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Old 02-04-2009, 09:01 PM   #1
 
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Default Two week europe itinerary help

How is everyone?

First time poster from Canada. Travelling to Europe for the first time (first time travelling solo as well) from April 18 - May 2. I'm looking for some tips, thoughts, comments, etc on my itinerary:

Arrive in London for 3 nights on Apr 18;
Depart London and travel to Paris Apr 21 - 22;
Depart Paris and travel to Bern Apr 23;
Depart Bern and travel to Zurich Apr 24;
Depart Zurich and travel to Munich Apr 25-26;
Depart Munich and travel to Cologne Apr 27;
Depart Cologne and travel to Amsterdam where I will round out my trip for the remainder of 3 days;

I will be travelling by train the entire way throughout Europe. I'm a little worried with the stretch between Paris and Bern. Saying that, I could cut out Paris as there is reasonable chance to visit at a later date with friends. This could allow for more time in a city I am staying for only one day, or to allow for another stop not included in my itinerary.

I am interested in the architecture of the various cities, not so much in museums, theatre, etc although I do plan on visiting those on a limited basis.

Any thoughts - too much, too little? Am I completely out to lunch on this?

Any help is appreciated.
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Old 02-04-2009, 10:30 PM   #2
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Sounds like an awesome trip! Two suggestions:
1. For Munich, definitely do a bike tour to catch a lot of the architecture you'd normally miss just walking around. I did Mike's Bikes and they rocked. I stayed at Wombat's Hostel and outside of it were people from Mike's Bikes with coupons for the tour and I ended up getting a major discount and the free t-shirt. From what I gather, Mike's Bikes is much more comprehensive then the ones the hostels advertise.

2. Only spend a day in Cologne and move on. The big architectural thing is the Dom and it's literately right there as soon as you walk out of the damn train station so it's like wow there it is, and it's over. I stayed at Black Sheep hostel which was a pretty cool place. There isn't a lot to Cologne, but the views of the Rhine are pretty sweet, definitely get some to-go lunch and eat it down by there.

Also, the train ride from Munich to Cologne is BEAUTIFUL!

I am so jealous you get to go to Zurich, I had to cut it out of my trip last summer.
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Old 02-05-2009, 06:27 AM   #3
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Just looking over your itinerary it really seems like a lot for the short amount of time you'll be over there. I've done 5 cities in 2 weeks and it seemed like almost too much. You're going for 7. Not that it can't be done, but its going to be rough.

The key indicator for me is, "How many times do I stay in the same place two nights in a row?" - because its brutal having to pick up and move almost every morning. Your Paris-Munich leg is all like that. It also gets hard to enjoy the nightlife if you care about that at all.

Some suggestions would be to fly directly into Paris (that is, unless you really want to see London), or you could cut out Cologne completely. You'd still be seeing Germany by going to Munich but be able to add an extra day in there.

Removing Paris doesn't make sense geographically speaking since you'd be bypassing it to get from London to Bern (which would take awhile if you do it straight - probably a whole day).

The biggest thing I also tell people is make up a spreadsheet that lists where you'll be morning, afternoon, and overnight. Once you start filling those blocks in its easy to see how the trip will really play out. I can provide more examples if you want.

Let us know if you need anymore help.
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Old 02-05-2009, 07:12 AM   #4
 
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Thanks for the info. I'll try and check it out. My only real problem is that I don't have enough time!! I keep seeing all of these threads where people are asking for advice on their 2 MONTH TRIP!!! I'm jealous.

My only concern is that I'm stretching myself out too much and underestimating the travel time between destinations which will take away from my time wandering around the cities. I have only one day in Bern, Zurich and Cologne, including travel (although from your comment Cologne isn't a problem - I think I read a thread on your comments on your stay in Cologne) Is that enough?

Here's a stupid question: How does everyone deal with money? I'm seeing that most hostels require cash payment on check in. Along with the various admission fees, food costs, etc. I'm concerned with the amount of cash I'm going to be carrying around. Would by bank card work in Europe?

I'm also slightly concerned with the language barrier as I know only english. I need to bone-up on my other languages a bit before I go.

Again, thanks for the reply.
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Old 02-05-2009, 07:29 AM   #5
 
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Sorry for the double-post!!

Thanks mbo. I'm looking into flying into Paris and bypassing London. Timing would be pushed back for the rest but I would be staying two days a piece at all of the cities. I guess I got too caught up in everything and didn't realize that I could skip London. It will save on a train ticket from London to Paris too.

Are there any other spots that do not require two days? Bern or Zurich? Perhaps I should consider a different location from one of the two? Or different from Cologne? Although I do intend to check out the nightlife if I'm up for it, it is not my main concern. However, I could see myself getting trashed a few times with people I meet along the way which could end up throwing a wrench in my nicely laid plans.
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Old 02-05-2009, 07:30 AM   #6
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Quote:
I keep seeing all of these threads where people are asking for advice on their 2 MONTH TRIP!!! I'm jealous.
I feel your pain bro. What is constricting you to two weeks? For me its work and my vacation allotment. You just make do any way you can.

