View Full Version : Europe Advice

08-02-2011, 19:59
Hello all-Have the great opportunity to travel to London for work in a few weeks. I will have an open Fri pm, Sat, Sun, Mon. I have tried to look up some good ideas of things to do, I would like to take in some of Europe via train. BC of the nature of the trip being business it is probably inappropriate to bring all of my gear, so please make some suggestions. From London it looks like I could be in Amserdam in about 6-7 hrs. Dublin in 10. Or I could stay in England? Too many choices! Help!Amsterdam looks like fun, but I am now 32 with 2 kids and although I love a good party every now and them, it appears at face value to be less about the culture and more about the red light district. Now I am no prude, and would love to take in some culture, but not so sure hanging with a bunch of stoned 18 yr olds and 60 year old dudes looking for a cheap thrill in the red light district sounds like what I want to do with 3 free days in Europe. Anyone??

08-02-2011, 20:25
I've done some hiking in: Ireland, Scotland, Poland, Switzerland and the Pyrenees (border of Spain/France)
I'd have to say the best was the Pyrenees.
Not so easy to get to (trains are expensive) but, well worth it if you can.

Check out Francis Tapon (triple crowner I believe) he has a website and is over there now in Switzerland.
He's spent considerable time in Eastern Europe hiking and traveling around researching a book he is writing.

08-02-2011, 21:19
Thinking Scotland might be the best bet as it looks easy to get to. Any suggestions in Scotland. North, East etc...Thanks for the feedback. Any other input? Amsterdam, Netherlands, France?

08-02-2011, 22:01
Well, you have Ireland and Scotland, the old stand-bys. They sound kind of boring in comparison to what the rest of Europe has to offer and will probably be crowded as they are very internationally popular as backpacking destinations. I myself will be going to Sweden in two weeks. If you can make it there, and it seems like it would be quite a journey (especially to northern Sweden), I would recommend the Kungsleden. It's about 270 miles long and it looks quite beautiful. The first section goes over Sweden's highest peak, Kebnekaise. It is very well-maintained by the Svenska Turistföreningen, the tourist board. Some shelters even have saunas! Seeing the northern lights over the Scandinavian mountains at night would be quite a treat.

08-02-2011, 22:18
England has great hikes. Given your time constraints just head for the lake district, and enjoy some great walking though fascinating historical hills.

08-02-2011, 22:24
One idea is you could check out the West Highland Way on the west coast of Scotland. In three hiking days I bet you could see some great sections of the trail. Each section usually ends in a B&B or a hostel so that would lower the amount of gear you would need. The trail starts just north of Glasgow so catching a train up there would be pretty easy. I'm sure taxi services for a one-way hike would also be available.

But make sure to bring good rain gear!! :p

08-02-2011, 22:36
My thoughts on Scotland: Went to Ben Nevis, beautiful area. (it is in the Arctic circle I believe so, anytime but summer is going to be cccccold!)
No trees around.
Not many roads, get off the beaten track and it could be quite exceptional I believe although no trees makes it seem barren.
Lots of cool looking lochs (deep lakes?) on the way up there. Very beautiful.
Could be nice.
Just because you think it's an English speaking country doesn't mean you'll understand the accent.

Holland: Very cool country. People are very friendly. Not many trees, flat land, beautiful women, everyone riding bikes.
Didn't hike there but we did buy a car and did some car camping (stealth car camping actually).
Easy to get to via ferry.
Amsterdam is a must see IMO. (Heineken brewery has free food and beer)

Southern France is very cool with friendly people. (northern France not as friendly), quaint villages with cobblestone streets, excellent wine, bread, and especially cheese (over 350 kinds and ALL better than American cheese).

I've hitchhiked through France 3 times. Paris is tough but it's not the same as rural France.
Stealth camped in farmer's fields, small patches of woods, and on the beach near Normandy. Surfers were very cool. (but cold water)

Have fun.

