Beginners attempt at an itinerary

Jul 7th, 2014, 10:25 AM
  #21  
 
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OK- one doesn't LOSE a day or a half day . . . But it does take a day (or half day) to move locations.

So if one thinks they will have a full day in such and such a city, they won't because half of that day will have been spent getting there.

Not a 'lost' day maybe, but a day spent not seeing what they thought they'd be seeing.
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Jul 7th, 2014, 11:00 AM
  #22  
 
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Good point, Sandralist, about time of day to travel. A couple of hours sightseeing, break time used for travel, then more sightseeing makes perfect sense if one can make connections, etc. I also like late afternoon travel, have a walk and dinner, and start the next day rested and fresh.
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Jul 7th, 2014, 11:07 AM
  #23  
 
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You don't need a tour group. You just need to cross off about half the things on your list. An individual can't move around as fast as a Contiki tour (if that's what you are basing this itinerary on).

21-25 days is plenty of time to see some of Italy, and even a bit of Greece. You've just got too many stops in each country to be a reasonable plan.
suze is online now  
Jul 7th, 2014, 12:52 PM
  #24  
 
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>>> And for complicated transfers (like to an island via ferries etc - count on most of a day. <<<

This is wrong. The Athens to Mykonos ferry will take 5 hours. It was suggested that she could fly from Naples to Mykonos. The rest of the fast ferries should take about 2 hours with an overnight from Santorini or Crete to Rhodes.

If you're traveling on a budget, limit 1 week to 3 islands (Mykonos, Ios, Santorini) and then 3 nights in Athens.

Venice (3 nights)
(2 full days in Venice, as well as first evening post-flight to just stroll/have a nice dinner, etc)

Venice to Bologna
Bologna to Florence (3 nights)
(come in late evening from Bologna, check in and rest, gives you 2 full days to see the place, if you don't like Florence much then you can take a day trip to Siena on the 2nd day)

Cinque Terre (2 nights)
(if interested in seeing Pisa you can do so on the way there or go in the afternoon/evening after seeing something in the morning in Florence, check in and have a nice dinner and enjoy the town you're staying in, next day hike/boat/train around to the other 4 towns)

Rome + Vatican City (3 nights)
Half day can be in the Vatican w/ a tour. And 1 day + 2 evenings to scratch the surface of what you want to see. OR you can leave CT in the evening and have 3 full days in Rome)

Naples (4 nights, w/ day trips to Pompeii, Amalfi Coast/Positano)

Mykonos (3 nights)
1 will be after your flight, but it's nice to have 3 evenings and 2 mornings here.

Ios (1 night)
You won't get much time here, but it doesn't really matter much.

Santorini (2 nights)
See if you can get an early ferry and then watch the sunset. Can hike on the 2nd day, and on the 3rd day see if you can get a later flight going to Athens.

Athens (3 nights)
LR220 is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 01:21 PM
  #25  
 
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>>The Athens to Mykonos ferry will take 5 hours. It was suggested that she could fly from Naples to Mykonos.<<

Flying? There is then the extra time needed to get to the airport and check in. So in either case it will chew up a LOT of the day.

But you folks jumping on the "transfers don't eat up time" bandwagon, hey - go for it.
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Jul 7th, 2014, 01:49 PM
  #26  
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I realise I may have been reaching for the stars a bit with so many destinations.

I did feel confident that I could make the transfers between cities without losing half a day (I spent quite a bit of time travelling in Thailand and did alright there with ferries etc) but I can appreciate that Europe might be a different kettle of fish.

It's great to know that there might be some instances where I can squeeze in an overnighter just to experience it.

You are correct Suze, I was hoping to do a 'contiki' like tour of the country - I loved the idea of traveling much as I could, this isn't a relaxing vacation I'm after, I know I'll end up coming home exhausted!

Really appreciating everyone's point of view and I will come back in a day or 2 with a revised plan (there will still be some 2 night stays haha!) and get your thoughts again - I will include details of what I hope to accomplish. My partner and I also don't mind the traveling part - this was our chance to nap, sun bake on a ferrie or read, or appreciate everything through a bus window.

Great to know AC is a definite yes - Positano was my destination of choice there!

I will be traveling very light and have never been one to unpack - I am used to staying in hostels and this trip won't be any different.

I'm planning to go late July - early August 2015 (hence wanting to get ready early so I can book my accom in time!!)

