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Old Dec 6, 11, 7:34 pm   #1
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Maestro's Europe Trip - Newbie here.. Please be Patient

Many thanks to the FT community for help.. Its been a great L/Earning experience for me the last couple of years.. and trips have been getting more complex and longer than ever..

Generally when we fly, we vacation for 3 weeks at a time nowadays.. This latest Europe Booking will have us gone for 7 weeks.. so the longest trip that I've ever taken in my life.

We weren't planning to book, but there is a book Business Class for economy promo on AE I couldn't resist.. and we've been wanting to visit Europe for awhile now, so decided to jump into it with both feet. I've never been to Europe but my wife has about 19 years ago.. so we need a quick refresher about everything. We have a 2 year old and a 6 year old.. and having travelled 2 1/2 months this past year, we feel comfortable to embark on this journey.;.

So some prelimnary questions are.. Do we need Visa for the any of the surrounding countries in Europe after landing in London Heathrow.

Our dates are as follows.. YYC-YYZ-EWR, stop 6 days, EWR-Frankfurt-LHR, destination July 16th to August 23rd, LHR-YYZ, stop 5 nights, YYZ-YYC

Didn't know, but we are also there for the whole time during the summer olympics.. so we could visit London on arrival, leave say to France or some other country, come back for the Olympics, leave for some other country, and comeback to leave.

Any ideas what a family of 4 with 2 small children should do.. We planned to hit up 10 countries, and the Olympics is throwing a kink into it.. so maybe only 5 countries? We'd like to visit Disneyland France.. Anyone have experience with this as well.. Some countries we're thinking of is Germany, Switzerland, Scotland, France.. I've a cruise would work as well..

Passport documentation enough to enter countries.. How bout rental vehiclesd, does everyone drive the wrong side of the road compared to NA? What are some things to watch for? How bout a cruise?.. this has been suggested a couple of times..

The dates of the Olympics is approximately July 27th to Aug 15th..

Any advice is greatly appreciated.
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Old Dec 9, 11, 4:50 am   #2
 
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So some prelimnary questions are.. Do we need Visa for the any of the surrounding countries in Europe after landing in London Heathrow.
For countries belonging to the Schenge Area you don't need a visa. You can stay up to 90 days in a period of 180 days. Please refert to this article to see which countries belong to the Schengen Area Wikipedia: Schengen Area
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Old Dec 9, 11, 5:45 am   #3
 
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How bout rental vehiclesd, does everyone drive the wrong side of the road compared to NA? What are some things to watch for? How bout a cruise?.. this has been suggested a couple of times..

The dates of the Olympics is approximately July 27th to Aug 15th..

Any advice is greatly appreciated.
It's only the U.K. and Ireland which you would have to worry about as far as driving on the left side (wouldn't call it wrong side). Renting a car is pretty simple everywhere, though keep in mind that driving in Europe is generally a bit different. Also, if you want a car with an automatic transmission you will probably want to reserve the car(s) a bit in advance as there tend to be far less of them.
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Old Dec 9, 11, 6:19 am   #4
 
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Personally, I would not want to be in London when the Olympics are there, it will be crazy and hotels expensive. So either do London and surroundings first or last - I would say last since many people with be going to early to prepare.

Depending on what activities your family likes depend on the itinerary I guess. Do you like the big cities or the rural stuff ? If you plan on just the cities, I might look into a trains. Of course packing with kids will add a lot - driving might be the best option, especially on the continent.

For the 6/7 year old, they might enjoy Legoland in Windsor. That is on our itinerary for out trip.
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Old Dec 10, 11, 12:55 am   #5
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Thanks for the Great tips.. I was under the impression that driving was a no go.. getting used to the idea maybe having to travel on trains.. but wrapping my head around the luggage scenario..

So automatics are rare? In Ireland and Britain.. do you need an international driver's licencse to be allowed to rent? I've heard this in the past, but an AAA travel agent told me that I can rent, but driving the vehicle on the other side make sme think that I need to have an international driving designation..

Hotel rooms are expensive, but I lowered my standards to fit the budget a bit.. and out a bit further so far.. we'll have to see if I can get some reasonable accomodations closer.. right now in Gatwick, and looks to be an hour and a half to venues.. but the other options are like more expensive, but cuts a half an hour off the travel time during the Olympics..

Regarding documentation requirements.. I just need a passport? I'm planning to visit England, France, possibly Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Belgium, Rome..
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Old Dec 10, 11, 3:06 am   #6
 
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Regarding documentation requirements.. I just need a passport? I'm planning to visit England, France, possibly Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Belgium, Rome..
I'm implying you are an US citizen.

You just need a passport. No visa needed. France, Italy and Belgium are part of the Schengen Area in which you can stay up to 90days. The UK and Ireland are not part of Schengen but you also don't need a visa. Passport is enough.
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Old Dec 10, 11, 3:57 am   #7
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So automatics are rare? In Ireland and Britain.. do you need an international driver's licencse to be allowed to rent? I've heard this in the past, but an AAA travel agent told me that I can rent, but driving the vehicle on the other side make sme think that I need to have an international driving designation..
Automatics in the UK and Ireland are rarer, which is often a good thing if you actually want an automatic. If you book the most economical automatic there is and book it nicely in advance, it is not uncommon to arrive and find that they don't have it. So you will get bumped up to the most economical category which does have an automatic. This can often mean an upgrade of 2 or 3 classes or a VW Polo up to a VW Golf.

You do not need an international driving permit, your US driving license will do just fine.
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Old Dec 10, 11, 5:32 am   #8
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but you definitely need to look into distances ... Scotland to Rome ... that's alot. do you want actually see something of europe or just city 1. seen. check. city 2. seen. check ... nighttrains and airplanes may be an option, but be aware that the LCC have very strict luggage policies ...

