Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Travel help needed! {part two}

A couple weeks ago, I asked for your help with my upcoming trip to Ireland. Well, I need your help again. We finally booked our plane tickets to London this week, so we will be heading there in August. Besides the dates that we are flying in and out, we don't have anything else planned. This is where my fabulous readers come in. 

We are hoping to do see: Wales, London, Paris, Italy and Spain while we are there for three weeks. What are the must see and do things? We are hoping to stay in b&b's while we are there to help cut down on costs. Any b&b's that you can recommend? 

The questions we have:

1. What's the easiest/cheapest way to get from London to Paris?
2. What's the easiest/cheapest way to get from Italy to Spain (or vice versa)
3. Any recommendations of places to stay outside of Paris?
4. What is a good website to book flights between Italy and Spain?
5. Any websites or blogs that you can recommend?

I'd love to hear any ideas or information that you have. This trip has been in the works for almost three years, so I am excited but overwhelmed at planning everything!


  1. London: Tower of London, St Paul's, Westminster Abbey, BRITISH MUSEUM! Make sure you leave yourselves lots and lots of time at the museum.

    Paris: Montmarte, Eiffel Tower at night, Champs Elysees, Jardin des Tuileries is a great spot to take a picnic lunch and relax.

    Spain: If you're going to be in Madrid, I'd recommend the Prado Musem. Not far from Madrid is Toledo - lots of beautiful cathedrals and churches there.

    Haha, I could go on and on about my favorite places, but I'll end here.

  2. I have no help to offer as I've never been any of those places. But I'm jealous!

  3. Have you thought of short-stay apartment rentals? is a good resource to check out...

    As for travelling between countries - check airfare as well as trains and busses. There are a lot of discount airlines in europe that can be pretty cheap...(RyanAir and Vueling come to mind but I'm sure there are more)

  4. I would definitely go to Cinque Terre when you are in Italy! You will love it and the hike through the five villages is amazing. We did all of our hotel/hostel/b&b bookings through or priceline when we went and we also flew between countries (other than Italy because we spent the most time in Italy so used the eurail there) and we flew on easyjet which was REALLY reasonably priced.

    You are a very lucky girl going to Ireland AND Europe in the same year :)

  5. So exiting and fun! I used to train and Subway in and around Europe. I went 10 years ago so am not much help though! We are hoping to get to Italy and Greece for our 5 year anniversary in 2015 :)

  6. I used trains and subways to get around in Europe when I was there... but being that it was 10 years ago I am not much help. We are hoping to get to Italy and Greece in 2015 for our 5 year anniversary!

  7. Take the bullet train London Pancras station to Paris. First class. Book it here. Research Eurostar trains, get tix here and it's way cheaper. Lots of options. Trains much better than flying. Where in Italy? Florence and Venice are amazing, but so is lots of other places.

  8. This sounds like a dream trip! I would definitely look into Easy Jet as Amber recommended. They tend to be the cheapest way to get around Europe, and they are usually pretty nice too! In London, they'll probably have you fly out of one of the out of the city airports, so do some research about how to access them. I forget which one I flew out of, but I know we took the train to get there. I actually did the Chunnel between London and Paris- not sure if its cheapest, but it's a really, really cool experience!

  9. Woah- your trip to Ireland turned into a complete Europe trip! You are going to have a blast!

    I've heard the best way to get to Paris from London is through the Chunnel (underground/sea train). Never done it personally though.

    We used EuroRail to get through France and Spain and it was awesome. Book first class- the small extra fee is so worth it.

    See if you can book a short term vacation rental accommodations through VRBO. We did that in Paris and it was cheap and awesome. Highly recommend it.

    Not sure about websites or blogs, but we loved the Rick Steves books. He has a website

    We stayed in Provence, in the town Arles in France. Gorgeous little town. We toured around Avignon as well and did a great little van tour through a few other small towns. Nice way to see the country side and different towns without renting a car. We also did a wicked wine tour; I know you aren't really a wine fan but I can send you info if you are at all interested.

    Arles is where Van Gogh spent a bunch of years painting.

    I highly recommend Barcelona. LOVED that city! So much to see and do, plus there is a beach! I love all of Gaudi's work.

    We went to Madrid but I didn't enjoy it as much. I know lots of people that have so maybe it was just because it was the end of our trip.

    We also went overboard with museums. I really wish we only went to half of them.

