Traveling in Europe

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Traveling in Europe

Postby 22/7 » Fri Mar 09, 2012 2:15 am UTC

Hello again, it's been awhile since I've been here. Had to reset my password. Embarrassed face.

Did some searching and (surprisingly) couldn't find anything that covered this topic, so I guess here we go.

My fiancee and I are getting married in October and will be doing our honeymoon in Europe. The plan right now is to fly in from the US (probably to Italy) and travel via rail. Trying to hit Italy, Germany, Netherlands, France, Spain, maybe UK/Ireland, and possibly Austria (Austria and the UK/Ireland are probably first on the chopping block depending on time and money constraints). Trying to do this somewhat on the cheap, but we're going to be there for 3-4 weeks, so it's not like we'll get out for a grand. The things I know we'll be hitting up are as follows.

Essen - Holy fuck, we'll be in Germany during Essen/Spiel, we're going.
Archimedes museum in Sicily - Just because I've always loved Archimedes and the Sicilians couldn't be buggered to keep track of his body. Plus, it's cheap and I want to go to Sicily anyway.
The Louvre - I feel like this is kind of obligatory, and my fiancee is an art major, so yeah.
Florence - She studied there in college, so she's probably got most of this city covered for things to do, places to go, etc.

So why in Hodge's name (is Hodge still around?) would I create this thread? I've never been to Europe before and yet I'm in charge of doing the planning. Other than the fact that we're going to Europe, she doesn't really know where we're going and how we're getting around once we get there, etc. So I'd like some suggestions from everybody. Do you live in Germany and think we really need to hit up a museum or restaurant or stay in a specific hotel or hostel? Or maybe you would highly recommend not going to a specific place. Or maybe you visited and loved the tartar sauce in Vienna, I don't know. So basically, general suggestions of places to and not to go. I've got some time but I'd like to have some of this figured out far enough in advance to do a little bit of planning.

Also, I have some questions about what I've seen in my research so far. For example, per this website you can get a sleeper cabin for 33 euros "p.p.". What does "p.p." mean? Also, I've found this map showing the major EUrail routes, but I can't seem to find specific stations, etc. within a given city. Am I missing a link somewhere? Any idea if I should be using a different service than EUrail?

Thanks to anyone willing to help out!

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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby Arisu » Fri Mar 09, 2012 7:46 am UTC

p.p. usually means per person.

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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby AvatarIII » Fri Mar 09, 2012 10:37 am UTC

it might be worth thinking about Eurostar with Stations in the UK, France, Belgium, Germany (including Cologne, which is only about 45 miles from Essen), the Netherlands and Switzerland (although the main stations are London, Brussels and Paris) and they use 180+mph TGV trains.

you can try this journey planner map thing to check it out.
http://www.eurostar.com/UK/uk/leisure/destinations.jsp
Last edited by AvatarIII on Fri Mar 09, 2012 10:39 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby Angua » Fri Mar 09, 2012 10:38 am UTC

Have you looked into buying a rail pass? I don't know if there's an age limit on those or something, but it's worth looking into if you're travelling by rail, however some of the nicer trains don't get covered, which could be a problem if you're travelling overnight. It also harder to get an interrail pass if you're american, but it may still be cheaper than buying all the trains separately if you're travelling a lot.

My major tip - look out for the New Europe walking tours. They are free (though ask for tips at the end, but it's not obligatory), about 2-3 hours long, and give lots of local history and stuff, and are always entertaining. I've been to ones in Budapest, Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Edinburgh, and they were all fantastic. They also advertise evening tours (often a pub crawl, and sometimes a ghost walk) if you're in to that sort of thing, which you do have to pay to get on, so I haven't tried those out (we went on one pub crawl in Berlin which was ok though, but I don't like drinking so it was mainly for my friends).

If you have any questions about the aforementioned cities, plus Milan, I can help out, otherwise I know nothing about Europe (it was an interrail trip, so we only went to 5 cities).

http://www.facebook.com/groups/6045281892/ This is the facebook group for the new europe tours - you should be able to find out if they have tours in your destinations from there.
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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby ElWanderer » Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:46 pm UTC

I was going to recommend Deutsche Bahn's online train timetable site (a US-specific link is http://www.bahn.com/i/view/USA/en/index.shtml ), but I see the EURail website you linked to already recommend it themselves! I started using the DB website several years ago, when it was light years ahead of the UK rail timetable and ticketing sites, and anything that could tell me how to get from Newcastle to Vladivostok (journey time almost 200 hours) was worth a look.

We spent our honeymoon in Italy, near Naples. One of the highlights was definitely wandering around the Pompeii excavations. It helped that we accidentally happened to go during a week in which entrance was free, that the weather was lovely and that my wife had read an excellent guidebook beforehand. There's a light railway that serves the area around Naples, although I think it is possible to get to the ruins from a mainline train station too.

