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France/Barcelona versus Central Europe

Melbourne, Australia
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France/Barcelona versus Central Europe


My wife (aged 27) and I (aged 30) will be spending 25 days in Europe this coming June/July 2012. The last 11 days will be spent in Italy. However, for the preceding 14 days, we are tossing up between the following two options:

Option 1 - France/Barcelona

- Day 1: Paris

- Day 2: Paris

- Day 3: Paris (with a day trip to Versailles)

- Day 4: Train from Paris to Lourdes

- Day 5: Lourdes

- Day 6: Train from Lourdes to Barcelona via Pyrenees (La Tour De Carol)

- Day 7: Barcelona

- Day 8: Barcelona

- Day 9: Barcelona (with a day trip to Montserrat)

- Day 10: Train from Barcelona to St. Tropez

- Day 11: St Tropez

- Day 12: Nice (bus from St. Tropez to Nice via Cannes and Antibes)

- Day 13: Nice (with a day trip to Monte Carlo)

- Day 14: Train from Nice to Venice via Milan

Option 2 - Central Europe

- Day 1: Budapest

- Day 2: Budapest

- Day 3: Vienna (Budapest to Vienna via Train)

- Day 4: Vienna

- Day 5: Vienna (Hire a car in Vienna; Day trip to Bratislava using hire car)

- Day 6: Prague (Drive to Prague via Kutna Hora)

- Day 7: Prague

- Day 8: Prague (with a day trip to Karlovy Vary using hire car)

- Day 9: Cesky Krumlov (Drive to Cesky Krumlov via Karlstejn Castle)

- Day 10: Salzburg (Drive to Salzburg and do Sound of Music Tour)

- Day 11: Salzburg (with a day trip to Hallstatt)

- Day 12: Munich (Drive to Munich)

- Day 13: Innsbruck (Drive from Munich to Innsbruck and drop off hire car)

- Day 14: Train from Innsbruck to Venice

I understand that both itineraries seem very packed. That's just the way we prefer to travel. We did a similarly packed itinerary to the USA in 2009 and absolutely loved it. We prefer quantity over quality. We also will not be spending much time in museums as our interests are purely scenery and architecture.

Any suggestions on which itinerary we should choose and why would be fabulous and highly appreciated. Thank you so much in advance.

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1. Re: France/Barcelona versus Central Europe

I love questions like this. :-) I also love what I call "blitz traveling" as opposed to the more fashionable "slowwwwwww traveling".

I will assume that you have not been to Europe before.

The simple answer is that you should spend all your time in Italy.

If you speak German and want to practice it, then do itinerary number 2.

If you speak French and/or Catalan, then itinerary number 1 would be my choice.

Otherwise, if you speak all the languages or none of them, I think Paris and Barcelona are much nicer than any of the places in itinerary number 2 (though to be honest, although I studied in Munich many years ago and have been to Salzburg and Vienna, I have not yet been to Budapest or Prague although I would love to).

If you have a serious interest in Beer, especially the history of Pilsners and German lagers, then itinerary 2 might be preferable.

Oslo, Norway
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2. Re: France/Barcelona versus Central Europe

Two interesting cities in option 1, Paris and Barcelona, I'd spend more time in these two. St-Tropes, Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo are mainly interesting if you want to sit at fashionable outdoor cafes or go to the beach.

Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Salzburg are all beautiful and interesting cities in option 2. If you want a blitz trip option 2 gives you more to "chew on".

Denver, Colorado
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3. Re: France/Barcelona versus Central Europe

Since you are going to Italy for the last part of your trip, I wonder if Option 2 will give you more of a contrast as far as architecture and culture than Option 1 would (if thats a consideration for you)

Barcelona, Spain
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for Barcelona, Berlin
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4. Re: France/Barcelona versus Central Europe

Being nosey I've come to look at the replies to Elie's other posts after replying to her post on Barcelona forum. Over there I've made the same comment as Rasteriasha about the greater contrast with Italy if she does option 2.