Obviously I was hoping there would be someone out there who thought it was an alright plan but until I can find out whether transport is in my favour looks like I need to make some serious decisions about what stays and goes!

Has anyone used busabout? My travel agent suggested it might be perfect for what I am trying to do?

Thanks!
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Jul 7th, 2014, 01:59 PM
  #27  
 
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Then you might want to join an organized tour after all if that is the goal.

Because tour companies can move groups around faster then you can possibly do it on your own. Not my style, but those tours CAN get you to more places quicker, even though many of the places on their itinerary may be simply a "drive-by" on the tour bus.
suze is online now  
Jul 7th, 2014, 02:09 PM
  #28  
 
Join Date: May 2014
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Yes, that would take her about 4 hours rather than flying to Athens and ferrying to Mykonos. She would have to return to Athens anyway to fly out to Australia since the itinerary she posted goes over the days she allotted to the whole trip. I don't know when she's going (assuming next summer?) but she will have to plan it with this flight in mind and they're all early flights.

No one's arguing that transfers don't take time unless the laws of physics are being bent here. You said that it would take up most of a day. 4 hours is not most of a day. She will be on the island and checked in before noon, which gives her plenty time to enjoy the island in addition to the extra day (or 2 with my suggested itinerary) she has there. This is also one of the bigger journeys she's making, but still worth it more than skipping it entirely especially for people who might not get the opportunity to travel often.
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Jul 7th, 2014, 02:12 PM
  #29  
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And thank you to LR220 - that gives me a better idea of what I can be using my time to do.

I guess it is a bit of a checklist but not to say I've done it, they are all there because there is something I want to see!

As I know your all aware, Europe is not a cheap destination and as I might not be in a position to come back in the future (of course I always hope I will) I want to SEE all these different things in each place.

Florence - I think in this instance I'd be more interested in the wine and food regions than the art.

While I will be travelling on a 'budget' (accom, food, shopping, partying etc) my transport itself will not be budgeted. I am happy to pay to accomplish as much as I can - as I have said this will most likely be my only chance to come to Europe and it was already a difficult decision to chose which country I wanted to see most!

Thanks!
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Jul 7th, 2014, 02:15 PM
  #30  
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Suze, I am still torn over this. I hate the idea of the group tour, I want to eat where I choose and stay where I choose - but I understand what your saying about my ideal trip just not being achievable
emay is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 02:19 PM
  #31  
 
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I understand completely. I would never to a group tour myself. But to be realistic about how fast a person on their own can move around and actually have time to BE in places, not just racing thru, I'd say take any Contiki itinerary and cut out at least 1/2 the places.

I know this is a tough concept and "beginners" often have this same misconception. I knew before even opening this thread, your plans would be overly ambitious. I say this with all kindness, just from participating on this forum for years.

My own travels, I do a two cities in two weeks kind of style. Because I can always find something new to see and do in Paris, or Venice, or wherever!
suze is online now  
Jul 7th, 2014, 02:27 PM
  #32  
 
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No, don't join an organized tour. They actually take longer to get you around. I have been on one (though it was part of school and less of a vacation tour) and you wait for ages for check in/check outs of a large group. You won't see much on your time, won't get to eat in places you want to and you will be forced into activities/sights you have little interest in. Don't do any city group tours, but maybe the island hopping one won't be too bad since it's mostly just partying and relaxing, but you can still do that and meet other people without being stuck with (potentially mostly) 18 year olds.
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Jul 7th, 2014, 02:29 PM
  #33  
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Unless something has changed in the last few months, you can't fly from Naples to Mykonos. You would have to backtrack to Rome and fly into Athens, then travel to Mykonos by plane or boat.
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Jul 7th, 2014, 02:34 PM
  #34  
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I think my first plan is to get a better grasp on distances and travel times to and from.
My next will be to pick some bases as someone above suggested, and branch out from there for day trips.
I can't thank you all enough for taking the time to share your advice and stories. Trust me, I will sit down and be more realistic, and work through each post to help tune up my travel plans.

