1st time in Europe --- any suggestion?

Travel Forums Europe 1st time in Europe --- any suggestion?

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1. Posted by dinognz (Budding Member 9 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Hello everyone,

I am new here and i'm glad that i found this site because it answer some of my questions about backpacking in europe, but to all the people who had exprerience with europe I would like to get some suggestions to what my buddy and I plan for our trip.

We were planning to backpack in May of 2005 for 2 weeks and we have a temporary iterinary of the places we want to go.

Here is our plan:

1. Arrive in london and depart for u.s in venice .
2. Maximun stay in the city is 2 days.
3. Country/city we want to visit.

Now, if any out there can give us some input to:
1. What kind of weather to expect during that month?
2. Budget per day (food/hostels)
3. What kind of eurail pass to buy?
4. Good sites to go for each country/city.
5. Safety tips.

Thank very much.

2. Posted by mtlchica (Respected Member 922 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Hey Dino,

Here are the answers to your questions (if you have any more, feel free to ask! :)):

1. Your weather should be warm....anywhere from 20-30 degrees, depending on how far south you are. It shouldn't rain much, but I'd pack a jacket just in case.

2. I would say a safe budget per day would be 50 Euros. You can get Accomodation anywhere from 15-25 Euros and then the rest on food and water (you'll be drinking a lot of it!). Increase it if you plan on doing a lot of shopping or seeing a lot of tourist attractions.

3. I would probably get the Eurail Pass Youth - 15 days for $414. It's the cheapest one and it'll cover your entire trip.

4. I have only been to three of the cities you are going to so (if you don't count layovers in Heathrow):

Venice: I was there about 8 years ago, but from what I remember the Piazza San Marco is beautiful, as well as the scenery along the Grande Canal.

Amsterdam: Anne Frank Huis, Van Gogh Museum and honestly, just walk up and down the streets and experience it! (The red light district is interesting to see...)

Paris: The piece de resistance! This is the link to my what to do in Paris post. It's my fave city, so beware for excitement and lots of babble, lol

5. As for safety, always watch your back. Wear a money belt at all times (even if it is very uncomfortable) and keep just enough spending money in your wallet. Don’t keep your wallet in your back pocket and take a day bag that goes over your shoulder, like a messenger bag. I had one, and I also had a wallet with a chain on it (which you can buy for like 5 bucks). I hooked the chain to a little zipper that was inside my bag, so if anyone tried to pick-pocket me, they’d have to figure out where my wallet was attached first Also keep your visa and bank cards in your money belt, with travellers checks, plane/train tickets and your passport so you’re sure not to lose them.

Some tips for hostels from a previous thread: http://www.travellerspoint.com/forum.cfm?thread=2892

Hope this helps, and like I said, if there's anything else you need, just ask! (Also check out the Travel Help and Tools sections of Travellers Point )

Katie ;)

3. Posted by davidx (Respected Member 34 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

The two sites below should give you enough for London for the whole time:

I shouldn't bother with Frankfurt unless you have a very particular reason Stuttgard is a far nicer town if you are looking for somewhere in roughly that part of Germany.

In Venice there is an obvious temptation to spend your time on canal buses but resist it a bit and get walking over canal bridges away from the main oturist sights.

Enjoy your trip,

4. Posted by dinognz (Budding Member 9 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Hello everyone and thank you for the input it really helps. I thought about this questions after i read all your responds so here it is.

For Katie
1. About money, is it be wise to bring all my pocket money in to my wallet or save it to my bank and just bring a small amount and if I'm getting low on cash just use the ATM? Is it easy to find atm machines over there?

2. Is the frankfurt-prague and prague-venice covered by the eurail pass? I know the trip for each way is 8 hrs or more and were thinking about taking the night train. How late do hostels close or are they opened 24 hrs? If we arrive very early do you think they will accept us?

