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a little bit of panic, can you reassure me?

a little bit of panic, can you reassure me?

Old Dec 9th, 2007, 10:55 AM
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a little bit of panic, can you reassure me?

We're heading off on our first trip to Europe together on 12/18 (with a week layover in Chicago for the holidays). Here's the run-down:

Dec 26-30- London
Dec 30- Jan 4- Rome (overnight train to Paris)
Jan 5-11 Paris

We're on a rather slim budget (i.e., our studio apt rental in Paris is 55 euro per night) and want to keep it that way.

Here's what I'm freaking out about: I haven't planned out daily itineraries for any of the cities. I don't know why! On all our other trips, I've always been so organized, and though I've got the guidebooks and have read them and bookmarked pages, etc., I feel utterly uninspired to plot out our days. I figure we can sit down and decide which geographical areas we want to hit up in each city, each day, and see whatever happens to be in that area (I will look up to see that major attractions aren't closed). Is that a fine enough plan?

It's been an incredibly unhappy, stressful year at work for me, and this trip is more of a fantasy escape than anything else. I just can't summon the motivation to be organized about daily itineraries, booking tours or restaurant reservations (though we did reserve a day at Villa Borghese). Are we destined for failure?

Thanks.... (breathing deep....)
raspberryberet is offline  
Old Dec 9th, 2007, 11:02 AM
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No, you are not destined for failure!

I would recommend reading a guidebook on your plane ride over if nothing else. Sometimes Tim and I look through guidebooks each night before bed and talk about which neighborhood we'll "hit" the following day.

One thing I would suggest is searching for trip reports of those who have visited London, Rome, and Paris on a budget and printing them out. I love reading old trip reports of travelers with my similar "traveling style" and they may inspire you.

Good luck with your last few days of work, and <b>relax</b>!
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Old Dec 9th, 2007, 11:05 AM
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The only thing you might want to pre screen would be the Rome sightseeing because of the New Year's holidays. Some one here should be able to guide you to a source for closing times, that way you won't waste any valuable time going to places that are closed.
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Old Dec 9th, 2007, 11:12 AM
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Ditto for London on the 26th
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Old Dec 9th, 2007, 11:22 AM
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It's a fine plan.

This may go against the grain of many Fodoristas, but consider starting off each city with a city tour, maybe a hop-on-hop-off one. You'll see all the biggest highlights, some of which may be on your list, but which you might reconsider after seeing that they're covered in scaffolding, etc. Or, you might roll by some street or shop that hasn't been on your radar, and say to yourselves, &quot;Wow - let's come back here.&quot;

It's also a way to get a snapshot of the physical layout of things. I hate going to a new city, using the metro to get around, never getting a picture of the spatial relationships, the distances, etc. Also, given the time of year, it's a heated and covered couple of hours, a good thing if you're jetlagged, tired, or both.
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Old Dec 9th, 2007, 11:31 AM
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Here's what I do: make a list of places/sights/things I'd like to see and treat it like a menu in a restaurant. Every morning or again during the day I look at it and decide: What do I want to do today, how's the weather, do I feel like a lot of walking, etc. Of course, the list includes opening hours if there are any, objects in the same area are grouped together, and a few &quot;I-really-want-to-see-this's&quot; are marked. The purpose is not ticking off the whole list but having a choice of options at hand.

Besides, I always take my time to stroll and explore, shop, sit in a cafe or pub, and just be.

You called your trip a &quot;fantasy escape&quot; - that sounds great! So explore and discover. You'll find a lot of hidden spots and little things no tourist and hardly any local knows about. This can be a great concept for travelling. You're not destined for failure at all if you free yourselves of the pressure of the so-called &quot;must-sees&quot;. These three cities offer so many attractions, big and small, that you'll automatically stumble across something everywhere. Enjoy your trip!
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Old Dec 9th, 2007, 11:33 AM
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Pay attention to what your self is telling you; leave it alone; no planning is what you need. You'll figure it when you get there. None of the cities you are visiting are hard to figure anyway. Just pack a guidebook/city and metro map(s). You'll know when to take them out.

Have a nice and relaxed holiday and best wishes for a better 2008!!
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Old Dec 9th, 2007, 11:37 AM
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No don't panic, like others have said read the books as you travel to get your mind in the irght state. Also download a couple of the longer reports (or ones you feel happiest with) and use them as a point of reference.

You mention money. My suggestions are as follows. (sorry if you know all this).

London will be in shopping frenzy with many of the big shows already booked as the whole country closes down for the period you are here. So expect to be buffeted on the pavements etc. Use of public transport will keep the costs down but they will be crowded.

Eat as the locals do and you really will need to book anything really wonderful. If you want to go to a Panto then start reading the internet chose one and book it.

Other cities not so bad as you are there when they are working though Rome will be similar at new years.
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Old Dec 9th, 2007, 11:47 AM
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Hi raspberry..it doesn't sound like a trip that will be a failure at all! It sound wonderful to me. But I have never been one to want a trip to be a list of &quot;must see's and do's&quot;. Thankfully my late husband felt the same way so consequently we really enjoyed our trips. With our businesses we had almost every moment so scheduled (that hated appointment book, lol) so we needed the complete opposite when we took trips. And we did end up seeing lots of sites and sights..but in a non stressful way. Some of my fondest memories is when we just started walking, especially in Rome. The discoveries be it a church, a wonderful cafe or restaurant, a piazza, old neighborhoods where tourists never venture etc. BTW, you would probably enjoy the Borghese Gardens either before or after your visit to the Borghese Gallery. It is so beautiful and serene. Had a wonderful trip..may it bring you all the joy and relaxation you are looking for.
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Old Dec 9th, 2007, 12:05 PM
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No need to panic. I just got back last month from 8 nights in both Rome and Paris and didn't plan a thing and had a great time.I just went wherever the mood took me.

