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First time to Europe - no backpacking or organised tours

Brisbane
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First time to Europe - no backpacking or organised tours

My daughter is 20 and wishes to spend about 3 weeks in Europe. She is not interested in backpacking and does appreciate a clean and comfortable surrounding. Paris is high on her list. She isn't into partying and clubbing her way around.

Any suggestions?

Other destinations would be appreciated too.

Cheers

Jen

San Diego
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1. Re: First time to Europe - no backpacking or organised tours

Don't know her budget but Venice is QUITE safe,NOT much night life, and VERY interesting!! It is one of my favorite places.

You can use Google to find low cost convents that rent rooms like hotels.

Brisbane
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2. Re: First time to Europe - no backpacking or organised tours

Thank you. I will get her googling that. When were you last there?

Regards

Jen

London, England
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3. Re: First time to Europe - no backpacking or organised tours

IMO train travel is probably the best way to get around Europe. The train stations tend to be in the centre of cities, or close to the centre. Airports are usually some way out. You also see more of the country from a train window.

Try Googling " The Man is Seat 61" for European time tables and ticket purchases. The time tables and ability to purchase is posted quaterly, but even if it is too early, you can get some idea of what can be done.

I am sorry for not being able to post the link, but my Toshiba netbook died the moment I reached Japan and I am on a hotel computer with an operating system in Japanese (fair enough, I am in Japan) and I can't seem to make it open a new internet window to let me cut and paste.

I would recommend at least a week in each of 3 countries to be able to get beyond the capital cities. At any rate, IMO, she should not plan on more than 4/5 max or she will spend all her time packing and travelling. Is she the sort who likes to know one or two things in depth or does she like taster menus?

Start with a big map of Europe and a list of places she wants to see.

If your daughter flies into one city and out of another one she will save on time and airfare. She might want to start with London if she hasn't been to Europe before. The English culture is as different as the French, but the language will be similar, not the same, but similar. Then take the Eurostar to Paris (there are some great deals if you buy early enough) then on to Italy (Florence, Venice, Rome?) or if her interests lie to the Norh, to Amsterdam, Berlin, Stockholm?.

I don't think this is something that someone else can chose for her, not even her mother.

I chose places by books I have read, art work I want to see, periods of history I like. In the case of Japan, by a poet and an aesthetic I find interesting. Last April I went to Damascus because it its roots run deep in European history and I loved William Dalrymple's "From the Holy Mountain". What does your daughter like to read/do?

BTW, in Paris Saint-Chappel (sp?) is the most fantastic, colourful place to see. It shows the way churches built at that time were meant to look, not the plain stone we see now.

And in England I love Cambridge and York, but that may just be me.

I agree with Riffsmom about Venice, but don't get a room near the Piazza San Marco. The buildings are worth seeing, but it is usually packed with tourists and she may miss the other sights because she is turned off by tourist Venice.

I take your daughter's point about backpacking and clean-and-comfortable, but she is less likely to meet other people her age if she turns up her nose at hostels and YMCAs. On the other hand if at 20 she is comfortable with her own company, she may relish the space and privacy of going just that bit up market.

Lucky girl to be able to do this at 20 and to have the confidence to want to.

Seattle
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4. Re: First time to Europe - no backpacking or organised tours

In three weeks she could make a nice trip of 3 cities. Either traveling by train or plane between them depending on distance. I found Paris, Venice, and Amsterdam all reasonably easy to do solo. If you fly into one city and out of the last city ("open jaw") you can save on backtracking sometimes for the same priced air ticket.

Not too many people read TA's solo forum, so I recommend as resources: the Europe destination boards here on TA, the Europe board of Fodors.com, and perhaps some information at The Thorn Tree which is Lonely Planet's forum (it's not only backpackers there). I also recommend Rick Steves "Europe thru the Backdoor" as an excellent 1st guidebook for first-timers to get an overview of all kinds of things about traveling to Europe.

San Diego
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5. Re: First time to Europe - no backpacking or organised tours

i was last in Venice in Sept. 2008. I love it there!!! Post on the Venice forum for more info. Agree that travel by train is a great option especially in Italy.

