European adventure

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  • BuntyHoven 30 Mar 2011 13:31:19 105 posts
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    I'm planning on wandering around central Europe over the next few months, traveling light and staying in hostels or at people's homes, through sites like couchsurfing and global freeloaders.

    It will be my first time backpacking and also, traveling on my own. It feels a bit daunting but I'm looking forward to it.

    I've done out a map with some main cities I'd like to visit. I'm visiting London for a week before getting the eurostar across to Lille and onto Ghent, Amsterdam, Cologne, Bremen, Hamburg, Berlin, Prague, Vienna and Budapest. I'm thinking about making a detour to Krakow and Ostrava too.

    I intend on staying in each place for 3-4 days, but I'd like to check other places, including smaller towns, along the way, so I'd appreciate recommendations. Where else in the Netherlands, besides Amsterdam, is definitely worth a visit, for example?
  • AcidSnake 30 Mar 2011 13:34:14 7,238 posts
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    Amsterdam's about it...

    Though it depends on what you'd like to see...Culture or fun?...
    Rotterdam has a harbour, Utrecht has students...errr...

    AcidSnake - He can't see your sig, avatar, images or vids and talks about himself in the third person because he's proper old-skool...UID 24017

  • Load_2.0 30 Mar 2011 13:36:47 19,137 posts
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    The idea of couchsurfing makes me extremely uncomfortable.

    But that said I am over 30 so maybe it's for the younger generation.

    Maybe masking tape your underpants on.
  • TechnoHippy 30 Mar 2011 13:40:14 14,707 posts
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    BuntyHoven wrote:
    I intend on staying in each place for 3-4 days, but I'd like to check other places, including smaller towns, along the way, so I'd appreciate recommendations. Where else in the Netherlands, besides Amsterdam, is definitely worth a visit, for example?

    When I did my walk through Europe I started in Rotterdam, and basically headed east (visited Amsterdam on the way back). Arnhem was interesting (if you like your WWII history), I did the Para walk and visitied a few museums. Utrecht was ok, although a little boring.

    This was many years ago, but I did find the Dutch some of the friendliest people in Europe.

    My books, contests, reviews and author interviews on my blog

  • BuntyHoven 30 Mar 2011 13:58:43 105 posts
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    Thanks for the suggestions so far, I'll have to look them up but at least it makes it easier to have a shortlist of recommendations.

    I'm more interested in meeting new people than sightseeing but I'll definitely be checking out places of interest. For example, that cinema kalel linked to in the Amsterdam thread looks class!

    Ecosse, depending on how I feel after I reach Budapest and, provided I haven't melted in the summer heat due to my pasty Irish skin, I'd like to head back through southern Germany and on into France, headed for Brittany.

    And, Load "$", I've been meeting up with couchsurfers in my locality, Cork, those hosting and visiting, since the start of the year to get their experiences and suss out the whole thing and I've found them to be a really friendly, down-to-earth bunch rather than a load of freaky hippies and swingers!
  • Fab4 30 Mar 2011 14:02:46 5,990 posts
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    If you like culture, you could visit Delft. Nice, picturesque little city, and it has a university, so it has a healthy nightlife.
  • Red-Moose 30 Mar 2011 14:07:32 5,346 posts
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    Maastricht is very nice
  • BuntyHoven 30 Mar 2011 14:08:46 105 posts
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    I haven't entirely ruled out Northern Italy, because I initially planned on that being part of my trip but I'm thinking that Italy's worth a trip all by itself, same for Spain.
  • Tom_Servo 30 Mar 2011 14:09:15 17,517 posts
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    BuntyHoven wrote:
    I'm planning on wandering around central Europe over the next few months, traveling light and staying in hostels or at people's homes, through sites like couchsurfing and global freeloaders.

    It will be my first time backpacking and also, traveling on my own.

