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Turning 30 and would like to celebrate in Europe! Any advice?

Hi!
I will be 30 in a few months and I would like to take a trip to Europe with my husband for about 10-15 days.
If you have ANY advice for me please let me know. I just want it to be fun, inexpensive and adventurous!
Thank you!

Posted by
1455 posts

Welcome to the 30 club!! First of all, decide what countries you want to visit. When my hubby and I went 2 years ago, we flew to London since that was the least expensive city to fly from Los Angeles. Then we took EasyJet to Madrid, and then went to Barcelona. The year before that we went to Milan, took a night train to Munich, then flew to Paris.

Easyjet and Ryanair have some great fares but you have to be flexible, willing to go to the airports in the "boonies", and some flight are really early. But hey, for 6 pounds one way (thats like 12 bucks) you can't really beat the price.

Oh, you will have to be flexible when you go to Europe. The off season is much cheaper and you can also find some great hotel deals too. We were there in March and the early May.

Posted by
23 posts

How about if you fly into Paris for a few days, then rent a car and head northwest. You could spend the first night of your car trip in Giverny (Claude Monet’s home and garden), then on to the Normandy Beaches, and Mont-St-Michael. Then drive south through Brittany and the Loire river valley, stopping at every Château, winery and quaint village that looked at all interesting (there is no shortage of them). Then after seeing Versailles and Fontainbleau it’s back to Paris for the remainder of your stay in France.

This kind of trip would give you more than enough to do for two weeks without feeling rushed, allow you to be spontaneous while still having a general plan, wouldn’t be too expensive and would give you a wonderful taste of life in France.

The same sort of fly and drive trip could also be done starting in Rome, Madrid, London or Athens, but I like Paris and northern France better. Have fun planning your trip.

Have a happy birthday and keep us posted.

Posted by
389 posts

I'm with Kent on the questions. What is your budget for 2 weeks? "Cheap" is relative. And when are you going? Weather makes a great deal of difference in what you want to do. Do you ski? Prefer the sun? History? Speak any languages? You get the idea.

Posted by
705 posts

Ray's suggestion sounds terrific. France is beautiful and I'm sure you would have some lasting fond memories of your trip. I love the south of France too - down through Lyon, Avignon, and to the coast Nice etc. Pretty country side and lovely historic towns. Either way it would be a nice leisurely trip and I'm sure one to remember.

Posted by
219 posts

Martha, I vote for France anytime of the year! Think about traveling by rail. Not only can it be inexpensive but you might meet some very friendly people who may be able to give you some tips on where to stay and see and eat. Also, in France, England, and Italy (and maybe the rest of Europe) usually at or near a large train station their are "booking centers" where you can find hotels, B&Bs, hostels to suit your budget in the immediate area and sometimes beyond. During the tourist season I would think some of these accommodations would be full for the night of your arrival in the town. In France think about staying in monasteries for a couple of nights. They operate like clean and simple B&Bs and are very, very, very inexpensive.(They ask only for a donation.) When I went, I was usually the only American and was a source of friendly curiosity from French travelers also staying there. They were my teachers not only for their beautiful language, but of their fine culture. Good luck!

Posted by
4125 posts

France is a great choice, but I'd suggest dividing time between Paris and Provence. You'll get the mediteranean ambiance, and there are magnificent Roman antiquities.

Or, if you are feeling spry, add another region of France--Normandy or Burgundy--after Paris. Take a train to Provence and rent a car there to explore the countryside; fly home from Marseilles.

Paris would be your most expensive stop on such a trip (but worth it, if you've never been).

You could even add a taste of Italy if you are very nimble, try Paris-Provence-Venice (or even Rome), with a night train from Provence, flying home from your Italian destination. Probably a few hundred euros more expensive than the other itineraries, though.

Fall is a great time to travel--happy birthday!

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you all so much for taking the time to reply!
My bday is in January and I live in Texas. I think you get the idea :-) Weather is going to be a huge factor for me and my husband! But honestly I don't care that much.
France sounds fabulous! I've been in Amsterdam and St. Petersburg but that's it! I don't have a budget, but I'm not looking to spends lots of money. I love history and I'm basically looking for the adventure ;-)

Please, if there was one thing that you can name and you think is a "must do" in Europe or a specific place, let me know!
THANK YOU! YOU GUYS ARE GREAT!

