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Old 09-01-2006, 10:59 AM   #1
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Hello everyone,
Yet another backpacking newbie asking for help from the pro's
I am planning to go to Europe for a couple of months next year. Probably from start of Sep'07 to end of Oct'07. Since,
this is going to be my first time going to Europe and backpacking, I need some help with the Itenary and the
places to visit ... actually, a lot of help :D
None of my friends are big travellers, so that leaves me searching the internet and browsing around various forums
for details.
I will start off with some general questions, so that I get an idea of where to go and what to do. Once I have
those informations and have somewhat a draft itenary, I will come back and bug you guys more :D

1. What all places would you suggest for a first time backpacker to Europe?
2. Is September to October a good time to backpack?
3. I am looking for some nightlife and some scenic locations to roam around during the day time.
4. I am thinking about spending 8 days in a country, two cities/country and 4 days/city.
5. 4 is not a hard and fast decision. If I like a place, I would stay there for somemore time or if I dont like
it, I might pack up early.
6. If I go by 4, I will be able to visit 6-7 countries and around 12-14 cities. Is this an overkill? The main
objective of this trip is to have fun. So, I dont want to plan my itenary with too many places to visit and
keep thinking about my next train to city X even before I have started to look around city Y.

I know I dont have any specific questions to ask now. That is because, I dont know where to go yet
First I need a list of places that are worth spending time and for that I need your help.

Your help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
- Bart
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Old 09-02-2006, 01:52 PM   #2
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Whew, it's pretty tough to answer the "where to go" question, because it really depends so much on the individual. There is so much to see and do in Europe - and September/October is pretty much ideal, if you ask me - nice weather, fewer tourists, lots of cultural events and festivals in full swing - that it is always difficult to narrow down to a few places.

Your plan of about 4 days/city is sound, gives you long enough to see plenty, and also relax and enjoy some leisure time, or possibly take a daytrip to the countryside - which is usually worthwhile and gives you a taste of life in a country that you can't get from visiting only cities (however worthwhile and beautiful they may be).

I think you're off to a good start with your general ideas about staying 4 days/place, and also with the attitude that it's okay to leave early if you're not loving it, or stay longer if you are. In the fall, hostels won't be so booked up, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding places to stay if your plans change.

You'll find both great nightlife and interesting daytime activities pretty well anywhere you go in Europe, so that brings us back to the thorny issue of deciding where to go.

Not knowing a thing about you, I'm not going to give you any specific recommendations, but here are a couple of hints that might help you get started.

First: what places/events/sights capture your imagination? Did you love your Western Civ class at school? Go to Rome and Greece. Are you a Da Vinci Code junkie? Paris, my friend. Do you speak Spanish? Spain heads the list. Love beer and wine? Bavaria and the Rheinland are calling your name. Family ties to a certain country? Off you go. Prefer to get off the beaten path? Eastern Europe still has it's idosyncracies.

Make a list of the places/sights/artworks/activities/events that you are excited about, and use that as a jumping off point. Start reading up on those things and mark them down on a big map, to get an idea of where they are in relation to one another.

Read up on the biggies on your list, and see what else is in that city, to see whether there's a lot that appeals, or not so much. If there isn't much, you might consider going there for a day trip from somewhere else.

Once you've got a general idea of the big draws for you, work out a rough itinerary. If you have to fly in and out of the same city, a circular route is generally the most efficient, but if you can fly into one and out another, a one-way path is better. Try to avoid big zigzags, because they tend to burn up a lot of precious hours in travel. In some cases, you might be able to base yourself in one centre, and take several daytrips instead of moving about frequently. For instance, from Koln (Cologne) you can easily visit Trier, Bonn, Koblenz, and Mainz for the day. If you pick a smaller town within range of larger centres on your list, you'll benefit from lower accommodations cost (though higher transportation costs), probably a friendlier, more personal reception and a taste of life in a smaller community. It doesn't always work, but sometimes it can be the right solution.

