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Small-Scale Question Sunday for January 8, 2023

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

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If you had to craft a European Grand Tour, what would the itinerary look like? Similar to the historical ones?

This question has become pressing as I feel much of western cultural heritage is at risk, both the artifacts and places themselves and the ability to travel to see them - either through vandals or politically (climate lockdowns in particular). Might be inaccessible by 2030.

I think the original Grand Tour route (London-Naples overland via Paris, Switzerland, and a slow trip through northern Italy including extended stops in Florence and Rome) still works as well as it always did - in many ways better because of the improved tourist infrastructure in the Swiss Alps.

I used to hang out on travel forums providing advice to inbound tourists to the UK, and the most common requested itinerary was London/Paris/Rome, and the most common question was "Can I do it in two weeks?" The answer was no - an experienced traveller could do it, but if you are doing a once-in-a-lifetime Europe trip you are not an experienced traveller. The second most common questions was "Is it a good itinerary?" to which the answer has to be yes, with the proviso that Paris-Rome overland is tedious if you are not stopping off in northern Italy.

I will try to effortpost on this tonight. [Postponed due to child sickness bug keeping me busy]

I mostly agree, but if they have six weeks, as they say below, then it's do-able. Oft forgotten is the fact that on the return journey Grand Tourists often went via Germany and Austria instead of France and Western Switzerland, and so one might stop in Vienna (perhaps with a two/three day detour to Budapest), and then either Munich and Nuremberg (the latter for the German culture museum) then perhaps Berlin which despite being mostly destroyed still has great museums, then maybe Hamburg and then Amsterdam. For Americans rather than the original Englishmen, stopping in the UK and visiting London for a few days is also a good idea, and then maybe York and Edinburgh if time permits too.

So IMHO the route looks something like

  • Fly into London

  • London (4 days)

  • Optional York and Edinburgh excursion (3 days total)

  • Paris (5 days)

  • Lyon (1 day)

  • Annecy and Geneva (2 days)

  • Lausanne (1 day for the cathedral)

  • Zermatt [Take a train or drive through the Rhone valleys to Zermatt, which is more interesting than crossing the Great Bernard Pass, then spend three days hiking]

  • Milan (2 days)

  • Florence (3 days)

  • Rome (5 days)

  • Naples (4 days, do Vesuvius, Pompeii, Herculaneum)

  • Optional Sorrento/Amalfi scenery break (3 days)

  • Venice (3-4 days)

  • Vienna by OBB sleeper train (actually very comfortable) (3 days)

  • Optional Budapest excursion (2 days)

  • Munich (1-2 days)

  • Nuremberg (1 day)

  • Berlin (2 days)

  • Hamburg (1 day)

  • Amsterdam (3-4 days)

  • Optional Bruges (1 day)

  • Fly back to US (presumably) via Brussels

That comes to 6-7 weeks.