Also, I've found this map showing the major EUrail routes, but I can't seem to find specific stations, etc. within a given city. Am I missing a link somewhere?

What exactly are you looking for? A map of where all the stations actually are (I'd search on Google Maps) or something which shows you the station you'd probably need to travel from to get to a certain destination? For the latter, the timetable search sites should be able to take two city names and tell you what specific stations are involved for getting between them. If you need to transfer between two stations within a city, e.g. Paris Gare de l'Est to Paris Gare du Nord "Eurostar", you'd probably need to check Google Maps to see if it is walkable or google what metro, tram, underground etc. options there are. As it happens those two Paris stations are very close to eachother.

I think there are too many individual stations within the major cities to show them clearly on a map that covers all of Europe. Each country should have its own mapping that shows things in greater detail (the only one I have knowledge of, the UK-wide-except-for-Northen-Ireland one provided by National Rail, has to abbreviate the names of all the London stations to fit them in).
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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby eSOANEM » Fri Mar 09, 2012 8:01 pm UTC

I can't say I've done much travelling within Europe other than flying to places from England however I have in Spain.

Renfe (the Spanish railway system) is fantastic (at least compared to that in the UK), the machines for buying tickets are fairly easy to use and you can change the language to English. The trains are also fast, smooth and comfortable. They also seem to be quite good at running to time.

Barcelona was probably the city I enjoyed the most and I'm pretty sure you can get there by train from France pretty easily. If you go there, make sure you see at least some of Gaudí's architecture, probably the sagrada familia (the cathedral he designed that's still being built (but you can go round)), casa battló (originally one house I think, now with a few apartments, really beautiful supposedly with no straight lines) and the park guell were his works I liked the most but I wouldn't visit the casa Milá unless you're a real architecture nut, it's less weird than the rest of his buildings which somewhat defeats the point.

Madrid is also really good and is very good from the point of view of going to other places in spain and has high speed trains to and from Barcelona every day.

Andalucía is also well worth visiting with Córdoba and Granada being the cities I enjoyed the most (mainly the Mezquita in Córdoba (a catholic basillica built inside a medieval mosque built on a gothic church) and the Alhambra (palace) in Granada).

I have to go now, but may be able to provide a bit more advice RE:stuff in the UK.
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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby mayhaps » Fri Mar 09, 2012 9:27 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:Madrid is also really good and is very good from the point of view of going to other places in spain and has high speed trains to and from Barcelona every day.


Can I hijack the thread for a post or two and ask for recommendations for what to do in Madrid? Anything -- from architecture and art, to outdoorsy hikes nearby and beautiful scenery to subcultures, clubs, cafes. Traveling there this summer.

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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby 22/7 » Fri Mar 09, 2012 10:31 pm UTC

Arisu wrote:p.p. usually means per person.
I'm an idiot. Thanks.

AvatarIII wrote:it might be worth thinking about Eurostar with Stations in the UK, France, Belgium, Germany (including Cologne, which is only about 45 miles from Essen), the Netherlands and Switzerland (although the main stations are London, Brussels and Paris) and they use 180+mph TGV trains.

you can try this journey planner map thing to check it out.
http://www.eurostar.com/UK/uk/leisure/destinations.jsp
Huh, those prices really aren't bad, and a couple of trips (Cologne to London, London to Paris) might help supplement the 5 country Eurail passes. Kind of a limited range, but it looks like the price differences between trips like London to Paris and London to Marseilles is relatively nominal. That website is definitely going into my planner...

Angua wrote:My major tip - look out for the New Europe walking tours. They are free (though ask for tips at the end, but it's not obligatory), about 2-3 hours long, and give lots of local history and stuff, and are always entertaining. I've been to ones in Budapest, Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Edinburgh, and they were all fantastic. They also advertise evening tours (often a pub crawl, and sometimes a ghost walk) if you're in to that sort of thing, which you do have to pay to get on, so I haven't tried those out (we went on one pub crawl in Berlin which was ok though, but I don't like drinking so it was mainly for my friends).
If you have any questions about the aforementioned cities, plus Milan, I can help out, otherwise I know nothing about Europe (it was an interrail trip, so we only went to 5 cities).
I would definitely be interested in any suggestions you might have for Berlin and Amsterdam.