Posted by
4 posts

Go to Italy.....WINE is cheaper than purchasing Coke. There is so much to do and so much to see, since you like history. You could do sightseeing in the day, and party at night.

Posted by
3428 posts

I have to advocate for the UK!!!! London is wonderful and Edinburgh and Inverness can't be beat--- even in winter!!!!! I have been 42 times--- half of them in winter. Send me a private note if you want more ideas.

Posted by
23 posts

Good suggestions all!

For no particular reason, I envisioned Martha's b-day to be in Sept. Oct. rather than January. The Mediterranean in January sounds SOOooo much better than the North Atlantic coast to me that I'm going to revise my perfect plan for Martha's life.

Start in Rome and go south!

The Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Pompeii, Sicily, .....

Somebody that knows Italy better than I do can fill in the blanks and put everything in the proper order.

One last thing though, my first trip to Paris was in February, the weather was cold and wet (read: crappy!), and I had a GREAT time anyway. Don't be to quick to write off Paris if that's where you really want to go.

Posted by
38 posts

I think it really depends on what your interests are. Late in the year I might think Switzerland, recreationally. However, France is fantastic.
Welcome to 30!

Posted by
2779 posts

Martha, whatever itinerary you eventually chose the best and cheapest place to party is Berlin! No other European metropolis has been undergoing such a boom of new night clubs, bars etc. and still has remained so inexpensive as Berlin. Brad and Angelina are moving there now. But Germans care too little about them for the prices to go up due to them.

Posted by
4 posts

I have to stay that everything sounds so great! I'm going to have a really hard time picking 2 or 3 places only! Please keep sending your "votes"!
Thank you so much!

Posted by
1455 posts

I vote for the UK only the pound is killing us Americans!! Choose SPAIN!!

Hubby and I went to Spain for 2 weeks with air from Los Angeles to London, then London to Barcelona, Barca to Madrid, and we spent $2500 total. That included our side trips to Toledo and Segovia.

Posted by
37 posts

In Sept, we're taking our 3rd trip through Gotoday.com We've traveled to Scotland, with car rental and also London. In Sept we wil travel to France, with a car rental. We have been very pleased with all arrangements. One suggestion, do not boook their cheapest hotel...upgrade 2 or 3 hotels.

Posted by
12 posts

Paris and Venice are a must, but they are not inexpensive. If I were to choose somewhere less expensive for two weeks, I would go to Portugal and Spain. Lisbon, Madrid, Barcelona, Cordoba, Granada, and Seville are incredible cities with fantastic wine, food, people, and history. It might be a bit warmer there in January as well. I haven't been to Croatia, Hungary, Bulgaria, or Turkey yet, but that's another thought.

Posted by
29 posts

I'm not sure if I'm allowed to say this because it's Rick Steve's website, but the company Contiki has great trips for 18-35 year olds. I went on a Contiki trip in Australia 3 1/2 years ago when I was 28 and had a blast and I've heard the ones in Europe are great too. You can check out www.contiki.com if you want to find out more. The price is good for what you get, they have a lot of adventurous optional excursions that you can do and you meet tons of fun-loving people from around the world!

Posted by
56 posts

My husband and I just went last October for my 40th birthday! We were in Paris for 2 weeks. It was the first time that we had been to Europe and I'm so glad that we were there for that long! Paris has so many things to see and do. We also took a few day trips. The week long Rick tour was WONDERFUL!!! I would do it again!!! The best memory was drinking our bottle of Dom Perignon (that we bought from the winery!) under the Eiffel Tower the night of my birthday with our fruit and cheese---Tim will never be able to top that birthday. (Unless we head to Paris again!!!) GOOD LUCK!!!

