2 weeks backpacking around Europe
Replies: 20 - Last Post: Sep 17, 2012 1:08 PM Last Post By: allyman
Jul 13, 2012 3:59 AM
Jul 13, 2012 6:03 AM
1Select a couple of places that pique your imagination for one reason or another. Then contact the local tourist information offices or use the Internet and you will easily be able to find information of interesting things to do to last for over a week. If these places are remote enough from the usual foreign tourist haunts, you'll also have an excellent time interacting with the local inhabitants. I can't recommend the Faroe Islands (there's a country you've probably never heard of unless you follow European football) enough for scenic beauty and interesting interactions with the local populace, although the Orkney and Shetland Islands of Scotland aren't far behind. Of course, I love islands, but even a non-island lover can have excellent times in these places.
Jul 13, 2012 6:55 AM
2OK, I think you've got the message by now - your question is too broad and too personal.
First of all, most regulars of this forum hate the word "must see" as it denies the simple fact that what one "must" see and do while travelling is 100% subjective. Shuffaluff in #5 mentioned one of her interests, but perhaps when you read that you immediately thought "booooring" (steam railways aren't boring by the way. In my humble opinion)
I could spend the next half hour writing down my personal favourites. But then chances are you'll reply with at least one of the following comments:
- I haven't got my driver's license yet
- I am not interested in art museums
- I'd rather visit as many different cities as I can in two weeks
- I don't like beer, so those microbreweries aren't for me
- I don't feel comfortable visiting places where English is not widely understood
So basically this type of question doesn't get you anywhere. About every regular on this forum has at least on one occasion spent a lot of time enthusiastically writing down what places around Europe he liked and, the most time consuming part of it, why, only to a) see the OP (original poster) disappear from the forum without a sign of having read his reply or b) to be told that the OP doesn't have time to/isn't interested in visiting the other person's favourite. Most of us find that pretty demotivating, not to say a total waste of time.
But let's just assume 20 posters would respond by giving their 5 or 10 personal "must sees". You'd end up with a random list of 100-200 places, OK, probably less as many will say "Rome" or "Paris"; still a massive amount of work for you to narrow that down, though, given that 2 weeks is barely enough to see 3-4 (or perhaps 5 if you're pushing it) destinations.
So consider a more effective approach: why don't you tell us as much as possible about yourself. What do you hope to gain from this trip? Do you have any particular things you like, or would like to know better? Are there any particular monuments, museums or whatever that you've always wanted to see?
Jul 13, 2012 9:52 AM
3I decided that to go to Italy for two weeks as a person not particularly fascinated with the history (given that most of the sites are almost exclusivley catering to one with an interest in the history) would be a little ignorant. I've never traveled on my own before, and I only have two weeks to 'have a go' if you will. I actuially loved the idea of going to Italy without any major plans, but I think that might be better suited for a longer period of time (like a full gap year, when I'm not so worried about doing a lot in a short space of time.
As for people commenting about my asking for 'must sees'
The reason I ask, is because I'm fed up of reading countless guide books suggesting that the colloseum, or the Eiffel tower are the 'must see' places, when from experience (what little there is, of couse), the most interesting things seem to me to be the ones not perhaps thought of as 'must see' sites.
I actually never really intended this post to be all about MY trip as such; yes I did mention it in my post, but I thought it might just spark a memory of some strange bar found in Camden that you thought might be worth a look.
Aribo: thank's for the comments, they've been most useful. As I stated before, I thought that with just two weeks, a scatter-bom approach might be the best, to inspire the rest of my gap year and whatever travelling will be done then.
As for the people saying about 'newbies', what of it? Yes, I asked what YOU think are the must sees. Not what society, or the over-50's, or a certain tour operator thought. If anyone thinks that my asking you what you think is worth seeing isn't personal, that I'm sorry but you missed the intention.
To make this a little more personal: I'm 17, and youngest in my year. Most of my friends are off on travels, or have been on their drinking benders already, but I have to wait until August 4th until I can travel (18th birthday). I only have 2 weeks as I have to be back for some training beginning at the end of August, but after that I'm embalking on a gap year. My initial intentions were to go to either Italy or Germany, as my family have ties to both those countries, but after further thinking, I figured that two weeks is quite a substantial body of time, and doing a bit of random train catching could inspire more travellling later on. As for interests... I'm very fond of 'documentary photography', and have quite a interest in religion. I think that when I'm traveling, it is the people that I am interested in, not so much the architecture (though of course that is fascinating too!)
As for 'regards', I actally have read guide books. Actually, quite a lot of them. This trip was a last minute decision. There is nothing particular I want to do, or at least in these two weeks. The things I particularly want to do are going to be done later on. I don't see what's so wrong with me asking opinions of travel enthusiasts about what they enjoyed doing.
