10 Weeks in Europe - First Time Travelers!!!!

Hi there! My cousin and I are taking our first trip to Europe this summer from June 25 to August 29. We want to do and see as much as possible in these 10 weeks. We are going to buy a EuroRail pass that is unlimited use for 2 months. We have made a rough itinerary but are very open to changing this and kind of going with the flow once we get there if we want. Just to give you all a little information about us we are both female in our early twenties and will have just graduated from college. This is our present to each other :) I am an avid sports fan and would love to see a futbol game while we are on our trip but I know the Olympics are going on during the same time. Any suggestions on where would be the best city to see a game and if any games will be help during the Olympics that are not affiliated with the Olympics? We are both very active and are completely okay with seeing and walking a lot in one day. Here is what we have so far... Arrive in London on June 25: 5 days Fly to Dublin: 2 days. Train to Galway: 3 days...during those 3 days, take a day trip to Cliffs of Moher and possibly the Aran Islands? Fly to Paris: 4 days...one of the days in Paris is my cousins birthday any fun ideas?
(Rest of the trip we will be traveling by train)

Posted by Deannie
Irvine, CA
5 posts

San Sebastian: 2 days Pamplona: 1 day...to see the running with the bulls! Madrid: 3 days Lisbon: 2 days...Read in Rick Steve's book that the best way to get to Seville from Lisbon is bus. Can we use our rail pass for the bus? I have tried to look it up but cannot find any definite answers Seville: 2 days Barcelona: 3 days Nice: 4 days...day trip to Monaco Cinque Terre: 2 days Rome: 4 days Florence: 2 days Venice: 2 days Milan: 2 days...possibly visiting a friend but do not have to go. I was thinking if we did not go to Milan we could a couple extra days in the Tuscany area? Interlaken: 4 days...maybe stay in Lucerne for 1 day Munich: 3 days Berlin: 3 days Amsterdam: 2 Brugge: 2 days Brussels: 2 days Then back to London for 2 days before we leave or use it as a fluff if we decide to stay in a city longer
We are really open to any suggestions and appreciate any advice. Do you think there are any places we should consider adding or getting rid of?

Posted by Deannie
Irvine, CA
5 posts

We are planning on staying in hostels but don't know if we should make all of our reservations ahead of time or wait until we get there. Do you think we will run into trouble finding hostels if we wait until we get there? I have done tones of research on hostels and have about a list 5 or more hostels that we would like to stay at in each city if our #1 choice is booked. We are definitely going to book our hostels for the first portion of the trip (London, Ireland and Paris) because we have to purchase our plane tickets and will know the exact dates that we are staying in those cities. I bought all of Rick Steve's books regarding the countries listed above that we are planning on going to. I am currently reading Italy and just finished Spain. We are getting so excited and cannot wait for June to come. Please let me know if there is any more information that you need from me...
Thanks for your help!

Posted by Angela
Vancouver, Wa, Usa
232 posts

Don't book a round trip ticket, get "open jaw" or multicity and fly out of your last major destination. You waste a lot of time and money getting back to London that you can use elsewhere for more fun. You can use that to see more of Tuscany. Otherwise your trip looks great to me.

Posted by Sasha
Bainbridge Island
1583 posts

Deannie, are you counting days or nights? I mean, when you say 2 days Venice and 2 days Florence, is that 3 nights and 2 full days in each? Or do you mean 2 nights in Venice (one full day), then travel to Florence for another 2 nights (and one full day)? If that is what you mean you are moving too fast---spending every other day on the train. Also, going all the way to Lisbon for such a short time is not a good use of time or money. You have to cut somehwere, and I would suggest that (as nice as Lisbon sounds). But overall it sounds like a lot of fun for the two of you!!!

Posted by Tom
Oak Brook, IL
160 posts

Wow! This is a busy schedule! I'm glad you are young! If I was lucky enough to be able to spend 10 weeks, I would try to figure out how to get to Salzburg, and Prague. In my opinion, having 10 weeks to spend, I would consider these cities to be 'must sees' even if it meant cutting out other cities all together. Perhaps cut out Brussels, Burges and Lisbon. You could cut a day out of Munich, Berlin and London. Have you taken the time to map out (in detail) the time you will spend actually travelling point to point? You may find that you might want to cut out a few cities. Nevertheless, I'm sure this will be an adventure and you'll have a great time. Enjoy!

