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Going to Europe

Limp mooseLimp moose Registered User regular
edited January 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
So I am planning a trip to Europe for March. Currently the itinerary looks something like this.

Lisbon 09 MAR to 11 MAR.
Netherlands 11 MAR to 13 MAR.
Prague 13 MAR to 15 MAR.
Dublin 15 MAR to 18 MAR.

The 9th and 18th will be mostly travel time with almost no time for sight seeing. But what should I do with the rest of my time in each place.
In Portugal I have a friend who lives there. Same as the Netherlands and we will probably go down to Amsterdam for the two days. Prague I have never really thought of going to before but my friend I am traveling with says it is a must. As for Dublin well the 17th is ST Patrick's day so I figure we will be having a good time.

A few newbie Europe questions. I have a Softbank Japanese Iphone, is there anyway I can get this thing to work in Europe without paying hundreds of dollars for international use. Or is there a phone I can just pick up when i get there that is not super expensive?

What cultural things should I for sure see in those 4 cities?

Is there anything I should absolutely know about crossing a bunch of European borders other than bring my passport? I will be on military leave so I am not sure if I need visa's or not for these places. Tomorrow at work I will go through the Apacs and required state department forms to get them if I do. I am an American.

Is there any place in between these countries I should totally stop at as we travel?

Anything I might not have thought of?

This is a pretty open ended trip. I am willing to adjust most of the places and dates as long as I end up in Dublin on the 17th. Any suggestions?

Posts

  • Anarchy Rules!Anarchy Rules! Registered User regular
    You won't need any visas, and you probably won't even need to show your passport at the borders either (though you'll still need it to get into Europe).

    I'd say you're really cramming a lot into a very short length of time. How are you travelling between these cities, especially as Prague is a bit out of the way unless you're flying? Otherwise I'd recommend Lisbon-(Paris)-Amsterdam-Dublin, though in 10 days I'd limit yourself to 3 cities. I'd travel by train between cities, but flying between Amsterdam Schipol and Dublin.

    Amsterdam is a great city, and has things for all tastes. The Rejksmuseum is pretty great - check out Nightwatch by Rembrandt. I'd also recommend the Van Gogh Museum as well. It's fun to chill out in the coffee shops if that's up your street.

    In Dublin the main attraction I believe is the Guinness brewery. I'd probably book early for things (hostels/hotels/flights etc) if you're visiting around St Patricks

  • EdgieEdgie TampaRegistered User regular
    I've visited Amsterdam. Coffee shops probably don't need mentioning. That said, if you're into such things, make sure you visit more shops than just the Bulldog (which is the big touristy one if you didn't know). The Bulldog is great since it's right next to some sort of square/circle (forget the name), lots of people demoing different products or doing weird feats of dexterity.. Getting baked and watching some agile fellow bounce a soccer ball while climbing a light post was quite good times. :) Also, even if purchasing a hooker isn't your idea of a good time, go check out the red light district while you're there. It's pretty fascinating.

    I would also recommend renting a bicycle! It will get you anywhere you want to go while you're there. And the parks! We spent a lot of time just wandering about Vondelpark. You can pretty much just explore it and find all sorts of cool stuff, things to climb on, slides, various sculptures and flower gardens.

    If you're into drinking delicious beers, visit Brouwerij 't Ij. They have a brewery and bar set up at the base of a windmill. They do some sort of assorted cheese tray that was yummy.