ElWanderer wrote:What exactly are you looking for? A map of where all the stations actually are (I'd search on Google Maps) or something which shows you the station you'd probably need to travel from to get to a certain destination? For the latter, the timetable search sites should be able to take two city names and tell you what specific stations are involved for getting between them.
I think what I'm missing is that it seems like different stations are used for different rail lines, but I'm having trouble figuring out which go with which. I think what I need to be looking for are city maps for each city I'm planning on stopping in or something that lists the given stations in each city on a certain company/line. I'd hate to spend half a day picking up connections and changing trains just to get out of a city and headed in the right direction because I didn't plan it well. I'll have to spend some more time this weekend looking for that.

eSOANIEM wrote:Barcelona was probably the city I enjoyed the most and I'm pretty sure you can get there by train from France pretty easily. If you go there, make sure you see at least some of Gaudí's architecture, probably the sagrada familia (the cathedral he designed that's still being built (but you can go round)), casa battló (originally one house I think, now with a few apartments, really beautiful supposedly with no straight lines) and the park guell were his works I liked the most but I wouldn't visit the casa Milá unless you're a real architecture nut, it's less weird than the rest of his buildings which somewhat defeats the point.
Yeah, she loves architecture in general, but is a really big Gaudi fan, so we'll definitely have to pop over to Barcelona for awhile. It was on my short-list anyway and that pushes it over the top. Did you go through any kid of tour company or did you just jump on the Gaudi Wiki page and then do a Google Maps search for whatever looked interesting?

mayhaps wrote:Can I hijack the thread for a post or two and ask for recommendations for what to do in Madrid? Anything -- from architecture and art, to outdoorsy hikes nearby and beautiful scenery to subcultures, clubs, cafes. Traveling there this summer.
By all means. Madrid is the other city in Spain I was looking at, so any Madrid talk is useful to me, too.
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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby 22/7 » Fri Mar 09, 2012 11:04 pm UTC

Angua wrote:New Europe walking tours
Just headed over to their FB page and it's mostly in Spanish. Any idea if they do tours by language (a Spanish tour, a German tour, etc.)? My Spanish is barely good enough to get by on and, for the last decade or so, has revolved mostly around food.
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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby eSOANEM » Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:10 am UTC

22/7 wrote:
eSOANIEM wrote:Barcelona was probably the city I enjoyed the most and I'm pretty sure you can get there by train from France pretty easily. If you go there, make sure you see at least some of Gaudí's architecture, probably the sagrada familia (the cathedral he designed that's still being built (but you can go round)), casa battló (originally one house I think, now with a few apartments, really beautiful supposedly with no straight lines) and the park guell were his works I liked the most but I wouldn't visit the casa Milá unless you're a real architecture nut, it's less weird than the rest of his buildings which somewhat defeats the point.
Yeah, she loves architecture in general, but is a really big Gaudi fan, so we'll definitely have to pop over to Barcelona for awhile. It was on my short-list anyway and that pushes it over the top. Did you go through any kid of tour company or did you just jump on the Gaudi Wiki page and then do a Google Maps search for whatever looked interesting?


We had a guidebook which listed pretty much everything he designed in the city, we found where they were on the tourist maps you get free at various places and went there, because he's one of the main attractions to Barcelona none of it was hard to get to.

I also forgot to mention the Miró museum (which has a mercury fountain which is kind-of cool) and I can't remember the exact name of it, but there's a small Picasso museum with loads of his really early work which is quite interesting because it's mainly from before he "discovered" cubism and there's a bit of that transition shown.

mayhaps wrote:
eSOANEM wrote:Madrid is also really good and is very good from the point of view of going to other places in spain and has high speed trains to and from Barcelona every day.


Can I hijack the thread for a post or two and ask for recommendations for what to do in Madrid? Anything -- from architecture and art, to outdoorsy hikes nearby and beautiful scenery to subcultures, clubs, cafes. Traveling there this summer.


My biggest recommendation would be one restaurant in particular. The food there is excellent and the prices are very good. It does get very busy in the evening and I think they only have one (or possibly two) waiters so there're often people queueing for over an hour later on so the service is quite rushed so probably wouldn't be too good if you don't speak much Spanish but it was one of the best meals I had when I was there. The restaurant is la Sanabresa and it's in calle del amor de Dios. The easiest way to get there is to get the metro to Antón Martín (it's a short trip from Sol on the blue line), you should come out of the station in a small triangular-ish square thing, one of the roads off there should be the right one.

Behind the Palacio Real there's the casa de campo, an enormous area of parkland (although it's quite barren because there isn't much rain) and there's a spectacular cable car which takes you from one side (there's also an Egyptian tomb which got moved to near the station) to the middle and you can hike from the cable car station and get the metro back from one of the stops around the edge (although make sure you have a map if you do this, trying to guess where the stations are can be tricky). There's also a theme park a short walk from the cable car station and it's actually pretty good if that's your sort of thing.

For art, there's the Prado which is the gallery you're "meant" to go to but I didn't either time I went to Madrid because it only goes up to the 19th century and so doesn't interest me as much. The Reína Sofía which is nearby has most of the modern art (including Guernica) and I really enjoyed that. In the same area, there's also a strange building built by a bank as part of a social responsibility thing which has several temporary exhibitions and is quite nice architecturally, it's also right next to a building with one wall covered in bushes as part of some eco thing; that's called Caixa Forum.

