!HELP! (Trip to Spain and Italy)

Jul 17th, 2007, 07:49 PM
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!HELP! (Trip to Spain and Italy)

I need desperate help. My wife and I would like to take a trip in the beginning of October to Spain and Italy. The only problem is I don't know where to begin.

I think we have the cities boiled down to Madrid+Barcelona and Rome+Venice. But that itself is open to suggestion.

So.....how can we get the best deals? Travel agents or internet deals? Air travel or train travel? What's the best "planner" website and what are some "must go too" destinations?

We are feeling kind of lost right now.
no_if is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 08:00 PM
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How long do you plan for this trip? I would pick either Italy or Spain, not both.

Good luck,

MichelleY is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 08:50 PM
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We are planning on going 14 days. Why not both?
no_if is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 12:42 AM
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I believe one of the discount carriers (Vueling?) serves Milan from Barcelona.

You should probably use the Internet to book flights. I don't know if Travel Agents could book them for you.
NEDSIRELAND is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 02:05 AM
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Hi no if, regarding Spain I would consider choosing only one of the two big cities Madrid or Barcelona and then I would visit the lovely smaller cities and towns around it. I would leave the other big city for a next trip. What I would like to convey is, why jump from one big city to the other ignoring the wonderful, fantastic places sourrounding either one?
Same to Italy, there are so many beautiful , amazing
places between Venice and Rome......just an idea.
Graziella5b is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 02:11 AM
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The reason for going to one country, not both, is to avoid spending a lot of time in travel within Europe. To me, one logical trip would be Madrid + Barcelona + one other Spanish destination, or Venice + Florence + Rome, with at least one week scheduled for Rome. In both cases, I'd fly into one city and out of the other, for example fly to Venice, take the train to Florence, take the train to Rome, and fly home from Rome.
sjj is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 02:13 AM
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I'm thinking that the only way you can do both countries is to fly across-- or take the overnight ferry from Barcelona (which I'm researching now.) Also, either fly or take a sleeper train between Madrid and Barcelona & Rome and Venice. That will save you a travel day. (Don't know your age... but once my husband and I turned 40, we started doing the first class sleeper rooms and it makes a huge difference in the morning!!) I think you can do it if you use sleepers to go between cities... but you won't be able to venture far from the cities. You will love all 4 of those cities. Once you decide for sure, I'll check back and give you my opinions on lodgings and food. Have fun planning--
sebastopol, ca
kawh is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 02:52 AM
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If you want to go to Spain and Italy, and you already have your cities picked, I think it sounds like a great trip. I enjoy trips that compare two different cultures, languages, foods, styles.

To avoid backtracking, you should get open jaw tickets, which arrive in one city and depart from another. So you would fly to Madrid or Barcelona and return from Rome or Venice, for instance. On most booking websites, you can find this option by looking under multiple destinations. I start by looking at www.kayak.com to find out what all the options are. Once I decide on the best flights, I check the airline's website to see if that is the best price and only book on some other site if it beats the airline website's price.

Then you can find flights within Europe on budget airlines by checking www.whichbudget.com. Between Rome and Venice, it might be better to take the train than to fly, but you can check out the prices for flights to see for sure. Just remember that trains travel from city to city without the need to travel to remote airports, so you have to figure the expense of getting to the airports into your total costs and total time of travel.

Vueling is a Spanish budget airline that flies from either Madrid or Barcelona to Venice and Rome. I took several flights on Vueling last summer and they had new planes and were a great choice. I checked a random date of October 4 and found a price of 20 euros from Barcelona to Venice, all inclusive. A really good deal.

Nikki is online now  
Jul 18th, 2007, 12:59 PM
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Dear no if:

Choosing one country or area will let you see more and not wear yourself out. It sounds like you are novice travellers. If so, pick up the Rick Steves' guides to help you plan. His guides are very helpful for newbies and will reduce the stress in planning and doing the trip.

The open-jaw advice is excellent: in one city and out of another. This saves valuable travel time. Also do a minimum of 2 nights in each place. 3 is even better. You won't be so tired.

Good luck and do more searches here on Fodors for trip reports etc.

MichelleY is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 01:09 PM
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I think it can be done, we did Rome/Venice in 7 days. Just make sure you build in a day or two of resting. (For example, we needed the 4 hour train ride to rest for a full half day between Rome and Venice).

Definitely buy your tickets open jaw, or you'll waste time travelling back to Madrid from Venice on your last day. There's no point in that. The price difference between round trip and open jaw tickets for our trip was very minimal. (We flew into Germany for a wedding, then traveled on to Italy and flew out of Venice).

I'd also recommend seeing if you can find an overnight train ride from Madrid to Italy. We had to go through Milan to do it, but it helped a lot with costs since you save a night in a hotel and a day of sight seeing by sleeping in the train!

I'd also recommend picking up some Rick Steve's books. You can start with a version a year or two old from your library, I'd get the Italy book, and the Spain book, and read them and see what you want to do. Then if you want to buy the current books when you nail down plans for specific cities you can (We loved the Rome and Venice books, not so much for the food/hotel recs which we didn't use much, but for all the little tips and tricks and explanations of the sights).

