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      11-04-2013, 09:00 PM   #1
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2 weeks in Europe- please help plan our itinerary

Since the last trip worked out quite well with the recommendations from you guys. I'm here asking for help on planning a 2 week trip to Europe. We will be landing in Munich. The countries we are trying to fit in are Italy, France and of course Germany since we will be landing there.

Please give tips, comments, and recommendations regarding methods of travel, where to stay, where to eat, etc. A friend will be picking up a 4 series so we will have a car for one mode of transportation.

Thank you in advance!!
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      11-04-2013, 09:19 PM   #2
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Driving in Rome (and possibly Italy in general) is a nightmare. I'd highly recommend against it. There are very few rules. Everyone tailgates to within an inch of your car while traveling at high speeds. It's just a really stressful experience if you're not used to it. It's stressful for me even sitting int he passenger seat of a cab.

You should check out amalfi coast if you want one of the most beautiful, scenic drives in Italy.

Pompeii has very poor healthcare. If you get a heart attack in pompeii, you're pretty much gone. I had a medical emergency in pompeii and there were no ambulances to take me to a hospital. I had to wait 20 minutes for a cab which then drove me for 30-40 minutes to the closest hospital. The hospital was completely unsanitary (there were feces smeared all over the walls) and the standard of care was relatively poor (sterilization standards were shoddy, there was no soap available, hospital workers didn't use gloves, etc.)

Edit: I should mention the driving habits above are for southern Italy. The wealthier areas of Italy (northern Italy) may be different.

Last edited by NemesisX; 11-04-2013 at 09:28 PM.
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      11-05-2013, 12:20 AM   #3
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Italy, France, and Germany in 2 weeks. It's a lot of driving around for that short an amount of time. If you start in Munich then I would suggest to follow the Romantic Road and absolutely stop at Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Stay in Southern Germany. Go see the Neuschwannstein castle in Füssen, it's the inspiration for Disneyland.

I would suggest then to go in the Alps and go to Innsbruck in Austria. You like classical music? Go to Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart and then go to Vienna and immerse yourself in Mozart's late 18th century.

If you absolutely want to go to France first stop in Strasbourg to have a great fully furnished sauerkraut and then dash to Paris. At this time of the year, the french mediterranean coast is a bit too cloudy and cold. If you are to spend a few days in France then spend them in Paris the greatest city in the known universe.

Have a good and safe trip.

Cheers.
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      11-05-2013, 12:31 AM   #4
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Thank you the tips so far!! The trip won't be for a few months but I would like to start planning it so we can book hotels.
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      11-05-2013, 01:00 AM   #5
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You have to go to Switzerland if you've never been. I recommend you stop in Lucerne for at least a night, it will be worth it.

Edit: Skip Italy, unless you want to end up in a tourist trap or like cheap hookers.
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      11-05-2013, 05:09 AM   #6
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^ is Italy really that bad?

Ps- I was planning on visiting the birth places of a few music composers such as Mozart.
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      11-05-2013, 05:45 AM   #7
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At which time of the year are you planning to pick the car up?

You absolutely need to mind the german/austrian school holidays otherwise you will be stuck in traffic of the alpine autobahn forever!
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      11-05-2013, 07:48 AM   #8
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Quote:
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Edit: Skip Italy, unless you want to end up in a tourist trap or like cheap hookers.
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^ is Italy really that bad?
Absolutely not! Hookers? WTF? No. I've been there twice in the last year and it is an amazing country.

My wife works for an Italian company based in Bologna and goes for business fairly often. I stayed there for 10 days on my first trip and hit Milan, Ferrara, Florence, Siena, Sirmione, Modena, and Venice. I also hit Ferrari (boring), Lambo (amazing), and Ducati (fine), all of which are within a half hour of Bologna. I rented a car for the whole trip and had absolutely no issues driving all over northern Italy - it was a breeze. We went to Rome a few months ago and I would definitely not recommend driving there but you also don't need to. My wife and I walked to every major site in Rome and she was 6mo pregnant at the time so there is no need for a car.

