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Old 10th June 2016, 17:55   #301
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Originally Posted by Eddy View Post
And it's status quo till now. Maybe it is the holiday rush...
Sounds too long. You can try calling VFS and see if they have any update.

I've done business/family visa about 5-6 times personally for Italy. Responses have all beeen lightning fast. If there was delay, they had either asked for additional doumentation or asked for personal appearance. I've seen the dates on the consulate letters and they've all been X+1 or X+2 days since last document submission.

The delay has been on VFS or agent side always.

If your mobile number is on file, you should either get a call from VFS or consulate (if they are looking for additional information).
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Old 17th December 2016, 13:38   #302
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Default Help needed on Europe Vacation

Hi friends,

I am planning an European Holiday in May-June 2017 for me, wife and 13 year old son for about 10 days. I wish to cover London, Scotland(heard it is beautiful - is it worth it?), Paris and Switzerland.

I have travelled on business in Europe but not on vacation. I need help in planning this out in terms of budget, options, places to visit etc from veterans in this group. My questions are:
1. Should I go with an operator such as Thomas Cook or try to do it myself ? While the convenience of an operator is welcome, I really do not want to be hustled along in my once-in-a-lifetime vacation. I dont mind the effort in planning if it means i get the independence and also cost-effectiveness.
2. I was thinking of
- 3 days in London+Scotland - 1 day for London sightseeing and 1 day for shopping + 1 day for Scotland. Does this make sense? Is Scotland a good option? If yes where should I target - Edinburgh or Glasgow or anywhere else?
- 2 days in Paris. Do we need 2 days for Paris? Both sightseeing? Any other suggestions?
- 3 days in Switzerland. Does this plan make sense? What places do you suggest in Switzerland? We definitely want to do any great train journeys in UK, Switzerland etc.
- Should we plan for any other places in Europe? Amsterdam ? my sono is a great fan of Robben and Van Persie. Any chances of meeting them in Amsterdam? :-)
3. What do you think will be the budget required if i did it on my own. I am looking to fly into London from Chennai, train to Scotland, Overnight Train to Paris from there(?), Train from Paris to Switzerland, Fly to London from there and then fly back. I will stay in budget hotels(any suggestions on this front?).
4. Can I hire a car and drive in Europe? Is it safe with right hand drive in India and left in most of Europe? Is it cheaper compared to train/flight? can i use my India driving license to do this? (any conditions/stipulations for this?) is it likely to be more scenic this way?
5. We are vegetarians - guess food should not be a problem wherever we go?
I am really keen on making this a success. I am looking at a 5-6 lakhs budget. Will this work? Please let me know. Thanks in advance.

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Old 17th December 2016, 15:16   #303
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Default Re: Help needed on Europe Vacation

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Originally Posted by HighwayBuddha View Post
Hi friends,

I am planning an European Holiday in May-June 2017 for me, wife and 13 year old son for about 10 days. I wish to cover London, Scotland(heard it is beautiful - is it worth it?), Paris and Switzerland.
Ten days is absolutely less for the amount and type of places you wish to cover.

Unless you want a touch-and-go kind of a plan; I would recommend covering only two/three places in this time. London and Paris along with Scotland at most.

Fitting Switzerland in will not give you any bang for your buck; it's like you came all the way here but didn't do justice to any place.

** Or **

You can do Paris and Switzerland. This way, only the Schengen visa takes care of everything.

With London in, you have to apply for the UK and Schengen visa.

I understand that time is a constraint when making such trips from India and from an economic perspective, you want to do everything; but it doesn't make a lot of sense. Of course, this is fairly individual.

Quote:
1. Should I go with an operator such as Thomas Cook or try to do it myself ? While the convenience of an operator is welcome, I really do not want to be hustled along in my once-in-a-lifetime vacation. I dont mind the effort in planning if it means i get the independence and also cost-effectiveness.
This is personal choice but I prefer planning my trips by myself; gives me a lot of freedom and flexibility in terms of the itinerary, how much time I want to spend at each place, changing plans based on experience etc.

The positive in going through a tour operator is that everything is taken care of and you should follow them.

