Big Xmas time Family trip through Europe

Dec 29th, 2006, 09:59 AM
  #1  
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Big Xmas time Family trip through Europe

I was just wanting some perspective on taking a large group of friends and family on a trip through Europe during the Christmas/New Years season. Me and my mates have spent two weeks in Europe in December 2005, but it was just the three of us and we went at a pretty breakneck pace, so we were trying gage what others might think is suitable for a group of about 12-15 people, 5 of which would be people in their mid to late twenties, one in their early to mid-30s, and the rest would probably be our parents for the most part, whose ages range from their mid 50s to early 60s. We have all gotten together and for the most part have set up our trip. We will be in Europe from about December 20 until January 3 or so. We will start in Paris, spend a few days there, then go to Geneva for a day or so. Spend Christmas in Interlaken, travel towards Munich the day after Xmas, and then spend a day or so there. From here, we would head south through Austria, maybe stopping in Innsbruck for part of the day, before ending up in Milan/Lake Como and spending a day or so here. Then we would head to Florence for another day or so before wrapping up our trip in Rome for 2-3 days before flying back home. My questions are 1) given the age bracket of this group, and considering for the most part that everyone is of average/normal health, does this sound like something (particularly the older people in the group) would enjoy, or would it be to hectic a pace to keep up. 2)My other question was concerning how much stuff closes down around the holidays in the places I mentioned. I know we will definitely be fine up until Christmas, and we should be fine for Christmas day in Interlaken, but would about the 27th in Munich, would the whole city seemingly shut down or what? Also, what about Milan and Florence in the days leading up to New Year's Eve, and I guess the same goes for Rome around that same time. Basically, does it seem like everything shuts down around this time of year in these places, or is it more like some places close while others stay open. And what I mean by 'places' is restaurants, museums, cathedrals, tourist attractions, etc. Thanks ahead of time for any help that is given. Like I said, me and my mates were only in Europe from about December 9-December 23 in 2005, so everything was open in available to us. Well, thanks again for any help that is forthcoming.
Europhile23 is offline  
Dec 29th, 2006, 10:05 AM
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I'll wade through your post and see if I have anything to help. But FYI - in future it will be MUCH easier to read if you use paragraphs . . . .

like this . . . .
janisj is online now  
Dec 29th, 2006, 10:07 AM
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Wow, IMO, that is a trip at breakneck speed and not one I would choose personally.

I love Germany and Austria at Christmas but you will miss the markets as they close the on Christmas Eve. You might to consider re-arranging a bit to enjoy them.

When I travel with my mom and her friends, I often arrange day tours for them that they enjoy and that also allows me to enjoy my own pursuits, which are generally more energetic.

I prefer Salzburg over Innsbruck, personally and it is spectacular at Christmas. There are wonderful concerts there as well.

A day in Florence and a day in Milan is simply not worth the time and trouble to get there in my opinion.

I think you are cramming too much into a short period.
kfusto is offline  
Dec 29th, 2006, 10:39 AM
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Thanks for the feedback so far. Sorry about the paragraphs, I have posted plenty of times before using paragraphs, but simply forgot to include them here, so that is my fault and I apologize. I also prefer Salzburg over Innsbruck as I have been to both, however, we just did not want to veer any further to the East than we already were going to.

Milan is included more for Lake Como, we may not even go to Milan, but for now are just using it as an close stop off point. We will probably be in Florence for about a day and a half and considering that we would not be the most refined travelers in the world. Me and my friends had a great time when we stopped at Florence and just seeing 'David', the Duomo, and walking around was all we really did.

I do also realize we will miss a lot of the good Christmas markets after the 25th, especially the one in Munich which me and my friends loved so much, but what about stuff other than Xmas markets?

Thanks again for the feedback thus far.
Europhile23 is offline  
Dec 29th, 2006, 10:50 AM
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Again, I think travelling as a 30 year old is very different than putting together for older folks or multi generations. I started travelling to Europe at 17 and am now 50 and my tastes and preferences have changed a lot.

I am not a big fan of Como myself and wonder why it is a focus of a winter visit for you? It is not the easiest place to get to. Milan is an interesting city for fashion and the Duomo and I enjoy a visit there occasionally but it would be not be high on my list for a trip like this.

Have you looked at travel times by train between these cities? Prices? You will be paying a lot just to hop around.

I am also a TA and put together a lot of trips for others and this just sounds like too much in a short period to me.

I would end in Paris, not start there, and arrange my trip to include the Christmas markets. They are a delight IMO and it would be a shame to miss them.

How are you getting from country to country? Low cost air or train?

Sorry but I just think you will suck up so much time travelling and checking in and out of hotels that the trip will be a blur.

Perhaps someone else who travels at that pace can be of more assistance.
kfusto is offline  
Dec 29th, 2006, 10:57 AM
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I'm planning a 3 week trip to Italy for my family in Sept 2007 (3 people in their late 20's/early 30's, 4 people in their 50's). I think this is way too much travelling around for 15 people...think of the luggage and logistics!

