Any ideas where to take grandmother?

Jul 9th, 2008, 05:43 AM
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Any ideas where to take grandmother?

My grandmother turned 80 a couple of months ago. She has traveled a fair amount. We took her to Paris last year and thought that would probably be her last big trip. She is renewing her passport "just in case" she gets to go on another trip. She gets around pretty well but can't walk super long distances. The question is -- where should we take her that would be a great last trip abroad and also easy to get around without a ton of walking?
AngelaDD is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 05:47 AM
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Hi A,

Before you kill off dear old Grandma, we took my mother to Paris when she was 88.

Two weeks in Venice, Florence and Rome wouldn't be too tiring.

ira is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 06:04 AM
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I took my 79 yo mother to Salzburg, which really enjoyed (except for the fact that it rained every day). The old town is compact, you can take a funicular to the top of the castle in town, Sound of Music tours require minimal walking, and day trip options abound (skip Bad Gastein, streets are too steep...Mom liked St. Gilgen, Bad Reichenhall, and Zell am See).

I've also taken my parents (in their mid 70s at the time) to Vienna, again, they really enjoyed it.

This year, I'm taking Mom to Dresden. She is in good shape but like your grandmother can't walk long distances without getting tired. So we're going to spend the whole week in Dresden, staying at one hotel and doing things that don't require a lot of walking. Our itinerary roughly breaks down to:
1 day of sightseeing around Dresden (probably by tour bus)
1 day Zwinger/Green Vault
1 day river cruise
1 day Meissen (town and factory)
1 day Leipzig
1 day Herrnhut (to visit world headquarters of Moravian church), but someone not interested in that could easily substitute day trip to Prague, Berlin or Goerlitz.

Some of those things wouldn't ordinarily require a whole day, but we're going to take things at a leisurely pace. Also, we've picked a nice hotel with a good lobby salon/bar, so if I get itchy feet and want to speed around parts of town on my own for a couple of hours, Mom will be content to relax there with something to drink and people watch or read a novel.

Your very first priority should be finding out where your grandmother wants to go. If she really has no opinions, then Vienna is mostly flat, easy to get around via tram and many of its main sights are fairly close together.

My mother also enjoyed the trip I took her on to Switzerland--we visited Basel, Bern, Luzern and Lugano, exploring the region by boat, train and funicular.

Also, based on my travels with Mom, it helps to pick a hotel with a decent onsite restaurant (or a couple within the block). On our Salzburg trip, after a day of sightseeing in the rain, it was nice to have a relaxing dinner right in the hotel. We ended up eating dinner there several nights, so were glad it had good food and service!
BTilke is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 06:20 AM
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Have you asked her where SHE might want to go?
sandi_travelnut is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 06:33 AM
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Have you checked Grand Circle Tours for their river cruises? There may even be last minute specials. This is their anniversary year and they have been having some good deals on cruises.
I have no personal experience with GCT but my friend has been on 3 of their cruises and each one was very good. She liked the river cruise in Russia.
bratsandbeer is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 08:03 AM
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Ira, your post made me (and my mother) laugh out loud. : ) "One big last trip" is her phrase, not mine. She does not have anyplace particular she wants to go, so my mother and I are going to plan a surprise trip for her. All, thanks for the great ideas. Btilke, I really like your suggestion of staying in a nicer hotel where we will be comfortable spending down time and staying in one place in each city we go to. I also like the idea of Salzburg or Vienna/Prague.
AngelaDD is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 08:11 AM
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You've got great suggestions here. I'll add Amsterdam. The trams take you nearly everywhere, and it's fairly flat.
mcnyc is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 08:25 AM
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For our upcoming Dresden trip in October, we are finding excellent rates on hotels--5* hotels with twins under €150 per night. These are upscale hotels with large comfortable rooms, well appointed bathrooms, large lobby salon/bar areas, onsite restaurants, and spa facilities.

If you pick a city as your base (Vienna, for example), it helps to check if there are any large conventions scheduled to be in town your week. They can really drive up hotel prices and (naturally) cut back on room availability. Room prices the week before or after a big meeting usually are very good value. In Vienna, the two main venues are the Messe and Austria Center. You can check upcoming events at those venues from the links below.

One final note: My parents enjoyed their vacations to places where they also saw other older people as well. On their last trip to London (a city my parents had always liked), Dad observed that "you don't see much gray hair in London these days" and that the city now seemed completely dominated by a youth culture. It didn't stop them from enjoying their trip but it did make them feel a little more age-conscious.

