I've got three weeks of leave scheduled from the end of September to Mid October. Two years ago I visited Germany, The Netherlands, and Austria for three weeks and enjoyed it (my first time to Europe). This year I think I'll be traveling alone. I'm pretty wide open to where I go within these constraints: Stay in each place an average of four nights, spend 1/3 of the time in rural areas, not drive a car. At this point I'm thinking of Prague>Budapest, Turin>Rome, or Camino de Santiago. I speak basic German and can survive in Spanish. All of the flights I've looked at are within $100 of each other and there are too many choices for me to decide. Any suggestions? Thank you. Dan
I'd vote for either Spain or Italy. Both are quite different from Germany/Austria as they have remained historically Catholic countries, that is, there is a different social/art/government aspect to them from say Germany (since the Reformation). This is not good or bad, just very different (and not that many people are going to church anyway). Weather might be better in Northern Italy to begin with and then munching your way down towards the south. (Oh, I'm a foodie.) These choices represent an embarrassment of riches:) While traveling with someone else is great traveling alone brings its own richness. You have to get out of that comfort zone and really "be there". I enjoy traveling alone on occasion. You'll meet people you never would otherwise. Have had some great dinners with other single travelers and couples I've struck up a conversation with.
Do you think of walking the Camino? This is very admirable and a whole new type of adventure. It is on my list of things to do within my lifetime, hopefully in the next 2 years. For 3 weeks you will need to pickup the Camino probably somewhere along the line further from St Pied de Port. Try the the movie The Way to get kind of a sense of it...great movie either way. Another good book on it: http://www.amazon.com/Buen-Camino-Hiking-Santiago/dp/0979962803
In my opinion it would be an excellent experiece.
East I did 12 days just Budapest-Vienna-Prague and would have been happier with another 3-4 days. There are small towns to visit along the way and Brno too. The wines in Hungary are inexpensive and very good, so's the food. Prague has beer and good food, not expensive either. Vienna is pricey, but beautiful (ah, but maybe you were there while in Austria). If not, it's worth a few days. It's all very different from where you've been - "exotic" East and Vienna is more like Paris, at least architecturally. In the cities many people spoke English, the few times they didn't, we managed to communicate. Italy is always a winner. There's hardly a place that hasn't seen lots of tourists, so language shouldn't be an issue at all. This is likely to be the most expensive of your 3 choices. Spain There are so many dialects that "Spanish" may not help very much, especially in rural areas. I spent 3 weeks in amazing Andalusia and there were few people who spoke more than a few words in English, but everyone was very willing, nay, eager to help and I managed just fine.
Thank you for the replies. I do have a friend and another contact in Hungary from my time at Iowa State that I will try to visit. The last time we visited western Austria and didn't have enough time to visit Vienna. If Hungary doesn't work out I think I will hike the Camino now and save my first trip to Italy for when my girlfriend can come with me. Thanks!