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Old 27th May 2015, 14:37   #31
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Default Re: 2 week holiday - Where on this planet?

Europe is finalized after my wife had a chance to go through pics of Prague, Salzburg, Vienna, Venice etc.

Now let me try to put together an itinerary. I'm assuming 2 complete days would simply be lost in transit, to and from Delhi.

So I'm left with 14 out of the 16 days (starting Saturday till Sunday of next to next week).

Now what are some of the scenic places (views + drive) that I MUST visit. I'd want to visit Prague, Vienna and Salzburg for sure.

And how about I try to utilize the nights by sleeping in the train. I mean instead of relaxing in a hotel, why can't I take an overnight train and be in the next city which would've eaten up the whole day if I'd have chosen to drive.

So can I plan to be in one corner of Europe during the initial and last days of the trip and do the driving bit in between. That way overnight trains can help me visit far off places also, possible?
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Old 27th May 2015, 15:49   #32
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Default Re: 2 week holiday - Where on this planet?

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Now what are some of the scenic places (views + drive) that I MUST visit. I'd want to visit Prague, Vienna and Salzburg for sure.
MUST is subjective, but here are some suggestions around the area you are looking at...

- Lake District around Salzburg - small villages dotted along lakes. If possible stay there for 2-3 days. Ideal countryside for cycling
- Black Forest in Germany (my guess is Zurich would be closest airport)
- The legendary Stelvio pass in Italy is not too far, but that will be a day's detour if you decide.

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So can I plan to be in one corner of Europe during the initial and last days of the trip and do the driving bit in between. That way overnight trains can help me visit far off places also, possible?
If you are thinking travel between these 3 cities, they are not too far from each other. Train from Salzburg to Vienna is less than 3 hours, Vienna to Prague may be a little more than 3 hours. So overnight train is not really a meaningful option.

If you are thinking another corner of Europe, consider the option of flying, which is often cheaper than train travel across countries.

Totally random other suggestions that you can consider, which are not within the circuit you mentioned:
- either Interlaken or Chamonix-Mont Blanc - high Alps, snow, etc.
- south of France. Two spectacular drives - Menton to Nice on the Grande Corniche and the coastal road from Cannes to St. Tropez (even if you get stuck in traffic, you will have various fancy convertibles and sports cars for company).
- Tuscany - wine, olives, food, culture (Pisa, Florence).
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Old 27th May 2015, 15:58   #33
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Default Re: 2 week holiday - Where on this planet?

Do Vienna. Forget Salzburg(Unless you are into Mozart or something).
I would suggest do one Eastern European city.

For driving, Southern alps and Bernese oberland region is simply amazing. Do look at their regional pass as lots of attractions in Switzerland require cable cars which can be expensive. Other option is Alps area of Austria(Dolomites too!).

Its the hidden gem.
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Old 27th May 2015, 16:07   #34
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Default Re: 2 week holiday - Where on this planet?

Driving from East coast to west coast in the US will be boring and never ending plight. Remember that US is not a fun-to-drive destination in majority of the places.

However, here is what I did last year which I think was a reasonable plan.
Our port of entry was NY, 2 days there and drove a Ford Fusion from NY to DC. 1 day in DC and took a flight to buffalo to see niagra.

From Buffalo we fled to SFO. This is where the driving fun is. We drove from SFO all the way down to Las Vegas(page) covering LA, Grand Canyon, Santa Barbara, Monterey, Hearst Castle. The driving along the coast is extremely amazing and lot of picture opportunity. E.g. The image on Honda Pricelist homepage is taken at Big Creek.

https://www.hondacarindia.com/ownahonda/pricelist.aspx

But if driving is not the primary thing then I would recommend go to Italy. Trek at the 5 cities of Cinque Terre, see Tuscany which is awesomely beautiful, Rome has its own charm etc.

Last edited by Speed Pujari : 27th May 2015 at 16:08.
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Old 27th May 2015, 17:23   #35
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Default Re: 2 week holiday - Where on this planet?

If you love wildlife the best place to visit on planet earth in July-August is Kenya. Its the peak time of Masai-Mara migration, counted amongst wonders of the world. You can have a fascinating wildlife safari in the Mara plains, see the lions, cheetahs and leopards hunting, stay in the luxury tented camps in the middle of African savana forests, see the great migration, visit coral reefs in Malindi, watch few tribal art forms and so on and on.

The trip cost would be within budget for you
A flight ticket from Mumbai to Kenya is roughly USD 600 per person
Safari can be done with fair pricing as well - you need to get quotes from few safari-providers. Do not opt for flight option (flying from Nairobi to the Parks and back)

It should fit within your budget. But beware wildlife safaris are a matter of luck too. After having spent 5 days or so in a park, you may not see live action like hunting etc. But you are guarateed to see few lions and Cheetahs and probably close to a million other wild animals such as zebras, antelopes and wild-beasts.

