Having a hell of a time...PLEASE help eliminate destinations
Replies: 14 - Last Post: Jun 27, 2012 3:42 AM Last Post By: victalis
Jun 26, 2012 2:19 AM
Having a hell of a time...PLEASE help eliminate destinationsHeaded to Europe for the first time in July and August for roughly 5 weeks. I'm desperately trying not to be one of the "I want to see it all" travelers as suggested all over the forum. That said...it's tough to take an axe to my list.
My interests are food (including drink--beer, wine), art and architecture, historic sites, nightlife (more of the slightly arty/alternative/bohemian scene and cool bar type than the massive, glitzy and overpriced club type), and just experiencing the general "life culture" of the place (e.g., fun place to wander the streets, sit in cafes, etc.). I'm in my 20s, traveling alone, staying in hostels.
I'd say I'm most excited about Spain and will likely try to spend ~2 of the weeks there, the rest of the time, I have narrowed down to:
Berlin (flying in here)
Paris + short trips to Amsterdam + Antwerp, Brussels, or Ghent
Rome + Florence
In Spain, will be trying to visit Barcelona (flying out of here), Madrid, Grenada, Seville, Cordoba (may sub one of these out in favor of heading to Portugal to visit Lisbon for a few days).
I know...all over the place. Any suggestions? Would it be wise to chose either the France/Netherlands/Belgium or the Italy leg and cut the other one out? If so, which one?
Thanks for any help.
Jun 26, 2012 3:46 AM
1It's still too much: I count 14 cities in 35 days.
Let's see: Berlin and Spain are certainties. I would cut out Istanbul (out of the way) and then for going from Berlin to Spain either opt for the:
- 'west trail': Berlin - Amsterdam - Belgium - Paris - Barcelona (thus cutting out Munich/Vienna/Italy)
- or opt for the 'east trail': Berlin-Munich-Vienna-Venice-Florence-Rome - fly to Madrid (cutting out NL/BE and France).
Have fun !
Jun 26, 2012 3:52 AM
Jun 26, 2012 4:12 AM
3WoW! You're all over the place!
If you think this may be your only chance, it may be.
You'll get back home and wonder where all the money went.
It went to transportation.
The best night life, is where you had the best conversations.
Start with east Berlin.
Fying out of Barcelona will mean quiting a learning jawdropping experience in Andelucia, to double back to an obligated flight. Open jaw is the way to go.
Look at things a little differently, so you won't get impatient.
i.e. When you get stuck on a sidewalk behind a dottering old couple, or baby carriage convlab,,,
That's your time to look up. At window decor and moorish influence architecture.
Or magical baroque!
Jun 26, 2012 4:24 AM
4I'm not sure if I can advise anything better than: stop worrying and planning so much. Just take your trip, enjoy what you can, and if you think it's not all turned out the way you want, do it different next time.
If I have any reason at all to play the role of advise-giver, it's only because I've been through all this before .. done it, figured out what I enjoy doing, realize that I survive not going to one or another 'must' location. I focus on what I do and make the best of it.
You might be having difficulty making a decision because you haven't yet grasped these lessons through your own experience.
Another practical way in which I solved this problem of so-much-to-see-and-so-little-time is to never hold to an itinerary bounded by time. I start with a list of places to visit and a route connecting them. I then start at the beginning and contnue until my time runs out. I rarely get to the end of the list I started with, but I accomplish two things: first, I'm going where I wish; second, I have enough built-in flexibility to stay as long as I wish somewhere, and even add to my list as I go.
Jun 26, 2012 6:26 AM
5Bingo!, 5. Serendipity has worked out better than any plan I started with. Keep ears and mind open. Change itenn at the drop of a hat. You don' know "where your head will be at" then.
Don't book ahead, unless its August or a fiesta where your're going. www.hostelz.com to the resque.
If I do two paintings of the same subject, they turn out different. Diff p.o.v.
Just let your trip flow. Follow a peice of history that turns you on, at the time.
Like 5 said, if you don't compleat that starting list...continue it on another trip. (as you learn to do it cheaper ;) )
Keep ears and mind open. And stopwatch closed.
We learn things best while the iron is hot.
Don't ditch new friends too quick. They are our teachers.
Jun 26, 2012 9:03 AM
6As you mention art and architecture, I replied to a post a week or so ago as follows: German architecture varies widely by both age and region. Berlin has an interesting mix of old(ish) and modern including socialist pre-1989. A couple of hours away by regional train is Dessau and the Bauhaus (Wittenberg on the way is worth a look too), while about an hour north of Dessau and west of Berlin, Magdeburg is another city with an interesting mix including one of Freidrich Hundertwasser's constructions not far from the cathedral. The recently renovated brick buildings of Speicherstadt in Hamburg could also be seen as a (possibly expensive-ish) day trip by high speed train from Berlin, so Berlin would make a good centre with a few days out.
