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Thread: Help me plan a European whirlwind!

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    Super Moderator Tati's Avatar
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    Default Help me plan a European whirlwind!

    Ok, I could use some advice! My husband and I are thinking about visiting some friends in Scotland this summer and would like to see a bit more of Europe at the same time. We plan to spend 5 days to a week in Scotland - we've spent 3 weeks backpacking before, so we really just want to see some of the things we missed and hang with our friends, possibly in a housekeeping cottage on one of the islands. They'll definitely be a great source of planning info for that.

    From there, though, I was thinking we could head to England, France and Italy. Trust me, I hope to eventually see pretty much all of Europe, but for now we need to economize our time and money somewhat, and just spend a few days in a few places. We thought the gradual southward movement would also help in making the journey as efficient as possible.

    So I was thinking, with not a lot of time, we may want to see the "biggies" in each country, plus maybe one or two other destinations that draw us as we travel - countryside, seaside village, whatever. For instance London to Dover would make sense, likewise Paris to Nice, then Rome to pretty much anywhere since we would likely fly out of Italy. Or perhaps Florence then Rome and fly out of there. Those cities are just my first thoughts though, and I don't know if they're the best choices. Also wondering how much time we should devote to each.

    I'm also finding it tricky to plan for train and bus travel from a distance. We don't want to catch any more flights than we have to, it's pretty expensive and we want to see the countryside, but flights are the easiest to plan for it seems. We also may want to make some last-minute changes once we're over there and I'd rather not be locked into a flight schedule. I guess I'm wondering how actual Europeans travel? What is the best website to go to for rail ticket estimates? How much can we expect to pay for train rides? And accommodations, that's a whole other matter. We've done the hosteling thing before and would do it again.

    Any advice would help me. This is still in the early stages, so there's plenty of room for adjustment. Many thanks!
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    Elite Member msdeb's Avatar
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    the only thing i can help with is jealousy. i am so jealous that you can do this. Make sure you have a great time!
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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msdebagain View Post
    the only thing i can help with is jealousy. i am so jealous that you can do this. Make sure you have a great time!
    Amen! Go-see it all and have the time of your life! Too bad Butt is down on house guests!
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    Elite Member greysfang's Avatar
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    Well I haven't been to EUrope in about 15 years, so what I know is probably out of date. But if you want to backpack and go by train, I would just google those two terms, or google some student euro travel, they always have backpacking info.

    One good thing about Europe is, you can see pretty much anything by train.
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    Elite Member Honey's Avatar
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    How about going on the eurostar from London or Ashford in Kent to Paris to avoid the plane? Not sure if it'd be cheaper though, probably the opposite. Just abit different and it takes 2- 2 hours 50mins, so not long.

    Hmmm not very helpful sorry

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    Elite Member twitchy's Avatar
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    I used a railpass years ago. I don't know if it's still good value but it sure was at the time with the distances I was traveling. It's good for a set length of time and gives you unlimited travel within that.

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    Silver Member zebracakes's Avatar
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    One way to save on hotels if you are traveling by train is to make sure you travel at night and sleep on the train. Not the best sleep I ever had, but with the dollar being what it is vs. the euro it's nice to save the money. Plus, it gives you a little more sightseeing time. Make sure you pack very lightly and use a backpack rather than a suitcase. You'll be very glad you did. If you want to take reading material with you, buy books at a yard sale so you can dump them along the way and make room for souvenirs. When we did our whirlwind tour we hit London, Paris, Venice, Rome and Cologne doing a few days in each one. We made quickie stops in Pisa and Zurich too. Awesome experience. Have fun!

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    After you've "done" Scotland then London - Paris - Rome (or possibly Venice) is a good plan. I can also recommend the Eurostar train from London to Paris. It saves all the hassle at airports and it's really cool to go UNDER the English Channel to France LOL. Paris to Rome/Venice is probably better via one of the many super cheapo airlines that operate between the main cities in Europe these days. You can book online. Just remember to triple check your checkin time at the airport because if you arrive even 30 seconds late you miss the flight and forfeit your ticket.