It's really up to the individual whether or not you can do both countries. Take into consideration your activity level, your tolerance for being away from home, but also your ability to travel abroad. Some people told us that in 7 days we should just stick to 1 city. However, we know it will be years before we can afford to take another European vacation, so we wanted to suck it up and see as much as possible while we had the chance.
carla1183 is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 01:30 PM
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Rick Steve's is to travel writing what Barry Manilow is to rock n' roll. There are factual errors and surficial treatment of important aspects.

Frommer's, Fodor's- good on hotels and restaurants, poor on sites and history

Rough Guide, Lonely Planet, good on sites and history, poor on restaurants and hotels

Michelin Green-excellent on sites

Michelin Red-It is francocentric as to be silly.

Eyewitness-nice to look at, of little informational value

Cadigan-very helpful on sites

Karen Brown-accurate if the places are still open

Spain only-Penelope Casas-excelelnt food guide

Travel to me is not about notches in one's belt for every country but enjoying and begining to understand another. To do two countries in two weeks, is to see two wonderful coutnries poorly.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 01:37 PM
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it's been a while since my trip to Spain. We flew in to Madrid and visited Segovia, Avila and Toledo as day trips. Then rented a car and went North to Santander then East to Bilbao, San Sebastian and Barcelona before circling back to Madrid. When I go back I'll do the South of Spain. If you take two weeks to visit less places, you can really get the taste of the country. This was very ambitious and I enjoyed Italy a lot more when I took a 5 week vacation. Enjoy it!
juancarlos is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 01:38 PM
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Bravo Aduchamp !
It takes 6 weeks to see Italy and almost that long to see Spain. Do yourself favor and plan 3 Europe trips in advance and stick to one country this time---actually a part of one country.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 01:44 PM
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Oh how jealous I am of your budgets and your vacation allowances! I get 2 weeks of vacation a year, I suppose I could quit my job for 6 weeks and go to Italy, but then how would I pay for it? (our pockets were empty after one week!)

I'm not trying to be smart, I honestly envy you all for being in a position where you can take such allowances!
carla1183 is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 02:25 PM
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I LOVE Barry Manilow!!! just kidding!!
MichelleY is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 02:33 PM
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You mean this October, right? You need to get moving on reservations. MONTHS ago, I made reservations for us and some friends in Venice, and many hotels were already fully booked. I'm not saying that there aren't rooms left, just that you may have to do some searching. I'm not as familiar with Spain as I am with Italy, but you may find more availability generally in Spain.

You asked why not visit Madrid, Barcelona, Rome and Venice. You could do so with the amount of time you have, but it would be a trip that's heavy on cities (obviously), which aren't always the most relaxing way to vacation. Especially those four, which in addition to being great for sitting at a cafe with a glass of wine, are also FULL of art, architecture and history. I would also suggest only one country.

How to get the best deals. Probably from the internet, though I'm not so knowledgeable about finding the lowest prices. In my somewhat-limited experience, however, you may get your best rates by dealing directly with airlines and/or hotels. In any event, check any rates that you get elsewhere (i.e. orbitz, etc.) against what you can get directly. I've seen Priceline mentioned very positively for hotels; I don't know if you can use them for your destinations, but look into it.

If you travel in Italy, then train travel between Venice & Rome is the easiest way to go. I think, but don't know, that there is no high-speed train between Madrid and Barcelona, so there, low-cost carriers may be the best choice.

The best planner website is Fodoro's travel talk!

For "must go to" destinations, do a search on this board, use Fodor's website's destinations feature, or go to your local library or bookstore and pick up Fodors (or Frommers or Rick Steves) for more general info on each destination. They all have good suggested itineraries, as well, for "3 days in..." or "5 days in..." Even if I don't follow the suggestions precisely, it gives me a feel for how to schedule activities.
Lexma90 is online now  
Jul 18th, 2007, 02:42 PM
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My comments are not about money but how one travels. I learned a long time ago not to spend another's money.

We are very fortunate that we have traveled widely in the last thirty five years and that is the basis of the advice.

One trip I went against my own advice and visited Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland in two weeks and we knew little about them when we finished. I can say however that I visited those four countries.

Aduchamp1 is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 02:46 PM
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You might check out
http://www.whichbudget.com/ for cheap European airlines. They often don't fly directly into the city but will often bus you from their airport to that city's center. Flying into one capital and back from the other or Barcelona might be an idea.
peregrini is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 02:57 PM
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Sure you can do it If you really have 14 days and not 12 and you don't mind to go a bit quickly, knowing that each of these cities is worth more than a whole week on them
Anyway, you can find very cheap flights from Barcelona to anywhere in Italy.
kenderina is offline  
Jul 20th, 2007, 12:59 PM
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I don't know if anyone is still reading BUT my wife and I have made a few decisions

1. We decided were only going to stay in two cities...Barcelona and Rome.

2. We decided we are leaving the Oct. 1st and trying to make it back by the 12th.

I know many of you have advised us to do an "open jaw" trip. HOWEVER, we might be able to save 600 dollars on air travel if we don't. That doesn't include the cost of the hotel and the cost of lost time for coming back to Barcelona a day before we actually leave for the states.

So, my questions are...

1. Any advice on ways to route the plan trip to save money...including if we fly into some place and drive to Barcelona or Rome

2. Do you know of any *GOOD* websites that put everything together for you...flights/hotel/etc. so I can compare their prices to my ability to piece it all together.

3. If you have any other helpful thoughts...they're all appreciated.


no_if is offline  

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