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Europe: Western Cafés, castles, architecture, art, wine, the Euro, gastronomy, let´s meet up, and pub crawls.! Oh oui, backpackers paradise...

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Old 06-08-2006, 11:58 PM   #1
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I am planning a fairly long, wandering trip of Europe, and I am really intersted in finding some beautiful, smaller towns (maybe off the beaten path, think the town in the movie Chocolat) with old architecture, local flavor and the opportunity for some great pictures.. A relaxed atmosphere as a change from the party-ish themes in the bigger tourist centers.. I'm realling interested in any kind of a traditional music scene, old churches, and just beautiful scenery in general... Anyone have any suggestions? :D
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Old 06-09-2006, 07:05 AM   #2
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I went driving around Connaught last weekend and passed through Cong, it's a fairly touristy town (you can't avoid that in Ireland) but it is half built into some sort of big castle estate and looked amazing. It's in between Lough Corrib and Lough Mask the two biggest lakes in the west. It's right in the middle of the postcard Ireland area.



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Old 06-09-2006, 07:25 AM   #3
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There are lots of those scattered all around Europe. Britain has some nice country towns like Waltham in Leicestershire.
Spain has Vitoria in the basque region. Those are just two of my favs.
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Old 06-09-2006, 07:51 AM   #4
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You guys are fabulous! Thanks for the great ideas! I plan to spend at LEAST a few months in Ireland working and wandering... I'm really excited.:D
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Old 06-09-2006, 08:37 AM   #5
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If your going to spend a few months in Ireland then you have to go to the Aran Islands as well, their off the west cost of Ireland, everyone still speaks Irish there (and English) the most amazing stone ring fort in Ireland is there it's half a ring fort built on the side of a cliff, there's 3 islands there and it would be worth spending some time on each of them.

There's also Rinvyle, westport, oughterard, spiddle and the burren, croagh patrick (st Patricks mountian with small church ontop where catholics go on pilgramige, some even climp it on there hands and knees).

Dingle is another good town to go to see Fungie the dolphin, a Dolphins been living there and loves attention from fishermen and tourists.

Slane castle and bunraty castle are good places to go aswell. Their in the east though.

Galway city is a good place to base yourself in when visiting the west it's a lively collage/tourist town with bus services out to all these places.
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Old 06-09-2006, 10:36 AM   #6
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I thought Laragh in Ireland was quaint and beautiful... no impressive architecture or anything, but just quiet and serene and away from it all. I guess it was a stop on the Tour de France when they took it all over Europe that one year...

Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic is pretty much what you describe. It's heavily touristed in the summer, but still FAAAR far far from the party-party beaten track... Sleepy is the best way to describe an otherwise vibrant looking medieval-meets-renaissance town.

If you're anywhere near Barcelona, go northeast and inland from the Costa Brava to see small towns like Olot and Besalu.

Enjoy!
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Old 06-09-2006, 01:54 PM   #7
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It is a bit tricky to find these, most anything that's in a guide book winds up being touristy during the summer at least.

We're living in the Eifel region of Germany at the moment, a hilly, natural paradise for bikers, hikers, fishermen and nature lovers. The towns I'll suggest are along the train route from Koln (Cologne) to Trier, so they're easy to get to, but still far below the tourist radar. My top choices would be Murlenbach, Sankt Thomas and Kyllburg, all of which are within a few kms of each other.

Kyllburg is the biggest and most happening of these - there are concerts at the castle in nearby Malburg as well as in the Kyllburg Stiftskirche (a beautiful early Gothic church, with some old stained glass), and there are bars, cafes and restaurants where most people will be locals or visiting Germans. Maybe some Dutch, and a very few Americans, mostly those stationed at a nearby military base.

From Kyllburg you could catch the train about 4 kms to St. Thomas, which has an old church/monastery complex (now a retreat house) and an extensive nature walk behind which would get you into the wonderful woods in this area.

Murlenbach is a little further north - another 10 minutes or so by train) and has an old castle at which there are frequent summer concerts. A little further north is Gerolstein, which is the largest town for a ways and has quite a nice street of cafes, as well as a geological museum, because this area is famous for its volcanoes, fossils and such.

To the south of Kyllburg, about 40 minutes by train, is Trier, which is the ancient Roman city of Treves, founded about 2000 years ago. There are still some Roman buildings and it's a fun city, more touristy, but mostly popular with French, German and Belgian tourists.

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Old 06-10-2006, 05:49 AM   #8
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I second Omisan's recommendation of Cesky Krumlov, it is something really special. Some of my other favourites include:

England - St Ives
The Netherlands - Utrecht
Spain - Avila

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Old 06-12-2006, 07:36 AM   #9
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I 3rd Cesky, it's one of the coolist places in Europe, it's very hard to leave the place though I tried to leave five days in a row but always had to return to the 99.



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