Long Weekend Surprise - February 2013
Replies: 18 - Last Post: Aug 28, 2012 6:45 AM Last Post By: Tokala
Aug 23, 2012 4:08 PM
Long Weekend Surprise - February 2013Hello!
I am just starting to explore a long weekend surprise trip for my boyfriend's birthday in February of next year. We'd leave from New York in the evening on Feb.13 and return on Monday Feb. 18 or Tuesday Feb. 19. I'd really like to take him out of the US since he hasn't done much in the way of international travel, and with 4-5 nights I'd probably limit it to a max 9 hour flight.
Our main interests (weighed a bit more heavily on his interests since we'd be celebrating his birthday) for this trip would be:
-art museums and galleries
-live music scene (especially jazz)
-great national cuisine and/or great dining options at all price points
-place neither of us have been yet
-ideally outside of the US
Based on this criteria, I think the best options are in Europe, and think a good fit would be a long weekend trip to Paris, which neither of us have been to. I honestly haven't found another location that would be suitable for a long weekend and fulfill his main wishes: would LOVE to take him to Tokyo, but that's far too long a flight to go for 4-5 nights for pleasure! Neither of us are much fussed about the cold (New York can get cold/wet/miserable in Feb anyway) but I don't think we want to be in a place far colder than home.
My main questions are:
-Would you recommend Paris as a great destination in February with these interests in mind?
-Are there other locations in Europe (or near enough for a long weekend) that should be on the shortlist? Berlin and Amsterdam seem like they may fit the bill, although both cities would probably be colder than Paris, and I don't know much about their dining scenes but I'd be curious about both. Barcelona?
Aug 23, 2012 5:05 PM
1All decent options......certainly for art/culture and plenty of live music.
Weather-wise Barcelona should be the best...Amsterdam and Berlin will be really cold.
On food...all these cities are great at the middle/high end.Paris is not so good at the lower end...apart from ethnic food like Vietnamese and North African.Berlin too....great Thai and Turkish but very little cheap and good German food.
If you are on a fairly low budget food wise I'd probably go with Barcelona of these four.You can eat very well without spending a fortune.....
Aug 23, 2012 6:39 PM
2Thanks for your advice, lucapal! For now I'm definitely leaning towards Barcelona or Paris. I speak French well enough,, and my boyfriend has some passable Spanish, and I think I'd rather go for a long weekend somewhere we can communicate effectively rather than rely on English speakers the whole time... Would make things a bit easier to interact with locals and explore which would ultimately improve his whole experience.
I'm definitely going to do more research before I decide. My boyfriend did mention that he's really interested in opera: do you know anything about the opera experience and ease of acquiring tickets for a winter performance in Barcelona or Paris?
Aug 23, 2012 6:53 PM
Aug 23, 2012 7:23 PM
4Hmmm hadn't thought about Vienna. I do think it will ultimately come down to place that will satisfy most of his interests (opera and museums and jazz/live music) and is a place we would like to explore beyond those interests together.
I think seeing an opera would be a lovely addition, but it won't be the tipping point either way.
Aug 23, 2012 7:31 PM
Aug 23, 2012 7:45 PM
6The Paris opera is great....if you have the funds.Its not cheap ;-)
Never been to the opera in Barcelona.Best ones I've been to personally are in Italy...esp.Milan,Florence,Verona and my local one in Palermo.
Aug 23, 2012 7:50 PM
7Thanks Phil! I would love to go to Andalucia, especially after three weeks in Morocco and falling in love with Moorish architecture.
Only concern about Andalucia is that we'd have max five nights (probably four). While I can reasonably see covering the main sights of a large urban center in that amount of time, my perception is that the charm of Andalucia lies in experiencing the towns/cities and the surrounding villages and countryside.
What I'm getting at is, would it make more sense to have a long weekend in a city, and save Amdalucia for a two week trip later on when we have more time to "properly" experience the area? Mayb it's not that cut and dry, but I want to maximize the little time we have and explore as efficiently as possible without moving around a ton.
Am I right that flights and airport going/coming will eat up some time too? I don't think any airlines fly nonstop to Malaga or Seville, so I'd have to factor in layover time too.
Aug 23, 2012 8:04 PM
Flights - I just checked Iberia NY to Seville but its expensive :-(
Aug 23, 2012 8:31 PM
9Yes, and looks like nonstop flights to Barcelona or Berlin are about $750 (€600) or Paris for $850 (€700) round trip. I probably wouldn't want to pay higher than that, and I definitely want us to get to the final destination as directly as possible
Looks like there are a number of places to vet and figure out what makes the most sense ( thanks lupacal on the Italy recommendations for opera). I might see if I can subtly weave general ideas and lines of inquiry into conversation with my boyfriend to feel him out: it's far enough away that he hopefully won't suspect anything.
Aug 23, 2012 11:32 PM
I sometimes wonder whether native Europeans' fantasies naturally head in a different direction ..
But this raises an interesting question about priorities. The question of 'food' is very low on my own list when it comes to choosing destinations. My reason is that good-great dining can be found everywhere: good food in itself doesn't do an effective job of discriminating between locations. Also, much of the time I eat for calories, not for the dining experience, even taking account of one fast-food joint being better than another. I probably pay as much attention to the overall ambiance.
So, I pick places for other reasons, then make the best of whatever dining experiences I find there. For one long weekend, there'll be enough options anywhere, even in Amsterdam.
An interest in local/regional/national cuisines is somewhat different, although, these days any big city will have quite a variety of international cuisines to choose from. Still, if it's in one person's interest to pick a city specifically for the type of cuisine, that's as good a priority as any for going somewhere.
Aug 24, 2012 4:15 AM
13Fwoggle, if we both hadn't already been to London numerous times, it would definitely be on this list. I'd like to take him somewhere he hasn't been yet.
BthDth, thanks for your perspective on the food interest. I think my boyfriend leans a bit more like you in terms of "eating for calories" whereas I'm very much an experiential eater.
I asked about all options at price points because it's practical to think that one day we'll get a cheap lunch by acquiring items at a Paris market, or getting falafel from a stand in Berlin, or whatever. But if I'm in a place with a well-known food culture or cuisine, thats what I'd prefer to eat during my stay.
Maybe my previous and upcoming trips can shed more light? My last trip was two weeks in a few areas of Japan, and food, specifically the national/regional/local cuisine really drove both my decision to travel there AND my experience of the country. I did not eat at any French restaurants in Tokyo; while the food would have been great I'm sure, I was in Japan to sample and become more familiar with the intricacies and dishes of Japanese cuisine.
My next trip is to South Africa, where food did not really factor into me picking that location. In fact, my other option was to go to Vietnam which seems to have a much more defined national cuisine and many variations regionally. Ultimately, I'm going to South Africa for other things I'd like to see and experience, and I'll do what you usually do and figure out food on the ground.
All things considered, I'm leaning towards Paris or Barcelona right now (including the potential for great French and Catalan and Spanish dining options, respectively).
Aug 24, 2012 7:30 AM
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