First time to Europe, only speak English

Jul 7th, 2014, 12:58 AM
Join Date: Aug 2013
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Sorry Cold I forgot to mention:

If my argument is not enough to dissuade you from language lessons, you can buy Rick Steve's latest: Scots for Italians-You Have a Big Pair of Scones
IMDonehere is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 04:22 AM
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You'll obviously need to lower your expectations to fit your time frame.

As for how much time to spend in each city: As a rough guide, assume a half day for each attraction you plan to see -- and I strongly encourage you to have a plan. Yes, some will take less and some will take more, but that at least gives you an idea of how to plot your time. Also, look into getting timed tickets ahead of time, when possible, to avoid standing in line.

If you're interested in castles, look into Germany, because it doesn't look like you can fit Scotland into your trip. Germany has lots of interesting castles in its mountain and along its rivers. Unless of course your interest in castles is limited to just Scottish ones.

Language shouldn't be a problem in the major cities and tourist areas that you've mentioned in your itinerary. You may run into the occasional person who doesn't speak English, but most of the people in the tourist-related sectors do speak English.

List your priorities, plot out your time for each, and the rest will fall into place. Also remember that the more places you try to see, the more time and money you'll spend on transit, which is not a wise use of your travel money.
vincenzo32951 is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 04:36 AM
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You boys (cold, IMD, and sparky) are going to scare this poor woman.

tr7111 - these three normally have good insights but they've lost it here! Heed them not.

You need to read a variety of guide books since each has its merits and some will appeal more to your travel style. You don't need to buy them; libraries are a great resource for guides and other books on your destination.

What's really important in Italy is to choose your gelateria carefully. Avoid those places that offer garish colors.
adrienne is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 04:43 AM
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You are talking to someone who managed in Denmark, Sweden and Iceland only knowing the word for"thank you".

An Italian friend says that Germans in Northern Italy just bounce into shops and bark orders in German.
A smiling "buon giorno" when entering and a polite "permesso?" Before touching anything will endear you to the shopkeeper
MissPrism is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 04:49 AM
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'An Italian friend says that Germans in Northern Italy just bounce into shops and bark orders in German.'

Just like the Italians visiting Munich yell their orders in Italian.
With only the tiny difference that South Tyrol is officially bi-lingual while Bavaria is not ;-)
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 04:49 AM
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I'd recommend the rough guide series. Lots of background for the flight and lots of detail while in the trip
bilboburgler is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 04:55 AM
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Adrienne I ain't (am not) kidding. I have been in situations in Scotland where after several requests for clarification I still had no idea what the speaker was saying. The good news is that most of these were on golf courses and in bars.

My favourite was a Scot yelling at us from a distance to get off the medaltease. I kept asking what a medaltease was. He kept yelling. We figured out later he was saying medal tees.
colduphere is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 04:56 AM
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So far we've heard you say you want to see the Uffizi at least twice and you've also talked about Roman runins.

As i recall there aren't a lot of Roman ruins in Venice. But if you have a full ten days you could do the three cities in Italy you have mentioned.

What we have not heard, at all, from you, is exactly how much of a museum attention span you have. It can be pretty easy to get "museumed and monumented and churched OUT" between Rome, Florence, and Venice.

You can do things somewhat cheaply in Venice but be aware it is one of THE most expensive cities in Europe. A lot may depend on the time of year you plan to do this travel, also.
Dukey1 is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 05:12 AM
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cold - I know you're not kidding. It was easier for me to understand the Italians speaking Italian than to understand the Scots (especially Glaswegians) speaking English. And it's not only the accent - the words are different too.
adrienne is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 05:13 AM
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I thought I was helping.
IMDonehere is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 05:30 AM
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<< It can be pretty easy to get "museumed and monumented and churched OUT" between Rome, Florence, and Venice. >>

I agree that sensory overload happens. That's why it's important to give more time to a trip rather than rushing through and seeing too much in one day and coming home from the trip not remembering what you saw.

Varying your sightseeing is important. After a morning at the Uffizi you won't want to look at more paintings. I find the San Marco museum to be very relaxing. Each cell has a small fresco so you're not overloaded by too much at one time.