The people in Rome are a bit more jaded as it's a very busy tourist destination (Venice was as well), but in all of the other cities I found the people to be extraordinarily welcoming and patient with my terrible Italian. That's not to say that they were unfriendly in Rome, but when we would walk into a restaurant saying "Un tavolo per due per favore" and they would reply "inside or outside?" in English, it was convenient but takes a bit of the charm away. The food is also out of this world. The farther you are from the tourists, the better the food gets.

As you can tell, I really enjoy Italy. I've even posted some pics in other threads. It's a really amazing place and I highly recommend it. PM me if you want more input.
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      11-05-2013, 10:22 AM   #9
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At which time of the year are you planning to pick the car up?

You absolutely need to mind the german/austrian school holidays otherwise you will be stuck in traffic of the alpine autobahn forever!
It's going to be in April. Need to plan it now because the last time I went to Germany I didnt plan anything so I felt it was a bit of a waste.
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      11-05-2013, 10:23 AM   #10
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Absolutely not! Hookers? WTF? No. I've been there twice in the last year and it is an amazing country.
...
As you can tell, I really enjoy Italy. I've even posted some pics in other threads. It's a really amazing place and I highly recommend it. PM me if you want more input.
Great. Thank you!
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      11-05-2013, 11:38 AM   #11
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Been to Italy twice and loved it! If you can stop in Monaco and do some gambling at the casino and check out the cars, its truly amazing the money that rolls around there.

Favorite parts of Italy would be Venice, Rome, and Siena (Tuscany Region in general), as mentioned above the food is amazing but also the sites and locations are out of this world.
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      11-05-2013, 12:04 PM   #12
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I would really like to do this someday when the kids are a bit older...
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      11-05-2013, 12:29 PM   #13
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just a few travel tips (i was in europe 6 weeks this summer):

- unless you're paying $500/night for rooms, pack lightly because rooms are small!
- an ipad or similar device is very useful
- scammers are everywhere (consider an under-the-shirt neck wallet)
- at the champs-elysees, you gotta walk around the side streets for the really nice stores
- use the atm machines for the best exchange rates
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      11-05-2013, 12:39 PM   #14
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I use my CC (Chase Saph Preferred) when I travel overseas because there are no fees and I don't have to worry about having large amounts of cash on me.

If you're planning to drive the 4er through Germany (especially the Alps), you should read up on the laws regarding snow tires. They are legally required during certain months and there are rental options available (other ED threads have this info).

That aside, Venice is about a 5hr drive from Munich. If you hit Venice then drove across northern Italy to the French Riviera you would be able to check out some of the factories outside Bologna.

Here's one possible route scenario.
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      11-05-2013, 02:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMW E90
^ is Italy really that bad?

Ps- I was planning on visiting the birth places of a few music composers such as Mozart.
I should have worded that better. Italy is ok but to be honest I didn't like It that much. If you had more time I'd recommend it but you have a limited schedule. I'd personally spend my time in France, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria if I only had 2 weeks. I'm also going to recommend visiting Monaco and Vienna (one of the best cities on earth). Also please don't try to speak a countries native language unless your fluent in it. Almost everyone knows enough English to help you.
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      11-05-2013, 02:59 PM   #16
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Also please don't try to speak a countries native language unless your fluent in it. Almost everyone knows enough English to help you.
If you want to come off as an "ignorant American", this is great advice. It's pretty clear that you did not really travel around Italy as your latter statement is factually incorrect for much of the country.
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      11-05-2013, 03:30 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Also please don't try to speak a countries native language unless your fluent in it. Almost everyone knows enough English to help you.
If you want to come off as an "ignorant American", this is great advice. It's pretty clear that you did not really travel around Italy as your latter statement is factually incorrect for much of the country.
If you want to look like an idiot sure speak the 5 words in Italian that you know to the hotel clerk. Really the only time you need to know the native language is when your in a small towns off the beaten path. Most people in cities have been taught enough English to do their jobs. Really Italy is the only country in Western Europe that doesn't have the best knowledge of English but 80% of the time you'll be ok. Btw I have a house in Europe and a car there, I'm probably traveling around for about 3 months out of the year and I still think Italy is meh.
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      11-05-2013, 03:42 PM   #18
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      11-05-2013, 03:57 PM   #19
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If you want to look like an idiot sure speak the 5 words in Italian that you know to the hotel clerk. Really the only time you need to know the native language is when your in a small towns off the beaten path. Most people in cities have been taught enough English to do their jobs. Really Italy is the only country in Western Europe that doesn't have the best knowledge of English but 80% of the time you'll be ok. Btw I have a house in Europe and a car there, I'm probably traveling around for about 3 months out of the year and I still think Italy is meh.
Do you care to share where this house and car are located?

