Crazy trip in Europe

Jun 15th, 2007, 08:50 PM
  #21  
 
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Alas, I believe the OP has already purchased airplane tickets from Lisbon to Milan, and then from Rome to London. I don't know what cutting these out would mean to the OP financially. Otherwise, I would agree w/Apres

There are times when flying to London to catch "cheap" flights over to the continent is a bad idea. This is one case, particularly when the OP alludes to the fact that she is flying from the US for free. She should have flown into France/Spain/Portugal and gone on from there.

But since this is now too far gone... to salvage, I would say take your flights, give Amsterdam more than 3 nights, Paris more than 4 nights, take some day trips from Paris if you don't like staying in one place too long, get yourself to Santiago and Fatima (do they have to be on those days?), give yourself breathing room in Lisbon and Milan, head to Venice, Florence, Rome (as you wish), then fly back to London.

FYI - as many seasoned travelers here will tell you, it is hard to rest on planes and trains, no matter what your age, or how tired you are.

I tried to map your quest so you can see for yourself what you were trying to do on a map, but alas, google map conked out on me.
mcnyc is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 11:05 PM
  #22  
 
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wow..that is some schedule. I hope your children hold up okay. I am leaving in two weeks and thought we had a busy schedule!
June 28 - July 2 Paris
July 2-5 Montreux
July 5-9 Florence
July 9-13 Rome...
I would really consider taking a few things off your schedule and enjoying where you are more then trains/planes and checking in...
dawnnoelm is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 11:25 PM
  #23  
 
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I'm reminded of the scene early in my favorite travel film, Summertime, which stars Katherine Hepburn and Rosanno Brazzi. Kate is on board a Vaporetto on the Grand Canal, and meets two American Tourists who tell her their itinerary. It's jam-packed, and finally he says "Back home, September five!" Kate looks at him. "THIS year?" she says.

I give you credit for your hopeful outlook, Lainfiesta, but I would recommend you ease up on yourselves a little, or your trip about "Religious promise, Art and History" could end up being about resenting religion, hating art and confusing history.

Your near week in London sounds the most fun. How about giving yourself at least 4 or five days in Paris (where you have an apartment at your disposal) to prepare for the pilgrimmage? You'll find plenty to see and do there.

It may seem like heresy, but since you don't have hotels booked in Venice, I think you should skip it. Instead take your time down to Florence from Milan, stopping in Bologna, for instance. Or just enjoy the area around Florence more. Give one of those Venice days to Florence, and one to Rome.

Even if your travel schedule weren't exhausting (and it looks it, frankly) you are packing so much LOOKING into your days that it may all be a blur afterward. Which would be a shame, because you seem like a very nice gal!
tomassocroccante is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 11:38 PM
  #24  
 
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For heavens sake, stop preaching and answer the lady's questions.

People have been visting a dozen places in a month for millennia. Pilgrims on the roads to Compostela, or the Via Francigena, have been travelling - and still travel - a great deal more than Laifiesta intends for centuries. Pilgrims a great deal more elderly and a great deal younger at that. And it's up to them to decide whether it's more "spiritual" to sit around vacuously for a few days thinking pointless thoughts or to get on their feet and visit another shrine.

We have two middle-aged women and a pair of adolescents of an age most people in this world are doing full-time work in the fields. There's not a scrap of evidence any of them are incapable of packing and unpacking every second day.

Don't any of you ever go trekking, for example? Or have you all lapsed into senility already?