For David

1. The reason why we pick frankfurt is we need to stop on our way to prague because if we don't it will be long trip for us. So when we look on the map were using for our route, we ended picking frankfurt because its on the way. Anyway Stuttgard is on way too so I guess we will take your advice. Thanks

5. Posted by mtlchica (Respected Member 922 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Heya Dino! :)

1. I'm a big fan of traveller's cheques. Visa or AMEX ones are accepted at most banks and even some hotels in lieu of cash or a credit card. What I did was always have about 100-200 Euros in cash and the rest in traveller's cheques (which I kept in my money belt). I also brought my credit card and my bank card 'just in case.' You can find ATMs, but you have to make sure they have the Sirus (or Cirrus, not sure of the spelling) symbol (that way you know it accepts bank cards from North America). Also, you have to make sure your PIN number is 4 digits long because they won't accept 5 or 6 digit PINs. I didn't have to use my bank card while I was there, and just dipped into my credit card for that last leg of the trip. Oh! And never keep all your money/cards in your wallet! If you get pick-pocketed, you'll have nothing on you to continue your travels (that's another good things about traveller's cheques, if you lose them or get them stolen, you can get them replaced)

2. The Czech Republic is not covered by the Eurail pass. What we were told last year by the travel agency that sold us the passes was that we would have to take a train to a city bordering the Czech Rep and then transfer to another train from there (and pay for the 2nd ticket). If you just wanted to stay on an overnight train from Vienna to Prague, then I'd recommend to do so, but I don't think you can use your Eurail pass. For quotes on one-way fares you can go to Tools here on TP, and then Eurail Passes and then More on Train Travel in Europe. The best deal I found was for an 8 hr train ride from Vienna ($42) and for a 5 hrs one ($44). But play around with the departure city and maybe you can get a better deal.

Katie ;)

6. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Hi Dino, and welcome to TP,

The info you’ve been given by Katie is basically good (as normal), but I would say that RE: the weather question, you can’t always tell. Particularly in northern Europe, it can be very changeable, and virtually anything can happen in May. It could be less than 10degrees, could be 35. And it does rain relatively often.

Whilst I agree that Frankfurt isn’t the most visually stunning of cities, its not the worst place in the world and if you are only using it as a stopover for a night, would be fine. Also agree Stuttgart is nicer, and (if your going to go that way) would also recommend Heidelberg – between the two – as a possibility.

If you do go that way and are going by train, from Amsterdam, I would recommend getting a IC/EC train along the classic line (i.e. not an ICE service), and if possible, during daylight hours. Whilst the section between Cologne and Frankfurt area will take ah hour longer, it winds it’s way down the Rhine river valley which is a beautiful trip.

Also, unless you plan to travel overnight, I would suggest at least looking at going East then south from Amsterdam (instead of South then East). Connections to the Czech Republic from Southern Germany aren’t that great/numerous and involve relatively slow Cross country services, whilst there are much better/quicker/more frequent services on the Berlin – Dresden – Prague corridor, at least in the current schedules.

In addition, whilst there is a night train Prague – Vienna, the day services only take 4.5hours, so it’s perfectly feasible to do during the day.

Taking Katie’s second reply, I agree wholeheartedly, NEVER keep all your money etc in the same place, and certainly not in your wallet, as you are asking for trouble. Always keep enough money etc available so you won’t have to go to your moneybelt during the day. If you do have to, try and do it in a toilet cubicle or the like where it isn’t obvious what your doing – there’s no point in having a money belt if your then going to show everybody in the area that you have one. If you can have at least 2 cards with you (in case one doesn’t work etc) and keep one in your wallet and one in your money belt, not together

Yes, atm’s are everywhere. Just make sure your bank knows you are going abroad, as some accounts have a pre installed lock on them to prevent them being used outside the country. The 4digit PIN number is also important, and a surprising number of people get caught out. I admit that I personally never use travelers checks (I just use atm’s – I travel so much that I always have different currencies on me anyway, and the hassle factor of always finding places to cash them in, just isn’t worth it for me), but travelers checks are obviously safer. However, you do have to remember that cashing them requires finding somewhere open.

