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December 20, 2010 7:20 PM   Subscribe

Can this holiday vacation be saved? Is there anywhere in Europe that is passable right now?

So the bf and I have got 10 vacation days together: Dec. 24th-Jan 2nd. The plan was to go somewhere in Europe. For reasons I won't get into, we haven't finalized any arrangements. However, looking at the news, this may be a blessing, given that I was going with France.

So now what? I really, really, really want to take a cool trip next week, as I have never been outside North America and he doesn't get much vacation time. Is there any place in Europe we could get to and get around in easily right now? And that would be feasible and affordable despite the late hour? And is not a location that would be paralyzed by the holidays in general? I'm open to going anywhere except the UK. (Not because I don't like the UK, but because I'm looking for a really different experience.)

We're not married to Europe. We're willing to go anywhere in the world, really (except North America and Central America, because I want to experience something really new). It just happened to be the cheapest option, flight-wise. (South America: too expensive, presumably because it's summer; Asia: didn't seem worth it for only ten days; Africa: seemed a little complicated and dangerous without more advance planning)

I am flying from East Coast US; he from central Mexico. We can't go crazy, but we've got wiggle room. (Let's say a couple thousand each for everything -- flight, food, place to stay.) I want a more active vacation, not a lay on the beach vacation. We're willing to fly Christmas Eve or Day to save $$$.

Thanks in advance!!
posted by unannihilated to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total)
I know it's in North America, but you could try Montreal for a taste of France/Europe in North America.
Failing that, jump East and head to China or SE Asia. Visas are usually easy to arrange.
posted by arcticseal at 9:49 PM on December 20, 2010

I did a few sample bookings, using New York. Looks like you could do Newark to Barcelona direct for slightly over $1050 on Continental, leaving Christmas night and returning 1/2. It was about the same for Lisbon or Athens, all direct flights at least on the outbound. 4 days should be plenty to clean up the weather mess for Spain.
posted by true at 9:52 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Swing by your nearest bookstore and pick up the current issue of Budget Travel. They always run a "top 40" feature which lists amazing package deals all over the world. You don't necessarily have to book one of those deals, but the companies they feature tend to run lots of similar types of packages, so if you see something intriguing you can see what else that company can offer you.

Ten days to Asia is tight, yes, but still definitely worthwhile. You can get a great trip to Thailand in in that time, for instance; or even Bali. (Japan might be too expensive and cold.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:52 PM on December 20, 2010

There's more to Europe than those silly Northerners would have you believe.

Rome is a really nice Christmas trip, and I've heard Athens isn't too bad either. Same with Madrid.

The only trick will be getting flights that don't go through the impacted areas.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:36 PM on December 20, 2010

If you're set on Europe, we're fine here on the French Riviera, and have an international airport at Nice! There are some direct flights from the US, otherwise loads from London, Paris, Frankfurt etc. as well. And as Tell Me No Lies mentions, Rome is gorgeous too. You could also wander 'round the Riviera for a few days, then go down the coast, and pop by Pisa and Florence (Tuscany! gorgeous!), that was one of my favorite trips ever.
posted by fraula at 1:27 AM on December 21, 2010

Seconding South of France, also Spain and Portugal.
posted by fire&wings at 3:26 AM on December 21, 2010

Very hard to get a flight through London right now, don't go there. There are direct flights from NYC to Rome around your dates for about E950 on Expedia. Weather in Rome not looking so great right now according to the BBC as there's much rain, but then it's not snowing either, and Rome is wonderful. Then you could rent a car and drive to Florence and some of the towns in Tuscany.
posted by StephenF at 5:15 AM on December 21, 2010

I get an email once a week from and they usually have last minute deals to European countries.. I've seen round trip to Ireland, including hotels for less than 800 bucks! If you do sign up for their newsletter, it really is just once a week, they don't seem scammy at all....
posted by Glendale at 6:20 AM on December 21, 2010

For planning purposes, you may want to keep latitudes in mind. The majority of Europe is going to be darker than NYC right now. (E.g., Dublin = 7.5 hour days.)
posted by endless_forms at 7:23 AM on December 21, 2010

I was just in Prague last week. It was pretty cold but very pretty and they know how to deal with snow. Same with Munich and Vienna. OTOH, the Christmas markets might be gone by next week though, which were one of the highlights for me.

Given that, I was very lucky that I flew through Dublin which managed to avoid the snow this time around. If I had connected through London, I would have been still in Europe. I kept running into people who had been stuck in the airport for days, while I had been taking the train around.
posted by smackfu at 7:50 AM on December 21, 2010

You could try Morocco too. Probably best not to try the UK. We don't know how to deal with snow and have rather a lot of it.
posted by rhymer at 10:40 AM on December 21, 2010

I've always wanted to go to Portugal. Northern parts of Europe have shorter days in winter, which is not my travel preference, most of the time.
posted by theora55 at 3:31 PM on December 21, 2010

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