Stay tuned!
emay is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 02:49 PM
  #35  
 
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The majority of the posters here are seasoned travelers with 100x if not more knowledge than I have so their advice is more valuable, but I am also just giving my itinerary suggestions based on being the same age with limited opportunities to travel. I think being 24/25 you can handle lots of late nights/early mornings and not being tired from transportation within the country, so that's what I based my suggestions on! It's completely possible to see enough within 2-3 days/place without forcing yourself to see things you're not interested in just because it's a tourist attraction (like art in Florence, you should probably skip it entirely in that case btw) and still enjoy yourself and feel fulfilled by the trip. I wouldn't worry too much about transportation from city to city, but you do have to plan the timing very carefully to make the most of your day.
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Jul 7th, 2014, 03:02 PM
  #36  
 
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>>OK- one doesn't LOSE a day or a half day . . . But it does take a day (or half day) to move locations.<<

Maybe if people have a 9-5 mindset, then spending 15 minutes checking out of a hotel after breakfast, 30 minutes getting to the train station, 90 minutes on the train, and 30 minutes getting to a new hotel, and 15 minutes checking into the next hotel adds up to half a "day".

But most of Europe doesn't function on a 9-5 schedule. I think if you are starting your day at 9 and ending it at 5 you won't accomplish more than 3 hours of sightseeing per day even if you don't change hotels.

>> think responders are trying to remind the OP that you have to account for the travel time in your plan.<<

But almost NO ONE reminds posters here that if they don't switch hotels, they often will "lose" huge amounts of time going back and forth on day trips. How often are people advised to drop an overnight in Pisa or Siena and make it "daytrip" from Florence to avoid a hotel switch -- when in fact they are going to lose more time returning to Florence to sleep in their hotel than if they had checked out of it and kept going?

For a great many people, there is an unacknowledged bias in their advice for hotel stays being part of the "fun" of traveling. They pick quaint hotels, or fancy hotels. For still others, the chance to dress up or shop while traveling is important, so of course that means more luggage and unpacking and packing.

To be truthful, I have never figure out why it is taking some people a half a day or an entire day to get from Florence to Rome. I am sure they are telling the truth, but I can't figure out how they are spending that time -- unless it is taking clothes off hangers and out of drawers, and waiting for a bus to the train station, waiting in line to buy train tickets, and then taking another bus to their hotel at the other end, where they take an hour to unpack, hang up their clothes, put things in drawers...

I mean, why the heck is it taking them so much time and why are they convinced it is the only way to travel?
sandralist is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 03:11 PM
  #37  
 
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>> My next will be to pick some bases as someone above suggested, and branch out from there for day trips. <<


You are not going to save any time that way. Not in Italy. Every time you go to the train station and catch a train, you will spend time REPEATING that exact same journey just to get back to your hotel.

Worse, in Italy, unless you are a very early riser or only pick day trips very close by, you will arrive in your day trip destination with approximately 90 minutes to sightsee, 20 or 30 minutes of which will be consumed by walking from the train station to the center of town. Most Italian train stations are not located near the most famous sights in a town. (Or you can constantly pay the high small town taxi fees to save you that time).

Around 12.30, most sights and shops in town will begin to close. You can stroll around and eat lunch, but it will be a fairly empty experience of Italy. You can hang around until things start to repen, but after about an hour you are going to start thinking you better be getting back to the train station, so you can get back to your "base" in enough time before dinner to take a shower.

So you will have an hour or so of real sightseeing in the morning, maybe another hour or so in the afternoon. How did you increase your experience of Italy by taking the advice not to spend 15 minutes checking in and out of a hotel?

Had you left with your suitcase in the morning for Siena or Naples, you could be enjoying the evening passeggiata and living as the Italians do. You could be in museum at 5pm or 6pm, or an important church, not standing on a train platform going back over the same ground you covered that same morning.

Seriously. If you want to stay in Florence for 4 days to see Florence, that is a great plan. It is a great city. If you want use Florence as a bedroom to see things you really want to see outside of Florence, you will be "losing" hours to commuting and backtracking. Ditto Bologna or Rome or Naples or any "base" anybody suggests to you.