Whereas in Vienna, Paris, Salzburg, and Brussels, while there are lots of young people, there were also plenty of older people around (not just visitors, but locals too).
BTilke is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 09:02 AM
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What about Lake Como and Venice? I think these would be a perfect combination. Both so beautiful but in different ways.
zoecat is online now  
Jul 9th, 2008, 09:13 AM
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We took my 86 year old dad to England and Northern Ireland in 2005. This was a trip to take him back to where he served during WWII (Blandford Forum, England) and where our family hailed (Antrim, NI), but we had a surprisingly grand time!

What I found worked well was to book into nice B&B's. When dad wanted to just stay "home" some afternoons to nap or read, he was able to sit by a fire in a lounge and the owners were wonderful about seeing if he'd like tea. This atmosphere beats a hotel room. This gave my DH and I an opportunity to wander on our own a bit.

Dad passed away the following year, so I am SO happy that we had this wonderful trip.

Good for you!
MelJ is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 09:50 AM
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I think the uneven walkways in most of Italy, including Firenze and especially Roma, are very tiring for older people to walk on. And Venezia has a lot of bridges.

Berlin, with its wealth of modern public transportation, and of course history and culture, would be on my list.

And so would Japan!
zeppole is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 11:15 AM
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Actually, while the walkways can be uneven in Italian cities, I've found that it isn't so tiring because there are plenty of places to sit.

Having gone to Paris, I guess I'd suggest taking your grandmother to Italy. All you have to figure out is which part.
mcnyc is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 12:19 PM
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Berlin. S-bahn and U-bahn everywhere to take you all over the city.

If you have money, you could stay at the Adlon Kempinski and your grandmother could just stroll out the front door to see the Brandenburger Tor and the Reichstag Building (with its SPECTACULAR glass dome).

From the Potsdamer Platz U-bahn station, you can take granny on over to the KeDeWe Department Store and she can have a glass of Veuve Clicquot in the Food Hall on the top floor.

Museum Island is also a short taxi ride from the Adlon.

Proenza_Preschooler is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 12:30 PM
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Amsterdam is a great city and reasonably easy to navigate. Especially if you use the canal boat for a tour, trams and taxis to get around.

I love Venice but it's a bit more of a challenge with all the stairs, bridges, etc.
suze is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 12:31 PM
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And *PLEASE* do not tell your Grandmother you this is her "great last trip"... sheez she could surprise you and live to be 100!
suze is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 12:37 PM
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I think Amsterdam is really problematic for walkers. If you're not used to the bicycle traffic, it can be quite alarming. And what do they call those phallic knobs that stick out of the sidewalks? Shin breakers? They're awful.

I live in Italy, and we joke about what it's like to live in the most beautiful place in the world and never see it because you've always got your eyes glued to the ground. Potholes, sudden steps (that go nowhere), dog poo, broken cobblestones, embedded twists of iron, and vespas whizzing past you, right at your side.

Now you know why they have all those benches there!
zeppole is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 03:03 PM
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Does it have to be a big city? A smaller and less busy place with shorter distances might be easier to handle.

We have just made our grandma (she's 88 and can hardly walk but is still absolutely sharp and would love to be more active) happy with a trip to the Mosel valley. The wine villages are small, so no long distances to walk. We picked one that had a promenade walk along the river and, even more important, a boat landing.
You can do cruises on the river to other villages and towns, enjoy the landscape from the deck of a ship, spend an hour or two at the destination, walk round a bit and have a coffee break, then return by boat and enjoy the landscape again. The hotel provided good dinner and a place to spend the evening sampling local wines. It was perfect.

P.S. As for the "very last trip", my grandparents went to Travemünde on the Baltic sea coast "for the very last time" at least five times. Best wishes for your grandmother, let's hope she'll still be able to do many great, big and small trips.
quokka is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 03:52 PM
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How about Switzerland? I have a fondness for the towns outside Geneva along Lac Leman (Lausanne, Vevey, Montreux). It's absolutely beautiful there.

suze is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 04:39 PM
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Thanks for the great suggestions, everyone! We do not intend for this to be my grandmother's last great trip abroad. I am sure there will be many, many more.
But we do want it to be a great trip and many of the places suggested sound like they would be perfect. We will report back on this board on our trip.
AngelaDD is offline  

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