Your First Trip to Europe-Slow Paced or Fast Paced?

Richard started a great discussion on this thread about whether or not this forum has a "Go More Slowly Bias." Jo and Frank made good points that prompted this question:

Where did you go on your first trip to Europe and how did it work out for you?

I'm paraphrasing Kent's definitions--was your first trip:

"slow paced,"

"faster paced but doable," or

nearly "impossible?"

Posted by Sharon
Atlanta
2663 posts

I'll begin...my first trip to Europe 20 years was faster paced but doable. I went to Paris, London, and Switzerland--Bern, Luzern, and Interlaken. It was a good overview of larger cities and smaller towns in different cultures. It was enough to make me change my lifestyle to make travel a priority so I could return to see all of the things I missed the first time.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9094 posts

First trip was to London. I stayed within the city for 10 days with two day trips, so I guess you could say it was slow paced.

Posted by Paul
NYC area
1427 posts

Hi,
Our first trip to Europe was to Switzerland.
From Zurich airport to our first night in Europe... Triesenberg, Liechtenstein.
2 nights St. Moritz
Glacier Express to Zermatt
2 nights Zermatt
4 nights Wengen
2 nights (including our last) in Luzern.

We loved the pace of this trip. I don't know which category it fits though.

Paul

Posted by Rose
Indianapolis, Indiana, usa
355 posts

My first visit was a 21 day tour of England & Scotland 20+ yrs ago. We saw A LOT. Looking at my photos a few weeks later, I couldn't remember what was what. I went back the next year by myself with a Britrail pass. I based in Bath, Edinburgh, & London one week each & took lots of day trips. Had a great time. The best part is that I could picture places I'd been in my mind's eye - still can. I prefer slow travel.

Posted by Jed
Seattle, WA, US
345 posts

We did our first trip this past summer (with a lot of help planning on this board-thanks all!). We went Amsterdam (3nts), Bruges (2nts), Paris (3nts), Bayeux (2nts), Stockholm (5nts for family reunion), Lauterbrunnen (3nts), Rothenburg (2nts), Bacharach (2nts), Cochem (3nts) and Berlin (4nts).

We did a lot of planning but even then were unsure what to expect as far as the pace of the trip. After about week 3 or so, we were getting a bit tired of packing up and moving after a couple nights. Plus, the stress/excitement of all the new places...we did at times want a slower pace and some familiarity with being somewhere for a little while. We did take the occasional day off and just relax.

I agree with some on the other board...as our first trip there were a lot of places we wanted to see, but also realized we needed to enjoy where we were too. We did adjust our itinerary down as we got into the nuts and bolts of planning, looking at actual travel times and when we could catch trains. Brings some reality to when you can actually travel!

If we had to do it all over again, the biggest thing would be to stay at least 3 nights everywhere. This would allow us to settle in a bit more in each place. I still am glad we went to all the places we did as we found places we really liked and others that were okay. This will help for future trips to refine areas we want to see....though there are still many other places we want to go that we haven't seen yet!

To sum up, ours was "faster paced but doable", which is fine if you know what you're getting into.

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
6808 posts

I like these new definitions! (thank you, Sharon). My first trip to Europe was half slower pace and half faster paced but doable. It was 9 days in Paris (and we still didn't do everything on our "gotta do" list). And then the 2nd half, the last 9 days, was a road trip starting from Paris, driving through the Loire Chateaux country, exploring some of the villages of Brittany, east into Normandy, along the Normandy coast, Mont St Michel, D-Day Beaches, Rouen, Giverny, and back to Paris for the flight out. The 2nd 9 days was all one night stands except for maybe Amboise. So half slower pace and half faster paced but doable. No day involved driving time of more than about 4 to 5 hours. Both styles have worked for me.

