Over the last year or so, frequent business travel has forced me to develop sound techniques for managing what was once a debilitating fear of flying. I now feel capable of making serious plans to go to Europe, and one of my friends has agreed to go with me (we both live in the US). However, we’re having a hard time narrowing down a list of destinations. I turn to you, urbane denizens of the SDMB, to help me uncover places that basically fit the following criteria:
**Is a moderately priced travel destination (relative to other travel destinations–we’re both aware that this won’t be cheap) and is suitable for a ~4 day excursion.
**Will not be completely miserable in in January or mid-March (the two windows of opportunity we will probably have to travel). We are not adverse to the cold, but we don’t want to visit at a time when most things are closed.
**Would be a good destination for someone new to international travel (international travel seems like one of those things that you need to “practice” to get good at, but that’s just my impression)
Since my friend has been to Paris once, he has ruled that out, and I have ruled out Rome because I would like my first visit there to be a longer one than I have time for right now. In terms of languages we both speak passable French (I mean, we’d be laughed at by native speakers, but someone could understand what we are saying) and I am comfortable with my ability to pick up essential basics in most languages (I know a lot of languages, it’s just that most of them aren’t actually spoken anymore). Basically the two of us would like to be able to relax while touring some museums, libraries and other such places of interest. (Of course I like all things old and grand and he likes all things new and experimental.)
I thank you in advance for your comments and advice.