Trip in March, 2012

I am travelling to Europe for 10 days at the end of March beginning of April. I am going with my husband and 4 boys between the ages of 17 and 23.
We will fly into Amsterdam and hope to spend 3 nights and then fly home from Budapest after spending 3 nights there.I need help with the in between. The boys are interested in Germany as that is our heritage but I would like to use our time in the most efficient way possible. We like smaller places but also these boys want night life. Can anyone help with advice for places in Germany or Austria? I have spent hours on this and I need help!!

Posted by Jim
Dallas, Texas, USA
495 posts

Shelly, we had some time restrictions when we visited Cesky Krumlov, wished we could have spent the day. Don't have RS guidebook near me, but I think you can float the river......or was that somewhere else that Rick spoke of.

Posted by Bill
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, USA
43 posts

Shelly,
You may have already tried this but if you are travelling by rail between Amsterdam and Budapest plot the rail line between the two and see what pops up. You have quite a bit of geography between the two cities. I would suggest a city outside of Germany, namely Prague. It has a small feel but has a great history as a Habsburg city. Not sure of what kind of nightlife your boys are looking for but I imagine the great Pilsener culture of prague will have plenty to offer. Good luck!

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1978 posts

Shelly: Amsterdam is 870 miles from Budapest. Most people choose two cities closer to each other for more efficient travel in Europe. With your short time in Europe, flying between these cities is preferable. Budapest is 150 miles SE of Vienna. Vienna's about 175 miles SE of Prague. The Prague-Vienna-Budapest route is popular and an efficient way to travel. Also, Munich-Vienna-Budapest is another efficient route for the time you have. Many traveling Amsterdam will also take in Belgium and the coastline. Amsterdam, Cologne and the Rhine River valley to Frankfort is popular. London-Belgium-Amsterdam is also a good route. Travel with 6 people is hard to deal with under the best of circumstances. You really should consider destinations of least resistance.

Posted by Shelly
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
33 posts

Thank you both for the reply and Happy New Year! I agree that Amesterdam is far but from Calgary it is one of the few direct flights so we thought since we have to stop anyway why not spend some time? Our original plan was to fly from there to Budapest and then go to Prague but the boys had expressed interest in Germany as well. Perhaps I should stick with that plan. 3 of the older boys will stay on and travel for a few more weeks and they can always go into Germany. Yes travel with 6 is a lot but that's my life so I am used to it haha. I haven't tried the train path but I will. I'm a bit of a newbie so I haven't figured that out yet. Should we fly directly from Amsterdam to Budapest and then train to Prague? I've read great things about Cesky Krumlov is it worth a stop or would that be to much?

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2612 posts

Shelly... I would definitely fly to Budapest. As far as both Amsterdam and Budapest there should be plenty of night life for the boys. Even though I like to move around a bit with that many people I might just do two locations as 1 day will be travel between Amsterdam and Budapest. There are a few day trips you could do from Buda (river cruise) and possibly a trip to Vienna. I would just let the boys explore Germany on their own. Cesky Krumlov is great, but not sure if it would fit your agenda.

Posted by Shelly
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
33 posts

This is all very good advice. I would love to fit in Cesky as well. I have heard nothing but great things about it. I wonder if the weather is warm enough to float the river in early April?

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17792 posts

Shelly, With 10 days it shouldn't be too difficult to work out a reasonable Itinerary that covers all the places you want to see. Would something like this work.... > D1: Flight to AMS (I'm assuming KLM? If your budget will allow, you might consider paying extra for the "Comfort Economy" as they do provide a bit more room, although a bit pricey - I travelled YYC / AMS in Sept. & Oct. 2012, and it's a relatively easy flight). > D2/N1: Arrive AMS (jet lag recovery, brief touring) > D3/N2: Amsterdam (the boys will be able to get some "night life" here - given the short time frame of your trip, I'd suggest just two nights here) > D4/N1: Train to Munich (trip will be a minimum of 7H:23M, with one change - that's a good intermediate location and I'm sure you'll all enjoy the city - the boys will want to visit the Hofbrauhaus). I had a brief look at budget flights but for a group of 6, the train will be a better option, IMHO). > D5/N2: Munich (day trip to the Castles or Dachau?) > D6/N3: Munich (Deutsches Museum, night activity in Marienplatz) > D7/N1: Train to Budapest (a 07:27 departure will arrive in Budapest at 14:49, travel time 7H:22M, direct) > D8/N2: Budapest, touring (your group might enjoy a SEGWAY TOUR of Budapest - a bit pricey but they're lots of fun! I took two of them in Prague last year) > D9/N3: Budapest, touring > D10: Flight home There are lots of ways this could be arranged, and this is only one suggestion. I chose Munich as there are MANY sightseeing options in that area, and the travel times between Amsterdam and Budapest work reasonably well. Any chance you could get more time? Happy travels!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17792 posts

Shelly, As you're "a bit of a newbie", you may enjoy watching THIS short Rail Skills video. It was made in August 2000, so is a bit "dated", but provides a good idea of what you'll find when travelling by train in Europe. I'd also suggest reading Europe Through The Back Door prior to your trip, as that provides great information on "how" to travel well in Europe, including rail tips. The country-specific Guidebooks will provide good information on sightseeing, hotels, restaurants, transportation, etc. in the places you'll be visiting. Cheers!

