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Old 02-20-2017, 07:42 PM   #2150
notcasesensitive
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Is this the Travel Board?

Hey friends! I have a couple of exciting trips coming up (one much sooner than the other) that involve driving around in foreign countries and I wanted advice from my well-traveled internet friends.

The first is Baja California for a week next month. We'll be driving down from LA and kind of winging it to see how much of it we can see in only a week. I'm thinking we'll stay in the upper half, but if time permits we could make it to La Paz or even Cabo. I've been to Cabo bunches of times, but never anywhere else in Baja. Anyone here been to any of the smaller/less touristy towns? Anyone driven Baja?

The second is Europe for three weeks in June and July. I'll be flying into Berlin (with an afternoon layover in Stockholm) and we're renting a car and are hitting (at a minimum) -- Nuremburg, Vienna, Munich, Trieste, Venice, Milan, Turin and Marseille. Eventually making our way back to fly out of Dusseldorf. I've never been to central Europe, but my traveling companion is a dual citizen (South Africa and Germany) with family he'll be visiting before I arrive in northern Germany (he has traveled a lot in Germany and speaks German, so a lot of the coordinating for the Germany parts will be handled by him). I'm curious: if you had an itinerary in that general part of the world, what are the can't miss spots? Where will we want more or less time? Any other thoughts? We'll be trying to find lodging on the cheap (since we'll have a car, maybe outside of the bigger cities) so if you have any suggestions relating to that, I'd love to hear them too. No shared room hostels, but maybe private room hostels or AirBnb type stuff...
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Old 02-21-2017, 09:24 AM   #2151
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Re: Is this the Travel Board?

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The second is Europe for three weeks in June and July. I'll be flying into Berlin (with an afternoon layover in Stockholm) and we're renting a car and are hitting (at a minimum) -- Nuremburg, Vienna, Munich, Trieste, Venice, Milan, Turin and Marseille. Eventually making our way back to fly out of Dusseldorf. I've never been to central Europe, but my traveling companion is a dual citizen (South Africa and Germany) with family he'll be visiting before I arrive in northern Germany (he has traveled a lot in Germany and speaks German, so a lot of the coordinating for the Germany parts will be handled by him). I'm curious: if you had an itinerary in that general part of the world, what are the can't miss spots? Where will we want more or less time? Any other thoughts? We'll be trying to find lodging on the cheap (since we'll have a car, maybe outside of the bigger cities) so if you have any suggestions relating to that, I'd love to hear them too. No shared room hostels, but maybe private room hostels or AirBnb type stuff...
I've been to Munich and Vienna in recent years - I'd say at least a couple of days in each, potentially more (depending on the pace you like and what else you want to see - museums, beer halls, parks, old stuff?)

As for the car, are you planning to spend most of your time in cities or do you want to spend a decent amount of time looking around between cities? My general view for Europe you're better off without a car unless you're planning to spend a lot of time outside cities. Driving and parking in cities is a hassle. So, consider for example, driving to Munich but then taking train to Vienna. Drive to Trieste, but train to Venice and then even to Milan (it's been a few years since I drove the A4 Autostrada, which runs Venice to Milan, but I recall it being miserable in terms of traffic.)
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Old 02-21-2017, 10:55 AM   #2152
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Re: Is this the Travel Board?

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Originally Posted by notcasesensitive View Post
Hey friends! I have a couple of exciting trips coming up (one much sooner than the other) that involve driving around in foreign countries and I wanted advice from my well-traveled internet friends.

The first is Baja California for a week next month. We'll be driving down from LA and kind of winging it to see how much of it we can see in only a week. I'm thinking we'll stay in the upper half, but if time permits we could make it to La Paz or even Cabo. I've been to Cabo bunches of times, but never anywhere else in Baja. Anyone here been to any of the smaller/less touristy towns? Anyone driven Baja?