08-02-2011, 23:29
Great info from everyone. Looks like Europe has a lot to offer. Decisions.........

08-02-2011, 23:51
Been to Amsterdam, brewerys and brothels for the younger set but a lot of history and friendly people otherwise. If you are into art, the Riijksmuseum has a fantastic collection. Paris is well worth a long weekend, but the langauge is often a barrier to ease of getting around. 30 years post high school I was able to get by with some refresher and a phrase book. On my trip to Europe I avoided UK and London as I was running low on funds at the exchange rate was too unfavorable.
Fortunately,I'm heading to the UK in Sept. to visit family and I have outlined a walking trip along Hadrian's Wall in the territory between UK and Scotland. The path and wall was built during Roman times still exists as a relic and with some re creations of certain section. The entire path is 85 miles mol from Newcastle on the east coast to Carlisle and Bowness on Solway on the west coast. There is bus service linking towns and villages along the wall path should care to skip sections. Train fares from London are most reasonable if purchased in advance. In most of the UK "wild camping" or throwing down in a quiet, private spot is discouraged if not outright disallowed. The wall path passes thru parks where campsites are available. A better choice might be a hostel, camping barn or cozy home with rooms to let. I've surveyed many potential walks in UK and Scotland and there are many offering history, spectacular vistas, and cultural sites. And they have a canal system that offers tow path walking opportunities.

Lots to see there. try these websites for some more ideas.



Destinations on the continent might be more attractive to some but there is much to do without the expense of a trans channel train trip.

08-03-2011, 22:19
Again. The amount of information available here is fantastic. Thanks for the help. Keep it coming.

08-04-2011, 10:38
I went to Ireland last May for 2 weeks and by far the most amazing day I spent there was driving through the Dingle Peninsula. It is indescribable. You've got the sea and the mountains. Here's a link http://www.dingle-peninsula.ie/index.html that seems to have most of the info you might need. I only got to spend 1 day driving through (I was on a class trip) but if I ever went back, I could easily spend an entire trip there.

The Solemates
08-04-2011, 12:58
ive been to a lot of EU. (never Scotland though, which others keep suggesting). I think the best place for the outdoors in all of EU is Switzerland - but then again I'm a big snow skier too so I may be biased.

08-04-2011, 16:16
Well, are you looking for a city weekend, or a hiking weekend?

If you are looking for city/culture, and have had a chance to sample London, I would go to Amsterdam. Forget your preconceptions; it is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. And it's easy to get around in. Definitely Amsterdam.

O.K., Paris would be good too. Again, easy to walk about the center of town. You can stay at the Hotel Odessa (I think its called) in Monparnasse. Easy walking distance distance to everything. Check out the catacombs.

Hiking? Money no object? I would fly to Switzerland and spend two days in Grindewald or Lauterbrunnen. Definitely do the Jungfraubahn train through the Eiger. You can take trains from the airport to wherever you want to go.

Another alternative, within the UK is to take a train to Scotland, and visit Edinburgh castle. If you want to push on, you could take the train to Fort William or Kyle of Lochalsh.

Enjoy it!

08-04-2011, 17:54
The Lakes District is a great idea which would allow you to do some of the western end of the Coast to Coast - beautiful scenery. Another option would be to train south of London and head for the coast and get on some of those trails, South Downs Way, there are a bunch of them-hit some hostels etc. Both these options have you keeping the travel time lower rather than trying to get up to Scotland. Get all over the internet! Get a Capitol One credit card (no transaction fees-yes still conversion fee though), buy an Oyster Card online for public transport in London (Google it) and enjoy yourself.

08-04-2011, 19:06

How about hiking Hadrian's Wall? There are companies that will set up a schedule for you and you can hike B&B to B&B. That should minimize your equipment needs and provide you with a unique experience.


