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10+ Days in Europe - Starting in Milan

Old Jul 18th, 2013, 07:55 PM
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10+ Days in Europe - Starting in Milan

We will be living in Marrakech, Morocco for one year during 2013-2014. We plan to travel in Europe as much as possible. My husband and I are both experienced travelers and we have two boys that are 6 and 9 who also have traveled quite a bit. We are planning a 10+ day trip to Milan that will begin around December 20th - the beginning of January during their school holiday. I'm having a hard time narrowing down where to go -because I want to go everywhere! A few things that might help;

- we speak French, English, and Arabic between us
- we have family in Milan so accomodations there are not a problem
- I would really like to visit Sicily however realize it's a bit "out of the way"
- We are used to the cold and snow (our "home" is in the northern US)
- we don't need or want "kids" activities, but love good food, culture, and history
- We are comfortable using buses, trains, or flying.

I had an idea to start in Milan, go to Zurich, Prague, and Budapest, then loop back to depart from Milan (only because there are very cheap tickets from Marrakech to Milan). But don't know if this is unrealistic and maybe just too far apart to make sense. Alternately if there's a way to do Milan, Sicily, Croatia? Any insight most welcome!
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Old Jul 18th, 2013, 08:19 PM
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>>Milan, go to Zurich, Prague, and Budapest, then loop back to depart from Milan >Milan, Sicily, Croatia
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Old Jul 18th, 2013, 08:40 PM
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Hi DC_Mom,

You sound just like I when we moved from DC to Austria last summer--I wanted to go everywhere! We have traveled quite a bit in the last year (Paris, Sofia, Budapest, Florence, Croatia, Balkans, Prague), and we still want to go everywhere, but quite often what looks feasible on GoogleMaps doesn't always translate in reality.

Your 10 day travel loop (Milan-Zurich-Prague-Budapest-Milan) will require too much travel, even if you fly between destinations, and too little time for good food, culture, and history. Buses (and even trains) moving through the mountainous areas in December could add delays.

Train times for your proposed loop could be as much as 8 hours, in good weather and with no delays. Our daughter and I just returned from 12 days through the Balkans and Istanbul, and each of our train and bus hops were delayed for various reasons. Even if you fly between destinations, there's always checking in, boarding, etc. Each hop on your loop will take at least a half day without connections.

Maybe a Milan-Rome-Florence-Milan loop? Or Milan-Sicily-Milan? Leave Croatia for truly good weather, late spring through early autumn. If you're set on Prague and Budapest, then save Zurich for another time.

Enjoy living overseas--we are!
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Old Jul 19th, 2013, 04:18 AM
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I think you will find that train and air tix are much higher during the Christmas holidays, and while you may be able to book cheap flights from Morocco to Milano if you book in advance, some of the other destinations might get problematic. I also think you need to think about the risks of bad weather paralyzing transport at that time of year.

I don't find Zurich a terribly interesting destination, so I suppose I would scratch that one off right away. The logistics of Prague and Budapest could get daunting. Sicily and Croatia would be much better for Eastertime.

If you don't mind cold, I suggest a train loop of Milan-Torino-Aosta-Milan, or Milan-Verona-Bologna-Milano. (Venice can be rather quiet that time of year, so if you're curious and can afford it, might be worth seeing instead of Bologna.)

Fast trains can whiz you to Rome from Milan, but be prepared for higher lodging costs in the Christmas season, plus crowds around the religious attractions. But it can have nicer weather.

Since you speak French, it is tempting to suggest Milan and Paris, but bad weather can end up meaning miserable delays.
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Old Jul 19th, 2013, 04:45 AM
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Perhaps because you have family in Milan, you have already visited Italy. But, if not, a loop of Milan, Florence, Rome, Milan would be a great trip at the end of December. Or Venice, Rome, Milan. I would save some of the eastern countries for warmer weather and longer days.
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Old Jul 20th, 2013, 08:50 AM
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Hi DC_Mom,
We lived in Milan for several years - great city with tons to do and see. Flights to Sicily are quite easy and it's a great place to visit during the winter. I would recommend flying into Palermo and doing a loop down to Agrigento (make sure to stop by the Scala dei Turchia) and then over to Catania. Catania is one of our favorite cities -- very "real" and a good base for visits to Etna and Siracusa.
Enjoy your trip!
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