Posted by Shelly
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
33 posts

Thank you so much for the great detail. I will for sure look into the comfort seats on KLM as we have some pretty tall young men. I love the itinerary that you have set out. We actually have 12 days but I didn't include travel. We would leave the Tuesday night and arrive in Amsterdam on the Wednesday morning. We head home on the Saturday so we can recover for a day before going back to the grind. I am trying to fit in an extra day or two but my youngest son that is in Grade 12 will be missing 1.5 days of school already and I was hoping to not set him back to much.
My husband and I were in Munich a few years ago for Octoberfest and loved it which is why I was thinking of maybe somewhere different in Germany. However that is a very good suggestion. There is so much to plan being relatively new European travellers that I am getting terribly stressed out so I appreciate everyone's input very much!

Posted by Shelly
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
33 posts

Thank you Ken I will watch the video and get the book! I am questioning if we should have left Budapest for another trip?

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17792 posts

Shelly, If you're not "firm" on Budapest, another route you could consider is Amsterdam > Berlin > Prague, as that's easily done via train. A number of movies were filmed in Prague, including XXX with Vin Diesel. While in Prague you could perhaps take a day trip to Cesky Krumlov. There's lots of night life in Berlin, although at my age I don't visit Clubs much. I haven't checked on the flight options from Prague to Calgary, but it's an easy trip from there to Munich, if you'd prefer to depart from there. KLM Cityhopper has flights from MUC to AMS to connect with flights to YYC, so you should be able to find good flights. I'm sure that travelling in Europe will be an "eye opener" for your boys! Cheers!

Posted by James
Frisco, NV
1809 posts

i cant see going all the way to Europe just to spend 15 hours on a train. Either fly into Budapest or fly from Amsterdam to Budapest (I change planes often in Amsterdam when traveling to Budapest so you could lay over for your three nights then fly on to Budapest), or save Budapest for anothe trip. A great trip for the future is to use Budapest as a hub and visit Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania.

Posted by Shelly
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
33 posts

Thank you. We were originally thinking of Amsterdam, Prague and Budapest. I may have to consider dropping Budapest. That is good advice for flights but I think KLM does fly from Prague as well with a stop in Amsterdam and then direct home. I think the boys will have an eye opener especially when we leave and they are on their own budget!
We don't club much either so I really shouldn't worry so much about them. I'm sure they will have a chance to do lots of that.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17792 posts

"i cant see going all the way to Europe just to spend 15 hours on a train." Given the size of the group and the tentative destinations, travel by train is a logical choice. When all the usual airport hassles are considered, travel time for each flight will likely be at least six hours (perhaps slightly less if it's a connecting flight). I usually enjoy the train rides, as that's something unique about travelling in Europe, and I often meet some interesting people. The rail trips I suggested are close to the "tipping point" in terms of time, but not unreasonable. I've done many rail trips of that duration. Cheers!

Posted by Shelly
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
33 posts

We know for sure that we want to experience some travel by train. That will be part of our experience. We just have to figure out how much. I am so glad I found this sight! Its great to get so many opinions.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2612 posts

Shelly... I like Ken's idea of Amsterdam, Berlin and Prague. I think all those places are great for young people, plus as you have already been to Munich why not someplace new? As much as I love Budapest I would probably leave it for another time and try to add Cesky Krumlov if you want some place smaller. There is a ton to do in all those cities and there are plenty of people who can help you with train advice. It would not be useful to have a car in any of your locations, plus hard to find something big enough. Life changing experience for the boys. (your son will learn more in Europe than being in school, but hard to take him out for too long as many schools do not agree with that philosophy)

Posted by Shelly
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
33 posts

Thank you for that advice. I do agree that he would learn a lot more by missing a couple of extra days but the school sure does not support that which is to bad.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17792 posts

Shelly, The trip will also be an "education" of sorts for your boys. Considering the money you'll be spending in air fares and other expenses, it's best to take the opportunity while you're over there. In the same situation, I'd politely suggest to the school that they quit their whining and develop a lesson plan that will allow your boys to catch-up on their studies after they get back. Perhaps they could do a bit of work when on holidays and submit it via E-mail? Cheers!

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Some of you may not realize but missing 1.5 days of school, if school is on semester system is like missing 3 days , so yes, that can count if a child is actually in their graduating year. Most teachers do not penalize kid, ( my child has missed quite a bit of school for some medical reasons) BUT she is an A student who can easily keep up, and catch up, but taking a child out of school in their grad year for more then a few days does make it hard on many students.. And while travel is priceless, ( we let our kids miss a week or two of school when they were in middle school or younger)we did not fart around too much with their high school years.. its only 3 years..
We do not have that "no child left behind thing" like in the STates, so teachers are not whining, or even really care if your kid misses school, but child may be whining if they find it hard to get their work done, the work has to be done whether they are there or not generally.

Posted by Sue
Pittsburgh, PA, United States
30 posts

Berlin and Prague are both such appealing cities for young people. Lots of night life. Yet each is a self contained history lesson for those who want to seek it out. I can return to either at the drop of a hat, preferably by train, which is so easy to do in the center of any major city. Ironically, however, the low-cost European airlines are often cheaper than the train.

Posted by Shelly
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
33 posts

I will try and see what my sons teachers say as I agree that he would learn a lot being away. But the work does have to get done regardless so that will remain up to him. It is some times hard to catch up with too many days missed in his Senior year. We used to take them out of school for a week at a time when they were younger as well but now it is getting a bit tough.
So many things to factor into these things.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7684 posts

Considering that part of your 10 days will be weekend days, your son isn't going to miss that much school. And it's entirely possible (at least here in the States) that a kid can already have completed all of their necessary graduation requirements before that final semester anyway. When I have taken my daughter out for travel, or when she was out for medical reasons, we just took work with us - or at least knew beforehand what was going to be required upon her return.