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      01-29-2012, 08:07 PM   #1
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Europe trip this fall

My wife and I are planning a trip to Europe later this year. A couple questions since we have never been. Right now we are leaning towards flying into Rome then going to Florence, maybe Venice, maybe Geneva/Lausanne/Zurich Switzerland(only 1 of those 3). If there is a train station and we have the time I'd like to stop in Rhone for some wine. Then Paris and finishing up in London and flying home. Be there for about 17 days including flying there and back.

1. I hear there are lockers at the train stations to store your luggage if you need to. I assume there are various sizes to store a small bags to full size suitcases? Are they safe?

2. Anything we should skip? Add? Must see?

We aren't going until the fall but we are already starting to compile a list of things we should take or not take. Anything you guys found the you absolutely need or wished you left home to save space?

Thanks guys! Any useful info is much appreciated.

Oh, I posted this in the photo section. Since a lot of us are into photography check this and let me know. Camera messenger bag recommendations....
http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=641708
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      01-29-2012, 10:03 PM   #2
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Electrical adapters so you can charge cell phones/laptops/camera batteries, etc. You don't need a large converter, just the adapters that plug into European sockets. You might want to bring several. And don't overpack. Since you're traveling by train, you don't want to be hauling big suitcases around.
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      01-29-2012, 10:33 PM   #3
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Take a few days in Rome if you can. Do some of the tours. And make sure you get to your hotel early. If it's not 4 stars or up, late arrivals = bad rooms. That is true for all of Europe generally.
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      01-29-2012, 11:29 PM   #4
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My wife and I did a 3 week tour back in October.

Rough Itinerary:
Rome
Orvieto
Florence
Cinque Terre
Milan
Bologna
Venice
Paris
London

We drove between Rome and Venice, which was part of the adventure. Then took the train from Venice to Paris and London. Definitely don't bring North American style suitcases as there is not a lot of room on the train. If you're taking the train then show up early to make sure you have space for your gear.

I generally enjoyed the food. It got better as I got further out from Rome. Venice was not my thing.
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      01-29-2012, 11:50 PM   #5
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Cinque Terre is a must. Get a room for the weekend in one of the five towns (Vernazza being my favorite) and just relax. You'll appreciate it after the bustle of Rome.
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      01-30-2012, 06:52 AM   #6
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As far as lockers most train larger stations have them and generally their safe though I'd not leave anything of great value in them anyways. Also learn to pack light as the trains don't have room for large luggage. As far as adapters go there is no "standard" european plug. Some country's use different styles. Buy 2 of those multikits and maybe one with a transformer (small). If you are in Italy you must, as other have said, see Cinque Terra, Vernazza just had a big landslide not sure the condition. But that place is excellent and great food! Lucerne Switzerland is a nice stop on a beautful lake. Amsterdam is another nice place, it's not all about the "red Light district"or Die Wallen as they say. There is always a trip to the Nurburgring which is just up the road from Trier Germany which is a nice spot with some interesting sights.
Couple of things to consider is arranging rooms/hotels ahead of time as much as possible, look to book tours ahead also. Most cities are very simple to get around in, think the tubes in London/Paris...don't pet the homless bums though, they may bite. Something such as an Ipad comes in real handy especially if you have 3g and get a worldwide card. If you want specific or have specific questions let me know.
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      01-30-2012, 07:38 AM   #7
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When i landed in Italy I picked up a prepaid SIM card from service provider TIM for eur10. it came with a eur5 balance and 30 days free data. This was handy for searching and Googlemaps.
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      01-30-2012, 07:51 AM   #8
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Thanks everyone!

Yeah I def knew I needed to get the electrical adapter but was only going to buy 1 kit. As far as our luggage goes we have 2 decent 22'' Tumi bags that we were going to use. We weren't even going to bother with our 30'' bag. I have a very collapsible duffel bag that I am going to roll up to overflow into as the trip goes on.

We were def planning on bringing our iPad but ours is just wifi. Are there enough wifi hotspots to get by or should I look into getting a 3g iPad?

Amsterdam/Germany got cut. Germany mainly because I plan on doing euro delivery in the next 5 or so years. At that time I was thinking of doing a more eastern euro tour. Amsterdam, Stuggart, Munich, Zurich, Prague etc. Amsterdam I hear made it illegal for tourists to smoke and that took away some of the appeal lol.

We also don't know if a phone is necessary. We have verizon iPhone 4, which are not world phones. I read that verizon does a euro loaner program, worth it? If not I would have to figure out a way to pick up a 4s.
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      01-30-2012, 09:08 AM   #9
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I stopped in Zurich in Nov. as a 17 hour layover. Went from airport to downtown Zur in about 10-15 min. via the train at approx. $ 15USD. Didn't notice any smoking restrictions in Zur. I smoke like a chimney, and was doing so on the street, on the train platform, etc....
I didn't have the time to go, but did some research while browsing the train schedule/map. Definitely take a train tour to Lucerne, there are several packages and day tours, and the train system is pretty easy to navigate.
Zurich is a very expensive city, and restrooms hard to find. At the train station there is a "Mr. Clean" which cost approx. $ 3.00 to use.
Not sure if you were monitoring the USD-Euro, but since its lower than when I went in Nov. at approx, 1.40, you may want to buy some now.
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      01-30-2012, 12:17 PM   #10
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There is a very good chain of hotels in Italy called star hotel. It's is 4 star hotel, but treats you as a 5 star hotel. They are in every big city in Italy including the ones you listed. I recommend you look into those.

