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Old 03-26-2009, 10:18 AM   #1
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hello all,
i will be going to europe for my first time from 19 may to 23 june. i am really excited, but quite nervous as i will be traveling alone, by train, and couchsurfing and don't really have a clue what i'm doing!
my general itinerary is as follows:
fly into barcelona (5-6 days)
south of france (5-6 days)
switzerland (3-4 days)
munich (3-4 days)
essen/cologne/? (?)
amsterdam (2 days)
bruges (and?) brussels (?)
fly out of paris (i'd like to be here by the 17th)
i would really appreciate any suggestions, but particularly specifics in southern france. i want to go to lovely places, like cassis and conques (i study art history, i love romanesque/medieval villages), but i hear that the latter is out of the way. i also don't know the best way to get to out-of-the-way places from the places with the train stations.
as for switzerland and germany, i hear zurich is expensive but i'd like to see the cabaret voltaire, and bern. i also need more ideas for germany other than munich and cathedrals galore.

i hope y'all can offer some encouraging advice (these boards seem to have a lot of that going around!)! it'd be much appreciated!

love and rage,
louise
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Old 03-27-2009, 04:02 AM   #2
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Welcome to the boards Louise

That looks like a decent itinerary to me. I would probably swap Belgium and the Netherlands.

Cologne, if you are primarily going for the Dom cathedral, can be thought of as a "lay over". The train station is in the shadow of the thing.

I stayed in Bruges and made all my trips around Belgium by train. I think this would be more desirable than staying in the capital. The town really has a great feel at night (a lot of the day trippers go back to Brussels, Amsterdam or Paris... the same thing happens in Venice btw, the Bruges of Italy )

Munich is a cool town. The "must see" is Neuschwanstein, King Ludwig's castle and inspiration for the Disneyland Cinderella Castle, about 2-3 hours away (the trip pretty much takes the day). The Dachau concentration camp is nearby and on a much less depressing note, there are some of the best beer gardens and beer halls anywhere in the world. By that point you will probably be tired of "site seeing" anyway.

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Old 03-27-2009, 04:23 AM   #3
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That sounds like a nice Itnerary. Sadly, Southern France is one region I have not been to so I cannot be much help. In terms of Germany I agree with Joe, if you only want to see the Dom than make Cologne a layover. Berlin is my favourite place in Germany and actually, on the continent but I am not sure how much art history there is.
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Old 03-27-2009, 04:43 AM   #4
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Welcome to the boards. Sounds like a great trip you have planned. As far as the trains go, I'll think you'll be surprised just how many towns and villages you can reach by train. If the train doesn't get you all the way there, usually a bus will be able to finish the job. These boards and Google and you should be able to find everything you need. When in doubt, defer to Rick Steves.

oh and I second Joey's advice to stick with Bruges. Much cooler than Brussels.
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Old 03-27-2009, 08:02 AM   #5
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Southern France is great -- you'll love it. Definitely check out some of the hilltop towns like Gordes -- they're gorgeous. I recommend getting a guidebook and reading through it so you can sift through all the stuff there is to do there. Pick your highlights, check the transportation schedules, and definitely make sure you don't spend the entire time "in transit." You need to slow down, feel the vibe, and spend a few days in a place to really see the region...

Feel free to ask any specifics about the area, or anywhere on your list.

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Old 03-27-2009, 09:38 AM   #6
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thank you for the responses!
for southern france i would like to go to cassis, calanque en vau (is it fairly easy to get here from marseilles?), eze, and nice/antibes for the matisse/picasso museums (though this isn't necessary). i've read that lodging is available at monasteries and am thinking about staying at the abbey of senanque if i can figure out how that works.

also, for buses and other non-eurail transport, how much should i plan to be spending?
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Old 03-27-2009, 10:03 AM   #7
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I'd recommend you head to Basque country before southern France... hit up bilbao or San Sebastian, or even Pamplona.
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Old 03-28-2009, 08:25 PM   #8
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Thumbs up on Bruges too!!!!! Far better to stay than Brussels... I like the flow of your trip, country to country, it should be a blast. Just keep in mind your transit days when counting the days you have avail..... Cheers
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