Please sign in to post.

37 day itinerary critique welcomed

(0) IAD/Orly Biz Bed night on OpenSkies (1) Paris (2) Paris (3) train to Brugge (4) Brugge (5) Train to Amsterdam (6) Amsterdam (7) Amsterdam (8) EasyJet to Basel/train to Lauterbrunnen (9) Lauterbrunnen (10) Lauterbrunnen (11) Scenic Train to Fussen (12) Fussen (13) Train to Salzburg (14) Salzburg (15) Hallstatt (16) train to Vienna (17) Vienna (18) Vienna;Allegro night train to Florence (19) Florence (20) train to Rome (21) Rome (22) Rome (23) Train to Pisa then to Cinque Terra (24) Cinque Terra (25) Cinque Terra (26) Cinque Terra (27) Train to Venice (28) Venice with Ellipsos night train hotel to Barcelona (29) Barcelona (30) Barcelona (31) AVE to Madrid (32) Madrid (33) EasyJet to London (34) London (35) London (36) Eurostar to Paris (37) ORY to IAD Biz Seat on Open Skies

Posted by
12172 posts

Too much CT, not enough Rome. There is so much in Rome you can't possibly see it all. CT offers relaxation, which you will need on this trip, but really not much else.

Posted by
463 posts

you are doing the same thing we're doing--'one last trip' before baby. i laughed when i saw that. and your plan is a lot like our original plan, until we realized we could not keep up that pace (instead we're just doing london and paris with side trips to the areas around, including amsterdam), and then i'm continuing on to barcelona sans husband. but i say if you can swing that schedule, go for it. because 'assume you will return' does not always work when you are family planning! have a fantastic trip!

Posted by
3428 posts

Take a moment --- take a breath--- STOP! Too much movement. Not enough time in any location. Prioritze and cut at least half, or more, then rework. Think in time blocks- 3 to 5 days in most cities. Maybe one or two shorter stops mixed in. Do not count arrival days or departure days as part of the stop. All you will see on this plan is a lot of stations/airports. Europe will still be there.... you will go back... keep telling yourself this.

Posted by
263 posts

This trip is modeled after Rick's 45 Day itinerary, with changes made based on the trains that are available, and the weather (Italy and Spain later in the trip).

I've got three nights in the Alps to hike and 4 nights in the Cinque Terra to hike/beach it. Those are my breathers.

Otherwise, I'm very comfortable (based on past experience) seeing the highlights of a city in a day or two and then moving on.

Most of the train trips are fairly short (less than 4 hrs). I think something like 24 of the days do not involve travel at all (other than local transit/metro/etc).

This will be my 3rd time going over. We are only taking one backpack each.

But your feedback is appreciated, Toni. If I do cut anything, I'll probably only cut a couple of places. I honestly don't want to be anywhere for as long as 5 days - especially if it's in a big city.

And I think that the statement that "all I will see on this trip is airports and train stations" is a little off. Even if that were true, train stations are part of what I love about Europe.

Posted by
4555 posts

Marshall...I'm afraid I will have to agree.,...2.5 days per stop isn't enough to rest and relax. Based on my past experiences, I've been able to sustain such a schedule, too. But after slowing things down in recent years, I realize I've missed a lot of enjoyment in the past. You will also literally find yourself spending too much time packing and unpacking.
However, it sounds like you are pretty firmly committed to this...so what feedback is it you are looking for?

Posted by
1525 posts

If you have traveled Europe before and know that this is the way you like to travel, who am I to tell you otherwise. I would want to go slower. More importantly, though, I would like to focus on one area/culture at a time. It's tough for me to imagine why I would want to put Amsterdam, Rome and Barcelona on the same trip (since they have absolutely nothing in common), especially if you think it's likely you will return with some frequency. But that's me.

Posted by
263 posts

Yes, Norm, you are correct. I am fairly committed to this.

But if the consensus continues to be that I'm pushing it too hard, then I'll obviously have to consider slowing it down some and cutting it.

When I went 5 years ago, I hit 9 cities in 19 days (some of which are on this itinerary also) and 2 years ago for my honeymoon, where we hit 3 areas (Paris, Provence, and Riveria) over 10 days and it didn't feel too rushed for me at that time. In fact, 4 days in the Riviera actually felt like one day too much.

My wife and I are in our early 30s and it'll just be us.

