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Going to Europe... Somewhere

halkunhalkun Registered User regular
I live in the US and have some vacation coming up and want to spend some time elsewhere on the planet. I've gone to London three times now and have gotten a little.... Bored. In fact, my last time going I was really itching to come home the last week there. I still like Europe, but apprehensive about going somewhere else besides England/UK. In my youth I was all around Asia and did that whole thing. I'm thinking either Sweden, the Netherlands, or some 3rd place in central Europe maybe. The issue is I like the U.K. (and London in particular) because I really like the ability to strike up a conversation with someone. Also, I really the the Metropolitan aspect of London where I can grab a train or the tube and just go somewhere. I'm also all about science and technology and the museums there were the bomb!

Looking at other places such as Scotland or Ireland, it seems way too rustic and doesn't fit into the metro environment I enjoy. Sweden seems fun, but I'm a little uneasy about the language. (Though it's reported that 90% Swedish speak english in some capacity.) Amsterdam seems fun, but outside of the hurr-durr-durr-legal-pot-420-lololol what is there anything for a techy metro person?

I pretty much have a budget of 5 grand and three weeks and I'm up for some ideas.

Oh, and my vacation starts June 10th

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Posts

  • BasarBasar IstanbulRegistered User regular
    3 weeks is a long time for a single travel spot so you may want to travel within Europe but Berlin is the only place that seems to fit all your wants/needs: big metropolitan area, very well connected by rail, most Germans speak English, lots of foreigners as well.

    Central Europe is beautiful but they are not very chatty and the level of English is not as good as you'd find in Germany/Netherlands/Scandinavia.

    $5k is a good budget though, why not do multiple cities/countries at once? Fly to Brussels, Amsterdam or Berlin/Munich and take speedy trains anywhere you like?

    I did Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Munich, Zurich, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest in 15 days and it was a blast.

    i live in a country with a batshit crazy president and no, english is not my first language

    Julius
  • halkunhalkun Registered User regular
    I've aways stayed in a single hotel as my "home" while I travelled. I'm not even sure how international travel works by train....

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  • ShadowhopeShadowhope Baa. Registered User regular
    If I was seeing Europe for the first time and had three weeks and a large budget, I'd probably go London/Paris/Brussels/Berlin (or substitute Amsterdam for Brussels). Alternatively, something like Barcelona/Marseille/Milan/Rome.

    Dinosaurs were made up by the CIA to discourage time travel.
  • GrobianGrobian What's on sale? Pliers!Registered User regular
    edited May 2016
    Many European countries will have you get by fine with English, especially if you stay in big cities like you want to anyway.

    Note that the Euro 2016 (football tournament) starts June 10th so unless you want to try and watch a game, I'd probably stay clear of France this time. (because everything will be more crowded and expensive)



    I will recommend you my home town Berlin. It's a big city, virtually everyone speaks English. We have probably the best public transport of any city this size in the world.

    There's sights and museums of both old and more recent history because obviously this has been an important place for centuries.

    On the science side we currently have one of the best preserved T-Rex skeletons (#3 in the world) in the naturkundemuseum and we also have a technological museum and a communications museum that are quite good. There's even a video game museum, but I have never been there.

    If you're here 3 weeks then you can also easily fit in trips to other German cities.

    Grobian on
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    PoGo friend code: 7835 1672 4968
  • AldoAldo Hippo Hooray the swamp, always the swampRegistered User regular
    halkun wrote: »
    I've aways stayed in a single hotel as my "home" while I travelled. I'm not even sure how international travel works by train....
    Which can be great, but it kinda locks you to a single region. Traveling around Europe is more tiring, but considering the amount of different things you can do when you move your home around... it is worth cobsidering.

    If you decide to go by train:
    You do some prep work by reading the very elaborate site of the Man on Seat 61 http://www.seat61.com

    If you are going to use trains a lot there is http://www.eurail.com which will save you money once you use it 3 times a week and generally saves you the headache of having to order tickets through multiple different websites.

    Elendil wrote: »
    said Aldo hazily, before clop-clop-clopping out of the room
  • BasarBasar IstanbulRegistered User regular
    Grobian wrote: »
    Note that the Euro 2016 (football tournament) starts June 10th so unless you want to try and watch a game, I'd probably stay clear of France this time. (because everything will be more crowded and expensive)

    I will recommend you my home town Berlin. It's a big city, virtually everyone speaks English. We have probably the best public transport of any city this size in the world.

