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Back from a 16 day trip to Paris and Italy

Back from a 16 day trip to Paris and Italy

Old Oct 23rd, 2004, 04:12 PM
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Back from a 16 day trip to Paris and Italy

Hello! I found this board to be extremely helpful in planning my trip so I thought I'd do a quick trip report! In summary, we stayed in Paris for 5 nights, flew to Venice where we stayed for 2 nights, trained to Florence and stayed for 2 nights with a day trip to Siena, trained to Naples where we got picked up by Renalto and slept in Positano for 2 nights with a day trip to Capri and an afternoon in Amalfi, and finally to top it all off, 4 nights in Rome!

I know this may sound like a lot to do in just 16 days but for us it was well worth the world wind tour! I just can't seem to relax and stay in one place for too long and I get bored of a place if I stay there too long. I feel like I have to take advantage of seeing and doing everything I can in a city!!! So even though most posters here thought my 2 nights in the amalfi coast might have been too short it was perfect for us. If any of you are fearful of doing these cities in such a short amount of time, I just want to say it's definitely doable. I think I would've gotten bored of the amalfi coast if I stayed another day because there was we had already explored everything in that area. =D

What I found interesting was that all the french people we encounted were the nicest people, however found half the Italians to be quite rude. Don't know if anyone else has had that experience?

When we arrived at the Paris CDG airport, we got our luggages pretty easily and caught a cab to our hotel which was the Prince de Galles hotel on Avenue George V on the 8th district. The airport was pretty old and kinda smoky.

After checking in, we walked down the Champes Elysee to grab sandwiches for lunch then proceeded to take the open bus tour so that we could get oriented with the city. Food was ok but you never really know what you're getting cuz it's all in French and we can't read it! And so many things have cheese and butter. We took the tour for about 2 hours. I thought it was well worth it as it gave us very good overview of the entire city. After that we walked around and explored the Marais neighborhood in the early evening and had terrible chinese food before taking the metro back to the hotel to sleep.
The second day, Tuesday, we woke up kind of late at 12:30pm and had french food near our hotel. Food was ok again. We then we went to the Orsay Museum.
Then we went to the Rue Clair market, a big open market to walk around and had some crepes and coffee.
We then took the metro to the Tullerres garden and did the Champes Elysee walk to the Arc de Triumphe. We then climbed the Arc de Triumph which was about 284 steps to the top!

The following day, on Wednesday, we started the morning with croissants and caffe lattes and then did the historic Paris walk including the Notre Dame, climbing the dome to the top, and the Left bank walk according to the Rick Steve tour book. After exploring Left Bank, we headed to the Louvre. We were in the Louvre for about 2.5 hours and took the metro to the Marais district where we had good French food for dinner.

On Thursday, we did the day trip to Versailles and also did the walk in the massive garden. That took pretty much the entire afternoon and we headed back to Paris. When we were back in Paris, we took a metro to the Eiffel Tower and found a good crepe stand on the bottom of the tower. We took the elevator to the top of the tower and stayed up there for the sunset.
After we got down from the Tower we did the Siene evening river cruise. The cruise was about 45 minutes and took us all along the river. After that we took the metro to the Rue Clair neighborhood and had dinner. The french restaurant there was really awesome and service really good.

On our last day, Friday, we first had lunch at the Madeline area and took the Metro to the Monmarte neighborhood to visit the Sacre Coure basillica. We opted out of climbing this basillica because we were all kind of tired. We also saw the Moulin Rouge building during our Monmarte walk.

We then went shopping at some cute gourmet markets like Fauchon and Au Bon Marche and I also bought some chocholates at some local chocolate shop!

On Saturday morning, we took a cab from our hotel to the Paris Orly airport and waited for our flight to Venice Marco Polo airport. We flew on Volare airlines. When we landed in Venice, we bought tickets on the Alilaguna water bus to our hotel and got off at Zaccharia, the stop after St. Mark's square. The boat ride was about half an hour or so and luckily our hotel was right on the waters where we got off the water bus. We stayed at the Hotel Danieli. After checking in, we decided to just wander around the Venice backstreets, avoiding St. Mark's square because it was so crowded during the day. Although it was the most touristy city in Italy (other than Rome), I still really liked the place just because it's so different.