Honestly I didn't find Florence to be as interesting as Venice. Venice is more like a couple and romantic place so I'm sure you and your wife would enjoy that. There are many tourist in Venice so it's hard to feel the "culture" if you know what I mean. Florence is more like a shopping place if that's what your into. Unfortunately you won't find many sales since Europe has their sales in January and July. But you might find some.

Traveling by train is a great way to get around, as it is the only way. You might want to find a hotel your staying at, leave you bags there and bring only necessities because bringing many luggages on the train can be very challenging. When flying back home, you return to the hotel and pick the baggages before going to the airport. But I don't think you will have that problem since its only you and your wife and you are spending less than 3 weeks.
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      01-30-2012, 01:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ibarry92 View Post
There is a very good chain of hotels in Italy called star hotel. It's is 4 star hotel, but treats you as a 5 star hotel. They are in every big city in Italy including the ones you listed. I recommend you look into those.

Honestly I didn't find Florence to be as interesting as Venice. Venice is more like a couple and romantic place so I'm sure you and your wife would enjoy that. There are many tourist in Venice so it's hard to feel the "culture" if you know what I mean. Florence is more like a shopping place if that's what your into. Unfortunately you won't find many sales since Europe has their sales in January and July. But you might find some.

Traveling by train is a great way to get around, as it is the only way. You might want to find a hotel your staying at, leave you bags there and bring only necessities because bringing many luggages on the train can be very challenging. When flying back home, you return to the hotel and pick the baggages before going to the airport. But I don't think you will have that problem since its only you and your wife and you are spending less than 3 weeks.
As of now there are 3 people going. Me, my wife and our cousin. Possibly another couple as well.

I'm not too concerned about too much shopping. I more want to check out some Tuscan wineries in/around Florence. Wine would be my shopping haha.

I'll check that hotel out. Clearly we won't want to stay in dumps. We also already plan to pack as light as possible. 1 22" roller each and maybe a shoulder duffel bag
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      01-30-2012, 01:14 PM   #12
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I don't know about all of Europe, but free WiFi was hard to come by when I was traveling in Germany and the UK. Pretty much all the WiFi networks required some sort of payment to access them. I would suggest adding a global data plan to your phone for the month while you are traveling, but since you are using Verizon, that is not an option.

There is so much to see and do in London that I would highly recommend bringing a comfortable pair of shoes because you will probably end up walking more than you think. Also make use of the Underground for getting around easier. The best way to pay for use on the Underground is with an Oyster card. It allows you to add funds to the card, then you just scan it each time you enter/exit a station instead of buying individual tickets. You can always add additional funds to it if need be.

Here are some of the things I'd recommend seeing around London:

Imperial War Museum - very impressive with all sorts of things on display.
British Museum - what don't they have here?
London Eye - every tourist should check it out at least once.
National Portrait Gallery - free admission and all sorts of historical artwork on display.
Tate Modern - free admission and lots of exhibits.
Covent Garden - always seemed to be some sort of live entertainment going on.
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      01-30-2012, 01:15 PM   #13
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Buy about a dozen electrical adaptors off of ebay. Its like ten bucks and you don't really need any of the other crap included in most kits. You'll just lug that crap around for no reason.
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      01-30-2012, 02:31 PM   #14
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Note on the electrical adapters... They are great, but be careful. A lot of typical travel items you own are "dual voltage" so you shouldn't have to worry, but SOME items that you may bring with you might not be. If you plug something in that isn't compatible it will break. Just look at the rating on the electrical info. If it says 100-240V then you're good to go. If it doesn't go to 240V then don't plug it in.

I know people that have blown a lot of their favorite toys in Germany plugging stuff in when I was stationed over there
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      01-30-2012, 03:54 PM   #15
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Rome is amazing. By far the best city I have ever visited. Plan to stay there for longest time possible. I did a bunch of cities like you are planning and learned the hard way. I would only go to a few places and spend more time at each one. The traveling part is a pain. You'll almost lose a day per city traveling there. It adds up quick with only 17 days. Plus you get more tired and it get old quickly going from cabs, to trains, to planes, etc.

In all honesty you could spend a week in Rome and not be satisfied. If your not injury prone and coordinated rent scooters. I had so much fun for hours riding around. Plan to get off the road during rush hour. It's crazy packed and dangerous. Do not get the cheap little one. Spend up for the faster ones so you can go on the highway if needed. They rent then for a full 24 hours so plan accordingly.

Florence is nice and chill. It's a very small city and you can walk from one end to other in less than an hour. I had the best steak of my life there. Having a real meal is an event. Its literally like 5 courses and people usually consider it entertainment. It takes a few hours to eat a nice meal so plan to not be in a rush for dinner.