    Good point about the Euro 2016 :+1:

    I concur with this (as per my original reply). Berlin is also very cosmopolitan. You can find people from all around the world and it has gone from a dark, moody city to a chick, trendy city with lots of cultural experience to offer. If you are into cars, you can take ICE from Berlin to Wolfsburg to see the VW plant, Stuttgart to see Mercedes and Porsche or Munich for BMW.

    i live in a country with a batshit crazy president and no, english is not my first language

    Grobian
  • BlindZenDriverBlindZenDriver Registered User regular
    Berlin is certainly an option, but do also consider Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen. The further north you go the closer you'll be to a place where the sun literally never sets come June. Not only is that like a magic thing of nature is also makes for a special energy in people where everyone is celebrating the contrast to the dark winter months.

    As the others have also suggested - don't worry about language. Especially in Northern Europe pretty much everybody speaks English except if you go to a former East Block member. For instance I know English people living here in Denmark which find it a bit difficult to get a chance to learn Danish, simply because any Dane they speak to pick up on them having an English accent and then automatically switches to speaking English.

    Bones heal, glory is forever.
    JuliusNought
  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    halkun wrote: »
    I've aways stayed in a single hotel as my "home" while I travelled. I'm not even sure how international travel works by train....

    I'm not sure about the current temporary measures regarding refugees, but in general most of Europe has a free travel agreement, meaning you could board a train in Brussels and get off in Budapest without a problem. I think worst case scenario somebody checks your passport.

    I'm led to believe Prague is a very pretty city, but also pretty crowded. In places where I have actual experience, I'd recommend Krakow as having a beautiful old town center that's great to walk around, and also in easy access for tours to Auschwitz, if that's something you're interested in. It can be an intense experience however.

  • flowerhoneyflowerhoney Registered User regular
    You'd be surprised how many europeans speak english, at least enough for you to get by. Personally I think it's also a mistake to expect to spend three weeks in a city like Berlin and not get bored. That's not to say Berlin isn't amazing; its a really beautiful and cool city with tons of history and museums. But London is a really unique place because not only it is HUGE with tons of variety but it has excellent transport links to excellent day trips. I mean it's LONDON, it has pretty much everything you could want (except cheap housing).

    Travelling to a few different cities is the way to go, you'll see a lot more and get much more out of your trip. If you don't want to take the train, flights withing europe can be super cheap if you fly with a budget airlines like ryanair or easyjet (just make sure you carefully read their rules and fees). Otherwise the trains in europe are pretty great and a no brainer way to travel. It's not like the USA where trains might as well not exist.

    Consider doing airbnb to stay in more interesting and central locations as well. In my experience the hosts are always very friendly and have lots of local knowledge to enhance your trip.

    If it was me, I would visit Berlin, Madrid, and Istanbul. Let me tell you why:
    Berlin - It's such a cool place with a really trendy and arty vibe. There's so much recent history everywhere you look, and it's amazing to see a city that was divided just 25 years ago become transformed into this vibrant place. The museums are fabulous and there's incredible food everywhere. You could have a really great week here taking your time to see all the highlights. Transport is really good but the tube can be a little difficult to navigate the first few times as everything is obviously in German. More or less everyone speaks fantastic english though, so you can get by without too much trouble.

    Madrid - Another fun city with plenty to do, but I wouldn't begrudge you for wanting to see Barcelona as well. There's plenty to see and do, with the Prado and Reina Sophia museums some of my personal favorites (some of the most famous paintings in the world are relaxing there, just waiting for you to look at them). I thought the vibe was fun and the food was good. People speak okay english, but it won't be an issue.


    Istanbul - Okay you might be thinking "is this even in Europe??" but that doesn't matter. I love istanbul and I think it's got history like nobody's business. Breathtaking mosques, roman architecture, sweet roman aqueducts, there's so much great stuff to see. Plus the food is so good it brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it, best kebabs of my whole life. The new part of the city has a really fun and vibrant night life with clubs and bars as well, so it's not just old stuff all the time. I found the people there to be pretty friendly as they're used to lots of tourists. Not everyone speaks great english, but I was fine from just learning a handful of polite words in Turkish.

