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Are my plans okay?

Travel Forums Europe Are my plans okay?

1. Posted by jssites (Budding Member 10 posts) 7y

Hello All

I'm a British student currently in my gap year before going to university in October. I recently was planning a trip around the world and had it all booked up until I came down with an illness that has meant I can no longer go (due to leave on Tuesday in fact, that won't be happening!). So instead I thought that instead of working in my mind-numbingly dull job I would wait until I am better (should be around March sort of time) and go around Europe for a shorter period (2 months) on my own. I have always loved speaking languages and I have spent a lot of time in France. Not that it means much, but I'm GCSE A* standard at French, German, and Spanish but these exams are such a joke it means absolutely nothing. In any case, I am very good at French, can string a sentence together in German and have forgotten pretty much all my Spanish!

I have come up with a proposed itinerary but with a lack of (any) friends now I'm finding it hard to find anybody who can give me any advice on it at all. I don't want to use travel agents to book this holiday because I find them unhelpful and I don't think there's any service they can offer me that I can't do myself. So I was wondering if anybody on here might be able to help?

I'm planning on interrailing around Europe, perhaps using a Flexible ticket, although I know they only work for one month. Is it possible to get some sort of two month ticket, or would it be cheaper to just buy a single train fare to each country as I go? I will be staying in hostels in each place since this will allow me to meet people (I hope it does anyway, perhaps somebody can reassure me about this!) and will also be the cheapest way of sleeping.

Anyway, my route is below. I'd really be interested in hearing the thoughts from anybody who has done this sort of thing before. I used the travel planner feature on this site which I found really helpful. I hope you can read it okay! I've left comments by each place so you can see which ones I need advice on and what I am planning to do. Again, any suggestions that will make me wriggle with excitement are much appreciated!

http://www.travellerspoint.com/member_map.cfm?itinid=178584&tripid=178584

Thanks!

[ Edit: Edited on 07-Feb-2009, at 16:37 by jssites ]

2. Posted by Erik85 (Respected Member 274 posts) 7y

It seems like you are well planned and researched and know about the places you are going to which is great.

I think some sort of interrail pass should be worth it as individual train tickets can be pricey in most the countries you are going to. Not sure if there's any deal for 2 months though.

As for hostels. Yes you will meet people, but I found it best not to rely on it, and make plans as if you are just travelling solo. That way you won't be disappointed if you don't meet anyone, and if you do you can say "I'm going to x, would you like to come?". Hostel common rooms and bars are great to strike up a conversation, for this purpose I found medium sized hostels better as the large ones tended to be fairly impersonal and institutionalised (although some are great to stay in). I looked at the 'fun' rating in hostelworld for this aspect, and if hostels have a bar or nice common area, etc.

There's just a couple of small things I'd advise:
For the solo traveller I believe 4 days is too long for Venice as it's quite small. I think 2 full days is a good amount of time. I found it cliche and not up to what people say about it, but there's many people who think the opposite. But hey you're not in peak season so you could just wait til you get to each place and then decide how long you want to stay.
You may also want to add 1 day to Nice (perhaps to visit Monaco).

For Budapest, there's some great walks with viewpoints you can do on the Buda side. People I met did a cruise along the Danube and said that was really good. Also try out a thermal bath there as some of these places are very elaborate and picturesque. It may not be for you, but I did some caving there which was a cool and slightly scary experience

I'm not sure what you're interests are, but I'd be really tempted to try slot in Interlaken or Grindelwald somewhere and take in the beauty of the Jungfrau region. It would also be a nice change from all the architecture/museums

Another thing to consider would be Grenada and Sevilla in Spain as they were both beautiful places. But generally the length of time you have for each place is good so it'd be very hard to do without taking out something else!

3. Posted by jssites (Budding Member 10 posts) 7y

Thanks for your reply! I checked out those areas in Switzerland you mentioned - they look very beautiful and I agree, it would be a welcome addition to my trip since it is mostly based in cities otherwise. Thanks for your tips - I need to do a bit of reading about Budapest, Croatia and Slovenia.

4. Posted by Wonkerer (Respected Member 592 posts) 7y

Just my two cents, though I haven't been to either place - I would probably substitute Nice for Arles, or add in Arles as I've heard rave reviews about it, that generally described it as a mini-Rome without so many tourists. Like I said, I haven't been there, but it's definitely somewhere I'd go if I were nearby. Cheers!

5. Posted by jssites (Budding Member 10 posts) 7y

Quoting Wonkerer

Just my two cents, though I haven't been to either place - I would probably substitute Nice for Arles, or add in Arles as I've heard rave reviews about it, that generally described it as a mini-Rome without so many tourists. Like I said, I haven't been there, but it's definitely somewhere I'd go if I were nearby. Cheers!

I know the Avignon/Montpelier/Nimes route quite well, but I don't think I've ever been to Arles. I'll have a go, thanks :)

A more general point - I've scoured and scoured the internet for resources (including this site, which is a great resource) but I think I need books to get me further. I have checked out some of those Lonely Planet Encounter books but they don't cover all the places I am visiting, and will cost me quite a bit if I get all of them anyway, at £6 each. Can anybody recommend me a more general book on Europe? Are the LP ones okay?

6. Posted by monkeycat (Full Member 109 posts) 7y

A few things.

