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Old Mar 21, 2015, 03:59 PM   #1
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Hey guys,

So I'm backpacking in Europe by myself for a month. I have no specific itinerary other than going to Paris and Rome.

I was wondering if you guys could help me think about some places to visit. If you're European, or you have a favorite place you liked to visit, and you have free time of course, shoot me a pitch here as to what is great about that place!

I need suggestions. Lots of suggestions.
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Old Mar 21, 2015, 05:01 PM   #2
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Hey guys,

So I'm backpacking in Europe by myself for a month. I have no specific itinerary other than going to Paris and Rome.

I was wondering if you guys could help me think about some places to visit. If you're European, or you have a favorite place you liked to visit, and you have free time of course, shoot me a pitch here as to what is great about that place!

I need suggestions. Lots of suggestions.
Florence.
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Old Mar 21, 2015, 05:10 PM   #3
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Florence.

Why?
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Old Mar 21, 2015, 05:25 PM   #4
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Why?
It's just so incredible to see the birthplace of the Renaissance and even if you don't go inside any of the places, the town, architecture, and people are charming, to say the least.

I'm a little biased I suppose, because my family is Italian-American with Florentine roots, but it was just the bees knees to me.
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Old Mar 22, 2015, 05:05 PM   #5
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Agree completely with AustinIllini re Florence, and to that, would add any of the other ancient northern Italian cities such as Venice, Sienna, Padua, Urbino, and so on. You plan to see Rome, so I don't need to recommend that.

Germany is also incredible for history (Tubingen, Heidelberg, among countless others, while the former east Germany offers Leipzig). Berlin, of course, is well worth a visit.

If you want something northern, in the benelux region, Amsterdam, and the Belgian cities of Bruges and Ghent are all well worth a look).

Northern France offers other cathedral cities, (Rheims, Chartres), along with fascinating cities such as Bordeaux, while the south of France offers the Languedoc region, and fascinating places such as Carcassonne.
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Old Mar 22, 2015, 05:30 PM   #6
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Have you booked a flight yet? Unless they have some ancestral pull on your psyche I'd recommend skipping the UK and Ireland altogether. The major cities are expensive and, to be honest, rather uninspiring when compared to those of continental Europe. And I haven't even mentioned the weather.

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Northern France offers other cathedral cities, (Rheims, Chartres), along with fascinating cities such as Bordeaux
I don't think a Girondist would be happy with your geography!
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Old Mar 22, 2015, 05:59 PM   #7
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Have you booked a flight yet? Unless they have some ancestral pull on your psyche I'd recommend skipping the UK and Ireland altogether. The major cities are expensive and, to be honest, rather uninspiring when compared to those of continental Europe. And I haven't even mentioned the weather.


I don't think a Girondist would be happy with your geography!
Well, um, cough, yes, but I'm trying not to digress into a long, um, history lecture (which is my more usual default setting)……..I won't try to argue that it depends on how one divides up France…..(from a mental map perspective)..

Anyway, Bordeaux is on the west coast of the country, a bit down now that I come to think of it towards the southern section……..a very attractive spot.

Personally, I have always liked Strasbourg, also……

Have to agree (unfortunately) with your remarks on the UK and Ireland…..
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Old Mar 22, 2015, 06:44 PM   #8
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Personally, I have always liked Strasbourg, also……
Have never been – a little remiss of me considering I spent two years working in Mulhouse and Basel – but one episode of Neil MacGregor's 'Germany: Memories of a Nation' programme was devoted to the city. It sounds like a microcosmic version of all Northern European history since Charles Martel.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04jlygy

(UK only)
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Old Mar 23, 2015, 06:37 AM   #9
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Have never been – a little remiss of me considering I spent two years working in Mulhouse and Basel – but one episode of Neil MacGregor's 'Germany: Memories of a Nation' programme was devoted to the city. It sounds like a microcosmic version of all Northern European history since Charles Martel.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04jlygy

(UK only)
It is a quirky but extraordinarily atmospheric place; a little difficult to reach, unfortunately, but extremely interesting.

To the OP: Vienna is also stunning.

And the amazing Moorish cities of southern Spain (Cordoba, Seville and Granada) are well worth seeing, but I would not recommend visiting them in summer as the temperatures would be uncomfortably hot.
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Old Mar 23, 2015, 09:31 PM   #10
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Thanks for your suggestions
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Old Mar 24, 2015, 08:17 AM   #11
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Thanks for your suggestions
I think that if you gave some idea as to what you like to do, or are interested in, it might be a bit easier to offer suggestions.

Personally, I love walking the streets of old cities, and like cafés, museums, theatres, and love the feel of ancient asphalt beneath my feet.

Above all, I love ancient city centres, where past and present, commerce and politics, and exchanges of all sorts, tend to meet.

That will have an influence on the kind of place I will choose to visit.

Others prefer scenery, or the sea, or nature, which would lead to different recommendations.
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Old Mar 25, 2015, 08:41 AM   #12
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I think that if you gave some idea as to what you like to do, or are interested in, it might be a bit easier to offer suggestions.

Personally, I love walking the streets of old cities, and like cafés, museums, theatres, and love the feel of ancient asphalt beneath my feet.