    Accommodation: There's no getting away from it. It can be bloody expensive compared to the US and elsewhere so don't faint when you get the quotes. And I'm not talking about swanky 5-star deluxe hotels - even basic motels and places that look like they charge by the hour can be very pricey. And beware, a lot of the rates quoted will be Per Person, not Per Room.
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    Elite Member roslyntaberfan's Avatar
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    You can get a train straight from London to Dover, get the ferry across and then train down to Paris. It takes a long time but it would be a cheap option.

    You can also get a train from Nice along the south coast of France, into Italy and down into Rome. It's great as you can stop off in certain places, or do a quick detour. e.g go see Pisa. There's a great place called Riomaggiore which is on the coast of NW Italy. the train goes near here. So it may be worth a visit. It's a traditional Italian seaside village,really beautiful but very, very crowded with tourists. I've spent lots of time baclpacking through France and Italy so let me know if I can help at all!

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    Elite Member effie2's Avatar
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    Ι ve been doing that a lot ,i dont fly and i know prices and ways.
    Eurostar is the best option,tickets are cheaper weekdays,and if you book on line the sooner the better.
    Last time it was 35 euro Paris to London.Now it takes only 2h 10 min from S.Pancras London to Gare du Nord Paris.In both towns you use the subway and it is cheaper than taxis.
    Hotels in Paris now..i ve been in different parts and i think the ones around Opera is a good choice.Prices are good,lots of places to walk around,many metro stations too restaurants and shops until late.
    There are the Artesia night trains from Gare de Bercy to Milan,Rome or Florence.In a 4 people cabin average price is 80 euro.
    They leave Paris 8 in the evening,arrive in Milan early morning.
    Milan to Florence by Italian fast Eurostar is 4 h,add 2 for Rome.
    Hotels around raiways in Rome is a big no no,it is fine in Florence tho.
    Prices are from 28 to 35 euro.
    There are a lot more i could tell you,there is a great site for info i ll check and let you know.
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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    i use low-cost airlines like brusselsairlines, easyjet, etc... i take the train a lot too, especially when i go to paris or the north of italy (geneva's close to both). as for train passes, about 7 years ago i backpacked for 6 weeks from vienna down to greece via croatia then to turkey and back up to vienna on the orient express route. i got an interrail pass (unlimited number of trips within specific zones and within a certain time limit) for that but you need to live in europe to get one of those (doesn't matter if you're a citizen or not, just need to have a residence permit). for tourists from outside europe, you can buy a eurail pass where you're allowed a certain number of trips. i don't know if that's still the system but that's how it worked back then.
    all are good options. the advantage of the train is that if you take it at night, that's one less night of hotel to pay. and you have more flexibility to change dates or even cancel tickets. with low cost airlines, you have to plan in advance because they usually don't let you cancel or change (or charge exorbitant fees to do so), and prices increase the less in advance you buy them, usually pretty dramatically.

    i agree with effie about hotels in paris. they're expensive, even the crappy ones. but i find the ones around the opéra and the madeleine are cheaper (for being so centric) and relatively nice. but you are still looking at at least 40-45 euros per person, per night. especially since you're going during high season so everything's more expensive.
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    Elite Member effie2's Avatar
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    Υes,Sputnic,Madeleine area is fine too,i walk a lot,so i prefer Opera,i can walk down to Concorde or up to Monmarte,and use all those metro stations around.
    I ve stayed around Latin Quarter a few times,more expensive and touristy.
    Oh,if you get to Florence,Tati,do not miss Sienna ..1 hour bus ride..
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    Elite Member effie2's Avatar
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    OK,i found the site..The Man in Seat Sixty-One....
    There is nothing you want and cant find it..updated too.
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    Super Moderator Tati's Avatar
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    Thanks so much gang! Some awesome suggestions! I'll look into a lot of this stuff in the next few weeks.
    If you reveal your secrets to the wind you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.

    - Kahlil Gibran

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    Elite Member DoveFeatheredRaven's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by effie2 View Post
    OK,i found the site..The Man in Seat Sixty-One....
    There is nothing you want and cant find it..updated too.
    Thanks for posting this!! We travel in the UK about twice per year.

    Tati, I love love London, but if you can fit in Bath try to do so. Or even York. Both are really beautiful places!!

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