Help me fill in the blanks!!!

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Aug 11th, 2014, 10:00 AM
  #1
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Help me fill in the blanks!!!

I am posting AGAIN because you guys have been very helpful so far.

My husband (38) and I (28) are heading to Europe next month. Everything is booked... 4 nights in London, train to Paris for 4 nights, flight to Florence for 4 nights and train to Rome for 3 nights.

I am now starting to plan details... where to eat, where to shop, what to see... I'm using tripadvisor but it's very overwhelming as each city has hundreds of activities listed.

So please help me get started by giving me your favorite things to see and do in these 4 cities. Things we love and want to explore - FOOD!!!!, local markets, I want to shop (!!), day trips to nearby places (especially in Tuscany). Things that we like less but also want to do include museums, art, historical landmarks (we want to see the major things but not make our trip revolve around them).

Should we do the hop on hop off buses? Rent a car in Florence? Buy the city passes to skip lines? Any and all recommendations and tips are appreciated
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Aug 11th, 2014, 10:01 AM
  #2
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Oh and let's not forget, your favorite restaurants/bakeries!!
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Aug 11th, 2014, 10:07 AM
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Have you chosen hotels yet? Where are they?
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Aug 11th, 2014, 10:26 AM
  #4
ekc
 
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My favorite restaurant in Florence is Trattoria Sostanza. We also had a great lunch at Da Rocco in the market in Florence. One of the markets was recently renovated and has several new cafes on the upper floor.

If you have a smart phone, I can highly recommend the apps Eat Rome and Eat Florence by Elizabeth Minchilli.

Although I have not personally used him, Lucca of Hills and Roads gets consistently high marks for his Tuscany tour.

In Rome, we love Pizzarium and Roscioli. I also love the Ara Pacis.

Once you take into account travel time (losing 1/2 day each time you move cities), you only have 3.5 days in each London, Paris and Florence and only 2.5 in Rome. This does not leave much time for day trips.

An up-to-date guidebook will certainly help.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 10:33 AM
  #5
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Yes, hotels are booked! Here is where we will be staying:

London - Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street near the Opera House/Theater District
Paris - Apostrophe Hotel in 6th Arrondissement near Saint Germain Des Pres
Florence - Room Mate Isabella somewhat between the Duomo and the SMN train station
Rome - Residenza Santa Maria in the Trastevere neighborhood
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Aug 11th, 2014, 10:34 AM
  #6
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Thanks Ekc!! Will get the apps u suggested!
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Aug 11th, 2014, 11:04 AM
  #7
 
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<>

No. Bloody expensive and the traffic sucks in all of the cities you'll visit. Go try to find grid-like streets in Central London - you can't do it. For Paris you can take a Fat Tire Bike Tour to get your bearings (they operate in London too). Rome has a great bus system that actually moves quickly.

And Florence is walkable from end-to-end for all the places you'll want to see. It's a large town and far smaller than the three capitals you're going to.

<>

In the city? Dear G-d no. For day trips? Well, you haven't much time anyway, but daytrips are easy by train or bus depending upon your destination.

<>

In Paris, yes. Not just for line-skipping, it also cuts admission fees.

In London do not buy the London Pass!!!. In the UK, the lines move expeditiously even at popular attractions. If you're going to places covered by the 2for1 discounts (www.daysoutguide.co.uk), get the appropriate vouchers and follow the instructions (or check my name on this site, I've detailed the how-to on this before).

Many London attractions (both Tates, both National Galleries, British Library, British Museum, Imperial War Museum, V&A, National Maritime Museum, more) have NO entrance fee, why pay for a pass?

If the hubby is going to shop in London, he should do so on Jermyn Street. If he's just carrying whatever you buy, he should bugger off and see something interesting - 3.5 days is not a lot of time for London and blowing a morning on Portobello Road seems a waste.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 11:08 AM
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If you are booked 4 nights in the heart of Florence you should not a rent a car or try to drive there, but if you are not really interested in famous art and historical landmarks and are more excited by the thought of great food and wine in small-town Tuscany, perhaps you should reconsider spending 4 nights in Florence. Think about renting a car and driving to the Tuscan countryside, and visiting Florence for an afternoon.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 11:15 AM
  #9
 
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In case my suggestion wasn't clear, consider renting a car in Florence and driving to the countryside to stay there instead of staying in the city. You can visit Florence before leaving for the countryside or when you return to drop off the car.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 11:15 AM
  #10
 