Above all, I love ancient city centres, where past and present, commerce and politics, and exchanges of all sorts, tend to meet.

That will have an influence on the kind of place I will choose to visit.

Others prefer scenery, or the sea, or nature, which would lead to different recommendations.
I love new experiences. Some things I definitely want to do include visiting Delirium Bar in Brussels, seeing the museums and sights in Paris and Rome, and maybe visiting Normandy to see where the Allies landed.

I do enjoy museums, scenery, great local or regional cuisine (though I am a vegetarian) and history. It's hard to really know what I want to do, I'm going in without any real plans other than when I am flying in and out, and where I'm flying in and out of.

What do you think?
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Old Mar 25, 2015, 09:13 AM   #13
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I love new experiences. Some things I definitely want to do include visiting Delirium Bar in Brussels, seeing the museums and sights in Paris and Rome, and maybe visiting Normandy to see where the Allies landed.

I do enjoy museums, scenery, great local or regional cuisine (though I am a vegetarian) and history. It's hard to really know what I want to do, I'm going in without any real plans other than when I am flying in and out, and where I'm flying in and out of.

What do you think?
Okay.

France - a country with a tradition of glorious cuisine - just doesn't get vegetarians. They simply cannot conceive of how - or even why - people would want to or would willingly choose to forego the culinary delights offered by fish, fowl and the culinary challenges posed by offering other forms of meat to a guest. They will be regretful - and uncomprehending - at all of the delicious experiences you are willing to forego.

A word to the wise: cheese may be your saviour in France - both bread and cheese are outstanding.

Italy may be more forgiving food wise - there will always be pasta or rice (for example, risotto) variants that one can seek refuge in.

Paris is amazing for art galleries, museums, cafés, and even book shops.

You will find the public transport outstanding and reliable. Personally, I am a fan of the Low Countries for ease of transport, decent food, atmospheric history - Bruges, and Ghent are incredible places and getting around Belgium & the Netherlands (I recommend Amsterdam) by train is very easy.
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Old Yesterday, 03:21 AM   #14
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Prague. Gorgeous, not expensive, friendly people. I've walked and walked there. Last time, we rented a big room w/kitchen right in the center of the city for a weekend, for a reasonable price. My number one suggestion.

Salzburg is also beautiful, but I was touring with an orchestra and as a result not able to remember much about how much it cost (hotels were booked for me, eating expenses covered etc). I walked around in Mozart's apartment, touching door handles and looking out windows, thinking "Mozart touched these door knobs" and "Mozart saw more or less this same view when he looked out this window".

I thought Vienna was sterile, and the people not friendly. But I've only been there a couple times for short visits. If you're into classical music, though, try to go to a concert at Musikverein. Beautiful hall.

I don't remember one single person smiling in Switzerland. But that was in 1991, maybe they've cheered up since then!

Paris is of course amazing in so many ways, but a bit expensive. I had some wonderful meals there. After hearing for so many years that Parisians are arrogant when foreigners try to speak French, I was pleasantly surprised that my attempts at sentences here and there were always met with polite replies spoken in clear French slow enough even for me to understand. The nice lady in the drugstore even went so far as to smile and have a short conversation with me in slow French.

I've been told that Budapest is great, but haven't been there myself.

Oh - and Copenhagen is just great. Have been there many times (it's super close to where I am). It's pretty and friendly. Great atmosphere. Helsinki and Stockholm are wonderful as well, but farther away from central Europe, and more expensive. Sadly I can't recommend my own city, Oslo, and Norway, despite the fact that the nature is amazing. It's just too expensive :-(

Regardless of where you go, be safe and have a GREAT time!

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Old Yesterday, 12:04 PM   #15
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Thanks for all the replies.

I hadn't even thought of Prague. Any sites in particular you think I should see?

ScepticalScribe - What do you recommend doing in Bruges and Ghent?

I know of all the great sites to see in the more famous cities, but totally lost on what to see in Northern Europe in particular.

I can look at Trip Advisor, I suppose.
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Old Yesterday, 12:16 PM   #16
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Thanks for all the replies.

I hadn't even thought of Prague. Any sites in particular you think I should see?

ScepticalScribe - What do you recommend doing in Bruges and Ghent?

I know of all the great sites to see in the more famous cities, but totally lost on what to see in Northern Europe in particular.

I can look at Trip Advisor, I suppose.
A word about Prague.

Are you travelling alone or in company?

Over a decade ago, I spent a few months in Prague - I was researching stuff - and - while the city is beautiful, I have to say that the service was some of the worst I have ever encountered, while the people were indifferent and sometimes downright rude.

I write that with reluctance and as someone who is very widely travelled and exceptionally familiar with the culture, history and politics of the former communist world. While a lot less beautiful, I actually preferred Poland and much of the former Yugoslavia to Prague. Now, granted, some of the other Czech cities were charming while Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia was also very pleasant to visit.

In Bruges and Ghent, take the canal tours - they are very good, extremely interesting and will enable you to orient yourself very well. Bruges also boasts one of the very few world by Michelangelo found outside of the Italian peninsula.

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Old Yesterday, 01:46 PM   #17
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I'm traveling solo!
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