Help! Need to plan European vacation by tomorrow for sometime betwen 5/12 and 6/3.

MWF

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I wasn't talking about the shark thing.

I'm talking about fish such as Blue Ling, fried in a light crispy batter and so fresh you could probably still find its pulse if you weren't risking a trip to the ER for second degree burns.
 

93Flareside

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I wasn't talking about the shark thing.

I'm talking about fish such as Blue Ling, fried in a light crispy batter and so fresh you could probably still find its pulse if you weren't risking a trip to the ER for second degree burns.
I just figured you were trying to play a joke on tourists. Nobody eats that anymore.
 

NecroJoe

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Apart from the obvious United Kingdom (Edinburgh is awesome, London has many many museums for free or cheap) I'd recommend Amsterdam and by extension, some other cities in Netherlands (yeah, Maastricht comes to mind... also Den Haag, Rotterdam, perhaps Utrecht) - although as the typical German I go to NL for having a relaxing weekend in a tiny village at the coast mostly and do not know the big cities very well. It has also the advantage that the N?rburgring is close by. ;)
Also, Copenhagen. Expensive but worth it. The city is currently suffering from lots of heavy construction work for their new metro, though.
Thanks for the tip about Copenhagen construction! We live through that in San Francisco, so I think we'll be steering away from that this time.


If you want to see awesome landscapes, there's Scotland, Norway or the Alps. The latter is the most inconvenient of the three for English-only speakers.
Scotland and Norway I think could be higher priorities, because I think finding juuust the right place to stay around the Alps takes more research time than I have.

What kind of gardens? If you are in Copenhagen you could take a trip to Fyn and visit Egeskov castle, there is a huge garden around and also barns filled with old cars and motorcycles :) Aaaaand I just realised it's closed in winter, sorry :-(

But Copenhagen is nice and there is plenty of touristy stuff there, and most danes under 50 speak english just fine,
In terms of Gardens, I'm just pictureing in my head some impressive estate with a giant main castle/palace with a several-acre, finely landscaped place with walking paths, stuff crossing over head, bridges, etc.

Another vote for Berlin - it's a really cosmopolitan and Bo-ho place with a metric fucktonne of things to see and do plus the public transport network is excellent and accessible all day for about $8 per head including trains, trams, buses and subway. Would be a good place for a long weekend and I am sure Dr Grip would be happy to show you around and/or give you some pointers. Plus most of the people you will encounter will have good enough English.
Someday I'll make it back to Germany, because I really did love it. It reminded me of home (Wisconsin) in many ways. Another trip, though,since I've already been.

Oh and Stonehenge while fascinating isn't that impressive and it's a PITA to get to unless you plan to be nearby anyway. TBH you're just as well watching a documentary about it.
That's what I've heard. Still though...it's like seeing Black Sabbath live now or seeing the Mona Lisa...I know what I'd be getting into...but still drawn to it for some reason.

l was going to suggest Scotland, but if you only have 2 weeks, even a quick tour of the touristy part (Glenncoe, southern Highlands,Loch Ness, Eilean Donan, Isle of Sky) would take 5-6 days including travelling up and down again from England so that might to big a chunk of your time, but it would fit your castle/historical building/nature requirement, if you include the Northern Highlands it's as pretty as Europe ever gets nature wise if you ask me....and they almost speak English! :p
Almost. Ha! Yeah, I feel like we're going to fly into London, and travelling north (where much of the coolest nature is) is a big chunk of time. Perhaps another trip where we spend more time on the isles for western England, Scotland, Ireland etc. I think this time we'll try to spend more time in continental Europe, after a stay in and around London.