Also bear in mind that your route will take you through 3 currencies - British pounds, Euros and Czech Krona - although in major museums, larger shops, tourist shops etc in Prague you can often use pounds/euros/dollars/yen etc as well, and some places in London will accept Euro’s. But never rely on places accepting a different currency (prices tend to be more expensive anyway).

Some hostels are open 24hours, and will accept you at strange hours, and some won’t. However, you always have to inform them in advance if you will be arriving at strange hours. In some cases they won’t even hold your bed if you arrive after a certain time without pre arranging it.

It’s also worth considering keeping your passport somewhere separate – in most of Europe (which to foreigners is basically passport), and even with the “open” borders of the EU, passports are often checked at border crossings (especially on night trains – it is extremely rare that they aren’t), sometimes even on internal German trains. And if your passport is in a money belt, you may have to get your passport out if required in front of other people in your compartment, which again, blows the whole point. You ALWAYS need to show your passport for the Eurostar between London and Paris.

Hope some of that helps, and have a great time planning your trip!

7. Posted by dinognz (Budding Member 9 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Hello Everyone,

You guys are great, everyone who responded to this threads really helps us to better prepare for this trip.

Hi Gelli,

As I read your suggestions now I am re-thinking about prague. As Katie said, the prague route is not covered with the train pass and with the limited time to spend (2 weeks). I don't think we can afford any hassle or delay during the trip, but prague is number 2 on our MUST SEE list.

As you said Berlin is the best route going to prague so instead of Frankfurt/Stuttgart we'll take the berlin route then. Is it going to be longer trip (amsterdam-berlin) versus (amsterdam-frankfurt/Stuttgart)?

Here are our route options for 2 weeks:

1. (with prague)

2. (without prague)

Which route do you think is more realistic for 2 weeks trip?


8. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Optimum (i.e. fastest possible within any 24hours) times:

Amsterdam - Praha (cha Berlin Ostbhf, about 25mins): 2x a day, takes 11.07
Amsterdam - Praha (cha both Frankfurt Flughafen and NÜrnburg about 20mins each): 1x a day takes 11.31

Those 3 jnys are the only 3 which it will admit you can do in a day (i.e. with no overnight train).

Virtually all others involve more changes and take 13+ hours, although the easiest night journey is via Frankfurt. The Amsterdam-Frankfurt trains are ICE standard, and cost more. Also, some are due to be cutback to Köln (meaning an extra change) at the start of July. Not sure which yet.

In 2 weeks, i would say that both routes are going to be tiring, but possible. If it helps, although all 6 cities are good and i've been to all many times, I would certainly take Berlin / Praha / Wien over Stuttgart / ZÜrich / Milano. I would probably take all 3 of those cities over any 1 of the last 3 in terms of sites/things to do.

That's not to say that Stuttgart, ZÜrich and Milano aren't worth it. Absolutely not. But as a 2 week may never return to Europe type trip, definitely the former 3. Also, with reagrd to the messing about. It is easy to buy your extension to Praha in Berlin/Amsterdam before you get on, so you don't have to change at the border. Lots and lots of people go to Praha using Eurail extensions, so it's not exactly a new idea.

9. Posted by dinognz (Budding Member 9 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Hello Everyone,

I read from the other site that from london going to paris will cost you about $90 one way because england is not included on the europass.

Is this true?

10. Posted by mtlchica (Respected Member 922 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Heya Dino,

I just checked the Eurail website to refresh my memory, and you're right! England is not included (which surprises me, especially since Ireland is). If you have to pick between buying a $90 train ticket and fly a budget airline for much less, I would probably pick that. There are bunches of budget airlines popping up all over Europe, like EasyJet and RyanAir. You're sure to find a cheap ticket from London to Paris.

Katie ;)