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User Topic: Traveling in Europe - Tips? Opinions? Advice? Must see places?
♀ 32324
Member # 32324
Default  Posted: 2:52 PM, July 8th (Monday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

We were recently stationed in Germany and will be here for three years, possibly longer. We are expecting people to visit from the U.S. while we're here, too.

So, we definitely know we want to go to Italy. It is an absolute must. We want to see Venice and Rome for sure. We're not very picky about other places in Italy though. Milan, Florence, Pisa, Naples, Sicily, Verona, and some other places are all on our "nice to see" list, but aren't really necessities. We're planning on doing a road trip around Italy when my H's parents come to visit. We don't know how long we'll have yet (it depends on how much leave he's able to take, but definitely at least a week), but we're wondering where we should go. What places are "must sees" and how long should we stay in each place? There is already another trip planned just to see Rome while my mother is visiting, since it's the one place she's dying to go. My in-laws, though, just want to see Italy. They aren't as picky about seeing certain sights/cities.

I also have a friend planning a trip over here and she wants to go to Paris. Now, I'd like to go there, but it wouldn't break my heart to not see it. I'm happy just taking a few picture of the Eiffel Tower and seeing the Louvre. I know the Louvre itself could take a lot of time, but there's only a few specific things we each want to see. How much time should we spend in Paris? Anything else we should see while we're there? (BTW, this is just a "girls trip")

Okay, my H and I also want to fly down to Greece. We don't really know where to go and how easy it is to get from place to place. We want to see the history, but the beach would be great, too. We'll only spend a few days there, so should we go to Athens, Crete, Meteora, Delphi, Santorini...somewhere else? We don't want to spend a ton of time traveling from place to place and not really see anything.

Then there are the short trips we can take. We already went down to Neuschwanstein/Hohenschwangau and will probably go again when people are visiting since it's just a day trip. We've heard Munich was great, but Berlin isn't. Is there anything really interesting/unique to see in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Nuremberg, or other German cities?

We also would like to take a long weekend and fly to either Scotland or Ireland. Which would you go to? Where would you go? What would you do while there?

We have plans to visit Prague, probably more than once since it's so close to us. Salzburg, Zurich, Liechtenstein, and Vienna might also be places we'd go for the day/night. They aren't high on our list. Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, and England are countries we've briefly considered, but frankly they don't interest us all that much. There are other places (Italy, Greece, Ireland/Scotland) that we'd rather spend our money seeing.

I think that's enough questions for now.

[This message edited by frigidfire86 at 2:54 PM, July 8th (Monday)]

Me: 31
Him: 32
Married 11 years
Daughter, 10 yrs old
D-Day: 05/08/2011

Posts: 682 | Registered: May 2011 | From: Louisiana
♀ 31758
Member # 31758
Default  Posted: 3:36 PM, July 8th (Monday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Well, I really love Salzburg. It is one of the most beautiful cities. I'd list it as a must see.

Men were deceivers ever; one foot in sea and one on shore, to one thing constant never.

Posts: 622 | Registered: Apr 2011 | From: Midwest
♂ 3031
Member # 3031
Default  Posted: 4:38 PM, July 8th (Monday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

St. Petersburg and Tsarskoye Selo.

Maybe some photos to convince you?

[This message edited by TrulyReconciled at 10:46 AM, July 10th (Wednesday)]

"In a time of deceit, telling the Truth is a revolutionary act."

Posts: 22740 | Registered: Dec 2003 | From: Hell and back, way back :o)
♀ 32324
Member # 32324
Default  Posted: 4:43 PM, July 8th (Monday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

We did a little research and we're thinking a cruise would be a good way to see a lot of different places without spending a fortune. The stops along the way would be short, but for countries we aren't just dying to see it wouldn't be a big deal. There are Mediterranean cruises going to places like Spain, Portugal, Morocco, France, and Italy. Or we could go east and see Italy, Greece, Turkey, Tunisia, and even Egypt. Another option would be a northern European cruise stopping in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. Or we could go the other direction to Ireland, Norway, United Kingdom, and Iceland. It's so hard to choose! I know...what a horrible decision to have to make, right?

