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Need advice on Itinerary

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Pls review my itinerary for my dream trip to Europe next year, any thoughts will be welcome!
13 years ago, July 12th 2006 No: 1 Msg: #6651  
N Posts: 4
Hello everyone,
I am planning for my dream (solo) trip to Europe next year. This is a 20 day trip in April/June next year, using a Eurail pass - a 15day adult pass
Following is the itinerary(don’t wince ‘coz they ARE all extremely touristy places- cant help it …I may never come back 😉)-I am flying into Vienna from India and flying out from Amsterdam (I think)
Vienna - 2 days
Salzburg/Innsbruck - 1 day Overnight journey(Pls help me decide which one)
Venice - 2 days Overnight
Rome - 3 days
Florence - 2 days Overnight
Interlaken - 2 days
Lucerne - 2 days
Zurich - 1 day Overnight
Paris - 3 days
Luxemburg - day trip Optional (do u think it would be worth it?)
Brussels - day trip
Amsterdam - 2 days

As I said they are all obvious places, primarily because this is my first solo leisure trip ever, so want to keep it as safe & predictable as possible! My focus is per se is history/culture & the (Swiss) landscape. And goes without saying am a budget traveler
My questions:
- is this itinerary too packed & rushed? any suggestions on the cities & the time spent?
- can I make any changes in the itinerary so that I can fly in & fly out from same city(might be cheaper..) . I could take the train back from Amsterdam back to Vienna….or would that be a bad idea?
- when would it be better in terms of climate & crowds - end April or early June? I don’t mind hot weather but want to avoid crowds as much as possible !
- how do I go about deciding on the trains eg TGV …should I book far in advance? any advice on the trains I could take
- how far ahead should I book hostels ….or can risk it by hunting for one after landing in these cities if this time is off-season
- one last question, I am a vegetarian, what would you suggest for me to survive!?

any thoughts/advice would be deeply appreciated! I really need lots of help to figure out whether this is doable!

Thanks a ton

Reply to this

13 years ago, July 12th 2006 No: 2 Msg: #6657  
B Posts: 138
Hm... you said that this is your first solo leisure trip. With your listed itinerary I don't think its going to be as leisurely as you might think as you're covering a lot of ground and you're doing this alone. This means (well, for me it meant) hauling your backpack around on your shoulders as you increasingly get frustrated over getting lost or trying to navigate where you're going constantly plus battle the heat. I guess if you're a light packer its not so bad, but I tended to accumulate stuff and your bag gets harder to carry.

I personally didn't find Brussels all that interesting but then again, I'm not interested in international politics. I think the peeing boy statue fountain is one of the main attractions tourists try to seek out as well as the Tin Tin cartoon store.

I've also travelled where I try to pack in a lot of places in a short amount of time. As a result, I booked all my places beforehand. Some people will probably differ in that regard, but I hate wasting time hauling my backpack around from place to place trying to find a hostel when others are full and I like to know where I'm going. The downside is that, it takes the spontineity out of travelling and you might miss out on cool adventures you could have had if you'd deviated from your plan.

I would suggest going to Europe earlier in the year as possible. I think by the end of April you're already going to see the hordes of people and the line ups in front of museums and sites.

I'm not personally a vegetarian but I think you'd survive just fine. Italy is great for being vegetarian. There are tons of pastas, pizzas and salads you can get without meat. If you think it might be a problem, self-cater and go to grocery stores while you're there and carry around fruit leathers, nuts and energy Clif/powerbars to keep you going in those emergency situations. Reply to this

13 years ago, July 13th 2006 No: 3 Msg: #6670  
N Posts: 4
Thanks a ton Laura, your perspective has helped a lot!
Going solo is going to be quite a challenge for me & I think you are right when you say booking ahead is better. And I guess i should go maybe immediately after Easter.
On second thoughts maybe i should cut out - Salzburg, Brussels & Luxemberg from the list that would give me additional 3 days....I am really keen on Switzerland so keep Zurich on.
Any other thoughts?
Thanks again.... Reply to this

13 years ago, July 13th 2006 No: 4 Msg: #6673  
B Posts: 138
If you're thinking of staying in a hostel dorm with other fellow travellers I would suggest thinking about your sanity. I've done the hostel thing and it is a great way to meet other travellers but when you're on a limited amount of time, not getting a full night's rest left me cranky and irritable the next day. Earplugs can only do so much and having the light flicked on at 3am for some traveller stumbling in isn't pleasant. Spending the extra 10 euros (on top of what you'd pay for a dorm) is worth it to stay in a budget hotel or even the private room in a hostel.