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Would by bank card work in Europe?
Your bank card should work. You should always call your bank first before leaving though to check and tell them you'll be using it from those countries. Search around the boards - there are many threads dedicated to money issues/atms/etc.

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I'm also slightly concerned with the language barrier as I know only english.
While it is considered polite to know how to say the basics, you really won't have a problem whatsoever in any of those countries speaking only English. If you learn "hello", "goodbye", "please", "thank you", "beer", and "cheers", you'll be fine.
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Old 02-05-2009, 07:35 AM   #7
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My big concern in Germany was the language barrier and I had ZERO problems. I learned a few key phrases and most everyone in Germany speaks English anyway. The kiosks at the train stations where you can make your reservations you can get in pretty much any language, and on German trains when you leave from point A and go to point B they normally announce stops in both German and English, only once in my stay did they not. And if they don't, in you seat is always a pamphlet with all the stops that train makes so you can count how many stops until your turn to get off and they calculate the route to the minute and they're almost always right on time.

Looking back my language barrier reservations were a little silly, so you will be fine. Now Poland was another story all together....
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Old 02-05-2009, 02:16 PM   #8
 
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Thanks guys.

I'm a beancounter so my responsibilities follow a fairly strict timeline which seldom differs month to month. So it is impossible for me to take an extended vacation. Unfortunately 2 weeks is the most in a row that I can get

Any ideas what the approx length of my trips will be between spots? I've been looking around and can't really find any good info on travel times. I have decided to cut out London and fly into Paris instead. That will give me two nights in each city with the exception of Cologne. I'm travelling by train (buying a Eurail pass or whatever it's called). I could cut out Zurich too if necessary unless I can be convinced that it's a must see. Maybe I need to rethink by Cologne destination and try something else. I would like to keep Bern, Munich and Amsterdam, so my route would be in between those places.
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Old 02-05-2009, 03:35 PM   #9
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If you go to Deutsche Bahn - German Rail Homepage you can check your travel times. I believe the route from Munich to Cologne is appx 4 hours and from Cologne to Amsterdam is about 3 hours. I know Zurich to Frankfurt is about 3 or 4 hours, so Zurich to Munich is likely 6 or so. It all depends on the route, but plug your destionations into that website and just use this week's days (the routes never change, each day is the same, January or June... so look on your itenerary to see what days of the week you plan to travel on and then plug a more recent date with the same day of the week so get a good idea as to what it will be).

Also, I dunno what your plan was as far as tickets but I highly recommend a Rail Pass if you hadn't thought about it. That way all you have to do is go to the kiosk and make your reservation and then get on the train and show the guy that walks through taking tickets your rail pass that's filled out and he punches it. Super easy.
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Old 02-05-2009, 05:54 PM   #10
 
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Thank you. That link was great. I think I'm all set with my plans

Thanks pinknic and mbo for all of the help!! I'm sure I'll be back closer to my departure. Looking forward to it already.
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Old 02-05-2009, 06:32 PM   #11
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So you're gonna stick with your original plan, or are you going to cut out a few cities? It's really a travel philosophy question - ie. more places and less time versus more time in less places.

I've done both, and I really do not like picking up and leaving so soon, especially if you meet some cool people in city X and want to hang out at least for one more night. But I guess the good thing is you can change your plans on a dime, cancel your hostel reservations and book a new one over the internet or phone.

ALSO when booking hostels, you can use online booking sites like hostelworld, but the most reliable way to go directly to the hostel's own site and book OR just get their email and email them. This also cuts down on fees.
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Old 02-05-2009, 09:34 PM   #12
 
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Its all subject to change of course
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Old 02-06-2009, 04:58 AM   #13
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Quote:
the most reliable way to go directly to the hostel's own site and book OR just get their email and email them. This also cuts down on fees
I totally agree, this is a great tip.
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Old 02-06-2009, 01:13 PM   #14
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The only 'must' I have for you is when you are in Munich, you gotta check out the Augustiner Keller beer garden. Augustinerkeller München

That beer was something special.
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Vincent: "So what you gonna do?"
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Vincent: "What you mean 'walk the earth'?"
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Trips (only counting recreational travel):
FIRST TRIP (2005): FIRST EUROTRIP EVER! UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Holland
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2009: Japan & HK, Southern Spain
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2011: India (Goa), Jordan, Jerusalem, San Sebastian (Spain), Amsterdam (again), London, Driving from Vancouver to L.A. (stopping in Portland, Seattle, San Fran and all the little stops), Montpellier (France), Geneva and Lausanne (Switzerland)

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Old 02-06-2009, 01:38 PM   #15
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^agreed. Munich has some GREAT beer gardens. Another MUST is the English Garden - which if you do a bike tour with Mike's Bikes you will go through there and it's so peaceful. You'll stop for lunch at the Chinesischer Turm beer garden which was fabulous.
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Old 02-06-2009, 05:19 PM   #16
 
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After sleeping on everything, I was looking at my plan and realized the problem of being in Amsterdam for Queen's day. Not necessarily a problem, just a hastle with crowds, etc. So I was thinking about revising my plan to include more time in Germany and cutting out Paris completely.

