Greg! Let's go to the map!
June 16, 2018 10:10 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to be in Strausbourg, France in late September for a conference. Want to tack on an extra week of personal travel, with my spouse joining me by flying in from Denver. I can take a bus or train or short flight to meet him wherever, but don't want to spend too long traveling. Where do we want to go?

The sheer number of possibilities is kind of overwhelming me right now, especially since open jaw itinerary searches for fixed dates but non-fixed destinations don't seem to exist. So I'm looking for suggestions, especially places that would minimize travel time from Strausbourg/a major airport but maybe still give us 6 nights somewhere more off the beaten path.

Places we've really enjoyed visiting together include Patagonia, northern Spain, Belgium, Amsterdam, Vancouver Island. Spouse loves large cities and marathon museum trips, but our best trips have combined 1-2 days in a big city with getting out to either a smaller city or someplace less well traveled where it's easier to just wander around, eat well and look at things without working out a whole agenda in advance. More remote places with long (10-15miles/day) hikes are definitely also up our alley. We don't really care about beaches, but we do love sunlight. So far we've batted around Portugal, southern Spain, and Morocco, and I've vetoed just spending the week at Oktoberfest.
posted by deludingmyself to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Aaand, I can't spell. Strasbourg.
posted by deludingmyself at 10:33 AM on June 16, 2018

Rent a canal boat in Strasbourg and putter up the Canal de la Marne au Rhin for the week.
posted by sammyo at 12:03 PM on June 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

A bit south of there, the Grenoble/Lyon area has amazing nature and the Côte du Rhône.
posted by rhizome at 1:39 PM on June 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

Munich isn’t that far away and Zurich is pretty awesome. That said I just got back from 10 days in Berlin, that’s a 6-7 hour train ride away but holy hell Berlin is rad and there are all kinds of great days day trips away from there.
posted by nikaspark at 2:54 PM on June 16, 2018

Also I’ve forever wanted to go to Ronda in Spain.
posted by nikaspark at 2:57 PM on June 16, 2018

Agree with rhizome's suggestion for Lyon and Grenoble. Easy train connection from Strasbourg/Paris (for your spouse flying in). Lyon is a wonderful city; Grenoble is quite a bit smaller and sits at the base of the Vercours, lots of excellent hiking in that region. Bonus: Grenoble has a ton of museums and almost all of them are free.
posted by basalganglia at 3:32 PM on June 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

Yet another vote for Lyon. Vieux Lyon and the cathedral/Roman amphitheatre are worth the trip alone; there is also some amazing food and a good array of old silk shops and bookshops. Also, a museum of miniature things! LYON POUR TOUJOURS.
posted by witchen at 4:55 PM on June 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

How about a big(-ish) city, a smaller city, and hiking all at the same time? You want Luzern. It's not very big in terms of area, and it's got a delightful Old Town, so it's easy to wander around and just relax. But since there aren't many huge cities in Switzerland, and because of various accidents of history, it's still an important cultural center with great museums and a concert hall and a bunch of historical buildings. As for location, it's on the lake and at the foot of a large mountain, so you've got pretty much any outdoor activity, from hiking to boating, within walking distance.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:15 PM on June 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

The sheer number of possibilities is kind of overwhelming me right now, especially since open jaw itinerary searches for fixed dates but non-fixed destinations don't seem to exist.

Matrix from ITA (which powers Google Flights) does all this and more - under destination you can either enter a list of airports if you have a handful of suspects, or if you click "nearby" you can pick a series of ranges around a destination and select all airports within that range. (As you pick bigger ranges, I think they edit out smaller airports, but it still does what you want). The default is to permit open jaws, although under "other" you can exclude airport changes.

In terms of actual cities, Lyon is a good pick. I found Lausanne charming; there is a very affecting "musee de l'art brut" which might be interesting. From there you could continue on to Chateaux Chillon and the Diablerets if you want something smaller and outdoorsy. I also thought Basel was an interesting city; the standout museum there celebrates the art of Jean Tinguely.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:11 PM on June 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don't have an answer, but Chief says to get in her office.
posted by rocket at 10:02 AM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don't know if it counts as remote enough, but Alsace is basically the Franco-German version of Franco-Flemish Belgium. Picturesque rolling hills covered in vineyards, very laid back but excellent food (including many specialties that are uniquely Alsatian). The old cities are touristy, to be sure, but it's French and German tourists, not many Americans. And hiking "randonee" is totally a thing. The tourist board has a number of hikes and there are many more. The vineyard paths are closed during harvest.

Or the Black Forest is right next door as well, many parks.
posted by wnissen at 3:39 PM on June 18, 2018

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