Me: 31
Him: 32
Married 11 years
Daughter, 10 yrs old
D-Day: 05/08/2011

Posts: 682 | Registered: May 2011 | From: Louisiana
♀ 26531
Member # 26531
Default  Posted: 5:44 PM, July 8th (Monday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

There is also a river cruise that will take you into Europe... but for the life of me I can't recall the name.

The only European country I've ever been to was United Kingdom. We went for 10 days when I was in High School... it was awesome. Especially London.

I highly recommend it. I would go back in a heartbeat.

Me: BSO - 49
Him: FWSO - 72
DS - 16
D-Day - 12-11-09,
R - he finally came home
Your life is an Occasion. Rise to it. - Mr. Magorium, "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium"

Posts: 25973 | Registered: Dec 2009 | From: Florida
♀ 32943
Member # 32943
Default  Posted: 6:10 PM, July 8th (Monday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I think everyone would enjoy Venice, Paris, and Prague, for the sheer beauty of those places. Other than that, what do you like to do when you travel? Do you like art, history, hiking, beer?

The Christmas markets in Germany and Austria are great – the ones in Vienna, Nuremburg, Salzburg, Munich are really good.

Salzburg has a bit of everything: art/history/hiking/beauty/beer/Sound of Music tours. If you are into military history, the Deutsches Museum in Munich has some interesting stuff, and the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum in Vienna is excellent. London also has a great war museum.

Of the places you mentioned:
Italy: Venice and Rome for sure. I hate Rome but love the history – see if you can avoid driving there!! Verona and Pisa are supposed to be very pretty and manageable. Florence is beautiful but I wouldn’t go anywhere in Italy in the summer except in the north – the heat and crowds are too much for me. Milan and Naples are good for history but are huge and frustrating, pretty low on my list except for a few sites. I know a lot of people who rave about Sicily. If you are driving from Germany to Italy, the lakes at the foot of the Alps are beautiful, with lots of smaller towns. Brixen/Bolzano are also nice – Bolzano has an interesting medieval castle and the Ice Man museum.

Paris: The main site is the city itself, just walking around. See the St-Chapelle and Notre Dame churches. Get a good guide to shopping and the neighborhoods. There are hundreds of great day trips, too. Spend a week, if you can swing it, because it’s great to make yourself a temporary local and just appreciate a place. Find out what festivals are going on. Avoid August - things close.

Greece: Unless you are into ancient history, avoid Athens. It is big and dirty and you will probably enjoy the islands more, all of which have lots of history. A Mediterranean cruise would be a great idea – I would choose this over a Baltic cruise – nice blue water, interesting stops. The cruise ships usually have someone to give a light and entertaining look at the local history of each stop, so you can get kind of a smorgasbord of Mediterranean history.

Scotland/Ireland/England: I like Northern England and Scotland a lot. York is really interesting, so is hiking Hadrian’s Wall, and Edinburgh. If you have more time, a driving tour in the west of Scotland is well worth it.

Brugges in Belgium is a nice 3-day getaway; also the Bodensee (Lake Constance) and anyplace in rural Switzerland. Barcelona and Lisbon, Portugal are also great 3-day trips if you take advantage of cheap flights. Also consider Croatia.

Not sure where you are in Germany, but you can take a boat up the Danube Enge to Weltenburg Abbey for lunch in the beer garden- makes a nice outing if you are driving in the Altmuhl area anyway. It’s not far from Regensburg, which is also a nice town to walk around.

Me: BS, 40's.

Posts: 1954 | Registered: Jul 2011 | From: West Coast
♀ 24261
Member # 24261
Default  Posted: 6:11 PM, July 8th (Monday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Oh boy this is hard. All these places are fab. Can only speak from my own travel experiences.

Italy - Rome is exceptional but skip Pisa as apart from the tower, it's industrial. I also liked Turin and Milan.