Quote:
- 3 days in Switzerland. Does this plan make sense? What places do you suggest in Switzerland? We definitely want to do any great train journeys in UK, Switzerland etc.
Three days for Switzerland is too less; you can cover at most two cities if you rush.

There's:

a) Jungfrauhoch (the top most railway): you are within touching distance of the peak Jungfrau. This alone will take up one day
b) Interlaken: the base city for Jungfrau, straddled between two lakes; you have paragliding, boat cruises: 1 day
c) Zurich: local sightseeing, 1 day
d) Luzern: base for Mt Titlis and Mt Pilatus. Depending on what all you do, this will take 2 days

Quote:
I will stay in budget hotels(any suggestions on this front?)
Look up airbnb

Quote:
5. We are vegetarians - guess food should not be a problem wherever we go?
You'll not starve but apart from Indian restaurants, options will be extremely limited.

Last edited by libranof1987 : 17th December 2016 at 15:20.
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Old 17th December 2016, 15:19   #304
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Hi,
1. Planning your trip without one of the operators gives you independence and is cost effective as well (except in Switzerland)

2.
London is an ideal place to start your Europe tour.
Roam London for 1.5 days using public transport (one of the best in the world).
Hire a car in London and plan a road trip to Edinburgh. Visit nearby areas for 1 day and return to London. Your Indian license is valid in uk for 1 year. I suggest you check out Bhpian Uprasenjit's thread on uk road journeys.
-Take a Eurostar train from London to Paris (2.5 hours). You do need 2 days to cover Paris. Notre Dame, Louvre and St.Denis will take your full day (along with a lovely riverside dinner!).
Day2 in Paris- Take a cruise on river sienne to experience the romantic charm of Paris in the beautiful sunshine! Have a relaxed breakfast/ lunch and board a tgv train to Zurich (4 hours).
-For Switzerland, it is better to hire a tour guide to roam in and out of Zurich. Do visit Interlaken. Pls check out one more thread in team-bhp on travel to Switzerland (I am not able to find it). 2 days of Swiss tour is more than sufficient. You can reserve a day for a relaxing and rejuvenating.
-From Switzerland, I would recommend adding Italy (especially Rome). Beautiful weather, rich history and amazing food (even veg).
-Instead of returning to London, returning from Switzerland/Italy may turn out to be cheaper and you will save time in euro travel. Also, Amsterdam is not worth it when compared with other destinations in Europe.
3. Please check out goeuro.com for travel within europe to estimate the budget. For car hire in London, Enterprise is the best and value for money.
-There are lots of veg food options in London (EAT, PRETAMANGER, STARBUCKS, SUBWAY, etc) apart from Indian and other asian restaurants. In all other destinations, you may have to specify beforehand of you veg needs, as understanding of veg is different in Paris,Switzerland & Italy and may include Chicken 😀.
Wish you a happy euro trip!

PS: Very less chance of Van Persie being present in Amsterdam when you arrive. 😀
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Old 17th December 2016, 15:28   #305
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Default Re: Help needed on Europe Vacation

I think you are trying to stuff too many things in one trip Either do an Europe tour or UK-Scotland.

- We did Paris as a week trip and place around Lucerne alone was planned for 3 days. Eiffel Tower alone will take 1/2 day. Versailles takes a full day. Disney would run for 2-3 days.
- For Amsterdam, if you plan in early-mid May, you can plan a visit to Keukenhof (which is a full day trip itself).

All these were done using public transportation.

UK visitor visa costs 120 GBP/head, EU visitor visa I guess is another 90/100 EUR/head.

The time of plan looks good, it would be late spring and weather would be decent for most part.

What do you intend to see? Mountains? Beaches? Religious art? Architecture?

If you intend to explore around, driving would be the best option. Gives more opportunities to visit offbeat places. But if you are ok with famous attractions, it is doable with public transportation. But you'll lose a lot of time waiting for buses and transits.

