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Old 05-23-2006, 09:54 PM   #1
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Hi everyone

I'm planning to go Europe in July and this is a first time for me travelling to Europe so I need as much advice as possible. I've pretty much travelled with family in the past and so this is all kind of new to me. I don't even know where to start with the planning!

Some details:
-I'll be meeting my friend from canada in Europe sometime around the 1st week of July...(she's never been there before either)
-She'll only be able to spend 2 weeks with me, after that I'm on my own.
-We will definitely be visiting London and then Ireland (her dad might be driving us to visit family)

Some questions:
1. How long should we stay in London? And in Ireland? (i don't want it to be too short or too long, just ample time to see as much as we can)
2. Should we travel to other places as well (cos we only have 2 weeks to spare)? And any ideas?
3. After my friend leaves, do you think it'll be safe for me (female) to be travelling alone? I'm thinking of going to Paris (i know someone there but not very well) and Italy (don't know anyone)... I have about 2 weeks after she leaves and before school starts
4. adding onto the 3rd question, i'm not particularly social but i guess i can force myself to be when i have to...is it still a good idea to travel alone? plus you can probably consider this the 1st time i'm venturing out on my own..so i'm still feeling pretty unsure about it

I hope you experienced travellers will be able to provide some advice on this...I really don't know where to begin planning!

And any other tips for travelling in Europe(budget hostels, places to eat) just shoot! Actually I'm not quite sure about how the Euro rail pass thing works it'd be good if someone can explain...

Well thats about all.
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Old 05-24-2006, 12:43 AM   #2
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Firstly, you've come to the right place. There is loads of info on the rail passes on this website, and plenty of people would be glad to answer any questions you've got. Its basically a free pass for all the zones of europe given on your ticket, except in France and on some other special trains, where they charge you a supplement (normally quite cheap).
Secondly, i would spend at least four days in london and four days in ireland, but after that i would definately get a cheap flight (book now and it could be between 100 and 200 dollars!) on to the continent, and see, whatever you like!!! Paris, Rome, Budapest??? whatever floats your boat!
Dont worry about travelling alone either, especially if you're staying in hostels, as there will be lots of people there in exactly the same boat as you.

Have a blast Longdiv!!!!!!!!!!!! Any other questions then let us know....
Happy travelling
Last night i had a dream about reality. It was such a relief to wake up. - Stanislaw Lec.
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Old 05-24-2006, 02:49 AM   #3
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Four days is usually a good minimum for seeing any major city; as Jean says, you can then either opt for a flight to the continent or check out some other part of the UK. Four days in the Lake District would make quite a change from London, or spend a little longer traveling around Ireland a bit. It's good to get out of the cities and see a bit of the rest of the country, too. Maybe check out Scotland - Edinburgh is nice, I enjoyed a visit to Glasgow, or again get into the countryside. We once spent an amazing week in a tiny coastal fishing village in Scotland, being treated like royalty because we were "foreigners". Gorgeous scenery and very different experience from the cities.

Unless your friend especially wants to go to the continent, I'd spend the two weeks with her in the British Isles, and save the continent for later. As far as that goes, traveling solo is perfectly safe, if you apply common sense (don't get smashed and wander home through dark alleyways, that kind of thing), and can be lots of fun. Even if you have difficulty initiating conversations, if you stay at hostels, there's bound to be someone who'll start chatting, and you may choose to do some sightseeing with them a couple of days. Or go by yourself, that's perfectly fine too. I did most of the sightseeing on my own, because then I could go at my own speed and whim, and went out for meals or to clubs or concerts with people I met. But sometimes I spent the days with people and followed their whims, and that was fun too - experiencing things I maybe wouldn't have, because my temporary travel companions were intrigued.

I didn't enjoy eating alone very much, so I learned to always take along a book, journal or something to do, so that I had something to keep me occupied and didn't notice some of the funny looks (or unwelcome overtures) you sometimes get. I also opted for more casual bistros and stuff, cheaper and less uncomfortable solo than nicer restaurants.

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Old 05-24-2006, 07:50 AM   #4
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thank you JeanB & tumblezweedz

I think I have a rough idea of the travel plan, probably will be squeezing in 3 locations in 2 weeks...

still have some concerns about travelling alone but will see what happens (if my friend decides to go italy instead of france, i'll travel to france on my own cos then there'll be someone to show me around and i won't be so nervous about the whole thing)
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Old 05-24-2006, 12:59 PM   #5
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Traveling by yourself in Europe is safe. Perhaps safer than living by yourself in your hometown.

Traveling is about relying on yourself, on finding out just what you're capable of handling and about making yourself grow. Go where you want to go, even if its easier to go somewhere else. Don't be afraid.. Loads of girls travel by themselves worldwide, and esp in Europe since backpacking's become fashionable. I've almost never traveled any other way. Most of the people you meet (hostels, bars, etc) are a lot like you. Thats not to say there arent kooks, but they're not too often.

Bottom line- its completely safe as long as you dont go looking for trouble.

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did."
-T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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Old 05-24-2006, 08:55 PM   #6
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Originally posted by longdiv@May 23 2006, 10:54 PM
4. adding onto the 3rd question, i'm not particularly social but i guess i can force myself to be when i have to...is it still a good idea to travel alone? plus you can probably consider this the 1st time i'm venturing out on my own..so i'm still feeling pretty unsure about it
be social, you'll never regret it=). when i was cycling in france, i made sure to have at least a semi-conversation with someone everyday-even if it was the lady i was buying bread from. be open-you'll be sure to connect with other travelers!
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Old 05-25-2006, 02:41 AM   #7
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I agree with all the others. Since you and your friend have just 2 weeks together, I'd recommend staying in the British Isles, too. Other ideas:

Cornwall -- excellent coastal scenery and tiny seaport villages. There's even a path that goes around the entire coast you can hike along.
The Hebrides in Scotland -- Skye, Mull...the islands of Scotland's west coast were my favorite part. They're in their own little world, with dramatic scenery, great castles and other historic sights, small town feel, etc.
Stonehenge -- it's almost a required sight to go see Stonehenge on your first trip to England. Other good places include Hadrian's Wall (built by the Romans across the north of England), York, Dover...the list goes on and on.
In Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher -- seriously dramatic scenery.
Cashel, Ireland -- great historic city.

What I like most about the British Isles is the great combination of scenery and history, two of my favorite things!

Check out my travel web page at:
"Life is not measured in the number of breaths we take, but by the places that take our breath away..."
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