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1st time in Europe - Best Bang for your Buck

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Nov 2nd, 2011, 10:32 AM
  #1
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1st time in Europe - Best Bang for your Buck

My husband and I are looking to get the best bang for our buck in Europe in Sept. 2012. Where would be a good central city in Italy to travel from? We were thinking of renting an apt. so we could jump around. Do you suggest a bus tour? Friends of ours did this and enjoyed very much, but I worry about car sickness. Is it prudent to get a car? What is a good rate/wk for an apartment by owner?
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Nov 2nd, 2011, 10:43 AM
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How do you "jump around" if you rent an apartment? The whole purpose of renting an apartment is to settle down in one area for a time and get to know it.

No one can tell you what a good rate for an apt. is without knowing where you are renting, how big an apartment, what amenities, etc.

Whether you get a car or not depends on what kind of vacation you plan and whether or not you will be in cities or the countryside.

I would never do a bus tour, but there are plenty of people who do.
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Nov 2nd, 2011, 10:43 AM
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Not sure...

Are you thinking of a bus tour AND renting an apartment?

In general, renting an apartment is cheaper than a hotel, and a tour hotel would be cheaper still.

How long are you going for?
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Nov 2nd, 2011, 10:44 AM
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Please specify what bang for the buck means to you.

I understand this is your first trip but you have thrown together many elements that do not hold together.

Rates vary according to location and accomodation.

First decide what you want to see, and then it will easier to offer advice. A bus tour takes you where they want to go, your tour takes you where you want to go.
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Nov 2nd, 2011, 10:47 AM
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Sorry for the confusion. Let me get more specific. We would like to start in Rome, then travel around Rome. Any suggestions how many days to spend in Rome? I read that Venice is better than Florence. What other cities can we get to by train from Rome? I'm really confused about what to do.
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Nov 2nd, 2011, 10:48 AM
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A common route seems to be Rome, then train to Venice/Florence.

Alternatively, go the other direction to Sorrento/Capri. Or perhaps even Cinque Terre.

A car is OK, but not if you are going to spend time mostly in cities.
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Nov 2nd, 2011, 10:57 AM
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Get a guidebook or two and look at maps. Doing some research will dispel your confusion.

You can get to any city in Italy from Rome.

"Venice is better than Florence." Says who? Doesn't it depend on what you are aiming to see? If it's Renaissance art, no, Venice would not be better. What are you going to Italy for? Why Italy? Where you end up, and for how long, totally depends on the purpose of your trip. What is it?
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Nov 2nd, 2011, 10:59 AM
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If you mean what cities can you do day trips from Rome to - Venice is way too far and even Florence is a stretch. If you rent an apartment in Rome - you stay in Rome. You might want to visit the ruins at Ostia Antica, take a day trip to visit Orvieto or even one to Pompeii - although that would be a long trip - as in more than 12 hours.

If you want to visit Florence or Venice and see anything you really need to go and stay there.

As for the most bang for your buck _Italy is in the mid price range - you will get more for your money in central or eastern europe - but you seem to have decided on Italy.

As for renting an apartment you need to understand that many are in ld or very old buildings and you will often not find the amenities that are standard in the the US - such as AC, elevators and washer/dryers. So when looking - keep in mind what you expect - having to climb 4 flights of stairs can be daunting with luggage or groceries.

As for apartments - they are available in all price ranges - but one in a central location with all amenities, although less than a hotel, will not be dirt cheap.
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Nov 2nd, 2011, 11:02 AM
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I picked Italy because it seems to have the most historical things to see. I am also interested in the South of France, but since this is my first time in Europe, I thought I should see some history. Any suggestions?
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Nov 2nd, 2011, 11:03 AM
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Maybe you should look into an "open jaw" ticket where you fly into one city such as Rome and out of another ie: Venice.

You could start in Rome, head to another location by train and even think of renting a car for a few days of seeing the countryside if not train accessible. You really need to think about what you want to see and try to plan around that.

You can rent in Rome for as short a stay as 3 days with Sleepinitaly.com which has a great selection of apartments....giving you more bang...as rates are usuually good. You can keep some food or snacks in the fridge or even prepare some meals if you are inclined to save money.
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Nov 2nd, 2011, 11:29 AM
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If I were looking for best bang and lots of history, Turkey might be a good choice. But Italy/South of france are good choices. For South of france I would probably get a car though.