We stopped at an alleyway to have our first taste of Italian food. After lunch, we continued to explore Venice and its side streets and wandered all the way to the other side, pass Rialto and onto the main Venice train station in the north. When the sun set, we finally ventured back to St. Mark's square where we saw these 3 dualing orchestras playing in front of all these cafes. There was so much going on in that square. We had dinner near the square and turned in around 11:00pm.

The next morning, on Sunday, we woke up late and also to some rain. We had pizza for lunch at a restaurant and then had our hotel arrange a water taxi to Murano so we can check out a glass factory. We ended up sharing the water taxi with this other couple. Seeing the people make glass was kind of interesting. Our sales representative explained how they made glass then showed us the showroom. We ended up getting a small vase there as a souvenier.

By the time the water taxi took us back to Venice, it had stopped raining and we walked around Venice some more and took many pictures near the Rialto bridge. We then went to Dodge's Palace and explored the museum for about 2 hours. After we saw the sun set, we walked back all the way to the main Venice train station and took a water boat down the canal back to St. Mark's square. I thought this was a great way to see Venice and an alternative to the gondola rides. We had dinner near St. Mark's square again and hung out at St. Mark's square before turning in.

On Monday morning, we took the water boat to the main Venice Train Station and took the train to Florence. We got to Florence around 11:30am or so and took a cab to our hotel. The hotel we stayed at was the Westin Excelsoir hotel. Our room had an awesome view of the Arno river. We had lunch at a local restaurant recommended by the hotel and the food there was ok. Service there was quite slow though. After lunch, we walked all around Florence, including San Lorenzo square, the Uffizzi area and the Accademia area. We had reservations for those two museums the following day. We then went into the bascillica in Florence and climbed the Campanile there. The view from the top was really nice! I loved the Florence renaissance architecture. I thought it was really beautiful.
We also walked to Pointe Verche bridge and took many pictures of the sunset overlooking the Arno river. After sunset, we wandered to the other side of the Arno river and found many art galleries and cute side streets.

For dinner we went to a Rick Steve recommended restaurant and it was so popular, that it had a sign on the window saying they didn't have any tables for the next hour! Not wanting to wait, we went on to the next Rick Steves recommended place. We were lucky to get there when we did because about 10 mintues after we sat down, a mass of people were waiting at the restaurant exterior. No doubt Rick Stever's! The food at the restaurant was really good and also very cheap! No wonder it was so popular!

After dinner, we walked back to the hotel.

The next morning, on Tuesday, we walked to the Accademia and had breakfast at a cafe near the museum as we waited for our reserved time of 10:00am. I thought the Accademia was nice and everyone there just wanted to see the "David" statue by Michaelangelo.

After the Accademia, we walked towards the Uffizi gallery for our next museum appointment and toured the gallery for about 2 hours. It was a really nice gallery and again, I was glad we got reservations. The line there was even longer than the one I saw at the Accademia!

After the Uffizi, we walked towards the bus stop, purchased tickets to Siena, and ate a late lunch as we waited for the bus to come around 3:30pm. The ride to Siena was just over an hour on the bus (longer if you take the train).

After we arrived, we walked towards the campanile and again climbed to the top to see the awesome view. Siena also had a lot of cute side streets to explore and we enjoyed my time there as well.

We had dinner in Siena at a Rick Steve's recommended place and headed back to Florence with an 8:44pm train. The restaurant was really good.

On Wednesday the 13th, we woke up early from our hotel in Florence and took the train to Naples. The train ride was pretty long - 3.5 hours but I had a good book to keep me occupied. In Naples, we had Renalto take us to our hotel in Positano. The drive to the Amalfi coast was really long too - almost 1.5 hours with lots of twists and turns along the 2 lane highway with cars and buses passing you really closely! As we got closer to Positano, the view was spectacular as you see all these houses popping out of cliffs!

