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Old 03-26-2006, 07:52 AM   #1
 
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I can't wait for the day I can help other people with their itineraries... meanwhile, I put this to you, TPers. I've about to embark on a 6 month backpacking adventure. I'm a Canadian, living in London England at the moment.

I've kept my plans fairly loose (except for a few solid plans), so I can spend a few extra days in a place I like, or leave early if I decide I'd rather move on. The plans also get more vague towards the end of my trip, because I know I'll pick up tips from other travellers, fall in love with cities/countries, etc...

I'm also hoping to do a day trip or 2 from some of the cities I'll be in, to random small towns nearby, but I haven't listed anything other than the ones I'm really sold on.

Anyway. Here are my travel plans so far.
The places I'll cut if I dont' have time are in **stars**, and the approx amount of days I'll spend in each place are in brackets. I've tried to leave a few extra days for travel and unplanned visits/longer stays.

The first chunk is May 21 - June 21 (so I can be up north for the midnight Sun festivals)
Portugal - Porto (2), **Lisbon** (1 - I've already been), Algarve (3)
Spain - Seville (3), **Gibralter** (1), Granada (2), Madrid (5), Barcalona (3 - including a day trip to Andorra..I've already been there so I'm not giving it too much time..)
France - Paris (3 - including a day trip to Versailles. I've already been there, so I'm moving on quickly)
Netherlands - Amsterdam (3)
And then I'm heading far north to the Midnight Sun festivals. Anyone have any idea which city is best...and how to get there??

The next chunk is June 24 - Aug 20(ish)
Finland - Helsinki (4 - inclu a day trip to Estonia)
Sweden - Stockholm (4)
Take the bus/boat to Germany - Berlin (5)
Poland - Warsaw (4), Krakow (4 - inclu a day trip to Aushwitz)
Czech Republic - Prague (5)
**Germany - Munich (4)** - I'm going back for Oktoberfest, so I can cut it if I'm running short on time, but I don't know how good of an idea it is to try and tourist during Oktoberfest?
Austria - Vienna (4)
Hungary - Budapest (5)
Croatia - Split, somewhere beachy, pretty and relaxing (6)
**Slovenia - Ljubjana, Bled** (5)

Fly Ryanair to the UK (I've been here all winter but I want to see it in the summer and be here with my friends for my birthday)

Travel the UK from Aug 21 - Sept 18ish. I haven't planned this in any detail yet.

Sept 19 - 22 - Oktoberfest!!
Sept 23 - Oct 15 - Florence, Rome and Athens with my mom... aw.

The last chunk - Oct 15 - Nov 10 - this bit isn't fully planned yet. Suggestions?
Ferry from Athens to Italy
Italy - Venice, Cinque Terre
**Switzerland - Interlaaken**
South France
Spain
France (again)
Italy
Greece - Visit some Islands and then hop a ferry over to Israel

Nov 10 - 30 - Israel.
Nov 31 - Home, sadly.

Questions:
What places should I spend more/less time in? What can I cut alltogether? (I know you'll say it's too much...). Is there anywhere truly amazing that I'm missing?
How far in advance do you need to book a hostel? I've had good luck always finding a decent place to stay, but I've been doing weekend trips from London in the winter, and I can imagine the summer is an altogether different story.

Thanks so much for your help.
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Old 03-26-2006, 09:07 AM   #2
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I'm just going to focus on one section of your trip, because it struck me as particularly chopped up - the second one.

I understand wanting to go to Finland/Sweden for midsummer, so why not travel (I assume you're flying from the Netherlands) to Sweden first, then Finland, then travel down through the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - I'd give each capital at least two - three days, if you can swing it) and from there to Poland, Czech, Germany, Austria, Hungary, etc. This would cut out some longer travel times back and forth between Germany, especially since the places you want to see in Poland are all the way in the east, which is a good full day (or night) of travel from Berlin.

There are midsummer festivals in all the Baltic capitals. Even in southernmost Vilnius, it's light til 11 pm, and everyone stays out late, strolling, eating ice cream, listening to music and enjoying the summer weather.

In Krakow, I'd recommend staying at Nathan's Villa Hostel. And check out www.inyourpocket.com to see for which of your destinations they have guides. You get a small amount of info on line or from the free downloadable mini-guides, but when you get to each city BUY THE GUIDE - it'll tell you everything you need to know for a three or four day stay in town - accommodations, where to eat, what to see and when to see it... We relied heavily on these guides everywhere in eastern Europe (and they have some for different cities in Germany too) and they only cost about $2-3 (in local currency) so they're a really good deal. More convenient than a big book too.

Your trip sounds awesome, keep us updated!
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Old 03-27-2006, 11:29 AM   #3
 
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Heya, thanks so much for your help! I'll pick up one of those guides for sure, and Nathan's sounds like an awesome place.

Thing is.. I have that horrible tendancy to try and see too much. With that in mind, I tried to cut the Baltics out for the most part, since they don't interest me as much as some of the other places out there. I figured if I took a ferry to Germany (and I love ferries) it'd be faster than stopping in random Baltic cities. Am I way off base?

