I'm sure European winters are great. I went to Europe in Feb-May and had a great time. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed going to an outdoor salty heated pool on a cold day and seeing the snow in Bavaria. My intention was not necessarily to dissuade Kylie from seeing Europe in winter, but merely to give her my impressions of what it might be like so she can make the best decisions about when to go or what to bring (wear) etc.
However, I still stand by my descriptions of the weather differences between the continents. The number of people who recently (last sumnmer?) died in a heat wave in Europe seems testament enough to me of the different weather we are adapted to.
And I realise that many Australians, living in a country dominated by English and American culture feel the need to distinguish their own, with pride about what some might call unexceptional trivialities such as beer drinking or the weather. Personally I take more pride in the fact that (with the exception of aboriginal culture, of which I am not a part), this is a relatively young country with the potential to do great things because we are not dogged down by tradition, and the great environment and natural landscapes of which we are a part.
But I take your point. Sorry about the long post.
Quercus - I agree with you; winter is great, as is summer. But they are two very different experiences, and hence different holidays.
However, I also stand by my comments about the weather and the differences between Australia and Europe. I think the weather in Australia is over-rated and the weather in Europe is under-rated. For instance, do a search on rainfall and you'll find that Sydney rainfall is about twice that of London, yet it's all "beer on the beach in Sydney" and umbrellas in London (mind you, it's probably illegal to drink alcohol on the beach). It's the same load of rubbish about prices, and how "expensive" it is in Europe compared to Australia. Sydney is no cheaper than most places in Europe. I don't know about Melbounre though.
As for all of those people supposedly dying in heat waves in Europe last year, well I must admit I have trouble believing those figures. But that's just my opinion.
I just think that there is a huge gap between how most Australians think they live (bronzed beachgoing aussie) and how they actually live (bland suburb, shopping mall with US fast food on offer). This gap also exists between how they think Australia is, compared to how it actually is in comparison to other countries.
lol I kind of had to laugh there james when you say that Sydney is no cheaper than London -- Most of Western Europe really is very expensive by Australian standards.. I just visited the UK and easily paid more than twice as much for accommodation than I would on a road trip in Australia. Petrol prices are more than twice as much as well. Of course, some things are probably cheaper, but none that I could find over 4 weeks. The Australian dollar is quite weak, so really not that expensive to get around for a European. Sydney admittedly is very expensive by Australian standards as well.
No offense james, but I can really sincerely disagree with what you are saying about Australian weather. I lived in Holland for 7 years and then have lived in Melbourne (miserable by Australian standards) for 7 years now and I can honestly say that the weather is much better in Australia! It's mainly the grey skies that drive me nuts in Holland and of course the freezing cold in the middle of winter (central heating doesn't help much when riding the bike to school!!) It is true though that a lot of Australian houses are simply not prepared for the cold, which means that 10 degrees seems a lot colder in Melbourne than it would in northern Europe. Of course the heat isn't particularly good as well.. 40 C is not very uncommon in Melbourne and that is usually too hot for people.. regarding rainfall, I'm sure that all the rain in Sydney falls in one day where it just is drawn out over months in London if those figures you mention are correct. Did you ever hear of the bush fires that ripped straight through Canberra last year -- I wouldn't expect to see that happen in England (not that anyone really expected that in Canberra). That is a regular threat in Australia though and such things don't happen in a nice moist climate. There really has been a very serious drought in Australia over the last few years costing many farmers their livelihoods and many cattle their lives. It's not something to trivialize by suggesting the rainfall in Australia is better than London based on some random figures! Most Australians actually would want some more rain if anything with the constant water shortages we are faced with.
I really am astounded by how you think Australians think of themselves.. I don't know any Australians that would think of themselves as the 'bronzed australian' - then again I don't live on the Gold Coast either. Australians on the whole are more characterized by self-depreciation than anything, so you must have met some downright scoundrels by Aussie standards to be talking about themselves like that!! To me you are describing how outsiders might think of Australians, but certainly not how most Australians think of themselves.