Our hotel room in Hotel Posa Posa had a really nice view of the ocean and Positano. Although there were no steps to get to our hotel, the walk is quite steep.

After we checked into the hotel, we walked around the city and had lunch at a restaurant called Cafe Positano. This restaurant had the best view of the ocean and cliffs. You can see Praiano, the town after Positano on the other side of the cliff. After lunch we took a bus to the town of Amalfi. The bus ride to Amalfi was pretty memorable just because the driver drove really fast, cut off a lot of cars, even passed another bus on the other side of the street! The lanes were so small that when 2 buses pass each other, they barely touch each other. These truly are experienced bus drivers. Crazy, but experienced.
The town of Amalfi was really really nice! I thought the cliffside view was more beautiful than Positano.
I tried a lemoncello there in Amalfi but the taste is horrible. Tasted like lemon cough syrup. I don't know how people drink that stuff! It was the grossest thing. I'm so glad I didn't buy any bottles as souveniers.

After we came back from Amalfi, we had dinner at a Rick Steve recommended restaurant and had the best dessert. It was made out of lemons of all things! It was sort of a lemon cake with lemon custard on the outside.

The next morning, we had breakfast in the hotel and then walked 250+ steps down to the beach area to catch a boat to the island of Capri. The ride was about half an hour and we stayed in Capri for a few hours. There, we took a funicular to Capri Town.
We took some pictures in Capri Town (great view of the waters and cliffs again), then took a bus higher up to the other town - Anacapri. From Anacapri, we took a lift up to the very very top!

It was worth it though because the view from the top was awesome! We stayed there for about an hour or so then headed back down. We had lunch in Capri Town and just enjoyed the view of the ocean and the cliffs.

We then took the 4:00 boat back to Positano and walked 250+ steps back to the hotel. We decided to have dinner at the same place as we did the evening before and had the lemon cake dessert again.

After dinner, we pretty much turned in and woke up early the next morning to have breakfast then waited for our driver to take us back to Naples where we caught a train to our final destination - Rome.

More later on Rome!


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Old Oct 23rd, 2004, 07:27 PM
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thanks for report sfbayarea. Sure sounds like a whirl wind tour. Glad you had a good time.
Just out of curiosity, how much time did you spend in the Musee D'Orsay ? That one afternoon alone had my head spinning!!
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Old Oct 23rd, 2004, 07:38 PM
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sfb,
Enjoyed reading your trip report. French people were nicer than Italians? wow that's a first! I only have one recommendation, take the Rick Steve's book and burn it
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Old Oct 23rd, 2004, 08:50 PM
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hm I think we spent about 2.5 hours in the orsay museum. =D not being an art expert or anything i was mainly interested in the rodin, monet and van gogh section and it was on the highest floor! hehe the architecture of the building was really nice though.
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Old Oct 24th, 2004, 06:52 AM
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sfbay - Thanks for the trip report. What a trip! I am exhausted just reading this but it sound like you had a great time. Take Care JD
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Old Oct 24th, 2004, 07:09 AM
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Hi sf,

Thanks for an interesting report.

I am worn out.
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Old Oct 24th, 2004, 03:14 PM
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hahah thanks. i know my itinerary isn't for everyone and most would need a vacation from the vacation!
=D
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Old Oct 24th, 2004, 03:18 PM
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sfbayarea, I am still confused why you found half of the Italians rude?

I obviously love Italy. And of course I have run into a few rude Italians (as one does anywhere of course).

But half of the Italians were rude? Or was this just an expression.

Most people say one reason they enjoy Italy so much is due to the warmth and the kindness the Italians show them. No, not all of course.

But again, half of the Italians rude?

