Help please! BIG European adventure before med school!
Replies: 38 - Last Post: Dec 18, 2012 4:21 PM Last Post By: Chuckerbocker
Dec 1, 2012 1:12 PM
Help please! BIG European adventure before med school!Hi there! I'll be going on my Birthright trip to Israel in January and decided to take the opportunity to travel through Europe before I am stuck in med school. I have never planned a trip before and I have no idea what I am doing. Here's the plan so far (with help from my wonderful sister-in-law). As you might notice, we've only planned out details through Greece. There are plenty of guides out there and there are some obvious must sees in each city, but I have so many questions.
How do I decide where to stay? (I'll be aiming for inexpensive hostels.)
What's the best way to travel around in cities?
I don't really have a time limit so how do I decide how much time to spend in each city?
Any help would be very much so appreciated! (I don't even know all of the questions I should be asking!) Thanks!
Here's the plan so far!
-Israel (Jan 7-Jan 19?)
Flight from Israel → Istanbul
3 day trip must sees: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Guide-g293974-l262-Istanbul.html
Flight to Athens
-Greece (Jan 23-26 (21st is your 2 week mark, counting your time in Israel))
Day 1: Acropolis, Hadrian’s Arch, Temple of Zeus, Theatre of Dionysis, National Archaeological musuem
Day 2: Monastiraki street market (to get Liz a present and to eat a yummy gyro), Lykavittos Hill, Pireaus (the port)
Day 3: Heading to Santorini (Thira is the Greek name). The only ferry is at 7:25 am. This is at the Pireaus port on Blue Star
Greek Isles (Jan 26-28 (The 28th is your 3 week mark))
Day 1: Rent an ATV and drive yourself around the island. This will be your transport! Go to Kamari and Perissa beaches and chill in the sun. Get yourself to the tip of the island, Oia, and watch the most glorious sunset ever! Bring a picnic and some wine.
Day 2: Head to the Red Sands beach. This is gorgeous. It’s a beach made out of lava rock! Visit the ruins of ancient Thira, €4. It’s a hike up a hill called Mesa Vouna. This is in between Kamari and Perissa.
Flight Santorini → Rome
Rome (Jan 29-Feb 3)
3 day trip must sees
Train to Naples
Naples+Pompeii (Daytrip Feb 3)
Train to Pisa
Train to Pisa
Train to Florence
Train to Milan
Train to Milan to Venice
Train to Munich
Train to Paris
South of France
-Dublin, Ireland layover
Dec 1, 2012 9:02 PM
1Given that you are a first-time poster, please confirm that you have read this thread:
Second, when your sister-in-law gave you all that info about Greece, did she take into account that it's winter? Doesn't sound like it.
walk, bus, metro/subway/underground, bike, taxi
Dec 1, 2012 9:16 PM
2Thanks for that thread. I have not yet read it but will now. I'm just overwhelmed. We were considering cutting out Santorini since it will be winter. She was just giving suggestions based on what she did.
As far as the two questions, I'd like to set up a general itinerary so I can buy plane tickets and whatnot ahead of time. I've always had the impression that you should buy plan tickets well in advance for lower prices. Also, as far as transportation, I guess I'm just concerned about getting around in cities where I don't know the language. This will be my first solo trip I'm rather nervous about it.
Dec 1, 2012 9:19 PM
Dec 1, 2012 10:11 PM
looking at your draft trip, it makes sense to book your travel from Greece to Rome (and I doubt you can fly straight from Santorini). Then spend 2 weeks in Italy and book your travel from Italy to Northern Europe. Within those two weeks in Italy, you play it by ear and buy local transport.
Alos note that few people on this board believe in 'must-sees'. You must see what ever interests you. Of course any guidebook or Google will tell you the top ten sights for any city. But your trip will be more interesting and fulfilling if you seek out attractions that particularly appeal to you.
you also do NOT need to make a blow-by-blow plan for every day like you did in your Day 1 in Athens. What matters is that you enjoy yourself. It's less important whether you manage to tick off 15 items of a list. So if on your first day you discover that yu spent 4 hrs in the national museum and then have along leisurely lunch with nice food at an outdoor cafe and you have no time left to see the Hadrian's Arch and teh Acropolis- guess what, that's just fine.
Dec 1, 2012 10:23 PM
5Yes, I've been told that I should be flexible with my scheduling. I'm more or less trying to make a rough outline of what I might like to see about about how long it will take so I can get the travel dates down.