What can I say, as someone who has adopted the country as home, I wouldn't for the life of me want to return to life in grey old North Western Europe!!
By the way, modern Australian homes do actually have central heating - although a lot of older unrenovated homes won't. England doesn't exactly have a good reputation for this either from what I have heard - didn't really notice much of it myself.
-- woops. got a bit carried away there..
on the original topic though -- certainly don't be put off travelling to Europe in winter. like someone else pointed out, it provides its own special charms (things covered in snow do look kind of interesting!) and you just need to dress appropriately to deal with it!! Things can be a lot cheaper in winter because it's not such a popular time to travel as well.
Sydney is no more expensive than London; it's just that the Australian dollar is worthless. To the average Londoner, things are no dearer than to the average person in Sydney.
But on that, I recently stayed in a place in London for 40 pounds per night in a respecatble hotel, double room, quiet area, en-suite, etc and was eating out for around 5 pounds per meal (actually two meals for a fiver at certain pubs). Not exactly expensive.
But my original point is that the weather in most places in Australia (Sydney, Melbourne) is over-rated; not bad, but over-rated. Just as the weather in Europe is under-rated.
You talk of the Dutch winters, but nothing of the ultra-long glorious days in summer. What, dark at 11pm? As I said, you only hear the bad of European weather...
Fair points there.. London is about the same to a Londoner as Sydney would be to someone in Sydney. Travellers do notice these differences though, as the English will find Australia quite cheap based on their higher incomes.
I think the problem with Australian weather is more a generalization.. I've seen this happen many times on these forums and usually it is pointed out that Australia is a huge country and the weather does vary widely. True also that the long days are quite nice, although if you go too far north I find the days are actually a bit too long and make it very hard to sleep at night! The flipside unfortunately also is that it is totally dark most of the winter I prefer 6up 6down kind of days - having been born in the tropics I like the way it constant daylight hours!! Each to their own though, I do know that some people do prefer Northern European weather.
By the way Kylie, Switzerland is absolutely lovely in winter.. I have only actually been there in winter and although it was really cold, it was also really pretty!! Like James points out too, once you get home, you will usually be well catered for and not be cold anymore.
I don't think you'll notice much of a warming up in Feb at all.
As to the discussion about how Australians look upon themselves: "I just think that there is a huge gap between how most Australians think they live (bronzed beachgoing aussie) and how they actually live (bland suburb, shopping mall with US fast food on offer). This gap also exists between how they think Australia is, compared to how it actually is in comparison to other countries".
I'm in total disagreement, I know, I only been to Australia once, but it was my best travel experience ever, never met so many nice, kind and warm people. I guess you could come across that "species" you mention, never spoke to them but saw a few that might match the description up in Byron Bay and Surfer's Paradise which we only visited briefly. But you come across exactly the same kind of people in Denmark where I live - and in the rest of Europe as well.
I think your description fits more to what OTHER people think of Australians . Not once in those 17 days we spent in Australia did we come across an Australian that wasn't kind and helpful. That goes for Sydney as well as the small towns, non-tourist places, that we visited. I have a good friend living in Brisbane and I can honestly say that's not the way she and her family think about themselves. Generally I think Australians are hardworking people, I wouldn't want to stick in that many work hours as they do, not getting as much holiday as I do compared to a lot of Australians.
I love Australia and will go back within a few years, spending even more time there, and it was a LOT cheaper than I had imagined, didn't even consider Sydney that expensive, find the right places to eat, book hotels through websites and you can easily find something affordable (3 years ago we paid 99 AUD for a double room, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a kitchen, on the top floor of a great hotel only a short walk from everything - and we could have got something even cheaper). Btw 40 £ for a good room in London, could you tell me which hotel, James, asking from curiosity wondering if it's normal price or a last minute offer. Always on the look-out for good, cheap hotels in London, haven't been there yet this year, so expect I'll go in September og October.