    There is a great bike tour in Paris that you HAVE to do! I'll get info if you want. Also they have bikes you can rent all over the place so that's the best way to see Paris without destroying your feet/legs or spending a ton on cabs.

    I have a ton more info for Paris/Provence and Barcelona so let me know if you have questions.

    So envious!! You are going to have a blast!

  10. Wow! 2 international trips in 1 year? That is awesome! I can help with Paris recommendations :) We'll have to email about that. I don't have B&B recommendations, I think they are harder to come by in Europe actually. Depending on how long you will be in each location, I would look into renting an apartment...

    I can answer the first question - The eurostar (referred to as the chunnel) will probably be cheapest. But you could also get cheap plane tickets on Ryan air. however there are a lot of extra fees when you take Ryan air apparently, so it might not be as cheap as it initially appears.

    How far outside of Paris are you hoping to stay? Are you trying to stay outside of Paris to cut down on the cost or are you trying to see another area outside of Paris? I have a friend that lives in Paris so I could ask her for some recommendations depending on what you are looking to do...

    I would highly recommend using Tripadvisor and searching through their travel forums for each destination. It was so helpful for me when I planned my Paris trip!

  11. Leigh - so excited for both of you... let's talk while we are in Ireland. I've been to all those places taken the ferry from England over - but you have to experience the Chunnel - downtown London to downdown Paris - in 30 minutes -crazy...
    trains are cheap in Spain and Italy... can't wait to talk about things to see. Love the bikes also in Paris...

  12. Oh so exciting! For travelling between countries, sometimes flying can be much cheaper (and faster) than taking the train. Check out The upside to taking the train? So much more civilized. But with only 3 weeks and so much you want to see, flying may be your best bet.

    One of our favourite ways to initially check out a city is to do one of those double decker bus tours. It's a great way to get orientated, scope out what you want to see later and you can do it when you are dead tired because all you have to do is sit and listen to your bus guide.

    For London we loved Tower of London for a really neat historical site, my sister-in-law checked out Westminster Abbey on a guided tour and said that was great too. Nip into Harrods but then spend most of your time in the food store/gift shop, but avoid the London Eye - its pricey and you can see much more of the city on the buses.

    A great thing to do in either London or Paris (or both) is to take a boat cruise on the respective rivers - another great way to see the city. Definitely take the time to go up the Eiffel tower! For a peaceful moment, take a rest in the garden of les Tuileries. Notre Dame is gorgeous as well. My favourite thing to do in Paris though, isn't in Paris - it's Versailles. Definitely budget for a whole day. My sister-in-law did a bike tour and said it was a lot of fun.

    Italy... we spent 3 weeks travelling between Rome, Cinque Terre and Venice and before that 2 weeks in Tuscany. You might only have time for one and how you decide which depends on what you want to get out of it. Rome is the fastest paced, you can see the Forum, Vatican, Trevi Fountain, Colosseum and the restaurants can be pretty cheap and usually always amazing. August is Cinque Terre's tourist time so it will also be very busy and in all of the 5 towns, there's only one real sand beach. It is a worthwhile sight and an experience to be had though and the seafood is phenomenal. Venice is a city unto itself but it will be very humid and hot and many of the locals escape to Lido (sandy island nearby) to beat the heat. The food was mediocre. Florence is a more civilized, museum and food experience and the city itself is gorgeous. If you want to get off the beaten path a bit, check out the province of Umbria, it's being hailed the new Tuscany, just not as touristy. To travel within Italy, take the train and don't worry about buying your tickets ahead of time, it will be cheaper to buy there.

    Barcelona is a great city for tapas, wine, beaches, food markets and football. Check out the Sagrada Familia - its been under construction since 1882 and they're still working on it. You'll never see anything like it again. Take the bus tour to see as much of Gaudi's architecture as possible and wander a bit on La Rambla.

    Remember to buy a few kichy touristy souvenir items - your token Eiffel Tower, etc. because while they look silly in the kiosk on site, you'll never be able to get it again and they can look really cute at home. We also grab something utilitarian as well from each country we visit - usually something for the kitchen - cheese grater from Sweden, espresso cup from Rome, etc. It's nice to remember where you were when you use it. And Christmas ornaments if you can get them.

    Definitely use Rick Steves, he has the most original and useful information.
    My sister-in-law chronicled her year of travelling here:
    Let me know if you have specific questions! Just remember that whatever you end up doing is going to be amazing and you can always go back.



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