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I want to go to Europe this Summer. Why? Because. Never been and want to check it out before I get tied down with a wife and/or kids. Have not done much international traveling (drove to Toronto a few years back, took a couple missions trips to Guatemala, that's it). Passport still good though. When is the cheapest days of the week to fly out of and into the US? Which is the cheapest airport to fly out of and into, both the US and Europe? I'm hoping to go for a few weeks, late June (shortly after the College World Series) until mid July or so (mom's birthday is the 24th, would like to be back for that). I may also be looking for a new job so might not be able to pull it off, but let's assume I can. Plan is to do this as cheap as possible. I know to get a Eurorail pass. What else? Anyone Couchsurf it?
Which countries can I get by in with just speaking English?
Countries I want to check out:
Want to check out all of those seas up there. How easy would it be to get to Morocco? I'd like to go swimming with the Orca's up in Norway, how easy is that? What are some things I need to see over there? I'd love to go check out the Alps. Would I be able to see the Northern Lights?
It honestly sounds like you're trying to pack about 6 months into a couple of weeks. Please don't try to do that. Pick a couple of countries you're most excited about and spend some time there. Europe is much more about experiencing the culture than it is about rapid-fire sightseeing. If you're traveling by yourself, you'll meet all sorts of interesting people in hostels.
I'll try to answer a few of your questions. I'm not sure there's a cheapest day to fly anymore, especially internationally. Bigger airports are going to typically be cheaper. JFK, Dulles, etc from here. Western European airports tend to have enormous taxes, and it's getting harder to find cheap fares, particularly in the summer. Keep in mind that you have to get transportation to/from the airport and wherever you're going, so you might end up eating up money you've "saved" that way.
You can get my most anywhere speaking English. In countries like Greece, they obviously don't expect anyone to speak Greek, so pretty much anyone speaks English. In France/Spain/Germany, pretty much any younger people speak English, but some older folks might not. You'll be fine regardless.
If you're trying to do things cheaply, don't do Scandinavia. It's really tough to do on a budget, and you don't have that much time anyway.
Morocco's really easy to get to from Spain, but you get to see Tangier. You'd have more fun in downtown Detroit. Casablanca and Marrakesh are great, but again, save that for another trip.
Eurail passes are actually often not worth it. Obviously compare prices, but you're typically better off just buying ticket legs separately, or looking into the low-cost airlines instead.
For a first trip to Europe, I'd probably start out in either Ireland or the UK. London's a world-class city and has plenty of stuff to do. Other great cities are Paris (though some Americans don't like it), Rome, Prague, Barcelona, and Krakow. I'd probably spend some of your time in cities, but try to get out a bit too. The Alps are gorgeous, though the touristy spots can get really crowded in the summer. Some of the smaller towns are worth some time too, but there are way too many to name.
You're not going to see the Northern Lights that time of year. In most of the prime viewing spots, the sun's up for 20+ hours a day.
I'd probably start by reading about some of the big cities. Figure out which you're most excited about. For each week you have there, pick out one city to spend a few days in. Then, start to look at some smaller cities/towns you can get to from each city, either on a day trip or for a couple of days. Then start to connect the dots and figure out how to get from place to place and where you want to start and stop your trip. I can't emphasize enough not to overdo it. You'll find plenty to keep you busy.
I've never couch-surfed in Europe, but I'd suggest finding cheap hostels before doing that, solely to allow you to meet people. You'll meet a bunch of other young tourists, many of whom will be interested in seeing the same things you are, and they'll often have thought of cool ideas you haven't considered.
(yo soy espanol, ect...)
I'd save Morocco for another trip. If you really want to go there, you go through Tarifa or Gibraltar, both of which are pretty far down south. Costa Del Sol is a beautiful area but not for cheap sight-seeing, it's for rich Europeans and Arabs who want to party on the beach. Andalucía has so much stuff it would take you over a month, so if you want to go to Spain check out Madrid (good city but not for tourists) and Toledo for a few days then take a train up to Cataluña. It's considered part of Spain but it's actually really different and those catalan bastards can have their own country for all I care.
As for the language Spain is one of the worst at speaking English but you probably have some degree of spanish speaking ability. Estados Unidos brah.
If you do Spain, do Portugal. Great country, great people, great food, great drink, and very reasonable on the wallet compared to a lot of western europe.
Rome-Florence-Munich-Prague. You're welcome.
Definitely stay in a hostel. They're cheap and a great way to meet other travelers. Last summer in Barcelona I stayed in a hostel with a great mix of people and every night we met up with another hostel to go bar hopping. It was good times.
I believe Tues and Weds are the cheapest days for flying and I know that Tues at 3pm is when airlines put the newer tickets up for sale and they are generally cheaper at that point so check that out.
This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by lazy 15 months ago
My 2nd favorite town of all the places I have been is Lausanne, Switzerland. The issue you might run into is cost though, Switzerland is damn expensive. Also, make sure you go to the Jungfraujoch. Take the train up to the top, it's a pretty badass experience.
As others have said, dont try to rush it. The EU Rail Pass is good, but it actually was better cost/benefit wise for me to buy single legs. One good tip is to take the over night train if you can, saves $$$.
Rome/Florence are well worth stopping at as well.
As Lazy said, fly out on a Tuesday and fly home in a similar fashion, this is where:
http://www.google.com/flights or kayak are your friends
It was a few years ago, but I flew in and out during the middle of the week (Tuesday night red-eye, fly back Wednesday). Cheaper flights were red-eyes for obvious reasons and later afternoon flights back because it creates a looooooong day.
"Maryland football: Where everybody gets hurt and the starting left tackle has an existential crisis."