Quote:
We are vegetarians - guess food should not be a problem wherever we go?
I am one. Have been able to find vegetarian/vegan food wherever I went. Needs some research and you have to be flexible with cuisines. Paris was the best of the lot (we even got kothu parota )
--
One thing for sure. Hell no for tour operators! I've done all the trips by myself. It needs time and effort to research. In the end it is worth the effort. It works out cheaper doing it yourself and you decide the place of stay, mode of transport et.al otherwise you are the mercy of the tour operator.
--
Quote:
Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
You'll not starve but apart from Indian restaurants, options will be extremely limited.
This is not true. This is my 5th year in Emilia-Romagna region which famous for its meat food. I managed to find good vegetarian (not pure vegetarian restaurants) and vegan food around. Tex-Mex restaurant, Persian food, Kebab joints serving falafel sandwiches, half a dozen pizza options are few I can think top of my head. These I am talking about in places little of tourist circuit. In tourist places you'll get vegetarian options even in a McD at the very least.

I am one who makes it a point, NOT to goto Indian restaurants on trips.

Last edited by narayans80 : 17th December 2016 at 15:49.
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Old 17th December 2016, 15:39   #306
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Default Re: Help needed on Europe Vacation

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Old 17th December 2016, 17:19   #307
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Default Re: Help needed on Europe Vacation

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Originally Posted by HighwayBuddha View Post
1. Should I go with an operator such as Thomas Cook or try to do it myself ?
I always prefer planning on my own. That gives you a lot of flexibility and you can pick and choose your own itinerary. You can also select the no-so-touristy places, which are just mind blowing in Europe (especially Switzerland)

Quote:
Originally Posted by HighwayBuddha View Post
2. I was thinking of
- 3 days in London+Scotland - 1 day for London sightseeing and 1 day for shopping + 1 day for Scotland. Does this make sense? Is Scotland a good option? If yes where should I target - Edinburgh or Glasgow or anywhere else?
- 2 days in Paris. Do we need 2 days for Paris? Both sightseeing? Any other suggestions?
- 3 days in Switzerland. Does this plan make sense? What places do you suggest in Switzerland? We definitely want to do any great train journeys in UK, Switzerland etc.
- Should we plan for any other places in Europe? Amsterdam ? my sono is a great fan of Robben and Van Persie. Any chances of meeting them in Amsterdam?
10 days will be quite tight for all the places you have in mind. If you can make this two weeks then that will give you about 16 days. Fly out on Friday night from Chennai and fly back Saturday morning from Europe, two weeks later. That should help you cover the places you have in mind and you will do justice to the places as well. I would say 2 days for London, 3 to 4 days for Scotland (Don't give yourself less time to Scotland. It's amazingly beautiful), 3 days for Paris (1 day in Disneyland, if you prefer) else 2 days is fine and the rest in Switzerland.

While in Swiss, you should cover
- Mt. Titlus (It's touristy, but its fantastic. And you get 365 days snow and multiple snow activities) - Watch out for the Vada Pav stall at the base and the signs in Hindi & Gujarati (So that should tell you how many Indian's go there). But seriously, I generally avoid too touristy places, but will recommend this anyday.
- Interlaken & adjoining areas. You have so many options, you will be spoilt for choice. Jungfrau is a touristy option, which is good but I would suggest lesser known peaks and valleys. Try Tremmelbach falls. A water falls inside the mountain. You will actually walk inside the mountain and watch the falls as it traverses through the mountain. You won't get something like that here. Or try Oeschinensee, a mountain lake. You take a cable car to the top to see one of the most beautiful lakes. You can hire row boats (row yourself) and enjoy the lake. Many such lesser known places around Interlaken. You can keep Interlaken as the base go around to see places of your choice.
- Nothing much to see in Zurich, avoid it. There are better and more beautiful cities in Switzerland
- Rhine falls: Switzerland's mini-Niagara. NOt as grand or big, but they do have the boat ride that take your right upto the falls
- Geneva: Nice city. You can go for the UN buildings tour
- Oh man, There are so many places, I could go on and on. Do some serious research on Switzerland to see what your options are. While you are there, try some adventure sports too. In fact Interlaken is a great place for this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HighwayBuddha View Post
3. What do you think will be the budget required if i did it on my own. I am looking to fly into London from Chennai, train to Scotland, Overnight Train to Paris from there(?), Train from Paris to Switzerland, Fly to London from there and then fly back. I will stay in budget hotels(any suggestions on this front?).
Flights to popular destinations like London and Paris are generally cheaper. But see what fare you get for Chennai to Glasgow / Edinburgh and then Zurich to Chennai. That will avoid unnecessary return journey to London or Paris.