Wish you would give examples as I am very curious. Thanks
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Old Oct 24th, 2004, 05:50 PM
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sure! yes i was very surprised at this as well! first of all when we were in venice on our first night we went to this one restaurant (i'll have to find the name) at around 8:30pm, we sat down with our menus and when the waiter came by i had a question about the menu, which he was impatient about answering our questions and kept looking at his watch constantly, untill we finally felt like we needed to order in a hurry or else they might get more mad or something! when i said i wanted the risotto, he said "that takes 30 minutes!" to which i said that's ok, but he didn't seem happy about my order for some reason. my thought was maybe the restaurant was closing early but i don't think it did. anyway the waiter was very intimidating and not very nice.

the next night in venice we went to this other restaurant called A La bricola (DON'T GO THERE!) where the waiter was really really pushy about having us order the seafood special. when we refused and just ordered pasta, he kept asking over and over again if we wanted the seafood special and maybe we want to share. we said no. he was such a pushy waiter and it was very annoying. he tried to get us to order a bunch of other stuff too. we even asked for tap water instead of still and he said "no, we can't serve tap water, you can only get the bottle kind. " we ordered the bottle water but we noticed in another table with another waiter they obviously had tap! then we found out the table next to us had a problem with their check (with the same waiter as us) and it turns out they ordered the seafood special and felt they were mislead on the price! the menu said 8 euro for the fish but in small print it also said 8 euro per 100 gram and the fish was 800 gram AND they were charged 80 euro, which was another mistake the restaurant made! no wonder they were trying to push the seafood special on us!! don't ever go to this restaurant.

we thought maybe it was a fluke and that venice was especially touristy and maybe the locals were tired of it so were more rude. but we experienced it in florence as well.

in florence we went to this rick steves recommended restaurant and maybe it was because the place was so busy but waiter again was very short with us when we had questions with the menu and even walked away from our table when we weren't done! it was very hard to have them pay any attention to us. the food was really good though and it was really cheap so maybe that's another reason why.

in rome, we went to another rick steve recommended restaurant near the spanish steps where again it was tremendously crowded. anyway, the waiter was short with us, and when i asked what the next table was having he said they are having the buffet. i ended up getting the buffet and my husband got a pasta. i had 2 plates of the buffet. and when the bill came they charged us for 2 buffets. when i asked why since i was the only one having the buffet, he said "each plate costs $X!!" then he started muttering under his breath and rolled his eyes as if to say i can't believe these people are that dumb. well i guess in italy that's how buffets are but in america buffets, imply something different. anyway had i looked at the menu maybe i would've seen it but the waiter didn't have to make me feel dumb when he was telling me that was the reason why!

in positano, we ate lunch at cafe positano and it took about 40 minutes for us to get seated even though there were empty tables. needless to say it was hard to get the waiter's attention.

other than restaurants, i found the people in the museum ticket lines, galleries and other touristy areas to be terrible. i know when i approach them too i am extra nice and smile, etc but i don't get that in return.
so that was the half of the rude italians i encountered. the other half were really nice. however in paris, i didn't encounter any rude parisians at all! i was pleasantly surprised by it. has anyone had this experience before?
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Old Oct 24th, 2004, 05:54 PM
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I think the moral of the story might be to avoid places recommended by Rick Steves.

In 30 years of travelling to Italy, I have not encountered that many examples of rudeness on the part of Italians...
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Old Oct 24th, 2004, 06:00 PM
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hahaha i don't know if i'd go that far. =D
the 2 restaurants in venice weren't recommended by rick steves. every time i do go to a rick steve recommended place the food was always awesome - just the service terrible! prob cuz everyone there went there because of rick steves so it's hard for the restaurants to handle such volume. needless to say though i still had an awesome time in italy!!!!

