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winter 12/13 euro trip.
EUROTRIP1213
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Hi
my boyfriend and i are planning to head to europe in dec/jan/feb 2012-2013. Our trip will be approximately 85 days. Being a male he isnt too into planning much or at all and just wants to book the flights and wing it! Ive heard you dont really need to book accomodation in advance in winter because its the quiet season but i was wondering if thats the case as i dont want to waste time organising when i could have done it before.

we want to travel to about 15 different cities all over the shop doing an anti-clockwise circuit round europe.

Another query i had was money. im planning on saving 20000 just to be on the safe side but ive also read its good to budget $100 a day. any tips or suggestions?

Lastely here is a list of countries and cities we are wanting to visit
england (london)
france (paris)
spain (madrid/barcelona)
portugal (lisbon)
italy (rome/venice/florence)
croatia (zagreb/dubrovnik/split/plitvice lakes)
greece (athens)
hungary (budapest)
slovakia (bratislavia)
czech rep (prague)
austria (vienna)
germany (berlin)
belgium (brussels)
netherlands (amsterdam)

any advice would be appreciated thankyou!

I am traveling for 86 days
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luv_the_beach
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EUROTRIP1213 wrote:
Hi my boyfriend and i are planning to head to europe in dec/jan/feb 2012-2013.

Why?

Why winter?

EUROTRIP1213 wrote:
Our trip will be approximately 85 days. Lastely here is a list of countries and cities we are wanting to visit england (london) france (paris) spain (madrid/barcelona) portugal (lisbon) italy (rome/venice/florence) croatia (zagreb/dubrovnik/split/plitvice lakes) greece (athens) hungary (budapest) slovakia (bratislavia) czech rep (prague) austria (vienna) germany (berlin) belgium (brussels) netherlands (amsterdam)

There’s two countries in this itinerary that you’re completely ripping off. Those are Belgium and Greece. Visiting only their capital/largest city is sort of an injustice. They both have very small historic centers, and the rest is post-WWII sprawl. Especially with regards to Greece, which has gorgeous countryside, coastline, little towns, etc…you can’t just pick the largest city in each country, and assume that it’s the most worthwhile place to visit. Now, Athens is a destination I definitely suggest visiting, but not if you’re going to make it your only destination in Greece. You won’t be visiting ancient Athens. You’ll be visiting a mostly post-WWII city that looks like a combination of Sao Paulo and Los Angeles, with a very small historic district. Please do a search on past threads as I and a few others (Cil, oldlady, and others) have written extensively on the country. With regards to Belgium, Brussels has a charming little historic district (surrounded by lots of boring, sterile EU administrative buildings), but given the country’s compactness and ease of travel, you’l want to pair Brussels with Liège or Brugge/Bruges. Belgium is another country that quite a bit has been written about.

I’m not a Germany expert, but I believe other posters will tell you you’re ripping off Germany as well, by only visiting Berlin.

Let me give you a USA/Canada analogy.

“Hi, I’m from Belgium, and I’ll be backpacking around the USA and Canada this summer. I plan to visit Montreal, then Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans, Memphis, Chicago, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pheonix, Dallas, Houston, then head back home to Belgium”

Now, what advice would you give this traveler?

You would say: well, don’t bother with Calgary, Edmonton, Houston, Dallas, or Atlanta. New York and Montreal are definitely worth visiting, but also try some non-big-city destinations that are highly worth your while, like: the Oregon Coast, a national park in California/Wyoming/Utah, the Grand Canyon, Quebec City, Charleston (SC), Key West, the Smokey Mountains, Maine, the Canadian Maritimes, and/or Alaska.

Regarding other countries you mentioned:

France: I love Paris, and it’s a very beautifull, very well preserved city…at least the large historical core is. But I would say, if you have 85 days, and will also be heading to Italy and Spain, it would be a huge sin to overlook the many gorgeous places in central and southern France that are on the way from Paris to the Italian and Spanish borders.

Spain: This one’s sort of easy if you don’t want to move around much. There’s great daytrips or 2-day trips you can make from Barcelona (Sitges, Cadaques, Tarragona) and Madrid (Toledo, Segovia, even Sevilla by AVE).

85 days is still quite a bit of time, but given that you plan to visit FOURTEEN! countries, I’d cut down the number of coutries you’re visiting, and spend more time (and more research) on each.

Smile


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EUROTRIP1213
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We are going in winter because thats the only time he has off uni.

As you’ve probably realised i have never been to europe before. Im from Australia as well so all that stuff about the USA went a bit over my head considering ive never been there. ive tried to do quite a bit of research but everywhere suggests different places and its hard to pick the core cities you want to visit. How many countries/cities do you think i should aim for?

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Ryfela
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An analogy similar to luv_the_beach’s would be for someone to go to Australia and only see Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane, and not go see places like The Great Barrier Reef, the outback, Ayers Rock and the beaches.

My advise is to cut out 3 days from London and go see some smaller parts of England like Bath, Stonehenge, Canterbury, Salisbury, etc. Otherwise, I haven’t been to the other countries (yet).

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While your itinerary is “OK” based on the normal rules of thumb, it does need some cuts to be comfortable.

