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Thinking about visiting the UK or mainland Europe next year - need some advice

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by jrthebassguy, Dec 9, 2012.

  1. This year, I diligently saved in anticipation of getting Lasik surgery, only to find out last week that I'm not a viable candidate for it. That means I've got a current surplus of funds, and I think I'm in prime position to finally do something I've always wanted to do - visit Europe! :D

    I've always considered myself to be a worldly person, but I've never been further east than Ohio, and I've never seen a castle that wasn't designed by the Disney Imagineers. I'm a young guy with no kids, a job with ample vacation time, and a girlfriend who (probably) won't mind me taking a trek by myself.

    I'm thinking about one of the following two treks. Either way, I've got two weeks of vacation to work with.

    1. UK. Start off in London, and slowly float northward, ending in Glasgow or Edinburgh. I've got a friend in Wales I could probably visit at some point as well. This plan has the pros of no language barrier and will also be able to spend more time in each city, but will have less cultural diversity. I could also hang out with some our UK TB brethren too!

    2. Mainland Europe. Start off in Paris, and either head north east to Belgium/Netherlands/western Germany or go a bit southeast towards Switzerland/Austria/southern Germany. Maybe make a push for Berlin if I have the time. More cultural diversity, but with some significant language barriers (I get to practice my rusty German!) and I would spend more time in transit.

    Thoughts about either path? Am I a bit too ambitious (or not enough) with the two weeks i have? What is the best time of year to visit? Summer I assume has the best weather, but that's also the soccer offseason, and I'd love to see a few Premiership (or Bundesliga) matches over there, but that's not necessarily a deal breaker. I'm a huge history buff, so either way I go I plan on visiting plenty of historical sites.

    I assume public transit can get me from city to city fairly well? I don't mind renting a car if I need to. Texas is larger than the entire UK a few times over, so I'm used to driving very long distances to get from city to city.

    Any general tips that I'm missing? I genuinely appreciate anybody's input!
  2. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    There's a few special moderator beers lined up for you if you make it to my town. Have a great trip!

    Spring and summer are pretty much indistinguishable here, so come during the football season if you'd like to. DON'T miss Belgium, seriously.
  3. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Knowing what I know and bearing in mind the fact that you don't mind driving, I would do this:

    London 2 nights
    Birmingham 1 night to get those beers
    Friend in Wales (North or South? You didn't say) 1 or 2 nights
    Scotland (but not Glasgow or Edinburgh - meh, they're not great cities to visit) 2 or 3 nights
    Back to Birmingham 1 night
    London 2 nights
    Paris 2 nights
    Belgium (say, Bruges) 2 nights

    Then you've covered the a chunk of the UK and a couple of cool places in mainland Europe.
  4. I wouldn't say that, there is quite a difference....maybe less in the UK tough. summer in the UK or germany/belgium etc. summer will be very different from what you're used to back in Texas.

    oh Bill i strongly resent your anti-edinburgh comment. it's a beautiful city and it's not a coincidence that it's the second most visited city in the UK.
  5. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Edinburgh? Pfft.
  6. jealousy. i love the city :bassist:
  7. One thing to keep in mind, while Texas is significantly larger than the UK in terms of size, it has less than half the population of the UK. Fewer open roads, much denser. Also, depending on your license you may be limited in what you can rent (the vast majority of cars being manual), you'd also be stuck on the other side of the road and have to duel with roundabouts :p

    On mainland Europe you can get a European Rail Card, which will give you unlimited travel for X-length of time, would also be less hassle that loads of individual tickets etc.

    I'll disagree with the comments on Glasgow and Edinburgh (pfft, Brummie) :p , lots to see and do in both. August also has the Fringe festival in Edinburgh which may or may not be your kinda thing (though there tends to be events for prettymuch everyone). Though I will say it'd be silly to stop in the central belt (Edinburgh/Glasgow), at least spend a day traveling around the highlands.

    Beer on me if you drop be Edinburgh.

  8. He's in Swansea. That's actually a really cool alternative route to what I originally thought, which I'll definitely keep in mind. If I do go UK I still want to visit Edinburgh though. :D

    Oh, and if I head your way I'll absolutely meet you fer a few brews. :bassist:
  9. That's what i_got_a_mohawk and I did a couple of weeks ago. please feel free to join us next time.


  10. Duly noted. If I hit Edinburgh we'll definitely have to hang out.

    It's been years since I've driven a stick shift. I may be able to borrow one to practice with before I head over. Typically only old trucks and sports cars here seem to have stick.
  11. I'd say we're overdue another one (if you're still around at the mo).

    Good stuff!

    There's a lot of overly touristy stuff to do, some not so touristy things to do, and of course, lots of distilleries if you head further North!
  12. you mean when you hit Edinburgh :D
  13. Tat2dHeart

    Tat2dHeart Only two strings away from an attitude problem.

    I haven't been to the UK yet, but I've been to Germany, Italy and Spain. The language barrier will be less than you think. Most folks from Europe that I've encountered are polyglots and enjoy the chance to practice their English. If you travel to countries where English is not the primary language, do learn a few basics words and phrases. They appreciate when you try (and no one's ever criticized me for messing it up).
  14. Tituscrow

    Tituscrow Banned

    Feb 14, 2011
    NW England
    One night in London, just to tick the box.

    Thirteen nights in Manchester/Liverpool....the TRUE heart of the UK. :)

    Beer on me if you stop by.
  15. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Sounds like hell. :D

  16. I consider myself to be a (terrible) Liverpool fan, so if I go during football season, a stop at Anfield is a must. :D
  17. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Manchester is a dreadful place. It's not as bad now as it used to be, but for a US visitor there's no reason at all to go there unless you're a fan of one of the big two football clubs (which you are not, of course).

    Liverpool is kind of the opposite - it used to be a glorious city, but is now very sadly in decline. Liverpool is the UK's version of Detroit in that sense (even though it was a port). Grim place these days, but worth a visit for the football if you're a fan.
  18. Tituscrow

    Tituscrow Banned

    Feb 14, 2011
    NW England
    ALL Liverpool fans are terrible, but don't worry, I'm a blue, so a trip to Goodison should show you what the true spirit of football on Merseyside is all about :)
  19. Tituscrow

    Tituscrow Banned

    Feb 14, 2011
    NW England
    Bill comes from the most miserable region in the UK. It's called the Black Country for good reason. And he is one of the chirpier Brummies you'll ever meet. :D

    Manchester and Liverpool rock.
  20. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much

    Jul 2, 2011
    Milton Keynes, UK
    If going to Scotland, head further north into the Highlands. Given limited time, stick to the west side, heading through Glencoe to Fort William - I'd spend weeks around that area alone! Lots of history to be found on the way.