Posted by Ron
southwest, Missouri, U.S.A.
1359 posts

Hi Sharon. I like Jed's sentance (posted 2/28/09 4:59 PM): "Ours was Faster paced but doable, which is fine if you know what you're getting into". My first trip to Europe was "Faster paced but doable", and I did not know what I was getting into. My trip was to Germany and Austria. Overnight flight to Frankfurt, one night at St. Goar, next day I walked to Berg Eltz from the Mosel Kern train station. That is a total of six miles of walking to and from the castle, including walking uphill on a path through a forest. I felt extremely tired that day, and I felt very tired when I began travelling from my home in the U.S.A. The physical exertion of walking six miles, and walking up steps in the castle, was not what I should have been doing that day. And I did not eat enough food. The next day I did much walking, uphill, to visit the castle Marksburg. (I walked from the train station in that town). My physical exhaustion caused me to become ill : I had bronchitis (fluid in the lungs). Having bronchitis causes a person to feel very very tired and miserable. When I arrived at Salzburg I was suffering from exhaustion, thus I cancelled my plan to go to Hallstatt. I stayed at Salzburg extra nights. After being in Austria, I was at Munich 2 nights. I had one day for being in Munich. I thought one day was enough time for me to visit the places in Munich that I wanted to visit. But, the time when I walked out of the hotel that day was much later than the time that I planned to walk out of the hotel, and after visiting the first place -- Alte Pinakothek -- I could not get transportation to the next place in Munich that I wanted to visit -- a museum. Thus, the only things that I saw in Munich were paintings in that art gallery, and grass and a few naked German men at the Englisher Garten park. (I did not desire to see naked men). I walked through Marienplatz, but I did not like it -- there was a strong wind, Marienplatz was an austere environment at sunset (in May).

Posted by Tamara
DC
209 posts

My first trip to Europe was one week long through the Christmas holiday. I saw Venice (2 days), Llubjlana (day trip), Munich (3 days) and Amsterdam.

Amsterdam was a bonus and kind of an accident because my flight got delayed so the airline put me up in a hotel for a night. Everything else was planned by my husband.

It was faster paced, but doable!

However, every trip since then has been much slower paced and I do enjoy staying at a hotel for more than 2 nights. It gives me a chance to settle in and feel cozy in a new place.

Posted by Martine
Ottawa, Canada
565 posts

our first trip to europe was in 2005, we went to provence for 3 days, french riviera for 7 days, austria 8 days, venice 2 days and tuscany for 5 days. we had long drives between each country because i did not think we we're ever going back again...we have been to europe every year since, and planning for next year! i wish i would have known of this board earlier thought! so i guess we fall in the slow pace category and would not have it any other way!

Posted by Jill
Austin, TX, USA
532 posts

Our first "big" trip (we had been to England w/ side trips due to family there) was 5 weeks in 2006. I think it was fast paced - 2n/amsterdam, 3n/munich, 2n/hallstatt, 2n/salzburg, 2n/venice, 2n/florence, 3n/rome, 4n/lauterbrunnen, 2n/ruette(near fussen), 2n/rothenburg, 2n/bacharach, 2n/brugge, last night amsterdam - with 2 night trains thrown in from amsterdam - munich, and rome - lauterbrunnen. For myself, my husband, and then 12 year old son this was perfect! We had the time of our lives!

Having said that - we did a similar trip last summer with 5 of us (included my 24yo son and 23 yo stepdaughter. It was 4 weeks instead of 5, and the pace was similar however we had three 1 nighters. This trip was way too long for 5 people. I discovered that it's impossible to have 5 people be happy doing the same things going to the same places for 4 weeks. We ended up sending my step daughter off on her own for at least half of the trip. If I had been smart I would have planned this trip at a much slower pace so that people could go off and do their own thing - coming together in the evenings.

I've also discovered that I can't get enough of Europe, but my husband can, which is why I'm going on a RS tour for the first time this fall, and he's not going back to Europe til next fall when the 3 of us will take another trip together.

Posted by Claudia
Land of La
2009 posts

My first visit (1972) was with the then boyfriend who was actually on a business trip. We were in our 20's. It was a whirlwind excursion. Still surprised how much we saw and did. Ah youth! I think we were gone 2-3 weeks and visited
(not in order of travel),: Amsterdam, Brussels, Bremen, Copenhagen, Geneva, Interlakken, London, Paris, Munich, Vienna, Zurich. Can only say we "saw" the sites. It was fun, frantic and inspired my love for travel.

Posted by CP
Canada
28 posts

Interesting question! My first trip was to Denmark in 2000 to visit some friends living there. I was there for 3 weeks and we spent the first week in Copenhagen at a fairly fast pace, seeing all the touristy things. Then we went inland to where they lived and it was much slower. We made a few day trips here and there and had a few days where we did not much. I almost could have done with the middle part being a little bit faster paced but at the time wasn't really comfortable travelling on my own and couldn't expect my friends to be chaperoning me all over the place to keep me busy.

