My Winter European Holiday - Itinerary
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Nov 1, 2012 12:54 AM Last Post By: bjd
Oct 30, 2012 8:25 PM
My Winter European Holiday - ItineraryFirst of all, let me introduce myself. I am a 28 year old man from the Denver, Colorado area. Have travelled a bit here and there, the Caribbean, Western Europe, Central America. I am planning to do one more trip before settling down with my wife and starting a family. One more solo adventure that is, I am sure there will be many family trips to come!
What I am looking for on this trip is a very relaxed voyage. I don't want to plan ahead for anything that I don't need, i.e. make reservations for travel day before/day of, same for hostels, if I miss a ride so be it, I can grab one tomorrow, or in a week or whatever. Have laid out my route and am looking for any suggestions of good activities at these locations or in between them (don't want to just stick to these capitals but this is my master 'route'). Also, any complications I may run into (especially the exact route I will need to take around the Kosovo area). If it helps, I would like to completely avoid plane travel once I have landed in London (not due to fear of flying, but due to interest in the slow old trains of Europe). I want the 20+ hour train rides with the gauge changes in little towns you can't even try to pronounce. I don't plan on anything fancy, just bunks at a local hostel throughout with a few nights on trains. I travel well and don't mind crashing on the floor of pretty much any bus/train/airport terminal floor. Food will be mostly local markets, cooked at the hostel, sandwiches, and lots of coffee :)
My departure date is November 12. I have purchased a return ticket in late march out of Frankfurt cheap central airport, but I am in no way holding that as a stopping point if it takes me longer to see what I want to see. Have in my budget enough for 150 days at 120 euro per day so the trip is basically open-ended (hope I don't end up averaging 120 euro a day!).
Anyway, my route will lead me through these major cities and their surrounding areas:
Prague, Czech Republic
Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Andorra la Vella, Andorra
Frankfurt, Germany EXIT POINT
So far my only solid set-in-stone reservations are in Venice. Wherever I am at the beginning of February I am dropping everything and heading to Venice. Have reservations there throughout carnival (which just happens to coincide with my birthday!!). Only other concern is for New Years Eve. What is the nightlife in Belgrade like on New Years? I hope to be somewhere in that area near New Years Eve.
I know this is a lot of information, but like I said, I am just looking for any helpful tips that might make for a little less stress or a little more pleasure :) Thanks in advance!!
Oct 31, 2012 12:30 AM
Oct 31, 2012 12:35 AM
You need to be aware of Schengen zone restrictions. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_Area for a list of who's in the Schengen zone. You're only allowed 90days out of every 180 in the zone. That will trigger when you pitch up in Amsterdam, turn off again when you exit Poland into Ukraine, turn back on again when you cross Croatia into Hungary, and then stay on until you exit out of Frankfurt. Make sure you do the maths to not fall foul.
I've never personally been, but Belgrade's nightlife is said by lots of people to be excellent. Cross reference on the E Europe branch to check.
Suggestions aside from the visa thing already mentioned:-
1) http://www.bahn.co.uk - Europe wide train timetable
2) http://www.seat61.com - great guide to trains
3) I suggest prebooking around Xmas/NY to be safe, and figure out what is or isn't open (e.g. restaurants or supermarkets to get food) during this time
4) Monaco is ferociously expensive and in my opinion rather boring, but I get why you're doing it; take a packed lunch
5) Montreux's a weird choice for Switzerland, why? It's also a hella long way from Andorra, that's gonna be a total mission to get to; consider doing Croatia to Venice to Slovenia to Hungary to Slovakia to Austria to slot in Switzerland there before dropping down to Rome.
6) If you follow point 5, change your exit point to Madrid. You're missing nothing by skipping Frankfurt.
7) Due to geographically being a bit outta the way, consider dropping Copenhagen in favour of Brussels, Brugge (near Amsterdam).
8) If you intend to use the ultra fast eurostar to get from London to Amsterdam, refer to http://www.seat61.com first, then book it immediately to get the cheapest price. This far in advance you should still get a reasonable price.
Oct 31, 2012 12:56 AM
3due to interest in the slow old trains of Europe
If you want slow old trains, stay in the States. European trains are much newer and faster. Until you get farther east, like to Ukraine.
Don't forget that the weather may play havoc with some of your travel plans, since this is going to be in winter.
Nice to see a route that includes interesting places in Central and Eastern Europe. I too have read that Belgrade's nightlife is very good. Lots of young people in those countries speak English, so you should be able to meet people.
I do find that Monaco doesn't exactly "fit" in with the rest. Is it to check off a list? Same with Andorra. Either skiing or tax free shopping.
When I see long itineraries like this, my first thought is that the OP should look at a map and draw the route. In some cases, the planned route is not the most logical. Some connections should be done by plane rather than train. And, like Fwoggie, I think a logical exit point would be Lisbon or Madrid rather than returning to Frankfurt.
Oct 31, 2012 2:15 AM
4Backing up bjd's comments re transport modes, some routes you may wish to consider flying due to long train rides or lots of water in the way:-
London to Amsterdam (easyjet, BA, KLM)
Amsterdam to Copenhagen (KLM, SAS, Norwegian)
Warsaw to Kiev (Aerosvit, LOT)
Bucharest to Istanbul (Pegasus, Turkish, TAROM)
Istanbul to Sofia (Turkish)
Monaco to Barcelona (fly out of nearby Nice, Vueling, Iberia, Easyjet)
Barcelona to Lisbon (Vueling, TAP, easyjet)
Barcelona to Montreux (Swiss or Easyjet out of Barcelona or easyjet out of Toulouse).
