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Popular Topic! My First Trip to Europe, Too~~

My husband has been to Europe many times; is anxious for my first experience to be wonderful and romantic. We have 14-16 days in September, returning by Sept 20 07. My biggest concern is that we get our passports back in time--both were expired, and I changed my name.They were received at the passport agency on June 20. Fingers crossed!!
I have proposed Germany (romantic river trip with castles and museums--maybe wine country "Kaiserslautern"? Rome, for several days, and Paris. What order? What places? How much formal tour planning? These are all my questions--He isn't worried. Maybe I overthink... We plan to do 'open jaw' travel and use rail and drive some.
Any seasoned travelers willing to give cents worth?

thank you!

Posted by
389 posts

Wonderful Jerri. I guess my first suggestion is to let your husband plan since he has experience and wants to give this to you. Second your passports should be okay, but everyone I know has had to call at 2 weeks before the trip. I called, it showed up. Next, I too am a planner and other than general I love being a bit more like a stream, going with the flow. If I were planning this I'd do north to south, beginning in Paris and ending in Italy. Partially because it is still very warm in Itally in September, the later the better. It really depends on what you like as far as "touring" goes. I like discovery, but that means planning a bit to know in what part of the country to look. Sometimes just getting there is the best part of the adventure, so decided what the two of you like, and if he suggests he has it covered, do your best to sit back and enjoy (making sure he is rewarded for giving you this wonderful gift!)

Posted by
3428 posts

Have you considered the UK??? Scotland, Wales and England are beautiful!!!! Sept. would be a great time to go. Spend 3-4 days in London, then take trains to other places. Or just base yoursleves in London and do LOTS of day trips out- Stratford-upon-Avon, Bath, Canturburry, Oxford, York, etc. A BritRail pass would be ideal either way. My husband and I love Scotland. You could do a few days in London, then York, then Edinburg, Aviemore, and Inverness. Return via Stratford, then London to end. That's the trip we are doing this July.

Posted by
6461 posts

Comments on spots: Germany/France, good choice for first trip, can be done without alot of travel. Look at either an open Jaw Paris-Munich Itinerary or the reverse. Spots you mentioned: Rhine River, KD lines has great day cruises up and down the river, sort of hop on-hop off, explore. Wine Country: Maybe not Kaiserslautern, but just North of there is the Mosel Valley, look there for great wineries and neat towns.

Posted by
2779 posts

Wine Country is a bit East of Kaiserslautern between Edenkoben and Bad Dürkheim or as mentioned above the Mosel valley (sweeter wines, though) or - maybe the nicest - the Rheingau between Wiesbaden and Bingen. You can start your rhine valley cruise from there, too (e.g. Rüdesheim). One of my favorite wine sampling places is Reinhartshausen castle ( The hotel is operated by Kempinski but the wine sampling is independant of it. It's in Eltville and a walk down main street is also quite a pretty experience. Make sure you also visit Kloster Eberbach (Eberbach cloister) for wine sampling. The cellars were the set of "The name of the Rose" movie in the 80s.

Posted by
12040 posts

Just wondering why you considered Kaiserslautern, of all places? Not that there's anything wrong with "K-town" (it's clean and pleasant enough), but not an obvious choice for a first trip. Free place to stay, perhaps? If so, the rivers and wine country should provide enough choices for day excursions- see Andreas' post for more info.

Posted by
104 posts

I have two suggestions that are feasible in 16 days and are romantic in my book. You could fly into Paris and base yourself there for 7 days--ample time to enjoy the romance of Paris and to take day trips by train to get a flavor of the Loire Valley, Burgundy and Champagne. Then, you can travel by train to the Alsace-Lorraine region of France near the border of Germany. Strasbourg is worth seeing. Stay in Colmar, and you can take a mini-van tour of the route du vin. I have not traveled Germany, but you could take the train into Germany easily, fly out of Munich. Or,less time in Paris, the the high speed train to Provence, choose a small town accessible by train (Rick usually suggests Arle or Avignon, but others may have suggestions). Stay 4 days, take the train along the coast to the Riveria, stay in a little hilltown above Nice--Vence. Stay a few days then continue by train through Milan to Lake Como, town of Varenna--see Rick's books. Fly out of Milan. Heaven!
Susan, FL USA

Posted by
9363 posts

I completely disagree with Ron and his two-day travel plan and sleeping on arrival! If you can get a nonstop, you'll have plenty of time to sleep en route. And when you arrive in Europe it will most likely be morning -- get out and DO! It's the best way to avoid jet lag. Just try to stay awake until near your normal bedtime. When you wake up on the first full day, you should be fine.

Posted by
934 posts

As far as sleeping on arrival everyone is entitled to his own opinion.I stay awake and very active all day and then go to bed at 8-9PM and sleep till morning.It works for me(rick also suggests this)

Posted by
190 posts

I travel to Europe every year for vacation. Here are my tips for you: 1. Make a list of EVERYTHING you would like to see. 2. Circle only those things that you MUST see to be satisfied with your trip. 3. Get a map and locate where all of these things are. 4. Plot your must-sees; calculate the time from town to town; fill in with other things from your list according to the time you will have. If you don't do at least this much planning, you will find that you are sort of wandering and missing what you really want to experience. And this will help you decide on the type of transportation you will need.

The order of the trip should be either in a line (i.e.,north to south) or in a circle (start and finish in the same city)to be most efficient. I would find the best airfare and plan from there.

I'm out of space; if you want more info from me, just email me.

Posted by
221 posts

Jerri lots of people have good where to go advice, but here is some relationship survival advice too.
Travel is like life excelerated as Rick says. You will either find character traits to love or hate in your spouse pretty quickly, travel can be stressful but only if you let it! Expect it to take longer to get from point A to point B, be flexible, don't try to do too much too fast or you will just be exhausted. Mix busy days with lazy days. Find a 'home base' and take day trips out and around, one night stands are tiring. Expect things to be different and go with the flow, have fun!