08-04-2011, 20:28
And the winner is .......Amsterdam. Tons of great advice. I looked in to all of them. But bc of time constraints and ease of travel I think a couple of days/nights in Amsterdam sounds awesome. Plus a day trip out to windmill country. I will say that the "lake district looks like fantastic camping and something that I am going to add to my must do list. And for anyone interested in something I dug up during my research check out the"great glen way" in Scotland. Looks like an incredible hike, or as they seem to call it hill walking. Cheers! Hey- any advice on Amsterdam? Stay here, do this, don't do this etc.....

08-06-2011, 12:06
Amsterdam is worth the trip.I initially did not want to go there. We stayed in Haarlem, a very picturesque suburb about twenty minutes out by train and trained in two morning instead of staying in the Amsterdam. I recommend the Hans de Kiefte and Marjet Aarsen B and B on Coornstraat 3, if it is still here.Nicefun people and great location. Haarlem is very pretty and not as packed with people as Amsterdam. The Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museums are great. Lots of cool pot-free cafes and once you get out of the train station area the city is very clean and pretty. The pot places have a green and white sign so they are easy to avoid as is the red light district. The main train station area and one park outside one of the museums is to be avoided because of kids on way too many substances. Take the canal tour. You can also easily get around by barge. At the end of the day, train back to Haarlem, go to the huge public square (groote market) and have a local beer at one of the outdoor places. There are alot of very good places to eat in Haarlem also. We had a car but just parked it in Haarlem and used it to go on our other trips to the other parts of the Netherlands, Arnhem, Nijmegan, some of the outer islands, the Ardennes in Belguim, France, etc. Outside the cities, the people are unusually friendly to Americans because of WW2. Most people speak English.If not, they will help you anyway. The food is fantastic. Try their Indonesian dish-Ritjfen from the Dutch colonial days. Excellent seafood and duck dishes too.

08-06-2011, 15:11
Been to Amsterdam many times.
One of the highlights is the buskers in Dam square.
I always stayed at the AYH youth hostel in the center of town, because Amsterdam is expensive and you can cook your own food there.
We bought our car there in '99.
Stayed 5 days and then headed south, stealth camping with the car along the coast.
Here's a youtube video we made (wrote the music and everything) about that trip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hu0Feivs184
Y (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hu0Feivs184)ou definitely should check out the coffee shops and the hash menu in them. It's part of the culture you know.
Ann Franke house, world's narrowest house, Van Gogh museum, red light district, etc. are other highlights.
But some of the buskers are amazing there.
I did a lot of busking myself in that city but, you have to be really good to get time on Dam Square.

08-06-2011, 15:11
good choice. go to amsterdam, been about 6 times. it can get a bit hectic on the weekends, but easily avoided. just look out for hen and stag nights. Amsterdam is beautiful and amazing and so much fun with so many museums and ohhh damn, I wanna go back! There are a couple hundred coffee shops, though the law is a bit wierd these days...

i recommend checking out Greenhouse Effect on Warmostrrat (sp?) one block east from Damrak, just behind the uber touristy Grasshopper (avoid there on weekends) GreenHE - a cool place with bar coffee shop and live music.

Haarlem's pretty sweet place to escape to as mentioned above, as youll be there 4 days, why not avoid the big crowds on saturday afternoon by going to haarlem. - cheap easy train from central station.

if it's sunny, vodelpark in the south is a lovely place to chill

it's a great town!

08-06-2011, 15:12
if you go to anne frank house, go early as possible because really it's just a line of people walking though a house looking at someone's arse going up stairs in the middle of the day

08-06-2011, 15:18
why not go to the beach also? I never went but it's meant to be quite nice
the local dish is fries with mayonaise.
remember theres lots of shops that sell shrooms, get a good breakfast, eat a small dose of those then go to the van gogh museum
i'd personally skip the heineken brewery, its ok, but they only give you 2 small free beers and it's always full.
get a boat trip round the canals
as soon as you arrive use the trams, don't be intimidated by them, nice n easy
watch out when crossing the street!!! bike lane, tram lane car lane x 2, trams, bikes ...... if under the influence AGHH!