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Help: 2 Weeks in Europe

Help: 2 Weeks in Europe

Old Jul 23, 08, 12:57 pm
  #1  
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Help: 2 Weeks in Europe

Next year, I would like to surprise my wife to a 14-day trip of Europe. Cities that she would like to visit are: London, Paris, Venice, Vienna and Barcelona. We're coming from Atlanta.

I'm thinking (just from looking at the map of Europe), our itinerary could be London-Paris-Vienna-Venice-Barcelona. Spending 3 days in each city. Although, it would probably cheaper to start and end on the same city, perhaps LHR or CDG (usually less expensive than Barcelona, from ATL).

I would like to get some advice from seasoned travelers and folks that are familiar with the local transportation options in Europe. From logistics and cost-efficiency standpoint, where would you start and end in Europe? And how many days would be good for each city? What trains do we take and approximate amount of time to get from city A to city B? Anyway, any help would be great.
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Old Jul 23, 08, 1:34 pm
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I think the first question is - does your wife like surprises? Or would she rather be in on the planning? Presumably you've already answered that question to yourself, but - just in case - thought I'd double check.

Interesting that you have the list of cities from your wife. A really good start.

Maybe give yourself an easy start in your first city (extra day?) so you can shake off the jet lag and get on the new time zone. ATL is a better start that further west in the US, but still a big shift.

From London to Paris is of course the Eurostar and an incredible 2 hours and 15 minutes! www.eurostar.com

Venice to Vienna can be an overnight train. I'm not sure about the reverse direction, but www.raileurope.com would answer that. The overnight train can be an interesting experience. You won't get a full night's sleep, but on the other hand, you will save one of those precious days and the price of one hotel room (and probably have some stories to tell of the adventure).

Going from Venice to Barcelona via train has an interesting kink in it. The rail gauge is different in Spain from the rest of Europe so the train stops at the border and switches out the undercarriage.

You are really wise IMHO to rely on the train to move yourself about. That way you both get to see the scenery and enjoy the trip. No map reading, getting lost, etc. And you go from city center to city center, rather than spending time getting to an airport an hour and a half outside a city and then spending another hour and a half at the other end. European train travel is so much more functional than US train travel.

Wouldn't hurt to look at some of the package tour companies and see how they organize a couple weeks. It would give you an idea of what is logical and possible. And have you ruled out package tours, or could they work for you? Even one week on a big sweep several places with a tour (letting them manage all the logistics and problems) and then several days at beginning and end on your own. Those tour companies can make your life a whole lot easier if their format works for you. Or maybe you genuinely like the planning process and being on your own. Just wanted to make sure you had at least considered it.

You might consider just one much smaller town, for contrast and interest?

Now I'm sure lots of other people will be jumping in here.

What a fun thing to be planning!

Romelle
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Old Jul 23, 08, 3:17 pm
  #3  
 
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I'm thinking (just from looking at the map of Europe), our itinerary could be London-Paris-Vienna-Venice-Barcelona. Spending 3 days in each city.
Do you mean three nights in each city? If so, that really means two full days in each city, since arrival and departure days will be devoted mostly to travel chores. In my opinion, it would be cheaper, and give the same quality of experience, just to stay home and watch a video about those cities. Even if you really mean three full days in each city, that's still pretty rushed.

Although, it would probably cheaper to start and end on the same city, perhaps LHR or CDG (usually less expensive than Barcelona, from ATL).
Maybe, maybe not. Most FF award tickets, and some Economy paid tickets, allow open jaws for free. And if you have to pay extra for an open jaw, it isn't always a lot more.
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Old Jul 23, 08, 4:58 pm
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Those cities are not close to each other and can be a long train trip. Paris to Vienna is 12 hours; Vienna to Venice about 8 hours if you get a direct train, and Venice to Barcelona will require several train changes and take more than 24 hours. Barcelona to London is another change-several-times-takes-14-hours run.

http://www.db.de/site/bahn/en/start.html will give you more information and timetables (enter Venedig for Venice).

I would seriously suggest a trip that doesn't sprawl across such a large area. At a minimum, I'd drop Barcelona and/or Venice.

Is this your wife's first trip to Europe? If so a less hectic trip may be better possibly just London and Paris.

Audrey
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Old Jul 23, 08, 6:23 pm
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Yes, if you're really going to cover all that territory I think you should check into what flying would cost -- it may not turn out to be much more. If you're flying one of the major alliances transatlantic, you can usually get a European air pass which can be a bargain, and there are also the low cost flyers. Of course, some people may prefer the train for the scenery and the experience.
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Old Jul 23, 08, 6:40 pm
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having done a couple of multiple stop Europe trips, I would second previous posts suggesting cutting out a city or two...and Barcelona and Vienna seem like good candidates based on geography/access.

in terms of Venice, there are some pretty decent low-cost airline options connecting Paris. that may be a good option. same may be true with London, but personally, I would avoid as much of London airports, especially LHR, as possible.

if you can fly ATL-London/Gatwick, then EuroStar London-Paris, then fly to Venice and back home thru Paris...that might be an option...and somewhat cost-efficient.

that's my 2 c
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Old Jul 23, 08, 9:26 pm
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Originally Posted by jacknyoc View Post
having done a couple of multiple stop Europe trips, I would second previous posts suggesting cutting out a city or two...and Barcelona and Vienna seem like good candidates based on geography/access.

if you can fly ATL-London/Gatwick, then EuroStar London-Paris, then fly to Venice and back home thru Paris...that might be an option...and somewhat cost-efficient.
Having lived in Europe for 6 of the last 13 years, I'd say this is pretty solid advice here.
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Old Jul 24, 08, 8:49 am
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Venice is grand fun, but sort of like cotton candy. You might want something a little more substantive for one of your days. There are great train connections there to all sorts of interesting smaller places in the area. Rick Steves has a good video on them. Yeah, yeah, he is the guy lots of people here love to hate, but ... I stand by my suggestion as a good quick way to get the information.

And of course that Eurostar has more destinations besides London and Paris. Do take a look at them. Avignon is quite special. Another post here has a long discussion on the merits of visiting Brussels.

Romelle
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