  • AldoAldo Hippo Hooray the swamp, always the swampRegistered User regular
    You are going to be so very fucking tired. You'll spend most of your time travelling and packing/unpacking. I would seriously cut down the amount of places you want to visit, because you will become one of those stereotypical American tourists going "today is tuesday so we're in .... Amsterdam? Or is this Prague?"

    re: Amsterdam: most of our museums are closed for repairs, I believe Rijksmuseum has one wing open where you can watch some of the famous works. I can recommend a visit to the Scheepvaartsmuseum (Maritime Museum) which is practically next door to Central Station. It opened recently after being closed for years and they've got some great expositions going on about everything related to boats, ships, globes, whales and exploring. The Red Light District (de Wallen) is pretty impressive to foreigners, but please keep in mind it is also a hive of human trafficking, misogyny and abuse. Enjoy it for what it is, but don't go about spending money there. The city centre is amazing and a great place to just walk around and enjoy the sights and people.

    re: Prague: it's an amazing city with tons and tons of old buildings and an amazing city centre. If the weather is nice you'll have a great time just exploring the Old City. Keep in mind the Astronomical Clock is bullshit, don't bother waiting to watch it, because it's boring and mundane.

    I haven't visited Lisbon and Dublin yet.

    Elendil wrote: »
    said Aldo hazily, before clop-clop-clopping out of the room
  • LaemkralLaemkral Captain Punch King Registered User
    Dublin: Do not spend more than a day actually IN Dublin, get out and see other nearby areas. Guinness Brewery tour is fun, and it'll be the best tasting Guinness of your life, but the city doesn't have all too much to see after a single day. I recommend checking Wikitravel for things to do in the area (in fact, I recommend it for all the places you intend to go as it's entirely user-sourced info). If you are a big fan of porter beers, I recommend The Porterhouse Brewing Co. It's an independent brewery with one of the best porter beers I've ever tasted in my life. Better than Guinness, located in the Temple Bar area.

    I enjoyed going to Howth, which about 20 mins by train and dirt cheap, the bluffs there are absolutely beautiful and the sea air delicious (as is the seafood).
    You may need your passport, but you'll be fine. Just carry your ID and DA 31 with you in case, most passport control agents are familiar with locally stationed military traveling around on pass/leave. You don't need any visas.

    As stated, you haven't mentioned how you are getting from city to city. There are many ways of traveling, including by discount airways like RyanAir (if you book well in advance so it's worth the discount) and the train network.

    Avatar courtesy of MKR, and the strip I appeared in.
  • etherealmysteryetherealmystery Registered User
    Laemkral wrote:
    Dublin: Do not spend more than a day actually IN Dublin, get out and see other nearby areas. Guinness Brewery tour is fun, and it'll be the best tasting Guinness of your life, but the city doesn't have all too much to see after a single day. I recommend checking Wikitravel for things to do in the area (in fact, I recommend it for all the places you intend to go as it's entirely user-sourced info). If you are a big fan of porter beers, I recommend The Porterhouse Brewing Co. It's an independent brewery with one of the best porter beers I've ever tasted in my life. Better than Guinness, located in the Temple Bar area.

    As stated, you haven't mentioned how you are getting from city to city. There are many ways of traveling, including by discount airways like RyanAir (if you book well in advance so it's worth the discount) and the train network.

    Take Laemkral's advice. You really don't need to spend more than a day in Dublin. If you can time it right, try to be there the night of a Rugby game - the energy is sweet at the local pubs. Expect a lot of fried food, and local beer.

    Regarding Amsterdam: two to three days is good; you don't need more than that. Check out the Van Gogh Museum - it takes less than 2 hours - an hour at general audience pace. Check out Time Out's travel guides. They offer current "hip" recommendations, so to speak. I vouch for them when it comes to urban hubs. Check out their guides from your library or purchase online or from your local bookstore. You can also probably find good info through Yelp, Time Out online, etc. I don't know much about going through Portugal, but France and Spain are practically next-door and I know they're rich destinations - just don't travel in a cab. Use your feet! If you haven't been to Paris or Barcelona, you should check them out. Paris is at least three to four days for an intro, and Barcelona is maybe a three day. Get the guides for those because there are plenty of tourist attractions in the center but the local gems that you should visit, which are genuine, are highlighted in sources like Time Out. I don't know much about you but that's my first impression. Enjoy your time there!