I'm afraid I can't offer much advice about subcultures or clubs because I was there with my parents. As for cafes, they weren't at all hard to find and they were all quite good (certainly a lot better than the equivalent in England).

It's worth noting that in Spain in general (particularly Barcelona), they eat very late so restaurants won't open until quite late, don't be surprised if there are places only opening at 8:00, I think when I was in Barcelona I even saw somewhere opening at 10:00 at night. Also, if you eat in the main square in Madrid or Barcelona, all the restaurants will be basically the same and will cost you a lot more than one just a couple of hundred yards off the square so it's worth exploring.
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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby 22/7 » Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:20 am UTC

Dude. That is exactly what I'm looking for, thanks. Any idea how busy restaurants tend to be around 8? In other words, is it just a delayed bell curve like you see in the US?
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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby eSOANEM » Sat Mar 10, 2012 10:29 am UTC

8:00 is quite early so most places won't be too busy and there'll probably still be restaurants which haven't opened/are opening. Of course, near the tourist hotspots the restaurants tend to open earlier because they want the tourist trade.

Lunch is also similarly late (like dinner) so you don't have to worry about a massive gap with anything between about 2:00 and 3:00 being a reasonable time for lunch (although again, unless you go well outside the tourist areas, most places will open before then).
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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby ElWanderer » Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:25 pm UTC

One of my Flickr contacts is an architectural photographer who, amongst other things, has a raft of Barcelona and Gaudi photos. As he's very much into architecture, there's a fair amount of info if you're prepared to trawl through them.
His Barcelona set
His Gaudi set

In Italy we were told most restaurants would open quite late, but we didn't have any problems getting tables at 6-7pm. Perhaps because we were in quite a touristy area.
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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby Zamfir » Sun Mar 11, 2012 11:27 am UTC

Just some random points:

You haven't mentioned Rome? Perhaps you took it for granted and didn't mention it, but otherwise it's really the first place to go in Italy, perhaps in Europe. There's no place that has so much history concentrated. And unlike Florence or Venice, Rome is big enough that it it's not overwhelmed by its own past.

Not sure if doable: Istanbul. You'd have to fly there, but it might be worth it. It's great place in itself, but also an interesting contrast to the more western cities.

Also interesting: Carcasonne. I have never been there, but my wife has, and I imagine it's great for Americans. It's an incredibly well-preserved (and, don't tell, restorated) Medieval fortified town, and if you're going by train to Barcelona you'll be in the neighbourhood anyway. If you're not going here, you might try to find some other impressive castle or fortress somewhere on your route to visit.

Berlin would be great if you have someone to show you around, but I don't know how it would be on your own. It doesn't have the kind of historic heart of many European cities, where it's just nice to aimlessly walk around as a tourist. At the very least, make sure you know what you want do there. Vienna or Prague are probably more accesible.

Once you've drawn a route between your major destinations, perhaps try to find a nice more rural area somewhere along the way. Stay in some smaller town for a few days, rent a car, go around a bit. I guess Syracuse would be good for this, but that's really out of your way. You will have to fly there from Rome, then fly to Florence (or vice-versa), while there must be many places just as interesting already along your route. Perhpas somewhere in the southern half of Germany, or along the Rhone.

Hope this helps..

EDIT: If you want to, I can dig up some addresses of cheap hotels that were OK in Madrid and Paris, and an efficiently clean hostel in Vienna. As a rule, try to book hotels without breakfast and score some breakfast in the neighbourhood. Saves a lot of money, and is more fun too.

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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby Cytoplasm » Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:59 pm UTC

Something I can actually help with:

Spain--

Madrid is huge and bustling. I suggest the Prado and Reia Sofia museos (we didn't get to go to the second museum because it was closed or something). The Royal Palace is pretty also. The plaza mayor is huge there and there is a stature of a little bear next to a tree which is the symbol of Madrid. There are also a lot of churches, and things but Madrid is a huge blur mostly.

Segovia is a very pretty place, known for it's Roman Aqueduct and cuchinillo (baby pig only fed its mother's milk and then hooked in some sort of milksauce and other things or something. It was my third day in Spain so I was having trouble following everything). Oh and one of the first royal castles. That's pretty cool too.
(If you would like the name of the pretty hotel we stayed at that is right next to the Aqueduct I can give you the name. Also if you stay there go to the balcony/rooftop area, gorgeous).

Salamanca:

So many wonderful things in Salamanca. Mostly known for La Rana en la patio de escuelas. It's in the calle de libreros. I would suggest visiting both Catedrales. Right near there is La Huerta de Calisto y Melibea (this is from "Celestina", very old literature). It's gorgeous there also. If you and your wife so desire get a lock engraved/write on it and attach it to well with the millions of other locks. Some people throw the key(s) in the well and some keep it.
The Roman Bridge is also quite pretty and near the Cathedrals. It crosses the Rio Tormes and right before it does there is a super old sculpture of a bull (doesn't really look like it) which all three are featured in more old literature (Lazarillo de Tormes).
The Plaza Mayor is a very pretty place at night and where many people meet up.