Some suggestions for Lainfiesta:
- you've partly brought all this on yourself by repeating this "crazy" nonsense a couple of times. Your pilgrimage isn't crazy. It's just Foderistically Incorrect. You'll get far better advice by just asking questions, and not making judgements about yourself this lot'll make anyway

- Get on and book the hotels. You're travelling at close to peak travel time, and your plans include some of Europe's busiest small towns (like Lourdes)

- Follow Dukey's advice on train planning

- think seriously about dropping Milan

- think equally seriously about the Compostela to Fatima journey. As far as I can see, there's only one daytime possibility, and that involves a seven-minute connection at Redondela de Galicia. Seven minutes is usually ample in small towns, and they usually hold trains if connections are running late. But if anything goes wrong you might be stranded. Think about staying in Porto (about 2.5 hrs north of Fatima by relatively frequent train), going on to Fatima the following day and possibly flying to Italy from Porto (it has flights to Bergamo, near Milan)

- Have you checked these rail connections? Some - like Lourdes to Burgos - strike me without going onto www.bahn.de as possibly surprisingly time-consuming.

- For Mass in London: St Ethelreda'a in Ely Place.

- Get back at this lot by adding Walsingham while you're in Britain. (And get a copy of the Book of Margery Kempe. She lived reasonably near Walsingham and got attacked a lot for wanting to go on pilgrimages too. Visit Ely at the same time, where St Ethelreda came from) And Oxford: a centre for pilgrimage centuries before the intellectuals moved in and lowered the tone.
flanneruk is offline  
Jun 16th, 2007, 05:12 AM
  #25  
 
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Based on what you said about your promise to visit Santiago de Compostela and Fatima and the flights you have booked, I would change the trip by skipping Lourdes and spending more time in Paris and going to Rome only in Italy.

I do agree with the many other people who think your original itinerary involves moving around too much.

If you are not going to Lourdes you could re-think the Santiago route, making fewer overnight stops. It is a long trip however you do it. I know there are TGV routes Paris to Bordeaux and Bayonne. The train routes from France to Santiago de compostela look pretty complicated and Orviedo is really out of the way unless I am missing something

In Paris be sure to visit the Tour St. Jacques where pilgrims set out for Santiago in the Middle Ages. compared to them, you will have an easy trip!
Vttraveler is online now  
Jun 16th, 2007, 05:44 AM
  #26  
 
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If it isn't part of the compulsory stops you could cut out France altogether and fly from Amsterdam to Santiago de Compostela. Berlin Air fly direct there. That would give you a bit more breathing space, and a chance to really stop and appreciate Santiago and Fatima. They only fly on Sundays I believe so you would then leave Amsterdam on 7/1.
hetismij is offline  
Jun 16th, 2007, 05:53 AM
  #27  
 
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Seems like a big waste of time & $$$ to me unless you love flying & riding trains.
SAnParis is offline  
Jun 16th, 2007, 06:59 AM
  #28  
 
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Given that you are committed to this itinerary (comments kept to self),

the best advice I will offer is

PACK LIGHT!!!!

You will be schlepping bags so much that I would only allow each person what they can carry around the block by themselves. Fill your planned suitcase/bag/backpack, weigh it, make everyone walk awhile. If they are good, then that's what they can carry. If they have problems, then lighten it up.
surfmom is offline  
Jun 16th, 2007, 07:50 AM
  #29  
 
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I don't think your trip is crazy at all! Most times it looks more exhausting and time consuming on paper than in actuality. Most of our trips are similarly paced. A trip we took last year was sleeping in 7 different cities with day trips to 3 areas in 22 days. We never felt hurried and we did actually feel able to soak in a lot of the local culture. I think your kids will love it!
Angela_m is offline  
Jun 16th, 2007, 08:11 AM
  #30  
 
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I am still back at "I haven't book any other hotels"..............starting next weekend is the start of high season and most congested time to travel to Europe(according to Chicago Tribune travel section).I think that I would be more concerned about places to sleep or what you will have to pay to stay someplace at short notice.
dutyfree is offline  
Jun 16th, 2007, 11:23 AM
  #31  
 
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I agree with Dutyfree. Please book your hotels once you've decided for yourself where it is you are definitively going.

You do not say if you're thinking of getting 1 room for the 4 of you, which may be hard to acquire at this stage of the game (or any stage of the game really), or 2 rooms.