I do hope this post has 'unoffended' some of you at least. I didn't want to post a very particular question, linking any answers to my trip alone, just thought I could get some inspiration, and perhaps a few tips.
Jul 13, 2012 9:53 AM
Jul 13, 2012 10:12 AM
I think it´s a question that nobody could answer the way you think in this trip, and at the same time, in 2 weeks you can go whereever and you´ll have fun, so, here are some ideas:
- Italy: In 2 weeks, just focus in some area, Tuscany + Venecia or something like this.
- Slovenia and Croatia coast it´s quite nice in summer
- Belgium+Netherlands, for some incredible city centers, beer and good atmosphere in general.
- If you want to go more into east, Prague and some czech republic and try to arrive to Budapest or Vienna.
- For a mixture of cultures, just go to Istanbul for 5-6 days and then explore some Turkey.
- For party and relax, Athens and some greek islands or just South Spain
Those are some random ideas, you have thousand others to choose.
Jul 13, 2012 10:16 AM
6Step after step we clear up the situation. Dont worry there is nobody who feel offended in my mind here.
But back to your question. As said before and you know, we are all different so what I like to do, to visite, is for sure not what you like to see - or it's rarely the same. Italy, is and open museum wherever you will go and to discover this country two weeks is a pretty short time. The north is not like the south, the east coast is different to the west coast and the countryside is of course not like cities. Each city, town and village has 'must seen' things as far as a must seen think existe but only you can determin it, nobody on a virual forum can do it for you, and probably nobody in here knows you.
Jul 13, 2012 11:49 AM
The reason I ask, is because I'm fed up of reading countless guide books suggesting that the colloseum, or the Eiffel tower are the 'must see' places, when from experience (what little there is, of couse), the most interesting things seem to me to be the ones not perhaps thought of as 'must see' sites (sic).
I am copying a response from BthDth here (hope you don;t mind- we should make it a sticky as well!)
The ambiguity here (and it's a common ambiguity in this sort of situation) is as follows:
1. someone makes a post and asks for the must-sees of a place they are visiting
2. people who answer questions give answers such as 'collect info first' (in guidebook, web links etc). We, after all, cannot read minds and do not know the status of the particular OP's thought processes. So we make a guess, based on experience with similar requests in the past.
3. person sometimes replies 'I want the personal touch!'
4. forum regulars shake head in bewilderment .. the must-sees are top tourist attractions, mass-opinion. What does that have to do with the personal touch? You don't need personal experience to run through a list of Paris must-sees. A tour operator will do. So, what is the person asking for? In some cases reply #3 is a way of dodging not doing the basic research (You'll have to be here for a while to see this in action). Hard to tell, one way or the other.
anyway, you cleared up a few things in #12 but i didn't really see a question there. I take it you want inspiration- to which i can only say: do your research! read books, browse this forum, etc, until you hit upon a few things that appeal to you.
Let me give you an example.
a long, long time ago, when i was just a few years older than you, i saw in the window of a travel agent a photo of this
I'd never seen anything like it before- the shapes, the colours... I had travelled in Europe but had never come across anything like this. So i started reading up a little bit, learned more about the country its history and its people, and the next summer, a few months later, i hopped on a train leaving Amsterdam, and another train and another... until i was in that picture.
Now, if i had asked 100 random people 'what are some must-sees' i would never have made that trip. Even if somebody had mentioned it, i would probably not have picked up on it among the 99 other suggestions. It was a combination of serendipity, curiosity, and some research (i did carry the first LP even published for the country) that got me there.
Jul 13, 2012 11:51 AM
8+As for people commenting about my asking for 'must sees'
The reason I ask, is because I'm fed up of reading countless guide books suggesting that the colloseum, or the Eiffel tower are the 'must see' places, when from experience (what little there is, of couse), the most interesting things seem to me to be the ones not perhaps thought of as 'must see' sites+
Fair enough. But to elaborate my point: none of us has ever met you, knows what kind of person you are and what does and what does not interest you. All we know is that you're soon to be 18, going on your first trip and ask for our "must-sees". Honestly when I read that I was expecting you to be a person who either did not have a clue as to what you might be interested in (not at all strange given your age, if you don't mind me saying so).
As for the people saying about 'newbies', what of it? Yes, I asked what YOU think are the must sees. Not what society, or the over-50's, or a certain tour operator thought. If anyone thinks that my asking you what you think is worth seeing isn't personal, that I'm sorry but you missed the intention
Err... In your original post you said "In your opinion, what are the must sees of Europe for a solo traveller?", immediately followed by "I'm taking 2 weeks at the beginning of August and heading to mainland Europe", which in 99.9% of all the cases I have seen on this forum translates as "please tell me where I should go to".
