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Raileurope.com: See Europe by train
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Old 02-13-2006, 12:12 PM   #1
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Hi everyone, I am new to this site and have been doing a lot of reading about your opinions and experiences and thought I would share my own plan of action. I am finishing up my Master's degree this May and will begin full-time employment at the beginning of July. I anticipate this is the only extended period of travel I will have from now until I earn a substantial amount of vacation at my next employer.

My goal of the trip is to get a taste of Europe; I was born and raised in London, and lived out in the countryside of England as a child and have been to parts of France, so the majority is to see the things I haven't before. I do not anticpate this being my last voyage, I plan to visit countries in detail later. I am a bit of a city boy, thus wouldn't mind my experiences being limited to the metropolitan areas of Europe.

I have approximately 5 weeks, below is my proposed route:



I would like to spend the number of nights in the following cities:

1 - Edinburgh
1 - Glasgow
FLY TO PARIS
2 - Paris
1 - Brussels
2 - Amsterdam
1 - Hamburg
2 - Berlin
1 - Frankfurt
2 - Munich
2 - Prague
1 - Venice
2 - Rome
1 - Florence
2 - Monaco & Nice
2 - Barcelona
2 - Seville
2 - Madrid
FLY TO LONDON
3 - England (London & Hampshire)

Total = 30 days which leaves about 5 days for time in transit and perhaps to stay longer somewhere.

I plan to rail along the route; it seems that the longest rail paths will be from Prague to Venice, and from Barcelona to Seville (do you think I should omit Seville and go straight to Madrid?).

I definitely realize that this is ambitious, and I by no stretch of my imagination intend to see everything there is in each city, although I will try my best. I would like a nice sampler of what Europe has to offer.

Are there any other glaring mistakes I am making? Should I omit 1/more of any of the cities above? Should I add any?
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Old 02-13-2006, 12:53 PM   #2
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My general policy is to give big cities at the very least 3-5 days to truly get a feel for them, a week for some! Of course, you're hitting up a lot of big cities and I don't think that'd quite fit the timetable... Personally, since you do plan on traveling more in the future, I'd cut out the number of cities, set up a loose itinerary, and concentrate more on the places you like. That way you're getting both the "sampler platter" experience and will go home with a more complete trip than rushing from city to city at a breakneck pace.
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Old 02-13-2006, 12:58 PM   #3
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You're going to need to cut down on the number of places you're visiting. By the time you get off the train, buy your ticket to the next destination, find your hostel and shower, you've lost half a day at least. Then you're going to be rushing round to see everything and will get fed up pretty quickly, plus after a few days you'll need a day off to relax and just have a lazy day in the hostel or something.
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Old 02-13-2006, 01:30 PM   #4
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Wow, you're going to be busy!
I'm the total oposite, I'd much rather spend a week each in fewer cities and get to know the places much better. I have the feeling that if you attempted this your head would be spinning by the end of your first week. By the looks of it at least half of your time will be eaten up in transit, which-taken from the girl who was on a bus for 22 hours to spend four days in chicago and then took the same bus back home-sucks!
A little research goes a long way. Figure out what you want to do in each city, then depending on location and time, maybe do 2-3 things a day. If you really have your heart set on this fast-paced plan, I think that's the way to get the most out of your time.
Whatever you decided to do, have a good one!
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Old 02-13-2006, 02:00 PM   #5
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Wow. Thanks a lot guys, even though you have been saying all along I was going to be rushed I never really thought about it until just now. I've made a change, to remove an extremity, Spain. It is a huge country and to visit only 2/3 cities seems a little cheap; I can come back another time and devote more attention to it. Below is a revised outline:



2 - Edinburgh
FLY TO PARIS
2 - Paris
3 - Amsterdam
2 - Berlin
3 - Munich
3 - Prague
2 - Venice
2 - Rome
2 - Florence
3 - Switzerland (suggestions?)
2 - Monaco & Nice
2 - Bordeaux
FLY TO LONDON
3 - England (London & Hampshire)
=31 days + transit + flex

I realize that the Bordeaux to London trip via Paris is not exaclty optimal and thus should probably start by going from Scotland to Amsterdam and end by going from Bordeaux to Paris then to London.

Really wanted to see Spain, but don't want to risk cheating anything else. What do you guys think about the new itinerary?
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Old 02-13-2006, 03:48 PM   #6
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If I were you I would probably skip that second city you have in Germany... Hit prague first then go to venice... If you really want that second city then hit prague FIRST so you're not backtracking...

