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bamafam Oct 2nd, 2012 08:55 AM

Here's our wish list....which European country would you choose?
We are in the beginning stages of planning a trip to Europe within the next year, and having trouble choosing a country that will be ideal for both kids and adults. Our family visited Munich this past summer and absolutely loved it — in fact, a repeat trip to Bavaria is one possibility. But we'd also like to explore other options.

Here are some specs:

• We're a family of three - two adults and one child, who will be nearly 8 at the time we travel. Our son is an adventurous traveler and is very interested in history, particularly medieval history.

• We'll be using Delta miles, departing from Atlanta, and hoping to keep the flights as uncomplicated as possible. Direct would be ideal, but a single stop would be manageable.

• We are staying on Marriott points, so a Marriott property in our chosen location is a must.

• We'd prefer to be based in a city or town over a more remote destination, although splitting time between the city and country might work too.

• We'd like to use public transport as much as possible.

• Things that are important to us: safety, outdoor activities, pretty natural scenery, arts and culture, kid-friendly museums and activities (not theme parks though), friendly locals, good food

• Things that are not important: shopping, fine dining, luxury, nightlife

• We had initially looked at London, but have decided against it because of airline taxes and fees, limited choice of Marriott properties where we can use points, and other factors. We have also crossed Rome off the list. Anything else is fair game.

Thanks so much for any input you have!

bilboburgler Oct 2nd, 2012 08:59 AM

Interesting question. I'll have to look at a Marriott map :-) back soon.

Dukey1 Oct 2nd, 2012 09:03 AM



Dukey1 Oct 2nd, 2012 09:04 AM


bilboburgler Oct 2nd, 2012 09:04 AM

Well Marriott don't have a map of their hotels on their website (maybe in a darkeded office back at the ranch) still two cities jump out of their list of cities, which is Prague and Budapest. You will get hoggins of history there with just about all the things you list. Good public transport, pretty natural scenary (esp Budapest), good food at sensible prices. I'd have serious surf on this site on those two cities to see what they have to offer.

Underhill Oct 2nd, 2012 09:07 AM

Paris would be a good choice, and by train you could visit the medieval town of Chartres and its great Gothic cathedral.

bamafam Oct 2nd, 2012 09:22 AM

Thank you for the input so far! Budapest looks beautiful. Sadly, I checked into its Marriotts and none of them can accommodate 3 guests per room. :-(

We had considered Prague as well, but I had read warnings to the effect that it is more of a party city for there any truth in that?

SloJan2 Oct 2nd, 2012 09:30 AM

No. Prague is for everyone. There is a healthy population of uni students here as many US schools have overseas campuses but the city absorbs it all well. The city itself is stunning.

The Cesky Krumlov area is beautiful and there are many wonderful day trips from Prague itself. The history here will be appealing to your son as well.

scatcat Oct 2nd, 2012 09:34 AM

My first thought was the Berner Oberland in Switzerland for a portion of your trip. Direct flight to Zurich from Atlanta, then train to Lauterbrunnen, Interlaken, or Wengen(my favorite) But of course, no Marriotts.

mamcalice Oct 2nd, 2012 09:39 AM

The city that really jumps out when reading your "specs" is London. I know that they have Marriott properties but apparently you did not find them to meet your needs. It is true that there are airport taxes but we really didn't notice them in the overall scheme of things. London is a direct flight from the US east coast and the fares should be less than flying to eastern Europe which will offset the fees and taxes at LHR.

We absolutely love Paris and it, too, meets most of your requirements. I'm not sure about the Marriott points.

bamafam Oct 2nd, 2012 09:39 AM

Ha, Scatcat - we actually had thought about going to the Berner Oberland this past summer before we switched to Munich! I have been to that region and love it, but we decided we wanted to visit somewhere new to all of us.

