Where to Visit in Europe - Free Plane Ticket

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Smurf
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Where to Visit in Europe - Free Plane Ticket

Post by Smurf »

I have to visit Asia for work and have found it cheaper to buy an "around the world" ticket rather than an "out and back" ticket. The only catch is that I can only fly one direction (i.e. west) and have to hit atleast 3 continents. So I have the option to stop somewhere in Europe for a vacation and my flight is paid for by my company. I'm planning to fly my wife out to meet me at our TBD European vacation spot.

I have been to Asia before, but have actually never been anywhere in Europe. My question is if you had never been to Europe and had the opportunity to visit somewhere in Europe where would you go?

Thanks.
gk
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Post by gk »

if you have never been to Europe - then hitting usual spots would be best -get your flight off at any of the major European cities and try to travel around European Union (rail or by road).
I also like the east european places - been to Prague, Chez Republic - liked it a lot.

So you can choose either to stick with Western Europe or Eastern Europe or Schengen countries and plan your plane ticket that way.
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canucknyc
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Post by canucknyc »

Greece!

Santorini in particular - get a little villa overlooking the caldera and you'll never want to leave :D
Puakinekine
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Post by Puakinekine »

Wow! What a question. How much time will you have to spend there? Not knowing anything about your likes or dislikes it is hard to say. My first visit to Europe was to Copenhagen, and I fell in love. But I have also fallen in love with Helsinki, Venice, Barcelona, Rome, Lisbon, and Brugges over the years and have decided that Paris deserves all the praise it has ever received. Although many of the rural areas of Europe are very beautiful, the older cities that survived the second World War are the crowning glory of the place. I have left out London, for many reasons, but mostly because it is not of as great of a contrast to the US and Canada as the continent.

If you have to make a quick decision and don't have time to put much thought and research to this, I would opt for Paris.
crow
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Post by crow »

Where to go depends greatly on your interests, but here's a few of my favorites.

I lived in Holland for two years while on job assignment from my usual Texas location. I love some of the small seaside towns, especially Noorwijk. The Riijsmuseum in Amsterdam is a "not to be missed" destination. Getting around is no problem due to the train system, so no need for a car.

My all time favorite vacation spot is Scotland. The Isle of Skye and all the highlands are some of the most spectacular scenery I've ever seen. Lots of history, castle tours, museums and friendly people. Edinburgh would be the start point.

Copenhagen is very nice too, and black forest region of Germany.

If I could only pick one, it'd be Scotland, hands down.
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LH2004
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Post by LH2004 »

You may want to use the opportunity to go to somewhere that is less likely to have cheap flights in the future, which likely means Eastern and Southeastern Europe.
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Post by Alex Frakt »

How long will you be able to stay? What time of year? And so we can triangulate your interests, what are your favorite places that you have been to so far and what do you like to do when you travel (beach, museums, walk through interesting neighborhoods, see wilderness)?

Without any other feedback, I'd say Barcelona. My wife would say Rome. Unless it's only for a couple of days, in which case we'd both go for Venice.
livesoft
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Post by livesoft »

As someone who lived in Europe for a few years, hands down winner is Paris, France if you have never been. There is not even a close second.

A few other top cities that I liked (in no particular order):
London
Amsterdam
Istanbul
Munich
Brussels
Rome
Hamburg
Vienna
grumel
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Post by grumel »

Paris or Rome
quidditchfan073
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I 2nd Greece

Post by quidditchfan073 »

I have to add another vote for Greece. If you haven't been, Crete is one of the coolest places to go see.
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JMacDonald
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Post by JMacDonald »

Hi,
I think a London and Paris combo would be a good way to go. Go to either London or Paris first, then take the Eurostar over for a few days visit to the other city. London has the advantage of you understanding the language unless you are fluent in some other European language. They are both great cities with lots to offer.
Best Wishes, | Joe
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CyberBob
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Post by CyberBob »

Does it have to be continental Europe?
One of the most interesting places I've been (and I've been everywhere) was Iceland.