Actually.. If it were me, I would want to spend more than 4 days in each city, and I'd probably cut out those outliers that you have which would be that second city in Germany, Rome and Zurich... How bent on going to those cities are you?

Then again... I would be the person who would rather spend those 5 weeks just in England... so it really is up to you.

Certainly better than your first itinerary...

Hope you have a great time!



edit:

Just out of curiousity, where did you get the program to make that map thingy? I made on by hand but a computer one would be nifty... Or did you do it yourself on paint or something?
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Old 02-13-2006, 04:13 PM   #7
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Don't forget you can always plan a couple of possible routes, then see how the mood takes you when you get over here. Chances are you will make slight variations as you travel anyway.
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Old 02-13-2006, 05:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by juliagulia@Feb 13 2006, 05:48 PM
Just out of curiousity, where did you get the program to make that map thingy? I made on by hand but a computer one would be nifty... Or did you do it yourself on paint or something?
I used Adobe Photoshop along with this image here:
http://www.geographicguide.com/maps/europe-map.gif

Photoshop has a line feature which a line can be single/double headed with an arrow.

The main thing you are interested comes from the ability to have 'layers' on an image and you can turn on and off each layer

As for my itinerary I believe I am going to take a hybrid of your suggestions. I am first going to re-evaluate my schedule to see if I can squeeze it to 6 weeks; I believe that will help quite a bit

I am also going to play the cities by ear; If I 'finish' a city early (unlikely I know) I may get to move on to somewhere else quicker. I also am taking your advice on going to Prague after Berlin and perhaps going back to Munich afterwards.

What places in Switzerland do you guys suggest? I am looking to perhaps partake in some hiking in the Alps.

Thank you guys again for your help, I will definitely be posting here until my trip and post you guys with my pics from it
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Old 02-13-2006, 05:51 PM   #9
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You should skip Zurich, not much to do or see there. I arrived intending to check it out, but after walking around a bit realized it was a pretty bland city so I got back on the train and went to Lucern (luckily I had a Eurail pass). Lucern is great, beautiful small city on a lake with a cool mountain which is hikeable with a lot of folklore surrounding it. You can take boat to these little villlages on the lake from which you can hike. I hiked up to the gondola station that takes you up to the top of the mountain. Long ass hike, but beautiful countryside. Also check out Interlaken if you feel like doing adventure sports, or like hiking. Its got some great trails in the mountains above the town.
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Old 02-13-2006, 06:08 PM   #10
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I second what somm said. Lucern is beautiful, actually my wallpaper is a picture of that mountain with the river (that connects to said lake) and a bridge. Very nice place! Also Geneva is nice if you feel like taking a few hour bus or train ride. The UN headquarters are there (I know doesn't sound exciting but the tour they give is pretty interesting - also when you see an assembly on the tv you can say 'Yeah I've been in that room').
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Old 02-13-2006, 11:45 PM   #11
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What about Bern?
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Old 02-14-2006, 02:45 AM   #12
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skip Rome? blasphemy! lol
IMO, I think there's still too much there...here's the changes I'd make...

2 - Edinburgh
FLY TO PARIS
5 - Paris
3 - Amsterdam
2 - Berlin
3 - Munich
3 - Prague
2 - Venice
5 - Rome
2 - Florence
FLY TO LONDON
4 - England (London & Hampshire)

..I'll throw in another city for consideration since I loved it so much...Krakow is worth a visit....I also realized you don't have travel time accounted for in your days...there's a couple of long train rides there
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Old 02-14-2006, 03:08 AM   #13
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1. Glad you dropped Frankfurt, there are better options in Germany.

2. Berlin-Prague-Munich is a more efficient use of travel time.

3. More time in Paris, maybe less in Amsterdam? (I'm biased, I didn't like it.)

4. Dropping Spain is probably a good decision, though difficult - it's a huge country and travel times are long. Save it for another time, and do it justice.

5. Try to get night trains on some of the long hauls, so you actually have time in the cities themselves. You won't feel totally refreshed after a night on the train, but you'll still be able to go around and see stuff.

6. Why Bordeaux, particularly?

7. If you don't have a particular plan for Switzerland, why not drop it (go hiking in the Italian Alps en route from Rome to Monaco) and save yourself a fair bit of travel time. Switzerland is mighty expensive.