I wish I could help you on the train situation but I only took the trains in Italy when I lived there for a semester. The one thing I can tell you is to invest in an inflatable neck pillow. That will save your neck from being sore - otherwise you end up doing the head jerk when you nod off to sleep.

Try to get the Lonely Planet Europe on a shoestring guidebook. It gives you a condensed version of all the wonderful things all tourists should see when they're in a particular country on limited time and budget. If you're a book lover you won't like the following suggestion (some of my friends don't): When I travel, I tend to take an exacto knife/razor and cut out the chapters/pages of the guide book that I won't be using. It seems silly but I'd rather not lug around all that weight in my shoulder bag (because you'll also be carrying your camera, water, snacks, etc). When I go home, I put back the chapters again. Some would say, I wouldn't be able to go to certain places spontaneously... but I only cut out the places I definitely know I'm not visiting.

Rome is perhaps a place where you don't need to book a hotel room before hand. You can go to the hotel reservation counter in Roma Termini (the main train station) and they'll find you a room based on location and budget.

I think its way more fun to go open-jaw (fly into one city and out of another) rather than wasting time backtracking.
Also for your peace of mind, buy little mini travel combination locks that you can use to lock your backpack zippers together. It doesn't stop a determined thief but it stops someone with sticky fingers. Also, bring the chain and lock you would use on a train in India. It would be great for using on a long-haul train ride in Europe plus chaining your stuff to a bed if you do have to stay at a hostel with no lockers.

By all means keep Switzerland on. When my boyfriend did Europe on a rail pass he spent a lot of time in Switzerland and loved the mountain scenery there. Keep in mind with your tentative itinerary that you should be budgeting at least a half a day travelling time between cities in the same country. So if you say that you have two days... well you really only have 1 1/2 when you factor in travel time and getting to/from your hostel/hotel.

If you need advice on packing, I found a link on indiamike.com: http://www.mapability.com/travel/pack.html
This guy has a great list of what to pack.

If you want to list out your proposed travel route I might be able to help you more with your itinerary. Keep in mind that if you really do want to see these places, odds are that you'll end up coming back sometime in the future. I didn't think I was going back to Europe for awhile after going to school there in 2003, but I ended up going back two more times since then. You can also e-mail me via my travelblog link too.
Hope this helps.
Reply to this

13 years ago, July 15th 2006 No: 5 Msg: #6697  
A long time ago, I did backpacking in Europe...agree with Lauralee that your initial itinerary will be exhausting. I also agree that Luxembourg/Brussels leg is not wildly interesting, but to each his own. THE most beautiful train journey is actually across Norway from Oslo to Bergen, climbing from sea-level to tundra regions. But that is a good bit north of you, and may be for another trip...

If you love mountain scapes, and have limited time, I think Salzburg is still worthwhile -- a nice balance between a "smallish" town but still with the mountain setting. Vienna is wonderful (especially if you are interested in music), but it has the feel of a large city. Innsbruck is one of my very favorite places also, but is quite tiny...So my vote goes to Salzburg.

Another possibility is to give more time to Italy -- other than the 3 major towns you mention, there are stunning places like Sienna, Assisi, even little Gubbio...