But as for the type of feedback I was looking for, it was along the lines of ("I wouldn't put this city after that one because you'll have just spent days in museums" or "I did these four cities in that order and it worked great" etc.).

@ Randy - my wife and I hope to start a family in the next year or so, so this could be it for Europe travel for the next 15 years or so.

Posted by
104 posts

What about an open-jaw plane ticket, if you haven't already bought yours? That might allow you not to backtrack to get back to Paris. You could start in Spain if you are committed to it and fly back out of Venice or Milan.

If you are sticking to this itinerary flight-wise, I would make a small suggestion that you put all the days you are going to spend in Paris together at the end of the trip (that is, move your train trip to Brugge a day earlier and add that day in Paris to the end). Then you would have more of a breather at the end of the trip before flying out.

Overall, I would suggest cutting out Spain. I know you don't want to hear that kind of recommendation, but if you enjoy the countryside and smaller places, you could spend a some extra days in the Netherlands (Delft and Gouda are lovely places, and the Hoge Velouwe park, with a modern art museum in the center of it, are wonderful places to visit), and you would have more time in Italy to see some places outside of Rome (Ostia Antica) or Florence (Siena), or maybe make a day stop in Ravenna--very much worth a half day--on your way to Venice. Or rent a car for one day in Paris and drive through the Loire Valley. If you are not a big fan of spending days and days in cities, I would think about cutting some cities (and the travel time between them) so you have time to explore what is around and outside of them.

From your choice of other places, I think you would enjoy some of the side trips you could make from these cities, and cutting Spain would allow you to do that. It's just a thought. I only suggest cutting Spain because it is the outlier geographically. You could fit London in with your Paris plans fairly easily.

Finally, if you read what others (including Rick) have to say about traveling with a family, you might not have to wait 15 years. In that case, you could rent an apartment in Spain for a couple of weeks with your family.

Posted by
104 posts

By the way, you also mentioned that this will be your third trip. What about your wife? Are you going to so many places because it is her first trip?

Posted by
263 posts

Originally had planned open-jaw, but the OpenSkies business bed deal is only round trip to Orly. So, I'm backtracking specifically because of this. We've never flown anything but coach and really want the experience of being able to lie down for the flight over.

My wife went on the Honeymoon trip two years ago, but yes, a few of the places we are trying to hit on this trip are because I've seen them before (on my first trip) and she hasn't.

Thanks for the suggestion of considering cutting Spain. It's interesting that you say that, as my original plan for our Honeymoon was to be Spain and the South of France (and Spain got cut on that trip). I've been debating Spain on this trip for some time - as it is a bit out of the way compared to other cities.

I really appreciate the suggestions, Lexey. Defintely good food for thought. Thanks!

PS - After looking at Varenna Italy for three seconds, I wonder if it will be redundant to see it and Hallsatt, since both appear to be Lakeside towns under the mountains? Just asking.

PPS - If Varenna and Hallstatt could be considered interchangeable, then I could drop Hallstatt as well as Salzburg (which I've seen before and don't really think is that great). That would free up a few days.

Posted by
104 posts

I already sent this to Marshall in a private message, but for anyone else interested, Ravenna is a UNESCO world heritage site for its early Christian/Byzantine art and churches. They are like nothing else you will see in Italy. It's on the coast about an hour south of Venice. The trains from Florence or Bologna to Venice stop there regularly.

The Basilica of San Vitale contains truly awesome glass mosaics of the Empress Theodora and Justinian I. They are some of the best things I've seen in Italy. Maybe they are not as recommended as some places in the guidebooks, but I knew about the mosaics because of art history classes, and I am definitely not sorry I went to see them and a few others in the town. It's a very pleasant town, and would even make a nice overnight stop on the way to Venice.

And I'm not really a city person, but I loved walking in Rome at night with my friend, people-watching and seeing some of the places lit up at night (the Pax Romana). I would definitely recommend more time there (also to go to see Ostia Antica on a day trip from Rome--it's somewhat like Pompeii, and quite different from seeing snippets of ruins in the city).

I might second the suggestion that three full days in the Cinque Terre might be one too many, unless you plan to spend an entire day at the beach.

