Maybe not something that everyone would recommend, but try to squeeze in Balkans. Croatia is lovely, with amazing coast, but bit too turisty for authenticity. Then you can go to Bosnia where you will be amazed with cultural difference in relation to all the neighbouring states. Finally, you can go to Serbia which is very authentic, if you go to countryside. People are very friendly and Belgrade has amazing cafe culture and nightlife. That whole region is cheap compared to the rest of Europe. I can give you advice on travelling there and what to see. But everyone I know who went there loved it and had fantastic time.
Not to spoil your fun, but keep in mind that you can stay only for 3 months (90 days within the 180 days after your date of entry) in the Schengen area. So you need to spent a combined 3 months in the UK and Ireland, Switzerland and Eastern Europe if you want to travel for 6 months.
Also consider the costs: You'll need around 12000 CAN plus flight tickets to and from Europe for one person for your 6 months in Western Europe. Two people in a vehicle might be able get by cheaper, but only if you park your car in the wild and sleep in the car or in a tent. Plan on 20000 CAN for two plus flight tickets. Also note that sleeping in the car or a tent is only feasible in Southern Europe, because north of the Alps it will be too cold to do that comfortably after August.
So places to go should be Southern Europe in Spetember and October, countries like Greece, Spain, the Balkan region and Turkey. December should be spent in Germany or Austria to see all the Christmas markets. The big cities like Paris, Rome or London can be done in November. Venice and Vienna are magical when it is snowing there.
We're flying to Frankfurt, then to the Czech Repbulic, then back through Germany to Holland, Belgium France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, maybe over to Morocco. But it's all not set in stone...that's our vague itinterary and it will be as much of a "spontaneous road trip" as possible. We want to be in the south by winter. We want to see the big cities, but also looking for advice on more out of the way places of interest and where we can get a feel for "real life" (i.e. not just the big tourist places). Really, any thoughts on anything that is a "must see" or "place of interest" would be great!
[ Edit: Edited at Sep 10, 2006 2:04 PM by eurotrip ]
We're flying to Frankfurt, then to the Czech Repbulic, then back through Germany to Holland, Belgium France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, maybe over to Morocco.
Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium France, Spain, Italy and Greece are all Schengen countries. That means you can spent a maximum of 90 days in all of these countries together. Thus your stay in Czech Republic, Turkey and Morocco and other Eastern European countries like Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ukraine needs to be 3 months if you are going for
If you post a schedule here telling me how long you intend to stay in one country, I can tell you if it is possible to this trip visa-wise. Me and others could also give you an estimate of the cost per day in each country.
I saw your messages to me after I wrote the other post. I'm posting this here on the forum, as it is sort of general information others might find useful too.
As to what is the Schengen Area:
Ever since the common visa rules have been in effect, no one has been able to travel for 6 months through western europe uninterupted without being either a citizen of the EU or a Schengen member state or (within certain restrictions) holding a permanent residence permit for one of the member states.
As you'll land in Frankfurt, the German immigration officers will be responsible for you. Part of their job is to determine whether you have valid health insurance, enough funds to support your stay and will leave the country after your visit. If you are questioned you'll have to show them a flight ticket home or proof of onward travel out of the Schengen area. For Germany and other Western European countries they require a minimum of 45 EUR per person and per day and you'll have to convince them that you do have enough based on this figure for the time you intend to stay in the Schengen area.
This 45 EUR per day and person is not something pulled out of thin air, it is a figure based on experience and the average cost a budget traveller has in the Schengen countries. These 45 EUR include transport, food, sightseeing and staying at a hostel or a designated camping ground. In some countries and areas it is more, in some less. Tuscany in Italy and the Cote d'Azure in France are especially expensive, as are the Scandinavian countries. Southern Spain and Greece in the off season are a bit cheaper, as are some not so touristy areas in Germany and France. It also varies a bit whether you are two people travelling together or a one person alone and what method of transport you use (train or car). But overall the 45 EUR per person and day stick. Don't go below them for the Schengen countries, the customs officers ask for this figure for a reason. (FYI: 1 EUR = 1.42 CAN, so 45 EUR are roughly 65 CAN. Allow for fluctuation, you never know where the EUR will be against the CAN next year.)
For Eastern Europe is is a good idea to budget around 20-30 EUR per day and person. Ukraine and some Balkan coutries are the cheapest, the tourist areas at the coast of Croatia and Bulgaria as well as in the Czech Republic and Western Turkey are a bit more expensive. If you are travelling on the Balkan area, get a new map. Montenegro for example has declared his independence in May 2006 and now has its own visa rules as well as rules for bringing in cars.
As for certain methods of saving money: Except for Sweden it is illegal to camp in the wild. A lot of big cities also forbid parking campervans on the streets for longer than a few hours. You can get a hefty fine for it which would have covered your stay in a hostel for a night or two. Officially you can stay only on a designated campingground, which are almost as or more expensive than a hostel. Needless to say wild camping and parking is still done and quite possible. Just be aware of dangers like forest fires and the inconvenience of not having a shower or clean running water in the morning. Look around for a secluded and a bit of a remote spot, park in the evening and be gone in the morning.
One warning about travelling in the winter time with a vehicle: In the winter months quite a lot of campers die of asphyxation each year. The keep the gas oven running to get the vehicle warm and lock the air vents to prevent the cold from coming in. The fuel burning without enough oxygen produces carbonmonoxyde, an odorless, colorless and highly poisonous gas. It makes you sleepy and drowsy. If you fall asleep, you never wake up again.
Also: If you are travelling in a vehicle and have a partner to haul everything, luggage should not be too much of problem. Buy a gas cooking stove in Europe (not Canada, you might not be allowed to take the thing on the plane for security reasons) and use this to cook your own food. Depending upon what you eat, you can save a lot of money this way. Based upon German figures, breakfast in a sit-down-cafe will cost you 4-5 EUR per person, at a stand-up table in a bakery 2-3 EUR, made yourself around 1 EUR per person. A meal in a cheap restaurant is 7 EUR, cooked yourself it can be 2 EUR for the two of you if it is spaghetti with tomato sauce or something similar. The cheapest highly nutrious food in Germany is porridge, 1 kg is 0.30 EUR and with some milk, sugar and fruit two people can keep going on it for a week.
BTW, I'm not too overly enthusiastic on your travel plan going north to south. Basically you'll follow the temperature range in the 10-20 degrees celsius downward. You'll have plenty of rain and not that much sunshine throughout your trip. Bring a jogging suit to wear over your pyjama and some thick sleeping bags, preferably with liners that you can add or remove as the need arises. The temperatures can get well below freezing in the night, especially in the mountains of Greece, Turkey and Morocco -10 degrees C (14 F) and lower is not rare in a December night.