Take two looks something like this:

Amsterdam - 3 nights
Cologne - 1 night
Stuttgart - 2 nights
Munich - 3 nights
Bern - 2 nights

I will be landing in Amsterdam April 18th and departing Europe May 2nd - where from I don't know. My plan above leaves some holes for another location or two. Could I work Berlin into my plan somehow? My other plan also had Zurich as well, but only for one night but I have cut it out. Is there another location in Germany or Switzerland that I could add to round out my trip. Maybe I could replace Stuttgart with somewhere else in Germany also.

So back to square one. Any suggestions?
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Old 02-07-2009, 07:46 AM   #17
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That looks great! I only got to send 1 night in Stuttgart and I didn't get to do much. It's a beautiful place and I wished I was able to explore more!

It's like an hour train ride from Munich. If you end up getting bored in Stuttgart, a great day trip is Heidelberg which is amazing and not very far from Stuttgart. That was the big part of my trip.... Cologne-Heidelberg-Stuttgart-Munich. Just a suggestion. If you're considering replacing Stuttgart, I HIGHLY suggest Heidelberg - it's my favorite city I've ever traveled to. It's not out of your way as far as cities in Germany go.

But I really think this itinerary is a great, either way. And you will be traveling the Rhine in Germany and it's the most beautiful train ride ever. If you want to check out my pics from Germany, if you click "personal gallery" in my signature, I have a separate album for each city I was in.

I was bummed cos I couldn't fit Zurich too, but it will always be there. I loved Germany so much and cannot wait to get back, so more time in Germany is always great.

And you can do the Benelux-Germany rail pass and it's a little cheaper than getting like the all of Europe one you'd need if you were putting France in there too. Check out RailEurope if you haven't already, you can price it there. If you have any questions, about it feel free to ask, cos I had no idea how the rail pass before I bought one and I was really nervous about using it and doing it wrong haha.
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Last edited by pinknic38; 02-07-2009 at 07:49 AM.
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Old 02-07-2009, 07:35 PM   #18
 
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That's great. Thanks!! But I have some more questions for you:

After leaving Koln I was going to travel to Heidelberg to stay the night. Is Bonn worth a stop seeing how its so close?

I was also thinking of travelling directly to Stuttgart from Koln instead of sleeping in Heidelberg. I would take a day trip to Heidelberg from Stuttgart instead.

I'm going to be hiking in Interlaken. Are there any other hiking trails near Munich I could do in say a couple of hours or in a half day?

Also, I'm definately going to see the Ludwig castles when I'm staying in Munich. Are there any other popular and easy to get to castles on my trip between Koln and Munich?

I'm debating cutting my stay in Stuttgart from 2 nights to one night for a smaller town. Any suggestions? Baden Baden maybe? I'm not sure how expensive it is there though?

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Old 02-08-2009, 08:47 AM   #19
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I checked out Bonn and didn't take any pictures though. It's a pretty small town about 15-20 min via train. In my opinion not really worth the trip. It looked like small town America haha.

As far as any more castles go, the big one is Neuschwanstein, and it's a nice day trip from Munich. Any hostel will have info about trips there, it's pretty popular and difficult to get to apparently on your own. Mike's Bikes, the sweet ass bike tour in Munich does a big tour of the castle. Check here for the info.

In Stuttgart I stayed at the Alex 30 hostel and it was like 20 euros a night. One of the cleanest hostels I've ever stayed in.

If you haven't though about where else you want to stay in Germany, I stayed at the Black Sheep Hostel in Cologne which was fantastic (free internet annd breakfast too) and then Wombat's Hostel in Munich which was by far the coolest place I'd stayed in the whole Europe trip. So both of those are highly recommended. And if you consider staying over a night in Heidelberg, the Sudpfanne Hostel which is the only one in Heidelberg. Pretty cool place.

As far as hiking goes, I have no idea, but I bet anything if you ask the folks at the hostel desk, esp in Munich they can point you where to go.

Hope this helps!
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Old 02-08-2009, 08:00 PM   #20
 
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Thanks again pinknic that's great!

So apparently hiking sucks until June in Switzerland. Who'd have thought duh!

So i'm cutting out Switzerland

I'm giving my self 4 extra nights in Germany. After cutting out Switzerland, Munich is now my last stop on my trip. Any suggestions. I think I'll add a day for another castle. Should I try and squeeze Berlin in or enjoy more time on my current route doing other things? My current route is: amst - koln - heidelburg-stuttgart-munich. Something in between on the Rhine since I'm going that way anyways?

Also, i'm dying for a solid alternative to Stuttgart. Is there enough there for 2 nights? I read that the german cars are made there. I like cars and all, but i'm not interested it will be hard for me to give a shit about them when i'm there.

And for the resident experts in Holland, maybe I should spend more time there since I'm starting in Amsterdam. I haven't read up too much on Belgium.

So I guess it comes down to Belguim/Holland vs. Germay. That would make a good soccer game!!

Advice???
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