The second is Europe for three weeks in June and July. I'll be flying into Berlin (with an afternoon layover in Stockholm) and we're renting a car and are hitting (at a minimum) -- Nuremburg, Vienna, Munich, Trieste, Venice, Milan, Turin and Marseille. Eventually making our way back to fly out of Dusseldorf. I've never been to central Europe, but my traveling companion is a dual citizen (South Africa and Germany) with family he'll be visiting before I arrive in northern Germany (he has traveled a lot in Germany and speaks German, so a lot of the coordinating for the Germany parts will be handled by him). I'm curious: if you had an itinerary in that general part of the world, what are the can't miss spots? Where will we want more or less time? Any other thoughts? We'll be trying to find lodging on the cheap (since we'll have a car, maybe outside of the bigger cities) so if you have any suggestions relating to that, I'd love to hear them too. No shared room hostels, but maybe private room hostels or AirBnb type stuff...
We have pseudo-family in Vienna, so I have a distorted view of how great it is. But for sure if you like museums make sure to see the main art museum. Austria pre-WW1 was the richest country around. It is a tiny little place now, but the art it amassed during the Empire is still there. And climb the stairs to the top of that church.
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Old 02-21-2017, 11:49 AM   #2153
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Re: Is this the Travel Board?

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The first is Baja California for a week next month. We'll be driving down from LA and kind of winging it to see how much of it we can see in only a week. I'm thinking we'll stay in the upper half, but if time permits we could make it to La Paz or even Cabo. I've been to Cabo bunches of times, but never anywhere else in Baja. Anyone here been to any of the smaller/less touristy towns? Anyone driven Baja?
Not meaningfully helpful: my parents have friends who have a condo in San Jose, and I think they've driven back and forth before. My mother went once and enjoyed it.

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The second is Europe for three weeks in June and July. I'll be flying into Berlin (with an afternoon layover in Stockholm) and we're renting a car and are hitting (at a minimum) -- Nuremburg, Vienna, Munich, Trieste, Venice, Milan, Turin and Marseille. Eventually making our way back to fly out of Dusseldorf. I've never been to central Europe, but my traveling companion is a dual citizen (South Africa and Germany) with family he'll be visiting before I arrive in northern Germany (he has traveled a lot in Germany and speaks German, so a lot of the coordinating for the Germany parts will be handled by him). I'm curious: if you had an itinerary in that general part of the world, what are the can't miss spots? Where will we want more or less time? Any other thoughts? We'll be trying to find lodging on the cheap (since we'll have a car, maybe outside of the bigger cities) so if you have any suggestions relating to that, I'd love to hear them too. No shared room hostels, but maybe private room hostels or AirBnb type stuff...
Now this is in my wheelhouse. As for lodging, to each his own, but I want to stay in the city center. Primarily because I want to go out and walk around, have dinner and some drinks and not have to drive anywhere to sleep. Heck, even without the drinks, I don't particularly like to drive at night either. But yes, you can get cheaper accomodations elsewhere.

My primary advice, generally not heeded by it's main recipients, is to slow down and drive less because you'll find there's lots to see and do in a smaller area. From your "at minimum" you're already way past that. That's a lot of territory to cover in 3 weeks and my advice would be to scale back.

You've also got a pretty long drive from Berlin to Nuremburg. Maybe your German friend has stops planned on the way, but I'd consider getting their via Prague, which is spectacular even if it's now overrun with Brits on stag and hen parties and not the quiet backwater it was the first time I was there in the '90s. If you were going that way, I'd hit Cesky Krumlov, on the way to Vienna.

Of course, that would mean backtracking to get to Nuremburg, so maybe you don't want to go that way if Nuremburg is high on your list. Which would be entirely appropriate, especially if you're interested in the very good Nazi history museum, but even the old town is very cool too.

Not that it's really a recommendation, but the 12th century bridge in Regensburg is a family joke as our first trip with a camcorder featured disproportionate video of it.

If you're not going the Czech way, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a tiny walled city that all the tour buses stop at. If you stay the night there, you can see it in a more leasurely way and it's pretty cool. It seems pretty corny but the Night Watchman tour is actually fun (he's kinda funny).