Well, guess I got carried away as well. Here in Denmark we have a saying: "Bad weather doesn't exist - only the wrong clothing". Whether the weather is good or bad can't really be discussed, that's all preferences. I know people who just LOVE the Nordic winters - I hate them. Some people love rain, some people love lots of heat, some people enjoy the constant weather changes here. I love summer, have learned to cope with winter, but I could easily do without it. Wouldn't mind living in a warmer climate and then go on holiday to Denmark, find a time when it's covered in snow, that's sooo beautiful. But the cold, the storms, the wind, the rain etc. which goes with winter, that I can do without. BUT to VISIT Europe during winter time would be great, I wouldn't mind living in Australia and then simply visiting Europe during winter time.
So Kylie, if you're still here, do come and visit Europe, like several others have already told you, get the right clothes and I think you'll have wonderful time here. Right clothes: layers, so use warm, light sweaters, maybe buy a thin woolen t-shirt, you can buy them everywhere in Denmark at least, then finish off with a windproof jacket of some kind, a skiing jacket would be great. That's what I use all through winter, so the warmer days I just don't wear a sweater but my skiing jacket, then those much colder days I use sweaters etc. as well. That has worked for me for years now.
You'll meet people who're studying, working etc., it's not particularly holiday time here so you'll experience "normal" life here. Not how it is during summer holiday when things definitely do change in a lot of places. Should your plans change to include Denmark in your trip, let me know and I'd be glad to give you a few tips on Copenhagen or maybe other places here.
The hotel was the Exhibition Court 3 Hotel on Warwick Road Earls Court. There's an Exhibition Court 1 and 2 (don't ask me how it works), but it was the number 3.
As for chaep food, there's a few turkish BBQ places about a 10 minute walk from this hotel in West Kensington. Excellent, healthy food for around 5 - 6 pounds. Also, there are 2 meals for 5 pounds at the Moon Under the Water right on Leicester Square - a bargain. Oh, and pints for 1.50.
One more thing. This hotel I mentioned is a "proper" sort of hotel; not some rundown Earls Court backpacker dump. The forty pound room also included breakfast, The room was a double with a view over the garden and included a good-sized bathroom.
It also had a TV, and the cupboard in the room folded out to include a sink, a hotplate, a microwave and a fridge. Plus, there was some cutlery.
Thanks for the address, have made a note of it. Checked it on "my" sites for late deals. The best price was 50£ depending on the date. How did you get the room at such a good price compared to those sites I normally use, which I've found very useful over the last 3-4 years. Also found some very bad reviews of this hotel, well, I might just give it a chance, it's always great having people recommend a hotel.
Last time I was in London - January/February last year - we stayed at Twenty Nevern Square, Earl's Court. A small hotel, very nice, small rooms, clean etc. We managed to flood our room, that was after a night out, coming home to find that there was no water, no electricity, no phones working in our room. I walked up and down the stairs 3 times before we managed to have the guy on night duty have a look at our room. He decided to give us a new room, at about 2 o'clock at night we changed rooms, with all our luggage. Only to find out that there was exactly the same problems in the new room. We were too tired to do anything about it, brushed our teeth in a bit of bottled water after having tried the very fancy taps in the bathroom. Well, it turned out that we had turned ON the water, so when it came back early in the morning the water started running AND the plug was in the sink (which we hadn't done, it was a very fancy system LOL), so the bathroom, half our room, not to mention the room on the floor below were flooded. They had to knock quite vigorously on our door to wake us at about 8 in the morning. So that wasn't the best week-end in London
The time before that one, I stayed with my son and my mother at Swiss cottage, Best Western hotel, that was brilliant, my son and mother just loved it. Quite old-fashioned rooms, but the one we got was HUGE. Breakfast was good, so there's been both ups and downs so far in London.
As for cheap food in London, that's not a problem at all, I can always find good food at a very reasonable prices. Love the Indian food, that's cheap, and good, a lot better than here in Denmark, and a LOT cheaper. Think I've heard about Moon Under the Water some time ago, is it part of a chain? And yes, pints for 1,50 that IS a bargain. The cheapest I've had in England in recent years was in Bradford, 1,25 as far as I remember.
Well, thanks again for the tip on the hotel.