there's this other place too called il peperone in rome where the service was terrible too. i have more examples but i won't get into it. heheh
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Old Oct 24th, 2004, 06:15 PM
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oh oh i have to add another example. my husband and i ate at this restaurant for dinner one night in campo di fiore. i really need to list out the names of these places! haha anyway, we shared a salad appetizer and as we were eating it, we found a spider in it! gross!!! when we pointed it out to the waiter, all they said was, "oh it must've fallen from the ceiling." when the bill came, i expected them to maybe take the salad off the bill, but they didn't. when my husband said nicely, "so, you'll still charge us for a salad with a spider in it?" and the waiter said, "well yes, it must've fallen from the ceiling because it couldn't have come from the back." and proceeded to walk away. AMAZING!!!!! can u believe that? we were so shocked we just paid the bill and left because it wasn't worth it. i don't think they would've ever done that in the states. i think it also has something to do with service being included in the bills. in the states at least the tip is based on merit. there we couldn't even refuse to pay tip because it was already included! so no matter how bad the service is, we're still paying for it.
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Old Oct 24th, 2004, 06:18 PM
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sorry i clicked post too quickly. anyway i think it's also because they must know we are tourists who probably won't go back there again anyway so why not stick it to them. i really felt some of these people were so mean!

anyway don't get me wrong i still had an awesome time there. hahah just surprised by these encounters and more.
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Old Oct 24th, 2004, 06:33 PM
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SFBayArea: I'm genuinely sorry that you had so many unpleasant experiences in Italy -- the country and, odd as it must sound to you, the people -- I love the most in Europe.

And I do admire the fact that you managed to overlook the nasty things, take them with a good sense of humor and enjoy the beautiful things that Italy has to offer.
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Old Oct 24th, 2004, 07:57 PM
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I don't even know what to think or say!! Thank you for answering my question sfbayarea. But I am in a daze regarding your report.

You, I assume, live in the SF Bay Area.
Do you go to SF, to North Beach? Do you have problems there.

Do you like Italians? I am not trying to be critical but honestly I have never heard of a trip to Italy with so many problems. Rick Steves restaurants I personally would not go to. And restaurants loaded with tourist I stay away from.

But it sounded like you had problems for sure with lots of Italians. I guess I am still confused, but obviously you did.

I am glad that parts of your trip were enjoyable. Again, thank you for your response.
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Old Oct 24th, 2004, 08:34 PM
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Enjoyed your post. Hope to hear more about Rome. We will be going to Rome in January. What did you think was the best things you saw and did while you were there? Did you do any shopping and if so did you find the prices pretty good?
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Old Oct 24th, 2004, 11:17 PM
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sfbayarea, I like your style of vacations -- lots of variety at a whirlwind pace -- my kind of trip! However, I was very surprised to hear of your bad experiences in Italy. I too, like many others, love Italy and find the Italians to be the warmest people in the world. I am part French and speak fluent French, but I still prefer Italy and Italians any day over France. To echo Eloise, the problem is going to the Rick Steves recommended places....while the Italians are grateful for the business, it is a two-edged sword because it brings in tons of Americans into an otherwise "quiet", local Italian establishment. This has happened all over the Cinque Terre, Florence, etc.....it is both a blessing and a curse. I, personally, would never go to a Rick Steves spot. It's more fun to venture off the beaten path and go eat with the locals!
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Old Oct 25th, 2004, 12:00 AM
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I love Italy. My husband is Australian of Italian parents and speaks Italian. We had a ball when we were there last year but... I do agree with sfbayarea to some extent. We travelled for nine weeks and the only rudeness we encountered was in Italy and on many occasions. Mostly in the cities, but still, quite rude and I can't count the times they tried to rip us off at restaurants etc. Tuscany and Sicily were the exception to the rule. It won't stop be from returning time and time again.
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Old Oct 25th, 2004, 05:03 AM
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I also find the French as very warm and friendly.
While, I have run into a couple surly Italian's,overall they are charming and most friendly.
I think the more "touristy" you go (same in U.S), the more you run into people that may seem rude.
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Old Oct 25th, 2004, 07:30 AM
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Hi SF,

I thinkthat I might have had as many unfortunate encounters with staff as you had, but over a period of many years.

My sympathies.
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