I have gone to more than a dozen wildlife safaris and came back so fresh and feeling great.
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Old 28th May 2015, 13:32   #36
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Default Re: 2 week holiday - Where on this planet?

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MUST is subjective, but here are some suggestions around the area you are looking at...
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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
Do Vienna. Forget Salzburg(Unless you are into Mozart or something).
I would suggest do one Eastern European city.
Would Amsterdam and Barcelona be worth a visit by flight or overnight train?

So far I could only finalize Prague and Vienna - 3-4 days. Do I spend 3-4 days in Italy, then go to Switzerland and spend another 3-4 days there? Is there room to maybe squeeze in another country/city somehow?

And what all cities do I fit in my schedule from Italy and Switzerland. Venice, Tuscany/Florence, Pisa (quick detour) and then to Milan. I mean I could do a quick stopover to Rome also, click a pic and stamp it with 'I went to Rome also' I have no clue about Switzerland, only reference I have of it is from DDLJ, Zurich

See the dilemma is that I don't want an overdose of anything, so trying to keep a balance between beautiful architecture, mountain views, mountain drives, maybe some adventure sports. Yet, I'd want to cover as much as I can, I mean I don't know when I'd have this kind of time again. In total I'd have 16 days.

As for the driving bug, I can keep it to 5-6 days also if trains/flight make my itinerary more interesting.

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Originally Posted by Speed Pujari View Post
Driving from East coast to west coast in the US will be boring and never ending plight. Remember that US is not a fun-to-drive destination in majority of the places.
Thanks for your input.
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Originally Posted by Renjith_Mani View Post
If you love wildlife the best place to visit on planet earth in July-August is Kenya. Its the peak time of Masai-Mara migration, counted amongst wonders of the world.
Not sure about safaris right now, maybe sometime later, thanks.
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Old 28th May 2015, 13:36   #37
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Default Re: 2 week holiday - Where on this planet?

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Would Amsterdam and Barcelona be worth a visit by flight or overnight train?.
Never been to those.
That said, do not try to squeeze in too much. If you are the squeezer type take a package tour.
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Old 28th May 2015, 15:38   #38
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Default Re: 2 week holiday - Where on this planet?

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Would Amsterdam and Barcelona be worth a visit by flight or overnight train?

So far I could only finalize Prague and Vienna - 3-4 days. Do I spend 3-4 days in Italy, then go to Switzerland and spend another 3-4 days there? Is there room to maybe squeeze in another country/city somehow?

And what all cities do I fit in my schedule from Italy and Switzerland. Venice, Tuscany/Florence, Pisa (quick detour) and then to Milan. I mean I could do a quick stopover to Rome also, click a pic and stamp it with 'I went to Rome also' I have no clue about Switzerland, only reference I have of it is from DDLJ, Zurich

See the dilemma is that I don't want an overdose of anything, so trying to keep a balance between beautiful architecture, mountain views, mountain drives, maybe some adventure sports. Yet, I'd want to cover as much as I can, I mean I don't know when I'd have this kind of time again. In total I'd have 16 days.

As for the driving bug, I can keep it to 5-6 days also if trains/flight make my itinerary more interesting.
fine69, this may be your first overseas holiday, but (by trying to pack too many city stamps), you are in danger of treating it like it may be your last visit. That would be a mistake in my book as big cities like Rome, Paris or even Barcelona need time to grow on you. 1 or 2 days will leave you frustrated and breathless.

Here's my advice:
- start off in Zurich if possible. Drive to Interlaken/Thun in the Bernese Oberland. Spend 3 days in the region. Rent cycles and go around, go up Jungfrau, find time for a boat ride in one of the lakes (maybe Thun), visit the stalactite caves, drive around the region and enjoy the views.
- drive from there to the Black Forest region in Germany. If possible, detour for a stopover through Schaffhausen either while going or at return.
The above will make a good 5-6 days driving tour starting at Zurich and back to Zurich.

From there, head off for your second leg by train (or flight) to Vienna and then to Prague. Spend at least 2 days in each city.

On to the third leg- take a flight from Prague to one of the cities that catches your fancy - Rome or Barcelona or Venice. Spend 3 days there before heading back to India. I do not think you can fit much more into your trip.

Key question - will all of this work out within your budget? Travel by train and flight within Europe is not always cheap. And cities like Venice are very pricey (and more so in the summer) as compared to the countryside/ smaller towns. You will have to explore and see.
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Old 28th May 2015, 16:14   #39
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Default Re: 2 week holiday - Where on this planet?

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fine69, this may be your first overseas holiday, but (by trying to pack too many city stamps), you are in danger of treating it like it may be your last visit. That would be a mistake in my book as big cities like Rome, Paris or even Barcelona need time to grow on you. 1 or 2 days will leave you frustrated and breathless.
I agree, instead of getting a list of 'places I've been to' I'd rather "see" Europe for what it is.