For my trip to Spain, I stuck to Andalusia but basically skipped Costa del Sol (which seemed like it's just the British beach vacation spot). Did about 2 days each in Cordoba, Seville, and Grenada. Incredible trip, but will likely be hot as balls if you go in June/July. I'm into old architecture, and really like the Moorish influence of that area, so I spent a ton of time visiting the cathedrals, palaces, and old neighborhoods in those cities.
The train system in Spain is fantastic. Great way to get around the major cities and fairly cheap IMO. Can fly in/out of Madrid and get anywhere.
Prague for sure. Then research the cities around it and figure what else you want.
If its okay I'd like to piggyback on this thread a little because I'm planning on going to Germany during Oktoberfest and then hitting up Prague/Amsterdam or UK before flying home. I believe Oktoberfest starts the last week of September (21st i think) and ends around the 6th of October. My wife's birthday falls between those dates and she's turning the big three oh. So any recommendations about Germany and surrounding areas?
“Route 1, where everybody meets.” ~Nick Faust #5
I went to Oktoberfest this year. Our trip went Oktoberfest --> Prague --> Berlin --> Amsterdam.
Feel free to PM for specific questions, but if you are serious about going you pretty much need to book your hotel right now.
recommendations? will be there for work in 2 weeks (5 days).
im sorry i was confusing...your "Superbowl" was the Redskins losing since you know that the Ravens cant win it all.
don't do it by PM, put it here so the next guy that is looking for info has it too! That's the point of travel threads.
This was 5 years ago, but here are some recommendations from my trip (and my sister, who did a semester in Prague):
- Take warm clothes
- Do the usual tourist stuff everyone will tell you to do if you have time. Charles bridge, prague castle/prazky hrad (take the steps to the top), jewish quarter, Old town square clock
- If you tire of the Eastern European staples, theres a good Vietnamese restaurant off the beaten path called Maly Buddha
- Definitely get a Eurodog and some mulled wine from the street vendors
- Some Americans opened a good bagel place called Bohemia Bagels
Enjoy the cheap, delicious beer!
Prague is absolutely beautiful, but there isn't a ton of touristy stuff to do in Prague. You can pretty much do everything (listed above) outside of day trips in a day. I'd definitely recommend climbing the clock tower at the castle (photo below). It's somewhat expensive (8 euro I believe) but the view was amazing. Beware of taxi drivers as well. They will overcharge you like a mother once they realize you are a tourist. Absolutely the worst I've ever encountered.
There was a really good pizza place called Pizzeria Kmotra. Really cheap. Also there was a great Thai restaurant (they are every where) called Modry Zub. Both are in Old Town. Not sure if you are into clubs or "clubs" but there are some interesting places for sure to be found.
As for Oktoberfest ask away!
that second picture looks very similar to florence
I disagree about the Prague in a day comment. It's not London or Paris as far as sightseeing, but it's not Newport News either. Some of the museums are interesting, and Prague is a great city to just sit back with a beer and watch the world go by. Aimlessly floating around on the Vltava in a paddleboat with a few beers was one of my favorite things there, though it probably wouldn't be as fun in the winter.
Prague = less domes, more spires.
In my very limited experience you can do quite a lot of Paris in a day if you are willing to take the 530 am train from Brussels and are willing to walk around for about 10 miles.
I guess it depends on what your definition of "do quite a lot of ____" is. I mean, I'm not an art guy, but I could spend the bulk of the day in the Louvre alone, much less at a billion of the other museums. Do you want to go to Sacre Coeur and ooh and ahh for 5 minutes, or do you want to go in and then spend a couple of hours in the local neighborhood, which is absolutely worth the time? I mean, you can see a lot of things quickly, but you're not really seeing the city. You're just checking shit off a list at that point.
Croatia is awesome. I highly recommend checking it out. Great seafood, the countryside and cities are beautiful, and the people were very friendly.
Did about 3 hours in the Louvre, another 2 at the Invalides/military history museum, spent about an hour at St. Chapelle, about 30 minutes at Notre Dame. Walked around the Ile St. Louis and along the river. Shot off into some small side streets for lunch at some cafe. Went down Champs Elysees to see the big obelisk and the Arc du Triomphe. Finished the day by Eiffel Tower. Train arrived around 730-8 in the morning and departed back to Brussels around 7 that evening.
Yeah, I had a day so I didn't get to absorb the entire city. But as an 11 hour diversion from a trip to Belgium I did pretty good. I did 10 days in London once and barely scratched the surface.
PS, Mona Lisa is way overrated.
Appreciate the replys. A few more things
a) I know you said not to bother with Scandinavia Tecmo, but that is probably what I am most interested in.
2) After watching Bachelorette last season, I'm very interested in Prague and Croatia, but have no idea what to do there.
d) I'm not big in art, but I am interested in mt climbing, which is why I included Switzerland. I'm nowhere close to an expert at it, but something I would like to do.
5) Strago, what is the cost of that train in Switzerland?
6) I would like to check out one beach area, don't really care where, but suggestions? Which has the most scenic beaches, you know what I mean.
7) I said before most of my international experience was Guatemala. There we had to be very careful what we ate and couldn't drink tap water. Don't anticipate visiting third world countries (except possibly Morocco) but do I need to worry about any of that over there?
8) Do they have Mexican restraunts in Spain?
One other thing, I had heard/read that it is cheaper to get a flight back to the US if I book with some agency over there. Any truth to that?
Obviously you're welcome to do what you want, but I can't stress how hard it's going to be to see anything worthwhile on a budget in Scandinavia. I just think you'd have a lot more fun elsewhere if your budget is as tight as it seemed in your original post.
Whether or not you choose Scandinavia, you should focus on a few countries/cities you want to see. Otherwise you'll be spending your entire time in train stations and airports. Europe obviously isn't as big as the US, but it's not like you can blink and get from Norway to Spain either.
Just my two cents.
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