    See you on the news!
  • Jeepers 30 Mar 2011 14:14:59 13,174 posts
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    Things I know about Berlin:

    It's really fucking cold.
    Berliners like graffiti.
    The coffee is uniformly dreadful.
    Currywürst is lush.
  • Salaman 30 Mar 2011 14:20:05 18,957 posts
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    Leiden is worth a visit. If you want some pointers and tips for things to do in Ghent, let me know.
  • BuntyHoven 30 Mar 2011 14:46:56 105 posts
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    Yes, please, Salaman. I've never visited any of these places before, so I'm only going off guides like the lonely planet. So local knowledge would be greatly appreciated.
  • AcidSnake 30 Mar 2011 14:56:42 7,238 posts
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    The Tuschinski theater is beautiful...

    And yes, even though I hate our politics and 97% of politicians Italy deserves a visit...

    AcidSnake - He can't see your sig, avatar, images or vids and talks about himself in the third person because he's proper old-skool...UID 24017

  • Salaman 30 Mar 2011 16:48:49 18,957 posts
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    Drop me a pm and I'll try to pass you some info.
    When is this happening?
  • oceanmotion 30 Mar 2011 16:56:47 15,805 posts
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    How do you spread your funds for such a thing. I guess you need quite a lot to start with and use it wisely on your trips. I fear I would run out of money in no time and need to go back home.
  • BuntyHoven 31 Mar 2011 09:14:08 105 posts
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    Great, Salaman, I'll pm you. I arrive in mainland europe on the 20 April but I begin my journey next Wednesday.

    As for funds, I've saved up a few grand, I guess it will have a big say on how long my adventures last.
  • alexandre 3 Apr 2011 19:50:28 161 posts
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    Red Moose wrote:


    Maastricht is very nice

    I second that.

    Furthermore, do not miss Brussels and Southern Germany (Munich, Heidelberg, Regensburg).
  • BuntyHoven 4 Apr 2011 15:01:44 105 posts
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    Someone recommended Freiburg and Heidelberg to me the other day. I was planning on giving Brussels a miss, what am I missing out on?
  • Load_2.0 4 Apr 2011 15:11:36 19,137 posts
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    If it was me, I would want to identify at least 4-5 activities/things in every place you intend to visit.

    Otherwise it is easy to walk through the main street of a town or city only to end up spending hours in a starbucks or cafe on the net.

  • Fab4 4 Apr 2011 15:21:10 5,990 posts
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    ecosse_011172 wrote:
    BuntyHoven wrote:
    Someone recommended Freiburg and Heidelberg to me the other day. I was planning on giving Brussels a miss, what am I missing out on?

    Brussels has great nightlife, really mixed, cosmpolitan population and soem really nice parts.
    great pubs, great beer.

    Freiburg and Heidelberg are both really gorgeous and freiburg is a University town so it's young with loads going on and a great atmosphere.

    So is Heidelberg...and it is indeed gorgeous.
  • EddieBear 4 Apr 2011 15:35:44 560 posts
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    I did a months worth of interailing last September, was absolutely superb, one of the best things I've ever done.

    From the list of cities you'd put up I'd say 2 days in Bremen would do you. There's not much there. If you're doing Berlin and Prague you can stop off at Dresden for a night on the way. Interesting place to stay for a night. Would also suggest spending less time in Prague. I wasn't a huge fan of the place. Overrun with tourists and not that much to do though admittedly it is very pretty.

    In Vienna make sure you take some day trips to Melk and Krems-au-Donnau (sp?) 2 beautiful towns on the banks of the Danube (wine country too!). You can hire a bike here and go cycling if that's your cup of tea. If the weather's good its fantastic.

    Would definitely recommend Poland. Not least because its cheap (hostels for £7 a night). I did Poznan and Wroclaw (pronounced vrots-waaf). They're two very different places but well worth visiting, especially Wroclaw which was stunningly pretty.

    Link below to the rough route I took. http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=212106595510212417419.00047a0ce65f81989534e&t=h&z=5
  • BuntyHoven 4 Apr 2011 18:25:54 105 posts
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    There's a girl in Bremen ;)


    Load "$" wrote:
    If it was me, I would want to identify at least 4-5 activities/things in every place you intend to visit.

    Otherwise it is easy to walk through the main street of a town or city only to end up spending hours in a starbucks or cafe on the net.