I would suggest Chennai to Glasgow / Edinburgh. Rent a car in Scotland. You should spend a day in Edinburgh. It's a beautiful city. The Edinburgh castle is one of the better castles I have seen in the UK. You can then drive up to Fort Williams. If you do go to Fort Williams, then you must drive down the Fort Williams to Mallaig route. It is one of the most charming drives. Scotland is amazingly beautiful. You will have multiple lakes all across your drive.

Come back to your car rental city, return the car and take the train to London. Spend a couple of days in London. Since you have a short time here, take the hop on hop off bus for a day. This will take you to all the touristy places and you can cover all that you like. Otherwise the London public transport is super easy and the best way to travel in London.

Take the train to Paris. Again in Paris, I suggest you take the hop on hop off for a day. Cover all the places and you can choose to go into those which you like.

From Paris you have the TGV trains to Switzerland. Trains is the best way to travel in Europe. You can prebook all your travels from Chennai.

While in Switzerland, you must have the Swiss pass. You can buy it in India and it will be delivered by courier to your home. Also, if you buy in India, then you are likely to get some good discounts. And you pay in Rupees. Here's the website: Swiss Tours. You can also book the

Swiss pass will cover every form of transport while in Switzerland - City buses, inter city buses, trains, trams, cable cars and boats. You will need to pay only for the mountain trains and the specific train tours. With the Swiss pass you will get about 50% discount on most mountain trains & cable cars. Always ask what discount you will get with the swiss pass.

MOST IMPORTANT: When you order your Swiss passes, you must also order the Swiss family card. There is no extra charge for this. Children below 16 years travel free on all Swiss transport when accompanies by atleast one adult with a Swiss family card. So technically only you and your wife pay for travel in Switzerland. You child goes free. Of course, you will need to pay in some mountain railways.

Plan for Rhine falls the last as this is closer to Zurich. You can then take flights from Zurich to Chennai.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HighwayBuddha View Post
4. Can I hire a car and drive in Europe? Is it safe with right hand drive in India and left in most of Europe? Is it cheaper compared to train/flight? can i use my India driving license to do this? (any conditions/stipulations for this?) is it likely to be more scenic this way?
I would say hire a car in Scotland only. Never hire a car in London or Paris. The public transport in both the cities is just too good to be true. You must buy the London travel cards and the Paris travel cars. You can buy the one day or the two day cards. You can technically hire a car in Switzerland, but the Swiss public transport is mind blowing. And you get a super deal on the Swiss pass (Remember, your child travels free). I am not discouraging you from driving in Switzerland. It's a great country to explore by car. But if you have a planned itinerary then the swiss transport is the way to go. You will not only save a lot of money, but it is also beautiful, extremely comfortable and super reliable. In all my journeys, I have only once see a train be late by more than 2 minutes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HighwayBuddha View Post
5. We are vegetarians - guess food should not be a problem wherever we go?
No. Food won't be a problem in either of these places. Unless you are specific about Indian food. You will get Veg in almost all restaurants you go to. In fact for me, Europe is also about great food. In case you are particular about Indian food then you will get Indian restaurants in Glasgow, Edinburgh, London, Paris and almost all European cities. The only place you might have some issues with Indian restaurants is along the drive in Scotland. But note that sometimes the Indian restaurants are more expensive compared to local food. My wife is Veg and I haven't had any issues in travelling in Europe. My rule is, while in a country, try food from that country.

