Europe Travel Planning

Finally sitting down to make concrete plans for our European train adventure in Jan-Feb 2011. Got the plane tickets. Got the Eurail Pass. Now what? Time to start digging for hotels and matching locations with train schedules. I’m an organized person, but the dark side is that I get so obsessed with efficiency that I flummox myself.

Anyway, I made hotel reservations for the first 6 nights (out of 33): Madrid, Bilbao and Barcelona — all in Spain.

Got frustrated trying to use the inoperable reservation service for small boutique hotels and fell back on my old faithful Those reservations get forwarded into I have a bunch of iPhone apps that supposedly keep track of these — I guess you could say I’m auditioning them to see what’s most foolproof and hassle-free.

Since we’re potentially going to 9 countries and don’t want to fill our suitcases with guide books, maps, and foreign language phrasebooks, I’m obsessing about what I can do online and download into my iPad (the computer I’ll be taking with me) or print out in neat little packets. Lonely Planet has sweet city-map and phrasebook apps for the iPhone — but oooh I do love the secure feeling of paper.

I’m growling to learn that in addition to buying the expensive Global Eurail Pass, we have to pay again to make a reservation. What a scam. But you can’t make train reservations more than 3 months in advance, so I have to wait a week or so to start that process. And I don’t want my hotel reservations too far ahead of my train reservations, so I stalled out.

But am I going to nail down everything in advance? Tempting. But I love the idea of flexibility and “freedom” (even if delusional).

Meanwhile I went to Google Maps and found the hotels and train stations for the first 3 cities (above).

Part of me loves an adventure; part of me says we’re crazy.

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9 Responses to Europe Travel Planning

  1. Sweet! If you’re going to Rome, go to the Forum. When I was there, I knew I could find my way around blindfolded, since I had learned about it in class. And Pompeii!!!! Go there. I didn’t get the chance and I missed it terribly. I hope to go back someday.

    As for France, the Louvre is amazing, and so is Versailles. Nice is pretty, too, though I went in the summer when all the flowers were blooming. I had some great pasta there, too.

    England was pretty cool; I got to see Stonehenge and the Roman baths at Bath.

    I have a few pictures from my trip on Facebook. Have a look:


    And here’s an awesome picture of the Arno River in Florence:

  2. Thanks for sharing your faves, Tracy. Your photos are really dramatic. Since we did Rome, Florence & Venice a few years back we might just skim through the north. I’ve never been to Eastern Europe so we’re going to try to take that it. It’s a little crazy to do this in Jan-Feb, but… when did that ever stop me? 😀

  3. Is Greece on the list? Don’t get me started. Athens, of course, then Olympia, Delphi, etc. As for the islands (if you don’t mind a boat ride), Santorini is an absolute must for Akrotiri, the Minoan city that was buried in a massive eruption ca. 1400 BCE. Delos is neat too, because of the huge temple to Apollo there. Those are the places I’d go, at any rate. 🙂

    Jan-Feb will probably be good for avoiding other tourists. Have fun!

  4. David Tilley says:

    Lisa and I are thinking Spain in 2012

  5. @Dave, I loved Spain when I visited in 1969. (I think Franco was still in charge!) @Tracy, we are probably fools not to head for Greece but traipsing among the ruins felt like a different kind of trip. This one is trains and (mostly) Modern Art.

  6. Then in Paris, head for the Musée d’Orsay. They’ve got good modern art–and a nice clocktower as you can see in my album. I think it used to be a train station.

  7. @Trace, Paris for sure. We were there about 12 yrs ago & I’ve been looking forward to a return ever since. You are so fortunate to be so well-traveled already!

  8. I thank my parents, too, for spoiling me rotten. 🙂
    And what about London? It’s doable by train because of the Chunnel. The British Museum would be awesome for a look at the Elgin Marbles-the actual pieces from the Parthenon. I’m sure there’s modern art there too. 😉 I also know of a place in England called the Tate Gallery that’s all modern art. There’s a painting there of the Who; you might know it because it’s the basis of the cover of the Face Dances album. I have a poster of it that came with the album on my wall.

  9. @Tracy, one of the lamest tales of myself is going to the BM on my own (1981) and not being able to find the Elgin Marbles & of course not asking). BUT I’ve done a TON of research on the dilemma of repatriation of cultural artifacts… partly for novel-writing, partly because I live in a house stuff with cultural artifacts. :/

    My tentative trip itinerary: Madrid, Bilbao, Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Ljubljana, Venice (I think… Venice is SO mysterious and improbable in winter), maybe Italian Riviera, Nice, back to Barcelona and Madrid.

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