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Driving from Barcelona to Venice with family in 1 week

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We arrive in Barcelona June 17 and have a week to travel before we cruise. Family of 4 happy explorers. We have been to Paris and to Rome and will cover coastal touristy cities from cruise. We want to experience beautiful towns, villages and off the beaten path places on our way to Venice. We would love for our 15&17 yr old kids to experience bed and breakfasts. WE REALLY WANT to have a day of cooking in Italy for the 4 of us. Simple pasta, veggies, sauces but not seafood and learning to clean fish. Lol. We are not seafood (but hubby loves) lovers. We are looking for the family experience and great food : ). We need help because we have no clue what route to take or where to stop. Where should we simply drive through and stop for a site and where should we spend more time? Any advice for a family cooking experience that will cater to non seafood family? Any help would be greatly appreciated. I have already seen some great stuff!

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    Shortest distance from Barcelona to Venice is about 1,240km. If you intend to do stops at "off the beaten path places" it would take you even much longer. I hope you have taken that into consideration, as a week would not leave you much time for sure considering driving time, time to get to accomodation, parking etc. You definitely have to be the type that enjoys long drives.

    I would suggest that you stop at a place AT LEAST every two nights, otherwise if you do one night stops you will only have short afternoons to evening to experience each town/village as a lot of time would be wasted checking out/checking in etc. Having said that, you would need to travel over 400km (or much more off beaten tracks) each time if you do say three stops. Plan your route well beforehand, and the areas you are most interested in stopping. You will find agriturismos which have cooking classed for sure in Italy.

    But again, if you really enjoy long drives and consider it as part of holiday enjoyment, then go for it!!! If you give us some indication of any of the regions in France/Italy that appeals to you to make your stops, maybe we can assist in making some research for you, or for other Fodorites to give their suggestions with accomodation they have experienced.

    Enjoy your trip and good luck.

    PS I know what it is like travelling with teenagers, they love fun stuff, maybe you might consider making one of the stops at an agriturismo for 2 or 3 days near Lake Garda area (your last stop before Venice, and maybe they can visit the Gardaland Fun Park, as I fear that they might find the week a bit boring being driven for such a long time in a car, and then staying in off beaten track locations, unless that location includes something that is of fun for them, it does not only have to be a funpark, it could be an unusual museum or place of interest (like for instance visiting underground caves, or a funicular ride etc, or say a boat trip on a lakem or even a game of football - especially if they are boys, etc. Knowing their preferences would help us give you suggestions.

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    Anna, let me answer your questions. We want to see villages not cities, old roads with views, not highways. No tourist traps, but kind people in their everyday surroundings. The goal of this week will be cooking together and wandering. We just do not know a simple cooking school to go to. We would love for it to be a B&B and just the four of us. No fancy catch of the day meal. Kids would love making homemade pasta. The cruise (second week) will be full of touristy, glitzy stuff and plenty for the kids. We like old quiet places and love hole in the wall restaurants.

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    We've done several long driving tours in these areas in the past 3 years. I'd never try it in a week, but apparently it could be done. Looking at an search on directions from B to V in 1240 km, two of our favorite places look to be potentials for you. First is Ceret, in France. An Exquisite village famous for producing cherries. In Italy...Cremona. Beautiful musicians town with great cuisine. Check them out to see if they strike your fancy. Also, there are great places in Lanquedoc and Provence, as well as another fav closer to Venice, Verona...from which you could drive up and through the Dolomites ending up in Venice And providing a visual overload of gorgeous vistas.

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    Great suggestions! We have considered taking the ferry back overnight. This
    is just what I need. Tidbits that help decide what 1 or 2 places to stop on the way. Thanks! One question...is driving in other parts of Europe as slow as UK? it seems that roadworks and detours make long trips horrible there.