Anyway, thanks for your help!
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Old 04-02-2006, 05:51 AM   #4
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Yes, it would be faster to take a ferry back to Germany and skip the Baltics altogether, but you'd still have to deal with long train rides from Germany to Eastern Poland, which is kind of wasted time since you'd be heading back to Germany again later in the trip.

I am admittedly partial to the Baltics, so I'm never going to advise against going there, when you have a chance, and it would fit nicely into your travel route, cutting out those back-and-forth journeys.

Though you may not have a particular interest, they are a very unique group of countries - with their Soviet heritage (the Occupation museum in Riga and the KGB museum in Vilnius are really exceptional, and bring home "Soviet realities" in a way history books cannot), their unique languages and their own strong cultures, they are worth a few days each. They are so quickly throwing off their Soviet past, that most vestiges of it will be gone in a few more years, and they're still very cheap to travel and explore in. And to eat. Oh my.

You could still take ferries to and fro in the Scandinavian countries on your path, and in and around southern Europe, so still plenty of opportunities there.

I also tend to cram too much into my trips, so I understand the desire to weed out, but that's why I try to figure out circuitous routes that don't have a lot of backtracking - I love train travel, but I hate spending a day on a train that I could have been out seeing something. Hopefully you'll get some more feedback soon, that might give you some other options - sorry I'm stuck on my beloved Baltics!

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Old 04-10-2006, 07:52 AM   #5
 
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Ha, you've talked me into it.

I'll go down through there and save Germany until September, and go to Berlin in the couple of days before I hit Oktoberfest. Less backtracking. Makes sense, plus new countries I hadn't even thought about.

Aaaand.. maybe a brief jaunt into Russia?!
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Old 04-10-2006, 10:38 AM   #6
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Looks pretty decent
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Old 04-10-2006, 11:26 PM   #7
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Two options for you there:

1) for glamour, history and art, look into taking a three day cruise from Helsinki to St. Petersburg (there's another ferry for you!) It's not that cheap, but I believe it includes accommodation on board and possibly even the Visa - double check that, I'm not positive.

2) for a more realistic glance at real life in Russia, especially what Soviet Russia was like, visit Kaliningrad while you're in Lithuania. You can get a visa and actually visit the oblast (outlying or non-contiguous territory), or you can take a boat ride down the Nemunas river, passing Teutonic castles, nature reserves, and plenty of beautiful landscape along the way. A one way ride is about 4 hours, you can go there and back in one day, or spend a night or more in Nida on the Kuronian spit - which is well worth it. Walking on the sand dunes that in the past have obliterated villages, is an incredible experience.) If you take the boat, you can't actually disembark in the oblast (Sovetsk or Sovietsk, sp. differs) is the town where it stops, and it'll give you a glance at a very different way of life...(and you don't have to cough up for a visa...)

Sounds like a great plan!

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Old 05-19-2006, 02:55 AM   #8
 
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Oh, how far we've come.
Tumbleweedz - You sold me on the Baltics, so off I go.

This is my updated trip:
The approximate number of days are in brackets
I've left myself a few days in each 'chunk' for travel, and staying extra days if I fall in love with somewhere. Those aren't included in my calculations...

The first chunk is May 23 - June 23 (so I can be up north for the midnight Sun festivals)
Portugal (I've already seen Lisbon so I'm skipping it)
- Porto (1)
-Lagos (3)

Spain- Seville (3),
- Granada (2)
- Madrid (5)
- Barcelona (3 - including a day trip to Andorra..I've already been there so I'm not giving it too much time..)

France- Paris (3 - including a day trip to Versailles. I've already been there, so I'm moving on quickly)

Netherlands- Amsterdam (3)

Chunk 2: June 24 - Aug 17
Sweden
-Stockholm (5, including a midnight sun cottage party just outside the city.)

Finland-Helsinki (3)

Estonia
Talinn (2)

Latvia
-Riga (3)

Lithuania
-Vilnius (2)

Poland- Warsaw (3)
- Krakow (4 - inclu a day trip to Auschwitz)

Czech Republic (might skip if running short on time...)
- Cesky Krumlov (2)
..I've already seen Prague, in case you were wondering why I skipped that

Austria- Vienna (4)

Slovakia-Bratslava (4)

Hungary
- Budapest (5)

Bosnia (maybe..see how brave I'm feeling)
-Sarajevo (3)
-Mostar (2)

Croatia- Dubronovik (4)
- Split (2)
- Random Islands (3)

Slovenia-Lake Bled (2)
- Ljubjana, (3)

From here I'll fly RyanAir (providers of cheap flights and lousy service) to the UK.

Chunk 3: Aug 17 - Sept 15ish
-The UK (Either backpacking or working at my bar in London and crashing with a friend).

Chunk 4: September 15 - October 14

Germany
- Berlin (3)
-Munich (5 - OKTOBERFEST!!)

Italy *meeting my mom here*
Rome (7)
Florence (7)

Greece
Athens (7) *mom flies out at the end of here*

Chunk 5: The final leg. Oct 13 - Nov 30.. this bit isn't fully planned in any detail yet

Italy (yes, again)
-Venice
-Cinque Terre

Macedonia
-Skopje (to visit a friend)

Greece
-???

...and then off to Israel. Maybe via Turkey. or something.
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