Posted by Norm
Ottawa, Canada
4555 posts

30-odd years ago, as a teenager, the first trip to Europe was a tour....fast-paced and do-able, but only because it was an organized tour. There's no way I could have planned all that myself....and even today, I wouldn't try. But, as Sharon notes, it whetted my appetite. I think fast-paced tours have a role to play in allowing travellers to get a sampling of a particular region while leaving the details up to someone else....I've done the same in other parts of the world I've visited for the first time. But I would never plan a similar rapid itinerary myself, what with all the worrying over transportation connections, accommodations, etc.

Posted by Sharon
TX
505 posts

Our first was RS 14 day BOE, faster paced, 2 nights everywhere except Beaune, very doable, loved every moment. We added extra days in Paris and Rome to be able to see, do more. Would do again just the same for a first trip.

Posted by Nick
Seattle, WA, United States
63 posts

I had traveled elsewhere before my first "big trip." I was 21 and living in Sevilla in 2003 and had 6 weeks off during winter break. I spend the first 3 weeks at home in Seattle, but then flew into Paris in January to begin a faster paced but doable trip that sometimes bordered on nearly impossible.

(2 nights) in Grenoble to visit a friend who was studying there.

Then met up with my college roommate and spent (1 night) in Zermatt,
(1 night) in Milan,
(2 nights) in Venice,
(2 or 3 nights) in Florence, with a day trip to Siena,
(3 or 4 nights) in Rome, afternoon in Pompeii
(2 nights) in Sorento, with a day trip to Amalfi,
(1 or 2 nights) in Cinque Terre,
an overnight train from Genoa to Barcelona, and
(2 nights) in Barcelona, then back to Sevilla.

There were aspects of this trip I probably wouldn't do again - 1 night in Zermatt, 12 hour train from Genoa to Barcelona. And while I would probably not choose to bite off that much during 3 weeks, I still had a blast.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4866 posts

Our first trip in the summer of 2006 started with a family reunion in the Black Forest. We flew into Frankfurt, drove to Freiburg (1 night) to meet up with the family members and went to a farmhouse in Sankt Peter (3 nights). Then to Fussen (1 night), Munich (3 nights with day trips to Salzburg & Dachau), Rothenburg (2 nights), St. Goar (2 nights), Amsterdam (2 nights), Paris (5 nights) and London (5 nights). I would consider this to be faster paced but doable. We did have a car up until Paris, which did make it easier for transportation. It was not neccesary to time things by train schedules. We just returned in January from our 2nd trip, which was Amsterdam (1 night), Bruges (2 nights) and Paris (10 nights). I would consider this to be slower paced. I enjoyed both methods. I think that in a city like Paris it is good to have extra time, but in smaller areas a couple of days is probably sufficient, unless there are day trip opportunities to do from that location. We are now thinking about our next trip which will be next year. I think it will be a combination of slow paced and fast paced but doable.

Posted by JB
Redding, CA, USA
1568 posts

Slow paced.

We traveled and visited 8 countries in 8 weeks. Needless to say we only spent 1 day in Luxenburg.

Paris 5 nights
Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland 6 nights
Germany 12 nights
Czech Republic 8 nights
Salzburg, Austria 4 nights

I would do the same if I had it to do over again.

Posted by Gary Mc
Salt Lake City
716 posts

We arrived in Germany under orders for three years. There were times in that first tour that we visited parts of 3 countries in two weeks. That was fun but it was even better to do the daily things.

I had just learned to tell time in German (college course on base) when a man in Heidelberg asked me "Wie spät is es?" What a kick it was to answer.

I had two tours for 6 years. When I return, I always visit some prominent sights. I also always try to visit a place where Germans live (another thread). I try to slow down and remember how nice it was to live in Germany.

Regards, Gary

Posted by Jacquie
St. Pete, FL
75 posts

First trip to Europe was in 2005 for two weeks. Visited London and Amsterdam.

Very slow paced as we were so wide-eyed with wonder at how amazing both places were. And we actually ended up NOT doing some things we planned because we found other interesting things instead.

Taking our 4th trip to Europe (Paris & Reims) in 10 days.

Plan to keep the pace slow.

Posted by Steve
Overland Park
24 posts

Fun question. I've been five times now - each one wildly different in pace due to travel companions and age. But the first was London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt (overnight), Alpenzell, Berner Oberland, Florence, Venice and Innsbruck. Twenty years ago now, not sure how we did it all in two weeks. Worked out great - a quick flyover type trip seeing highlights and setting stage for future in depth trips. For instance, while Florence and Venice were fascinating - I've never thought of going back. Others on trip wouldn't go to Europe without including Italy.

