Help me plan Europe trip #3

I’m interested in seeing beauty. I quite liked driving through the mountains of France last time.
Pyrennes mountains?
Southern coast of France?
Mountainous area between Nice and Geneva?
Dip my toes into Spain, Italy, or Switzerland?
Keep in mind if I rent a car at point A, I need to return to point A. I’ll probably still spend a day or two in Paris and take the high speed train so maybe I only have 5-6 days elsewhere.

Any suggestions based on your past experience? I don’t know how realistic is it traveling there in August or September but if France is going to open up count me in.

The most beautiful place I’ve ever been was the Pacific Rockies, between Banff and Jasper.

That being said, there are plenty of beautiful places in Europe.

I’ve hiked in the Pyrenes and Alps, both were really cool. Nice is one of the nicest places I’ve ever been so I think you’ve got a nice area chosen for Europe.

I did a train going between Pyrenes and Alps and the Nice trip was separate so can’t speak to the driving.

It’s my understanding that Southern Europe is unbearably hot in August (jas might know more about this).

Any interest in Northern Europe? I think Iceland would be spectacular.

Average highs / lows in August:
Nice, Marseille, and Montpelier: 82-84 / 64-70 degrees and 2 days of rain.
Des Moines: 84 / 64 degrees and 7 days of rain.
Madrid, Spain 89 / 66 and 1 day of rain
Seville, Spain: 96 / 66 and 0 days of rain

It’ll be just like home only drier. There’s a good chance it’ll be September assuming it goes on this year. Madrid and Seville are not on my agenda

I guess it’s all relative.

We just drove by Des Moines a couple days ago on the I-80. Looked very pretty this time of year. Reminded me of the Dordogne region in France (east of Bordeaux) with its rolling hills.

My trip to France included Lyon, Avignon, and Marsaille.

Lyon & Avignon were both amazing and I would definitely go back there. Marsaille was at the end of a long trip, it was nearly 35C, and we were worn out, so I can’t say as much about it — the Mediterranean was pretty and I’d like to go back at some point, but probably in the winter.

Why? Europe doesn’t allow one-way rentals?

I live one mile off exit 70, if anyone ever wants a free lunch

My limited research suggests they expect to hire someone to return the car, which costs a lot. A $500 rental becomes a $2,000 rental. I should continue checking, because I would love nothing more than to pick it up in Marseille and drop it off outside Geneva.

I just did some more checking and that’s wrong. says I can rent a Fiat 500 for 5 days for only $300 ($92 one-way surcharge). This is excellent, because I want to start at one end and end up at the other, and take the train from Paris to Toulouse and from Lyon to Paris.

OK the 9-day trip is coming into focus:
Arrive in Geneva & rent a car
Spend 2 days driving the Route des Grandes Alpes = 425 miles of driving over mountain passes, generally only accessible between May and October.
End up in Nice, stop by Monaco, stick my toe into Italy.
Drop off car and use trains to spend a day each in Nice, Marseille, and Lyon.
Then 2 days in Paris to finish it off.

Are you worried about covid restrictions crossing borders? I’m thinking about taking a vacation in Hawaii, and that’s going to give me a little trouble.

I think I’ll need a COVID test 3 days before each departure. Should be no problem here. Over there, France claims they will be free to tourists. Waiting to find more information on the internet. I only hope to sneak into Italy briefly (not required). I don’t have to enter Switzerland to begin the mountain journey, but it’s convenient. If I am forced to stay inside France it won’t materially change anything.

Only been to Germany/Austria/Switzerland. Austria is beautiful, as long as you stay out of Vienna. I’ve seen some awesome pictures from Hungary and the Czech republic, so I’d love to go there some day.

I am at the beginning of planning a Germany trip in 2022. One definite stop is the home where my gpa was born (Plettenberg, NW Germany). It is still owned by my family out there. I’ve met them only once a few years ago when they came to a family reunion. They basically told me I have a free place to stay if I wanted. A few of my cousins have already taken advantage of it.

Vienna has many beautiful parts, too.

You’re right, it does - I’m even planning a trip for sometime in the near future where I spend a lot of time there. Just a different beauty from the rest of the country (in my opinion). Probably doesn’t help that I lived there for a while and was not in one of the expensive inner districts - I lived in an area where there were just tall apartment buildings and nothing fun to look at. The inner district has some fun stuff to do/see though.

Well I booked the tickets, DSM => NCE on 9/3 and CDG => DSM on 9/13

Traveling will definitely be more of a pain than usual:

  1. Get a negative COVID test in Des Moines within 3 days of departure
  2. Fill out forms no more than 48 hrs ahead of time (twice, once for each flight) telling the UK how I only plan to use their airport and not go into their city to give them COVID
  3. Get a free COVID test in Paris within 3 days of departure.

Now I just need to book a car and locations I can cancel when all of this falls through. Flight was frequent flyer miles so only $165 out of pocket in taxes (and I might have paid $99 for a credit card annual fee to have all these miles)

I decided to book some Air BnB visits this trip to save money and get a different experience. I had a really good experience in Cardiff 4-5 years ago. The first three nights (2 locations) between Nice, France and the mountains are about $45/ea all-in. Way cheaper than a hotel, and with all that I need: a bed, a bathroom, and wi-fi.

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So and I are off Airbnb. We drove hours, arrive at the place, it’s someone’s house and they’re home. It’s late, we’re parked on the street in this residential hood and I’m reading the listing trying to figure out what the hell. I finally conclude that there’s some vague wording that’s sort of cover for ‘yeah, you’re sleeping in someone’s spare bedroom’. It was not obvious. Threw the 150 bucks as a lost cause, and went and got a hotel.
I don’t mind b and b’s because they give you explicitly defined areas and the hosts generally disapperar. No freakin way though am I sitting in some rando’s house while al bundy is watching Tv in the living room.

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