ETA: I could write quite a bit about Munich, but I'll just put in a plug for the beer garden by the Chinese Tower in the Englisher Garden. The walk out there is nice and it's a good place for a beer and a umpah band. You can usually catch some urban surfers here on the way too.

If you're driving from Munich to Vienna, Salzburg is a must stop. One of my favorite European things to do is hit the Augustiner brewery in the monestary just down the river. The walk from the city center along the river to get there is nice too. And, of course, there's all of your Sound of Music sites and Mozart sites.

Moving on, Hallstatt is beautiful and unspoilt. I love Vienna, although it's been awhile and I don't have any specific recommendations. (I do remember being really bored in the art museums as a kid, though I suspect I'd appreciate them more now). Take a tour of the Opera House.

Bratislava is pleasant and a bit quiet if you'e heading that way, but I wouldn't go at all out of the way to see it.

I've never been to Trieste, but if you're going in that direction, Bled in Slovenia is pretty cool to my recollection (that was back in the '90s too, but the rest of my family was there two years ago and had good things to say).

Venice will be overrun with tourists and probably smelly. It's still totally worth it.

I've never been to Marseille proper, but I would recommend the French Riviera (duh). Cannes, St. Tropez and Nice are all good stops.

I'm assuming you're flying from Marseille to Dusseldorf? If not, you've got a lot more territory to cover and a lot more potential stops you could make.

ETA: On driving and parking, I personally wouldn't try to switch between driving and training. Unless you're going to stop in a particular city for several days, spending the time it takes to get to and from the rental agency isn't worth it. The beauty of European driving is that you can just follow the "city center" signs into town and then park in the first facility that strikes your fancy. Watch out for streetcars in Vienna though.

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Old 02-21-2017, 12:05 PM   #2154
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Re: Is this the Travel Board?

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I love Vienna, although it's been awhile and I don't have any specific recommendations. (I do remember being really bored in the art museums as a kid, though I suspect I'd appreciate them more now).

We were kind of ran through it quickly. And then as we were walking through this gallery, the Peasant Dance! Just stuck in the middle of a wall of paintings stacked 3 high. Amazing!
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Old 02-21-2017, 01:17 PM   #2155
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Re: Is this the Travel Board?

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Not meaningfully helpful: my parents have friends who have a condo in San Jose, and I think they've driven back and forth before. My mother went once and enjoyed it.



Now this is in my wheelhouse. As for lodging, to each his own, but I want to stay in the city center. Primarily because I want to go out and walk around, have dinner and some drinks and not have to drive anywhere to sleep. Heck, even without the drinks, I don't particularly like to drive at night either. But yes, you can get cheaper accomodations elsewhere.

My primary advice, generally not heeded by it's main recipients, is to slow down and drive less because you'll find there's lots to see and do in a smaller area. From your "at minimum" you're already way past that. That's a lot of territory to cover in 3 weeks and my advice would be to scale back.

You've also got a pretty long drive from Berlin to Nuremburg. Maybe your German friend has stops planned on the way, but I'd consider getting their via Prague, which is spectacular even if it's now overrun with Brits on stag and hen parties and not the quiet backwater it was the first time I was there in the '90s. If you were going that way, I'd hit Cesky Krumlov, on the way to Vienna.

Of course, that would mean backtracking to get to Nuremburg, so maybe you don't want to go that way if Nuremburg is high on your list. Which would be entirely appropriate, especially if you're interested in the very good Nazi history museum, but even the old town is very cool too.

Not that it's really a recommendation, but the 12th century bridge in Regensburg is a family joke as our first trip with a camcorder featured disproportionate video of it.

If you're not going the Czech way, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a tiny walled city that all the tour buses stop at. If you stay the night there, you can see it in a more leasurely way and it's pretty cool. It seems pretty corny but the Night Watchman tour is actually fun (he's kinda funny).