Avila:

Known mostly for La Muralla, which is worth the 3,50 euro (I think that was the student price, might be 5 euro for others) to go up and walk around. If you visit the church of Santa Teresa (la Casa Natal I think..) there are rosaries that smell like roses for 10 euro that make a great gift. You can also see the Saint's finger.

Toledo is very hilly and also has a cool castle part to go up in. Go to the catedral there, it is huge and there are a million things to see inside. Every outfit that a stylish pope, bishop or cardinal would desire and more. There is a park right next to a Old Synagogue- Jewish History museum that you must visit. It's breath taking and if you're daring hope the fence and go on the very steep, glass ridden path where you can see things better.

I'm not sure what festivals are going on during October.

Oh and if you want to go to Lisboa, Portugal GO.

Hopefully that was a little helpful...
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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby Angua » Sun Mar 11, 2012 5:52 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:
Angua wrote:New Europe walking tours
Just headed over to their FB page and it's mostly in Spanish. Any idea if they do tours by language (a Spanish tour, a German tour, etc.)? My Spanish is barely good enough to get by on and, for the last decade or so, has revolved mostly around food.

They had English tours in all the cities I had them in, as well as other languages. I just went on the English ones.
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Re: Travel.

Postby eSOANEM » Sun Mar 11, 2012 10:52 pm UTC

Cytoplasm wrote:Segovia is a very pretty place, known for it's Roman Aqueduct and cuchinillo (baby pig only fed its mother's milk and then hooked in some sort of milksauce and other things or something. It was my third day in Spain so I was having trouble following everything). Butts and one of the first royal castles. That's pretty cool too.
(If you would like the name of the pretty hotel we stayed at that is right next to the Aqueduct I will give you the name. Also if you stay there go to the balcony/rooftop area, gorgeous).


I was trying to remember there's name (probably a better way I can phrase that sentence). But this, so much this. Segovia was really cool. We only did it as a day trip from Madrid but the aqueduct is pretty awesome and it's got a "castle" (although, I think it was pretty much entirely rebuilt after the civil war) on the edge of a cliff which is really amazing.


Cytoplasm wrote:Toledo is very hilly and also has a cool castle part to go up in. Go to the catedral there, it is huge and there are a million things to see inside. Every outfit that a stylish pope, bishop or cardinal would desire and more. There is a park right next to a Old Synagogue- Jewish History museum that you must visit. It's breath taking and if you're daring hope the fence and go on the very steep, glass ridden path where you will see things better.


We also went to Toledo but found the castle rather disappointing. It's more of a military museum built in a castle than a castle (and if that's what you want, the naval museum in Madrid was a bit better (if narrower) imo), you can't go onto the walls or actually see much of it so if you want castle-y stuff, I'd probably find a different one (if you do end up coming to the UK, Warwick castle is apparently not too hard to get to from London (there's a train to Warwick which is a mile away from the castle) and there you can do castle-y stuff like go on the walls and walk around it and stuff as well as it having a bit of a medieval history museum as well).
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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby 22/7 » Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:40 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:8:00 is quite early so most places won't be too busy and there'll probably still be restaurants which haven't opened/are opening. Of course, near the tourist hotspots the restaurants tend to open earlier because they want the tourist trade.
Good to know, thanks!

ElWanderer wrote:One of my Flickr contacts is an architectural photographer who, amongst other things, has a raft of Barcelona and Gaudi photos. As he's very much into architecture, there's a fair amount of info if you're prepared to trawl through them.
His Barcelona set
His Gaudi set

In Italy we were told most restaurants would open quite late, but we didn't have any problems getting tables at 6-7pm. Perhaps because we were in quite a touristy area.
Oh, wow, whoever that is is really good. I really wanted to get down to Barcelona before and this may have sealed it for me. The pics of the Sagrada Familia are fantastic (and I'm pretty sure I remember those columns from my fiance's architectural course). Gracias for the links!