As an American visiting Europe though, really you can't go wrong with any Historical city, they all have their own atmosphere and style, no matter if it's Rome, Paris, London, Bruges (much smaller), Barcelona, Edinburgh,Vienna, you name it, lots to see and do everywhere, but the sheer visual impact of looking at a city much like it was 500 years ago will amaze you if you have never been....
Very good point. When I was in Germany in the 90s, we could only spend a couple days in each city (Berlin, Munich, Freiburg, Hamburg, Salzburg (Austria)...and I feel like I'm missing another city in there...but then the last two weeks were in Kiel. It always felt like we didn't have enough time in each city. Heck, in an "old" American city like Boston, it's easy to spend a week touring cool/historical things.

How about Venice, Dolomites, Salzburg, maybe Munich, Vienna, Prague.
Dolomites look interesting. I feel like it'd be a bit like the Alps where I'd really have to figure out where exactly we'd stay and I'm not sure I have the time for that. Prague could be really cool, actually.

Yes. That. The Dutch all speak english and Amsterdam is something I'd recommend over Berlin in a heartbeat. I love Berlin, but I love Amsterdam more ;)
ha! nice.

Also like to put Paris onto the List. The French are not as reluctant as they once were concerning speaking english (they are far from the Dutch/Germans/scandinavian countries, but you'll be fine) and it's got the all covert.
Thanks!

Initially I had thought about France, but for some reason I'm not "feeling it" this trip. Someday, for sure...and I have no real reason as to why. ha!

If you're fine with two countries and a flight in between, I'd do London first and then head to Norway, as late in your travel window as possible.
London covers a modern European city, lots of old stuff, and lots of touristy Kodak-moment stuff. Norway covers landscape, scenery, fjords, nature, all that stuff plus a day in Oslo or so.
Thanks! Why do you say to do Norway as late as possible?

Depending on your vouchers, Iceland is an interesting option as well. For example, Iceland Air lets you extend your stopover for up to seven days - you technically have only one flight, but get to explore the Island :thumbsup:
https://www.icelandair.us/flights/stopover/?pos=US&lang=en
That's quite amazing, actually.

Or just profit from europe's High-speed railway lines ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurostar

London - Amsterdam via Brussels is about 4 hours ... London-Paris is only a bit over 2 hours ... (not counting security checks etc)
A great suggestion! Is that particular route you're talking about to Amsterdam at all scenic, or is it more "get these business men across Europe as expeditiously as possible" type?



THANK YOU ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

JimCorrigan

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For two weeks, I'd pick one country and see as much of it as possible, rather than fritter around, but to each his own. You can enjoy a fair bit of even large European nations such as Spain, Germany, or France with that timeframe. I'd just do a little research beforehand to see which (one of those three, or somewhere else) suits your fancy the most.
 

RdKetchup

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I don't know what is Narf's reason, but I would suggest doing Norway as close as possible to the summer solstice.

There is something special about drinking beer at 10 PM on a terrace with the sun still up.
 

Redliner

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How about gardens? Anyone have any recommendations of some epic gardens that would take hours if not days to walk through?
Copenhagen has a great Zoo (if that is your thing) and also Tivoli Gardens, which despite the name is an amusement park but has many gardens (duh). The park opened on 15 August 1843 and is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world, after Dyrehavsbakken in nearby Klampenborg, also in Denmark. I remember fondly having a beer there and just lying down on the lawn during the summer to take a break before cycling to the market and having Sm?rrebr?d. Highly recommend it.
Also, from there you can easily go to Roskilde (30 km away) and visit the Viking Ship Museum, with an actual boatyard beside it, where you can see them using period correct techniques to make boats and even do some of the work yourself.

 

narf

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...but then the last two weeks were in Kiel.
You didn't come say hi :cry:

Thanks! Why do you say to do Norway as late as possible?
Weather, mostly.
Oslo in the southern part of Norway is just one and a bit degrees south of Anchorage, the closer you get to summer the better.
Some passes stay closed well into June, others can be crossed behind snow ploughs with some waiting time.
The western coast is wet all year round, but at least the rain will be a tiny bit less cold :tease: Bergen for example gets 5x the annual rain compared to SF...