In theory...could fly to Paris, stay a couple of days, then take high speed train to South of france (TGV), rent a car for few days. Then train into Rome.
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Nov 2nd, 2011, 11:30 AM
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Unless you are very adventurous and can do a lot of planning on your own, I would rec. checking out a tour company and seeing what they may have to offer. They do all the planning, they make the arrangements with hotels, and they usually transport you from one destination to the next. Maybe not ideal for everyone but since it's your first time in Europe it may be a better planned trip. And a whole lot less stressful.

I know lots on this board will object and will suggest planning it on your own.
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Nov 2nd, 2011, 11:31 AM
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As StCirq suggested, get a guide book. For sights there are none better than the Michelin Greens. They have one for all of Italy and then those that are broken down by region. I do not think the Greens for Italy have restaurants and hotels.

Once you have established what you want to see and how much time you have, things will become clearer.
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Nov 2nd, 2011, 12:02 PM
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I almost always travel independently, but that’s because I love researching historic sites, museums, restaurants, etc. If you don’t have the time or real interest in doing this, I would recommend a bus tour, since you will get to see a lot of the historic sites but you won’t have to plan very much. Also, for your first trip to Italy and first time in Europe in general, you may like the extra support of having a hotel staff on hand to answer questions or give you pointers, rather than staying in an apartment.

I haven’t been to Venice, but I love Florence. If you’re at all interested in Medici history, or Dante or Machiavelli or Michelangelo, or even gelato, you’d enjoy it.
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Nov 2nd, 2011, 12:53 PM
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If you want to see alot, tick off the "A" sites and don't mind moving every day or two - I'd suggest a tour. If you want to do it on your own, doing several days stays in two or three places then an apartment will be a reasonable way to go. Only you can decide which style of travel you want for this trip.

Most places are easy to reach by train. I like Rick Steves guidebooks for his combination of practical information for getting around and his advice on what sights to see. He doesn't appeal to the art history majors / accademics on the Fodors boards but in my experience he is an excellent travel companion.

I'd suggest you get a bit more decided on where YOU want to go, then check back in for further advice.
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Nov 2nd, 2011, 05:40 PM
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You need to do some research - on the web or with a guidebook. We like the Michelin Green Guides best but a good idea is to go to your local library or bookstore and sample a few to see which you like best.

Once you have a better idea of the things you want to see, we can better help you. An apartment is good if you want to stay in one place for a period of time. Hotels work better if you plan to move around often.

You must have a reason for wanting to see Italy and once you have done some research, we'll be able to help.
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Nov 2nd, 2011, 06:24 PM
  #17
 
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Cinque Terre has just recently suffered some major flooding. I would not recommend it at this time. If you select this area, Karen,be sure to find out what conditions are like at the time of your trip. We LOVED the area and highly recommend it. Beautiful in October!
Public transportation is great in most areas of Europe. We felt safe at all times and found trains and buses to be on time.
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Nov 3rd, 2011, 05:48 AM
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I think you need to start out simple and slowly. Rick Steves is a good place to start. You don't have to buy his books, just go to the library and read up a bit. He's easy to follow.

Rome is a huge city. Just think of navigating a strange city in a different language and ask yourself: do I really want to do all this on my own? Am I good at planning? If not, then investigate an all-inclusive tour which takes care of everything for you: hotels, transportation (this is a major endeavor on your own!), and even some meals.

You don't have to do exactly what your friends did. You have to find what is most comfortable for you.
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Nov 3rd, 2011, 08:20 AM
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You didn't mention how much time in total. You could easily spend 2 weeks in Rome and still not see it all. Renting an apartment is a good idea if you are going to spend more than a few nights.
A person's first trip to Europe is always a mind blowing experience - it's always more confusing, beautiful, frustrating, and unexpected than anticipated. Italy is a great choice as far as 'bang for the buck', but it's also a little more frustrating for the first time visitor - not much English is spoken and the streets are very confusing. Flying into Rome as your first European experience will be mind numbing - it's like New York on speed. That being said, Italy our favorite country, and the food and scenery are amazing.
I would suggest at least 4 days in Rome, then a few nights in the countryside to unwind and experience the true beauty if this amazing country. Perhaps a farm stay in Tuscany. You'll want to rent a car for this part of your trip. From there you can do a day trip to Florence on a bus, or if you are brave, you can drive it. Then wind up your trip with a train to into Venice for several nights. An open jaw flight back from Venice would be the ideal. Have you been to the slowtrav.com website?
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