Access guide books are full of photos and are arranged by sections of the city and include museums, churches, gardens, shops, etc. Looking through these guides is a good way to determine what sights are near each other and what sights offer a sightseeing balance.
adrienne is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 06:34 AM
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Hi tr7111 - regarding the costs, this (for most people) is usually a big concern. It certain is for me and my family. I use a spreadsheet (Google Docs is really handy for sharing if planning with others).
I track the one-time items (mostly airfare) as well as set aside a per diem for food, lodging, entrance fees, shopping, and ground transportation. As I do my research, I can get a better per day estimate of the cost for each. I have some basic formulas in place to calculate total cost based on the number of nights, which makes it easy to see how much of an impact adding a couple days will make. Since airfare often makes up a large 'sunk' cost for your trip, I try to maximize the number of days I'm away, to get the most out of the expensive airfare.
Another reason to limit the number of cities you visit is the expense of traveling between cities. While train and airline fares are often quite cheap, when on a budget, these costs can equal a day or more of expenses, and travel between cities can use up the better part of a day, effectively stealing 2 days from you.

Ultimately - start with a spreadsheet and try to come up with a fairly detailed plan to help you get a realistic picture of the costs for such a trip, and do what you can to maximize the number of days you have. Good luck!
griz_fan is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 08:06 AM
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I think Adrienne's schedule for ten days or so in Italy would be good for someone with your interests (which coincide with ours). You can see the best of each of the three major Italian cities in the time you have. And each is totally different from the others.

Start your plan with the number of nites you're going to stay in each place rather than days. That will also help with budgeting. In some places you'll get a break on lodging if you commit to three nites or more. So: three nites in Venice; Early train to Florence; three to four nites in Florence; train to Rome and balance of time in Rome. This may be a few more nites than you planned to spend, but unless you have a job or some other reason to return pronto, I'd try to stretch the time; airfares are outrageous these days and so the more time you can spend on the ground, but better off you'll be in the long run.

Consider picknicking as well: go to the market, pick up a loaf of bread, some spread and a bottle of wine, then find a nice place to sit and eat it.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 08:31 AM
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<< number of nites you're going to stay in each place rather than days >>

I could never adapt to planning nights (I get too confused) although many people love to plan this way. I'm busy planning days and sleeping at night. Do whatever works best for you.

IMD - you were helpful; I was referring to your message to cold (which was very funny). The OP seems timid and I didn't want her to be frightened off.
adrienne is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 08:59 AM
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Given your interests and your budget, I'd say skip Venice, spend as much time as you can in Rome and Florence. (But I lo-o-o-ve Venice. Most beautiful city in the world.)

To conserve your budget, look into staying in hostels and/or convents. Here's one place with information on convents: And check out the Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree forum, which focuses on inexpensive travel:

As for getting lonely, you can meet people in hostels, also on in-city walking tours.
Mimar is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 09:39 AM
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Sometimes I think the posters on Fodor's do not give first timers credit for having a sense of humor or not being too thin skinned. The problem with the Internet, in general, is that nuance and irony is often lost.

I am sure the OP would see that the postings without an information are either plain silly or funny or both.

Sometimes when they don't respond immediately it could mean they actually have a life outside Fodor's or they do not understand the unwritten etiquette that many demand.
IMDonehere is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 03:30 PM
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TR7111 - if you have 7-10 days, I would spend that time in Rome. If you're interested in history, there's a lot there. Immerse yourself, wander around, take your time, enjoy the city.

I doubt this will be your only trip to Europe. Don't bust your butt trying to see it all.
jill_h is online now  
Jul 7th, 2014, 03:42 PM
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Go wherever most interests you. Don't worry about your lack of language skills. The places you mention are used to tourists (of all languages). It's just not a problem.

I love Venice, so I would never say to skip it. With 10-days you could do the classic Venice, Florence, Rome trip.
suze is online now  
Jul 7th, 2014, 04:17 PM
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I interpreted the comments the same way Andrew did - they sounded nasty to me.

I read almost every single guidebook I can get my hands on before I leave - I have access to several libraries with huge travel sections, so it's easy for me to borrow them to peruse.

I *love* art, and seeing art is a main priority when I visit Europe. While I agree that Rick Steves is often not "deep" overall, I haven't found any other guidebook that is as deep as I would like to see about art.

I do my art research with actual art books - making a note where the paintings/art I am most drawn to is located and plan around that.

That said, the only guidebooks I brought on my recent trip were Rick Steves. Like Andrew, I appreciate his subjectivity. I wish more books were more honest about certain attractions. I think RS' maps are easy to use - I find DK's maps somewhat confusing and those books seem heavier, too.
PhillyFan is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 05:34 PM
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IMD, cold, and sparky - I'm sorry I chastised you. It was meant to be lighthearted but in re-reading my comment I see that did not come through. I probably should have used one of the smiley faces to show my response was meant in the same light way as yours were. I actually think you're all witty and especially enjoy reading your teasing comments to cold, IMD.
adrienne is offline  

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