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    You can never anticipate roadwork. We've had few problems driving in France, Spain or Italy, although getting into a city that is new to you can be a bit frustrating. Last year's trip we used GPS for the first time and found it very helpful -- especially in dropping a marker where you've parked the car so you can get back to it easily. (I use the GPS on my iPad). However, don't underestimate the value of good old fashioned maps. Sometimes GPS doesn't incorporate common sense. We like Michelin's regional maps for detail.

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    Are you aware of the huge drop off fee?

    Stop in Menton on the coast for 2 nites and then cut north via Cuneo and Alba and the Piemonte wine country for 2 nites. I would stay in Alba--look at Villa Favorita. My last stop would on Lago Garda. Have fun !

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    I'd almost fly to Pisa (or another Italian city of your choice) and drive from there. Then you could get more out of your week.

    If you really don't want to leave out France, then make your way to Nice and fly out of there to Venice.

    A week for that mileage seems like more driving and less savoring.

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    With the ages of the kids, flying and train are much more expensive than car. If we take the ferry there or back, we would be ferrying the car too. We have no problem wandering, but need to pick a general direction and 1 over night on the way and one one the way home. Each day we will also need a place to stop for lunch and one for a snack and walk around.

    Being from the US, we are used to driving long distances, but if it is not a possible journey due to road works,etc., now that is a different story.

    The cruise the following week will take us to Nice, Pisa, Rome, Provence and Naples. We want to move out of the tourist areas here, but all cars seem to be booked.

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    I know what you mean cindyroo42 that it can get expensive to fly and train as we are a family of 5 ourselves. If you do not mind doing some long tavels - we always do so when we go abroad, then go for it, but try not to go to remote areas or up mountains like in the Dolomites, we went a couple of times, and it is likely that you would hve to take long routes there which will increase your travel time even more - in fact last December from Trento we went to Madonna di Campiglio,and even though it was not that far away it took us hours and longer to to go there and return than we had anticipated, as it was a high winding road up a mountain, when you have to drive slowly, so it takes more than double the time it would take you on the highways for the same distance. Try not to deviate too much or far away from the major roads, as secondary roads really prolong your driving. I would not say that driving is really any worse than in the UK, you find road works or traffic everywhere, especially when nearing towns and cities. so do not be put off in that regard. Do not make more than 500km of travel in one day, saying that it would still take a whole day of travel, but then you can relax on the following day. As a fodorite said you are going to have to do a lot of mileage - about three whole days from morning to late evening of drivin g, but we have done it, so I am not going to dishearten you if you are determined to go for it.

    What do you mean by all cars seem to be booked? I always like to book from Avis, so reliable and I always know where I am with them, but saying that, my husband went abroad on work to Germany a couple of weeks ago and hired an AutoEurope car and had no problems, but with Avis I always feel really reassured that I am well covered if God forbid I had to encounter problems with the car. And as another Fodor commented you do have to pay extra high fees when you book a car in one country and drop it off in another, plus fuel costs, like everywhere are going up. So do make allowance for them. Then there are the toll roads if you are taking the major highways, but we do find them very reasonable in Italy, can't remember regarding France.

    As I said, I will get back to your regarding cooking classes. You seem to be really interested in that, so maybe you should focus more on finding good ones than in the towns and villages, always of course not deviating too much from your route to Venice.







    Have you already bought your tickets from USA to Barcelona - as another fodor said, maybe if you land at Marseilles, Nice (you do not have to go to its centre if you are visiting it during cruise), or Genoa or Turin, you might still be able to visit a French town or village and an Italian one, yet you would have to drive less to reach Venice than landing in Barcelona. Pisa would be great, but then you would have to omit France, as it would not be worth doing the driving from Pisa to France and then to Venice. The distance would most probably prove to be longer than starting off from Barcelona.

    I have never been to the very south of France of France, we landed in Toulouse once to drive to Barcelona, have been to Lyons, Lourdes and Paris and its surroundings. We never encountered any unusual delays when driving in France, and we even managed to drive in centre of Paris.

