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Help me decide where to spend my last 5 days in Europe!

Help me decide where to spend my last 5 days in Europe!

Old Apr 30th, 2010, 01:50 PM
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Help me decide where to spend my last 5 days in Europe!

My hubby and I are going to visit my family in Germany (Dresden area) in early Sept. We'll spend one week at the Baltic Sea and one saying hi to everyone I don't see nearly enough

I thought that since we're already in Europe, we'd take a few days at the end and go visit a place neither of us has been before. I'm torturing myself trying to pick a location. My first and still favorite idea was to go to Tuscany (Montepulciano area), pick a B&B or vacation rental and just relax and explore surrounding areas from there. I'm not excited about the prices of rental cars in Italy, however. Any recommendations? It doesn't look as though Tuscany is a good idea to explore via public transport.

My sis and I went to France last year and had no problems connecting from Paris to Aix-en Provence-Marseille... we took buses and trains. It worked out really well. Do any of you recommend that for Tuscany?

Other areas I'm checking into are Barcelona, Dubrovnik/Adriatic coast, and Lisbon/Portugal coast. All of them have their own unique charm.

We're looking for relaxation and beautiful countryside, exploring local cuisine, a little bit of sightseeing, but mostly just taking in the area at our own pace and relaxing as a couple - preferably without having to rent a car. I'm looking at vacation rentals or a B&B.

Is Barcelona my better option? Being a large city it has everything close together, including public transport. But I'm not sure if we want to stay in a large city. I know there's so many different options to look at, but i was looking for some personal feedback from people that have been to the places on my list.

Any comments are much appreciated.

Thanks!
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Old Apr 30th, 2010, 03:19 PM
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I probably should answer, because I simply don't like Barcelona, but if what you are craving is relaxation and beautiful countryside, the fact that it has a lot buses and subways (with pickpockets) doesn't seem enough reason to go.

One thing you might consider is going to Montepulciano via public transport and then renting a car once you are there if you feel like it.

There are trains that go to the town of Chiusi in Tuscany. From there, during the day, you can catch a bus that will deposit you in Montepulciano (30 minute ride.) From Montepulicano, you can use public buses to visit Pienza. You can also return to Chiusi and catch trains to Cortona and Orvieto.

But that is about the extent of your range using public transportation.

However, should you decide your reluctance to rent a car is too limiting, both Chiusi and Orvieto have car rental offices. And you can also find one in Arezzo, just north on the train line from Chiusi.

The second week of September is not exactly low season, but with 3 car rental offices within 90 minutes of Montepulciano, I think you can find a car, even in early September, if you want one -- although if you only drive automatic, no guarantees.

But still -- Montepulciano, Pienza, Cortona and Orvieto are not bad for a 5-day trip using public transport -- and if you base in Montepulciano, you will have pretty views from the town and lots of good wine to drink.
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Old Apr 30th, 2010, 03:20 PM
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TYPO ALERT!

I meant to write:

"I probably SHOULDN"T answer" --- because my bias against Barcelona is pretty strong.
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Old Apr 30th, 2010, 03:23 PM
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PS: If you want to rent a car during your stay in Italy, find an Internet terminal and book one through AutoEurope. I would carry with me the telephone numbers of the nearest rental offices as well, and ask the hotel for assistance if need be.
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Old Apr 30th, 2010, 03:24 PM
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Why not enjoy Bavaria or the Lakes of Austria and save yourself a ton of travel time?
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Old Apr 30th, 2010, 03:57 PM
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I'm not sure I understand your criteria, the_select. Are you saying you hope to drive, fly, or train from Dresden to somewhere else for 5 days? And you've definitively narrowed it down to the places you've mentioned above - or are you looking for alternatives? Can you end your vacation from anywhere or will you need to return back to Dresden?

One option that comes to mind is Prague, in part because it's not a super long train ride from Dresden.
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Old Apr 30th, 2010, 07:11 PM
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Thanks for all the info, zeppole. I'll look into that.

Bob - I've been there several times (both Bavaria and Austria), love it, but want to try something new.

Andrew - good questions. My parents live close to Dresden and Berlin (and Poland, actually - just triangulate that...). We're flying into Berlin, and I was looking into Multi-city flight options, they're quite affordable, comparatively. We'd fly out of Berlin to wherever we pick, and from there back to the US. (For instance, if I pick Barcelona, it'd be USA-Berlin-Barcelona-USA). Love Prague, great city. We haven't definitely narrowed it down to those places, they've just emerged from various suggestions from friends. I started with Tuscany, but other options came up and they look great, too.

I know this question is superbroad and a lot of people will have been to one of the places I'm looking at, and none of the others, but I was just looking for personal feedback to help me compare or point out some issues to know so I could eliminate options easier.
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Old Apr 30th, 2010, 11:10 PM
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You would need a rental car in Tuscany, but I think it is worth it. It is one of my favorite places to travel for food, beautiful countryside, and exploring little hilltop towns. If you have never been I would suggest you go. And best of all, they have some of the best food in the world.

I also love Dubrovnik and Barcelona and you don't need a car for either one. Barcelona has amazing food, but is a big city so it depends on whether you want to get out into the country or stay in a city. Dubrovnik is a small city (more like a large town)and public transportation is good, but it is a seaside destination and you mentioned that you are going to the Baltic sea first. Will you want to spend more time at the beach in Croatia or are you really looking for countryside and good food?
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Old May 1st, 2010, 05:47 AM
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I am reading all the posts concerning Dubrovnik. My son and I are planning to go there in September after Switzerland. The only problem I have encountered is the flights from Zurich to Dubrovnik. No cheap flights. It seems that most flights stop after the last of August and the first part of September. We leave Zurich on the 12th. But I have found a reasonable flight on Austrian airlines from ZRH. So I think we will book it and go there for 4 nights. It sounds and looks like a beautiful place and a new destination for us.
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Old May 1st, 2010, 08:32 AM
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My vote would either be for Dubrovnik-but you might have the same issues as you will with Barcelona not really being able to get out of the immediate area without a car, or Barcelona. We loved a little beach town called Roses about 2 hours north of Barcelona and I think their is pretty transport there by bus. So you might consider flying via Barcelona but just going out to Roses for 3-5 nights. It is close to Cadeques and not too far from quite a famous restaurant called El Bulli. Be warned that it is very experimental food, $$$,you need reservations, and would need some sort of transport like a taxi to get there though. Really only for serious foodies

September should be lovely and you are probably more likely to get nice weather than Dubrovnik if that is a consideration. The beach is really great-flat and goes for miles. You can walk everywhere and there are lots of great little restaurants and shops. Here is a link to a photo:

http://tinyurl.com/2etggpq
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