Lonely planet books tend to be researched in exactly the same way you are doing yours: On the internet. A victim of their own (unjustified) success the hostels and places reccomended tend to get more expensive and standards can drop because they are in the book. Also the people writing them seem not to have a clue about the places they visit or actually talk to locals to get the inside story...I can give many, many examples of this if anyone wishes...

Go for Rough Guides for an all round, well-informed read with both budget and delux travelling in mind. Or the eye witness for more culture based and more expensive travel. If you can get them for some cities, the Time Out guides are pretty impressive too.

Secondly, for your itineray. Yes, Arles is beautiful as is Nimes. Nice is very expensive and not that interesting from what I hear unless you are super rich.

Barcelona is much more interesting to visit on your own than Madrid. Madrid is a pretty average looking town except for the Prado Museum, which is amazing and the nightlife. But the latter is not a reason to go to Madrid in itself and if you are on your own you are more likely to meet people in smaller cities such as Granada or Seville. Beware that there are several types of trains in Spain and the fast AVE trains are probably not included in the interrail price.

On interrailing I beleive that there are zones for this now and your journey includes more than one so you will pay more. If you are going for more than one month why not spend all of one month in one zone and then another in the next zone and get a new ticket.

Hostels, by the way are a very good way of meeting people. I can reccommend one in Granada if you are going there called http://www.makuto.net/eng-home.php

7. Posted by jssites (Budding Member 10 posts) 7y

Quoting monkeycat

A few things.

Lonely planet books tend to be researched in exactly the same way you are doing yours: On the internet. A victim of their own (unjustified) success the hostels and places reccomended tend to get more expensive and standards can drop because they are in the book. Also the people writing them seem not to have a clue about the places they visit or actually talk to locals to get the inside story...I can give many, many examples of this if anyone wishes...

Go for Rough Guides for an all round, well-informed read with both budget and delux travelling in mind. Or the eye witness for more culture based and more expensive travel. If you can get them for some cities, the Time Out guides are pretty impressive too.

Secondly, for your itineray. Yes, Arles is beautiful as is Nimes. Nice is very expensive and not that interesting from what I hear unless you are super rich.

Barcelona is much more interesting to visit on your own than Madrid. Madrid is a pretty average looking town except for the Prado Museum, which is amazing and the nightlife. But the latter is not a reason to go to Madrid in itself and if you are on your own you are more likely to meet people in smaller cities such as Granada or Seville. Beware that there are several types of trains in Spain and the fast AVE trains are probably not included in the interrail price.

On interrailing I beleive that there are zones for this now and your journey includes more than one so you will pay more. If you are going for more than one month why not spend all of one month in one zone and then another in the next zone and get a new ticket.

Hostels, by the way are a very good way of meeting people. I can reccommend one in Granada if you are going there called http://www.makuto.net/eng-home.php

Thanks for your reply. As I said before I have bought three Lonely Planet Encounter guides and they seemed to be quite good to me, but I will also check out the Rough Guides. I spent about half an hour today in Waterstones trying to see if there was anything good, and there seemed to be quite a good selection there. I think I am more likely to go for a big "bumper" book that covers everything.

I really liked Nimes when I went there; the primary reason I'm going there is that I have friends there. But I will certainly check out Arles as well. I really love France, and love the language even more. About 10 months ago I was almost fluent but I haven't really spoken any since then so it would be nice to practise it!

I had a feeling Madrid might not have as much to offer. I am also having similar feelings for Milan - a number of people have commented that it's not as interesting as you might think. Either way, I'd still like to check out the Cathedral and maybe watch David Beckham play for AC Milan if he is still there!

In terms of the interrail I was actually under the impression there were not any zones. It says on the site:

Quoting http://www.interrailnet.com/interrail_global_pass_order?currency=eur

Valid in 30 Countries

With the InterRail Global Pass you can visit no less than 30 exciting countries by rail: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, FYR Macedonia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey. See also the map of Europe.

Not sure if I might have missed something there!

8. Posted by monkeycat (Full Member 109 posts) 7y

You are correct they have gone back to the old system.

For a bit the interrail was divided into zones. Not very popular and some countries complained that they didn't get as much money from it.

Would really try the Rough guides though. Try these:

http://www.roughguides.com/website/shop/products/Europe-on-a-budget.aspx
or
http://www.roughguides.com/website/shop/products/First-Time-Europe.aspx

enjoy!

9. Posted by jssites (Budding Member 10 posts) 7y

Quoting monkeycat

You are correct they have gone back to the old system.

For a bit the interrail was divided into zones. Not very popular and some countries complained that they didn't get as much money from it.

Would really try the Rough guides though. Try these:

http://www.roughguides.com/website/shop/products/Europe-on-a-budget.aspx
or
http://www.roughguides.com/website/shop/products/First-Time-Europe.aspx

enjoy!

Thanks for your help. I'll definitely check one of those out, probably the "Europe on a Budget" one.

10. Posted by jssites (Budding Member 10 posts) 7y

Having done more reading, I've come up with a revised intinerary. Let me all know what you think - I reckon this is pretty perfect for me. I've skipped out Milan now and shortened my stay in Venice, adding a trip down the coast of Croatia to Dubrovnik, enabling me also to take the ferry to Italy and travel up to Venice from Naples. I've also decided to explore Andalucía in Spain as well.

Cheers!