If you notice that you have one place way out of range of the others (for example, most of your choices are in Scandinavia, but you just HAVE to go to Portugal), then hopping a cheap flight is generally a more efficient use of your time/money than dragging yourself through four countries you don't really want to see, and spending two days on the train.

Once you have your general plan, start reading everything you can get your hands on about the places on your list, find out what else you want to see/do in each city, and if possible, make a must-see list, so you can prioritize those things. Write to the individual tourist offices, to see if you can get a listing of upcoming events - often they publish a brochure listing cultural/music/art events so you can find out if your visit coincides with a unique or unmissable event.

Even if it's not really your thing, checking out local festivals is a great way to learn about the country and the people. I enjoy walking through the weekly markets, checking out the foods on display, watching how people interact, and listening to conversations I don't understand, even when I've no intention of buying anything more than a fresh orange or loaf of bread. Some annual markets (many of which are held in the fall) feature local and traditional crafts which are often quite unique. In Lithuania there is a fall market in September, the Franciscan Fair (Pransikoniu Muge) during which artisans exhibit their specialties - metal work, black pottery, linens, amber items, weaving and so forth, as well as the amazing foods - honey, sausages, special breads and whatnot - while at the early spring market, the Kaziuko Muge (St. Kasimir's Fair) in addition to these items, you can buy special Easter "palms" called Verbos which are quite distinctive and unique. You might not want to buy them, but they're interesting to learn about. And you meet such interesting people - in Liechtenstein I met a Chinese Zen artist and we talked for an hour or so while I perused his drawings, discussing world events, philosophy, and food. Go figure.

Once you've got a basic idea, c'mon back and start asking specifics. There's a ton of info on these here boards, and it's yours for the asking.

Good luck with the planning!

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Old 09-05-2006, 06:20 AM   #3
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tumblezweedz,
thanks for that long reply ...
Yeah, the places one might want to visit depends completely on that individual. I am more of an outdoor person. I wouldnt mind hiking a trail for 5 miles just for the view from the top.
I dont mind going to a couple of museums or art exhibitions during my trip, but I dont want to make this an art tour.
I have a couple of places in mind now for hiking; like Interlaken(Swiss) and a few more places. I would really appreciate it if someone more experienced could suggest a few other hiking/scenic places.
Since this is going to be my first backpacking trip to Europe, I am trying to get started with the planning from now on, so that I get a good idea about the places before I leave.

Thanks again for all your help.

- Bart
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Old 09-05-2006, 09:55 AM   #4
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Britain is full of amazing places to go hiking. My favorite is Cornwall (SW tip of England). There's actually a hiking path that goes all the way around the coast of cornwall. Lots of seascape views, hills, seaport towns, castles -- great stuff. The Lake District in NW England is v-e-r-y popular, though I haven't been there. I also like Scotland -- particularly the Hebrides Islands. Skye has some good hiking.

In Italy, everyone raves about Cinque Terre.

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Old 09-05-2006, 11:39 AM   #5
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There's some amazing hiking outside of Marseille, France. White stone cliffs and bright blue ocean. I've got a pic of it Here. Also, you might check out Mallorca, a tiny island off the southeast coast of spain. Great hiking there as well. Are you sure your trip is in a few months..... you did say '07 right...
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Old 09-05-2006, 12:03 PM   #6
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<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(PlayPal @ Sep 5 2006, 01:39 PM) [snapback]138397[/snapback]</div>
Quote:
There's some amazing hiking outside of Marseille, France. White stone cliffs and bright blue ocean. I've got a pic of it Here. Also, you might check out Mallorca, a tiny island off the southeast coast of spain. Great hiking there as well. Are you sure your trip is in a few months..... you did say '07 right...
[/b]
that pic was amazing . Also heard that there are a couple of amazing places in Austria(Innsbruck and Salzburg) for hiking.
Yeah, I am planning for a 2 month trip in 2007(most probably from Sep'07 to Oct'07) .. I know, i started planning waaaay too early :D
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Old 09-05-2006, 12:15 PM   #7
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No way man, planning is half the fun...
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Old 09-05-2006, 12:41 PM   #8
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<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(PlayPal @ Sep 5 2006, 02:15 PM) [snapback]138402[/snapback]</div>
Quote:
No way man, planning is half the fun...
[/b]
sure it is ... looks like I could go backpacking Europe for the rest of my life and still not see everything the place has to offer ...
I am getting excited about my trip


