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Author Topic: Europe!  (Read 7336 times)

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Re: Europe!
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2012, 03:07:03 PM »
Paris is a lovely city, but I'm going to be biased and say that you should really visit London (unless you're planning to be in Europe this July / August - not exactly the best time for sightseeing). Actually, you could combine Paris and London quite easily if you get the Eurostar between them. Still in the UK, Stratford-upon-Avon appeals to a lot of people for the history and it's only about 90 minutes by train from London.

The other place I would recommend is Bruges in Belgium. It's a beautiful city and is one of the few major European cities that hasn't got that much modern building work in the centre.


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Re: Europe!
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2012, 04:59:08 PM »
Thank you all so much for taking the time to give such great advice! I really appreciate it. Sorry about the lack of detail, hubs and I are really in the first stages of planning the trip, but don't even know where to start!

We're thinking of going early next year, but where we live it snows approximately 0 times per year so I'm worried that it might be too cold for us. (But I want to experience snow too!)

We'll probably be there 4 weeks all up. We haven't been before so we'd want to do all the touristy things (Don't throw things at me!!  ;D) I think France and England will definitely be on the list, and I'd love to go to Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, and maybe Switzerland?

I adore food, local culture and beautiful scenery. Hubs is a history buff and loves museums, castles etc.


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Re: Europe!
« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2012, 08:26:48 AM »
Hi Isometric,
It sounds like you have nice plans :) maybe a bit ambitious, but you should see that if you try and make an itenerary. All of these countries are easily reachable from eachother.

From your list of likes, maybe you should think about adding Italy (Rome in particular). The food there is brilliant, and it is where western culture was based.


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Re: Europe!
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2012, 11:36:35 AM »
The louvre has everything you would want in a museum, the food is great, the history is there. It really is a "must visit".

I think the same can be said of the Hermitage, the Prado, The British museum or the Vatican Museum (sorry if I missed anything).

The question really is a little too difficult to answer without knowing how much time you intend to spend in Europe. If you are an experienced traveller with 2-3 weeks on your hands, I would recommend a train pass from Euro Railways or something like that. That way you can spend as much time as you need in whatever city you choose and hop the train to your next destination when you feel you've seen enough of one country.

I honestly do not feel there is a best destination. For example, my favorite destination in Europe is a small village in the Ural mountains where I used to spend my summers with my grandmother. It's really beautiful up there, but obviously it's very far off from the tourist destinations of note. I am sure someone else would be a lot less fond of it, as it gets really cold.


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Re: Europe!
« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2012, 10:21:21 PM »
POD on the Eurostar between London and Paris. It's brilliant. Book tickets online in advance, print before you leave, scan at the station. You'll clear the French border in London, and the British border in Paris. Takes less than 2 1/2 hours, is comfortable and remarkably quiet. You can buy Metro tickets in the food car, unsure about the Tube. The only downside is that it's not really suited for large quantities of luggage and/or big cases as the luggage racks are very small and it's hard to heave them up onto the train. We stashed our huge cases in the food/bar car.

Multi-day museum passes are your friends in Paris. Don't try to do the Louvre in one visit - it's just too much.

Don't underestimate the impact of visiting old European churches. Everybody goes to Notre-Dame, but how many have been to the basilica of St-Denis? The royal tombs are stunning, almost as spectacular as the stained glass.

The cheateau of Versailles is included in the museum pass, and is a short commuter train ride away. Go early - you can easily spend a day in the gardens. I've been twice, and have yet to make it to the Trianons.  Expect huge groups of Chinese tourists.

Watch out for the tacky souvenir hawkers near the major landmarks - they're a lot more aggressive than they were 10 years ago, and they WILL get into your personal space. Always watch your purses and pockets.

If you're a photographer, Paris is God's way of telling you "Learn how to bracket." Take extra media with you. Take the fastest glass you own, the best zoom you own, the best low-light glass you own, a Gorillapod, and at least a circular polarizing filter. If you own neutral-density filters, bring them, too. In summer, the days are very long and perfect for blue-hour shots.

It's been almost a year since I was in London - many segments of the Tube were closed due to renovations, requiring bus rides (with detours due to road works) between stops. The traffic congestion was unbelievable.

It costs 16 pounds to visit Westminster Abbey, but it is not to be missed. I was able to attend a small prayer service at the altar of St. Edward the Confessor (where William and Kate retreated after their vows). Downside? No photography allowed.

Wherever I travel, I come up with 3 lists:

A: Must-see or must-do, bucket-list worthy stuff
B: Sights or activities that I would really like to see and/or do
C: Nice to see or do, but wouldn't break my heart if it didn't happen

I try to learn where all of these things are, and their proximity to other items on the list  - then decide on a starting point and take it from there, wherever my feet, the Tube or the Metro takes me. There will always be something to do. Break the day up into 3 or 4 chunks and figure out what you would like to do, at your own pace.

Watch out for labor strikes - they'll usually be annouced with several day's warning. Some can be very inconvenient, such as public transportation or, in my 2nd trip, bank couriers (it's always fun when the ATMs haven't been restocked)

Essential: Good shoes. Foam tape for blistered toes and/or heels. Aleve.

Try to book a hotel that has a tub you can soak in.

Wonderful, wonderful French wine with dinner or lunch may be cheaper than Coca-Cola.

You'll walk so much that you burn off all those wonderful, delicious calories in Paris.

Feel free to PM me with any questions.