Five City European Vacation thru Groupon

Old May 19th, 2015, 12:10 PM
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Five City European Vacation thru Groupon

This is my first trip to Europe and there will be 5 family members going. This is the link to the trip we are taking https://www.groupon.com/deals/ga-go-today-europe-10 and I have received confirmation that the hotels listed on that site will be the ones we will stay at during our trip. One person at go-today suggested we may want to stay at a different hotel in Venice due to water travel.

Since I have never been to Europe, I am 69, going with my daughter, son-in-law and two adult granddaughters, and they also have not been, I was hoping someone could give me their opinion about the hotels and please feel free to provide any additional advice you may have. Thank you so much.

Also my first time posting.

Linda
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Old May 19th, 2015, 12:17 PM
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The biggest problem with this trip is how little time you have in each place. It takes at least half a day each time you change locations, so your three nights in each place is really just two days to sightsee, explore, experience. But there is nothing to be done about that.

You can ignore the "experts" advice in the brochure about the hop on hop off bus - it would be a terrible waste of your precious little time in each location.

Sorry, I can't help with the hotels.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 12:50 PM
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Go to Booking.com and Expedia.com, they are booking sites for hotels but they will have reviews of hotels. I do not like Trip Advisor because many of the reviews are not true for one reason or another. Booking.com now will only allow you to review a hotel after a recent stay at a hotel reserved through them.

Also note that the tour says or a similar hotel.

Additionally, I agree that it is a rushed tour, but if you have no expectations of returning than it may be worthwhile for you.

Also search the Internet and see if you can find any reviews of the tour company.

95% of the people who post here, travel independently without the aid of a tour group.

Good luck.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 01:01 PM
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I agree with everything Kathie says, but will add that all the hotels are very poorly located and well out of the areas usually preferred for getting around easily to sights. And, since the Venice hotel is actually located in Mestre, on the mainland nearer the airport than the Grand Canal, not sure what Go Today's concern is with water travel.

It doesn't look like good value, to me, since you would spend a lot of time and money getting around, especially in Rome and Venice. If you eliminated Barcelona, you could easily do a much better trip independently to Rome, Florence and Venice.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 01:02 PM
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that is a good company, they do a decent job, I had a friend who did one of their packages. I thought those rates looked very good, although not as quite as astounding bargain as I first thought. But it is convenient the way they package all the transportation for you (and maybe have a handler around to get you to/from all these sites, I hope?). I saw rates of about $2400 for October, so if the airfare and train alone would be worth around $1400 (including the ones within Europe), that is $1000 for 14 hotel nights or about $70 per person per night or $140 a couple. Pretty good. Now in Barcelona, you could get that hotel yourself for about 100 euro so that isn't a savings. But the Paris hotel is usually around 180 euro and that can be expensive at that time period (well, the one I checked, October, not sure when you are going).

The hotels look decent, of course, you can see them, I think the biggest issue is the locations, that's all. I can't speak to the Italy ones but the one in Barcelona is really an inconvenient location. Very. It isn't even near a metro stop and is not near the center or attractions. The one in Paris is kind of far out and in a dull area IMO (Nation metro) but it is near a metro stop, at least. I think you'd enjoy something a bit more central, but it's not horrible.

So not sure what your hotel choices are, if you can choose another in a more central location in Barcelona, I definitely would, and Paris probably.

Since you are in Barcelona 3 days, I think you might want to do the hop-on/off bus there for one day, actually, many enjoy it. Barcelona is fairly large and spread out and it can be a pleasant way to view the city. I took it one day and liked it. I don't think it's as useful in Paris and you can waste too much time on it due to the clogged traffic (and you can more easily just walk about amongst sites or take short metro trips there).
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Old May 19th, 2015, 01:09 PM
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I checked out the hotels in Venice, Florence, Rome and Paris. The Paris hotel is in the 11th Arrondisement near a major transportation hub. It's a good idea to learn how Paris is organized and the transportation system before you leave. It will make your sightseeing more enjoyable.

Your Rome hotel appears to be about 20 minutes (by car) from the city center, based Google maps.

Your Venice hotel is actually in Mestre, not Venice. You'll need to learn the transportation options for getting to and from Venice unless you decide to switch to a hotel in Venice. If decide to move to a hotel in Venice you'll either walk or use the vaporetto to get to different sites.

According to Google Maps your Florence hotel is about 0.5 miles from some of the main sites or a 15-20 minute bus ride. However, if I remember correctly Florence has a nice bus system, so you should have no problem getting around.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 01:12 PM
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You have vary little time in each city. Do not waste money or a minute on HOHO busses.

HOHO in Paris is boring. It is easier to use metro and walk.
In Barcelona, Taxis are cheap and take you directly where you want to go. Local buses are also good.
Most of Rome center is walkable. There are local buses and taxis are reasonable.
Florence center where most everything located, is very, very small - think village size. Only take a bus if you are going to the outskirts of town, up to Fiesole, etc.
Venice has no streets, so no busses as such. Vaporettos (water bus) gets you around along with walking.

Get a top ten guide book for each city and a map. You could also get this info here on Fodors in the Destinations Forum. Pick the things you most want to see in each city. Check times they are open. Mark their location on your map. For museums and some other things, you can order tickets ahead, so less waiting in lines.