That reply didn't mention any of the other museums in and around Berlin / Potsdam etc so you can see you can easily spend a week or more just in the first city you visit in Europe
Jun 26, 2012 9:26 AM
7To continue in the vein of #5, on our frequent day trips around where we live we set out with a few definite goals in mind, and also visit other places of interest along the way. We always return with new places to visit that we hadn't known about, sometimes many more than the numerous places we do visit on that trip.
My advice is that you never can "see it all", just take the time to ENJOY what you do see. And for me, the most enjoyable places are in small towns and the countryside. After a while large cities begin to seem the same to me.
And I discovered a long time ago that an enjoyable way to travel is to stay in an apartment for a week somewhere, see some of the main sights and discover others that you like even better, and have the time to relax and ENJOY a place, perhaps returning to an especially enjoyable restaurant, etc. As you'll be spending a week there, there isn't the pressure to rush frantically about trying to see it all. Also, a week's stay in a fairly large apartment with a kitchen often costs the same as 2 nights in a small hotel room. Then for the next week while traveling to another destination, dash frantically (for me now not so frantic) about trying to see things along the way. Kind of the best of both worlds!!!
Jun 26, 2012 10:54 AM
8Thanks for the advice everyone! I will definitely try to travel by these ideas. Despite the fact that I am trying to figure out a loose itinerary, I am actually keeping it fairly open as you all are suggesting. Other than having purchased plane tickets to and from home (and will likely reserve a hostel for the first few nights after I arrive), I haven't and don't plan on reserving anything (no other hostels, flights, trains)--so I am just trying to set up a loose idea of where I hope to go, knowing that I may decide to stay longer in some places, may run out of time and have to quit my list midway through.
That said, I am just hoping to have a rough outline of a route when I go. Lilyramone's suggestion was what I've been debating--would either one be "better" for me given the scenario (i.e., perhaps Rome and Florence in July and August in so hot and overcrowded that this might not be the best time to visit)?
Also, are all of the cities I've listed ideal for 3-4+ days, or can some of them be sufficiently explored in a 1-2 day trip?
Jun 26, 2012 11:43 AM
9have you read this?
so let's look rationally at this list, assuming all of these places hold a similar level of interest for you as otherwise you wouldn't have listed them.
Berlin (flying in here)
Paris + short trips to Amsterdam + Antwerp, Brussels, or Ghent
Rome + Florence
Spain- Barcelona (flying out of here), Madrid, Grenada, Seville, Cordoba
Istambul is too far from anywhere else so you should drop that to start with.
So Spain is a must because you are departing there and you have 5 destinations. 5 destinations= 15 nights. Because you lose half a day in travel every time you move and honestly, it would be a shame not to make some day trips (like El Escorial and Aviilla) for a change of scenery. So perhaps do 4 cities + day trips in 15 days.
Paris-Amsterdam-Belgium is another good cluster. Easy transport, relatively short distances. That's easily another 10-15 days.
Then you are flying into Berlin. Spend a week in Berlin and surrounding area, perhaps making a stop in Hamburg of Cologne on the way to the Netherlands.
The obvious itinerary is Berlin-Amsterdam- Paris- fly to Southern Spain and work your way back to Barcelona via Madrid.
Given that Spain is a given, as is Berlin, i think the only part i'd consider replacing is the Benelux-Paris part- you could swap that for 2 weeks in Italy, flying to Sevilla from Rome.
Jun 26, 2012 12:50 PM
10Now you talkin', OP.
The apartment would let you control your diet more. At mucho savings. :)
Pick a favorite cafetería. Locals are more open to familiar faces. Ask 'em stuff. Hear 'em out, like you'd want. You'll be surprised. If you have the ...? to try their language first, they'll prob'ly say,"Actually I do speak a bit of Englih." But they don't want to insult or embarrass. Same way they give guiding or other help. Just because it needs doing. And its easier to show you where? than try telling. :)
Lotta sweet folks out there, if you'll give 'em a chance.
When you go in to shops, say how are you? first. Recognize their humanity like family and problems etc. Round characters.
You'll get lots better help.
We yanks just go in, saying what we want. Europe is a kinder gentler pace of life.
edited by expat geezer.
Jun 26, 2012 11:08 PM
Jun 26, 2012 11:20 PM
12Damn. I know I need to drop Istanbul as it really makes no sense in relation to the rest of my plans, but it's a tough one...been wanting to go for quite a while. Oh well...something to look forward to I guess.
So, is there no "objective" reason to choose the Italy or Paris leg over the other given the timing and my interests? (silly I know, just looking for something to make the decision easier)
Jun 27, 2012 1:09 AM
13There's even more history, architecture and art in Italy than there is in Paris + Benelux, but it's like comparing chalk and cheese. Both would be good options.
Jun 27, 2012 3:42 AM
14agree, save Isanbul for another trip....(Turkey, Greece, Italy)....
I would do Berlin (3-4days), Amsterdam (2-3 days), Brussels (1-2days) Ghent and Antwerp (4-5 days), Paris (3-4 days), two weeks Spain, one week left for south of france or north of france or London or Vienna/Munich.....
My favorites are Berlin, Ghent, London, Granada, Madrid, Antwerp...
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