Switzerland/Austria - loved Saltzburg but disliked the Viennese (rude money grabbers thought the winter palace is something else).

Greek Islands are well, islands. Skiathos and Corfu are two worth visiting for different reasons but Greece is Greece and the same all over. Can't speak for the mainland as my visits there have been short. Crete is close enough to Egypt for a trip.

Now Spain is something else and Portugal is similar to Spain. I love Madrid in addition to the south and holiday there most years (including visits to my dear SI friend). Santander (north coast) and San Sebastian are also beautiful.

France is fab too both north and south and in the middle, depends what you want to see. If you are into history then the north (Normandy) is great with the D-day landing beaches, US war graves, museums etc in addition to Rouen, Baheux, Amiens and further south, Paris. France is huge and endless. I'm heading back in September.

Not done Scandinavia or Russia.

Try to get a trip to Amsterdam. It's one of my favourites and then hop over to UK and Scotland. From here it's a stone's throw to Ireland both north and south. You can come visit me too

I love south Germany and it gets you so close to central Europe. I would love to see Berlin. Munich is also a great city.

I have not been to Turkey though all of my friends love it, nor Poland or Czech Republic though these are on my 'to do soon' list.

You won't make a wrong decision because there isn't one. What you don't see this time, you'll see the next because you will come back.

Oh and if you want travel info on getting around in Europe there is a web site called 'the man in seat 61' worth googling.

[This message edited by cass at 6:27 PM, July 8th (Monday)]

DDay - April 2008
Me - 58 and doing great, alone.

Don't put the key to your happiness in someone else's pocket!

Posts: 5134 | Registered: Jun 2009 | From: Scotland
♀ 2766
Member # 2766
Default  Posted: 6:41 PM, July 8th (Monday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

PM me and I can give you the url of an apt. (minutes walk to Eiffel Tower). We went last year and loved it. Paris...I could have spent a year, we did 4 days and I hated leaving. Louvre is huge...but even in June it was not difficult to see the major pieces.

We also went to Munich....beautiful city. Take the hop on/hop off buses (there are 3 routes I believe, and you get a discount to buy all three). You can take a full day doing the buses, then next days you will know some spots that you'd love to stop at. Also went to Dachau concentration camp. It's a museum. I found it touching and felt very sacred there to me. Marienplatz (beer garden) was amazing. I don't drink beer much, but my most special meal on this trip was German sausage on a bun and a big cold beer watching the world walk by.

We also went to Geneva...but ended up staying outside of Geneva (in France...I thought I was in Switzerland LOL). We spent one day driving completely around Lake Geneva. Beautiful drive. Stopped for meals.

London I love...but it's not what it used to be. Still, tons and tons of things to do there.

[This message edited by JanetS at 6:43 PM, July 8th (Monday)]

Posts: 3061 | Registered: Nov 2003 | From: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada
♀ 26651
Member # 26651
Default  Posted: 6:54 PM, July 8th (Monday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

When I was 16 I was a foreign exchange student and went to Germany...seriously up there with one of the best experiences of my life I would definitely recommend visiting the larger cities, as well as smaller ones around the Hanover and Hamburg areas. It's a beautiful country While I was there, I stayed near Rinteln. FWIW, the father of my exchange family was in the army and did not feel safe about going to Berlin, so I would probably also avoid the city. Have fun and enjoy Europe

Me: BW/33 The kidlets: DS16, DS12, and DD10 The hounds: Three Shih Tzu's The felines: Two short haired kitteh's

Posts: 11775 | Registered: Dec 2009
♀ 27035
Member # 27035
Default  Posted: 7:21 PM, July 8th (Monday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Look into Ryanair. Cheap flights all over Europe. It's a bare bones airline - NO amenities but it's cheap.

Stockholm - terrific city, lots of history, terrific public transportation so easy to get around. Expensive though.