For London and other city-based tourism, weather is less relevant than when you enjoy the outdoors in Norway (or Iceland! Do it!).


I don't know what is Narf's reason, but I would suggest doing Norway as close as possible to the summer solstice.

There is something special about drinking beer at 10 PM on a terrace with the sun still up.
That too.


You want to finish your trip by June 3rd? This was my June 3rd in Norway two years ago :D







 
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DanRoM

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Is that particular route you're talking about to Amsterdam at all scenic, or is it more "get these business men across Europe as expeditiously as possible" type?
There is no scenery worth looking at on the route between London and Amsterdam. Granted, it's been eight years since I took the Eurostar from Brussels to London, but it's just a high-speed train and due to the British being afraid of all things coming from outside their little island, with added security theatre. Not as bad as in airports, but maybe they upped their game since.
 

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Ireland has a shitload of castles and gardens around castles. You could easily self-drive around the country.
There's no issue with language barrier, though some more out of the way places, you may not recongise English as being English.

Otherwise, as has been suggested, any of the Fenno-Scandic countries are lovely, and English is widely spoken. The 2015 roadtrip took in Finland and Norway, which was amazing, but we were also there later in the season, so our results may not be a reliable indication.

I've also done a couple of Trafalgar package style tours, which might work, if you find one that covers the kinds of things you want to see. You don't have to worry about all the planning and bookings, generally you only spend a couple of nights in each destination, looking at the most popular sights, and your transport is covered. There are optional excursions if you want to see something a little less common, or you can use the time to wander on your own. The amount of interaction with others on the tour is entirely up to you.

They have hundreds of itineraries, so I'd highly recommend picking up one of their books, even if you only use it as inspiration to put together something of your own. You get an idea of what's reasonable to do in the time you have.
 
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mgkdk

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In terms of Gardens, I'm just pictureing in my head some impressive estate with a giant main castle/palace with a several-acre, finely landscaped place with walking paths, stuff crossing over head, bridges, etc.
Check out http://egeskov.dk/ there is also Odense you could visit, it has some Hans Christian Anderson stuff.
 

narf

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Damn...looks like fjords will have to wait for another trip... Someday *shakes fist at sky*!
Oh the fjords are fine, those pictures are from ~1400m high passes in the fjells. If you stick to the coasts all will be well, if you intend to go up you may encounter the white stuff.
 

Interrobang

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[...] A great suggestion! Is that particular route you're talking about to Amsterdam at all scenic, or is it more "get these business men across Europe as expeditiously as possible" type?
I don't think so. It's certainly a matter of taste and sometimes you'd have a great view and glace something nice, but mostly I recon it is quite boring. There are some very scenic rail-way lines in europe, but that's not one that comes to mind.

Well sure, but then you'd go from one big European city to another. In the time you take the train to Amsterdam you could be flying to fjord country :D
My point exactly :D (I'm the city-vacation guy, not the "you should go see some rocks" guy ;))
 

Cowboy

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A great suggestion! Is that particular route you're talking about to Amsterdam at all scenic, or is it more "get these business men across Europe as expeditiously as possible" type?
Not at all I'm afraid, it goes through Northern France, wich is just Belgium with added misery, actual Belgium and the southern part of the Netherlands wich is slightly better but incredibly flat....

No real 'scenic routes' for trains in this part of Europe as best as I know.

Btw, I'm sure other people here have different experiences, but I took a Eurostar twice and both times it was a miserable experience, breakdowns, delays, It arrived 3 and 4 hours late respectivly, and the Walloons/Frenchists running the damn show were beeing compleetly incompetent and unhelpfull like the bloody lazy communists they are....
 
