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Old 10-24-2003, 02:32 PM   #1
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Hi, my friend and I will be departing on a 2 week tour of France and Italy next month. We're planning on hitting 3 cities in each country. Starting in Paris, Lyon (or some other wine country in the south - any suggestions) and French Riviera. Then onto Venice, Rome and Florence in Italy. Then, back to Paris. What would you recommend as the most efficient and economic mode of transportation - trains? If so, should I purchase Eurorail passes in the US or is it the same if I just purchase them at the stations? Do you have any fun/economic/clean/safe hostel recommendations in any of those cities? Finally, am I crazy for attempting this in 2 weeks? Thanks!
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Old 10-24-2003, 05:58 PM   #2
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WELCOME CARISIA!


Thats a good amount of time in those selected cities. But leave room for extending your stay, because you just may fall in love with it !


They sell Eurail only in the US, in Europe, I believe the residents can purchase an Interrail pass, but not sure on the requirements.
In my humble opinion, it is nice to get the Eurail pass out of the way, since you know exactly where you want to go and how may train rides that you'll be taking. This is not only convenient, but saves time and all you do is call or go to the window, show your pass, tell them the train you want, and reserve your spot.
You can choose to buy individual tickets there, but you'll have to spend a portion of your days each time you travel to make arrangements. For me, I don't like that hassle when I'm pressed for time.

Flights can be cheap, you just have to do a little research and book in advanced when you're there.

The homepage has a hostel booking engine so you can see what some of the hostels will look like before you get there.

And throughout these boards, there'll be tips for you to read in terms of fun things to do ! But I often find that the fun things come when I meet the locals. They always have the skinny on where to go!
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Old 10-25-2003, 09:11 AM   #3
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Hey - thanks so much for the tips. My trip will be changing a bit. My friend may still come for a few days, but I will be extending my trip to about a month and hitting Italy, France, Spain and Portugal on my own. You mentioned flying inter-cities/countries once I'm there, is there a particular local airline that services Western Europe that you'd recommend? And do you recommend flying as opposed to train for a particular leg b/w those countries? Thanks!
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Old 10-26-2003, 04:47 PM   #4
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ooooo goodie! Extended more time on your trip !

Here are a few that are very popular

http://easyjet.com/en/book/index.asp

http://ryanair.com/

http://www.virginexpress.com/home.html

Now you may have to fly in and out of a main hub to take advantage of the fares. For example, if you click on the VirginExpress link, you will see that all or most flights go into Brussells.
So if you want to go from Barcelona to Rome, you may have to fly into Brussels first, change planes, then fly out to Rome.

May sound time consuming , but a train ride from Barcelona to Rome could be 10-12 hours. Flying could be cheaper and faster, despite the main hub thingy.

On some legs of your trip, it makes sense, but on others, the Eurail and or bus will be better.

Okay, just looked at your fist post again. If you go from France down into Italy, you can fly out of Rome, into Brussels, then to Lison Portugal, and work your way through the rest of Portugal and throughout Spain with the Eurail/Bus. Eventually Eurailing it back up to France where, I assume, you'll be flying out of. Or, you can even fly back up to France from Barcelona on your last leg.

All this, assuming that you're going that route and are going to use Virgin Express.

Ohhhh so many options


Hope it helps
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Old 10-26-2003, 05:31 PM   #5
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Hey there! Thanks soooo much for your tips, especially, the routing info. :P Being my first time doing this, I had no idea what method of transport. to use based on distance, travel duration and route! Your experienced input is great help!
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Old 10-26-2003, 05:57 PM   #6
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You're welcome Carisia B)

Are you in the US now? Flying into London or Paris is definitely cheaper than other European cities, as you probably already discovered.

Easyjet is based out of London, I believe, So if you fly with them you'll have to do the same as VirginExpress, but out of London instead of Brussels.

Also, if you want some more detailed info on taking trains throughout Europe, this guy has some good info- http://www.seat61.com/

I think your biggest challenge will be getting from Spain to Italy, or vice versa, by bus or train. It's no big deal, if you got time, but to expedite that trip and save a day, flying may be the best option.

popular airline co's

in Spain-
http://www.iberia.com and
http://www.spanair.es

italy-
http://www.alitalia.com

These can give you an idea of how much the cost is from Spain to Italy, or vice versa.

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Old 10-26-2003, 06:29 PM   #7
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Hi there, I'm still in the US, but I leave for Paris in a week! Ok, right now I'm wondering what type of Eurail pass I should purchase... Let's say I average out about 3 cities in each of the four coutries, that's already at least 11 train rides. <I'm thinking aloud here...> :D Assuming the France-Italy-Portugal-Spain-France route, if I do fly from Rome to Lisbon, then it's at least 10 train rides. Suppose I take a few bus rides (say 2...) and end up buying a few non-Eurail pass train tickets b/c they happen to be cheaper (say 2...), then that leaves me about 6 Eurail rides... Man.... that's still gonna be an expensive Eurail pass! And I would still have to fly back or train back to Paris from somewhere in Spain (how long is that train ride?). How's my train of thought/planning here?

