Thursday, January 07, 2010

European Advice, Please?

This post is aimed especially at my European readers, or any readers who have traveled in Europe. As I have mentioned before, Cuttleson is going to be in Europe (Denmark) soon, for roughly 4 months. At one point (I need to ask him the specific dates, but it is in Spring) he has 2 weeks free to travel. For some of that, he may be traveling with friends, but perhaps not all of it.

Anyway, he is looking for ideas. At this point, he claims to be less interested in, say, ruins than in natural beauty. The sites he mentioned to me included things like Croatia's Plitvice Lakes, and Meteora in Greece. He thought the idea of climbing Mt. Olympus was wonderful. He is clearly not opposed to making a long trip from Denmark. His current ideal would be to find a place to stay as a base for at least a few days, while he explores several different nearby areas.

So... I am asking for your advice, your ideas, your experience. Do you have a favorite place that is unlikely (or is very likely) to be found in a tour guide? Any places he really ought to avoid, if (as he claims) he'd rather see the French countryside than the Eiffel Tower?

I know I have quite a few European readers, from across the whole of the continent. Please don't be shy; post in the comments, or (if you really want your special place to remain a secret) that's my email address over there to the right.

From the North, with the cold and the ice,
To the South, where the beaches are nice,
To the East, to the West,
If your country's the best
Then it's you whom I ask for advice!


Antti said...

Depending on the time of his travel break, Finland might be a worthy option. Right now we've got a bit of snow (another 3 inches or so fell today), and it won't all be gone probably even by Easter-time, but if his travel weeks are around late April or in May, Finland does do spring pretty nicely. Had some of last year's hottest weather around May 20th, actually (~+28 C in the shade near my home, iirc).

Also, it's true what they say about the lakes. :P

Cuttlefish said...


I think one of his friends will be in Helsinki for the semester. Whether that makes it more, or less, likely that he will head there for some portion of his time, I do not know.

Oh. and... I have no idea what "they" say about the lakes, or even who they are!

GrrlScientist said...

having visited the southern portions of finland several times and during several seasons, and thinking i was going to relocate to helsinki, i highly recommend finland, especially if he is seeking natural beauty. here's the link to hundreds of my published images of the southern part of finland for those who might be interested (i have thousands more stunning images that have not been published; i hope to get them posted one fine day). if your son is a photographer, he will not be disappointed, and if he isn't a photographer, a visit to finland will make him wish to become one!


Bob O'Hara said...

I'll second Helsinki - Grrl has seen Suomenlinna and Seurasaari, but there is also Nuuksio national park pretty close. But he should be warned - Finland does spring well, but if you blink, you miss it.

In Denmark, he should take a trip up to Skagen, on the northern tip of Jutland. We had a weekend trip from Copenhagen, to Skagen, Aalborg, Legoland, and back via Odense.

Apparently the Norwegian fjords are worth a visit, if he can get a photograph of Slartibartfast's signature, you know you've brought him up well.

If he wants to go to the UK, he can fly to Manchester and go to either the Yorkshire Dales, or to the Lake District. Or even North Wales. All very pretty, if you like that sort of thing. Make sure he has a hat.

Anonymous said...

Well, I live in Sweden (-16 degrees Celsius, yay!), but Spain has a lot of nice mountains and canyons.

Antti said...

Re: the lakes - there's more than a few in "the land of the thousand lakes". Also some nice hogsbacks and other little hills poking into lakes. They make for pretty staggering views. Although you'd need to be willing to leave the capital region to find the really good stuff.

I could probably make myself available for a weekend (or other day-or-two) trip around a bit of the countryside or something if he ends up in Finland.

Karen James said...

B and I spent 18 days in Norway in 2005 and we still talk about it as being the best place we've ever traveled. Amazing hiking, mountains, views... Bergen is a good base from which to explore... there's the nearby Flam railway that plunges from the Hardangervidda down to the Sognefjord, hiking in aforementioned Hardangervidda, and spectacular scenery even just w/in the city limits of Bergen.