A big part of the fun of travel, to me, is getting off the beaten path and living like they do in the country you're visiting. Sure, you can definitely go to a museum or into the Colosseum or the Vatican, but driving into most smaller cities, you encounter very few people who speak conversational English. At most they speak a peppering of words. I studied up for 5 days and brought a little cheat sheet with me as I travelled around and found that most of their faces lit up when I tried to speak the language. It put us on common ground and made them less embarrassed about their terrible English and me less so about my shit Italian.

I'm surprised that your attitude hasn't bit you in the butt in places like France where they definitely don't take kindly to you making no effort to speak the language. My wife was there twice and was shocked by how rude they were to her when she did not speak French (her trip was last minute for work) and she also had a cab driver take her on a half hour rip-off ride around Paris, knowing she didn't know where she was.

If I wanted to go on vacation and speak English, I'd go to England. It's your responsibility as a visitor to make some type of effort in much the same way foreigners try to speak English when they come here. I have several aunts/uncles/cousins in the Netherlands who speak absolutely zero English and a couple who are fluent - it depends what they took in school. I do think it is arrogant to expect all restaurant staff to speak English in a foreign country. While many/most do, to expect it is not right.
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      11-05-2013, 06:27 PM   #20
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Since the last trip worked out quite well with the recommendations from you guys. I'm here asking for help on planning a 2 week trip to Europe. We will be landing in Munich. The countries we are trying to fit in are Italy, France and of course Germany since we will be landing there.

Please give tips, comments, and recommendations regarding methods of travel, where to stay, where to eat, etc. A friend will be picking up a 4 series so we will have a car for one mode of transportation.

Thank you in advance!!
Day 1-3 Munich (SC) Hotel Leonardo is awesome, I highly recommend it. Underground parking, close to BMW Welt, and has an amazing breakfast buffet. There is a Thai restaurant called "Yum". It is amazing, reserve far ahead. Very important * They have special pricing for BMW Welt customers @ hotel Leonardo, I didn't get to take advantage of this when I picked up mine.

Day 3-5 Stuttgart (SC) Hotels anywhere near the center are fine. The U-Bahn makes it really easy to get around. If you want recommendations for Stuttgart, PM me and I will give you my personal list. Visit the castle in Ludwigsburg, I'm not really a tour guy but my sister dragged me on it and I had a really good time.

Day 5-8 Zurich (SC everywhere) Interesting city, check it out. Make sure and stop at the border and get a vignette (autobahn toll sticker for Switzerland)

Day 8-10 Milano (my favorite little town around Milano is Busto Arsitzio, pretty cool spot)

Day 11-13 Prague Raddison Blu in Prauge is amazing. Underground parking too. The hotel chef has a Michelin star or two? Either way, the entire dining experience was excellent. The city is really lively and there is a lot to see. I will be going again sometime soon.

Day 13-14 Munich (SC) Fly out!

*SC= Speed Cameras - be careful out there...