... so my advice is: less countries and try to build up (using a map and timetables.

european railway timetables can be found here: http://www.bahn.com/i/view/DEU/en/index.shtml more information in the european rail forum here on flyertalk,too.

for flights, look at www.skyscanner.net (this includes most LCC,too)

if you have any detailled questions - don't hesitate to come back. and for UK, Italy and France - please check the destination forums here on FT
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Old Dec 10, 11, 9:26 am   #9
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I'm Canadian, so the passport should work, and no need for Visas.. One travel agent suggested I take a cruise originating from Rome.. I think I'll stick to a France or England origination.

On the topic of cruises.. which cruise ships would you guys suggest would not charge an arm and a leg for a 6 and 2 year old? I've found Royal Carribean to be very reasonable, and want to book it, but its costing close to $5,000 canadian for a week..

I picked up Taekwondo tickets for the final on the tenth.. So got 4 events.. Track and Field, Taeqwondo, Synchronised Swimming and Women's Volleyball.. all medal events..

I'm thinking this might be enough events over 5 nights.. or should I stay longer.. Perhaps for the closing ceremonies we could visit Olympic Park and take in the Closing Ceremonies outside.. what do you guys think..

Good tips on the rental vehicles.. I didn't think this was an option.. I heard parking is insane, but so is Calgary, and San Francisco.. I'm used to paying $30 per day.. How are the rates there..

So my travel agent tells me I can't take extended tour packages with a 2 year old.. so that is why I'm looking into cruises.. I've got from July 17th to Aug 7th before we hit the the last 5 days of the Olympics.. So I'm thinking a 7 night cruise, Disneyland France for 5 nights, possibly before hitting the cruise.. Once done, it looks like with the cruise option I took out we'll be finished by July 30th.. so what to do with an extra 8 days with the family? Go to the olympics early? The Disney and cruise seems like family friendly.. Maybe we'll hit Paris after the cruise and do some sight seeing..

but we don't want to be caught not getting a train back to London.. Can't book the Eurostar this far ahead it seems.. thanks for the help!
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Old Dec 10, 11, 9:28 am   #10
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do you really want to do Disneyland Paris? while being in France, there's so much more to do ... and it's not that different from Disney in USA ...
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Old Dec 10, 11, 9:35 am   #11
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do you really want to do Disneyland Paris? while being in France, there's so much more to do ... and it's not that different from Disney in USA ...
Yeah.. I was looking at the attractions and they are imilar to the ones in the US.. But with a 6 and 2 year old, they love Disney..

I gave up going to Disney World for Christmas this year, we went last year for 3 weeks and had blast.. So figure being in Europe for 5 weeks, we should be able to handle 5 days in Disneyland Paris.. would be a novelty I suppose..

Yes lots to do in France.. Probably with the cruise, we'll end up a good 2 and half weeks before going to the Olympics..

So without the ability to take extended multi day tours.. what tours would you suggest in Paris? lusury (a moderator) is a Virtuoso agent so can get me a concierge upgrade at an intercontinental hotel.. So one a few more items re finalized, I'll have him book something for me..
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Old Dec 10, 11, 10:26 am   #12
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do you really want to do Disneyland Paris? while being in France, there's so much more to do ... and it's not that different from Disney in USA ...
I thought the same, but the annoying thing about Disney is they sort of have parents over a barrel, so whilst the kids are basking in the Disney magic, the parents are left wondering how come they just forked out 50 for a bad steak on a paper plate and with plastic cutlery when far better fare is available in Paris.

I wouldn't go again, but its not my call
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Old Dec 10, 11, 10:33 am   #13
 
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Automatics in the UK and Ireland are rarer, which is often a good thing if you actually want an automatic. If you book the most economical automatic there is and book it nicely in advance, it is not uncommon to arrive and find that they don't have it. So you will get bumped up to the most economical category which does have an automatic. This can often mean an upgrade of 2 or 3 classes or a VW Polo up to a VW Golf.
I got an upgrade to a BMW 320d this way in Madrid once. Normally I get a manual when I'm in Europe, but I was recovering from a badly broken wrist on that trip and couldn't shift gears.
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Old Dec 10, 11, 7:40 pm   #14
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I thought the same, but the annoying thing about Disney is they sort of have parents over a barrel, so whilst the kids are basking in the Disney magic, the parents are left wondering how come they just forked out 50 for a bad steak on a paper plate and with plastic cutlery when far better fare is available in Paris.

I wouldn't go again, but its not my call
Any tips for food down in Euro Disney? We did three weeks in Disney World for Christmas Break last Christmas, and Disneyland for 8 days over the summer..

Is it actually worse at Disneyland Paris for food? The rooms seem much more reasonably priced down in Paris.. But maybe that's where they will get us, is the cost of food..

Any tips for Euro Disney from anyone?
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Old Dec 11, 11, 5:01 am   #15
 
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Any tips for food down in Euro Disney? We did three weeks in Disney World for Christmas Break last Christmas, and Disneyland for 8 days over the summer..

Is it actually worse at Disneyland Paris for food? The rooms seem much more reasonably priced down in Paris.. But maybe that's where they will get us, is the cost of food..

Any tips for Euro Disney from anyone?
That's a lot of Disney...almost a month!

Food at EuroDisney is pretty good overall if you eat in the restaurants rather than the fast food places. Those i would steer clear of.

You might get a good deal to stay a couple of nights in one of the hotels in the park, and from what i've heard, they aren't bad. There are many more in the surrounding towns which are reasonably priced. Try and pick one near a train station to make your ride to the park easier.

When you're done with the park which you need a day for, stay in Paris and sightsee there. I don't know if you've been before or not, but even if you have, Paris is far more entertaining than EuroDisney.
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