all that way and miss saying anything, but some people just want to check off countries they've visited...

Personally, I'd pick somewhere you really want to see like Italy, and spend more time there. I mean 3 days to see Rome, Venice, and Florence is a bit much. You could do two days each in those cities with travel time and that might be more realistic. But I'd give myself a full day in each of those cities if it was my first time there.
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