Greece - I was stationed on Crete about a million years ago. If you're into history, anything in Greece is amazing. I loved Crete, Rhodes, Santorini. And if you're in Greece, you have to go to Athens for the Acropolis, Parthenon, etc. It is loud and dirty and very scary to drive there, but the history!

If you're doing a cruise, I would definitely choose the Mediterranean cruise.

My daughter loved London, Prague, Stockholm and Brussels. So many choices - have fun!

"On particularly rough days when I'm sure I can't possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that's pretty good."

Posts: 5379 | Registered: Jan 2010 | From: Midwest
Grace and Flowers
♀ 34431
Member # 34431
Default  Posted: 8:35 PM, July 8th (Monday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I lived in and worked all over Europe for several years.

One hidden gem is in the Taunus Mountains outside of Frankfurt. There is a Roman fort there. I believe it was their northernmost fort on the continent. For this California girl, it was way cool to see this several-thousand-year-old place. It's beautiful. Of course, you see many ruins just as old in other places.

My advice? When you see an interesting side road, take it. You never know where you'll end up! Enjoy!

"Absence makes the clarity grow stronger" - cantaccept

"A good man with good intentions has no reason to lie" - somer222

Posts: 1398 | Registered: Jan 2012 | From: US
♀ 19946
Member # 19946
Default  Posted: 8:55 PM, July 8th (Monday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Any European ancestry? I would go to where my ancestors are from.

Budapest is beautiful.

I think I would just pick one or two places and allow yourself to have more time to know a place.

BS, 56 years
D-day 6-2-08
D after 20 years
The journey from Armageddon to Amazing Life happens one step at a time. Don't ever give up!

Posts: 6650 | Registered: Jun 2008 | From: Rural California
♀ 25395
Member # 25395
Target  Posted: 9:27 PM, July 8th (Monday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

We were just in Denmark and loved it so much. And it is close to Germany! At the end of May and the beginning of June the lilacs are out and are incredible. We drove all over the country and the landscape was glorious. We stayed a week in Aarhus and rented an apartment downtown and I would live there in a second. Beautiful museums, lovely beaches, great architecture.

We also visited Jelling, Esbjerg, Kolding, Odense and Copenhagen. The Louisiana MOMA is a great place to spend a day and in Copenhagen, Tivoli Gardens are a fun day especially if you have kids. Oh, and of course Legoland if you're in to big amusement parks.

I never would have gone to Denmark by choice; it was a work thing. I was totally surprised by how much we liked it. We would live in Aarhus in the summers if we could just win a lottery!

Me: BS/41
Him: WS/39
DDay: August 23, 2009
Together 16 years.

Posts: 1801 | Registered: Sep 2009 | From: not toronto anymore
♀ 32943
Member # 32943
Default  Posted: 12:25 AM, July 9th (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

skip Pisa as apart from the tower, it's industrial
hmmm...maybe it was Perugia that I am thinking of?

Me: BS, 40's.

Posts: 1954 | Registered: Jul 2011 | From: West Coast
♂ 33699
Member # 33699
Default  Posted: 9:17 AM, July 9th (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I absolutely love Heidelburg in Germany.

Also Gent and Brussels in Belgium.

"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indominable will" - Mahatma Gandi

"Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway." - Aubrie

Posts: 3986 | Registered: Oct 2011 | From: Georgia
♀ 30742
Member # 30742
Default  Posted: 9:20 AM, July 9th (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I am from Germany and have traveled many places in Europe. I have been to many of the places you listed and would be happy to share some of the experiences. PM me if you feel like it.

And for a must see: Venice! Just got back from there and after having seen almost every major city in Europe I would say this is a total must see.

Temporarily independent with the whole world at my feet.

Posts: 1310 | Registered: Jan 2011 | From: California
♀ 18495
Member # 18495
Default  Posted: 4:20 PM, July 9th (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I am biased since I lived in Salzburg for two years but it is a wonderful city and the people are all very nice. Budapest is also a wonderful city. If you go to Greece you cannot miss Santorini--truly one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Posts: 17 | Registered: Mar 2008 | From: Ohio
♀ 27454
Member # 27454
Default  Posted: 12:10 AM, July 10th (Wednesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Welcome to my part of the world!!!!!!
I am in Germany too

Not sure where you are but as there are so few US bases left here chances are you are very close to me.

