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Old 04-17-2006, 08:42 PM   #1
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I'm heading to Italy next month for a physics summer school. I'll be in school Paderno del Grappa (north of Venice) for about 4 weeks with 3-day weekends each week, since we're "encouraged to travel". Afterwards, I'll have about 12 days to wander around aimlessly. I haven't been to Europe since I was 15 or so (23 now), and I've never been on my own over there, so I've got LOTS of questions. I'm glad I found TravelPunk; it seems like there are lots of people here that want to help out.
During my weekends in school, I'm planning on doing the Italy thing. I hear that Cinque Terre is amazing. Besides this, where are the great off-the-beaten-path places to go? I'd love to find some cool places in Rome or Milan, and I'd love to see some of the backcountry also. Is Sicily worth going to? Naples? Florence? I'm trying to stay away from tourist traps as much as possible. I can't stand the crowds. I have my Eurail pass already, so transportation shouldn't be an issue. What's the farthest you could feasibly travel in a 3-day weekend on trains?
When I finish class, I'll be free to go where I want. I'd love to do some hiking in the Alps. Where is a good base for a couple days of hiking? Also, how cold is it in the mountains during the nights of June. I'll be carrying a sleeping bag that's only warm down to about 50degF. Should I plan on bringing warmer clothes to layer? What's the weather like in most of Europe at this time? Where is the best (most scenic) hiking in Europe?
For the cities, I'm hoping to stay cheap. I'm hoping to see some of the main cities in Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria, and "Benelux". How hard would it be to just find a park or something to stay in for the night? I'd like to find some college towns or something to maybe party in. Any suggestions? I hear Strasbourg(?) is a cool town. I'd also like to do sort of a science tour of Europe: Gottingen, Einstein's patent office, etc. Anyone ever been? Any suggestions? Is there any cheap authentic food I could find at a markets or elsewhere?
Can anyone find World Cup tickets?
What's up with IBIZA? I heard it's a constant rave. Is this true?
Finally, to the most important part! AMSTERDAM! Where do all the locals go to get high? What should I expect to spend on bud? hash? shrooms? etc.? Is mescaline a "smart drug"? What's up with all the different smart drugs? I hear some feel like x and other things. Any suggestions on smart drugs? Do the coffee shops really cook with pot? Do you have to say a code-word or something to get a weed milkshake? Is Amsterdam the only place with "coffee shops" or can you find smoke in other countries too? I'd also like to check out the Red Light District. What are the girls like? What should I expect to pay for a good time with a decent looking girl?
In general, I'd love suggestions on hole-in-the-wall, off-the-beaten-path places to visit. My Eurail pass is for all 18 countries, so I can go pretty much anywhere. Hungary? Scandanavia? Spain? Greece? What do you think?
Sorry for all the questions. I'd like as much feedback as possible. THANK YOU!
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Old 04-17-2006, 09:12 PM   #2
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You have to go to Rome and Florence. I have been to both and love em both. Plenty of others here can give other places to go too.

For locals in Rome go to the Spanish steps with a bottle of wine and hang out. Thats what they do. One of my fav euro-memories.

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Old 04-18-2006, 08:03 AM   #3
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ok so i have lived in ibiza for a bit and as long as you can find the parties it is a constant rave! Season starts mid june and ends mid september all though the best months to come are july and august...is pretty expensive though for entry in to the clubs so be prepared
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Old 04-23-2006, 05:52 AM   #4
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Just got back from a week in Italy, though not off-the-beaten-path. If you don't like crowds, you'll hate the throngs in Rome, but I'd go anyway...truly amazing. We also spent a few days in Naples, which is beautiful if you can look past the rubbish everywhere. And the truly maniacal driving. We thought Milan was bad, until we got to Naples. By comparison, Roman drivers were timid. But wow, the archaeological museum is fantastic, and we also checked out Vesuvius and Pompeii. Again, the crowds were there (not bad in April, probably a lot worse in the summer), but still, worth the trip. The wait to get into the Colosseum was about an hour, when we were there at midday, and by the time we arrived at the Vatican, at 10 am, the wait was over two hours. We bailed on the line and paid extra for the tour. With four kids in tow, it was well worth it, as we took the 10:30 tour and then stayed in the museums until nearly 4 pm.

We also spent a night visiting friends in Milan - compared with other cities in Italy, it doesn't have as much to offer - there's a lot of urban sprawl. As our friend, who was born and mostly raised there, pointed out when we commented on the location of their flat in a park area: "Well, it's green. Which is rare in Italy. And impossible in Milan."

The countryside looked beautiful, although our views of it were mostly limited to the area immediately surrounding the main autostrada -- I'd love to have been able to get into the countryside, but time was not on our side. I bet you could do some awesome walking/trekking just in Italy - maybe through Umbria or Tuscany... I was amazed at how mountainous the entire country is. Really stunning.



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Old 04-26-2006, 07:57 PM   #5
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I went to a lake about thirty minutes drive from Rome with a friend and it was beautiful. It had a castle on one of the mountains surrounding it and a medieval town on the edge of the lake. It looked like Scotland. I read in the rough guide that Urbino has a university and a good nightlife. I definitely suggest venturing into the countryside from my experience in Lazio. Also if you like walking, the Appian Way is beautiful and takes you out in the country. There were acqueducts and brick villas built by Roman emperors. Be prepared to see gypsies. I ran into some Roma prostitutes suddenly when I got near the end of the park. There were also vehicles going down the road and one van followed me so I would go with someone if I wanted to walk that far again. I understand the Roma are pretty harmless. I saw sheep following a sheperd over hills as the sun was setting walking back.
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