Zamfir wrote:Once you've drawn a route between your major destinations, perhaps try to find a nice more rural area somewhere along the way. Stay in some smaller town for a few days, rent a car, go around a bit. I guess Syracuse would be good for this, but that's really out of your way. You will have to fly there from Rome, then fly to Florence (or vice-versa), while there must be many places just as interesting already along your route. Perhpas somewhere in the southern half of Germany, or along the Rhone.
This was actually kind of my goal for this thread, was to try to map out the areas that I really want us to make it to and then figure out the details for the route (what trains to take, where to stay, where to eat, etc.). Any ideas on southern Germany or southern France? I feel like there's so much there that I'm sure we could see, but I don't want to burn through 2 days trying to figure out where to go once we get there, though I'm also not at all opposed to exploring lesser-traveled locales.
Zamfir wrote:Not sure if doable: Istanbul. You'd have to fly there, but it might be worth it. It's great place in itself, but also an interesting contrast to the more western cities.
I'd love to go Istanbul (not Constantinople) but with the relatively limited time we'll be in Europe I don't think we'll be able to fit it in. I'm still very much on the fence about whether we'll be able to get up to London and/or Dublin, and they're relatively very close. Wish I had a year to do this instead of a month. :)
Zamfir wrote:You haven't mentioned Rome? Perhaps you took it for granted and didn't mention it, but otherwise it's really the first place to go in Italy, perhaps in Europe. There's no place that has so much history concentrated. And unlike Florence or Venice, Rome is big enough that it it's not overwhelmed by its own past.
No, Rome is definitely on the list. It looks like Rome will be our starting point based on the prices I'm seeing for flights and the current route I'm thinking of (start in Italy, train north into Germany, northwest into Holland, southwest into France, possibly southwest into Spain, back east to Italy. Maybe throw in the UK while we're close in France).
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby 22/7 » Tue May 15, 2012 3:59 am UTC

Man, it's been busy recently. I'm finally getting around to actually setting some dates, buying tickets, that kind of thing. Looks like we're going to start in London (by the way, for any Americans trying to get to Europe on the cheap, it's fairly cheap to go through LHR). I've been looking at places to stay and have found a couple fairly close to Hyde Park. Is this a decent place to be? Looks like it'd be a short walk to a couple of different tube stations, so I feel like it wouldn't be too hard to get around. Any other recommendations for areas of town to stay or even specific places?

While we're there, I'm thinking we'll at least walk around near the House of Lords, Big Ben, etc. and try to get to the National Gallery, and the Globe Theater. Any other must sees while we're there? What about places to eat? I feel like I can't go to London without getting curry (doesn't hurt that I love Indian food), but any other recommendations?

Sounds like Berlin after London, so any suggestions for Berlin would be great as well!
Totally not a hypothetical...

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bigglesworth wrote:If your economic reality is a choice, then why are you not as rich as Bill Gates?
Don't want to be.
I want to be!

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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby Menacing Spike » Tue May 15, 2012 4:24 am UTC

There's a Dali museum in barcelona. Pretty neat place, and close to the France border.

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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby eSOANEM » Tue May 15, 2012 6:14 am UTC

22/7 wrote:While we're there, I'm thinking we'll at least walk around near the House of Lords, Big Ben, etc. and try to get to the National Gallery, and the Globe Theater. Any other must sees while we're there? What about places to eat? I feel like I can't go to London without getting curry (doesn't hurt that I love Indian food), but any other recommendations?


If the weather's good (don't count on it), you could go on the London eye, that's quite good because it's kind-of opposite the house of parliament so you get a really good view. There's also all the museums (there's the science museum, natural history museum (which has an enormous collections of dinosaurs which I think are back now), what used to be the geological museum (but's been part of the natural history museum for as long as I can remember), the V&A (which is mainly showcasing crafts from around the world)) which are all free at exhibition road (south Kensington on the tube IIRC). The tower of London can be quite good, it's where they've got the crown jewels and other stuff. There's also the British museum (antiquities from across the world) and the museum of London (which is about London's history). You can also go round Tower Bridge and walk around the old, Victorian mechanism which is pretty cool.

I'm not sure whether you have to book to go round the houses of parliament so you might want to check that, but most of the things above you should be able to just turn up at and many (mainly museums) will be free.

As for food, Brick Lane has an enormous number of very good Indian restaurants and, because there're so many in such a short stretch of road, they're pretty reasonably priced. If you want Chinese food, China town is mainly around Leicester Square and there are great restaurants there, personally I'd recommend going at lunchtime because I prefer dim sum (which is only really served at Lunch) but, unless you fancy waiting, probably don't go there on Sunday as that's usually when they're busiest.

Menacing Spike wrote:There's a Dali museum in barcelona. Pretty neat place, and close to the France border.


I can't believe I forgot to mention this when I was going through things in Spain, this museum is excellent but, because of the distance from the city would take until mid to late afternoon.
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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby Adacore » Tue May 15, 2012 6:33 am UTC

22/7 wrote:Man, it's been busy recently. I'm finally getting around to actually setting some dates, buying tickets, that kind of thing. Looks like we're going to start in London (by the way, for any Americans trying to get to Europe on the cheap, it's fairly cheap to go through LHR). I've been looking at places to stay and have found a couple fairly close to Hyde Park. Is this a decent place to be? Looks like it'd be a short walk to a couple of different tube stations, so I feel like it wouldn't be too hard to get around. Any other recommendations for areas of town to stay or even specific places?

