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Best Order and Method of Travel for this Itenerary

Best Order and Method of Travel for this Itenerary

Apr 9th, 2014, 10:01 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Whoever said 2 or 3 days is enough for big cities like London is not interested in absorbing the local culture. Or even ticking off the majority of the touristic highlights. I would assume these people went on a package tour, were bused past the local monuments, and told they'd seen the best of that city, on to the next.

I too like to absorb some of the local culture when traveling but you can't do that in two days. Be sure to stay in a centrally located hotel, one with lots of local charm, not a chain hotel, and one too small for tour groups. Go to the restaurants the locals like, not the ones with English menus. We like to go to farmers' markets and even supermarkets. And washing clothes in a laundromat means meeting the locals.

If Dublin is only worth one day, maybe skip it. Go some other time when you can see something of the Irish countryside. Edinburgh is out of the way too for such a short visit. It deserves more time. As does the Scottish countryside.

Is there a particular reason you're flying into Florence? It's not the easiest Italian airport to get to. Flying into Pisa, which has more international flights, and training to Florence makes more sense. I assume you're basing in Florence because you want to see something of the Tuscan countryside. Is that true?

Once you decide exactly where you want to base for each stop on your itinerary, we can help you order the stops in a way to minimize time spent in transit.
Mimar is offline  
Apr 9th, 2014, 10:01 AM
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>>It appears the constructiveness of this post has ended<<

"Man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest"

from The Boxer by Paul Simon

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Apr 9th, 2014, 10:13 AM
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Absolutely not. We will re-work this and drop at least one if not two or three places from the trip based on the comments. Many of these comments have been helpful and that experience is why I posted.

But I wouldn’t call this constructive.
“Your logic is ridiculous”
“your friends who think 2 or 3 days is plenty for London have either never been or…” They have been, why question me ok that?

You were one of those that was constructive, the reply was to the poster above you.
Mairsile is offline  
Apr 9th, 2014, 10:40 AM
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You left off the rest of my quote >>or they aren't interested in much. . .<<

So cherry pick all you want, but we actually ARE trying to help you.

I'm not saying everyone needs to spend weeks in London, but one simply cannot see even 5% of the major sites let alone 'absorbing tne culture' in a couple of days.

So shoot the messengers, and do what you want. . .
janisj is offline  
Apr 9th, 2014, 10:59 AM
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Listen to the advice above, except for the soccer match on September 27th. In the Netherlands top football is played on Sunday normally. I don't know if the fixture list has been announced yet, but there are some matches you really wouldn't want to attend.
hetismij2 is offline  
Apr 9th, 2014, 11:05 AM
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Flying into Florence is just part of that rough draft. You are correct we want to see the country areas, we will fly into wherever makes sense. Thanks Mimar.

I don't know how many times I have to say that this has been helpful in order to stop getting posts saying I'm not listening but maybe this last one will do the trick.
Mairsile is offline  
Apr 9th, 2014, 11:36 AM
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Based on your latest itinerary from 9:46 this morning:

It sounds like you're more interested in strolling the cities, looking at the buildings, listening to buskers in squares, and visiting some smaller places where locals might congregate. That's my impression when you say "local culture."

You can easily travel to Pisa, Lucca, and Siena from Florence. You can also take local tours (via minivan) to smaller towns where the public transportation is not as good as to those towns, above. You could book a private guide to take you to small towns/vineyards outside of Florence.

One church in Florence that fascinates me is Santo Spirito. It's not one that many tourists stop at but it is one where you can see black garbed widows kneeling in prayer (very Italian). It's also a beautiful church in its simplicity. Something like this might interest you. I'm sure there are other areas in Florence where you find the same thing. You need to leave the centro storico and explore outlying areas.

I would skip France since it's low on your list and focus on Barcelona and that area. Barcelona is fairly spread out but is a good city to walk around. I went last year for the first time and had 8 days there so could see some areas that tourists miss when they only have a couple of days.

One thing I did was the Pedralbas Monastery on the outskirts of Barcelona. It's reached via metro and then a commuter train line. There were few people about and the monastery was delightful. There's a small courtyard where you can sit just outside the monastery and a courtyard inside. I went on a weekday but I would think that on a weekend it would have locals strolling the area since it was a residential area.

Off the Ramblas (on the right side walking down the hill) is the Antic Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau - only open in the mornings. Lots of local people sitting in the courtyard. Also on this side of the Ramblas are restaurants that cater to locals with the staff not speaking English but very helpful. Delicious food and inexpensive. It's all on display so you just have to point to what you want.

You could also explore the University area and the old hospital there (different hospital) which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Again, there were only 3 of us on the tour.

It will be off season so you could visit some of the small seaside towns on the Costa Brava with few tourists as it will no longer be sea bathing weather. I'm sure there's local transportation up the coast.

Some people like cooking classes where you go to markets, buy the ingredients, and then cook and eat. You get some interaction with local people.

