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I think this thread needs this so we can get back to the original question:
I've bin to Turkey once and it was a lovely holiday. I would always recommend it (maybe not right now though, because the political situation is not as stable as I'd whish it was). That said: Turkey is not Europe. There is much talk about it (it is debated quite controversially) to change that, but right now it is not.
Thanks for all the posts!
Of course I'll make my own decision; it's fun to read what everyone thinks.
I might end up saving the idea of a Nordic/Scandinavian trip for some later date. I feel like that deserves a lot of time. Also Iceland... There are ads for IcelandAir pasted all over my train, so almost every day I glance up at one of those ads and think, "Hey, I should go to Iceland!" But again I wouldn't want to do just do a one-day stopover there; I'm sure there is a lot to see.
@kinntea, something like that bike tour sounds great! I do think that starting with a one day orientation is a great way to learn your way around a new city.
I did join the free month trial of the new Kindle Unlimited. It seems to let you read any of the Lonely Planet guidebooks. Not my favorite series, but definitely a great way to browse a lot of travel books for free.
If Hungary was the only place I'd ever been in Europe, I'd go to Italy first (Cinque Terre for hiking, plus Rome/Siena/Venice for the city side of things). Second would be Turkey (Istanbul, Cappadocia, etc.). But of the places you had under consideration, I would pick Sweden, Iceland, or the Netherlands.
We have a family connection (by marriage) to Sweden, so of the latter three I am of course a bit biased in its favor. :) But I've done my share of traveling (Europe and Asia), and I honestly find Stockholm very charming and accessible for visitors. Gamla Stan/the Old City is super-walkable and picturesque. The island of Djurgarden, which is in central Stockholm, holds a collection of world-class museums which are set amidst lovely forests and meadows. (My favorite attraction is the Vasa Museum, which holds a fully-restored 17th century wooden ship, three - or more - stories tall.) You can also take a ferry for a day trip to the outer islands of the Stockholm archipelago. We went to Fjaderholmarna and it was a relaxing boat ride, plus it's delightful to stroll around the island, along the water, and also browse the artisan stalls. (Restaurants do get a bit expensive out there, though.)
For straight-up hiking interest - I have to say I am quite intrigued by Scotland right now. And in addition to the landscape there's Edinburgh, and a strong local knitting culture - I would love to check out all the yarn stores there! But that's my particular madness. :) (Yarn would also be a reason for me to pick Iceland, come to think of it. :))
Wherever you end up, I hope you post your account of your travels! And pictures of your Bihn traveling companions, of course. :)
haraya, i want to go to scotland so much! i have family roots there, and i can't wait to see it as an adult--haven't been in about 30 yrs!
posting when the Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door Kindle book went on sale (in the U.S. and Canada) back in March. OverDrive is used internationally (originally a large presence especially in libraries in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the U.K.for electronic content), but local content and formats may vary a lot by country. And there may be other combinations that work well for public borrowing (I haven't tried the Nook or Kobo apps this way, for example.)
If you go for two weeks, do one week in Iceland and one somewhere else. Iceland is spectacularly beautiful with lots of outdoor opportunities.
Nowadays, in Europe, every place, even the smallest of town, has a website.
Each country has an extensive tourist information website, so does every region, province and county.
Every country has very good public transport websites, many, if not all the northern European countries have an English version of those sites.
I am very attracted to northernmost European countries: Iceland, Norway, Denmark.
The best time to travel anywhere in Europe is during the summer, because the days are longer, local people are on vacations and are relaxed, days are mostly sunny but in the fall, rain starts falling, school is back in session, people are busy.
If you like to ski, wait until February for a trip to the Alps.
Ilykway is from Germany, so she knows about that country. Jannilee went to Iceland and I believe it is Frank II area of predilection for travelling.
The first thing to do is to study all the destinations that interest you, check their international airport(s) and the airlines that fly there.
Then work out the time and the money you want to spend there, plus extra for emergency.
Do some homework on travel and health insurance and other logistics: Frank II, Rick Steves and Flyer Talk websites are very good for that.
Discounters websites are useful for gauging pricing trends in the airline and hotel industry for the area you want to visit.
Make sure to find out if there is a major event in any of the countries you want to visit, a big soccer match, cultural event, royal event (for countries with royals) is going to book up many places and flight seats, very quickly.
For peace of mind, skip that country for this immediate trip, or use a neighboring country as a base and go there for a day trip by boat or train.
I believe that Eurorail passes can only be bought from the U.S but I am not sure.
Just some thoughts from my experience.
Out of your list, I've only been to Copenhagen and that was twenty years ago but I loved it. Very walkable, good street food, excellent summer weather. I actually got there on an overnight ferry from Oslo and it looks like that's still an option. I also got to Stockholm by train, but not as far as Helsinki. I thought Scandinavia was wonderful but yes, very expensive. I did a lot of camping/sleeping on floors (including on the ferry). I would love to return, especially to Denmark and Norway.
i have used both vrbo and airbnb and had great experiences with both. If anyone needs a place to stay in Madrid near museum mile i know a great one!
I am trying airbnb for the first time this fall when I go to Israel again. If it works out I will be very happy to try it again, because I'm too old for hostels, but hotels are out of my reach in most places.
Had to look up VRBO, but that looks interesting too! Definitely worth it for a group. In Hungary we did something like that, though I don't remember exactly how we found it, and it was terrific. Got to cook our own meals and had a flat to ourselves. The apartment was over a cafe, so we could walk down the stairs and get caffeinated confections -- could not have asked for a better situation!