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help with itinerary and train question

nicki1982

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  • Added on: January 29th, 2011
Hello all,
I am going to Europe with my sister in April-May for 4 weeks. We're flying in to London (we got a good deal on tickets at the time and I do want to see that city), but the main chunk of our trip will be to the south. So far we know we're going to Paris for a few days and then down to Provence/southern France for maybe 10-12 days if we like it enough. From there, we don't really know what to do next.
We've been entertaining ideas of somehow going to Istanbul, and I found a flight from Barcelona to Istanbul for cheap (and back to London). We also wanted to squeeze Venice in and I was hoping to see Croatia. Also, my sister really wanted to go to Barcelona. Obviously, we can't do it all in 28 days.
So, my question is should we go for Istanbul instead of Venice and Croatia?
What is the best way to get to Croatia from France/Barcelona/eastern Italy? I haven't found a flight from the south of France to anywhere in Croatia for the time of year we're going. The best I can find is from Paris.

Here are some possible itineraries I came up with. They all would include leaving from the final point to go back to London (maybe via Paris) by flight or train (whatever makes sense)

London - Paris - Provence - Venice
London - Paris - Provence - Milan/Rome (just for a day to get the flight forward) - Istanbul
London - Paris - Provence - Cinque Terre then maybe Florence and Rome
London - Paris - Provence - Barcelona - Venice
London - Paris - Provence - Croatia
London - Paris - Provence - Barcelona - Istanbul

In terms of what we like to see we both love culture and nature. I guess the main reason for a trip to Europe is to soak up culture. Canada is sparse and vast and I don't need to find the wilderness in Europe. I have always wanted to see Plitvice lakes national park (not how you spell it I don't think...). I also think Istanbul would be amazing. We're definitely not into partying much anymore or busy beaches, but I do think it would be nice to see some turquoise water if possible. Would the Calanques on the southeast/central France coast satisfy that craving?

We're going to be on a pretty tight budget so we'll be buying food from stores and camping/hostelling most of the time.

My next question is about French trains. I found a website a little while ago where I found a trip from Paris to Avignon for 22 EUR, but now when I try to find it again I can't. Anybody know of websites where you can actually find trains and book them for those prices?

Thanks for any comments or help with this!!

Hydro

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  • Added on: January 29th, 2011
Cheapest I've been able to find is US$68 here for Paris to Avignon. Not sure if the price will change too much depending on exact dates.

More info on catching trains in France on our France travel guide.

Italy to Croatia by ferry.

Complete Venice guide.

Excellent Barcelona guide.

Hope this helps.
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lauracatherine

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  • Added on: January 29th, 2011
I took a an overnight ferry from Ancona, Italy to Split in Croatia. I really enjoyed Croatia.

But Istanbul IS amazing.

I personally wouldn't go to Rome for a day, that's just a tease. I spent 5 days there and I didn't see nearly half of what I wanted to.

Out off all the itineraries you've suggested, I think the Barcelona-Istanbul would be the most varied in culture.
"i'm on my way, don't know where i'm goin..."~Paul Simon, Me and Julio

Briena

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  • Added on: January 30th, 2011
Traveling in Europe has gotten quite expensive. The French rail site is, in my opinion, confusing... sncf.fr

I find, most times, that it is much cheaper to fly around Europe than to train it. Here are the cheap airlines I use... easyjet.com & ryanair.com

It is best to find tickets well in advance in order to take advantage of cheaper prices. The closer you are to the travel date, the less likely to find cheap flights, unless you are flexible and grab up a possible last-minute flight that pops up. You might have to be flexible on travel date and destination in that case.

If you find cheap flights, it is very possible then to fly from Barcelona to Venice to Istanbul.

About these destination choices... they are popular tourist destinations, beautiful and fun, but not much focused on nature. Even Cinque Terre, although you can hike between all five towns, is full of tourists and not much of a hike for the avid hiker. It is, however, beautiful and wonderful to visit. You might have a chance to hire a bike and ride out of town and into the country side... something I enjoyed in Nimes, or find a nice city hike.

I haven't been to Croatia, but hear only wonderful things about it. Istanbul, however, is one of my favorite cities in the world (Turkey being one of my favorite countries), and I highly recommend visiting for an incredible change of scenery and feeling. You will certainly satisfy your longing for cultural experience there.

I have more travel info on my blog, if you care to visit.

Have fun!
Briena
travelingmydeeperdream.com

nicki1982

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  • Added on: January 30th, 2011
thanks everyone for your help. some stuff to think about.
I think we've decided we're going to go to Istanbul for sure. Now we just have to decide if we should leave from Barcelona or somewhere in Italy. I'm personally a bit worried that in 3 days Barcelona might not seem as much 'bang for its buck' as Venice or Rome would. Do people have any opinions on this? I'm worried that it might seem too cosmopolitan and modern and that I might as well be in New York or something...

lauracatherine

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  • Added on: January 30th, 2011
http://wizzair.com is another cheap airline. It has flights to Istanbul from Barcelona, Rome, and Venice connecting in Budapest.

Like I said, 5 days was not enough time for Rome. And if you're doing all ginormous cities ie London, Paris, Istanbul, Venice might be something a little different for you, unless you're focusing on all big cities on this trip.
"i'm on my way, don't know where i'm goin..."~Paul Simon, Me and Julio

Mama-to-many

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  • Added on: January 30th, 2011
If Barcelona ends up feeling too "city-ish" you couild always take the train out to Montserrat for the day.

You might also want to loook at taking busses - by far cheaper (but obviously more time consuming).
Orangeways tends to be cheapest, Eurolines a little more (but still less than trains)
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Tortuga_traveller

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  • Added on: January 30th, 2011
o people have any opinions on this? I'm worried that it might seem too cosmopolitan and modern and that I might as well be in New York or something...


There is no real equivalent to the Dali Museum in Figueras or the monuments of Antonio Gaudi, especially Parque Guelle or the Familia Sagrada.

Walking Las Ramblas at night is also pretty amazing.

Thats three days right there.
Open your heart, and your dreams will follow

Qwovadis

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  • Added on: February 2nd, 2011
Congrats on your trip!

www.seat61.com is a great site for training info.

In 28 days B4 have done sort of an "Oriental Express" route overland

training like a local cheap fun from London to Istanbul with a stop in Venice had a wonderful time.

Or quicker fly to IST from ROM www.skyscanner.net pick up Bacelona on your way well worth it.

www.eurocheapo.com good budget city guides for you.

Happy Journey,



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