Anyway, you're obviously different in that you do not want to go to the obvious tourist hotspots. Which is good. But at the same time, I still don't quite know what to tell you. For the record, my favourite bigger cities in Europe are, in no random order, London, Paris, Lisbon, Madrid, Barcelona, Rome and Istanbul. Beside that, there plenty of smaller towns I liked a lot - from Ljubljana and Sevilla to Leiden, Oxford and Bergen.
But will you enjoy them as much as I did? I don't know, and neither do you until you go there.
I think it doesn't really matter where you start your trip. Perhaps you could simply get yourself a ticket to the first place in Europe you like the sound of, stay as long as you like and move on to the next place you think may interest you. Who knows you may end up spending your 2 weeks in Paris or Amsterdam, or perhaps you meet other travellers in, say, Berlin, who rave about Prague and make you want to go see that city for yourself.
Anyway, I'm glad you returned to this thread. Most other first-timers would have been put off by the strong replies (I know, mea culpa) and disappeared.
Jul 13, 2012 12:55 PM
Jul 13, 2012 1:05 PM
10Go to your public library and look at picture books about Europe. I'm sure that you'll find some pictures that absolutely intrigue you, perhaps a picture of the rock-top monasteries in Meteora, Greece. Also look at picture books of castles, cathedrals, palaces, etc. I'm sure that you'll find pictures of places that you have never heard of that appeal to you more than the usual ones people visit. This is where I always start when looking for new places to visit, and if I like the pictures of a place, I've never been disappointed. It's YOUR trip, go to places that interest YOU. I'm sure that you can find more interesting things to see than the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, or Big Ben, things that appeal to YOU.
And for the record, my favorite city in Europe is Istanbul, you won't find a more interesting exotic large city in Europe. Oh, my favorite thing I've done in London is far from a typical tourist destination, having attended part of a murder trial as a spectator, just downright interesting and fascinating. Take some time to experience things not usually associated with tourism, very educational and perhaps the highlight of your trip.
Jul 13, 2012 1:06 PM
Jul 13, 2012 11:33 PM
12what are the must sees of Europe for a solo traveller?
the most interesting things seem to me to be the ones not perhaps thought of as 'must see' sites
These comments are both yours, OP. I hope you can understand our confusion.
Also, I don't understand if your aversion to history is limited to Italian history (really? all 2500 years of it?), or to history in general. And why you've chosen to travel to a continent that is basically drenched in history. I wonder if you've been reading the wrong history books, or none at all. Personally, I've traveled to many of the places I've visited precisely because of what I've learned about their history. Would my motives then invalidate my opinion of must-see (but not "must-see") sights in Europe for your purposes?
Maybe you prefer to work the other way around, as Bth Dth did, starting with an intriguing photo and researching from there. But surely some of that research will include history.
While we're sharing photos, and speaking of Istanbul: Here's one of my favorite sights in Sultanhamet: http://tinyurl.com/the-Sphendone. Just an old curved wall. But I know what that old curved wall enclosed, some of the events that happened within that enclosure (a riot, a massacre, thousands of chariot races, several emperors blinded, killed, or otherwise humiliated, etc.). Granted, you can't spend all day staring at it, but it's always a pleasant and stirring sight, to me. Not in itself, not but because of what it currently is (the foundation for that school building on the top of it) but because of what it was.
The more you understand and know about what you're seeing, the more you'll enjoy and appreciate it.
But if you want personal must-sees, like the one above, they don't, by definition, appeal to everyone, and so might not appeal to you.
So do some research, and develop your own personal set of must-sees.
I figured that two weeks is quite a substantial body of time
Sorry. It isn't.
Edited by: clementis_fur_cap to get that darn link to work
Jul 14, 2012 5:48 AM
13If you love food, do Italy and France. If you love quiet countryside and great views, consider Tuscany, Switzerland's Bernese Oberland or possibly Biassa, Italy, which is just outside the Cinque Terre. If you want a dreamy fairy-tale village, go to Brugge, Belgium. A gritty art scene? Ghent, Belgium. Really beautiful architecture? Edinburgh, Scotland or Venice, Italy. A fashionable, cosmopolitan city with great waffles? Antwerp, Belgium.
And I wouldn't say Italy is just for history buffs. I spent nearly six weeks there and barely did anything historical. Italy for me was about great food, warm people, gorgeous architecture, beautiful countryside, and did I mention great food? Also, wine.
Best of luck,
Jul 16, 2012 4:20 AM
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