Hyde Park is pretty central, but it's also fairly big. Where are the places you're looking at? Which tube stops are they near?

The north-eastern corner of Hyde Park is Marble Arch, which is the western end of Oxford Street (the main London shopping street); the south-eastern corner is Hyde Park Corner, which is just across Green Park from Buckingham Palace. South-central Hyde Park has 'Albertopolis', with the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, plus the Royal Albert Hall. The western end of the park is more residential, so you'd have to walk across the park or take a tube to get most places. In summer walking across the park is quite pleasant, but might take you 45 minutes or so to get from one side to the other. I used to walk from Imperial College (where I went to Uni, next to the Royal Albert Hall and Science Museum) to Marble Arch relatively frequently, and that takes about half an hour. There's the Serpentine Gallery in the middle of Hyde Park too - it's free, but small, normally with a single temporary exhibition, plus a pavillion over the summer; I almost always stopped in for a few minutes whenever I walked across the park.

22/7 wrote:While we're there, I'm thinking we'll at least walk around near the House of Lords, Big Ben, etc. and try to get to the National Gallery, and the Globe Theater. Any other must sees while we're there? What about places to eat? I feel like I can't go to London without getting curry (doesn't hurt that I love Indian food), but any other recommendations?

Buckingham Palace, Westminster Palace (Big Ben and Houses of Parliament) and the National Gallery are all fairly easily walkable from one another. If your fiancee is an art major you might also want to check out the Tate Modern, which is the London modern art gallery (I think as a general rule the National Gallery has everything pre-1900, and the Tate has everything after) and is just across the river (over the Millenium Bridge) from St Pauls Cathedral. I mentioned most of the major museums above, the big omission there is the British Museum, for which you'd want Tottenham Court Road, Holborn or Russell Square tube stops.

I don't know what your budget is for food, and I don't know London restaurants all that well. If you want British food, perhaps try and find somewhere that does good meat pies? Or, higher end, somewhere like Roast in Borough Market (next to London Bridge station), especially if you can go on a Saturday and get their beef wellington special, but if you're on a budget I'd advise against it. If you're going to get curry, I'd suggest going somewhere in Brick Lane, for which you probably want Aldgate / Aldgate East tube stops. I don't have any specific restaurant recommendations there though.

Ninja'd by eSOANEM who mentioned most of the above already!

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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby Djehutynakht » Wed May 16, 2012 4:57 am UTC

Hm... right off the bat?

(Disclaimer: I have never set foot in Europe, this is just my random location-knowlege and I'm splitting out eclectic suggestions because I have no idea what either of you likes. I have arranged this in random order and will elaborate if requested)

Preamble: If for some reason you find yourself in the Czech Republic, I strongly suggest the Sedlec Ossuary because it's insane. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedlec_Ossuary)


Now, off the top of my head?

-The British Museum (they have so much amazingness)
-Stonehenge, because it's Stonehenge.
-The Pantheon (there are two on your trip, one in Paris and one in Rome. Completely different things though)
-The Catacombs (Paris and Rome)
-The Bastille
-The Arc D'Triomphe
-Giverny (Monet's gardens. Extremely beautiful)
-Canterbury Cathedral
-Westminster Hall
-Westminster Abbey
-The Olympic Stadiums
-Notre Dame Cathedral
-Trevi Fountain
-The Colosseum, Circus Maximus and Forum. Plus the Via Appia
-The Piazza della Repubblica,
-The Castel Sant'Angelo
-Place de la Concorde
-Piazza del Popolo.
-The gardens of Villa Borghese.
-Column of Marcus Aurelius
-The Luxembourg Gardens
-The Statues of Liberty (one is in the above and another is somewhere else Paris-ish)
-Elysee Palace
-The Palace Versaille
-St. Paul's Cathedral
-The Tower of London (be sure to see the Ravenmaster)
-Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae (Absolutely amazing and hauntingly attractive)
-Napoli (right across the bay from Pompeii)
-Venice (The masks, the canals, especially see the glassmakers of Murano.... the Seafood which is harvested locally daily from the nearby marsh/sea is supposed to be great)
-As a Sicilian, I endorse Sicily.
-Just all of the big Italian cities, as a rule.
-I don't know many Spanish locations which have yet to be suggested, but I'm told by everyone that many grand old buildings such as former castles, monasteries, abbies and other such things which have been converted into hotels have fairly reasonable prices and are just amazing.
-Likewise, I don't know many German locations. One thing I can probably pull out of my sleeve is the little town of Lohr, Germany in the Main-Spessart region. Lohr is a small village dating from medieval times, with that medieval charm to it. There is a hotel there named the Franziskushohe which used to be a sanitarium for lung disease, then an abby, but now the hotel. It is supposed to be nice and there are many beautiful hiking trails through the Spessart Forest. You may know Lohr from the story "Snow White"... Lohr was said to be the birthplace of the woman who inspired Snow White as well as perhaps the tales main location. In medieval times Lohr was renown for its glassworks, producing mirrors so clear it was said that they could see the truth. This is thought to be the inspiration for the Mirror in Snow White, and indeed the famous "Speaking Mirror" is in Lohr's museum (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lohr).