Bob
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Post by TheEternalVortex »

I suggest Paris if you've never been anywhere in Europe. I enjoyed Brussels and Amsterdam more, but that was after I had been to Paris, and there's no way I would give up that experience.
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modal
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Post by modal »

Of the places I've been here's how I'd rate them...
1. Austria
2. Switzerland (Lots of Tall People, Clean, Punctual, Expensive as :evil:)
3. Italy
4. France

Eurorail passes are nice if you want to swing around and check out multiple countries.

When traveling in Europe get a money belt and hide some items in your shoes.
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Smurf
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Post by Smurf »

Thank you for all the suggestions. I'm planning about 5-7 days for this trip. It's pretty last minute as I'll be departing for Asia on June 30th so I don't have much time to plan. My #1 activity for this trip is sightseeing. My wife and I are outdoorsy people and would lean toward places where there is a beautiful landscape and great food (but not gourmet).

I received the Scotland suggestion from a co-worker. Ireland has also been recommended to me. Anyone ever been to Ireland?
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Greenewashed
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Post by Greenewashed »

Ireland is absolutely gorgeous. (But if you want a beautiful landscape AND great food, I'd keep looking.) It's a great place to be in the summer as the days are so long.
sambuca08
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Great suggestions

Post by sambuca08 »

I spent 2 mo in Europe after I graduated, and although there are great suggestions posted above, I have to say Prague is still the single most recommended place. I live in Norway, and if you just want sun and expensive decadence, then Greece is good, or Morroco, or French Riveira... but the bang for the buck is the WWII untouched Prague overall. If you have a few extra days tho, then Paris is culturally a must, especially the L'Ouvre.
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Post by Alex Frakt »

Smurf wrote:Thank you for all the suggestions. I'm planning about 5-7 days for this trip. It's pretty last minute as I'll be departing for Asia on June 30th so I don't have much time to plan. My #1 activity for this trip is sightseeing. My wife and I are outdoorsy people and would lean toward places where there is a beautiful landscape and great food (but not gourmet).
OK, good. You certainly don't want Paris or London then. Or even Rome or Prague.

Based on the above, I think Switzerland (based out of Interlaken) or Northern Italy (Lake Como region) is perfect for your first trip.
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Post by retiredjg »

I have not been. However, I do get a catalog from a company called "The Territory Ahead". Last year, they used pictures of Croatia to highlight their travel clothing and accessories. It was absolutely beautiful and really piqued my interest in a country I would have otherwise ignored completely. A little like Greece, but somehow different.

You might take a look at the currency in different locations. You might get more bang for your buck in a country that uses something other than the Euro for currency. I understand dollars to Euros is a poor tradeoff right now.

Have a great trip! Let us know where you go! jg
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Christine_NM
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Post by Christine_NM »

Smurf wrote:Thank you for all the suggestions. I'm planning about 5-7 days for this trip. It's pretty last minute as I'll be departing for Asia on June 30th so I don't have much time to plan. My #1 activity for this trip is sightseeing. My wife and I are outdoorsy people and would lean toward places where there is a beautiful landscape and great food (but not gourmet).

I received the Scotland suggestion from a co-worker. Ireland has also been recommended to me. Anyone ever been to Ireland?
Suggest Switzerland or Tuscany (air to Rome, drive north to Tuscany).
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canucknyc
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Post by canucknyc »

For sightseeing, Athens is really something else - the cradle of western civilization! The Parthenon, Acropolis, Olympic Stadium, etc, etc.

It's a lot of walking, but as an "outdoorsy" type, I think you'll be fine.

For landscape, the Greek islands are incredible - and quite romantic for couples :wink: . My girlfriend and I spent 10 days in Greece last summer (6 of them in the islands), and it was hands down the best trip I've ever taken. There are expensive dining options, but you can get by very easily on delicious and affordable options - and everyone speaks fluent English (not sure if that's a plus or minus for you...)