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Public transport in London:
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/maps/visitors-and-tourists

And that hotel is very nicely placed for all the eating places you could ever want, within ten minutes' walk. And for the TKTS half-price ticket booth in Leicester Square (ignore all the others in the side-streets claiming to do the same job, this one's the official one run by the theatres themselves).
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Aug 11th, 2014, 11:36 AM
  #11
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Thanks everyone! Sandra, while I think your idea is good, our Florence booking is not refundable at this point. I am thinking about booking a day trip or two from Florence to the small Tuscan towns though.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 11:48 AM
  #12
 
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Florence is a very beautiful city so I hope you enjoy it. In addition to looking for day trips, consider taking a walk in the hills above Florence (Fiesole, Settignano) if the weather is nice. You can reach the hill towns with a 15 minute bus ride starting near Santa Maria Novella.

It is probably better to book drivers for your day trips out of Florence and back than to rent a car and drive yourselves. Your hotel location is just not favorable for avoiding the many traffic-restricted streets of Florence, and you could inadvertently end up stuck with a huge traffic fine. Better to leave the driving to the natives.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 11:49 AM
  #13
 
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Do not buy the Paris city pass. Instead, if you plan to visit some museums, get the museum pass to avoid lines.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 12:06 PM
  #14
 
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High points in London are the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, St. Paul's Cathedral, Churchill War Rooms, walking in the beautiful parks, attending the theater, afternoon tea, looking into Harrod's and Fortnum & Mason, Oxford and Regent Streets for shopping, and a zillion other things.

Paris: Notre Dame Cathedral, Eiffel Tower, Ste. Chappelle, the Louvre Musuem, Musee d'Orsay, Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysées (to include Laduree macarons), Sacre Coeur, the Latin Quarter, and a zillion other things.

Florence: Santa Maria del Fiore, Palazzo Vecchio, the Baptistery, the bell tower, Uffizi and Academia (for statue of David) Galleries,
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Aug 11th, 2014, 12:09 PM
  #15
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you guys are so helpful!!

... and did someone say macarons?!! *happy dance*
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Aug 11th, 2014, 12:12 PM
  #16
 
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Sorry, didn't mean to post--

Florence, continued: Pitti Palace, Santa Croce, and if you like leather gloves, by all means shop for them there. I agree to see some towns in Tuscany.

Rome: St. Peter's and the Vatican, the Colosseum, the Forum, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Castel Sant'Angelo, the Spanish Steps, and more and more.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 12:28 PM
  #17
 
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There are non-resident restrictions on driving in Florence as well. Although it was from Rome, Ozgirl07 just did the wonderful TR where she did a big day tour:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-mia-italy.cfm

You can easily do something similar from Florence and both of you can enjoy the scenery and drink more wine!

Since you might want some flexibility as to what museum on what day, buying passes with dates set in stone can be problematic. That being said, we did like the pass in Paris as it allowed us to bypass Louvre and Orsay lines. In Florence, our hotel made reservations for us for Uffizi and David.

When we first visited a city, we often took the HoHo bus and just stayed on and got the "lay of the land". In Paris, that bus got so full at Notre Dame, we wasted an hour waiting for the next bus the time we did get off. Beware that as a potential time problem as well as being expensive.

Have a wonderful trip, moosey9 and please write all about when you return!
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Aug 11th, 2014, 12:52 PM
  #18
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I hope to do a trip report when I come back as those have helped me plan my own trip!

I'm debating whether or not I should purchase the lonely planet guides (ebooks) for all these cities. What do you guys think? Some are 400+ pages from what I understand... not sure if I have the time to read (or see!) all that
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Aug 11th, 2014, 01:00 PM
  #19
 
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Why bother? You're not going to be in any of the cities that long. A Timeout guide (online! and probably downloadable to your ibooks/kindle/google books/nook) is all you need.

And don't obsess (too late? If so, don't obsess too much). You're 28, he's 38. Neither of you have any extremities in the grave. None of the cities is likely to be the next Atlantis. You can go back.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 01:04 PM
  #20
 
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If you are in Florence on a Sunday night, beware that it can be difficult getting a restaurant as many close. We found a gem ( pre booked) Il Santo Bevitore, fab atmosphere and great food.
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