Posted by angela
wichita, ks
34 posts

My husband and I did a 6 wk backpacking trip a couple of years ago and doing it again this September - Cannot wait so I totally understand your excitement!! First: Your packing light right? We each brought 2 pair jeans, one pair of shoes, 5-6 shirts and toiletries. I would say plan on spending one day of your week for laundry and just relaxing. We got rained out pretty much one day a week so it worked perfectly. Definitely do open jaw. The only place we made hotel reservations was when we were in Italy. Other than that we just hopped on the train, got off at any town and then looked for hotels. I always had a list of possible hotels from RS books and other websites which helped because sometimes the hotels are booked, you get lost, etc. Oh plan on getting lost a lot, especially in the bigger cities - still makes for a fun trip:) We too did the Eurorail Pass but also flew in between some countries. We flew from Prague to Oslo, Oslo to Scotland, then Scotland to Ireland. So keep that option in mind as well - very cheap to fly within Europe. One of our favorite cities was Hallstatt, Austria - very very small and quaint. A great town to just chill for a couple of days. Definitely do part of Tuscany. Stay in an agriturismo, rent a car and day trip. Loved Amalfi Coast. You going to Scotland? One of our favorite countries. Bring tissues to carry with you constantly because their is not always tp in the bathrooms. Have an amazing trip!

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

The Olympics START when you're still in London. Are you sure about that? Are you going specifically to see the Olympics because if not - DO NOT go then. Everything will be more expensive and crazy crowded and getting a hotel or hostel room will be difficult. Hit London after they're over.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

They arrive London JUNE 25. The Olympics start JULY 27. Their dates are fine.

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
960 posts

Deannie, you're going to be in Ireland so if you're a sports nut, see if you can get to a Gaelic football or hurling match. The Olympics in London won't affect the sports in other countries. I'm not sure what type of schedule (season) they have so you'd have to check on that. Hurling is like a combination football/soccer/field hockey - very fast moving and exciting to watch. When we were there my friend got so excited about it that she brought home a hurling stick, jersey, & gloves as souvenirs.

Posted by Brad
Charlotte, NC, USA
214 posts

The great thing about the rail pass is flexibility. You may decide a couple weeks in that you want to slow down a bit. It might be a good idea not to have the middle part of the trip written in stone. Also keep in mind that a supplement or reservations may be required for higher speed trains. Don't rule out discount flights because Ryan Air and Easyjet can have some great deals. Otherwise it sounds like you've started doing some good research. Have fun, it sounds like a great trip.

Posted by Deannie
Irvine, CA
5 posts

Thank you so much for all your advice...We already booked our round-trip ticket through London because we were able to use miles and going RT though London used a lot less miles for whatever reason. Sasha...when I said 2 days in Florence and 2 days in Venice, I meant 2 nights so we would be on the train every other day. I definitely think we can cut out a couple days some places to add extra days in Florence and Venice. I have now looked at a map and mapped out how long we would be on a train between each city and it is starting to look like a lot. I'm now realizing how much we will actually be on the train. One of my co-workers told me, that we should get a 1st Class Rail Pass. Does anyone have any suggestions? Is the price difference worth spending the extra money to sit first class?
Thanks again everyone's feedback!!!

Posted by Sasha
Bainbridge Island
1583 posts

I sure wouldn't spend the $$ for a first-class railpass. You are under 26, right? You can get Youth passes which are in 2d class and a much better price. The only time I would consider 1st class is on a night train where I could have a private compartment with my travel companion. On the day trains, 2d class is finethe seats are comfortable and the train goes just as fast! Spend what you save on railpasses on slightly better lodging. Or on those futbol tickets.

Posted by stephen
Greeley, co, usa
244 posts

Do the first class cars of the train get to the city faster than the second class?
Pr'obably not. 2nd class is fine. Even years ago when 'Europe on $5 a Day' recommended against taking the ferrobus from Madrid to Toledo, my (rather fussy) sister and I took it and could not understand what the problem was. If you have an itinerary set up and plan to stick with it, then I would make reservations at the hostels. If you think you will be changing your schedule, then I wouldn't. I know that you want to see all these places, but I think that you should cut down on the number of places you visit and spend more time at those you visit.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

Whoops, I msesed up on the dates, my bad. That's what I get for posting before coffee.