Posted by Janis
Grapevine, TX, USA
870 posts

My 1st trip was a tour -- 7 countries/17 days. It was fast-paced, but I got to see a lot. My trip this year was 2 nights each in 5 cities plus 9 nights in Paris. We decided 2 nights is just too rushed, especially when there is considerable travel time between locations! Like anything else, some of it is just personal preference.

Posted by Ali
Newton, MA, USA
278 posts

First trip to Europe was last year and it was the "faster paced but doable". I got advice from this forum that was very helpful so that I understood exactly how much time we'd spend on trains. Unfortunately, my trip was driven by a surprise Neil Diamond concert in Cologne, Germany in the middle of the trip so I had to plan (because I'm the planner of the two of us) around that city.

We flew into London, layover and then flight to Prague, night train to Basel, time in the Berner Oberland than turned around and went to Bacharach/St Goar (even a day trip to Burg Eltz) and then on to Cologne and finishing off in Amsterdam. I think that was in 11 days if you take out the flight leaving and returning. It was fun and exciting and I wouldn't have done it any differently my first time. I knew I'd be back but it was just how we wanted to do it.

We are going back this May and for 20 days this time and seeing Varenna/Venice and then a quick trip to Budapest and on to Prague again (and on that awesome night train again to Basel) and spending a couple days in southern Switzerland to end our trip in the Berner Oberland. I imagine this is more fast paced than some would like but I'm really happy with the itinerary.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11259 posts

My very first trip to Europe was a company planned trip to expose my co-worker and me to European medical procedures. It was planned by our office in Belgium to give us the maximum of exposure to hospitals, clinics, and doctors. We were mostly driven from place to place by people who lived there. We spent a week in Brussels, then broke for the weekend, meet up Sunday night in Heidelberg, spent the next night in Saarbrücken, then two nights in Munich before heading home. We saw an awful lot of clinics, but I’d call that mostly a slow trip.

Next business trip was more of a Blitz. Two nights in London, then two in Düsseldorf, followed by one night stands in Paris, Strasbourg, Munich, Marseilles, Montpelier, Paris (again), Brussels, then home. Again, it involved a lot of travel (4 flights); the stopovers in hospitals and clinics were brief, just long enough to ask a series of prepared questions. I wouldn’t want to take a vacation like that. Fast-paced but doable.

In between, I made my first actually vacation trip to Germany. First night in Heidelberg, then two in Ansbach (day trip to Rothenburg), four nights in Munich, two nights in Immenstadt, one night in Konstanz, two in Lahr (family), and one in Mainz. A Blitz? I guess, sort of. But only half of my days included moving to a new venue, and each of those days was half travel and half sightseeing.

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1519 posts

Twenty years ago I went with a friend to Scotland. We stayed with her relatives in Prestwick for 2 week. I did an overnight trip alone to Edinburgh, and the two of us went to Aviemore and Pitlochry. We did a lot of visiting with her many relatives. Dog races, horse races. Burns cottage, Culzean Castle. Sounds like slow travel, but we were pretty busy. (Busy drinking a lot of beer.) There were a lot of great moments. This was before karaoke but there was a lot of singing in pubs and homes.

Last year we went to London and Paris, 4 nights in each city. We made sure to concentrate just on those cities and not clutter it up with day trips. We took a great day trip to Hampton Court, and that was it.

Slow or fast, there's still never enough time, is there?

Posted by Teena
Piedmont, nc, usa
282 posts

My first trip was to England for a total of 8 days. I took the Eurostar to Paris for 2 of the days and then went to Bath/Stonehenge for 1. It was definitely fast paced but doable and is how I continue to travel. The difference now is experience. I can pack more in less time without being rushed and see things I didn't plan on. I also have the luxury of knowing that each trip is probably not my last one which was not the case on my first trip. Also, staying in one place for more day trips makes it easier to change what I see based on preferences once I'm there. It took 3 trips to Italy to see the Leaning Tower (I wanted to see this for sentimental reasons. My dad's squad was ordered to leave it alone in their bombing raids during WWII) which kept getting cut for other experiences.So fast but doable for me with a schedule that can be rearranged to include the unexpected.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

My first trip to Europe was on a big bus tour it covered:

London-Paris-Lyon-Nice-Florence-Sorrento/Capri-Rome-Venice-Vienna-Innsbruck-Lucerne-Black Forest-Amsterdam-London.