So, if I'll be travelling from 11/3-12/3... How should I plan for the weather? I know it's winter there, but how heavy duty does my winter garments need to be?

Should I bring bed sheet and/or sleeping bag, flashlight? Do the hostels provide cooking-ware in their kitchens?

Sorry for all these questions, but I just decided to go, the clock is ticking and I don't have much more time to plan! Thanks in advance!
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Old 10-26-2003, 07:36 PM   #8
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In a week! Wow, thats coming right up! Glad to hear it

Bed sheet, your call. It can't hurt, just takes a little more room in the pack.
LED lights fit on key chains and I think are stronger than mini flashlights.


Don't think a sleeping bag is necessary unless you're going to be camping. Many hostels have kitchens, but some don't. I've seen a lot of cooking ware in some of the kitchens, but have honestly never used a hostel kitchen! I always ate out and or brought something back to my hostel room that was pre-made (sandwhich, etc...)
or chips, fruits, candy, etc...but most importantly a bottle of water. It's always good to have a fresh bottle of water with you.

It will be colder in Europe when you get there so bring a sweater and a light jacket at the very least. A pair of jeans would also be good. Many times, I slept directly on my hostel bed with my jeans and long sleeve shirt to keep warm.

Lisbon, you may need an umbrella, but you can buy one from a street verndor like I did for $5. They get Seattle style rain there , if yo know what I mean

I would recommend that you go to STA Travel in your local city. They can give you a run down on the exact pass that you would best benefit from. They helped me out a lot the first time I went to Europe. I bought a pass and the rest was a cake walk. Planning travel arrangements why I'm on the road is one of the worst things for me to do. It can be time consuming, a hassle, and take the fun out of the day. I prefer to have it all figured out when I'm there. That's just me .

A bus ride from Lagos Portugal to Sevilla was dirt cheap and better to pay in cash at the bus station than to use up a day on your Eurail pass .

Hey, no problem on the questions! There are lot's of pro's on the boards so ask away! We're happy to help!
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Old 10-26-2003, 09:21 PM   #9
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Thank you!!! Nice pic too! "I'll be back..." (can you hear the deep voice?)
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Old 10-28-2003, 03:49 AM   #10
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Oh! I'm soooo jaleous!

Hey Carisia! Welcome to the boards...Maybe you'll join the DIOMOC team when you come back?!hahah! :P

By the way, I hope you'll give me some fresh advice when you're back, because I want to head this way next year...

Have the best time in your life!!!
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Old 10-29-2003, 06:52 AM   #11
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Mocassin - thanks! I leave in just 5 days and I'm siked! B) This site has really helped me prepare for my first Euro. backpacking trip, and I'll definitely be checking back throughout! See ya! :D
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Old 10-29-2003, 06:19 PM   #12
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I know...This site rawks!!! :D Well, can't wait to hear about your trip!
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Old 10-29-2003, 06:27 PM   #13
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Hi all - Went to STA Travel, bought my 8-day Eurail Select Pass. Here's my preliminary itinerary, and I totally expect it to change, but it'll make me feel better in the beginning to have a plan and know that it is reasonable, what'all think - and is it doable?

Week 1 - France: Paris & surrounding, Nice & surrounding - by train. Can I squeeze more, like Loire Valley and/or Burgundy?

Right now, it appears that I'll be hopping over from S. of France to N. of Italy, but I'm not stuck to this route, is there a better route from France to Italy - by train (how long would this take?)?

Week 2 - Italy: Venice, Florence & Rome - by train.

Then, maybe a cheap flight from Rome to Lisbon, which I'm crossing my fingers I can find in Europe.

4 Days/Week 3 - Portugal: Lisbon & surrounding, Lagos - by train. Can I squeeze in Evora & Obidos - is it worth it?

Then, train ride to Seville (how long is this?).

3 Days + 4 Days/Week 4 - Seville, Madrid & Barcelona - by train. Are there any other city(ies) en route that I should not miss?

3 Days/Week 4 - Barcelona to Paris - by train (how long is this going to take?). Can I stop by Bordeaux to check it out, another suggestion?

Any input would be appreciated, plus moral support! I'm starting to get a little stressed out, you know how it goes, obsessing about packing thoroughly, friend getting cold feet, etc. etc. etc...

I'm WAYYYYY past ready for a nice tall European Lager!!! :D
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Old 11-01-2003, 04:05 PM   #14
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So STA Travel was helpful? Sounds like it! Good!

I took a bus from Lagos to Seville for something dirt cheap(I want to say less than $20)! It was about a 5 hour bus ride. No point using a Eurail day on that trip. Just pay them cash and save a slot on your Eurail pass for something later.

Granada is nice and is home to the Alhambra-


You are also within a couple of hours to the beach- Marbella, Tarifa, etc...

From the beach of Tarifa, you can actually see Morocco, Africa!

Salamanca in Spain was voted as one of two European cities of the year, last year. I never went , but it's supposed to be lively and also filled with lots of international students.

The train ride from Barcelona to Paris, if I remember correctly, is roughly 11 hours. But can't remember exactly. Can anyone verify?