    We have travelled quite a few times to northern Italy, we have never been to B&Bs with cooking schools in that area of Italy, but I will do some research for you. I think I had better leave southern France for other fodors who have experience on the best towns and villages there. I will get back at you tomorrow for sure after I do some research for you regarding Italy.

    I think that first of all you need to start organizing this week of holiday by first confirming how many kms every day you would be willing to travel, and that would also give you an indication on how many stops you would need to make on your way. Try and find towns, villages ebtc that are not far from the shortest route to Venice, so that you would not add too much distance. If you have 7 nights maybe you can divide it in 2-2-2-1 (last night stay as close to Venice as possible).

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    ditto what bob said - have you researched how much it will cost to drop off a spanish car in italy?

    also, do your kids like this sort of holiday? ours hated it. they were much happier when we stayed in one place long enough to get to know it - which meant a week or so in big cities like Rome and Venice. How are you going to have time to do a cookery class with this sort of itinerary? you are going to be spending a high proportion of your time on the road or finding and settling into your accommodation.

    I agree with Tdudette - think about flying to Pisa and then making your way to Venice from there. [or just go straight to Venice - our kids loved in when we spent a week there and we were all very sad to leave].

    BTW, why are you going to Barcelona if you are just going to leave it?

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    cindyroo - I was browsing around a bit before heading off to bed, and I came upon a B&B which seems to be exactly the type you are looking for - pls check it out. It is called Le Due Matote, a B&B in Cuneo in the provence of Piedmont, in northern Italy. This B&B deviates from the main coastal road about 60km and is situated in a village called Bossolasco, really seems lovely.

    It offers organic food, and does wine tasting and cooking classes on request. It also has really raving reviews on Trip advisor and is given ovall full marks (or stars 5/5) by those who stayed there. Have a look at it. If you decide to email them, ask them about the cooking class and if they can offer you a special price for the whole family, many do give a discount if you ask for it. I will check other B&Bs that give cooking lessons for you tomorrow, maybe even in south of France and also more to the east of Piedmont and nearer to Venice. Good night.

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    Thanks to so many who are trying to help. I'm going to start over from beginning. June 17 we are flying into Barcelona as we take a cruise from barcelona and are brought back to Barcelona. We can go anywhere we want this week before the cruise, but we really thought we would like to tour around the general area but not really Spain. My hubby really wants to travel to Venice however. We have a car from Barcelona to be brought back to Barcelona and milage does not scare any of us. Flights and trains were too expensive for 4 and did not allow us to see things along the way. Getting to Venice is part of the adventure. We have toured Rome, Paris, Munich, Malta and the UK, so we are not interested in touristy cities, but quaint places and a bit of wandering and a COOKING adventure. Not gourmet high dollar cooking, just family fun...pasta making. We originally were going to circle through the outer edges of Switzerland, but hubby has heart set on making it to Venice. Wifey here has to figure out where to stop along the way : ). I need advice on: places to stop along the way and lodging and cooking school. I have posted on Chowhound about cooking school.
    Our kids fly with anything as we find fun in whatever we do. They are 15 and 17 so not the impatient whining age. Remember, we get dropped at a bunch of tourist spots from the boat and they have the party atmosphere of the boat that week.

    Help needed on cooking, bed and breakfasts and Places to stop along the way as there are different routes we could obviously take.
    So far:

    Flying in and out of one place and bringing car back to Barcelona are set in stone, as is the cruise departure June 23.
    PORTS OF CALL:
    Barcelona, Spain; Provence (Toulon), France; Villefranche (Nice), France; Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Italy; Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy; Naples (Capri), Italy; Barcelona, Spain

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    So you basically plan to drive to Venice and BACK to Barcelona in one week? Sorry, But you will be speeding past and through places that we've found intriguing enough for longstays of 2 weeks to a month, as well as traversing several mountain ranges.

