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Old 11-29-2006, 03:32 PM   #1
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Default Europe in January

Hi everyone. I've backpacked through Europe in the summer before, but never in the winter. I'm planning on backpacking January 2-20. Here's the itinerary as of now:
2-3 Paris
4-7 Prague (flying on Skyeurope to Prague)
8-9 Munich
10 Salzburg
11 Vienna
12-15 Budapest
16-18 Venice
19-20 Paris

I'm starting to be really worried about the time of year. Looking at average temperatures, some of the cities on our list are below freezing plus snow. Also, I've heard that some of the major charm of a lot of the places we're going is the outdoors - gardens, sitting outside at cafes, other things that aren't so nice in winter. Are there certain cities to avoid in January? Where's great to go in January?

I know the itinerary seems tight, especially the one day in salzburg one day in Vienna, but we decided to do that because Munich to Budapest passes right through both cities, so we go 3 hours from Munich and hit Salzburg, the next morning another 3 hours then hit Vienna, the next day another 3 hours and arrive in Budapest, rather than taking a long 9 hour to get straight to Budapest.
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Old 11-29-2006, 04:25 PM   #2
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hey dude!
Well your giving yourself 18 days huh. Personaly I would fine tune this itinerary a bit more cause the problem that I have with it is that your practily going from one end of Europe to another, I reckon your gonna spend a good bit of time on trains especially that one to Budapest. I think you should choose a side East or West and stick with it. Another problem I see that I wouldent do is going to places like Veince in the winter time, same with paris and Prauge, I know that paris has a nice winter time atmosphere but the cafes and being able to sit under a nice tree sippin a coffie is what makes it. What I would do is really relish the fact that your going to Europe in the winter time and I think you are on the right track with Austria and southern Germany. Austria in the Wintertime is sooo beautiful especailly Vienna and Salzburg your gonna love it, its made for winter. I would throw in swizterland in there instead of budapest, Im a big winter fan lol so I would be huggin the alps and going all around there.....apperently the area around Turino northern italy is awesome in the winter. Well your going and its gonna be cold no getting away from that if ya dont like the cold go to Australia Oh yeah like I said budapest is so far off, and although Im assuming you really wanna go there I would save it for another trip, maybe save prauge for another trip then too. Do a whole eastern Europe trip. In the end though its really up to you and what you do, I just hope you dont find yourself worn out and feeling like you spent alot more time on trains then you should have. Good luck and have fun Europe is great!
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Old 11-29-2006, 07:23 PM   #3
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Paris seems out of the way of everything else unless you're flying in. You're missing me by a couple of days in a shit ton of places haha. Go to Bratislava it's only an hour from Vienna. Hmm I don't really have any advice right now. I'm getting drunk. Hahaa
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“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” – Jack Kerouac
"I set out alone, finding no companion to cheer the way with friendly intercourse, and no party of travellers with whom to associate myself. Swayed by an overmastering impulse within me, and a long-cherished desire to visit those glorious sanctuaries, I resolved to quit all my friends and tear myself away from my home."
---Ibn Battuta, CE 1325
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Old 11-29-2006, 11:26 PM   #4
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Your schedule is a little tight, as has been mentioned, I think the thing that throws you the most is the Budapest-Venice-Paris leg...that's a heck of a long way by train, and even if you're flying, you have to count on spending several hours in the airports before the flight, and long transit times between airports and the city, so it still winds up taking the better part of one day getting from one city to the next.

Also, having spent a short time in Venice in January, a few years ago, I would argue that it is probably not the best time to visit. I'm all for checking places out in the off-season and what not, but being right on the water (and under the water, half the time) I found Venice windy and bitterly cold when it was only a couple degrees below freezing - and that was having come from a Lithuanian winter where temps were frequently below -15 C. Because they're right on the water, that damp air cuts right through you. And since Venice is all about strolling and being on the canals, you are constantly exposed to that biting wind.

If you dropped Venice from your itinerary, you'd still have a long haul back from Buda to Paris, but could maybe arrange for an overnight train - or fly. That would give you two extra days to play with, perhaps adding them into your Salzburg and Vienna time - both of which are worth a couple of days, and especially in winter will be stunning. If you wanted to break up the long journey, you could stop in Salzburg en route to Buda, and then Vienna on the way back to Paris.

My general advice for keeping warm is: invest in good, lightweight but warm thermal underwear (silk is good, there are also some cheaper synthetics that work well, ask at a camping specialty store), fleece sweater (warm, light, compact and quick drying), water and windproof jacket or shell, waterproof shoes, warm socks, hat, gloves, scarf. You don't have to worry too much about these items being bulky in your pack, since you'll be wearing them every day, but items that dry quickly are a good idea.

Winter is absolutely magical in northern and eastern Europe - the days are very short, but usually the towns are all lit up with street lights and people put lights in the windows too, so it's a really cosy feeling. You'll miss most of the Christmas markets, but there may still be a few around - be sure to indulge in a drink of gluwein or mulled fruit juice if you find yourself at such a market.

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Old 12-23-2006, 11:38 AM   #5
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Default thanks for all the great advice

Hey everyone,

thanks for all the great advice! I've dropped Munich and Venice from the itinerary, so now it's
Paris (fly Paris to Prague)
Vienna (with sidetrips to Salzburg and Bratislava)
Budapest (fly BUD-ORY)

You guys are awesome! I think I'll be much happier with the reduced travel time.

If anyone has great day-sidetrip ideas, let me know

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