I would recommend a week in 2 places, or 3 places tops. Maybe a week in Munich first to hit all the markets (you can always do day trips from there) and then another week in Paris. There are a tonne of things to do in these cities, something for everyone. Plus it will most likely be cheaper to get apartments rather than hotels.

Hope this helps!
jamikins is offline  
Dec 29th, 2006, 10:59 AM
  #7  
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I don't think our planning will necessarily be a problem as far logistics go. I mean, me and my mates have done this all before in that our two week trip was much more hectic than this (in a two week period we covered London, Paris, Geneva, Zurich, Munich, Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Venice, Florence, and Rome) and I can say that the trip was definitely not a blur for us, but the experience of a lifetime, though I will certainly realize it is not the best thing to do for older people maybe.

Also, while it is a shame to miss the Xmas markets we will miss, it was never going to be the focus of the trip. Anyway, keep the input coming.
Europhile23 is offline  
Dec 29th, 2006, 11:37 AM
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I think tyou've set a rather hectic schedule, especially when you say you will stop in a city for a half-day or a day. Basically all of the good-sized cities on your list deserve at least two days, and moving from hotel to hotel every night can get tiring. On the other hand, I have done trips like that and as long as everyone in the group agrees on the itinerary, you will probably have a good time!

I just got back today from Christmas in Rome (Dec 23-29) and I can tell you that this city never sleeps (OK, it is wonderfully peaceful and quiet in the mornings!). Really, the main thing to remember is that all the major sights will be closed on Christmas, and some are closed the day before and/or after. But Rome is such a great place to walk around in, we didn't mind. The weather was perfect and we could even eat outside at night if we wanted to. I hear Rome is also a blast on New Year's Eve.
hausfrau is offline  
Dec 29th, 2006, 01:09 PM
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You will see a lot of train stations in big cities, but you will not spend a lot of time in the cities themselves.

Way too much train time to see way too little.

Just my two cents.
FauxSteMarie is offline  
Dec 29th, 2006, 01:18 PM
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I think this is too much moving around even for a faster-paced trip. It is not just the ages that should be considered, but the size of the group. Getting 15 people anywhere is just logistically more time consuming. Dining, bathroom breaks, whatever....

Also, it sounds like you have a very fun-loving group who would want to linger over dinner and drinks with plenty of time for laughter and conversation. Moving locations almost every day takes time and energy.

Just food for thought. Happy travels.
fun4all4 is offline  
Dec 29th, 2006, 01:43 PM
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Hi Europhile!

I enjoyed the trip report of your whirlwind trip through Europe and was amazed at the energy your youth afforded you. But I agree with fun4all4: the difference was your youth and the fact that there were only 3 of you.

Consider that this trip is a different one. Slowing it down and seeing more detail in fewer places will be much more beneficial for the older ones and yet, trust me, the younger ones will not be bored.

As I remember from your original trip report, there were many times you would have loved to have more time in a particular place. Just getting off the train for a few hours to simple "see" a place does not make you a traveler.

Why not assist your group to come to a consensus of areas they would like to see most (maybe Paris to Germany and Austria) and save Switzerland and Italy for another trip, or vice versa.

(Of course, combining Paris with both Germany and Austria is still too much IMO.)

I do understand that you enjoyed your trip so much and want to share everything with your loved ones. But, sometimes less really is more.

Linda
LCBoniti is offline  
Dec 29th, 2006, 02:17 PM
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OK - some reality checks here:

1) The largest group I've taken to Europe was 13 - 1 week in London and 1 week renting 3 small cottages in the Cotswolds. And even w/ just the 2 destinations a group that large is herding cats to the max. And I'm not saying you will all be together 24/7 but w/ a group there is just so much dithering "what do you want to do today?" "Oh I'd rather . . . " "won't anyone go w/ me to . . . . " etc, etc.

2) Sorry, but in two weeks you did not " cover London, Paris, Geneva, Zurich, Munich, Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Venice, Florence, and Rome" You may have passed through those places but I dare say you "covered" none of them.

3) for any group -- multiply the wasted time/delays by the number of folks. 2 people can travel pretty fast. 3, about the same as long as they are flexible. But when you get to 10, 11, 15 - NOTHING can be done quickly/efficiently. Everyone will have different eating styles, shopping styles, museum styles, even bathroom break styles. Some will hit the pavement running every morning. Others need 3 or 4 cups of coffee, 2 bathroom breaks, and 2 changes of outfits before they step outside.

4) and add to the already difficult issues, you want to do this in the dead of winter when the days are very short, and the weather probably more awful than nice. And w/ it the inevitable travel delays.

So - either cut waaaaaaay back on the number of places, or take a guided tour where they take care of everything for you . . . . .
janisj is online now  
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