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Here's my advice:
- start off in Zurich if possible. Drive to Interlaken/Thun in the Bernese Oberland. Spend 3 days in the region. Rent cycles and go around, go up Jungfrau, find time for a boat ride in one of the lakes (maybe Thun), visit the stalactite caves, drive around the region and enjoy the views.
- drive from there to the Black Forest region in Germany. If possible, detour for a stopover through Schaffhausen either while going or at return.
The above will make a good 5-6 days driving tour starting at Zurich and back to Zurich.

From there, head off for your second leg by train (or flight) to Vienna and then to Prague. Spend at least 2 days in each city.

On to the third leg- take a flight from Prague to one of the cities that catches your fancy - Rome or Barcelona or Venice. Spend 3 days there before heading back to India. I do not think you can fit much more into your trip.
Now you're talking. See, all I needed was a somewhat broad itinerary to begin with. This plan of yours looks absolutely apt for me, I mean it has Switzerland, Germany, Vienna, Prague and one more city for me to decide.

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Key question - will all of this work out within your budget? Travel by train and flight within Europe is not always cheap. And cities like Venice are very pricey (and more so in the summer) as compared to the countryside/ smaller towns. You will have to explore and see.
Currently flight from Zurich to Vienna and Vienna to Barcelona comes about 26-30k for two of us so it looks doable. I can check trains also in case flight timings wouldn't suit us but it looks manageable for now. I hope Cleartrip shows prices all inclusive and nothing hidden when I start booking tickets.

I can finalize one exotic destination (if not Barcelona) in one of the corners for our last leg and by exotic I mean scenery-wise and not $$
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Old 29th May 2015, 17:11   #40
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Default Re: 2 week holiday - Where on this planet?

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Dates - 2 weeks in late July or early August
Travellers - Myself and wife
Budget - 3-4 lakhs INR (max budget of 4 lakhs should include everything like VISA or any other charges)
Objective - To make this our best & most memorable vacation so far!
Just back from a 30d vacation/trip to USA. PM me if you need more info. I suggest Orlando for you. Plenty of things to see and do.

Else LA-Sedona-Page-Moab-Torrey-Springdale-Las Vegas-LA is a great circle as well.
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Old 4th June 2015, 12:51   #41
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Default Re: 2 week holiday - Where on this planet?

I looked up famous and scenic places in Switzerland, tried to get a broad itinerary in place.

Does something like below look doable?

Switzerland (4-5 days)
- Zurich
- Mount Pilatus in the Lake Lucerne
- Matterhorn
- Jungfrau
- Jungfraujoch?
- Chapel Bridge
- Zytglogge (Bern)
- Rhine Falls (near Schaffausen)
- Grindelwald (ski resort town)

Germany (1-2 days)
- Black Forest
- Where else?

Austria (2 days)
- Vienna

Czech Republic (2 days)
- Prague

Another Country/City? (3 days)

Questions:

1. Does the list of places to cover look ok in Switzerland? I mean enough for 4-5 days or too much or too little.

2. What is this Black Forest? I figured there are various spots in Black Forest, where exactly am I supposed to go? Any other place enroute or near Switzerland that I should have a look at and make as an alternate to Black Forest, just in case wife doesn't like this place?

3. Can I plan the trip in any week of September or 2nd or 3rd week onwards only? I mean to avoid rush/high prices etc.?

4. How about airtickets? Visa? IDP? Hotels? Rental car booking? Do I want to book everything at the earliest or wait some more time? Like how soon before actual travel date should everything be in place?

5. What are some really fascinating places that I can shortlist from for my last leg?
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Old 4th June 2015, 15:43   #42
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Default Re: 2 week holiday - Where on this planet?

Most of your queries are being answered by the gurus here. I just wanted to add my two cents since I have just returned (still recovering from jet lag) from my first driving holiday abroad.

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....

3. Can I plan the trip in any week of September or 2nd or 3rd week onwards only? I mean to avoid rush/high prices etc.?
Booking earlier, be it any season - busy, lean, tourist always makes sense. Also, look at various BnBs and Apartments in the places you opt to travel / stay through. These are cheaper than hotels but a very value for money option.

For travelling on a lean budget abroad, all you really need is to refer to Tanveer's travelogues.

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....
4. How about airtickets? Visa? IDP? Hotels? Rental car booking? Do I want to book everything at the earliest or wait some more time? Like how soon before actual travel date should everything be in place?
1. Airtickets - Book as soon as possible. We booked flights by BA for my wife and infant daughter almost 6 months before the actual date of travel and got a sweet deal for Rs. 96,000/- all inclusive.