-Vatican City is highly recommended because it is amazing. See as much of it as you can... St. Peter's Basilica, The Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Gardens, St. Peter's Square, The Vatican Museums.... I think the Archives have some pretty amazing exhibits relating to world and Roman history.

However, I cannot, in good faith, only recommend you to one of the small city states in Europe. Therefore I must recommend the following:
-Andorra (between France and Spain - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andorra)
-Monaco (Casinos and nice hotels, South of France http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monaco)
-San Marino (In the mountains in the middle of Italy. Oldest sovereign state and constitutional republic in the world, very picturesque - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Marino)
-Luxembourg (between France, Germany and Belgium. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luxembourg)
-Lichtenstein (In between Switzerland and Austria, if you plan to go to Austria (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lichtenstein)

I can also offer non-recognized entities if needed.

Okay, I'll stop now.

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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby SquareRootofBlue » Thu May 17, 2012 8:29 pm UTC

One thing you may want to consider is flying via Iceland instead of direct to London. Iceland's got beautiful scenerary and I found the locals to be very friendly and speak excellent English. For some reason it's often ovrelooked. It's expensive but worth it, I'm definitely going back some day.

I also feel that my home country of England hasn't been so well represented. Don't get me wrong there are tonnes of great places in London to go to but if you're willing to take a relatively short train journey outside of London Bletchley Park is definitely worth a day trip. This is where British intelligence cracked the Enigma and various other codes during the war. They have some amazing working replicas of the equipment and do excellent tours with very knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff. They also have the Computer History mueseum on the same site which is worth a visit tiself.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bletchley_Park

This might be a bit out your way but if you're ever in that peart of the country the Eden Project is definitely worth going to. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Eden_Project Further North there's the Lake District (the once home of Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth whose homes are, I think, now National Trust properties) which is really beautiful and especially good if you like rambling. Of course musically Manchester's home to Oasis, the Happy Mondays, Morrissey, The Verve, The Smiths and Elbow and has some great nightlife. and Liverpool, of course is the home of the Beatles and um.. Gerry & the Pacemakers.

tl;dr I know there's lots of exciting stuff in mainland Europe but you've got pencil some stops in when you're in Blighty, there's life outside the capital.
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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby marcel » Sun May 20, 2012 11:56 pm UTC

I noticd that The netherlands hasn't really been discussed here yet.

When visiting the Netherlands, Iw ould try to catch some of the essential thing that makes this country, and that is the water, and the waterworks we have.
Half of the country was all swamps and lakes a few hundred years ago, and when you get out of the cities in the west, you will notice how the water, and our waterworks are still an essential part of the country.

If you go for a simple bicycle ride for a day, yoyu will find thatthe counr=try is filled with rivers, lakes, canals, with all the accompanying dykes, bridges, locks, aquaducts and everything else. I have lived here all my live, and spent a lot of my time on the water, and even to me it someimes feels strange when I see canals that are higher then the surrounding land. Also a visit to kinderdijk, which has a lot of old windmills, is a good place to see how the Dutch waterworks worked end works.

To visit some of the older towns, with the trditional canals and everything, you also do not have to limit yourself to Amsterdam, would just as well cities like Leiden, Delft and Gouda for that.

to see another side of are live with the water, visit Rotterdam, go on a port tour and visit futureland. The port of Rotterdam, is no longer the biggest port, it still ranks in 3rd place, and is at least twice as big as any other port you will find in Europe and the US.

Rotterdam is also a great place to start from for visiting the other cities i mentione, or kinderdijk, or Zeeland, with the Deltawerken.

In general for ypour travels. Are you a member of couchsurfing? If not, i hioghly recomend it. Even if you are not interested in surfing wih people, it is the best site to use for meeting people, and finding events for travelers and people interested in meeting others.

and now for something completely different, regarding travel. I can´t make any promises, but when you want to go to Essen, after visiting the Netherlands (or the Netherlands after Essen) I can maybe get or give you a ride., since I and several people from my gaming group are going there, and we may have some spare places in the cars.

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Re: Traveling in Europe

Postby mykebob » Thu May 24, 2012 1:20 pm UTC

Your idea is great. It will go to be best travelling ever. But before I suggest anything, you should tell about your budget and should also decide that which kind of places you want to visit. The duration and places which you describe here are awesome but it will be expensive so you should also think about accommodation also.


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