I am also very nervous because, like I said, this will be my first time traveling alone. The extent of my solo experience in a foreign country was me spending a few hours walking around Cuzco and talking with some locals when I was 16. A 2 month trip is a pretty drastic difference. Making a plan (even if I don't follow it) will let me feel more comfortable with housing, transportation, activities, food, etc. But I have to plan things out rather quickly! I'm leaving for Israel in a bit over a month!
Will 2 weeks be enough time in Italy? I realize I can't see everything but I don't want to sell myself short either.
Based on the advice in the thread you posted, should I perhaps stop off in small towns for a night or two between the bigger cities? (Can you stop in small towns via the trains?)
Dec 1, 2012 11:57 PM
6AS MTL says....don't worry so much ;-) A rough plan is ok,but not something you are locked into.
Its off season.....no need to book any hostels in advance.
Just arrive in a place,use the public transport (this will be detailed in your guide book)..go to a hostel and check in.Explore the city..if you like it,stay longer.If not,go somewhere else.Its really easy....that's how you decide how long to stay in each city!
Then repeat at next destination.
Dec 2, 2012 12:01 AM
7BTW personally I would leave out Santorini.
If you want to have the very cheapest flights,book Istanbul-Athens and Athens-Rome in advance.But even there you will be able to get a pretty cheap flight at short notice in January if necessary.
How long do you have for this trip in total? Only two weeks for all that travel in Italy is very little...are you planning on seeing the rest of Western Europe as superficially as that?
Dec 2, 2012 12:22 AM
The nervousness and over-planning creates artifical dilemmas, such as "how long should I stay somewhere?" The correct answer already given: stay as long as it takes to do what you want. That's all there is to it. You can decide ahead of time to visit a city for one day to visit the one museum you want to see, or visit with an open plan and stay until you want to move on.
There's nothing wrong with having rough plans. I always have several, the further into the vague future, then more lmans I have. But in reality, I make final decisions probably only a week in advance. My longer trips take shape as I'm moving around. It's something you can learn to do.
Dec 2, 2012 2:34 AM
9Some simple advice.
- Take your time, leave something to be desired for. What's wrong with staying somewhere a week if you like it, spending your time enjoying the small, unspectacular things a city and its surroundings have to offer? They give you the feel of a country, its history and its people. Chances are that the cities and countries you haven't visited will still be around during your lifetime.
- Have a map and a train timetable or, in 2012, put Google Maps and www.bahn.de (the site of the German railways, but having the timetables for all EU countries) as shortcuts on your desktop. Google Maps is the perfect place for wondering how it would be in cities and villages you have never heard of. Activate the Wikipedia button for a glimpse of their mysteries and attractions. Use bahn.de (or national railway sites like trenitalia.com) to see how they can be reached, and which city is a good base for exploring. (E.g. Pisa is just one hour from Florence.)
- Enjoy! Everything can go wrong, but in real life most things work out as planned. And there is always a Plan B.
Dec 2, 2012 7:13 AM
10Thank you guys. This has been really helpful. I guess I should be more flexible. Am I trying to do too much in one trip? If not, what do you think is a good estimate for my total trip time so I can buy a flight home from London?
I guess the nervousness is my main problem. Hopefully having a travel group in Israel will prep me a little bit.
I thought of a random question overnight. Is it okay to give my camera to someone to take a picture of me (at say the Colosseum) or should I be concerned about someone running away with it? (I'm clearly really unprepared!)
These are all really great ideas though and it seems you are all in general agreement. Thank you!.
Dec 2, 2012 7:54 AM
11About handing over your camera: there are thousands of other tourists around main sights like the Colosseum or Eiffel Tower, and most of them have no interest whatsoever in running off with your camera. It never hurts to offer to take a picture of the person taking yours either, especially if that person is on his own too it may give you the chance to have a small chat.
Don't worry too much about travelling solo, you'll find lots of other solo travellers around who are more than willing to share a few stories or perhaps even spend some time sightseeing or having a meal and/or drink with you.
Oh, and there's a chance you'll only become more nervous as your departure day comes nearer. Don't let that spoil your trip - it's really very, very easy to strike up a conversation in hostels etc.
Dec 2, 2012 8:02 AM
Dec 2, 2012 8:13 AM
Dec 2, 2012 3:56 PM
(4 star Hotel)
From US$134.33 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$101.20 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$171.47 per night