I remember reading a travel article about home hosted lunches/dinners (I think it was in Italy) - google this and see if you come up with anything.

I've take some tours where we go to a person's house and they cook typical meals and we had a few hours to chat with them about their life. A very memorable meal was outside Dubrovnik where everything served (salad, main course, dessert, and wine) was from their land and it was all delicious. They took us inside their smoke house where they cured or smoked proscuitto. They had lots of them hanging from the beams. It was interesting to meet a self-sustaining family.

Hope this gives you some ideas for your trip.
adrienne is offline  
Apr 9th, 2014, 11:56 AM
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Great thoughts Adrienne thanks. I think we are pretty well settled on cutting France and will likely stick with the rest to get a good first time whirlwind tour to help us go back and spend more time in the places we liked in the future.

You should have seen the original itinerary that also had the alps and a day at Oktoberfest.
Mairsile is offline  
Apr 9th, 2014, 12:40 PM
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And more may get cut as we plan the trip as we get closer. For now my main concern is the inbound/outbound flights.
Mairsile is offline  
Apr 9th, 2014, 12:54 PM
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Your logic on France is ridiculous and I stand by that. Evidently you did too because "I think we are pretty well settled on cutting France."

I also gave you a day-by-day itinerary that meets your professed needs. If that isn't constructive, you must have a different meaning for the term.

This isn't validation station. We aren't here to pitch to you and tell you what's great about your plans because we're not getting a cut (except perhaps some of the rail fetishists). And cold water helps sharpen the thinking.
BigRuss is offline  
Apr 9th, 2014, 12:57 PM
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All that said, absolutely none of us are trying to influence you to make a bad choice. Instead, we're trying to help you make better ones. It seems as if you're on your way to doing so.

P.S. - check your flights on the multi-city option for whatever website you use.

E.g., [USA] to Florence on 9-19; London to [USA] on Oct. 11.
BigRuss is offline  
Apr 9th, 2014, 01:04 PM
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Mairsile, I think you have touched on the problems with these boards at times, that your idea of the ideal vacation may not be much like someone else's. We are all different and that includes vacations, so you need to do what would thrill your socks off. It would seem from your initial itinerary that you wanted a whirlwind tour of key European spots--that getting a taste for various areas is what you are looking for. If that is the case, then go for it because it is your vacation, not ours.

That said, you did ask for these folks' opinions and they have offered, perhaps a bit harsher than should have been but let's all retract the claws and move forward.

I am taking my older teen daughters to Ireland for two weeks this summer. Initially I wanted to do London, Scotland and Ireland and quickly realized that I had bitten off more than I could chew in four weeks. So I honed the trip to Ireland. We were going to jet around the entire island. Until I realized that we would be seeing nothing but touristy spots and those for a few moments before moving on. Here and day, there a day and two at the next.

There is no local flavor in that. So we have chopped our once ambitious trip to three regions in Ireland--County Mayo, County Clare and the south, Counties Kerry and Cork--and I am so glad that I did. Now we can see the sites and get to know the area on a deeper level than a few hours would have afforded.

But, that is our ideal vacation, few places and longer stays. You need to determine what is best for you and the wife. If it is a survey of much of Western Europe, go for it.
krejaton is offline  
Apr 9th, 2014, 01:34 PM
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>>your idea of the ideal vacation may not be much like someone else's. <<

True - but I'm guessing that this is the OPs first trip to Europe. And they are young. We're just trying to keep them from making the same mistakes we all made on our first couple of trips to Europe decades ago. He has very little "basis" to judge how much time & effort it takes to get from one location to the other, and also how much "stuff" there is to do & see in each spot. Does he know that shops are usually closed in many European cities on Sundays (and sometimes Monday morning too)? Different than in the US. How about the 2-3 hr lunches in France, Italy, etc when the shops close and some of the smaller cities can sometimes feel deserted. Museums are often closed one day a week.

On our first trip to Europe in 1978, we rolled into Amsterdam by train around 8PM at night. Spent the next day/night there - and then off by train to Cologne for 1/2 day and one night. Then rented a car, drove for a while, and spent 2 nights in the Mosel, 1 on the Rhine, 1 night elsewhere, arrived someplace else at 10PM after driving all day seeing nothing. Then finally to Lucerne around noon - just when they closed up all the shops & would not re-open them until Monday. We were quite bored in Lucerne with all the shops closed. At that point, my mother & sister were worn out and decided to "bail out" on us & go home. We continued with our 1 & 2 nighters in different locations. When we got home - we remembered and enjoyed very little of our trip. Two years later, we went back to Europe - started in Amsterdam and spent 4 nights there, 3 on the Mosel, 3 on the Rhine, etc. Same itinerary - but more time in each location. Since 1999, we've typically spend 2 weeks in one spot before moving on.

It's like parents passing on knowledge/experience to our children.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Apr 9th, 2014, 01:57 PM
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And some children will not take the advice, and do what they want, and that is okay too. We are just trying to impart our wisdom to new travelers: learn from our mistakes.

