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Overwhelmed and could use some advice

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Chicago, IL
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Overwhelmed and could use some advice

Hi All!

My husband and I will be traveling to Europe from Chicago leaving April 10 and coming home April 25th (15 days). I have a VERY loose idea of what to do, but could REALLY use some suggestions.

We will be flying (with a US Airways "buddy pass") into Paris and out of London. We would like to spend several days in Paris (we are leaning toward renting an apartment via airbnb) with enough time to see the Louvre and visit Versailles. We would also like to allow a bit of time to just wander Paris and enjoy the food, atmosphere, etc...

We will then head to London, where a friend is graciously allowing us to use his flat free of charge near Lewisham underground station. We do need to be out of the flat during the weekend though, as he will be using it then (Friday-Sunday).We would like to take a few day trips out to see Stonehenge, Bath, and the white horse carvings in Salisbury/Whiltshire. We were planning to book a Groupon Getaway over the weekend to somewhere we haven't been before (Barcelona, Marrakech, Rome, Venice, Dublin, Prague) but are running into issues with booking any of the deals because Easter is April 20th. :(

Where else should/can we go? Can anyone make suggestions as to what else we should see/do?

A few things about us:

Mid 30's budget travelers

We have both spent time in Paris and London and Scotland over the past 2 years so we're looking for things we haven't seen/done yet.

We are interested in history, architecture, and interesting landscapes

We like to hit the pubs and talking to people

We are not opposed to renting a car and have driven on the left side of the road before

We are on a very tight budget (<$100 USD/night for accomodations max, <$50 USD food per day max ).

We get bored/ disinterested pretty quickly and needn't spend a lot of time looking at just one thing.

April 14th is our 10 year wedding anniversary

Any advice on how to plan our trip? Nothing is booked yet, so we're still wide open for suggestions. Tripadvisor contributors have always had excellent suggestions for us in the past, and I'm looking forward to hearing any and all suggestions for this trip!

Thank you!

Stanley, Falkland...
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1. Re: Overwhelmed and could use some advice

With such a tight budget, I wouldn't go to the most expensive cities in Europe / North Africa., at the busiest time of the year....

I would go where the hordes don't go, but still be near the places you want to see. EG For Wiltshire etc, try Swindon, Bristol, Newbury, even Southampton.

Let the herds head for Venice.....

London, United...
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2. Re: Overwhelmed and could use some advice

One idea for your weekend might be to go to Bristol and use that as a base for Bath/Stonehenge/Wiltshire, freeing you up to do more London stuff or different day trips during your London stay. For example, the Ibis Temple Meads (near the main train station and walkable/a quick bus trip into the centre) has rooms for £35 that Friday and £69 that Saturday, averaging around your budget level.

I agree with post 1 that youmay struggle to find budget accommodation in top tourist destinations on one of the busiest travel weekends of the year (Easter is a 4 day weekend in most of the UK and a popular travel time in many parts of Europe).

Chicago, IL
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3. Re: Overwhelmed and could use some advice

Thank you for your input!

We didn't think about it being Easter holiday when we originally set the time for our vacation. I wish we had looked into it a bit more, honestly. I know our timing could be better.

Bristol sounds like a cool option. If you were to do that, would you rent a car, or take the train?

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4. Re: Overwhelmed and could use some advice

I'd normally suggest the train. There are usually two trains an hour from Paddington with a journey time of around 105 minutes and fares start at £15 but I think there may be engineering works on that line over the Easter period. Might be worth having a plan B in case this happens.

London, England...
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5. Re: Overwhelmed and could use some advice

for someone interested in history id recommend Victoria and albert museum south Kensington and museum of London London wall near barbican station

Washington DC...
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6. Re: Overwhelmed and could use some advice

You will definitely not get bored at Sir John Soane's Museum near Holborn tube station.


For a fun free thing to do, simply stroll around The City on a weekend. You will have the place to yourself to take pictures of all the contrasting buildings. Just one example, Fenchurch Street is full of cool architecture.

Brompton Cemetery is also free and full of neat architecture.

U.S. expats
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7. Re: Overwhelmed and could use some advice

You might have a look at this thread, with great ideas on what to do and see for very little...


London, United...
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8. Re: Overwhelmed and could use some advice

Woo Lewisham!

If you like pubs, hit the Ravensbourne Arms and Catford Constitutional Club (Google both, excellent pubs).

The Horniman museum in Forest Hill is off the usual tourist trail, and free (although lots of kids at the weekend). The Sylvan Post pub (in an old post office, you can sit and drink in the safes!) is nearby.

Btw - Lewisham isn't on the underground. It's on the DLR light railway and the main line rail network out of London Bridge, Waterloo East etc.

Edited: 03 February 2014, 22:10
London, United...
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9. Re: Overwhelmed and could use some advice

(pedant on) Lewisham does not have an Underground station. It is a terminus station of a DLR line, with trains towards Stratford International and Bank. Should you wish to travel to or from Tower Gateway, choose a train towards Bank and alight at Limehouse or Westferry and wait on the same platform for a train towards Tower Gateway. Lewisham also has National Rail trains towards Victoria and London Bridge; both could be handy depending on your destination in the city centre. www.nationalrail.co.uk for more information. (pedant off)

The Sir John Soane Museum was mentioned, and it's definitey worth a visit. The Museum of London is also free, but if you wish to do something special to mark your 10th wedding anniversary, pay the admission to see the Cheapside Hoard, perhaps choosing pieces that you would (in other circumstances) want to give to one another as anniversary presents.

A weekend in Bristol would be a very nice fillip to your time in London and Paris. If you decide to go to the seaside in Southampton, there is a cracking new museum of the Mary Rose that looks the business (a fab building in and of itself) and has had very good reviews.

10. Re: Overwhelmed and could use some advice

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Removed on: 03 February 2014, 23:12
Edited: 03 February 2014, 23:12