    I'd suggest checking out ONE great rental for a week in the Roussillon or Aude region of france so you can daytrip the region, take cooking class and practice cooking with local ingredients, drinking fabulous wine, see mountain villages, wine country, sweeping views, etc. Look for someplace like Ceret, (more Pyranees but still located for great day trips ) or Capestang (sweet village on the Midi canal) or even Pezenas ( which we loved madly) . It is a decent drive from and back to Barcelona. You'll be doing the whirlwind thing on your cruise, so it might be more rewarding to focus from a base in SW France than attempt this crazy drive.

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    Since others were giving great help, I've been following your post without suggestions until I realized you are not going from Barcelona to Venice in a week, but going and returning to Barcelona in a week. That is really, really not a good plan for a week's drive. Uhoh_busted is giving you some really good advice.

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    cindyroo42 - It is great to hear that you husband's family is of Maltese origin, I am not the Anna Galea of your extended family for sure, there must be well over a hundred with that name in Malta as it is very common here.

    Now about your holiday, (please bear in mind that I am the most adventurous in doing long drives in Europeon countrries in very short limited time, I test my poor hubby's driving skills to the limit, lol regarding driving long distances). I WOULD DEFINITELY NOT do that long drive from Barcelona to Venice and back in such a short time. You are talking over 2400km in less than a week, and that is taking the shortest route, and not visiting B&Bs off the beaten track

    . That long driving distance in such a short time would be definitely done if somebody is driving overland like to buy a car and drive it, just stopping to rest overnight like my brother did when he bought himself a car from the UK, but for a holiday, no way!! You would barely have early evenings at place of destination, let alone doing cooking classes.

    I am checking out the date you arrive in Barcelona, and the cruise departure date, and I notice you don't even have a week in between, but just 6 nights, and remember you also have to fit in sightseeing in Venice, since your husband insists that he wants to visit that wonderful city (us Maltese can be quite hardheaded lol).

    You said that flights are expensive, but fuel is also expensive in Europe, so you would not really be saving if you take a low-cost flight to Venice. I checked Ryanair for you and they do flights from Barcelona (from two different airports) to Venice Treviso airport on 17th June and the fares are really good.

    Which airport are you arriving at in Barcelona from USA? And what time will you be landing in Barcelona? If you do like the idea do not take too long to book as sometimes they go really up in just a few days, and anyway, I am assuming that you are doing this vacation this year, there is not really much time left.

    So IF it were me, and I really wanted to go to Venice (don't blame your hubby, it is so beautiful and unique and your kids will love going on a gondola etc) - I would take a low cost flight from Barcelona to Venice, pick up hired car at airport (like Venice Treviso airport have extremely good rates since low cost airlines land there, (we rented Avis and we picked it up from there on our last holiday in December and dropped it off at Pisa airport),

    I really do not know what regions you would like to go to in Italy for cooking holidays/ relaxing holiday besides Venice, but I assuming you would like to include Tuscany or to the west of northern Italy in Piedmont area.

    I am calculating that you would only have six nights prior to the cruise departure, and I also presume that you would need to stay the last night in Barcelona. That would leave you with just five nights at your disposal. So if you want to savour as much as possible and do not mind quite some driving and having a one night stay, I would do two nights in Venice, two nights in Piedmont, and one night somewhere in between and take a flight from Turin to Barcelona (I just checked, till now flight on Ryanair is only 28.99 + check-in fees on the 22nd of June.

    Alternatively, you can fly back from Pisa to Barcelona and take a B&B with cooking school in Tuscany, and also near Venice, and maybe even near Lake Garda as another Fodorite suggested and fit in two or three stops. The flight from Pisa to Barcelona on the 22nd June is 46.99 Euro plus check-in fee, which if I remember well is 10 Euro. Be also aware that they charge for baggage check-ins with limited weight allowance for each baggage checked-in as well, but you are allowed for free a flight bag per person, and since you are four in the family it would be easy to divide the weight between four baggages. So you have to decide whether you want to make 2 or three stops, and the regions you are interested in visiting, always of course including Venice, we can't leave that out!!!