I would strongly suggest not to carry any food from here. One, you will unnecessarily add weight and two the Europeans have some pretty strict rules about passing food items through airports.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HighwayBuddha View Post
I am looking at a 5-6 lakhs budget. Will this work? Please let me know. Thanks in advance.
Absolutely. I seriously don't think you will need that kind of money for a 12-14 days tour. Your flight tickets should be about 1.5 lacs. The Swiss pass will be about 45000 for both for 8 days and about 30000 for 4 days (Look out for the 1 day free on the 4 days pass and the 2 days free on the 8 days pass).
Also budget for the Schengen and the UK visa. This should cost you about 15000 for the Swiss visa and about 24000 for the UK visa. These are the big ticket items. Other than this budget for travel cards in London & Paris. Entry to museums and tourist places. Mountain rails in Swiss. Car hire in Scotland.

I generally book myself hotels through booking.com. You have expedia, hotels.com and many more sights. When in Scotland I suggest you look up B&B (Bed & Breakfast) through local Scotish tourism websites. If you have a car here then you can choose some really remote places. You will not only get a good deal but you will get some amazing scenery. Avoid hotels in Scotland; B&B is always a better option.

All the best for your planning. I enjoy the planning as much as I enjoy the trip.
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Old 18th December 2016, 10:45   #308
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Seriously guys, is there a better community that this? Just in one day, most of my top questions have been answered. This gives me enough ammo to discuss with the family. I am sure there will be more questions that will crop up and I shall come back to take more help. But thanks guys. Love the spirit here.
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Old 18th December 2016, 14:15   #309
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Originally Posted by narayans80 View Post
This is not true. This is my 5th year in Emilia-Romagna region which famous for its meat food. I managed to find good vegetarian (not pure vegetarian restaurants) and vegan food around. Tex-Mex restaurant, Persian food, Kebab joints serving falafel sandwiches, half a dozen pizza options are few I can think top of my head. These I am talking about in places little of tourist circuit. In tourist places you'll get vegetarian options even in a McD at the very least.
But, all the places you've mentioned: falafels, sandwiches, pizza, McD: I don't know about others but it is definitely not what I'd like to have for a meal for 10 days!

Another thing: if you stay at an airbnb, most have an in-house kitchen that you make use of.

Quote:
I am one who makes it a point, NOT to goto Indian restaurants on trips.
+1 to that.

If Indian food, I eat at home. If I eat outside, I try different cuisines.

Last edited by libranof1987 : 18th December 2016 at 14:16.
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Old 18th December 2016, 15:06   #310
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Paris is way toooooo big. Do plan to spend enough days to visit and engulf the experience of visiting paris. Last year I've been to Paris, Rome, Naples, Alberobello, Venice, Firenzi. This I've done on my own without the assistance of any package and I really felt happy that I took the decision on visiting all these on my own.

If you plan to go by yourself like me, I could help you with the stay option at paris. I stayed at a Bed-n-Breakfast "THE LOFT HOSTEL PARIS". Its really super and very near to the Belleville station from where you can easily travel to various sightseeing places. The best Croissant of Paris is served in this hostel. Even the croissant at the airport was not that soft and tasty than compared to the one that was served in this hostel.

Try visiting Louvre at the earliest morning hour as the queue for tickets becomes a huge serpentine later on.

Another small cent from me. The day when I was in Firenzi, I got to know that there will be a Ferrari's meeting at Piazzale Michelangelo. And even there was a Gelato festival to be organised the next day. Unfortunately I couldnt attend it as my itinerary was to leave the same day to rome. I felt that really unhappy as I could not get to know about it earlier to attend ferrari's get-together and gelato fest.

Hope my experience might get to some help in your itinerary. Also do try checking out the events calender that are scheduled to take place in the cities where you are planning to visit and then book your flights accordingly. Ryan air is mostly used and very economic flight in Europe.

Will be waiting to know your finalized itinerary. Take care.
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Old 18th December 2016, 16:39   #311
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Default Travelling to Europe. Need Feedback.

A few thoughts/suggestions. As some already mentioned you seem to want to see and do a lot in a short space of time. That's fine, but some of the places on your list you might want to consider for a bit longer. My wife and me did London this summer and we stayed for about ten days and we still haven't seen and done everything we wanted to do.

Don't bother with a car in any major European town as public transportation is excellent. Try to buy as much as you can all entry tickets to muses and such online in advance. It's often cheaper and avoids having to cue in line st the venue.