I hope I don't sound as though we plan vacations entirely around hotel points - it's just that using those for lodging frees up our budget for more adventures, side trips, unique experiences, etc.

scatcat Oct 2nd, 2012 09:56 AM

bamafam-I totally understand your wanting to use your hotel points! In Switzerland it would be especially nice due to the high prices there.

illnative Oct 2nd, 2012 09:59 AM

I'll second Amsterdam. We stayed in a Marriott there using points and it was fabulous - right in the middle of things. You could venture out to Delft, Bruges, or other locales for day trips. Great public transportation as well.

aguamineral Oct 2nd, 2012 10:02 AM

You'd probably get a wider range of suggestions if you posted a list of cities where you know you can stay. I know that I am unwilling to look up that information. I don't feel like posting a list of good suggestions, only to be told there's no Marriott there. Begins to feel like a shooting gallery, with you shooting things down the guesses that pop up.

bamafam Oct 2nd, 2012 10:32 AM

Good point, aguamineral. Likely cities would be;

Lucca (smaller, I know, but a relative surprise on this list)

aguamineral Oct 2nd, 2012 11:07 AM

"Our son is an adventurous traveler and is very interested in history, particularly medieval history."

I would pick Bologna, but I would combine it with a trip to the Dolomiti. I am assuming you are going during your son's summer vacation, but I don't know how much time you have.

But a nice trip to take would be to go to Bologna and stay long enough to include Ferrara, Ravenna and Verona as day trips by train. All of them have extremely impressive sights that are unusually kid friendly and easy to see in day or less. You can bike ride through the highly atmospheric medieval streets of Ferrara with its gargantuan castle and Lucca-like walls, you can see the incredible Roman Arena in Verona (and it's picture perfect castle), and pique your son's curiosity about Byzantium with the colorful mosaics of Ravenna. A day trip to Florence and Venice are also possibilities from Bologna.

Then, to get to the Dolomiti, it is a not-long train ride up to Bolzano. He can see Ootsi and you can all have a spectacular Dolomiti high mountain vacation. People generally rent a car, but there are ways to do it with public transportation that will get you in a good position to take spectacular walks with unforgettable scenery.

I realize you won't be able to find a Marriott in the Dolomiti, but if you dig around, you can find lodgings priced to make it worth it for 3 nights or 4.

aguamineral Oct 2nd, 2012 11:13 AM

PS: If you go to Ravenna, take your son to see the flooded basement under the altar of the church of San Francesco. You pay a euro into a box near the altar, and it lights up a window where you can look down into the crypt and see a pool with a mosaic floor and fish swimming in it. Of all the mosaic sights in Ravenna, the very small but dazzling mausoleum of Galla Placida is the one not to miss, and the one a child might most easily relate to with its lambs and starry decor.

adrienne Oct 2nd, 2012 11:19 AM

<< but I had read warnings to the effect that it is more of a party city for there any truth in that? >>

I've been to Prague twice as a mature adult and never saw the party scene. Any city is a party scene for 20 somethings.

On your first post you mentioned ruling out London partly because of the airport fees. Given that, I would seriously consider expensive cities such as Copenhagen and Stockholm.

Lisbon is very cheap and you have access to the beaches via public transport. IMHO Lisbon is a bit worn looking and not as pretty as other cities (I know I'll get bashed for saying this but I was greatly surprised on my first look at Lisbon).

Of the above list (have not been to all of the cities) I would choose Prague or Paris. Paris has the most incredibly diverse sightseeing, it's pretty, lots of green spaces for your child. You didn't say how long your vacation is but if a week I would choose Paris. I would be bored with Prague in a week.

When you get a short list please give addresses of the Marriott properties. Just because they have a city address doesn't mean they are central to sightseeing. You don't want to spend too much time each day going back and forth to the hotel. Nor should you limit your evening activities (cafes, people watching, etc.) because your hotel is too far from a cafe/main square.

For instance, I looked at Paris Marriotts and noticed that they are all over the place but all say Paris. I would not stay in La Defense (more business than tourist) or in St-Denis or Neuilly. Look at a map of the city and see where the hotels are located in terms of the sightseeing you'll do.

danon Oct 2nd, 2012 11:34 AM


bamafam Oct 2nd, 2012 11:42 AM

Adrienne - Yes, our vacation will be about a week, probably in late May/early June. If we were to choose Prague, maybe we could split the time between it and one other city...two or three days might be enough for Prague.

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