    Do take our advice, please, Sassafrass and Uhoh_busted gave you real good advice, with that mileage you have to drive going and coming back, and with just five nights available, you would be doing one night stops every time and arriving late evening every time. As Uhoh_busted said, not all highways even in Europe are multi-lanes and huge and flat, like many in Big Huge America, they might even lead you to mountainous areas, even more so if you go to off the beaten track B&B.

    Please come back to us and tell us what you think about this, and we shall gladly research B&Bs for you and give our suggestions.

    I repeat, since you have such big distances that you would have to travel to reach Venice and back, I would suggest you take a low cost airline, so that at least you would have the time to enjoy the holiday, and it would also probably be cheaper, considering toll roads, renting of car, fuel etc. Hiring a car from one airport and dropping it off in another in Italy involves only a small extra charge, but they do charge a lot if you hire from one country and deposit the car in another.

    Sorry I am stressing this a lot, but I am trying to convince you since you seem to be quite determined to go for it, and my only aim here on Fodors is to do my very best to help people enjoy their holidays, maybe even more so for people with Maltese blood!!!! (joking). .

    Enjoy your planning!!!

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    sadly cindy, you have [at least] 2 trips here.

    1. driving holiday from Barcelona. 6 days pootling around the area between Barcelona and toulouse. lovely coast line, the pyrenees, Perpignan and Toulouse, loads to do.

    2. Venice.

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    Yes! You have convinced me with the cheap flights. As you see, I am the one trying to make all happy. My hubby is away on business, but I am going to try to slip away from work early and try and book some flights : ).
    Anna, thank you for honesty and willingness to help. We are traveling ( hubby and I) to Southern Italty and on to Malta in September. If you are from Malta we should take you to dinner! My hubby is a Pace which is also everywhere there : )
    Once I get this sorted tomorrow, I will let you know. This last minute change has made me crazy!

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    You are welcom cindyroo42, everyone here on fodors I have found is helpful and want to do their best to give you good advice to their best of their ability, or preferences, then you do your own homework and you decide what may be the best for you. Some might be blunt, as I have noticed, but you get used to it, and all certainly want to help out, otherwise nobody would bother to write and give suggestions. Now even myself, I definitely am so happy to know that if I need any suggestions for any place that I have never been to, I am going to find friends to give their suggestions or advice to help me out.

    So now before you book flight, and decide on your flight destination in Italy, you have to see that you have ample time for transit flights. I do not know, maybe other fodorites can give their recommendations on this, but if you have ample time I would collect luggage in Barcelona. and check-in with Ryan air to Ttaly, to make sure that nothing gets lost in transit. Try and find a flight on the same day so that you would not waste another night, especially if you want to spend the last night prior to the cruise in Barcelona.

    Then I would choose 2 accomodations to stay in - 3 nights in a B&B/agriturismo close to Venice, but still in a village or small town that does a cooking class, that way you will have at your leisure one full day in Venice and another whole day to enjoy your cooking class and maybe wander a bit around the surroundings, and the other two nights in the region where you are taking your flight back to Barcelona, in another nice B&B/Agriturismo

    JUST REMEMBERED Ryan Air also does from Barcelona to Bologna, I just checked for you it does a flight on the 22nd of June. I also checked Barcelona Venice for 17th June, and today price was only 23.99 (flights fluctuate every single day). It departs Bacelona at 3.40pm, don't know if you would manage to make the flight. So check these three destinations well and make your homework regarding prices, times of departure etc.