Happy to provide specifics on hotels, etc. in a PM if you opt for the ouzo!
gassert
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Post by gassert »

Considering your second post, I would echo with full support for the trip to Switzerland - Interlaken. You can base in this city which is english speaking and modern. You can take day trips into the mountains and tram rides in what seems like the middle of nowhere. THere are simply scenic hikes with the only sounds being cow bells and rivers in the mountains. There are also plenty of tourists in switzerland, which a lot of us would say is bad, but for 5-7 days you dont need to be totally off the beatin track, you need to be close to a bog city.

Second place would be something like Scotland as mentioned - edinborough - but a bus to the highlands is a day or two round trip. Different than SWI, but equally as excisting.

Third would be something like Florence where its a big city, but small and great day trips.

All 3 have good air travel. Note: I exlcuded the biggies like Paris, London, Belin, etc which are great but had the urban experience over the adventure feel.

Please give us details when you return!!
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Post by celia »

If you or your wife have any ancestral origins in Europe, stop and see that country. Even if you don't know or can't make it to the town your ancestors came from, getting the flavor of your family background will probably make you more interested in your heritage.

Since you mentioned that you need to stop in 3 continents, what do you have in mind for the third one?
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jimmydean
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Post by jimmydean »

Smurf: For outdoor activities I'd suggest: Interlaken, Switzerland; Garmisch, Germany or Tuscany, Italy. I think all three offer great escapes to go hiking, enjoy the scenery and eat great food.
HopeToRetireSoon
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France is the ticket

Post by HopeToRetireSoon »

All Freedom Fries jokes aside, I've found France to be a wonderful country to visit and French people to be almost uniformly friendly. Though I'm an American, born and bred, I lived in Europe for nearly twenty years. I, too, very much enjoy outdoor activities. My favorite vacations in France have been in the Alps, skiing in winter and hiking in summer. In particular, I've enjoyed the region around Briançon. For hiking there are some nice rustic hotels to be found in Ailefroide adjacent to the Parc National des Ecrins. Naturally, Switzerland offers similar sights and hiking opportunities, though I have the impression it is a little more expensive.

If water sports are more your thing, you might want to consider a visit to SW France, perhaps Maubisson, Carcans-Plage, or Hortin Plage. We stayed for two weeks in a rustic, not too expensive, resort a couple of hundred feet from one of France's largest lakes (near Maubisson). Mornings usually consisted of bicycling the somewhat hilly and forested areas nearby or sailing a catamaran on the lake. Mid-days were often spent on beach at the lake. Afternoons often involved a 30-minute bicycle ride to the beach on the Atlantic, some swimming in cool salt water followed by more beach time. It was a wonderful wonderful vacation.

City-wise, I suppose Rome is my favorite although I've really enjoyed my numerous visits to Paris, London, and Brussels.

It's too bad you won't have more than 5-7 days in Europe. Have a great trip!

[edited to correct spelling error]
Last edited by HopeToRetireSoon on Thu Jun 12, 2008 10:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
UKbloke
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Post by UKbloke »

If you go to Paris, you should be pretty safe:

1. Your wife will love the romantic destination.
2. You can take the Eurostar to Brussels, the European capital. Only takes a couple of hours. In Belgium, you should visit Leuven (university town) and Brugge (really pitoresk). Also visit the Duvel brewery called Moortgat Brewery.
3. Rent a car, take the route du soleil (highway of the sun) and visit the South of France. Go to Monaco if you need some savings rate motivation.
4. The Alpes or the Pyrénées aren't too far away either.
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Post by riots_rus »

Stay away from: Dublin, Ireland. An old, run-down, industrial city with a very anti-American attitude anywhere north of the Liffy. My ancestors are from there so I thought it would be cool to do a study abroad program in the city last year; big mistake and waste of money IMO. The girl I went with shared my thoughts and feelings toward the city as does the student who is there right now from my department, as well as the other study abroad students whom I took classes with while I was there.