Posted by
792 posts

I do know that children are expensive, but children and travel are not necessarily mutually exclusive (ha ha). I travelled to Italy with a one year old in 1998; and then again last year we spent 6 weeks in Spain/France with our two children (ages 7 & 11). It's wonderful to travel with your kids and open up the whole world to them. I love to travel, I love my kids, and I REALLY love travelling with my kids!

Posted by
2784 posts

Marshall, I have to agree with everyone else you are trying to do to much in 37 days. In some places you will only have 1 1/2 days...you might be able to do all this but by the end of your trip you will be tired and not remember a lot of things you've seen. I think you would really appreciate your trip more if you cut out some places and not be rushing from one place to the next.

Posted by
263 posts

I truly do appreciate all the feedback.

What follows is an honest question. If everyone thinks it is too rushed, then why does Rick have 21 and 45 day "Best of Europe" itineraries that look very much like what I have laid out above?

I guess what I'm asking is, do many of you simply disagree with Rick and think it's a terrible idea to take the the types of trips he's designed and suggests in his Best of Europe book?

I do realize that he has books just for specific areas and more in-depth explorations (I used the Provence/French Riveria book for my Honeymoon because we just had 10 days). But if we want to see as many places as we can, is Rick the only one who thinks that's a good idea?

I've asked the question three different ways... hopefully you get the idea.

Posted by
4555 posts

Good point, Marshall. Yes, Rick does have those itineraries in his book...but I don't agree with them. And even he keeps up the mantra that you shouldn't rush things..."plan on going back" is a popular phrase he uses.
As I mentioned earlier, I've done the quick tours before...but I've found it much more rewarding to slow down and give each particular destination more time to grow on me. I'm not going to a city to see sights or visit museums...I'm going to try to "experience" the place...get a feel about how it operates, and how the people there live...and I don't think you can get that with such a busy agenda.
Don't plan this trip with the idea that you won't be back for 15 years. As others have mentioned, it's not impossible to travel with children, and once they're 5, 6, or 7, the experience will remain with them for a lifetime. Besides, Europe isn't going anywhere in the next little while! ;)

Posted by
1525 posts

Marshall,

I think I can answer your question;

First of all, many here disagree with RS about a number of things. That's not at all unusual. But we also agree with him a lot and overall admire his approach.

Secondly, The fact that RS has a sample itinerary of what a "blitz" tour of Europe might look like does not mean that he thinks everyone should do this. It is an attempt to address the inevitable desires of some travelers, particularly the young backpackers, like he was when he got started.

However, for someone who has been to Europe before (and I think most of us here have been more than once and are older than college age) the logic of doing a blitz tour fails.

Consider the person who does 4-5 blitz tours over many years. They would likely hit several locations more than once, but each for only a day or two. Or, they could do 4-5 trips each to specific areas/cultures and soak in each one. At the end, they could have seen exactly the same things. One way they return for a cursory visit more than once, the other way they envelop themselves in the culture and it's history. I suspect most people here (including RS) would prefer to do the latter. But in the end it is still personal preference.

BTW, please consider traveling with your children when they get old enough to remember what they see. We do, and that makes it all the more special an experience for us, too.

Posted by
463 posts

"If everyone thinks it is too rushed, then why does Rick have 21 and 45 day "Best of Europe" itineraries that look very much like what I have laid out above?"

that was my exact question in reading this thread. because your plan does sound just like the 'whirlwind tour' (or whatever rick calls it) and i think you've followed all of the 'rules' (in quotes for a reason!) about mixing up urban and rural, and adding in some down time (i nodded in rick steves approval at your three FULL days in cinque terre) etc. it really is a case of different things working for different people. i recently had someone on here ask me something like 'two weeks in paris--really?' and i understand why. but i also understand why i chose to arrange my trip the way i did, and why you chose to arrange your trip the way you did--even though they are very, very different. it is all personal preference.

as for the traveling with kids thing--my husband and i absolutely plan to travel with our hopefully future child. i cannot think of one thing better to give to your child than the experience of travel, whether that is to the local park, the closest beach or metropolitan area, or around the world in 180 days (we're planning for the latter) but it will be a different kind of trip. so why not do a trip like yours now, when you can? you'll have a better knowledge and experience base to use when planning the trip with your future little ones.

Posted by
263 posts

I am not saying that I wouldn't travel with children, but I probably wouldn't start taking them until the youngest was at least 10 years old (I'm certainly not speaking from experience).

