European vacation help, please!

[url=http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/europe/budapest/]Budapest
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, not Bucharest!

Gosh, that could’ve been troublesome.

I think you intended to say Budapest

Sorry about that I see you have already corrected yourself :smack:

I forwarded this link to my “boss” who is taking her first trip to Europe next week with her sister and a friend. They were just going to spend 10 days in Paris, but now they are major psyched about going to this castle and spending a night. Thanks for the tip!!!

Since you only have 12 days I’d recommend doing Southeast Germany and Austria.

Specifically Munich, Salzburg and then Vienna. They’re all a relatively short train-ride away from each other.

Of the three my favourite was easily Vienna. The city is just so gorgeous, with so much to see and do. Also a ton of excellent concerts if you both enjoy classical music. Danube boat tours, palace tours, amazing cafe’s and restaurants and you can’t forget the famous “Sacher Tort” (special chocolate cake drank with dark coffee).

If you want a warmer climate, I found the south of France to be excellent. Specifically Nice. Its a great place to relax and really indulge yourself. Its also a very short train-ride to Monaco/Monte Carlo if you want to do a little gambling in the casino, look at the ridiculously huge yachts in the harbor and enjoy some great cuisine.

Switzerland was also a gem, especially Lake Lucerne up in the mountains. Its just so damn picturesque, surrounded on all sides by white-capped mountains. Although I was there in early September, it might be too cold or rainy in November.

I stayed in Hostels or B&B’s in all these places and found them all to be quite affordable, clean and the people all very hospitable.

Spending the night in a castle is really cool. And the chateaux on that site look like the real deal, if pricey: the cheapest rate I saw was 130 euros per person.
But maybe it’s less expensive in November.
We’re budget-backpacker types,however we do enjoy the occasional splurge.
About five years ago we spent the night at Borthwick Castle just outside of Edinburgh, a place where Mary Queen of Scots once stayed.
Borthwick Castle

I just got back from 3 weeks trip to Belgium in november 2003. If you’re into history and museum, you can’t beat Brussels. It has more than 60 museums. You can go to Grand Place to visit, and try to stay 'til dark because they’ll light the place up, and there’ll most likely be fog, so it’s a beautiful place to sit and have dinner (Royal Cafe is the rage when I was there, but any other restaurant is fine, too. I tried 4) There you can see the famous Mannekin Piss (and its little “equality” surprise 2 blocks away!) and the “sacred wishing statue” (more like a brass mural to me) across the corner. You must go to the Musee des Arts to see the exhibits there; it took me 3 days to really see it all (the 3rd day was just spent looking and admiring the “Madonna” bust by Joseph Tuerlinckx) I’d say skip the Modern part of the museum (it has this bell-ringing every 15 minutes - an actual part of an exhibit - that was really distracting) Or go to Museum of Instruments across the street, go hang out at the Museum park (it’s beautiful) to look out at the city landscape. Or stroll down the street (rue de Victoria I think) to see the King’s office, the bell tower (with its pop-out statues telling a story), the cathedral where the 2 Belgian princes got hitched (check the concert list when you’re there, too), or just down rue Neuve to go shopping for chocolate or clothings (Fall fashion should be out; at least that was what my GF said)

Then drive to Bruges (about 1 hour away) to see Belgium laces, more cathedrals, and parks. There are lots of street painters there, too. Or you can go to Gent for the same before heading to Antwerp to find out why it’s call Antwerp, and see the namesake statue. You might want to see the painter Rubens’ house (more like a little palace to me) and the famous harbor museum. Or the tallest cathedral tower in Europe (not completed) and see its incredible interior, as well as the creaky stairs of the tower) Don’t forget to sample the food; especially regional food. They should have wild rabbit dishes around November. And the Belgian waffles.

Or you can go to Waterloo (40 minutes driving) to climb a steep stairs to the Lion statue and look out to the field where Napoleon was defeated. When you’re there, don’t forget to stop at La Hulpe to taste sanglier (wild board) Asterix & Obelix style (I forgot the name of the restaurant, I’ll ask my cousin) or walk its gorgeous forest to work off the meal.

From Brussels, you can go to Versaille (3 1/2 hours drive, 1 hour by TGV) and see that Palace; stay there and take the metro to Montmartre, where they filmed Amelie movie to meet the grocer (lots of hills!) Skip the Louvre if you don’t have much time (more than 3 days; the Versaille took us 2 full days) Or go to Copenhagen for its museums (I only spent 2 days there so I can’t say much)

Just make sure you have a really good pairs of walking shoes. I was pretty fit, yet I started having back pain at the end of the day, from walking, the second week. but IMHO that’s how we can really see a place, by walking the street instead of looking down from a tour bus window. And unless you’re well-versed in the art of city driving, walking beats driving there (3 and 1/2 hours to cover about 20 km in Paris cured me of my insane “let’s drive there” impulse). And they have amazing public transportation systems there, so getting places is not a problem. Be aware that most cars are stick, or at least private owned vehicles.

Sorry for the rambling, but I’m still sorting out the places that we went to, so it’s still difficult to tell. We also went to lots of restaurants and nightclubs, but our tastes may differ so I let you try them out instead of telling which one to skip. I stayed with my relatives, but me & my GF stayed at La Meridien, a fine hotel, a couple nights and the price was 95 Euros, which is cheap. In France we stayed at Ibis hotel (65 Euro). You should have little problem finding hotels.

Belgians are very friendly, and most can understand English (my French is rusty so I had to use English sometimes) Just don’t give hand-out to little children (sad to say) or you’ll have a mob on your hand; and prepare to walk a lot!

God, don’t apologize! That kind of thing is just what we’re looking for!

You guys rock!

We are watching a bunch of travel DVDs this weekend to get ideas.

Oops, forgot diamond…You go to Antwerp to see diamonds. Lots of them sparkling rocks. Bring lots of Euros, the big purplish-pink ones… :smiley:

It was kind of funny when, at the end of the first week, GF & I went shopping and walked pass this bunch of tour buses in downtown Brussels. On each bus there was a sign that read “Discover Brussels in 40 minutes”! We couldn’t help but laugh ourselves silly…Here we were, a week nearly passed and we were no where near “discover” Brussels, and the tour bus promised us “40 minutes”!

We knew we were “there” when 4 different local persons stopped us on the street (and on the metro) to ask for directions! :smiley:

If you go to Paris, walk the whole Champs Élysée. It’s romantic; we did it just so we could say “At least we still have Paris” like in the movie! :rolleyes: And if you decide to take a boat ride on the Seine, look for the narrowest building in the whole country there.

I spent 6 months working in Zakynthos on the west coast of Greece. Would highly recommend there or the unspoilt Cephalonia a short ferry ride north (parts of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin were filmed there).

Wherever you decide to go I hope you enjoy it!

It was much cheaper when we were there in November of 2001.
So EJ’sG, any decisions yet?