You will be fine. Have a great trip.

Tom
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Old Dec 9th, 2007, 12:37 PM
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Don't panic-it's vacation!!
I'm a compulsive overplanner, but even I don't do a day by day full itinerary. We make a top ten list of sites; each person gets their #1 in each place, then you negotiate. We take the guidebooks along minus any unnecessary pages(hotel section and anything else that I know I won't need) and look at them at night when we're &quot;home&quot;, to decide on a plan for the next day. The more flexibility, the more free you are to adapt for weather, energy levels and serendipity. If you have internet access while there, you can check on play tickets, etc online. Enjoy! It sounds amazing!
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Old Dec 9th, 2007, 12:49 PM
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Hi raspbeeryberet, I posted this on Tiff's thread as they will be in Rome also but in case you don't see her thread here is an article from the International Herald Tribune you will probably enjoy reading since you are going to the Borghese Gallery. http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/12/06/arts/conway.php

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Old Dec 9th, 2007, 12:53 PM
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You will be fine and probably really enjoy your vacation. We just got back from Rome and we spent all 8 days in Rome - no side trips. Before we left everyone was making me feel guilty about that - &quot;Oh you have to get out and see the countryside&quot; &quot;You will regret not going to Pompeii&quot; &quot;At least go to Orvieto&quot; and on and on. Well we got there and what we really felt like doing was just staying in Rome - so we did and had a marvelous time!. And we will go back sometime and I'm sure hit the other stuff...
The point being - do what you want and what feels right for you at the time! Then it can't be wrong.
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Old Dec 9th, 2007, 01:10 PM
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You've picked three amazing cities that are good for either hyper-planning or no planning at all. I think you're going to have a great escape, and I wish I could do exactly what you're doing. Just make sure you have warm clothing so that the weather won't have too much impact on whatever you decide to do. Cheers!
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Old Dec 9th, 2007, 02:10 PM
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Hi RB,

&gt;I haven't planned out daily itineraries for any of the cities.

You really don't have to.

Look up each of your cities under &quot;destinations&quot;. Plan for one thing in the AM and one in the afternoon.

Enjoy your visit.

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Old Dec 9th, 2007, 04:18 PM
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Don;t worry - be fine.

We NEVER do day by day itineraries for cities. Just have a list of some things we want to see and the day(s) that they're closed. Once we get there we wing it based on weather, how lazy we feel, how late we've been out the night before.

If we went with a minute by minute itinerary it wouldn't be a vacation - since - IMHO - a key element is being able to do whatever you want (including nothing at all) whenever you want.
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Old Dec 9th, 2007, 06:05 PM
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Normally, I'd say that you really don't need to plan any of these cities, just sort of keep a list of sights that you're interested in and see whichever ones strike you on any given day. However, given the dates that you are traveling, I think that you may want to see what will be opened and what will be closed on the 26th and 1st (and maybe the 31st). I spent New Year's Day 2000 in Dublin and found just about everything closed.
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Old Dec 9th, 2007, 06:19 PM
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I never do daily itineraries. I do read a lot and think about what I want to see, and then decide each day with my travel companions what we feel like doing. The only things I reserve in advance are theater or concert or dance performance tickets if there is something in particular I want to be sure to see.

I have never made restaurant reservations before going to Europe. Most places I reserve in the afternoon for that evening. If there is no table available and I want to be sure to go somewhere, I will then reserve for a different night. There is always somewhere great to go in Rome and in Paris. On a budget in London, restaurants are more difficult because of the high cost, but I have gone to moderately priced ethnic restaurants without reserving ahead or just by reserving the day of the planned meal.

Don't stress out over this. Work sounds stressful enough, this is your vacation. Just enjoy it.
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Old Dec 9th, 2007, 06:42 PM
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Why not wait until you get there. There is lots of info in the airport, or in the hotel lobby, etc., and you can be spontaneous.
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Old Dec 9th, 2007, 10:44 PM
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dont worry,
these are all cities that you are likely to revisit so you dont have to stress about missing something

make sure you have good maps Including transit info) and walking shoes so that you are comfortable wandering

chose neighborhoods that are good to walk in and are rich in signts, churches, interesting markets, whatever your taste happens to be

choosing one or more themes (sometimes this just develops naturally as you see something you like and want to see more) can be a nice way to tie together a visit - for example, on London week day, visiting a number of Christopher Wren's City Churches and St Paul's -
or seeing the Borromini and Bernini churches/sculpture locations in Rome

- fountains in Rome
obelisks in Rome
gelati of rome
ancient (early christian) churches of Rome, with their mosaics, ancient basilical columns, etc


in Paris, shopping for food - cheeses, bread (try Kayser on Rue MOnge) and pastry and wine are good objectives - wonderful bargain meals at home are the result

do see some of the major museums - but they will be there your next visit too - a day in the Louvre (especially over the holidays when all the French people may be there too) or managing a visit to the Vatican Museums can be tiring.
Walking along the Seine, or seeing the Campidoglio, the Pantheon (Rome) or the parks in London so that you feel you have actually been in a place will probably give you the most out of your holiday.

Note - you will enjoy that everyplace is decorated and festive for the holidays - if you do go to churches, target the morning for this activity, since in Europe (farther north than US) it gets dark quite early in the pm - and, especially in Rome, where the churches close at lunchtime and reopen late by the time you get in there will not be enough light to see.
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