Note: I've moved a couple of things around above in the original post.

Paris - I've been twice, and my wife was there with me on our honeymoon, so we don't need to spend too much time there.

Brugge - two nights and one full day.

Amsterdam - I've added a day, so I have a total of three nights there, with two full days.

Swiss Alps - I have three nights there, allowing one day for each side of the valley, and I'm taking a scenic day train out.

Fussen - I don't see any reason to stay more than two nights ... all I really want to see are the main castles.

Salzburg - as I've mentioned, I don't really care to go back, but my wife wants to see it - I think two nights with one full day is PLENTY.

Hallstatt - Rick says one day is plenty as once you've seen the town and lake, that's about it.

Vienna - I now have three full nights/three full days

Florence - I didn't like Florence that much, but wife wants to see it (we'll see the Accademia, the Duomo, and the Bridge, etc.)

Rome - I have two full days here. Based on my previous trips, Italy is much more difficult to manage than northern European cities, so I really just want to get a taste of it.

Pisa - just hopping off the train to see the tower and that's all

Cinque Terra - I have FOUR nights and THREE full days - one to hike and see the towns - one to spend on the beach relaxing in Monterosso al Mar, and another to do more of which ever we liked best (hike/beach). I've been before, but she hasn't.

Venice - I've been and personally think it's only worth one full day. Mainly going b/c my wife hasn't been.

Barcelona - two nights with two full days

Madrid - three nights, two full days

London - three nights with two full days, plus part of a day (realistically)

Posted by
263 posts

@ Tracy - I am definitely considering three full days in the Cinque Terre, but this thread has me wanting to steal a day from there to add it to Vienna or Rome or somewhere else.

But part of me thinks that four nights and three full days (staying in Monterosso - I've already stayed in Vernazza) would be exactly the "vacation from my vacation" that is necessary and needed to be able to make it through the final stretch of Spain and London.

Thanks for making me feel better about that part at least. :)

Posted by
263 posts

A little more information.

The first time I went to Europe (the 19 day trip five years ago, mentioned above), I went with my first wife. She died of cancer a couple of years' later (no need to say you are sorry folks ... that's part of life).

So, part of the purpose of this trip is to do a few things that I had done with someone else, so that my current wife and I can have some memories together there.

Didn't really want to get into this originally, but I think it's pertinent to why we are trying to hit as many places as we are.

Posted by
159 posts

Hi Marshall,

I want to second all that Tracy said. I am leaving on my second 'whirlwind' trip of Europe in August and I've patterned both trips on Rick's Best of Europe recommendations (with some alterations based on personal preference). He didn't steer me wrong the first time, so I'm trusting him once again.

It is frustrating to put so much heart and soul into a plan and have it knocked down...yes, input is desired, but some people forget they are talking to a real human being.

My husband and I are in our early 40's and have decided to expose our children to Europe during their early teens with the hopes that they will continue going on their own as adults. We have already talked about our future trips when they're out of the house and we have more freedom...that's when we'll slow down and stay in one area for two or three weeks.

For now, this is how we choose to travel...and one of the reason's I became such a huge RS fan is because he shows you how to get the most out of every travel day.

I think that your trip sounds great...you're going to have an amazing time and take home incredible memories...if you end up exhausted one day and don't want to do anything, don't! Just make adjustments as you go along.

I have to agree with you about Venice. On our first trip, we arrived on an overnight train from Munich and left for Rome on an overnight train that evening. We saw everything we wanted to see, walked thru the city, rode a vaporetto, even went to an internet cafe...and were completely bored by 7pm...we ended up playing cards outside the train station...and I love that memory...but I'm not including Venice on this trip.

Posted by
4555 posts

Cindy.,..while I appreciate your desire to make your second trip again along the lines Rick has suggested in one of his books, please don't condemn those of us who offer different perspectives. They are based on experience involving both sides of the coin. Of course we know we are talking to a real person...that's why those of us who think it might be better to slow down are offering that option. Marshall's post asked for a "critique," not input. And, of course, he is free to take our suggestions, or not.

Posted by
263 posts

Since I started this thread, I'll state for the record that anyone is free to say whatever they want. No one is getting their feelings hurt (certainly not me).