Our first trip to Europe we spent three months with the average time in each place 5-7 days. Our last six week trip had mostly 4-5 day stays with a few 3 day stays and a couple 2 day stays. I really regret those couple 2-3 day stays. Just too rushed. I learned my mistake and will never travel like that again.
michele_d is offline  
Apr 9th, 2014, 02:07 PM
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You gave me good advice. In fact, you saying to fly where I want and not base it on what is nearby was the deciding factor to not visit France. France wasn’t on the top of our list, although we would love to go there someday, but it remained since you could take a quick train from Barcelona to Paris and then Paris to London. Otherwise the only change from your suggestion is to keep Dublin in place of a day of soccer. We are definitely going for a multi city trip, probably into Italy and out of London, or vice versa, or something like that.

StuDudley and Krejaton,

You nailed it. It is my first trip, although my wife studied abroad in Seville and that included a week of travel to a few places during a semester break. I do have very little basis to judge the time it takes between trips, which is why I assume it will sap ½ to ¾ of a day. The advice here has been great and very helpful. I can say that we are generally fast travelers, at least when it comes to the United States. I know that the comparison here is weak at best but for example, I’ve been to New York City, Chicago, and was raised in Los Angeles. Knowing what those cities offer, we would both be perfectly happen with 2-3 fully days in each city.

To be clear, I’m not taking that logic and applying it onto Europe to say 2-3 days in each city will be perfect. But I assume that most people who suggest spending longer time in each European city, would also suggest to a traveler spending more time in those domestic cities. So as you said Krejaton, I’m trying to adjust for what others would consider “their vacation” vs “ours” and reduce suggested durations proportionally.
Mairsile is offline  
Apr 9th, 2014, 02:19 PM
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And what a difference the suggestions are from person to person. My brother was just in Amsterdam for two weeks and felt that the city could be taken in over 2 full days (3 nights). I'm enjoying taking all of your opinions and advice and consolidating it into what we decide to do.
Mairsile is offline  
Apr 9th, 2014, 03:04 PM
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I have read several postings from so called fast travelers from the U.S. While one can frame this as personal taste, one can also look this from the difference in where the destinations are distributed. In the U.S., especially in the West, the destinations are sparsely located. One has to travel a lot just to get to the next closest destination. This is not the case in Europe. Many points of interest are concentrated in close vicinity. Compared to the U.S. one only needs to travel a fraction of distance to experience differences in culture in Europe. My home city is about three times the size of Florence, but I can’t think of recommending more than one and a half days worth of things to do. I would recommend people to be fast travelers here. However, the same amount of time in a city one-third the size, Florence, would just give time to see the facade. You get different recommendation based on personal taste as well as what they interpret as your goals especially in presence of differences in taxonomy.

We don't need to know why you France is not only your list, nor we want to convince you to visit. However, if care to share to the forum, you might find out the reason you are keep France off your list might also exist in even stronger ways at other locations you are leaving on your list.
greg is offline  
Apr 9th, 2014, 04:00 PM
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But although NYC, Chicago and LosAngeles are different - they are all in the US and have the same culture.

You will be moving from country to country (different language, different culture, different rules and types of transport, differnt meal times, shop opening and days things are open and closed) every 2 days or so. It will take most of your time there just to get oriented.

I once took (a big mistake) a brief trip to Paris with a colleague who had never been to europe before - and she was really astonished that EVERYTHING was different. Everyone spoke French. The Metro did not work the same way the subway does. Rules of greetings and politeness were totally different. Menus were all in French (after the first day she wanted to go only to tourist places with everything in English - oy! was that trip a pain!).

I'm not suggesting your reaction will be like that - but having everything different every couple of days does slow you down - and I don;t think you have allowed for that.

As for comparing it to a tour - people on tours really don;t get any feeling at all for the local culture. They just ride around on buses all day - with usually one sight per day (and a couple of "shopping" opportunities) and really get to know the other people on the tour. Early starts every morning, hotels at the end of hell and gone, group buffet meals that are americanized versions of local food - and very little contact with locals or local culture - or even the most major tourist sights.
nytraveler is offline  
Apr 9th, 2014, 04:36 PM
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"But although NYC, Chicago and LosAngeles are different - they are all in the US and have the same culture." Really ???
Robert2533 is offline  
Apr 9th, 2014, 04:38 PM
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I'm late to this party, but I disagree with this. I'm fine with 2-3 days in LA, NYC, or Chicago, but could spend months on end in any number of European cities. And it's not because I've had numerous opportunities to spend time in NY, Chicago, and LA - I've had far more opportunities to spend time in European cities, say, Paris (well over 100 visits) or Rome or Berlin or Amsterdam or Prague, or....and it's precisely because there's not much new for me to learn about the cultures of NY or LA or Chicago, but there is an endless number of things for me to learn about the culture in any European city, town, or village.
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