Entertainment costs

edited August 2008 in General Discussion
Ok, I have a solid and realistic idea of my trip, but I'm having trouble figuring out some of the expenses. My dad is going to Germany on the 23rd to check out a gaming convention and I plan to go with him. It's in this small little town called Leipzig and he's only staying for a day but when he leaves I plan to hop on a train to Berlin. I'll stay there for 9 nights and take a train to Amsterdam. I'll stay in Amsterdam for 7 nights and either fly to Edinburgh, Scotland, or I can take the longer (but more expensive) route by hopping on the ferry between Amsterdam and Newcastle and taking a train from there to Edinburgh. A good friend of mine lives in Scotland and her boyfriend is from there, so when I arrive they will be helping me explore the country. Once I'm done I'll take a plane from Scotland back to Madrid.

Now, I've been able to look up prices for places to stay and planes and train tickets. Amsterdam to Edinburgh is much cheaper and easier, but the notion of taking a boat and then getting to see the country side on a train through the UK is very alluring. That's the only reason I've kept the option open. I also have a "best of" lonely planet guide book for Amsterdam (because it's very small and shaped so that it fits comfortably in a back pocket) and another guide book for Berlin.

What I've been having trouble figuring out is food and entertainment. I know I'm going to want to go out drinking and stuff, and depending on how many friends I make will probably dictate how many nights I go out. And for food, there are many recommendations in the books on where to eat, but I also know it would be much more cost savvy to cook my own food a majority of the time and only eat out for a few occassions. Besides, most of the restaurants recommended (aside from a handful really cheap ones) were still in the 10-15 euro range, which in my opinion is not something I want to spend on every meal.

And then there are any possible museam entrances (I'm sure that information is listed in the books, I just haven't gotten there yet). Also, I will not bother lying and admit that I will be spending money on goodies offered in coffee shops, but I couldn't find prices on that in the book either.

Anyways, can you give me any help here?


  • edited August 2008
    You might not believe this but I actually have a friend in Leipzig that I went to visit last summer its a nice city although it might surprise you with its size. Its pretty big because it was on the end of one of the larger early train routes that allowed it to grow exponentially in the early part of the 20th century. This growth also had to do with the fact that a substantial number of famous composers and scientists (including Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Edvard Grieg, Erich Kästner, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Angela Merkel, Friedrich Nietzsche, Robert Schumann and Richard Wagner) have roots here.

    In Leipzig see if you can rent a bicycle (its more a small city than a small town but still manageable) and go and look at a few of the parks, the University area (theres a tall building here which allows you to go on the roof and get a good view of the entire city, I'll have to look up the name for it again though), and if you have time some of the Castles. This area of Germany is fantastic for that, and from experience so is anything in the general South East of Germany, but be careful with the bike. The city is bike friendly because of a large student population that is dependent on their bikes, but there is also a bicycle black market there geared towards students, so take advantage of any place to lock the bike up. Buy your food here if you must, but the food isn't bad or unfairly priced as a general rule. Berlin on the other hand is really expensive. You'll have a hard time finding a bargain place to stay, short term, with a kitchen. Here I'd recommend eating lots of sausages and döner (Turkish kebab sandwich that is popular in Germany now).

    Northern and Western Europe are normally not known for being cheap, but theres ways around that. One in the UK (Scottland) find a place to stay outside of Hotels. Even if you have to pay (which I'm assuming you dont since you have a friend), I believe you can find a much better value. This will also open up the possibility of cooking for yourself here, which is a real money and effort saver (UK tastes tend to vary very much from American/Mediterranean tastes). Hostels can fill this role here although you have to do your research to find a place with a kitchen and pray it isn't full. Especially things on the cheap here will be problematic for just about anyone because of exchange rates.

    Amsterdam my only recommendation is have fun and be careful you don't get robbed. :) Theres a lot of things to spend your money on (albeit the value for it is sometimes better, including the value of not getting pinched for doing whatever your doing) and a lot of people looking for money to spend. I haven't been there at all since the big law changes and even then it was a family trip that I didn't plan so I have little advice here for the moment.

    If you have the money, and the time go the ground route, on any leg of the trip. Your more likely to have delays but if I know you well enough you may have a blast on them and enjoy the route. Its something I personally wouldn't trade, unless I had no other option.

    Other money saving tips:
    1. Take advantage of special pricing on any leg of your trip, and research pricing well in advance.
    A. Your best bet for trains is to look up foreign traveler rates (tickets have to be collected outside of the EU and used by a person that isn't an EU resident). or
    student/youth pricing. Eurail (http://www.eurailnet.com/) will be one of your a good friends here, and most worth while sites that will have a broader scope
    will still mention them because they are a dominant force in European railroad travel, but other sites may offer unique pricing packages based on deals
    between regional operators.
    B. Particularly for your potential leg on a ferry see if there is a package available that may save you money that includes discounts on ferry fares, which are
    included in many Eurail passes but hard to decipher the exact usage of them for the purpose..
    2. Take advantage of free breakfasts. If you can wake up for them they give you a good start and allow you to afford a smaller lunch (meal I have a tendency to eat out on no matter where I am) which will save money. They are quite common in Hostels but nothing is guaranteed so look carefully at booking or even better call ahead.
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