Western Europe Virgin
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Mar 23, 2012 4:43 AM Last Post By: Maestro
Mar 21, 2012 6:05 PM
Western Europe VirginHi all,
I’m 21years old and soon travelling to Europe for the first time for a total of 2 and a half months.
I fIy into Paris on the 29th May and have a whole month to spend before my Contiki Tour starts in London on the 26th June. I plan to visit Roland Garros soon after I arrive and ideally would like to spend a week discovering Paris then catch a train or plane (whichever is cheaper/more functional ??) to a neighbouring country. I would really appreciate some insight and assistance from all you avid travellers into what I should do/where I should go From Paris in the lead up to the tour so I can book as much as possible in terms of Train/Flight tickets and accommodation before I leave. I want to avoid going to the places covered in the tour which include Barcelona, French Riviera, Florence, Rome, Venice, Vienna, Munich, Austrian Tyrol, Swiss Alps, Rhine valley and Amsterdam. So, from Paris, what are some logical places to visit, keeping in mind I need to get to London by the 26th. I was thinking Berlin or Brussels?
Thanks for any help and tips in advance!!!
Mar 21, 2012 7:53 PM
1so you have 3 weeks to "kill" between leaving Paris and arriving in London?
there's HEAPS to do. all of it good as.
what do you like? what kind of stuff do YOU want to see?
Berlin and Brussels is a start... with 3 weeks you could visit both and then some. You could take a slow train from Paris to Berlin over 3 weeks then fly Berlin to London. By "slow train", i mean:
- get a train map and look at the routes from Paris to Berlin (obviously there's heaps, but with 3 weeks..)
- see where trains stop (e.g Brussels).
- read a bit on all those places.
- make sure at least a couple of them have populations of less than 100,000.
- map out a route that sounds good and shoot for that.
if you have a month of contiki coming up, I advise to fight the urge to "see as much as possible" and force yourself to spend at least 2 or 3 nights anywhere. you see a lot on contiki tours and (some people) have fun, but you're on the move pretty constantly. use this intro 3 weeks to relax and cruise.
Mar 21, 2012 10:48 PM
2Go round the UK maybe. Take a train to London and off you go round the rest. You can go surfing down in Cornwall, see Oxford or Cambridge Uni, Stratford Upon Avon for Shakespeare, Ironbridge Gorge for the beginning of the industrial revolution, the Yorkshire Dales (pretty), Snowdonia, Cardiff, Lake District, Scottish highlands, Skye, York, Liverpool for the Beatles, the list goes on and on.
Mar 21, 2012 11:20 PM
3I wouldn't worry about avoiding the places you'll be going on the Contiki Tour. Most stops are for such a short time (and hotels tend to be so distant from the center) that you'll think the purpose of the tour is to avoid the tour's stated destinations anyway. It's all about what fun it is to be on a bus.
Mar 22, 2012 1:20 AM
4Agree with #1--keeping in mind your particular interests, if I were in your shoes I'd spend the 3 weeks enjoying a very different pace to what you'll get on the Contiki tour. Spend 10 days each in a couple of places that really appeal to you, even if you might whip through them on the tour, or visit some smaller towns away from the "big sites".
Mar 22, 2012 2:55 AM
5How about Spain and Portugal. From your Kontiki-list it looks that you only visit Barcelona, but in June it probably will be very pleasant in Andalucia, where you can visit Granada to see the Alhambra, and Cordoba for the Mosque/Cathedral. Seville is a town, where you can spend a week. Next to Spain is Portugal, where cities like Lisbon and Oporto are interesting. Most certainly Lisbon with excursions to Sintra, Cascais and so on.
Mar 22, 2012 3:16 AM
6Thanks for the advice guys.
I love the weird and wonderful, architecture, history, music, museums and art. Above all, immersing myself in cultures other than my own excites me most.
I’m less concerned about visiting the countries on the tour now as I understand it will be a relatively rushed time.
Been doing a bit of research on trains and it looks like TVG goes from Paris to Brussels through Lille. And then I could just get a cheap flight from Brussels to Berlin or train again which looks easy enough.
If all fails, I may just divide the time I have before the tour between Paris and London so just catch the eurostar straight across. What are your thoughts on this?? Does it seem silly or boring seeing as though I have the opportunity to visit surrounding countries relatively easily?? I spose i am conscious of being on my own so maybe it's a comfort thing. But tell me there will be enough to do in Paris and London alone! I like the sound of the Beatles in Liverpool #2
Mar 22, 2012 5:06 AM
7Don't worry about finding things to do in Paris, you could spend months there. A week is a good amount of time for Paris and you should get a good feeling for the city. If you like Paris, and I am sure you will, you might even want to extend your stay and do day trips out of Paris. I am sure you will be visiting Versailles, but there are many more possibilities. http://en.chateauversailles.fr/homepage There is also the Chartres Cathedral. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chartres_Cathedral Or the D Day beaches from WWII in Normandie. Or Mont St. Michel. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mont_St._Michel A number of years ago I spent some time in Angers, France. It is about a two hour TGV ride from Montparnasse in Paris to Angers and there is much to do within walking distance of the train station in Angers, you could leave Paris early in the morning and return to Paris on a late train. Here are some of my pictures: http://travel.webshots.com/album/97574274rPCmjg Going the other direction from Paris you also might consider the city of Strasbourg for a couple days.
I would recommend being flexable and not on a tight schedule. Your tour is going to get you to some of the majoy sites in Europe, but you will have a lot of your own time to get a feel for the country and culture.
Mar 22, 2012 6:40 AM
8Thanks # 7 i will definitely take your ideas up in Paris. Saw the photos of Angers... awesome!
At this stage i will fly from Paris to Berlin (i've decided i must go there as a friend was telling me about the Blind restaurant... anyone been there?) and then i will catch the train to Prague (been told i will like it) for 3 days and then Fly on to London. Should give me a bit more of a feel for Europe and most of all i'lll be able to do it at my own pace.
Mar 22, 2012 9:01 AM
9LOL, have you read the reviews for that Berlin restaurant? While it may be an interesting experience it does not seem that their strong point is the quality of the food. http://www.viator.com/tours/Berlin/Berlin-Dinner-in-the-Dark-Experience/d488-5181DARK/TR You will be leaving a country and city that is know for it's food to a country know for it's beer. Please let us know what your price range is in € and I am sure there are people on this forum that can give you some great restaurant recommendations for Paris and for that matter, Berlin also. I have never been to Berlin but I have friends there and the city still has much to offer. Here are 30 more reviews, also not that great. http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g187323-d782140-r122509454-Nocti_Vagus-Berlin.html#REVIEWS
FYI: Many on this forum are not big fans of tours and more inclined to self planned trips. Since you will be doing both would you please come back after your trip and give us your views and a little trip report.
Mar 23, 2012 3:18 AM
Mar 23, 2012 4:43 AM
11I agree that taking it slow is good, but you have plenty of time, and if you like architecture, history, music, museums and art as you say, you could do far worse than taking a train on from Prague to Budapest, which is one of the most spectacular cities in Europe. Try and catch a concert at the Opera House there, it's an amazing building...
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