    Another good place to start might be looking at some lonely planet guidebooks and seeing what cities interest you. A lot of people are recommending northern european cities, but every country on the continent has something to offer.


    ShadowhopeCelestialBadger
  • hsuhsu Registered User regular
    edited May 2016
    The Netherlands, Poland, Germany, it seemed like most the population could speak English. I only had to break out a dictionary or translator app in smaller towns, to deal with trains and such.

    Spain, I relied on my high school Spanish and a dictionary to get by, as not very many people spoke English, even in large cities like Barcelona, I found myself constantly in restaurants and stores where nobody spoke English.

    France, enough of the population spoke English for you to get by, pretty much anywhere you went, but if you spoke French, even a little French, you received a much better reception. While this was true in every country I've visited, where knowing a little of the native language got you better treatment, this seemed especially true in France.

    hsu on
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  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    edited May 2016
    I really enjoyed Denmark. Copenhagen specifically. Basically everyone I met spoke letter perfect english. I had actually tried to learn some Danish, and barely even got a chance to fumble 2 words out before they switched to english. The public transit is really good, and the city is actually pretty small so you can walk across it in about 45 minutes. Lot of Museums and Palaces and such to go see, and with the city pass its all free admission.
    And if you want to blow through about $500, Noma's 18 courses & wine pairings are pretty much amazing.


    They might be doing stuff up an Kronborg Castle(Hamlet castle) this year too since it's the 400th anniversary and that's maybe an hour by train.

    You can take a train from Copenhagen to Moma Sweden and I think to basically all of Sweden from there, and from what I remember seeing in the train station rail to Stockholm/Berlin was like 6 hours.

    e: That said IDK if I'd spend 3 weeks there. Or really 3 weeks in any one city.

    tinwhiskers on
  • MorranMorran Registered User regular
    edited May 2016
    I live in Stockholm. Ask away if you have any specific questions, or if you are looking for specific stuff to do

    EDIT. With regards to English speaking skills, you do not need to worry in Sweden in general, and absolutely not in the bigger cities (Malmö, Göteborg and Stockholm):

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_language_in_Europe

    Morran on
    Julius
  • hsuhsu Registered User regular
    Just wanted to add that I could praise Poland all day. Friendly, attractive, mostly English speaking people, in a beautiful, historical, yet modern country, with cheap living expenses and tasty food. I plan on visiting much more of eastern Europe due to that one trip to Poland.

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  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal mad onlineRegistered User regular
    i didn't do much sight seeing there, but I would nominate Switzerland for consideration. It's a really nice country, Zurich is great to walk around, you'll be very comfortable only being able to speak English, almost everyone there can speak it

    i dont know if you could make a whole week vacation out of it but maybe a day trip by rail, it's worth a look

  • Bliss 101Bliss 101 Registered User regular
    Portugal is worth considering too. It's easy to find people who speak pretty good English there, and as an added bonus the price level is really low (at least if you avoid the most obvious tourist traps). Traveling around Portugal by train is cheap and comfortable, so you could head north from Lisbon to check out Porto (a really beautiful city and the home of Port wine). And if you happen to surf, you can find great beaches for surfing all around the country, starting from right outside Lisbon.

    Or, fly from Lisbon to Barcelona and see two awesome cities on one trip. There's a lot to do in Barcelona in particular, so you might want to reserve more than one week for it. It's a fantastic city for just randomly wandering around. You might want to learn a few basic phrases in Spanish, though, because it's not uncommon to get, say, a cab driver who doesn't speak a word of English. That said, I've been there twice, met a lot of great people and survived fine with just English.

    If you're willing to risk uncertain weather and expensive prices, the Nordic countries are well worth a visit. Pretty much everyone speaks good English there. Same with Iceland, a country I think everyone should visit at least once in their life. If you're looking for a metropolitan feel, Copenhagen is probably your best bet among the Nordic capitals, followed by Stockholm. I live in Helsinki, but I can't really see the city from a visitor's perspective so I don't know whether to recommend it or not. I can tell you that Finns tend to panic if you randomly strike up a conversation with them (unless they're drunk), so you might feel more comfortable with the more social Swedes and Danes.

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  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    halkun wrote: »
    I've aways stayed in a single hotel as my "home" while I travelled. I'm not even sure how international travel works by train....