2. Visa - Again get the visa asap. However, I think there is a restriction as to how soon you can apply for a visa before the actual date of travel. Check the relevant VFS / Visa Site, but apply at the earliest. This won't save you money but will be one less thing to do in the run up to the vacation - when things really start to get busy.

3. IDP/IDL - Again - get one asap and I suggest getting one even if the country allows a regular Indian DL. This can only be applied once you get the visa as the RTO will ask for a copy of your Visa for issuing the IDL. In my case I neglected this till the last moment which led to several anxious moments.

4. Hotels - Already answered above.

5.Rental car booking - Again, do this asap. Start browsing various car rental sites (we did this on an everyday basis) and zero in on the car you want. In our case even though I and my wife were keeping tabs on the rental rates we delayed our booking of the car (mostly due to delay in getting IDL) and eventually had to pay about 3.3 GBP per day more than the lowest rental that was being offered when we first checked. And this escalation happened when we booked our car almost a 45 days before the actual date of car hire.

Last edited by PGNarain : 4th June 2015 at 15:49.
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Old 4th June 2015, 19:29   #43
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Default Re: 2 week holiday - Where on this planet?

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Switzerland (4-5 days)
- Zurich
- Mount Pilatus in the Lake Lucerne
- Matterhorn
- Jungfrau
- Jungfraujoch?
- Chapel Bridge
- Zytglogge (Bern)
- Rhine Falls (near Schaffausen)
- Grindelwald (ski resort town)

1. Does the list of places to cover look ok in Switzerland? I mean enough for 4-5 days or too much or too little.
You can skip Zurich, if you ask me personally. Jungfraujoch is where the Jungfrau railway stops, so that's one and the same. Grindelwald is at literally the base of the Jungfrau.

Matterhorn is a climber's peak. I would rather drop this and stick to Jungfrau.

Pilatus is a lower version of Jungfrau, but I guess you could do both if you wanted to. Lucerne (lake and the town) are good.

With this itinerary, you can spend 4-5 days easy. But please see the map and plan the travel and stay as you are picking a few different places.

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2. What is this Black Forest? I figured there are various spots in Black Forest, where exactly am I supposed to go? Any other place enroute or near Switzerland that I should have a look at and make as an alternate to Black Forest, just in case wife doesn't like this place?
I think your wife will love the place. One of things the place is famous for is spa treatments.


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3. Can I plan the trip in any week of September or 2nd or 3rd week onwards only? I mean to avoid rush/high prices etc.?
Any time in September, in fact earlier the better. As you start going into fall, the days start becoming shorter and mountain top views become foggy.

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5. What are some really fascinating places that I can shortlist from for my last leg?
Dude, you have an entire continent to choose from. Ask the boss lady what will make her happy and go with it.
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Old 5th June 2015, 11:01   #44
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Driving from East coast to west coast in the US will be boring and never ending plight. Remember that US is not a fun-to-drive destination in majority of the places.
Very well said. Fully agree with you. The never ending tarmac not only gets boring, but you feel like abandoning the drive half-way through and somehow reach your destination immediately. Scenic drives are different though. For those who feel east-west drive is fun, you have been warned.

Mods: This post may not add value to the topic under discussion. Please feel free to delete this, but I wanted to Thank this useful post. Lot of wisdom shared there, by user speed pujari.
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Old 5th June 2015, 12:35   #45
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Default Re: 2 week holiday - Where on this planet?

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Dates - 2 weeks in late July or early August
Travellers - Myself and wife
Budget - 3-4 lakhs INR (max budget of 4 lakhs should include everything like VISA or any other charges)
Objective - To make this our best & most memorable vacation so far!

Points to consider when suggesting -
  • My wife has never travelled abroad and I've only been to Poland (Warsaw) once.
  • I've driven extensively in India but never outside India.
  • I hold a valid Driver's License, wife doesn't know how to drive
  • My sister lives in PA so a trip to the USA (East Coast) is something that we're contemplating as it'd help cut down some of the lodging & food expenses
  • I really want to drive from East Coast to West Coast, cover the likes of Grand Canyon, Vegas and LA but not sure how the rental cars work out in the US. As per my sister rental cars and insurance for an outsider works out very expensive, she's not sure though.
  • How about a cross-country drive in Europe, doable in my budget?
  • What about outside Europe & US, what other options am I left with?
Thoughts?
Two weeks is too short a period for a Europe drive but what you could consider is a Paris-Switzerland-Italy trip.
Further please note, travel to European destinations are expensive. particularly drives. If you are ready to have a back-pack kind of trip surviving on fast food etc you may be able to save a lot of costs. But still 2 weeks in Europe with car hire, travel etc for a couple will certainly go beyond 4 lakhs.

There are travel packages offered by tour companies for two weeks within your budget but that wont be fun.

Another alternative is Spain, its time of Tomatino and the Pimplona bull race.

Lastly have you thought of doing an African Safari ?
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