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3 weeks trip

Selection of European capitals and other interesting cities (~3 weeks)
Best time to visit: all year round (peak season: July / August)
Thanks to different low-cost-carrier companies and fast trains this trip allows a maximum of sightseeing within a minimum of time and still on an acceptable budget. The trip can be easily varied and – depending on your wishes – be extended or shortened.
John and Stacey decided last year to finally plan their first trip to Europe. They were very curious about different cities and the variety of countries. This is why they decided to visit a lot of different countries within one trip to get a first glance what Europe is about. As they did not have time to plan a trip in detail and as they were no experienced travelers they decided to have their trip planned with Their maximum budget was levelled at 3000 USD for 3 weeks (excluding drinks and meals, including long-distance flight)
They started their trip in the middle of September which is the perfect time for European cities as the weather is still nice but not too hot. They took a flight from New York to London where they stayed for two days and visited places like London Eye, the Tower, Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbeye, Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus, Financial District, Buckingham Palace etc. Their hotel was located centrally which permitted them to use the subway in order to get to the main attractions. As they could not get familiar with “fish & chips” they decided for a large fast food chain as the best option for food.
Afterwards they took the Eurostar (train) to go to Paris where they stayed for another two days. Hotels around Champs Elysees are very expensive and this is why they decided to stay in one of the cheaper options, but still well connected with public transport. In Paris they visited Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Centre Georges Pompidou, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, La Défense, Champs Elysées, les grands magasins, Montmartre, Sacré Coeur, Notre Dame, and they did a short boat trip on the Seine river. John and Stacey especially liked the French cuisine and the good French red wine so that they decided to visit France a little bit more thoroughly on their next trip.
After their experience in Paris they took a flight to Madrid, the Spanish capital. Again the hotel was located downtown as they wanted to fully benefit from the two days. They visited Prado, Fundación Thyssen-Bornemisza, Palacio Reyal, Gran Via, Las Ventas (bull fight) and did a day trip to Toledo. As bus connections work very well in Spain, they took the bus from Madrid to Barcelone which is a six hour ride.
As Barcelone is directly located on the sea and as it disposes even of city beaches, John and Stacey decided to have a three day rest there. Nevertheless they visited Passeig de Gracia, Casa Batllo, Tibidabo, Montjuic, Rambla, Maremagnum, Parque Guell, Barceloneta, Puerto Olimpico, Barrio Gotico, Plaza Catalunya, MoMA and the museo Picasso. Their hotel was located close to the sea front but still downtown. This is how they could even enjoy Barcelone’s nightlife without regrets (as it starts very late). The Spanish way of “salir de tapas” (go out for small snacks together with beer / wine) especially attracted their attention during their stay. The desert “crema catalana” was their favourite dish.
After three fantastic days close to the sea they took a plane to Rome, the capital of Italy. They visited the Spanish stairs, Colosseo, Forum Romanum, Vatikan, Peter’s Dome… As Italy is relatively expensive regarding hotel nights, they decided for a better option a little bit on the outskirts of Rome. The Italian coffee (caffe) and the Italian pizza became one of their favourite dishes during the trip. The Italian “gelato” (ice-cream) was their best snack option during daytime.
Next stop in Italy was Florence which can be easily reached by train from Rome. In Florence they visited the duomo, il ponte vecchio, the “uffici”, university and the whole downtown area. Moreover they enjoyed the view from the “””hill on the Alps and the Tuskany landscape. All the city of Florence can be done within a day as it is a relatively small and idyllic town.
After their day in Florence, John and Stacey headed on to Pisa by train (1hour ride). Pisa is famous for the leaning tower and is not so appealing apart from this sight. But it disposes of good flight connections towards Germany.
Then John and Stacey left behind Italy and took a plane to Stuttgart, Germany. They spent their day in Stuttgart in the Museum Mercedes and in the zoo called Wilhelma. In the evening they took a glance of the city center and enjoyed the Schlossplatz area and tried the Suabian dish “Maultaschen” and German beer.
The next day they took a plane to Vienna, the capital of Austria. They visited the castle, went to Schloss Schönbrunn, Prater, the city center, Wiener Hofreitschule. In the evening they visited a Musical performance of “Elisabeth” (which is about the empress Elisabeth of Austria). Moreover they went to “Kaffehaus Sacher” in order to try the famous “Sachertorte” (Sacher tart). In the evening they tried the famous “Wiener Schnitzel”.
Two days later they took the train to Munich, Germany, where they visited Viktualienmarkt, Rathaus, city center, Schwabing, Park, Beergarden. Moreover, they tried white sausages with Pretzels and white beer for breakfast in the Hofbraeuhaus. In the evening they enjoyed the Schwabing area (where their hotel was located) with the different bars.
Afterwards, John and Stacey headed on to the German capital, Berlin. Berlin is easily accessible by ICE train (fast train) from Munich. They visited Hackesche Höfe, Alexanderplatz, Potsdamer Platz, Brandenburger Tor, Unter den Linden, Französischer und dt. Dom, Bahnhof Zoo, Gedächtniskirche… Berlin especially attracted them due to the variety of attractions and atmospheres within one single city. They chose to stay in a former hotel of Eastern Berlin in order to soak up a little bit of the left atmosphere. 
Two days later they took a plane back to London from where they went back to the US.
John and Stacey were amazed by the variety of the cities and countries and they thought it to be an advantage to have one currency, the Euro (except from UK). Like this they could adapt easily to the respective country. Moreover, they were very happy that most of the Europeans speak a few words of English which made it easier to find their way in case of doubts. Another good point is the Schengen convention which permitted them to stay within the whole area without redoing the complex immigration process.
John and Stacey are already looking forward to their next vacation in Europe in order to explore as well ancient Greece and in order to get a more thorough picture of France and Italy.