No matter what, do not wait until you get there to search for a hotel.
mcnyc is offline  
Jun 17th, 2007, 06:30 AM
  #32  
Gia
 
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Have fun and please give us a trip report when you return!
Gia is offline  
Jun 17th, 2007, 06:43 AM
  #33  
 
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I donīt know how you could do this part without driving :
Leave Lourdes for Burgos on 7/4 (evening)-Burgos to Oviedo on 7/5- Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela 7/6 (evening)Santiago to Fatima 7/8

Combinations are not really great (you could do Burgos to Oviedo and Oviedo to Santiago by bus, but Lourdes to Burgos ...).

I would try to drop a part, and if it was me, I would certainly drop Lourdes and Fátima, and then probably Oviedo (not matter how much I like it).

Rgds, Cova
cova is offline  
Jun 17th, 2007, 07:29 AM
  #34  
 
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I likewise have done such a 'crazy trip' and had a great time. Since you know where and when you are going, then I would book the hotels ASAP. Otherwise you will spend precious time on the trip searching for them.

If you are not able to book in advance, then go to the tourist office when you arrrive at a city and have them arrange for your lodging.

When travelling on my own, I would never book in advance (the fact that i was cycling had something to do with it as i never knew where i would be on a specific date). A couple of times I was lucky to get the last room in the last hotel in town.
bigtyke is offline  
Jun 17th, 2007, 09:44 AM
  #35  
 
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Hi there,

First off, have a great trip!

We are doing our first family trip through Europe this summer, and I had good success with Venere.com for hotel searches. Hotels.com was also good.

My best find was the Campanile hotel chain in France and Spain (and other countries, I believe). In most of the places where we were staying in France, we were able to get two adjoining rooms, one with a double bed and one with two singles, for my family for slightly less than 100 euros per night. You are looking for the "offre famille." My mother stayed in a Campanile in southern France a few years go and she said it was perfectly acceptable. They are not in fancy parts of town, but they will give us space to move around and two bathrooms! We are staying in Campanile hotels for quick overnight stops in Aix en Provence, Cherbourg and Alicante in Spain. We are also using one as a base in Avignon. The web site is a bit clunky but may be worth the effort.

We also found that Holiday Inn had some decent deals, and many Fodorites recommended Best Westerns, although I found them more expensive than I was willing to pay. The Holiday Inns and Best Western hotels frequently were older European hotels that had simply taken on the names of the American chains to gain access to their reservation web sites.

Whenever possible I checked a hotel's web site for its rates before going through Hotels.com or Venere.com to be sure that the hotel wasn't cheaper that way. (I've been burned before). I also made sure that all my hotel reservations could be canceled in case for some terrible reason our trip has to be canceled.

I am currently reading "The Agony and Ecstasy" by Irving Stone one the recommendation of the mother of one of my daughter's friends. It is about Michaelangelo and is based on his letters. I highly recomend it if you are looking for something to read prior to your trip (or on the train). It's wonderful.

Good luck and have a great trip.
cferrb is offline  
Jun 17th, 2007, 10:31 AM
  #36  
dgg
 
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Hi lainfiesta,

I just came upon your post and was intrigued. Your itinerary isn't all that crazy...3 nights Amersterdam, 3 nights Paris, 2 nights Venice, 2 nights Florence 3 nights Rome and 6 nights London. The hectic parts are the 1 night stopover in London (which is probably a waste of time)...can you not get a flight from London to Amsterdam on June 26? They're usually cheap and the flight is short. The Lisbon-Milan-Venice bit is also a weak link. I assume your free flights are what is driving that. If you can, you would probably enjoy two nights in Lisbon or add that to your pilgrimage part of your trip then take a a direct flight to Venice from Lisbon...if that's possible for you.