That hotel is not in Venice proper. It is in Mestre, a town on the mainland. It is nearby, but will eat up a lot of time going back and forth. I would not stay there. Pick a place in Venice Proper, even if it is not as new or nice. This is your first and perhaps only trip to Venice. Staying there at night is magical. You are spending a lot of money on this big trip. Staying in Venice is often a highlight for travelers. Don't scrimp on this one.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 01:51 PM
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I am going to disagree about the on-off buses. For people who have never travelled before and may live in places that they go by car and do not do much walking...these buses give an overview of the city and are not tiring. I have taken it in Barcelona and it was very good. Highly recommended. Also took it in Paris when it was bitter cold and we just did not want to be outside and walk. It was fine..interesting, saw lots of places. Plus, we got off and went to things we wanted to see and then rode around until we warmed up. We often go to London and take the on-off bus every time. It is a nice activity and better than miles of walking sometimes going in the wrong direction. For experienced travellers, it may not be a good idea, but these people are going to places they have never been.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 02:08 PM
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The hotel in Rome is quite far out, but it's very near a bus stop which will take you to a metro station. Just to give you an idea, it would take you an hour or a little more to get to the Colosseum by that means, and a little over half an hour to get to the Vatican.

The website mentions two possible hotels in Florence, which are fairly convenient to the center; both are a 15- to 20-minute walk from the Duomo, and both are close to bus stops if that's too much walking for you.

As others have said, the hotel in Venice is in Mestre, fairly near the train station, so you could take a train into central Venice. There are also buses into the center of Venice. It would take about an hour using public transportation to get to Piazza San Marco.

By the way, Mestre is part of the city of Venice, not a separate city.

Basically in Rome and Venice, you would have about a 2-hour commute each day, round trip. When you have only a short time in a city that does add up.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 02:09 PM
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I would definitely get a more-centrally located hotel in Venice and Rome - especially given your limited time.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 05:32 PM
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I think if you want this trip you need to upgrade to hotels much closer to the center of the cities and sights you actually want to see. As it is you will spend a lot of time just getting from hotels to what you want to see.

Venice is especially bad - since the hotel is NOT in Venice - it's in Mestre - which is an industrial suburb on the mainland. To get into Venice you will have to get to the train station, take a train to the Venice train station and then a vaporetto (boat the equivalent of a city bus) down one of the canals to the sights you want to visit.

Have you investigated the costs if you go for hotels with decent locations?
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Old May 20th, 2015, 01:58 AM
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Mestre, there are buses and trains into Venice all day (and night long) even so the Magic of Venice is 6am watching it all come alive and 10pm as night falls.

Next to Mestre station it is a bit rough but there are some older parts of Mestre (to the east of the station) which are actually pleasant (just not the whole city in a lagoon thing)
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Old May 20th, 2015, 03:26 AM
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Have you actually booked it yet? If you have people can help you make the best of it with some suggestions. But if you have not yet booked it I would say DON'T. Those hotels are all in terrible locations. This is a perfect example of how people go to Europe for the first time on a package like this and think they are saving money when they aren't and then spend most of the time getting to the places they want to see rather than seeing them and then come home and think European travel is over rated.
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Old May 20th, 2015, 04:11 AM
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NYTraveler, you're wrong. Mestre is part of Venice, just as Brooklyn is part of New York.
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Old May 20th, 2015, 04:16 AM
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I never said it wasn't part of Venice - I said it was an industrial suburb on the mainland - which is perfectly true - often suburbs are technically within city limits but not really where one would want to stay - due to distance/time to get anywhere as well as unpleasant conditions.
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Old May 20th, 2015, 04:24 AM
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I don't want to pronounce a judgement on other cities, but the Hop-on, Hop-off bus tour wouldn't be a good idea for any of the three Italian cities on the itinerary.

In Rome, the buses have been greatly restricted in the number of stops they can make, as a traffic and pollution amelioration initiative. That, combined with the fact that many of the favorite tourist sights are not accessible to vehicles of that size, means that you don't see much from the bus, and have to do quite a bit of walking to get to many places.

In Florence, very few of the central streets are open to traffic, and the center is relatively compact and easily walkable.

In Venice, the main islands are totally closed to vehicular traffic.
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Old May 20th, 2015, 02:47 PM
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Yes, Brooklyn is one of the outer boroughs of NYC - and it and Queens are largely residential and parts are definitely suburban (as opposed to Manhattan which is definitely big city and different from the outer areas.)

Mestre is part of the city of Venice - but still nothing like the center of the city. It's a mostly quite unpleasant with mixed suburban areas with a lot of industry and pollution.
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Old May 21st, 2015, 09:10 AM
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Agree.... on-off buses not good in Italian cities. But Rome is big...should do something to get overview. They are not there that long.
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Old May 21st, 2015, 11:39 AM
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NYTraveler, you're kind of redefining what you said above:

>

If I had said on a New York travel forum, "Your hotel is in Brooklyn, not in New York.", I think more than one person would have corrected me.
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Old May 21st, 2015, 11:45 AM
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OK, all just IMHO.

If an overview, scope of the city is something really personally important to you, and you think you might get that, then do the bus thing.

IME, however, they leave you with mostly a visual jumble of buildings. I did it on my first trip to London. It was not horrible, but not a good experience. Thinking, I had missed something good, I did it again on my fourth trip to London and it was truly horrible. Thinking it might be better in Paris, I did it there. Simply a boring waste of time. Barcelona was a tad better, but what do I actually remember? Nothing from the bus window - lots from walking in parks and inside churches.

The more limited your time, IME, the better it is to pick specific things, cathedral, museum, little neighborhood, even parks and explore them. Stand and let the atmosphere soak into you. That is the kind of experience that becomes your memory.
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