Rule of thumb: 1 week per country — You’re not terribly far off from this given that Belgium and Netherlands are so small and easily reachable from elsewhere in Northern Europe. However, the travel time involved in crossing the Balkans twice (to and from Athens) is very easy to underestimate. Spend some time with train and bus schedules for the region and you’ll probably see that you’ll be spending huge amounts of time traveling and very little time enjoying this area. Some flights and overnight trains may help, but a flight can easily screw up an entire day and too many flights and overnight trains make for a stressful and tiring trip. The second issue is an 85 day trip. Packing up and moving on every 2 or 3 days seems fairly leisurely and you can reasonably do it for the first 3 or 4 weeks. After that it can get to be tiresome. You may want to camp out somewhere for 5 to 7 days a couple of times during your trip.

Rule of thumb: Average of 3 days per city — you’re pretty much right on for this one, but you have the same two reasons as above that this won’t be a comfortable trip for this itinerary and 85 days.

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Thanks alot guys all this is very helpful.

We are going to cut out greece altogether and probably portugal and maybe even france (set them aside for another holiday). we will most likely spend most our time in england/spain/italy and croatia and spend a few days here and there in eastern europe. what would you suggest are the must see cities/sites/things to do in england/spain/italy and croatia?? keeping in mind we will be travelling in winter..

Also how far in advance should we book accomodation/flights/?? Are you able to just book hostels when you arrive in the city? or do you have to book them a week or so in advance. Just asking because as you said we are going for 85 days and we may want to stay a bit longer in some countries if we like it as city-hopping every few days may get a bit tiresome.

also old lady you said one week per country. I can see why youd say that for the larger countries/cities but does that apply for eastern europe like czech/slovakia/hungary etc?

and does anyone have any really good websites to get information on must see cities/sites/things to do in specific countries. I find it so hard to choose places as everyone has different opinions i just want to get the most i can out of this trip i didnt know so much planning was involved. Is it a bad idea to just buy our tickets and wing the rest? sometimes i think all this planning may be too much..

Thanks guys!

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luv_the_beach
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EUROTRIP1213 wrote:
Also how far in advance should we book accomodation/flights/?? Are you able to just book hostels when you arrive in the city?

Finding hostel vacancies on arrival shouldn’t be a problem in winter (except maybe Xmas-New Year holidays, I don’t know about this time period). But having done both…having “winged it” and booked in advance, I find booking in advance sooooo much nicer. It’s nice, upon arrival in a city/town, to already know where you’re going to stay, and to have picked out a hostel beforehand based on online reviews. But if you want to stay longer in a certain place as others have suggested might happen to you, just go with your instinct.

As for flights…I believe it’s still too early. But give it a try. The earlier you book, the cheaper generally speaking.

EUROTRIP1213 wrote:
also old lady you said one week per country. I can see why youd say that for the larger countries/cities but does that apply for eastern europe like czech/slovakia/hungary etc?

She means this as a general rule of thumb. Some countries are larger than others (Germany, Spain, Italy, UK, France, Poland, for example are large…Belgium, Netherlands, Czech are small). Additionally, some have a difficult geography and are thus toughter to get around in (Croatia, Greece, Norway, for example have mountain ranges and multiple islands/peninsulas), while others (like Belgium, Czech, Hungary, Netherlands) are largely flat and entirely or mostly compact and contiguous.

EUROTRIP1213 wrote:
ive tried to do quite a bit of research but everywhere suggests different places and its hard to pick the core cities you want to visit.

The beauty of your trip, personally, is that you started the planning process very early. You have ten months.

You’re right that lots of people suggest lots of different things, and of course you won’t be able to rely entirely on past threads…you’ll still have valid questions. But take some time to look up the places/sites/spots/cities/towns/regions that have been suggested. Google it, or look it up in flickr.com to see people’s pictures. Does it catch your eye as the type of “dream” place you wanna visit while on holiday?

Additionally, as long as you cut down the number of countries you plan to visit, I don’t see a problem with picking countries that are not immediate neighbors, and jumping around…like Britain to Spain to Italy, and possibly avoiding France which bridges all of these…or (as you also mentioned) saving Portugal for another trip, even though you’ll be in neighboring Spain…saving Greece for another trip, even though you’ll be in nearby Italy/Croatia, etc…

If that’s the case, you’ll just have to rely on flying, and plan everything wisely. Flying is not as flexible as taking the train..for example, if you’re flying tomorrow, you can’t say “eh, I think I’ll stay another day here, and just take the next day’s flight to my next destination”. You have to stick to your flights. But other than that…if you’re in Barcelona, say, Friday through Sunday and plan to take the train to Madrid on Monday, but [on your 2nd day in Barcelona] decide to push this to Tuesday, that’s fine. OTOH, you don’t want to overspend time in one place at the expense of another that you may also really like…

Then again, I was backpacking once in the South of France with a couple Australian buddies I had met in Paris, and we ran into these Irish girls in Antibes…we all ended up staying a full week in that town (and drove up and down the southeast French coast), when I had originally planned to only stay a few days and move on to central Italy. But this is more of a summer experience.


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Ryfela wrote:
An analogy similar to luv_the_beach’s would be for someone to go to Australia and only see Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane, and not go see places like The Great Barrier Reef, the outback, Ayers Rock and the beaches.

Cut out Canberra and insert Melbourne Who goes to Canberra??? Wink

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