The part of the itinerary that sticks out to me is the Lourdes...Burgos...Oviedo...Santiago de Compostela...Fatima section that takes place over 7 nights. I don't know the train logistics, but the distances can be deceiving when driving in that part of Europe. I would assume the train connections would be just as difficult. www.viamichalin.com has a route planner option that you could use for driving. I would also try to plot out the train trips as well.
dgg is offline  
Jun 18th, 2007, 11:44 AM
  #37  
 
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I spent three summers in Europe when I was teaching and traveled constantly during a six (or seven) week trip. That's what we enjoyed doing. However, I always rented a car nd did all the driving(my travel mate couldn't drive a standard shift car. We never stayed more than 3 days anywhere so we saw lots nd lots. What was great was the ability to see so much and to stop when we came upon something unexpected. Likewise when we found a place where we had intended to stay a couple of days that was not wht we anticipatd we moved on to another town or city. Thw secret is to have your big city reservations set and manage to arrive there when reserved even though the route there may have changed. It is not usually dofficult to get a room in the smaller towns (gites e.g.) and they are usually a great experience where you really absorb the culture of the place. You can only experience this by driving.
Also, on one trip we went to Lourdes which was for us an extremely draining experience emotionally. The sights you see and the faith displayed are very moving. So much so that when we arrived in Portugal with the intention of going to Fatima we both decided to do that on another trip and went on to enjoy a day at the portugese beach and one in Lisbon which was a very interesting city. Maybe you won't have that reaction but we did.
Have a grand trip and tell us about it.
ediemay is offline  
Jun 18th, 2007, 01:02 PM
  #38  
 
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hi, Lainfiesta,

well, you're a brave woman [don't know why I'm assuming female, but i am]

firstly with this itinerary, and secondly by posting it here, where "slowtravel" is a way of life for many contributors.

the reason for that is not that we were born that way, but we have learnt by BITTER experience! ours and other peoples.

that said, IMO you have the making of a great trip. I think that the key will be to intersperse periods of hectic activity with a good rest.

adapting your plan a bit! and trying to retain your fixed points [if i've understood them correctly]

June 26th arrive London
june 27th flight A'dam
June 30th flight/plane paris
July 7th flight -lisbon
[day trip by train to Fatima fits in here; there one day,back the next]
July 11th flight Milan
July 12th train Rome
july 19th flight london
july 25th flight home.


this way, you get a decent time in Paris, a hectic time in Portugal [train to Fatima and back on consecutive days], and a good long time in Rome. You could fit in florence if you want to, but 7 days give you the chance to rent an apartment.

I admire your desire to show the kids Europe, and respect your religious motives, but on your itinerary, by the time they get to Milan, the kids won't care. they will be teasy [cornish for grumpy, difficult, scratchy - you get the idea].

this way you do at least get to Fatima. Lourdes [and the lord] will surely wait. Ditto Santiago.

good luck,

regards, ann

Ps for train schedules, try www.bahn.de and access "internat guests" - all the train timetables of europe are there.

annhig is offline  
Jun 18th, 2007, 08:29 PM
  #39  
dgg
 
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Ediemay makes some good points. I would still try to limit the one nighters in the cities. It's just too much of a hassle to land, transfer to your hotel and turn around and head to the airport the next day. The Southwestern France, Spain and Portugal portions could be done with a combination of trains and cars. I cannot stress enough the distances that you will be covering and in some of the regions, the roads can be quite winding and certainly not direct highway shots. The drive from Paris to Lourdes is long. There are some things to see along the way, but if you are trying to do it in a day, you will want to get there. You may want to consider the train from Paris to Lourdes. Our friends tried to do something similar and were worn out. They were also with their children and found themselves arriving in each new town later in the evening and had to find hotels for their family at night. They said they really didn't get to enjoy each place. Also, remember there are four of you which means you may require two rooms in many European hotels.
dgg is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 06:28 AM
  #40  
 
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You'll be able to write a guide book of the european airport. Find an editor, that's a great idea!!!
Alain (Paris, France)

PS When I travel in USA (yearly), I do not spend less than one week in any place (last year I stayed two weeks in Franklin (NC). Great stay!
Alain is offline  

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