I am also partial to the Scottish highlands, which, depending on how early in spring he's travling, might be less ice-bound. Aviemore is a good base especially if you don't have a car. Glen Coe also good but harder to get to.

Thinker said...

Developing further some of what has already been written above, and which I mostly agree with, I would suggest the following:

1) Visit Skagen as a weekend trip from wherever in Denmark he is. Try to include Råbjerg Mile, a huge desert-style sand dune area which seems oddly out-of-place.

2) Spend two weeks getting as much unique natural experiences as possible in the other Nordic countries. Fly to Helsinki. Travel through southern Finland (via the lakes of Finland) to Turku. There, take a boat to Stockholm (daytime, both to enjoy the wonderful and unique archipelago between Finland and Sweden and to avoid the sometimes pretty heavy drinking that goes on on the nighttime ones...).

Spend a few days in and around Stockholm, one of the most naturally beautiful cities in the world (bias willingly admitted), with water everywhere and nature never far away. Who knows, maybe we could time it with a Stockholm Blogmeet, which happens every now and then? There is great hiking, biking, canoeing, boating etc., and good public transportation, so having a car is not necessary.

From Stockholm, go by train, bus and/or plane to the Fjordlands and mountains of Norway for some stunning hiking. A personal favorite of mine is at Gjendesheim, where there is a tourist station.

Via Oslo, either take a boat or plane to Copenhagen, or if time allows, spend a few days to go by bus and see a few places along the Western coast of Sweden, which also has some unique scenery to offer.

This is perfectly feasible to do in two weeks. Even though it will not be an in-depth exploration, it would expose him to some of the most beautiful natural scenery I know!

Note the highlights are exactly that: the do-not-miss highlights he should really try to include!

kirsten said...

I lived in DK for a year and I can say that it would be fully worth his time to explore it more if he has a couple of weeks.. I lived close to Copenhagen and you could literally spend a year poking around that city without getting sick of it. A trip to Skagen in northern Jutland is also nice - lots of art, beaches, amber. DK is chockablock full of castles - you could spend a year seeing all of those too. Alternatively, my favorite places in Europe for trips abroad included Prague, Vienna, anywhere in Scotland. A friend of mine went for a week to Finland and Estonia, and loved it too.

Nathan said...

Croatia is a beautiful country. The whole thing is beautiful. I may be slightly biased (being part Croatian), but still.

I did not go to Plitvice, but I was in Zagreb and the surrounding towns, and in Dubrovnik for 2 weeks.

If he drives down the coast of Croatia, tell him to stop at a little restaurant named "Venecia." Very good food and beer on the way south. South of Split, north of Dubrovnik.

Christian said...

Irish countryside is always fun. County Clare is lovely, not sure you'll get tours directing you there, but you very well might.

Anonymous said...

From the examples you gave, a roadtrip from Denmark through Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, the Balkans and Greece seems a good option.

Plenty of beautiful wild countryside there.

Unfortunately there's not much awe inspiring natural beauty left in my own low countries, although plenty of engineering mastery, with some additional fun for a young man available in Amsterdam...

During Spring there are loads of birds though in various big water areas here, if he's a birder.

Ása Johannesen said...

The most... interesting place nature wise in Europe is, in my opinion, Iceland. I mean. Active volcanoes? Hot springs? They have the lot, and it's probably quite cheap to go there these days seeing as their economy has collapsed.

Scandinavia is nice too, and if he doesn't mind rain, he could always go to the Faroe Islands (shameless plug of own country). Especially if he likes hiking and birds. Bit expensive, though.

EcoGeoFemme said...

Is he studying at DIS? I did that program when I was in college and it was GREAT! If so, email me if you want any more info about my experience there.

I had a study tour for one of the weeks of spring break so I only had a week to explore Europe. By that point all I wanted was some sunshine after the dark, rainy Danish winter, so my friends and I went to Paris, Nice, and Barcelona. That was great, but would have been even better with better planning.