    Fair point, I could easily fall into that trap and I'd be loathe for it to happen. So, while it's kind of liberating not having a plan, on the ground, being at a loose end would be quite boring. I'll have to do some research on a place maybe 2-3 cities ahead, as I'm going along, while I'm in a net cafe....oh.


    Cheers, EddieBear! More food for thought, I have heard this said about Prague before, bloody tourists ruining it for the rest of us! Tbh, I'm not certain what route I'll take towards Budapest. Perhaps I'll divert from Berlin through Poznan, Wroclaw and Krakow.

    I do enjoy cycling, so those day trips you suggest from Vienna sound right up my street.

    Inspired by your own, I've done out a google map itinerary.
    I think I'll have to add Brussels to the list, I'm visiting my cousin in Amsterdam and staying with a friend in Zandvoort, I think there is a direct rail connection, so I might go for that.
  • BuntyHoven 4 Apr 2011 18:39:57 105 posts
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    I meant to ask, EddieBear, what did you think of Brno and what did you find interesting about Dresden?
  • Salaman 4 Apr 2011 20:25:27 18,957 posts
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    You're not really missing all that much in Brussels. ;-)
    Stick to Ghent. I owe you some pub/resto recommendations still I think.

    Did you say you're leaving the day after tomorrow?

  • Salaman 4 Apr 2011 20:51:52 18,957 posts
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    Right, so if you want some tasty, cheap spaghetti that comes in HUGE portions.
    Go to kastart it's very busy between 6 and 8pm and usually full of students.

    If you want to try some Belgian beers (and I don't mean Stella but proper stuff):
    De Dulle Griet (bit touristy & pricey but massive selection)
    Bierhuis
    or my personal favourite Aba-jour
    The last one has lots of beer and VERY good food. Some of it a bit pricey but the fresh hand cut frech fries and fresh mayonnaise are lovely and make it worth it. Especially the "vol au vent" and "stoverij" are really good. The service can be a bit lacking but i put up with it because of the food quality. :-)

    Also great for food is 't Oud Clooster. Especially their "brochette van 't huis" (porc skewer) which is pretty good value for money and VERY tasty.

    If you need to get on the net to plan for the next Amsterdam, you could go to McDonalds. But if I want their free wifi, I personally go to the coffe place to the right of it. You get the signal but the smell is better. :-)
    Even better would be to go to Walter. A really cool and charming little coffee bar. You can use their wifi but you'll have to aks one of the staff for the WEP key to their network.


    If you're in the mood for a party, head over to this street on Thursday night.
    It's in the middle of the student quarter and it's side to side pubs, so very lively on Thursdays.

    Friday night, you're better off at the "Vlasmarkt" in either Bar des Amis or Charlatan.

    If you want to chill out and people watch, just plonk yourself somewhere downtown on the Graslei or Korenlei (opposite). Café t' spijker around the corner (Hooiaard) is great as well.

    Too bad you're arriving during the week but I might be able to come out in the evening and show you about a bit.
    Have you landed a couch yet from some kind couchsurfer soul?
  • BuntyHoven 4 Apr 2011 21:28:01 105 posts
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    Wow, that's some excellent and comprehensive info, with links to boot. Thanks a million, Salaman! Liking the sound of 'fresh hand cut frech fries and fresh mayonnaise'.

    I don't have a smart phone, and I'm not lugging my laptop so I can't leech the wifi, unfortunately. I was half thinking of buying a smart phone for my travels but I all I ever hear about them is their shitty battery life and it'd probably get nicked anyway.

    You're correct that I'm leaving on Wednesday but I'm spending a week going around Ireland and another week in London, so it won't be until 20 April that I hit mainland Europe and probably the 22nd by the time I reach Ghent. And no, I haven't sorted a couch yet but sure, there's time enough yet.

    I made a balls of the link for my google maps itinerary earlier, so here it is http://maps.google.ie/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=204788828715800422523.0004a01a04401c54b95f7&ll=51.944265,-0.197754&spn=9.732273,19.753418&z=6
  • Salaman 6 Apr 2011 09:53:39 18,957 posts
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    You're off today then?

    Happy trails!
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