    I'm not sure about the current temporary measures regarding refugees, but in general most of Europe has a free travel agreement, meaning you could board a train in Brussels and get off in Budapest without a problem. I think worst case scenario somebody checks your passport.

    Yeah you can travel from any Schengen country to any other Schengen country without a hitch. Travelling within the EU is really easy, border control is virtually non-existent.

  • BlindZenDriverBlindZenDriver Registered User regular
    Just a quick geographical and also political note.
    Europe and the EU is often used as synonyms and really it is not the same.
    Europe is a geographical region like North America and the European Union(EU) is a political union consisting of 28 countries of which most are located in Western Europe. Europe as a whole consists of 51 countries and on top the EU countries it also includes countries like Russia, Ukraine, Norway, Switzerland, Serbia, Turkey and the Vatican. Now of course not all of Russia is in geographical Europe, but for example Moscow is actually a European city.
    Now many European non-EU member countries are close with EU countries and for instance Norway is very much like Sweden and Denmark, but there are also non-EU member countries where things are very different like for instance Russia that is in a sort of undeclared war with Ukraine.

    Bones heal, glory is forever.
    MorranV1mJulius
  • V1mV1m Registered User regular
    Pro-tip if you're staying in a country where you don't speak the language: take a couple of the cards from the hotel reception desk (even the cheapest will usually have these). If you get proper lost, show the card and some money to a taxi driver and look like a tipper. Saved my ass in Prague, and again in Lens. Come to think of it, it's also saved me considerable inconvenience in British cities a couple of times as well.

  • NaphtaliNaphtali Null Registered User regular
    I recently was in Sweden for a work trip and got to take off a day and visit Stockholm. It was really cool but plan to spend more than half a day if you want to check it out in full. There's so many different parts of the city representing different periods of time and cultures. There's even the archipelago if you want to take a trip outside the city and see some stuff but still keep Stockholm as your "home" city.

    B.net: Naphtali#1830 | Steam | Nintendo ID: Naphtali | PSN: EI-Naphtali | Wish List
  • MrGrimoireMrGrimoire Pixflare Registered User regular
    If you're in Denmark or Sweden it's possible (and maybe even a good idea) to take the train or ferry to Oslo and spend a few days there. But as capitals go it's pretty small, so in a few days you'd probably exhaust most of the tourist options. (I live in Oslo, so I'm biased. Visiting here's totally a good idea!)

    I was in Prague for a week before Christmas and it's a gorgeous city, especially if you're interested in old architecture and good food.

    Basar
  • BasarBasar IstanbulRegistered User regular
    MrGrimoire wrote: »
    If you're in Denmark or Sweden it's possible (and maybe even a good idea) to take the train or ferry to Oslo and spend a few days there. But as capitals go it's pretty small, so in a few days you'd probably exhaust most of the tourist options. (I live in Oslo, so I'm biased. Visiting here's totally a good idea!)

    I was in Prague for a week before Christmas and it's a gorgeous city, especially if you're interested in old architecture and good food.

    One thing to note about Scandinavian countries in general is that they are extremely organized, clean, and beautiful but that comes with the price of everything being ridiculously expensive :)

    i live in a country with a batshit crazy president and no, english is not my first language

    MrGrimoireV1m
  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    For a tourist that depends. Right now the USD is very strong. Going to most of europe is roughly 20% cheaper than it was 2-3 years ago.

    MrGrimoire
  • JeedanJeedan Registered User regular
    Last summer I went to Stockholm, Berlin and Barcelona.

    Sweden is really nice as a country, pretty everyone speaks English (my friend emigrated there and hasnt had a chance to learn the language yet since everyone insists on speaking english at him). I liked little river towns outside of stockholm better than I liked stockholm itself as a city though. I hear Gothenburg is a prettier city.

    Berlin is amazing, *most* people speak english as its full of tonnes of expats from all over. Tonnes of recent history, arty vibe, great nightlife.

    Barcelona is one of the prettiest cities archetecually speaking I've ever been to. Can't really get away with only speaking english but I was at a youth hostel so I wasn't lonely.

    All in all though 5 grand is enough for a great holiday. Using cheap last minute ryanair flights and staying in hostels I had a good holiday for about 500 GBP.

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