Posted by Barry
San Diego, CA
587 posts

Alot of good information here already for you Deannie, I suggest not booking all your hostel stays in the latter part or a month into the trip, however your plan to book early on in London, Ireland and Paris is a good idea, you'll be getting used to being in Europe and it will give you some piece of mind while getting oriented to being there. Later on you may want to go someplace you hadn't thought about, met some new friends that are going someplace you might want to go with them to or you could just be enjoying some place and desire to stay longer, no need to be tied down to going somewhere on a set schedule. You're going to be there for over 2 months, how many of us even know what we'll be doing in 2 months from now. Having a list of the hostels you might want to stay in is a great idea and tells me you're doing your homework and that is really appreciated by the people that post on this board.

Posted by Bobbie
Park Ridge, IL
524 posts

Deannie Good you have done lots of reseach for you trip. And you have gotten some great advice. Some thoughts: Consider cutting down the number of places you are visiting. You are visiting a gazillion countries. Even when I was 21 and traveling all over Europe, it was still mind bending to change countries, change languages, change hotels every few days, etc. Mentally challenging. You need to give yourselves at least 5 - 7 nights in 2 more places. To sleep in, chill out, wander, pamper yourselves, etc If you do consider reducing the number of days, here are some ideas. Think about the outliers on your trip, those that are expensive to get to, that are a ways distance from the rest of your trip, and take a lot of time. My suggestions would be Ireland (which is cheap to get to from the states) and definitely Portugal. But you will need to do other places as well. Also, now that you have a preliminary itinerary, it is important to guesstimate your travel time. Realize each time you mmove to another destination, it will take at least 1/2 day! Pack (unless it's a back pack!), check out, time to train station/airport, wait at train station/airport (1-2 hours for flight), transport time, time to new hotel, get oriented, find the public transportation, etc. Use an on line calendar with blank squares such as wincalendar. Add your current itinerary. Then use the bahn.de website to figure out how long it takes to get from 1 place to another. You dont have to choose a specific time just figure out the usual length of time. Add to your calendar. If you are thinking of night trains, remember these are more costly and check back on previous threads re: night train pros and cons.

Posted by Bobbie
Park Ridge, IL
524 posts

Continued from Above I am particularly concerned about time from Paris to San Sebastian. Seems like that would be a long train ride. Also you are going from Madrid to Nice, I think? Also not as easy and better a discount airline. I can't remember if you are going to Barcelona or Madrid of both. I think you would like Barcelona way better than Madrid. Again takes a long time and train switches. Again better a discount airline. Go to skyscanner.com. These are cheap if you book further ahead. But read the FINE PRINT as they have restrictions of pieces of lugagge, size and weight. Initial price is misleading but still a great bargain. Hostels - Summer is prime time for students and others for hostels. You are heading toward many of the key tourist cities. Many get booked up early. You probably already know this but you can now book hostels online and they have reviews, location maps, etc. Check general info to see if hostels will really be available at the last minute or even a few days before. Also figure in additional travel time between the hostel and the center of the city where you will find the wonderful sites you want to visit. Also there is only 1 hostel I think in the Cinque Terre itself. You may be able to stay in other cities a short train ride away. I think you will find that you are spending an extraordinary amount of time on the train. This will considerably shorten the time you will sightsee. On your itinerary, I see mainly mid to large size cities. With the network of trains in Europe, you can stay in villages and country. It really is important to do this to get a totally different and wonderful flavor of the country. Now you have Galway and Cinque Terre. 10 weeks is an awesome amount of time to see most of Europe. Make the best of it.... you will be back! Bobbie

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1960 posts

Deannie: We once went into a little bar on the mountain above Innsbruck and bought a round for everyone. That was the last beer we bought, the people took us in and treated us to the greatest night of our lives. Roll with the Flow. You will meet others like yourself on the road, and there are many possible detours along the way. Let your trip take a natural progression without plans. I would start in Amsterdam, then go to Munich. Then, Salzburg, Vienna and over to Prague. See what Bohemians you run into in these fantastic, lively places. Then, regroup and decide where else you'd like to go. Remember that some European places and people are very lively, and some places are a little dull. Grab all the gusto as you go, because you may never have another experience like this again.