    Last Christmastime we went to Italy and for Christmas Eve we stayed at a very small intimate relais hotel in Pietralunga. It is called Locanda del Borgo. The hosts are the best you can ever encounter, believe me, such a lovely family own this small country Relais. They have the most raving reviews on tripadvisor and I am one of them. They have family apartments which are so cute and Umbrian style, and the food is so good, genuine and abundant, we were really amazed. It was Christmas Eve and it is a tradition on that night that Italians serve fish for good luck, and believe me, a never-ending feast it was,(and I am not that easily impressed since as you know fish is so abundant in my country), plate after plate of pasta, shellfish, fish, desserts, accompanied by a full bottle of prosecco and three whole bottles unopened of local wine - amazing it was. The surroundings are so beautiful,close by, there is Citta' di Castello to visit, or Deruta Lake Trasimeno, or even Perugia etc, it is a pity you do not have at least another night available. If you take plane back from Bologna it is an easy drive on the autostrada, a bit over 2 hours, but plane leaves late afternoon, so you will have plenty of time. We had booked through booking.com, and then I contacted them personally to fix cost of dinner, and since we had booked late they had given us half price!! They had charged us only 120 Euro for the apartment for all of us, including breakfast, and 50 Euro each for Cbhristmas Eve dinner, (they did not charge anything for my youngest child who is disabled, so very nice of them). This country hotel is situated north Umbria, very close to the Tuscan/ Emilia Romagna border. If are interested contact them and ask the owners if they would do a cooking class for you, I am sure they would be more willing to oblige. Tell them I recommended them I am sure that they well remember our family from December and would do their very best to accomodate you, they are such a lovely family, that is.if you are interested in that place.

    Prior to our holiday, I had made a lot of research in Citta di Castello area and I am checking them out right now, and I am seeing an Agriturismo which specifically does cookery classes and pasta making classes. Have a look at it, it is called Agriturismo Ristorante Calagrana, even on their website they are seen making pasta.

    We had Christmas day lunch (even I like to change dining/lunch options) at L'Antico Forziere, and even another accomodation you might want to look at is I capricci di Merlon. I had shortlisted to all these and then had chosen La Locanda del Borgo to slee, but each to his own, maybe you would prefer Agriturismo Ristorante Calagrana for the pasta making - or maybe you can sleep at one place and visit the other the next day, I would do that myself. They are all in the same area of course. We had wanted to go there for a couple of days as on Christmas Eve in Citta di Casello a group of canoeists all dress up as Father Christmas and with lit canoes they row down the river, and when they reach Citta di Castello they disembark and hand over sweets and gifts to children waiting for them. I just love local Italian tradition at Christmastime, particularly the Presepe Vivente, the live cribs in so many towns and villages.
    So if you choose these areas, maybe you can do 2/3 nights in a B&B in Veneto or surroundings, close to Venice, and 2 or 3 nights in another B&B, maybe the one I just recommended (on the way you can stop for a lovely meal in Emilia Romagna, maybe in a small town or village. If you decide to take this route, I would strongly suggest you take plane back to Barcelona from Pisa or Bologna, or else leave Venice for the last and from there go back to Barcelona. So you would definitely use Venice airport, and Bologna or Pisa airport, so that you would lessen travel time. Check which times/prices are best for you. I hope I am being clear enough with my suggestions. You will have some driving to do, but it is close to nothing compared with the long driving route you were going to do. Get back to us on what you decide.

    Yes Pace is also a common name here.

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    cindyroo - hooray. I'm sure you won't regret it.

    Yes, we can be blunt - but it's because we want YOU to benefit from OUR mistakes. and Barcelona to Venice and back in a week would have been a HORRIBLE trip.

    hope you have a great time planning your week in Italy.

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    Hi again! We are behind and will just visit Barcelona where we land on a Sunday. Followed by French or Spanish villages on the south western side. Carcassonne has been mentioned as a must see, but rolling hills and beauty are things we desire. The Basque region interests me as I understand it is very pretty. Is there a little circle or plan anyone could recommend. We will hire a car.

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    sounds like a great plan.

    i suggest that you buy or borrow the relevant Coadogan guides to the places you want to see. I have looked on amazon, and there is a brand new one on Northern Spain, plus rather older ones on the pyrenees and the Langedoc. they have excellent ideas for touring and vey reliable recommendations for restaurants and lodging.

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