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Hmm, hard to say what to recommend to a Europe-beginner. If you want to see Fjords, as in tall mountains partially submerged in sea water, you pretty much need to go to Norway. But then Norway is pretty sparsely populated, and pretty far from anything else remotely interesting, and can have pretty bad weather as others have already brought up. Then there's also Kotor in Montenegro, which is pretty cool and has got much better weather, but is also far from anything else. If you can do with any water and mountains, then the lakes at the Italian-Swiss border around Como and Lugano are pretty nice. And if you don't require much water at all, then the Dolomites are pretty much my favourite part of the alps. You don't need to think too hard where exactly to go, it's a fairly compact area and you can easily find accommodation on the spot, as there are much fewer tourists there in the late spring/early summer than there are in winter. Pretty much every village will feature several accommodation possibilities. There are also some pretty cool mountain passes that you could take between the lake area and the Dolomites. And of course the Dolomites themselves are full of mountain passes. And if you want to see Prague, well I sometimes drive from Prague to the Dolomites for a weekend, can be done in 6-7 hours, if you fully take advantage of Germany's lack of speed limits.:mrgreen:

If you want to do more of the hipster city kind of stuff, then there's Amsterdam, Berlin, Hamburg Copenhagen etc. as others have suggested, but there's pretty much no landscape to be seen in that part of Europe.

I guess myself, I would go for somewhere around the Alps, as I like mountains and I don't really like to travel on a fixed itinerary, and if you rent a car, this kind of an area allows you to see some great landscapes, while visiting several countries, and sampling different 'flavours' of Europe in fairly compact area, and you can change your plans based on weather. Making a stopover somewhere 'on the way' like Iceland or London could be nice as well, as that's again something quite different than what you can experience in central Europe.

It's true that Italy is not the greatest place for English-only speakers (the Dolomites I would say are much better in that regard than the rest of Italy), but then again, language barriers are overrated. Ordering something randomly from the menu and not being sure what you get is part of the fun of travelling, and in Italy, it's very likely to be delicious (so kind of like the opposite of the UK).
 

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Thanks for all the tips, everyone.

So...after hardly having any time to really sit down and book anything, I think I finally got the last hotel/transit leg booked as of about 15 mins ago. I'm not sure I made the best choices as some were impulse buys, but hey...it's a vacation.

Wednesday 5/17 - fly to London.
5/18-5/22: Stay in London
5/22: Train to Edinburgh, Scotland (two seats on the east side of the train).
5/22-5/27: Stay in Scotland in Old Town
5/27: Fly to Amsterdam
5/27-5/31: Stay in Amsterdam
5/31: Fly home.

Still don't have a clear picture of the things we'll do in each place yet...that's for tomorrow evening, I suppose.

What a fucked up way to plan a vacation. I fucking leave for the airport in 39 hours, and I get to sleep for 3 hours, then I'm at work for about 14-16 hours, then likely some sleep, then lunch, then pack. Ha!
 

Interrobang

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[...]
5/27-5/31: Stay in Amsterdam
[...]
Still don't have a clear picture of the things we'll do in each place yet...that's for tomorrow evening, I suppose.
Visit Amsterdam Noord. It's the hip, modern part of town.
https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2016/apr/12/amsterdam-noord-adam-toren-bars-restaurants-clubs
including the old Ndsm wharff https://www.whatsupwithamsterdam.com/ndsm/
Apart from the usual, a lot of tourists seem to love the ice bar http://www.xtracold.com , but that's not my cup of tea.
Then the usual touristy stuff, boat-trip through the Canals, Rijksmuseum (I hope I wrote that right), Anne Frank House ...

Culinary:
If you like meat, I would recommend this to you: http://venusenadonis.nl/?lang=en
Basque style pinchos: http://laoliva.nl (Egelantiersstraat 122-124)
I would also recommend visiting a Pannenkoekenhuis (Pancake house) of your choice (I haven't had any in Amsterdam, don't know which are good there but I can generally recommend it - bacon, syrup and apple are toppings for the win).
And obviously you need to get a croquette or bitterballen at one of these http://destination-voyage.campanile.com/en/local-secrets/discover-amsterdam-s-food-vending-machines-135lvh60

https://www.whatsupwithamsterdam.com/5-things-may/
 
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