Brisbane
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6. Re: First time to Europe - no backpacking or organised tours

Thank you so much everyone for such terrific advice! She is deep in assignments currently so has asked me to do ground work. After having had a week in Paris with my husband, I agree, a week per city is a great start. The trains also a very good option - we used them almost exclusively in Japan. Good point about them being in the city centres!

So far she is swaying toward Paris and Venice. The third is yet to be decided. (My suggestion of London was declined - although I will plug it again as we have a number of people she could meet up with there - perhaps that's why she is saying no!)

At least she now has a month in mind - January. Fortunately she relishes the cold. Perhaps the third can be somewhere with good ski fields as she loves to ski!

Cheers

Jen

New York City, New...
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7. Re: First time to Europe - no backpacking or organised tours

I love Paris! Just went to Ireland so I wasnt doing another Paris or Spanish speaking vacation (the past 12 months have been Mexico, Guatemala, New Mexico, Mexico!) - and although it was beautiful all I kept thinking the whole time was 30 euros for this crappy food? In Paris (Spain, or Italy), it would be incredible!

Was in Paris alone in Sept 2007 - was out from 8am until after midnight with a few rest breaks to upload pictures. Completely safe. Men attempt to chat you up, but hopefully they do that everywhere! Your daughter can read about the typical scammers on the Paris forum and to know to ignore them or pretend to speak Thai or Cantonese when they approach!

I've also spent time alone in Italy - havent been to Venice since 2001 - but didnt have any problems other than rude front desk (DONT STAY AT THE SAVOIA JOLANDA despite great location next to the Daneli for a fraction of the price! horrible hotel)

Amsterdam is another great place

London, England
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8. Re: First time to Europe - no backpacking or organised tours

With respect to Suze, Rick Steve's books are not really very well respected by locals on the European foums. Also, he is rather prescriptive and your daughter sounds appropriately independent (and a bit bolshie, as she should be at 20).

Both the Lonely Planet guides and the Rough Guides cover a wide range of travel styles and, especially, have a lot for your daughter's age group.

If nothing else, it will help her meet lots of travellers her age as all the European kids read them.

I was convinced of the value of the LP guide to Egypt when my taxi driver took me to the most wonderful Egyptian restaurant for breakfast. Delicious food and without a non-Egyptian in sight (well, maybe a couple of Gulf Arab female students). When I went to make a note of it in my LP guidebook, there it was.

And no, he had not read LP. I left the copy for him as he was fascinated by the history in it.

Montreal, Canada
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9. Re: First time to Europe - no backpacking or organised tours

Why not London ? Paris and London are a very well combinaison. I had travel alone in summer 2008 in London and I really enjoyed my vacations. I stayed in a student residence in a small flat with 1 bedroom, a private bathroom and a kitchenet so I was able to do my dinner most of the time instead of going to the restaurant. I also like the fact that there was someone at the reception 24/24. It was a residence from Westminster University. In London, as a solo traveller, I enjoy doing walks with London walks: www.walks.com. A great way to explore the city. I was 5 weeks in London and I never felt unsure anywhere. It is a marvellous city.

Munich
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10. Re: First time to Europe - no backpacking or organised tours

If your daughter appreaciates cleanliness and nature, you might take Austria, Switzerland and the southern part of Germany into guestion. I am a Finn (i.e. from Finland) currently living in Munich (Bavaria) in Germany, and I've got to admit that despite i've travelled around the Europe quite much, there's nothing like Germany and Austria to me. I think that Germany as a tourist destination is way underrated and there is plenty to see.

The cultural diversity inside Germany is propably larger than in any other west-european country. For a tourist, it is a big plus, that the germans usually speak decent english in the larger cities compared to some nations i've been in.

The southern parts are remarkably different from the nothern parts, especially the north-east. If i had to pick destinations from the "German speaking world" (Deutsches Sprachraum):

GERMANY

1. Berlin - very lively city full of historical highlights. Vibrant nightlife. This is really a city that you want to see time after time.

AUSTRIA

2. Vienna - a former capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and still a remarkably sophisticated and cultural city.

GERMANY

3. Munich - capital of the state of Bavaria and home to the popular german cliche´s, from lederhosen to biergarten. The german beer is at its best in bavaria. Munich is also a good base to do daytrips to the romantic smaller cities and town in the bavarian countryside and bavarian part of the alps.

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