She's replied on Prague forum incidentally and is leaning towards option 2.

Thomas, do go to Prague, it's beautiful! We visited many of the places on option 2 on our honeymoon in 1991 (a fascinating time of change) and have been back to Prague and Vienna since and were even more taken by both. We finally got to Munich three years ago and have to say were somewhat underwhelmed by it, my husband said "another German city". So not one we will be rushing back to but it probably needs a bit more time than the less than 24 hours allowed here.

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5. Re: France/Barcelona versus Central Europe

that's funny Lynda, I was underwhelmed by Vienna, which I thought was like Munich but less nice in every aspect - kind of how I feel about Spain with respect to Italy. :-)

Paris, France
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6. Re: France/Barcelona versus Central Europe

Option 2 seems more coherent and less hectic. Nevertheless, when I consider, for example, that we are going to Bohemia (Czech Rep.) in May for 12 days and that this will be our 5th trip there, I have some difficulty to imagine a trip of one or the other kinds that you are planning. But of course, that's your free choice.

Dublin, Ireland
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7. Re: France/Barcelona versus Central Europe

It would be a shame not to see Paris. Could you go from Paris into central Europe and then on to Italy, rather than south to Lourdes (would you stop here for religious reasons?) and then on to Barcelona, Nice etc. I think Prague, Budapest and Vienna would be worth seeing and as other posters have said a great contrast to Italy. But don't miss Paris.

Metro Vancouver
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8. Re: France/Barcelona versus Central Europe

We had a post a few weeks back about a quick trip to Lourdes. Of all the catholic shrines in France, Lourdes got to be the least appealing due to both its tacky look and the difficulty of going there by train.

I was born in the South West of France and know Lourdes well enough.

Even our priest did his best to avoid going there! He went as far as lying to the local archbishop by not mentioning that he was taking bus loads of parishioners close to Lourdes--but not stopping there --on his way to another pilgrimage in Spain.

I do like Montserrat as the site is superb, and so is Barcelona.

I wouldn't go to eastern Europe even if you paid me a lot of money...

Hove, United Kingdom
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9. Re: France/Barcelona versus Central Europe

I've been to Krakow in Poland and Budapest in Hungary and loved them both, Budapest reminded me of Paris in many ways. Although I believe that it's horses for courses and people enjoy different things, I am curious 3CONILS as to what your reasons are for avoiding Eastern/Central Europe.

Melbourne, Australia
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10. Re: France/Barcelona versus Central Europe

Thank you so much for the wonderful replies. Fantastic forum with fantastic people.

Thomas144 - We have only been to Athens and Santorini. Santorini was wonderful. I just speak English and I can understand what your saying regarding the languages, although I feel that Prague is one of the major highlights of itinerary 2. In regards to beer, I have always enjoyed the Victorian and Tasmanian brands of beer in Australia, but I am not really a big beer drinker.

iverh - Yes I agree. The blitz trip is a better fit with option 2 which is why I am starting to lean that way.

Rasteriasha - Definitely a consideration. Also noticed your comment (as Lynda) in the Barcelona forum. So more than one person has also made this comment. Must be a consideration.

Paul - Yes option 2 is more coherent and less hectic. I understand you may feel that both are rather hectic. Not the first to mention this. However, we do prefer quantity over quality.

Dalkeytravel - Yes it would be a shame not to see Paris. But would also love to see Prague. Your combination suggestion is possible. We could think about doing Paris - Lourdes - Barcelona - Fly to Prague - Salzburg through Cesky Krumlov - Vienna and then train to Italy. Lourdes would be for religious reasons and Salzburg because of 'The Sound of Music (my wife is obsessed with it).

3Conils - Surprise to hear you say that about Lourdes, but given that it's on the way to Barcelona and our interest in the city, I feel that it is worthwhile for my wife and I.

Helking - Krakow would be great if we had a few extra days. It would have been the next to include in option 2.