ETA: I could write quite a bit about Munich, but I'll just put in a plug for the beer garden by the Chinese Tower in the Englisher Garden. The walk out there is nice and it's a good place for a beer and a umpah band. You can usually catch some urban surfers here on the way too.

If you're driving from Munich to Vienna, Salzburg is a must stop. One of my favorite European things to do is hit the Augustiner brewery in the monestary just down the river. The walk from the city center along the river to get there is nice too. And, of course, there's all of your Sound of Music sites and Mozart sites.

Moving on, Hallstatt is beautiful and unspoilt. I love Vienna, although it's been awhile and I don't have any specific recommendations. (I do remember being really bored in the art museums as a kid, though I suspect I'd appreciate them more now). Take a tour of the Opera House.

Bratislava is pleasant and a bit quiet if you'e heading that way, but I wouldn't go at all out of the way to see it.

I've never been to Trieste, but if you're going in that direction, Bled in Slovenia is pretty cool to my recollection (that was back in the '90s too, but the rest of my family was there two years ago and had good things to say).

Venice will be overrun with tourists and probably smelly. It's still totally worth it.

I've never been to Marseille proper, but I would recommend the French Riviera (duh). Cannes, St. Tropez and Nice are all good stops.

I'm assuming you're flying from Marseille to Dusseldorf? If not, you've got a lot more territory to cover and a lot more potential stops you could make.

ETA: On driving and parking, I personally wouldn't try to switch between driving and training. Unless you're going to stop in a particular city for several days, spending the time it takes to get to and from the rental agency isn't worth it. The beauty of European driving is that you can just follow the "city center" signs into town and then park in the first facility that strikes your fancy. Watch out for streetcars in Vienna though.
Thanks! This is super helpful.

There are a couple of reasons that we decided to do a car trip instead of trains. One was cost and another was that I'm going to have a suitcase to lug around and old European cities aren't ideal for that kind of travel (alas my back prevents me from being a backpacker at this stage in my life). We will stay in Berlin proper for at least a couple of days before we pick up the car and we may stay in the city center of a couple of these cities, but touring around and exploring the countryside is also a benefit of the car option, so we will be stopping in smaller towns for lunch and things like that. The list we have is pretty ambitious and maybe we save the southern France stuff for another trip.

Great suggestions in Czechoslovakia and Austria!
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Old 02-21-2017, 02:05 PM   #2156
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Re: Is this the Travel Board?

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Thanks! This is super helpful.

There are a couple of reasons that we decided to do a car trip instead of trains. One was cost and another was that I'm going to have a suitcase to lug around and old European cities aren't ideal for that kind of travel (alas my back prevents me from being a backpacker at this stage in my life). We will stay in Berlin proper for at least a couple of days before we pick up the car and we may stay in the city center of a couple of these cities, but touring around and exploring the countryside is also a benefit of the car option, so we will be stopping in smaller towns for lunch and things like that. The list we have is pretty ambitious and maybe we save the southern France stuff for another trip.

Great suggestions in Czechoslovakia and Austria!
That's generally why we wind up driving too. It's just so much more flexible, and we never manage to pare down the itinerary enough.

I've been to Berlin twice so I feel like I should have specific things to recommend but I'm not sure I do (your German probably has that covered anyway). My main Berlin observation is how much it changed between the first trip, in maybe 1996, and 2011 when we were there last. The first time, all of the action was on the Ku'daam in what had been the West side and when you did go over to the old East, it was super quiet and dead. The second time, we didn't even go over to the Ku'daam.

I guess a specific (although unoriginal) recommendation would be to go see the Pergamon Alter, which is pretty cool.

The second time we stayed here, which is a pretty good location and pretty cheap.

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Old 02-22-2017, 09:25 AM   #2158
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Re: Is this the Travel Board?

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Great suggestions in Czechoslovakia
The 80s called and they want their Soviet bloc back.
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Old 02-22-2017, 04:15 PM   #2160
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Re: Is this the Travel Board?

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The 80s called and they want their Soviet bloc back.
The way things are going, it's only a matter of time...
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