Oct 31, 2012 9:15 AM
Welcome to TT!
As other users pointed out, don't forget you can't spend more than 90 days in each 180 calendar days period in all the Schengen Area.
I think you should review parts of your route. For example, it could make more sense to make Rome-Montreaux-Montecarlo-Barcelona-Andorra-Lisbon or Rome-Montreaux-Montecarlo-Andorra-Barcelona-Lisbon than what you planned.
I'd suggest you to ask in the Eastern Europe branch about info about entering Serbia after visiting Kosovo.
Oct 31, 2012 11:46 AM
6Wow, thank you all for the great information. I have been told that the worst thing they can do if you overstay your 90 in 180 is fine you and ban you from entering right? Was thinking as long as I re-enter Schengen zone before I hit the 90 days, the worst they can do when I leave for home is slap me with a fine and throw me out, right? I won't end up in jail? If this isn't correct, I do have a way of getting a WHV, but it is going to be difficult.
Montreaux is basically my idea of absolute heaven. I spent a week there (and a week in Crans-Montana) in June a few years ago and I want to see what Lake Geneva looks like in the winter. I live in Denver, if I wanted to go see a ski resort there are like 300 within driving distance of my house. I left this as the ending point because I plan on remaining here for several weeks to unwind before heading home (friend of mine has an apartment overlooking the lake that is mine until spring if I want it).
And as far as Andorra and Monaco go, yes, those are checks on my list, have no real interest other than to pass through (probably spend one day in Andorra and one day/night in Monaco. Who doesn't want to say that they have been to Monte Carlo??
One final question about flying out: Do I need to have a return ticket to land in London? I know when I travelled to Jamaica we had to have return flight booked before entering. That is why I booked the Frankfurt ticket, just so I would have a return ticket. If it is not needed I will cancel it and just buy a flight when I am ready to come home.
Thanks for the great advise and the links and the travel order. Like I said though, I would rather spend a week on a train vs. an hour on a plane. You just miss so much on a plane, I think it is literally the worst way to travel, you just get the highlights. Riding on the train or on an old bus you get to see the countryside, you get a day to spend with that really strange complete stranger who shares your berth or seat, it is simply more of an experience.
Oct 31, 2012 11:53 AM
Oct 31, 2012 11:59 AM
8Fines for overstaying in the Schengen Area can amount to over €1000, and unless you're 100% sure you won't make any trips (private or business) to Schengen countries, a ban isn't that great either.
Add to that that immigration may take so long figuring out how to deal with you that you may end up missing your flight home and the fact that your insurance will be invalid during your overstay. So you may not be thrown in jail, but the consequences if caught can still be quite serious.
Who doesn't want to say that they have been to Monte Carlo
Me. Seriously, I don't give a toss - never been there and can't think of a good reason to go there. Not that anyone I know would be remotely impressed if I told them I'd been to Monaco.
Oct 31, 2012 12:59 PM
9Okay, so the extended visa will be a requirement, or if all else fails I guess I will just have to schedule a stay in a non-shengen country until the clock resets.
I am really surprised by the reaction to Monte Carlo. What about it is so horrible? You got a town filled with French medieval influences tucked into the Alps, Larvotto Beach, amazing culture, ballet, opera, the casinos, the architecture, all steeped in almost a thousand years of Grimaldi history (from which I hold family roots).
Is there something I know not about Monaco? I know it is expensive and not like most of my destinations, but I kinda want it to be my one little luxury on the trip. I think it is the James Bond fan in me or something, but when I think Monte Carlo I see men in italian tuxedos with martinis (shaken, not stirred) throwing millions around on baccarat tables with their trophy wives watching from the wings. I don't know, just seems like a very different place that I just can't go without seeing once. Am sure it will probably be a lot like Vegas and be a major, major disappointment, but I have to see it with my own eyes :)
Oct 31, 2012 7:43 PM
There are French medieval villages all over France. But not in Monaco. For some mysterious reason, many non-Europeans seem to think they must visit Monaco. Most Europeans couldn't give a toss.
Oct 31, 2012 8:02 PM
11Been figuring it out and I can limit it to exactly 90 days in. I have Ukraine, Romania, Turkey, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Croatia out of the Schengen zone (please check me on that, I think that is the list of non-shengen countries). I can spend plenty of time there and keep the rest to 90 days maybe. Seems like with the current economy all European countries would want people who are going to spend money and stimulate the economy to stay around, but whatever :)
Thank you guys a bunch, got a lot of good info here, especially about my view of monte carlo. Thinking now it might just be a pass through for an hour or so to check it out, then get on my way to Nice or maybe Èze for a few nights. Can anyone comment on either of those choices?
Nov 1, 2012 12:54 AM
12Indeed, the countries you list in #12 will let you be in Europe without being in the Schengen zone.
About far as letting tourists stay as long as they want to stimulate the economy, from reading posts here in TT, it looks as though many of those who wish to stay longer are not big spenders, rather backpackers looking to couchsurf or stay in hostels and live as cheaply as possible or else are driving around in a van. The tourism business prefers people who stay a short while, go to hotels and eat in restaurants every day, then buy souvenirs before leaving for home.
I figure you should go to Monaco to see for yourself -- an hour should do it. If you want to see something picturesque, have a look at Google images for Eze or even the old part of Nice.
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