We leave in about 12 days and most of the planning (and paying!) has been done over the past year. We always knew that we wanted to start our trip in Italy with a accompanied tour and finish with a Rhine River Cruise, but spend our time in France and Britain making our own way and arrangements for transport, accommodation and activities.
Our Italian tour is with Trafalgar and the Rhine with Avalon. I will give more details later. We have booked accommodation in Paris, London, Edinburgh, Amsterdam and Prague, leaving France and England outside the capitals to arrange as we go.
For transport we have chosen trains throughout the continent and a hire car for England/Wales/Scotland. A five day rail pass for two countries covers Northern Italy and France, we have booked the cross Channel fare from Paris to London, air travel from Edinburgh to Amsterdam (via London – the direct flights were ridiculously expensive) but are now looking for our link from Budapest to Prague. I didn’t realise how far it was until I found the the train trip via Vienna tales more than 7 hours. Travel forums suggest that air travel takes nearly as long once you allow for baggage exchange and transport to and from the airport, so train it is and during the day so that we at least say we have seen Eastern Europe.
The unanswered question comes to First or Second? We are happy to take second class in Italy, France and England because they are short trips but 7 hours is a long time to be crushed into a small space. I have checked the forums who mostly plump for second’s as quite comfortable. The question that follows is “who writes most forum posts? – are they young flexible tourists travelling on the smell of an oily rag rather the sexagenarian arthritic types more
like Julie and I.
We will find out and let you know in 10 weeks.