And then on day 2.......

It was a 23 day tour...very fast paced....lots crammed in....and it changed my life completely. I caught the travel bug so badly, no amount of penicillin could cure it.

Now, I travel my own way. Part of my trips are fast paced, part are slow. I seem to mix it up depending on what I'm planning to see.

If I ever posted my itinerary, most here would think I'm crazy. But they work for me and my interests. And that's what's important.

Posted by Maureen
Atlanta
1357 posts

My first trip was slow paced, but that was because I had a friend working in Paris who I went to go visit. Who could turn that down? I spent a week in Paris, venturing out of town only to go to Versailles.

The next trip I took with my hubby, and it was more of the "faster paced but doable" sort. We went to Germany and spent only a night or 2 in each town we visited. But we were younger then and were able to do that.

Now we've got 2 kids, and we definitely do the "slow paced" travel. It's partly to keep the pace doable for the kids, and partly because it's hard to find budget accomodations that fit 4 people. For now, our days of $30 doubles/show up in town and find a room are over.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4866 posts

I have to revise my response on 3/1. We are now going to Ireland for a week next month. It was totally not in our plans to do this, but we paid so little for our airline tickets... Because it will be our first trip there, we do plan to cram in as much as possible. We are hoping for 2 nights Dingle, 2 nights somewhere else (Galway area?) and 3 nights in Dublin. I am hoping this will be faster paced but doable!

Posted by Connie
Everett, WA
827 posts

I think I travel "fast paced but doable". I say that because I will often read itineraries and think they look great-only to have other posters say they it is too fast- slow down-don't try to see so much. I do research thoroughly before going, and allow time to see what we want to see. I try to minimize one night stays-but I have had a few every trip. 2-3 night stays are the standard -although I have stayed 4 nights in London, Copenhagen and Lauterbrunnen. When we travel, we try to stay a month (our shortest trip: 3 1/2 weeks-longest- five full weeks) but we pick 2-3 countries to travel and see. I have never done a complete European grand tour in 4 weeks style trip. I have to say that I am a person who would prefer to leave still wanting to return, than to stick around a place too long. Fortunately my husband and I have the same "style" and it works out great for us. My number one rule of travel: To thine own self be true. Fine your style and stick with it, even if others have a different style.

Posted by Susan
Prince George, BC, Canada
104 posts

Our first trip was to Britian in 1986. We were barely 30 and full of energy. I would say that the trip was a combination of "slow-paced" and then "REALLY fast but doable". We stayed with a family friend for the first 7 days and explored London and surrounding area, and then rented a car and drove like crazy for 10 days all over the south half of England. Looking back, even though it was really fast paced, I don't think we would have done it any differently. It's want we wanted, and were prepared to do. We had a great time, and remember all the details even +20 years later.

One of our other trips was the exact opposite - REALLY slow paced. We rented a canal boat for 2 week on the Avon Ring. We could have walked faster than our boat's progress, but you know, it was one of the best trips we've ever taken. We were both really stressed out with our jobs, and this trip forced us(as if this was a problem) to slow down and enjoy the trip. It was fabulous!

As we get older, we now prefer the slower paced travel. We get more from our visits, and it's not as stressful.

The take-home point for me is that all kinds of paces work for you. It just depends on what you want, and are prepared to plan for. In the end, it's all good!!

Posted by Gary
New Hampshire
182 posts

Let's go with faster paced but doable.

A trip to Ireland, and I hate to admit it but it was a bus tour. As it was our first overseas trip in many years and we had 2 teenagers with us, we wanted things planned for us figuring we had enough to do just trying to keep the kids on track.

At least we researched the trip possibilities well and made sure we chose one that allowed for less frequent hotel changes. At least we didn't have to end each day in a different location which helped ALOT! 10 days falling in love with a beautiful country that we hope to visit often.

Thanks for the memories!

Posted by travelgirl
San Francisco
35 posts

My first trip to Europe was a trip with the company called AESU - I think they were part of Trafalgar. It was a tour designed for 20 somethings. It was over 15 years ago and I think it was 12 days in Italy. It was kind of fast paced and catered towards night life partying stuff. Would I take it again? Heck no. Would I recommend it to anyone? No again. Unless you were doing a "spring break" type vacation - then ok.