The drive from Milan to Prague is pretty long. I had Paris as that destination but I really didn't enjoy France that much. For me, Prague was much cooler. Maybe the south of France would be a better option. Check Virtualtourist or some travel site for reviews.

You don't need to go down to Rome to get the "Italian" experience. Milano is amazing and has a lot of great dining options.

Lastly, you may want to shuffle the order of the trip into something that makes more sense logistically.
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      11-05-2013, 06:35 PM   #21
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If you want to look like an idiot sure speak the 5 words in Italian that you know to the hotel clerk. Really the only time you need to know the native language is when your in a small towns off the beaten path. Most people in cities have been taught enough English to do their jobs. Really Italy is the only country in Western Europe that doesn't have the best knowledge of English but 80% of the time you'll be ok. Btw I have a house in Europe and a car there, I'm probably traveling around for about 3 months out of the year and I still think Italy is meh.
Do you care to share where this house and car are located?

A big part of the fun of travel, to me, is getting off the beaten path and living like they do in the country you're visiting. Sure, you can definitely go to a museum or into the Colosseum or the Vatican, but driving into most smaller cities, you encounter very few people who speak conversational English. At most they speak a peppering of words. I studied up for 5 days and brought a little cheat sheet with me as I travelled around and found that most of their faces lit up when I tried to speak the language. It put us on common ground and made them less embarrassed about their terrible English and me less so about my shit Italian.

I'm surprised that your attitude hasn't bit you in the butt in places like France where they definitely don't take kindly to you making no effort to speak the language. My wife was there twice and was shocked by how rude they were to her when she did not speak French (her trip was last minute for work) and she also had a cab driver take her on a half hour rip-off ride around Paris, knowing she didn't know where she was.

If I wanted to go on vacation and speak English, I'd go to England. It's your responsibility as a visitor to make some type of effort in much the same way foreigners try to speak English when they come here. I have several aunts/uncles/cousins in the Netherlands who speak absolutely zero English and a couple who are fluent - it depends what they took in school. I do think it is arrogant to expect all restaurant staff to speak English in a foreign country. While many/most do, to expect it is not right.
Apartment in Lucerne house in Macedonia. Cars with the house. Your right, once you go off the beaten path you should know the basics or have a translator on your phone that doesn't require internet (consider this a good tip). That said English is the most common second language in Europe so it's ok to assume that the person your trying to talk to understands it, just be nice and not rude. Too many times I see Americans yelling at the guy they're trying to communicate with and that causes issues. I'm guessing this is your point your trying to get across, and I agree, but I also see people trying to go to places that they know people can speak English but they try ( usually terribly) to speak the native tongue and just slow down the whole process (say a tour or ordering food) so usually the native just replies in perfect English to make it stop. Sadly some people don't take the hint...
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      11-05-2013, 07:38 PM   #22
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Apartment in Lucerne house in Macedonia. Cars with the house. Your right, once you go off the beaten path you should know the basics or have a translator on your phone that doesn't require internet (consider this a good tip). That said English is the most common second language in Europe so it's ok to assume that the person your trying to talk to understands it, just be nice and not rude. Too many times I see Americans yelling at the guy they're trying to communicate with and that causes issues. I'm guessing this is your point your trying to get across, and I agree, but I also see people trying to go to places that they know people can speak English but they try ( usually terribly) to speak the native tongue and just slow down the whole process (say a tour or ordering food) so usually the native just replies in perfect English to make it stop. Sadly some people don't take the hint...
If you learn no other vocabulary in the language of the country you're visiting, you should definitely learn how to ask if they speak English in that language. It will tip them off and come off more respectful than just rattling off in English right off the bat. I spent a few weeks in Bulgaria a few years ago and found there to be a perfect generational split. Those who went through school before the Cold War ended spoke zero English while anyone younger had the option to go to English speaking schools and spoke English like I do.

It really depends on location. My parents were recently in Iceland where nearly everyone spoke great English while I was actually surprised at how few spoke it in the outer cities/towns in Italy.
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