Stay in a town because you want to be there at night. Otherwise, get a jump on what you want to see next and move on.
sandralist is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 05:40 PM
  #38  
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Hi Sandralist, can I ask you specifically?
Do you think I am trying to see too much or are you saying it can be done?!
If I squeezed every second out of a day and my traveling went seamlessly this is what I would love to do for the Italy part -
1 - Arrive Venice. Would try to arrive early/mid afternoon. Check in, do a grand canal tour. Eat sleep.
2 - Venice - sight see the Basilisca San Marco, Ponte dei sospiri & Palazzo Ducale. (Perhaps split over 2 days) eat, early night for jet lag or party who knows
3 - Travel to Bologna am. Explore, eat, check in. Explore more, dinner & drinks
4 - Travel to Cinque Terre, cycle the blue trail, just wander, eat, afternoon travel to Florence or perhaps find a smaller wine region for the night. Check in, eat drink sleep.
5 - check out and head into Florence to see Piazza del Duomo & surrounds. Check in, eat drink sleep.
6 - check out, morning spent in Florence. Travel to Rome. Check in. Do some of the free stuff like Trevi Fountain & Spanish steps.
7 - Rome - sight see Colleseum, Palatino, etc. all day. Eat drink sleep.
8 - Rome - early sight see the Vatican & museums. Check out. Travel to Naples. Eat sleep.
9 - day trip to Pompeii. Eat drink sleep
10 -check out, boat to AC Positano. Do a walk, afternoon spent relaxing.

Where needs an extra day? Am I missing something incredible somewhere?
emay is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 08:10 PM
  #39  
 
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There is no need for you to stay in Bologna. Just store your luggage in the train station and catch a late evening train just over 30 minutes into Florence. This is something you would have to confirm with your hostel, but some have 24h reception and will allow it.

You can't travel to CT from Bologna in a morning (~3 hours+) and then travel out from CT to Florence in the afternoon 1 day (~3 hours+). That's about 6-7 hours of train travel in one day, unnecessary IMO. Also it would be from Bologna -> La Spezia -> towns -> La Spezia -> Pisa -> Florence. Figure out something where you can go see the Pisa tower when you're there (might as well). Practically everything will be closed when you get into Florence (except like Ponte Vecchio and Piazzale Michelangelo) so you'd only have 1 morning to see 1-2 sights.

Your Florence to Rome train would be shorter than a CT to Rome journey, but the times worked out better for us. This is up to you, but yeah, CT can't be done in a day, it's 5 towns.

I already posted what I think is the bare minimum amount of nights to enjoy those places (others might think more nights), but it is not impossible to spend 1 day/place if you want to see one tiny portion of each city. Go for it if that's really what you want, a lot of people actually do that. But my friends who have traveled like that really don't care about the place and have no true appreciation for any of it, they don't have any experiences or stories to share, they don't come back with any new knowledge or insight. They just want to be able to say "I've been to _____ and it was lovely" and show a picture of them standing in front of a beautiful monument they know nothing about.
LR220 is offline  
Jul 8th, 2014, 01:21 AM
  #40  
 
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I usually don't "unpack" if I'm staying in a hotel for only one night. If I'm staying more than that, I've got to do at least a little unpacking unless I want to wear the same clothes for three days in a row.

Even for a one-night stay, I've got to unpack the toiletries (unless I don't want to brush my teeth) and pajamas and clean underwear for the next day. I also usually have to unpack a phone charger, so I can charge my phone. If I'm staying only one night, I usually put these things in a small bag.

So let's say I'm making only a short trip, from Rome to Florence, and that I stayed in Rome only one night, so that there was minimal unpacking.

The packing up will take a minimum of time, but still not zero time, because I always give the room a thorough going-over to see if I've left anything behind. I would say that in this case, I can pack up and check out of the hotel in 20 minutes. Then, I have to take a taxi to the station. Let's assume it's only a 15-minute ride; I always add about five minutes in case the taxi arrives late or encounters a traffic jam. So allow 20 minutes for the taxi. I also don't want to arrive at the station 2 minutes before departure time, so I aim to arrive about 15 minutes earlier if I already have a ticket, and 25 minutes earlier if I need to get a ticket. Altogether, from the time I started stuffing my toothbrush into a bag, to the time the train pulls out, I've consumed an hour.

The Frecciarossa train to Florence takes 1 1/2 hours. Then lets say I take a taxi to the hotel. Getting from the train to the taxi stand, waiting my turn there, and getting to my hotel will easily consume another half hour. Then I have to check in, and unpack (either now or later) those few things that I need for a one-night stay in Florence. And, let's face it, sooner or later I'm really going to have to unpack that suitcase, otherwise what did I bring it for?

OK, let's assume I got up in Rome at the decent hour of 8 AM. I'm super fast, so I showered and dressed in a jiffy, had a minimal hotel breakfast, and was ready to hit the road at 9 AM. The trip, including my minimal packing, and getting settled in the hotel, takes 3 1/2 hours. It's lunch time! Q.E.D.

This is a short trip, and I think I'm being conservative here.
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