Posted by
67 posts

I spent my birthday in December 2004 at the top of the Eiffel Tower - pretty memorable. We "won" tickets by doing the quiz on the Eiffel Tower website and were able to jump the line once we got there (WAAAAAAAAY worth it - there were 1000 people in the line....).
As far as fun/inexpensive/adventurous, Greece is good - you can get a great glass of wine in most Athens tavernas for 1 Euro - but I hear Romania is pretty cool - looks a LOT like Greece, the food looks great, lots of interesting sites & history and it's CHEAPER than Greece.
Croatia also falls in your guidelines - Dubrovnik is truly a "must see" destination (old town, of course).
A few yrs. ago we took a Mediterranean cruise with www.friendlyplanet.com and had a BLAST. I was resistant to cruising, but it worked out wonderfully - cost effective, fun and we weren't at the mercy of "group tours." We had one day/night in Zurich, a couple nights in Athens, then cruised to Venice, Dubrovnik, Istanbul, Mykonos, Corfu & Santorini. Then, back to Athens for a couple nights & a tour (provided by the cruise line) of the Acropolis (but you don't HAVE To follow the herd). A couple yrs. ago it was $1500 per person + an add-on airfare of $279 from Portland to LAX to Zurich including a hotel in Zurich. Great deal, pretty much all-inclusive (the food was great) in the "shoulder season" (October - my favorite time to travel. Cruises are a VERY cost effective way to travel if you can find one you like. EasyJet has a cruise line where you pay by the night - no frills, just a bed & transportation-about $50 per cabin per night
www.easycruise.com

Posted by
4555 posts

My advice would be to "postpone" your birthday until April or so...that would widen up a whole lot of opportunities for nicer weather. If you do, then a week in Paris and a week in Rome would be my suggestion....so much to experience in each city, and lots of day trips available. Rent an apartment in each city...not only will you save on hotel and meal costs, but you'll become part of the neighbourhood. Pick a local cafe to have coffee and croissants each morning, and you'll soon be greeting the proprieter on a first-name basis! If you do travel in January, I'd suggest splitting time between the Spanish coastal cities of Alicante, Valencia, and Barcelona.....and Rome.

Posted by
271 posts

Hi Martha, Paris is a great suggestion. We spent a week there with my family in February of 2000. The weather can vary from cold (40 degrees or lower) to beautiful (50 and sunny). Be aware that at that time of year a lot of tourist sites have limited hours and that outside statues can possibly be covered up for the winter. Such was the case at Versaille. For a driving tour I'm partial to Germany. We're going again soon. Bavaria is lovely and it is great just to be able to stop and explore when you see something interesting. Lastly, as had been said before. Cost is relative, you can do it for a lot or a little. Most times, we make our first and/or last nights reservation and wing the rest. Good luck and good travels.

Posted by
125 posts

I know it will probably be cold but I vote for Berlin (that's where my husband celebrated his 30th in June). We had so much fun there. There is a lot of history (not just WWII stuff) great clubs, good food, and many inexpensive places to stay. Although Southern Italy is nice as well (I celebrated my 30th there)and probably warmer. Sorrento and Pompeii was very nice.

Posted by
1 posts

Well I actually have lived in northern Italy 45 minutes from Venice for the past 2 years and had the chance to travel some, so here's my 2 cents.Spend a week in Paris and a week in Rome. You can still not see all the fabulous things there in a week, but you won't be disappointed. Paris can be cold, so bundle up, but I was there this January and nothing was closed, even Versaille. I HATE standing for hours in lines, and you don't have to do that in January. In Rome, the tour books only tell you about the famous buildings or ruins, not about fantastic 400-500 yr old buildings you constantly come across in your strolls. Its a dirty, absolutely amazing city with really good food. Neither city is the cheapest in Europe, but for bang for your buck, you won't match it. Rent an apartment in Paris (I used parisapartmentrentals and we stayed just across the river from Notre Dame and 2 blocks from the subway stop). In Rome, I'd get a nice hotel (don't go cheap) near a subway stop. Enjoy

Posted by
710 posts

Don't forget where the last poster said - Venice.
I've been there twice now. Ask her how it is the time of your birthday.
You could fly to Paris, head south, see Rome and then take the train from Rome to Venice, then fly home from Venice at the end.

Posted by
4 posts

You are right. Everything sounds so magical. I'm getting old, but I will always be a hopeless romantic! Thank you for your 2 cents ;-)