Have probably confused matters here, but part of the fun is in the planning, isn't it? Good luck! Reply to this

13 years ago, July 17th 2006 No: 6 Msg: #6721  
N Posts: 4
thanks foodie...planning does seem to be becoming more confusing ...& fun!!? Reply to this

13 years ago, July 20th 2006 No: 7 Msg: #6744  
Hi Soven,
Great question, and great responses so far. I feel that you are mising some really nice places on this trip that wouldn't be too hard to get to. For example, as Foodie suggests, Italy has some wonderful sights (especially in the North for your travels) and is also very cheap to travel through and stay in. I wouldn't bother staying in Florence too long though - always a disappointment compared to the rest of Italy in my opinion.
Austria is lovely and well worth visiting. BUT, it can be very expensive and you need to keep that in mind for how long you will be there. What about south of France too? I would spend more time there (e.g. Avignon) than in Switzerland, as it is much cheaper but just as nice.
Luxembourg and Brussels... ok, but not really a must-see. Amsterdam is good fun, but if you are not completely set on going there maybe you could fly out of Paris instead and leave Belgium/Holland for another time? This would give you a bit more time in your other places.
Finally, as a vegetarian I think you will be fine. Vegetarian pizza/pasta is available everywhere. Also, bread, vegetables, etc are easy to come by. Just learn the word for 'vegetarian' in the local languages of the places you are going to!
Good luck, Ruth. Reply to this

13 years ago, July 21st 2006 No: 8 Msg: #6751  
N Posts: 4
thanks ruth & pierre

Ruth, I am just a little concerend abt goinf off beaten tracks since this is my first trip ever...hence the city lights!!
maybe as you sugeseted I will keep my options open and gather courage as i go along!
any particular places you'd suggest?
thanks again all Reply to this

13 years ago, July 24th 2006 No: 9 Msg: #6769  
N Posts: 6
Hi Soven,

Ruth from Wales is correct in that maybe Belgium and Holland can wait for a later time for exploring. I have been to Amsterdam over 10 times, and on one stint I spent a week there. And I still haven't seen everything. If you are interested in culture, then Amsterdam has it all. The Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank's House, just to name a few. Personally, I like to immerse myself within another culture, and this takes time. It takes two days just to understand the layout of Amsterdam to navigate it's maze of streets and canals. If you still want to go there for 2 days, you will get a lot done still. But I always hated when i found out about something only after i left the city (I found out on the train leaving Amsterdam about this restaurant that is staffed by children no older than 16!). The Dutch love to help travelers, and their English skills are better than some Americans....lol. In fact, about 90-95% of them speak English. And if you decide that you want to explore more of the Dutch, then let me know and I will tell you about Madurodam and Kinderdijk (they are not in Amsterdam, but well worth a day trip). Hope this has been helpful. Reply to this

13 years ago, July 26th 2006 No: 10 Msg: #6806  
Just another quick thought, Soven. I actually think it would be easier (and more interesting palate-wise) for you as a vegetarian to negotiate the food situation in Italy than in Germanic countries. Just my 2 cents...Great responses also from Ruth from Wales and LT. Re France, Avignon is indeed beautiful. So is that area south of Bordeaux -- there is a little town called Angouleme, where hardly a stone of it was younger than the 12th century. Absolutely stunning. And I agree that Amsterdam has a character all its own, with amazing museums etc. The reason it takes the 2 days to navigate is precisely because it is not boring! The Dutch are some of the most socially progressive folks ANYWHERE, so as LT says, they will help you and appreciate your navigational dilemmas. Reply to this

13 years ago, August 3rd 2006 No: 11 Msg: #6862  
I agree that Luxembourg and Belgium can wait and think that you should use those days within the rest of your planned itinerary to get away from the cities or relax. I have an apartment in Florence, so obviously know and love it there. Not only for its art and Renaissance flavor (the city is always crowded, but there is a reason for that), but also because it is a central and easy place to travel from: the Med coast (Cinque Terre), Siena, and the beautiful Tuscan country and medieval hilltop towns... no car needed; very easy by train or bus.

My choice would be Salzburg over Interlaken. The city is small but beautiful, filled with music and you can take a day trip (there are tour operators all over) to take you to the best of the 'Sound of Music' mountains and/or Hitler's lair for a few hours.

Train is a great way to travel within Europe. Good for you! I hope that your dream comes true. Reply to this

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