I see it this way.... You can tackle Germany, Belgium, France, The Netherlands and Luxembourg in a series of weekends.

You are going to love the Christmas Markets. Also at this time of year (if you are near the wine region) there are numerous wine festivals. Here we make the most of the wonderful summers as winters are loooooong and cooooold!!!!!

Apart from weekend trips.... I would personally focus on Italy, Ireland (cheap flights from Frankfurt Hahn). Prague is close by too. That's a must see too :)

The amazing thing about Europe is that you can jump in your car & off you go.

Not sure if you or your spouse is interested in military history???

If so Verdun is worth a visit for WW1... And Bastogne / Luxembourg for WW2 ( General Patton is buried in Luxembourg).

Please feel free to PM me

Me = BS aged 43
2 boys, 13 and 9
DDay 1/19/10
Confronted him 2/16/10
Finally Divorced 8/29/12

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”

Posts: 726 | Registered: Feb 2010 | From: Expats in Europe
♀ 20150
Member # 20150
Default  Posted: 1:37 AM, July 10th (Wednesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Heads up about Ryan Air: read the website instructions carefully, like, ten times.

They mean what they say about luggage restrictions - you have to put your purse inside the carry-on or there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (and a hefty bill) at the gate.

Seriously, read the instructions.

And reserve a seat in the first two rows if you can. It's a cattle car experience otherwise.

And you may want to check out this informative pre-flight video...

[This message edited by FaithFool at 1:40 AM, July 10th (Wednesday)]

DDay: June 15, 2008
Mistakenly married Mr. Superfreak
20 years of OWs, WTF?
Divorced Dec 26, 2011
"Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget
to sing in the lifeboats". -- Voltaire

Posts: 20626 | Registered: Jul 2008 | From: Canada
♀ 34525
Member # 34525
Default  Posted: 1:42 AM, July 10th (Wednesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I may be in the minority here, but I've been to Venice 2 or 3 times and have never been impressed. Florence is my favorite city in Italy, but I am a Renaissance art junkie.

In Rome, you must go to the Cul de Sac restaurant near the Pantheon and order the lasagna. BEST. EVER.

In Florence, there was a restaurant that had crates of fresh truffles that had just been picked from the farm sitting in their entryway. We had a simple salad of them that just had some olive oil, salt, maybe lemon and parmesan and it was DIVINE! Also, if you go to Florence and you want a guided tour, PM me for the name of a great guy.

Also, PM me for the website I used to find hotels, etc. Also for what guidebook we used. (don't think I'm allowed to post names on here).

If you're a foodie, go to Bologna. Cool college town too.

I would skip Milan, Naples, Verona.

Consider Cinque Terre, Capri.

Don't go anywhere on vacation in Europe in August, as that is when all the Europeans take their vacation and lots of things are closed.

When in Rome, if you are Catholic (or just have interest in seeing the Pope), you can ask for tickets for an audience with the Pope (the last Pope did these on Wednesdays, but you have to have an invite - not hard to get, you just have to ask for it).

You've got to go to Paris! If only to grab a baguette, some cheese and wine and have a picnic in one of their amazing parks. The food there is outrageously good - eat anywhere and you will get a fabulous meal.

Barcelona in Spain is fabulous (even better if you speak a little Spanish).

I would also highly recommend England, even if you just go to London, you will have a blast.

Like others have said, whatever you do, it will be great - there are no bad choices here!

Have fun!

BS (me) - 41
WH - 48, EA with HS GF x 2
M: 10 years, T: 20
2 small children
DDay#1 - Christmas 2011 (OW#1)
Confronted - 4/6/12
DDay#2 - July 9, 2012 (OW#2)
He is an SA (Oct 2012)

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