8. If you do go to Switzerland, I third (or fourth) the votes for Lucerne.

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Old 02-14-2006, 07:51 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by tumblezweedz@Feb 14 2006, 05:08 AM
6.* Why Bordeaux, particularly?

7.* If you don't have a particular plan for Switzerland, why not drop it (go hiking in the Italian Alps en route from Rome to Monaco) and save yourself a fair bit of travel time.* Switzerland is mighty expensive.

8.* If you do go to Switzerland, I third (or fourth) the votes for Lucerne.
I picked Bordeaux so I could see some of France's wine country; are there better places to go do that?

I will look into seeing the Alps en route from Rome to Monaco; I think Switzerland was really a must see for my travel partner. Lucerne and Interlaken seem like the top two spots to visit in Switzerland so I'll also look into those.
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Old 02-14-2006, 08:16 AM   #15
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Quote:
I picked Bordeaux so I could see some of France's wine country; are there better places to go do that?

I will look into seeing the Alps en route from Rome to Monaco; I think Switzerland was really a must see for my travel partner. Lucerne and Interlaken seem like the top two spots to visit in Switzerland so I'll also look into those.
Now all is clear.

Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against Bordeaux (went there myself some years ago), but just looking at your travel route, there might be other ways to cover some of the stuff you want to see, and pare down some travel times.

If you decide to head to Switzerland (which sounds like it's in the plan), then you could head to Champagne (in northern France, between Alsace and Paris) or you could visit the Moselle Valley (aka Mosel, in Germany) which is a lesser known but still lovely wine region in the north.

So you could do something like Rome-Monaco-Switzerland-northern French wine country-Paris and greatly reduce your travel time, whilst still having the winery experience.

Just to give you an idea, the trip from Monaco to Bordeaux requires two changes and takes 12 hours, and Bordeaux to Paris is another 5.


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Old 02-14-2006, 09:08 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by d_fresh@Feb 14 2006, 04:45 AM
I also realized you don't have travel time accounted for in your days...there's a couple of long train rides there
Have I not estimated enough? I planned my itinerary for ~31 days, which allows 4 days worth of transit time, planes, rail etc. Do you think I should gauge more?
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Old 02-14-2006, 09:34 AM   #17
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Look up all the journey times at Bahn.de (click english on the left) and decide for yourself if you want to travel mostly at night or during the day.
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Old 02-14-2006, 10:47 AM   #18
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As I mentioned, it'll take the best part of a day to get from Monaco to Bordeaux, a half day from there to Paris, probably at least that long from Berlin to Prague (remember, the train routes aren't as the crow flies, and you'll have to switch trains now and again. Amsterdam to Berlin will be the best part of a day... etc.

By all means travel at night when you can, but the schedules don't always accommodate us as we would like! The german Bahn site ajb suggested is invaluable - print out all the itineraries you decide on, so you have the names of the transit stations, too.

As it stands, I think in total you'll lose more than 4 days to transit, but if you do the long hauls overnight (Munich - Venice, Monaco - Switzerland, etc) and consider tweaking your route to avoid backtracking and shorten up some of the distances (like I mentioned sampling Champagne instead of Bordeaux), then you could easily hop on an early morning train and be in the next place with plenty of day left for exploring, that would maximize your time in the places you want to explore.
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Old 02-15-2006, 03:30 AM   #19
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I agree that to skip Rome could cause an international travel incident...

Seriously, I think your itinerary is shaping up well. Spain was a good "save for later"...gorgeous country, but you don't want to shortchange it. Hell, I skipped Italy on my first trip to Europe, and have been there 3 times now!

My other suggestion would be to look into flights on cheap airlines for the longest stretches of your journey...just in case it turns out to save money and time!

Good luck!

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Old 02-15-2006, 08:56 AM   #20
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Thanks again to everyone. Here is the latest incarnation of my route:



FLY USA TO LONDON
1 London
3 Edinburgh
3 Amsterdam
TRAVEL DAY
2 Berlin
3 Prague
3 Munich
TRAVEL DAY
2 Venice
3 Rome
2 Florence
TRAVEL DAY
2 Monaco & Nice
3 Lucerne/Interlaken
2 Champagne (or some other wine region)
3 Paris
FLY PARIS TO LONDON
4 London & British countryside
FLY LONDON TO USA

This puts me over the 5 weeks I had anticipated, and more closer to 6 weeks. I know this is unlikely but have I 'over-budgeted' days in cities?

I am really set on this being the location-set I visit this summer and may extend my vacation if necessary.
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