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Old 09-05-2006, 01:57 PM   #9
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im doing exactly the same trip from september 07 to end of november, so your questions will help me out as well :P
what countries are you planning to go?
i think im doing spain, france, italy, germany and coming back to the north of spain by the netherlands and paris to catch my return flight.
its exciting to plan, is in it??
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Old 09-06-2006, 07:12 AM   #10
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The Ardennes (Eifel) region of Belgium/Luxembourg and Germany is beautiful for hiking - nothing terribly taxing, just lots of tiny villages and unexpected castles (sometimes restored, sometimes in ruins) surrounded by forests and fields. "Wandering" is very popular in the region, and there are rest huts in the forests, so it's a good option for a longer hike. Get in touch with the tourist offices of all three countries to get the details, if you opt for that area. Also in Germany, the Black Forest is popular for walking/hiking, but I haven't been so don't have a lot of info.

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Old 10-10-2006, 04:55 PM   #11
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Hey!
My flatmate and i are also heading to Europe round the same time (and yeh ive started planning too- anything to motivate me through two more semesters!!) and although I dont like my chances of dragging him along to go on a hike, some festivals were going to go to and you may want to check out are La Tomatina in Bunol Spain in mid-late august (the tomato throwing festival, but maybe a bit earlier than your planning) and Octoberfest in Munich Germany at the end of september (a huge beer festival). Good luck with your planning
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Old 01-06-2007, 12:33 PM   #12
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Just thought I would point out that if you follow the advice above about going to Oktoberfest, the hostels book up fast. I spent about 8 days total in the Wombat between my two stays in Munich and my one in Vienna and imo, it was the best in Europe and about as central as it gets (across from the trainstation, 10 minutes walk to the main square (Marienplatz).

And planning is half the fun. You think you are planning early? I am currently planning a trip for 08!

If I can get a good rate, I may see you in Munich

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Old 03-01-2007, 02:56 PM   #13
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yeh as soon as i sus myself a credit card i'll be booking (i.e. hopefully next week). let me know if ya gonna make it there!!
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Old 03-01-2007, 03:25 PM   #14
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Would I love to be in Munich for the Oktoberfest. Unfortunately, I have school. Maybe in '08.
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Old 07-05-2007, 12:56 AM   #15
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September is coming. That is a great time to go to Europe, prices are slightly cheaper than usual. it is great you have 2 months to travel. Europe is big, take your time, once you get a tase of one piece you will be hooked. if you find a place you enjoy spend extra days there. Do not make an agenda and stick by it. Make a loose agenda of some major landmarks you want to see and let the good times roll around that. Every traveller you meet will probably be going to see the same things you are. i have been there 5 times and i lived in Germany for a year and i still have not seen everything. if you only have two months do not get caught up in trying to see as many countries as you can. Europe will always be there and after your trip you will plan on going back and you can see what you did not before. After going to everywhere in Europe i can give this advice:

With 2 months i would fly into Paris go to Brussels to Amsterdam go to Hamburg to Berlin to Prague (with a stop in Dresden 1 night) from Prague to Loket, Czech Republic (1 night) and on to Cesky Kramlov to Vienna to Lublijana to Split to Dubrovnik to Sarajevo to Belgrade to Brasov to Sighishoara to Budapest. With stops along the way with whichever country you like the most. That is more than enough for 2 months. Hope this was helpful! have a great trip!
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