So far, your trip looks great! leave a couple of open days in case you want to stray off. We have a member DMAC who is in Italy right now, after doing France and Spain. Not sure what his mode of transportation is, but you may want to send him a PM (private message).

Your plans are shaping up rather nicely! It's nice to be at this stage of the pre-planning, eh?
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Old 11-01-2003, 04:23 PM   #15
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Hey Carisia!

I've never been in those places, so I can't give you specific tips...

However, I see you have a pretty busy schedule! Don't worry too much about planning everything (unless you really need a plan to feel comfortable) because you could meet great people and want to stay with them for a while, or find a place you love and need to stay there for a few more days...Personnally, I prefer to meet local people that can tell me (or take me to?!) the nice places to visit. I never make plans, just do what I feel like when I wake up each morning.

I'm sure you'll have a great trip! You'll meet great people ready to help you, and see many beautiful and different places... Happy travels!!!
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Old 11-01-2003, 07:30 PM   #16
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Thanks for your comments TP and MOC! I was stressing a bit, but I feel better... It's somewhat paradoxical, but sometimes my spontaneous and methodical sides collide - getting ready for this trip is a classic example! Anyhoo, I'm let go of the "risk-mgt." quality that propels me to try to cover all bases, and simply let myself delight in all of the wonderful, unexpected surprises that I encounter during my travels when I do just that! B-T-W MOC, the DIOMOC Invasion Rocks! Count me in! B)
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Old 11-01-2003, 07:33 PM   #17
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hey... how do I change this topic? I want people to know that it covers more than just France and Italy now - it might help them too. see ya.
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Old 11-01-2003, 11:04 PM   #18
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Hello, Hello, Hello...I will weigh in on this one aswell...

Quote:
Week 1 - France: Paris & surrounding, Nice & surrounding - by train. Can I squeeze more, like Loire Valley and/or Burgundy?
If you spend 3 day in Paris, and 2 days in Nice, You could enjoy a stop where ever you want for 2 days, its nice to have a couple of "unplanned days" when treking so when something comes up, you have not strayed to far off your itinerary.

Quote:
Week 2 - Italy: Venice, Florence & Rome - by train.
Take the time to make a stop in Monaco, this place is pretty amazing...I really had a good time there and would recommend it to you for sure...read up on the history, of this small country, it will make it that must more cool...
Venice, Rome, and Florence are all worth seeing...although be prepaed to be bombbarded by seniors tour groups..a couple of cautions when in Italy...watch your $$$, on the public transit, pick pockets are insane....and also be prepared for cat calls and hoots and marriage proposals from men...its a very testosterone hyper country!!! And they love tourists.

Quote:
Then, maybe a cheap flight from Rome to Lisbon, which I'm crossing my fingers I can find in Europe.

4 Days/Week 3 - Portugal: Lisbon & surrounding, Lagos - by train. Can I squeeze in Evora & Obidos - is it worth it?

Then, train ride to Seville (how long is this?).

3 Days + 4 Days/Week 4 - Seville, Madrid & Barcelona - by train. Are there any other city(ies) en route that I should not miss?

3 Days/Week 4 - Barcelona to Paris - by train (how long is this going to take?). Can I stop by Bordeaux to check it out, another suggestion?
The rest of this is not my area of much knowledge, but i can tell ya a train ride from Barcelona to Paris will take aboutsome where in the area of 9 - 10 hours, and you will most likley be switching trains along the way.

It look like you trip is going to be amazing, and We all can't wait to hear how its going for you!!! I don't know if you have booked your hostels yet, but here are some options for the cities you'll be in...

Paris
Monaco
Nice
Rome
Florence

YO, Dmac jump on this and add your 2 cents!!!

I hope this has been of some help to ya!!!

:D
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Old 11-02-2003, 06:24 AM   #19
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Hey carisia
sounds like you are going to have a blast. there are a couple things I can tell you.

1 its going to be pretty damn cold. so be ready. all ive been sporting in the cold cities is a long sleeve shirt, short sleeve shirt over that, fleece pull over and maybe a light waterproof jacket. i can stand the cold weather pretty well though. if you cant, id recommend a good jacket, gloves and a scarf if you like.

2 with the rail pass, make sure you bring an erasable pen!!! dont mark it till the guy comes around and if he doesnt than you dont have to mark it, if he does, you do it with the erasable pen real lightly and then erase it later, you can only do this a few times in each square but thats a few extra days. it totally works.

3 its definately raining so bring a cover for your pack if you can find one an umbrella thats small but gets the job done and a waterproof jacket like gortex which works wonders.

other than that, just have a blast and enjoy yourself. meet as many people as you can and try not to get stuck with people you dont like. this girl i met and i ducked out of a hostel in milan at about 5 am so this guy wouldnt follow us to milan, it was frickin hilarious. i also recommend staying in hostels other than HI. i have found those to be the worst ones so far. usually dont have a kitchen and they just arent as good.

have fun and good luck.

D
:D
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Old 11-02-2003, 07:13 AM   #20
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Thanks CD! Hey, can anyone recommend the best city to visit in Switzerland and a hostel in it that I can visit en route to Italy from Paris?
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