For all my travel I look at different option on the internet. Expedia and TripAdvisor are very useful.

I always check the respective own website of the venue / carrier / hotel as well. Sometimes you get better deals directly and sometimes via the likes such as Expedia.

Make sure you have credit cards with PIN on you. MasterCard is by far the most widely accepted in most European countries I find. Amex can be a problem in certain shops. In the Netherlands credit cards are not as widely accepted as in other Western European countries.

One of the things we usually do when we visit a new town/place is to go on some general tour, preferably on a bus or so. It's a bit touristy but we find it often is enjoyable and more importantly it often gives us ideas where to go to afterwards for more exploration and where not to.

During the summer times most European airport get very very busy and you might have to check in three hours in advance. So it's worth exploring to try and use more regional airfields. Again sites like Cheapflights.com will offer you good overview of the various options, but not always the best price, always double check with the respective carrier as well.

So my next trip to London is from Rotterdam to London city. Rather then from Amsterdam to Heathrow or Gatwick. If I show up 30 minutes prior to departure I will still get on easily!

Enjoy your trip

Jeroen

Last edited by Jeroen : 18th December 2016 at 16:42.
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Old 28th December 2016, 22:55   #312
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

Friends,

I am drawing up a plan based on inputs provided by our colleagues. However, one question that struck me(upon browsing Switzerland Tourism sites) is whether May II half is the right time to vacation in the UK, Scotland, Paris and Switzerland? I hear much of Suisse will be off-season and in closed-down mode that time of the year? Can you please help me here? I am trying to align with my kid's school hols. 2 weeks in, say, Dec may be difficult without having to take a few days off school which I want to avoid. Thanks
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Old 28th December 2016, 23:28   #313
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Originally Posted by HighwayBuddha View Post
I hear much of Suisse will be off-season and in closed-down mode that time of the year?
Can you quote the source? While some attractions do close for part of off season. We visited Mt. Rigi in March and it was closing for the season from the day we visited. This was 2nd week of March. However this is not true across the board. You have to check on individual websites of attractions you want to visit and plan.
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Old 29th December 2016, 12:34   #314
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This site here:
http://www.myswissalps.com/besttimetovisit
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Old 29th December 2016, 23:02   #315
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need Feedback.

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Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
A few thoughts/suggestions. As some already mentioned you seem to want to see and do a lot in a short space of time. That's fine, but some of the places on your list you might want to consider for a bit longer. My wife and me did London this summer and we stayed for about ten days and we still haven't seen and done everything we wanted to do.

Don't bother with a car in any major European town as public transportation is excellent. Try to buy as much as you can all entry tickets to muses and such online in advance. It's often cheaper and avoids having to cue in line st the venue.

For all my travel I look at different option on the internet. Expedia and TripAdvisor are very useful.

I always check the respective own website of the venue / carrier / hotel as well. Sometimes you get better deals directly and sometimes via the likes such as Expedia.

Make sure you have credit cards with PIN on you. MasterCard is by far the most widely accepted in most European countries I find. Amex can be a problem in certain shops. In the Netherlands credit cards are not as widely accepted as in other Western European countries.

One of the things we usually do when we visit a new town/place is to go on some general tour, preferably on a bus or so. It's a bit touristy but we find it often is enjoyable and more importantly it often gives us ideas where to go to afterwards for more exploration and where not to.

During the summer times most European airport get very very busy and you might have to check in three hours in advance. So it's worth exploring to try and use more regional airfields. Again sites like Cheapflights.com will offer you good overview of the various options, but not always the best price, always double check with the respective carrier as well.

So my next trip to London is from Rotterdam to London city. Rather then from Amsterdam to Heathrow or Gatwick. If I show up 30 minutes prior to departure I will still get on easily!

Enjoy your trip

Jeroen
Thanks Jeroen. Now I will be lugging along all my luggage throughout my trip. Will the baggage policy of, say, Ryan Air match up what BA or Emitares will offer internationally? Can I carry 30 kgs + hand luggage for each traveller? Thanks
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