Although I should have labeled this thread "40 day itinerary discussion welcomed" since I probably didn't want to hear some advice :)

Posted by
116 posts

Everyone has a different travel style that works for them and mine is similar to the itinerary that you have posted. It looks good to me--well thought out and organized. You'll have a great time.

Posted by
5685 posts

I have one suggestion. You are taking a train from Venice to Milan and then a night train to Barcelona. I would suggest that you fly from Venice to Barcelona. I'm not a big fan of night trains so there is some bias here.

Posted by
2744 posts

I don't take these kind of trips and I have never had the luxury of having this much time. I usually go for two weeks and stick to one geographic area. But for someone who wants to see a lot of the highlights of Europe and who has a lot of energy, I think you've got a good itinerary here. I think it's spaced out pretty well (not a lot of one-night stands, which get to be exhausting). Given your experience with prior trips, I feel sure you will enjoy this trip.

Posted by
1573 posts

Count me as one of the people that think your trip is just fine especially given the fact that you have been to Europe before and know what you are getting yourself into.

There are a lot of regulars on this board that like to take things slowly and enjoy the city/country they are in and that is great. I on the other hand prefer to sample different places and generally only stay 2 to 3 nights at most in a location. I also do a lot of one night stops depending on the place. These are just two different styles of travel - unfortunately if you post an itinerary on this board the general critique will be to slow it down.

One other thing that I agree with you is that travel from one place to another (esp trains, buses, trams, etc) does expose you to a lot about a place and its people - it just may not be the touristy side of things.

Lastly, regarding travel with children. We have been traveling around the world since my son was 1. We have not let the fact that we have kids stop us from exploring the world. We don't try to see every site in a place and in general avoid most of the museums. We made a personal choice to travel with our kids even if they were too small to enjoy the sites and wouldn't trade the memories for anything. So don't give up on intl travel when the kids arrive.

Posted by
1358 posts

Just to veer off track a bit, don't count out traveling with your kids when you have 'em. We took our youngest over just before he was 2, just took both of ours over last summer, our son's 3rd time to Europe (he was 7), our daughter's first (she was 3). We're going back next summer.

I've found that there's cheaper options for travel in Europe than over here. The big thing is the airfare. If you can catch a sale, then go and take the family. You can rent apartments over there for much cheaper than you can over here. Most sights we've gone to have family rates that cost about as much as 2 adult admissions.

Yes, travel is different with kids. We tend to stay in one place more and daytrip from there, no more than an hour drive. But, with kids, you get to meet more of the locals. Kids, especially little ones, either don't notice the language difference or don't care that much about it. Soccer and laughter are international. So is ice cream. :)

So don't think you won't go back for 15 years. If you want to do a whirlwind tour, then, yes, do that now before kids, but always plan on going back.

Posted by
1589 posts

Marshall, the RS whirlwind tour provides complete lodging and transportation. You, on the other hand, would have to deal with these issues every day, sapping a certain amount of your energy.

I, at 61, would not be interested in your fast paced journey, but have a great trip!

Posted by
3428 posts

Marshall- the reclining/business seats are well worth it! We got upgraded a few years into our long spate of European travel and it spoiled us! We started using miles to upgrade whenever we could. You can rest, the food us often better (though not always), there is a bit more room for your carry-on and a larger weight allowance (though we really didn't need that - at least not going over). I didn't mean to offend you with my first answer. Since you've been before,you have a better idea of what it is like and what your own travel "style" is. Many newbies think Europe is small and they can zip from one place to another and "understand" it all. After more than 20 years of european travel, I know I prefer to take it slower and to be more focused on one or two areas. But that is certainly not true of everyone. Additionally, I have never had the opportuntiy to take such an extended trip- maybe someday. I hope you have a wonderful trip.

Posted by
104 posts

Looks great, Marshall! I hope you'll have time to stop in Ravenna for a few hours on your way to Venice. I agree with another poster that a day in Venice is enough, but I can see why you want to go.

Two other small recommendations--my favorite museum in Paris is the Musee de Cluny (on top of Roman baths and containing unicorn tapestries)--great if you are interested in Paris's ancient and medieval history.

One of the best places I've visited in Paris is St. Denis Basilica (it's in the northern Parisian suburb of Saint Denis, easily accessed by Metro). It has unusual and amazing stained glass (intended as a reflection of spiritual enlightenment), and almost all of the monarchs of France are buried there.

Have a fabulous trip and make some great memories!