DO go to Spain if you get a chance! Spend some time in the Barcelona/Sitges area and have some drinks on the beach; enjoy the high quality infrastructures these cities have to offer, the mediterranean, as well as the attractive people who live there! :)
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Post by cam »

I would also vote Tuscany. Fly into Rome or better yet Florence and hit the countryside. For unbelieveable views and a fairly untouristy location, go to Cinque Terre on NW coast of Itlay, about 5 hours from Rome. Hiking trails, great food, local flavor
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Post by grumel »

with a very anti-American attitude
Welcome to anywhere in Europe or better anywhere in the world. What else did you expect ?
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Post by marie17 »

I would second the Cinque Terre Recommendation - its about an hour south of Genoa, which is also a fabulous city in its own right.

Another fantastic city with beautiful architecture and incredible food is Seville. You're a few hour train ride from Granada and the Alhambra also.
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Post by crow »

I've been to both Scotland and Ireland. I wasn't that impressed with Ireland. Maybe I expected too much, but people just weren't very friendly and the service in pubs, restaurants, etc. was truly surly. I'm glad I went, but it's not a place I'd do a return visit.
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Post by UKbloke »

grumel wrote:
with a very anti-American attitude
Welcome to anywhere in Europe or better anywhere in the world. What else did you expect ?
You'd be surprised at how much support there is for America of a couple of decades ago. A lot of countries are 50/50 left/right, e.g. Sarkozy in France.

So (economically) conservative thinking yes, neoconservative thinking not so much.
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Post by grumel »

UKbloke wrote:
grumel wrote:
with a very anti-American attitude
Welcome to anywhere in Europe or better anywhere in the world. What else did you expect ?
You'd be surprised at how much support there is for America of a couple of decades ago. A lot of countries are 50/50 left/right, e.g. Sarkozy in France.

So (economically) conservative thinking yes, neoconservative thinking not so much.
Well he wasnt specific. But a "do you like the current us foreign policy" poll should bring a vast no majority in most European countries at the moment.
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Post by Alex Frakt »

Please focus on the question at hand.
tj218
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Re: Where to Visit in Europe - Free Plane Ticket

Post by tj218 »

Smurf wrote:I have been to Asia before, but have actually never been anywhere in Europe. My question is if you had never been to Europe and had the opportunity to visit somewhere in Europe where would you go?Thanks.

It really depends what you are looking for, scenary, sights, history, or urban life? I went to Scotland for my honeymoon, (flew into Edinburgh, flew out of Glasgow) would definitely go back again. Depends what kind of person you are, my wife and I don't care too much for cities and found Edinburgh a "nice place to visit" but only for a day. It was a really nice city, my wife and I just don't care for the city lifestyle, but it was certainly nice to visit. If you are looking at castles, Stirling is a better attraction than Edinburgh, IMO and only about 30 minutes by car. Dunottar castle near Aberdeen is one of the most picture-esque sights I have ever seen (which has very few visitors too!), but a bit further away. If you really have time drive towards Fort William, (western side of Scotland, southwest of Inverness) very nice small city with a pedestrian area, shops, and good food. The drive south from Fort William area is breathtaking, but I don't know if there is an airport there (probably have to go to Glasgow which is about 2-2 1/2 hrs to the South of Fort William by car.) On the North Sea coast, St. Andrews was a nice visit to see the links, (summer, late July, not too crowded as the University was not in session) was also very nice, was clearly more of a college town though. We drove a lot on our trip, which may not be feasible for you, but I highly recommend driving around and taking in the views.

For other countries, again, it depends on the driving you are willing to do, and what you are looking for. When I was younger I was also in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. I did enjoy Munich a little bit more as it had a very large pedestrian area and plenty of things to do, which when I was younger was more enticing to me (not to mention the beer.) The Lake Lucerne area of Switzerland is very beautiful, as well as the drive in the Alps between eastern Switzerland and western Austria.

