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First time visit to europe

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Maricopa, Arizona
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First time visit to europe

We are in our mid 30's and we are planning a 10 day trip to Europe within the next 18 months.

We both have always wanted to visit Europe, but no place in particular. We want to just see and experience the sights, cultures, but have nothing we MUST see. We just want to take in what we can for 10 days. We are using 13 days, but 3 days of traveling, giving us the 10 days. But, we have budgetted to spend up to 14 days in Europe if it appears we may need the full 2 weeks.

Since the train system is so good, we would like to visit about 3 countries during the trip.

We have come up with a list of places we'd like to consider. I would just really appreciate anyone's thoughts about what places may be the optimal places to go on 10 days with the best train schedules. Again, we have nothing we must do, we just want to finally experience Europe.

Here are the places are considering. Thank you all for your help in this planning. If you ever have questions about Phoenix...let me know!!!!

London

Edinburgh

Glasgow

Paris

Brussels/Bruges

Amsterdam

Berlin

Munich

Zurich or Geneva

Vienna

Prague

Milan

Naples

Venice

Florence

Thanks!

Charlene

France
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1. Re: First time visit to europe

My first idea would be to try to fit around the flights, if you really don't care where you go. There are many airports to fly into and from most of them you can make a loop to get a pretty good tour.

London gives a natural tour up to Edinburgh via York, Newcastle and back via Manchester.

Paris leads you to Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp, the Hague and Amsterdam. Or south from Paris to Lyon, Annecy and Geneva.

Rome, Milan, Venice and Florence (but Naples is a bit the other way)

Munich, Salzburg, Zurich, Basel, Strasbourg, the Black Forest.

You don't mention Spain but Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia makes a nice trip.

You can use www.rail.ch or www.bahn.de to see train timetables for all europe. You can often get discounted tickets by booking longer routes 90 days in advance. A good site to look at for advice on rail travel is www.seat61.com which also knows the tricks to get the best fares.

If you like nature and scenery then I would prefer a middle Europe tour taking in places in Germany and Switzerland. If you are museum and culture fiends then probably Italy.

The time of year also plays a part - July August are school holiday periods and very busy for France and Italy so June or September would be my preferred times to visit (or winter time for snowy mountains).

Have fun researching.

Brno, Czech Republic
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2. Re: First time visit to europe

I wouldn't 100% trust seat61 as it invariably points you towards Rail Europe, which is a big rip-off. A pity, as there is a lot of useful information in there otherwise. This site is much more impartial http://europetrainsguide.com/

Edited: 08 March 2010, 18:04
Southport UK
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3. Re: First time visit to europe

www.raileurope.co.uk is part of French railways. It is not the same as any of the other raileurope sites.

Brno, Czech Republic
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4. Re: First time visit to europe

It is indeed the same and offers exactly the same rip-off prices! Try it :)

From the UK you won't be able to access the US version, but you can access the Australian version www.raileurope.com.au and you will see that it is the same company. The only difference is that the UK version has had to get rid of the blatant untruths (trading standards had something to do with it).

Whatever, anything do do with them should be avoided - but I probably don't need to tell you that :)

Edited: 08 March 2010, 20:14
Singapore
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5. Re: First time visit to europe

Looks good. You just have to plan your route so that you can maximize your time and not waste it on the train. I guess you should have an open jaw ticket whereby you fly into Glasgow and depart from Naples (or may I suggest Rome?). The rests of your journey can be done by train. We did it and it was fun.

Suggested route:

Glasgow => Edinburg => London (either by train or internal flight) => Paris => Brussels => Bruges => Amsterdam => Berlin => Prague => Vienna => Munich => Zurich => Bern => Lucerne => Interlaken => Geneva => Milan => Venice => Florence => Pisa => Rome => Naples (from here you can either fly home or go back to Rome).

Southport UK
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6. Re: First time visit to europe

Not wishing to get into too much of an argument but yes I have and do use www.raileurope.co.uk site for trains from Paris to Basel and the prices are the same as on the French railways site which if you ask for the tickets to be sent to the UK or to pay in sterling connects you to www.raileurope.co.uk

This from the SNCF web site

SNCF is the National Railway of France providing high speed train travel to Europe.

UK residents can make online bookings, with payment in GBP (pounds sterling), for train tickets to and within France. This includes travel on Eurostar, TGV high-speed trains and other local train services.

To make a reservation, either departing from London, Ashford, Paris or any other French railway station, please use the booking form opposite. SNCF tickets sold in the UK are distributed by our UK subsidiary, Rail Europe.

For more information and corporate information on SNCF, please visit www.sncf.com

I think we have to agree to disagree and get back to the OPs question

Edited: 09 March 2010, 09:13
Karlsruhe, Germany
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7. Re: First time visit to europe

For this itinerary you need at least four, better six weeks, not two. Cut the list in half, and then start planning.

Edited: 09 March 2010, 13:26
Brno, Czech Republic
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8. Re: First time visit to europe

Gibel - I agree with you on that bit, i.e. tickets in France and most tickets out of France (except some City Night Line trains to Germany), but anywhere else in Europe stay well clear ...

I think the OP's question has been well and truly answered :)

New York
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9. Re: First time visit to europe

I think the 1st question needs to be what are you interested in seeing or doing? Are you into art, do you want a route like the old Grand Tour, how much are you into cities vs scenery vs history? I can easily tell you my favorite places to go and why but you need to consider what you want to experience.

I love London. I am a theatre addict and it is also easy to take a 1/2 day or longer trip to visit a castle, visit Cambridge or Oxford, or Shakespeare country which is very beautiful. I adore Brugges because it is small, beautiful and requires chocolate tasting. I also think Paris is kind of a required masterpiece city (don't miss Sainte Chapelle). Florence is small and easy and great for art but I would go to Venice if I could only choose one of the two because it is so timeless (and I collect glass). Prague, Amsterdam (also manageable size and great for art), and Zurich are also wonderful in there own ways but I would try to spend at least 3 days or so anywhere you go otherwise you won't get a real feel for anything. I would also encourage you to go to cities that are steeped in history that well predate America because to me that is what makes Europe so special.

Mannheim, Germany
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10. Re: First time visit to europe

>It is indeed the same and offers exactly the same rip-off prices! Try it :)

It is actually the same if you try to get a non-French ticket from the SNCF website. They also overcharge...