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2 Weeks With Friends

Hello!

I'm sure everyone will have their opinions and I'm excited to hear lots of points of view. I'm daydreaming/doing the initial stages of planning for a trip to Europe with some friends. Probably 6 people comprised of three couples. I'd like to rent an apartment for a week at a time, potentially even for the whole duration

My friends and I all have similar, but not identical interests. Everyone would have a tolerance for some history, art, culture, food, and music, but none of us would want to do only one of those things the entire time. Things to do/see/experience in the home base city is important, as is the availability of enriching side trips.

I suppose my question is: where would you go? Is there a place you would like to settle in for two weeks, take day trips and really get a feel for a city? Or would I be better served splitting our time between two cities, one week in each? I'm more used to staying at a place only 1-3 nights at a time while travelling abroad, so this is somewhat new to me.

Cities I already dreamed up: Amsterdam, Prague, Rome. Paris would also be on the short list, but my most reluctant friend has already been and would be more inclined to go somewhere new. My wife and I have been to Amsterdam, but are very eager to return.

Anyway, the question is broad, perhaps too broad, but I'm excited to hear what any/everyone has to say about it.

Posted by
23471 posts

You are correct. It is so broad that it is hard to know where to start. It seems that a discussion with the other five might be helpful. How about several wine and cheese gathering and reviewing of travel DVDs of the various areas. However, a river cruise or barge cruise in France might solve a lot of various concerns.

Posted by
1108 posts

Two weeks is a long time to spend together. Having done this in the past, one thing that I learned is that each couple should have their own vehicle or method of public transportation planned. It becomes very burdensome when you are the assigned tour guide. Everyone kind of leans on you for their vacation plans and for me personally, it is so much pressure to manage everyone's expectations of the trip, budget, etc. So, you really do need to assign your friends to do some research and then gather for brainstorming.

That said, we are planning a week in Tuscany with another couple this September. Having met them in Italy in 2006 (and they actually live in the UK), we have since seen each other four additional times with time spent at each others homes. This vacation we know how the other likes to travel and they are not similar styles. My husband and I like slow, wine in a piazza people watching, laying by the pool kind of days. They on the other hand enjoy seeing as much as possible. So, they will rent a car, as will we and we will have our daytime activities to ourselves and then meet up at the agriturismo in the evenings for dinner. We have one day of a wine tour scheduled together too.

If it were me, I would plan a week in a city and then a week somewhere relaxed like the Amalfi Coast or Tuscany.

Posted by
2393 posts

Have you considered Berlin? It is such a diverse city with a great variety of things to see & do. There are some great bike tours or you could just rent bikes - it is a very bike friendly city. There is Museum island. Day trips to Potsdam & Leipzig. Charlottenburg Palace, the Grunewald forest - walk, bike or horseback through. The list goes on. Berlin has a great night scene as well.

Posted by
2393 posts

BTW - there is no rule that all of you have to do everything together!

Posted by
2297 posts

Tuscany is a great place to rent a house for 6 and find lots of different options for activities and day trips. We've done that with my brother and his family.

And I second Berlin. One of my all-time favourite places in Europe, been there 3 times and find new things to do every time.

Posted by
14580 posts

Hi,

If the friends have already been to Paris and want somewhere new to experience, I would suggest splitting the time between Berlin, as recommended above, and Vienna. Take the night train betwen the two to add on an extra day. To appease (that's what it really comes down to) each person's interests, I would recommend splitting up for a day, then meeting up later at a designated time and place, eg., if a friend doesn't want to see Potsdam or Baden bei Wien (near to Vienna), you can take off for a few hours and rendezvous at a later hour.

Posted by
527 posts

Vienna is a great city for this. We have rented apartments there ranging from 10 days to over a month and loved it. You can do trips out of the city to the Wachau, Salzburg, etc.

Posted by
277 posts

I love Paris. Maybe you should schedule some "apart time" when they can find a new adventure for a few days while you visit Paris.

Posted by
994 posts

I like Frank's advice. Getting everyone together to go over travel videos or guides is a good way to make sure everyone is happy with the final choice. Having said that, I think one week in Rome would be a good idea with a lot of variety of history, arts, food and culture. If I was on the trip, I would vote for a week in Rome, and then maybe the other week staying in Tuscany and taking day trips from there (wine, beautiful small towns, Florence...) The other advice that is important that everyone doesn't have to do everything together! When traveling with a group, alone time is good, at least for me, and much needed!

Posted by
2484 posts

Be sure to firm up that your friends are committed to the trip. I thought my friend was going but he didn't. Years later my son had a friend that said he was going with him, then cancelled.

Posted by
2349 posts

Yes, get together with some videos and wine. Maybe have each person pick 1 or 2 possibilities each and do a little further research. Then meet again to create a short list. I'd suggest a week in a city, and a week in a smaller town. That smaller town should still be large enough to have restaurants, etc.

Early research should have some very real money numbers. Estimate how much flights will be, lodging, car rental, trains, public transport, food, etc. Then add 20%. This may cause at least one couple to drop out, but better to know earlier than later.

While discussing finances, also make clear that no one should be on the hook for anyone else's money. Each couple should pay upfront, book their own flights, etc. You don't want to lose money and a friendship.

Posted by
4132 posts

Two weeks is a long time for 3 couples, and a group like that is not going to be very nimble. So I'd consider spending one of those weeks at a rental someplace interesting (Provence? Tuscany?) with a car big enough for you all for day trips, and spending other parts of your trip traveling separately.

Consider the possibilities. Each couple flies in to different cities and scopes them out. Adventures are had. Then the joyful meet-up in Europe, the swapping of stories. Then repeat on the way home.

You see Paris, and Amsterdam again if you like; your reluctant friend breaks new ground, and there are lots of new discoveries to share.

We did something very like this years ago and it was especially fun to meet up like this. All together all the time, though, would have been deadly.

Posted by
7653 posts

I've been the principal planner several times for groups from 3 to 9 at a gite (house) in or near Avignon, France, and will be doing this again for 2015. We've never stayed at the same house twice, but there are many available, in different sizes and with different amenities snd prices, at www.gites-de-france.com.

In addition to Avignon itself, it's a gateway to Provence, and side trips to Arles, Nimes, the Camargue, wineries, etc. are easy. It's reachable by TGV train from Paris, and while we could easily spend 2 weeks or more at this one spot, going to the markets and doing day trips, you could also split your time into 2 separate places in France, or Avignon plus another place in Europe. We had an apartment in Trastevere, across the Tiber river from Rome proper, and it was fabulous to be in that neighborhood, a 5 minute tram ride from the major Roman sights.

Houses/Apartments/Gites/Agriturismos for a week or more are a great way to get a better feel for a place than just having a few days or less. You become a short-term "local," and often get a really good deal on lodging. It's great getting up in the morning and making your way to the kitchen, rather than a dining hall or having to go out to find coffee and breakfast every day.

If I could move any place rather than home right now, it'd be Avignon. Best of luck & happy planning!

Posted by
11613 posts

I agree with watching some videos and talking this out beforehand. You don't all have to be together all the time. Pick three or four bases, rent at least two cars, and plan some times apart where you can meet up later in the day (or week).

Yesterday in Orvieto I ran into two of three couples plus toddlers and a grandma traveling together in Italy. They had two cars and were compromising as they went along. Everyone was unhappy at some point. Just sayin'.