Have fun and be safe. Use common sense wherever you go. People will try and scam you or take advantage of you since your tourists so be aware. Americans seem to stick out like a sore thumb. As for hotels get ready to spend some $$$. They are not cheap.
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      01-30-2012, 05:42 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Templar
Note on the electrical adapters... They are great, but be careful. A lot of typical travel items you own are "dual voltage" so you shouldn't have to worry, but SOME items that you may bring with you might not be. If you plug something in that isn't compatible it will break. Just look at the rating on the electrical info. If it says 100-240V then you're good to go. If it doesn't go to 240V then don't plug it in.

I know people that have blown a lot of their favorite toys in Germany plugging stuff in when I was stationed over there
Yes, what he said. And also make sure the adapters you get have a ground, as in it has 3 prongs not only 2. You will need a 3 prong adapter especially for laptops. You don't want to get overseas and figure out you can't charge your laptop. You might not know what I'm talking about now, but as your searching for adapters you'll figure out what I'm talking about.
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      01-30-2012, 05:45 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ftlaudm3
Rome is amazing. By far the best city I have ever visited. Plan to stay there for longest time possible. I did a bunch of cities like you are planning and learned the hard way. I would only go to a few places and spend more time at each one. The traveling part is a pain. You'll almost lose a day per city traveling there. It adds up quick with only 17 days. Plus you get more tired and it get old quickly going from cabs, to trains, to planes, etc.

In all honesty you could spend a week in Rome and not be satisfied. If your not injury prone and coordinated rent scooters. I had so much fun for hours riding around. Plan to get off the road during rush hour. It's crazy packed and dangerous. Do not get the cheap little one. Spend up for the faster ones so you can go on the highway if needed. They rent then for a full 24 hours so plan accordingly.

Florence is nice and chill. It's a very small city and you can walk from one end to other in less than an hour. I had the best steak of my life there. Having a real meal is an event. Its literally like 5 courses and people usually consider it entertainment. It takes a few hours to eat a nice meal so plan to not be in a rush for dinner.

Have fun and be safe. Use common sense wherever you go. People will try and scam you or take advantage of you since your tourists so be aware. Americans seem to stick out like a sore thumb. As for hotels get ready to spend some $$$. They are not cheap.
Yes hotels are expensive especially that fact that the dollar is lower than the euro, but hopefully it will break even by fall. When my family went last summer $1 = 1.60 €. So you can imagine the markup we had.
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      01-30-2012, 09:06 PM   #18
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Outside of Florence I stayed at this resort. Worth the drive back down the mountain to get back into the city and was not expensive.

http://www.palagina.it/

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      01-31-2012, 09:53 AM   #19
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Some hotels will have WiFi but don't plan on it in the room usually the lobby. Out on the streets places like Mc'ds...starbucks or about any coffee cafe has hotspots. Makes it easy when your out and about looking. We use the maps ap to navigate when were traveling. Your luggage selection should be fine.
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      02-02-2012, 10:03 AM   #20
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Don't skip out on Venice. As for tour books, I highly recommend Rick Steves' books. His are by far the easiest to read.
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      02-02-2012, 10:15 AM   #21
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Last summer we were in Barcelona. Great. In 2010 we were on a roadtrip from NL to Brussels, Luxemburg, Bern(CH), via Milan to Siena(FANTASTIC! I was there with my classmates back in '86) , Florence, a trip to Rome. And back via Freiburg(Germany, Cologne(which is almost the Netherlands). Great.

Our daughter (turning 18 in april) is going to study in Barcelona from september on.(about two hours from Amsterdam by plane)

I love Barcelona!
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      02-02-2012, 12:47 PM   #22
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I spent five days in Rome in 2010 (took the Eurostar to Florence for one of them), definitely one of my favorite places in Europe. I had a couple of travel books and a map that I planned my itinerary with day-to-day. I avoided tours (except the one of the Vatican museum that came included with my hotel package) since I much prefer to explore cities on my own accord, you find so many more interesting things/people that way.

Anyways, some tips for Rome:

-Do not cross zebra crossings on a red light if you're walking, the motorists absolutely hate this.
-Don't buy individual waters at a restaurant (you can get a single 1.5L bottle way cheaper).
-If you want to see the Spanish Steps, go early. I was there around 8am and it was nearly empty, later on in the day it becomes massively packed. I was up by 6:30 each day just to see as much as possible anyway.
-In Florence buy a ticket for going to the top of Florence Cathedral. It's a ton of stairs to climb but the view so completely worth it.
-Buy a Gelato and sit near the fountain in front of the Pantheon and people watch.


I was in Paris also in 2008, another beautiful city. Avoid the Bois de Bologne at night (unless you like pickpockets and prostitutes), and watch out for Gypsies at the Eiffel Tower. Buy some food from a nearby shop and have lunch at the Jardin du Luxembourg. Note that restaurants near any major attraction are real expensive (paid $9 for a beer next to the Musee d'Orsay). The Paris Metro is very efficient and on time to the minute, use it whenever you can.

I mainly use my phone over there to check the time, if you're only with two other people I wouldn't say it's completely necessary.
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