  • LiiyaLiiya Registered User regular
    Regarding Amsterdam, I'd recommend Anne Frank's house. http://www.annefrank.org/ I found it was really interesting and could have spent longer in there.

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  • dojangodojango Registered User
    Vis a vis Prague; I was there Jeebus, 10 years ago. It was very inexpensive then, I don't know what it's like now, but you can entertain yourself a tier or two above what you could in Dublin or Amersterdam.

    How are you travelling from point to point? Train is handy, and you can stop off at places on the way, but they take forever.

    Cultural things:
    Amseterdam has the Van Gogh museum and the Rijksmuseum, Prague has its castle and Kafka museum. Beats me what's in Lisbon and Dublin, however.

  • etherealmysteryetherealmystery Registered User
    Liiya wrote:
    Regarding Amsterdam, I'd recommend Anne Frank's house. http://www.annefrank.org/ I found it was really interesting and could have spent longer in there.

    Yes, and order dutch pancakes from the place downstairs, but don't eat them all or your body will probably hit LDL overload. Order some coffee take-away (or wink) and you will also receive this divine Dutch almond cookie.

  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    Prague isn't as cheap as it used to be, the prices have gone up because of the flood of western european tourists brought in by budget airlines.

    It's not like, Dublin expensive, but it isn't noticeably cheaper than other EU cities. A lot of people still think it is, though.

  • GrobianGrobian What's on sale? Pliers!Registered User regular
    Limp moose wrote:
    So I am planning a trip to Europe for March. Currently the itinerary looks something like this.

    Lisbon 09 MAR to 11 MAR.
    Netherlands 11 MAR to 13 MAR.
    Prague 13 MAR to 15 MAR.
    Dublin 15 MAR to 18 MAR.

    A few newbie Europe questions. I have a Softbank Japanese Iphone, is there anyway I can get this thing to work in Europe without paying hundreds of dollars for international use. Or is there a phone I can just pick up when i get there that is not super expensive?

    I second Aldo, this seems really packed and you will spend half the time traveling. Going between these places will definitely take at least half a day each (if you are flying) so you come out with 6 days in 4 cities or realistically more like one day per city. Seems like a waste to me if you are flying in from another continent.


    RE: cellphone. You can buy cheap phones everywhere, they come with some prepaid time. Going to other countries with the same phone will be more expensive (although probably still cheaper than your own phone), but buying a new phone every two days also seems like a waste. What would you use the phone for? If you need a smartphone then getting a prepaid SIM-card might be a better option.

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  • BlindZenDriverBlindZenDriver Registered User regular
    I think touring 4 countries in such a short time is a big mistake!

    I say pick one, or two places at the most, and take the time to enjoy not just the highlights but also the local scenery. Europe is in many ways more diverse than the US so the countries should not be looked at as states but individual countries.

    Should I pick two places on your list I'd go with Lisbon and Prague but it's not like they are more interesting than Dublin and the Netherlands(Amsterdam?) it's all about the weather and time of year.

    Bones heal, glory is forever.
  • Limp mooseLimp moose Registered User regular
    Right on thanks for all the replies.

    So to answer a few points. I tend to agree with you about all the traveling. I am thinking cutting out Prague is starting to sound like a good idea. We have friends who are letting us stay at their places in Lisbon and Amsterdam so we don't want to be a bother and stay for more than a couple nights in each of those places as they have small children and we tend to be night owls / bar hoppers. But maybe hopping over to Ireland early and really touring there may be a better option. Of all the places on the list it is the one I want to visit most and by far the easiest to get around in since it will be in English.

    Currently we are planning on flying everywhere. And then using cabs/trains once we get boots on the ground in each city. I am not really worried about the money. With the exception of the cellphone as last time I went on holiday with a smart phone and just used it willy nilly I got smacked with a $500 Bill which was annoying.

    Keep the suggestions coming.

    To the person that lives in Amsterdam what is the weather like in the beginning of march?

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