Subject: First European Trip

Michelle has suggested Italy. She is right. This is a very easy country to explore but where your friends visit depends on their comfort level: how much do they want to see, do they prefer city or country, are they easygoing or do they feel uncomfortable with new experiences, do they speak a language other than English, and so on.

First of all they should not underestimate the effect of jet lag. It takes some time to adjust to the loss of sleep and the time change. So they should plan to spend some time in their first European destination.

England and Ireland are both good choices for first time European travellers because, obviously, everyone speaks English. A "small" trip in England could include London for a few nights with a driving trip to Cornwall. The equivalent in Ireland would include landing in Shannon with a drive south to Kerry or north to Connemara and Donegal. In either case, October weather would be windy and a bit cool, but fine. The map will show the driver many places to visit but the traveller knows that it takes a long time to get from here to there.

Now, let me put in a vote for France, which I think is a good choice for a first trip to Europe and to celebrate an anniversary. I would suggest your friends fly to Paris, a romantic city, where they could stay for three nights. Then they could board the TGV and head south to Avignon or Nice or Lyons or Marseilles. Avignon would give them access to the Cote du Rhone area. Nice would give them access to many of the smaller Mediterranean coastal towns. Lyons would put them in a more cental part of France where they would experience magnificent food. Marseilles would give them access to the Med either east of west of the city. With any choice they should rent a car so they can explore. France is a wonderful place to visit for a first-time European explorer. The roads are good, the country is accustomed to travellers and most important the food is spectacular.

What we need to know is how comfortable they are with travelling, do they speak any language other than English and how adventurous are they? Do they like cities or countryside? Are they willing to put themselves in the hands of local people and take local transportation? Do they want to move around or do they want to stay in one place?

Europe is a small continent but a huge place to visit. They could easily stay in Paris, London or Rome for two weeks and come home knowing that they had only touched the surface.

So, ask them more questions to find out what they really want to do and post again.

Lucy, Toronto