Best of luck on your trip, let us know what you do!
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Post by Lesleyann »

We lived for a few years in the Bayern area of Germany. We liked alpine walking (with special sticks), I think we went vaguely near Garmisch. You walk up and at the top there is a little beer hut to sell you beer! Very fun. You take a dry shirt to change into at the top (from sweat).

Centered around Wurzberg is a neat wine area, lots of neat little wine towns.

Our best time though was at a resort in Egypt. The price was pretty similar to going to Cancun from the US. The beach by the Red Sea was so, so pretty. Our resort catered to French and German, so no traditional American breakfast. But we like the sliced meat and cheese for breakfast, and they had really good pastries.

We were ready to relax though, not explore...

For partying our friends went to Mallorca and loved it.

As far as how people treated us -- my husband was clearly an American soldier. If we went out the two of us, we were fine. Sometimes people would talk to me, thinking I might be a German girlfriend. With some friends -- sometimes people were rude, but we were usually being louder than most people there. After our son was born -- we were treated awesome everywhere we went, never a dirty look.

If you had a relative who fought in WW 2, you could do something with that. My husband went to France and saw famous battlefields and landmarks, they had personal meaning for him. A lot of people combine a trip to Holland with visiting WW 2 historical sites.

Yours, Lesleyann.
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Post by G12 »

It is hard to find people more friendly than the Scots although haggis must be an acquired taste. I enjoyed the countryside in Ireland but I don't know that I would go back. Paris is hard to beat with the sites and how easy it is to get around on the Metro and RER. Provence is a favorite, I enjoyed it much more than SW France. Rome and Tuscany are hard to beat as well, I would pass on Venice. I think Paris would win out for me due to ease of getting around, museums, Versaille and the gardens, you could go to Normandy, food, and good quality wine for reasonable prices. In my opinion the Rodin and Picasso museums are a must see.
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Post by Nate265 »

Great thread. This will give me info for my free plane tickets.
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Post by Peter Foley »

Thoughts regarding places I've been . .

It is the wrong time of year for Spain unless you go to the far north (Santiago de Compostela or Oviedo). Good hiking there. Southern Spain is great - especially the white villages, but much too hot in July.

Too hot for Rome too, a little more tolerable in Tuscany and Umbria.

Paris would be great - you could consider a couple days in the Loire Valley or Normandy. For neat small towns in France it is hard to beat the Alsace region (Strasbourg, Obernai, Ribeauville, Riquewirh, Turckheim, Colmar and Eguisheim). You could bike the Alsace wine route!

Western Ireland would be fine. Easy to spend a peaceful week there hiking and listening to Irish music in the pubs. (Fly in and out of Shannon). This is the best choice if you want a fairly simple night life.

London is OK (I'm not fond of large cities but it has a lot to offer. I would suggest Edinburough and Inverness (Loch Ness).

If it is only one city - I would agree with many others that Paris is the choice.
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Post by envgeo »

Alex Frakt wrote:
Smurf wrote:Thank you for all the suggestions. I'm planning about 5-7 days for this trip. It's pretty last minute as I'll be departing for Asia on June 30th so I don't have much time to plan. My #1 activity for this trip is sightseeing. My wife and I are outdoorsy people and would lean toward places where there is a beautiful landscape and great food (but not gourmet).
OK, good. You certainly don't want Paris or London then. Or even Rome or Prague.

Based on the above, I think Switzerland (based out of Interlaken) or Northern Italy (Lake Como region) is perfect for your first trip.
I disagree. Based on the fact that they want to #1 sightsee. I suggest Paris. You can walk till your feet fall off, you can go outside the city to Versailles or the beaches of Normandy. Not to mention great food, cool places, romantic, and tons to see.
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