I'm thinking of flying into Berlin on the 28th of December and then making my way south through Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia and then into Italy and fly home from Rome.
Has anyone been to Europe at this time of year? I'm trying to get a list of advantages/disadvantages. Basically the weather isn't a problem as I honestly prefer cold weather to warm weather. It is also going to be a solo trip lasting 28/30 days.
Any feedback or advice is greatly appreciated.
Well, you'll miss all the Christmas markets...
(On the other hand, you get to be home with your family for Christmas.)
I had a scary moment on the train at the beginning of January a few years back: I took the train from Cologne to Magdeburg. It was the East-West-Express, coming from Paris and going to Moscow.
It stopped only a few times in Germany, one of three the stops being Cologne and another Magdeburg. The next one would have been in Warshaw. I didn't have my passport and had no money and the train had only a very short stop in Magdeburg. The night was freezing outside. When I tried to get outside, I couldn't. The doors of the train didn't open. I tried one door after the other, running from one waggon to the next. All of doors of the German waggons were stuck solid, plastered over with ice. I finally got to the Russian waggons and managed to get the door open by raw force. I threw my bag out and jumped off in the moment the conductor gave the signal for the train to depart.
Trust me, January is not a nice time to travel in Europe. The only advantage you have during that time is when you are a European intending to take a package holiday, because during the second and third week of January travel prices to popular destinations are at their lowest ever.
A lot of places close in the week between X-mas and New Year, so plan carefully where you will be. Hostels which are open during Christmas might close a few days after New Year for their winter break. In quite a lot of places the skiing season also hasn't begun yet, as the snow usually comes in February.
It would be a lot better to travel in December and see and feel the Christmas spririt. It is also not so cold in December as it can be in January. In December you can easily go out with a thick jacket and not feel the cold, in January you definitely need an extra layer plus gloves, mittens, scarf and hat. Late March is also very nice in Europe, especially if you plan to end your trip in Italy. By then it will be spring in Rome, a marvelous time. You'll have the full feeling the English gentlemans had a few hundred years ago when they did the grand tour. They usually crossed the Alps when it was still winter in Germany and the sun had already broken the ice around the Lago Maggiore. THAT is BELLA ITALIA!
Thanks for the advice t maia. I checked the availability of hostels around the end of December and early January and there seems to be a few open. Part of the reason I'm thinking of going in January is because I would like to see the grand cities of Europe during the cold wet months something that a lot of tourists would rather avoid. I guess I'm hoping it to be a unique experience. I've been in parts of Europe during the summer and the heat really got to me.
Ideally I would go in March as you suggested but unfortunately I'm in college at that time. Your post has given me a lot to think over! Cheers
Since u dont have specific questions, i will tell u what i liked about those places.
1. in the cheque republic, in prague, the museum of communism was very interesting. Showed how it really was, in the bad old days.
2. I travelled from Munich to the capital of Slovenia(dont know how to spell it). If u do that go during daylight hours. The views from the train are magnificant. And the Orta bar, in Slovenias capital is a good place for hard rock and heavy metal fans.
3. Venice in Italy.
It would be a lot better to travel in December and see and feel the Christmas spirit. It is also not so cold in December as it can be in January.
Excellent advice; I concur. Start in Northern Europe in December, but plan to head south in January. And of course you want to be in a larger city for Christmas and Sylvester (unless you have friends to stay with). Sylvester (New Year's) in Germany is quite something -- if you like fireworks and loud explosions mixed with a little drinking. It is something to experience once at least.
[ Edit: Edited at Sep 6, 2006 2:47 PM by pfeiffer ]