Italy Europe 5 -6 Weeks Mom and dd

Mar 30th, 2008, 05:49 PM
  #1  
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Italy Europe 5 -6 Weeks Mom and dd

Okay folks - as some know - I am homebound with my 11 year old daughter who had surgery. She is doing well - I am pretty tired but enjoying my one on one with her. Hats off to those that are full time caregivers. Not an easy road.But it is giving me lots of time to read and plan...

Here is my question - I am planning on taking her to Italy next spring for a 3 week language immersion program - sometime in April - May. The area is a place I have never explored or read a lot about - http://www.porta-doriente.com
In Otranto.

Right now I am thinking of trying to fly into Rome - Otranto is about 5 hours away by train. I have planned on 3 weeks of the program. We will have an apartment for that time.

After the time in the program I would like to travel through out Italy with her practicing our Italian.

Due to cost factors I am acclimating myself to the idea of gulp HOSTELS -- okay... I admit freely I am a touch of a snob... Courtyard Marriotts are camping to me! But I am intrigued by the cost of family rooms (so cheap!) - i am also willing to do cheap/clean/safe hotels. You have to know this is a HUGE step for me -- dh is LOL at the thought of me doing this (hostels).

Anyone stay in hostels as a family? I have ordered a book on them -- so we shall see...

Second - where would you go? We have been to Rome and Florence - I will not be renting a car - relying on train travel. I have 2-3 weeks after the class.

I am dying to go to Germany - so was thinking of spending about 10 days going up Italy from the south - we have not been to Venice. Then I was thinking of going through Switzerland to Germany and flying home from Amsterdam?

I am looking to do history with dd in Germany - Amsterdam. Again only train travel - and would have about 2-3 nights in the cities.

I am looking to use Delta or Airfrance miles for our airfare.

What would you do?


dawnnoelm is offline  
Mar 31st, 2008, 12:30 AM
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My family hasn't stayed in hostels but we have stayed in apartments which are cheaper than hotels and have friends who have stayed in convents. I guess there is a curfew but to save dollars I can be in early. From our experience when researching flights on Airfrance don't go to their USA website. Pick Ireland as your country so the website is in english but the price quoted is in Euro. There are many more european flights and destations listed than on the USA site. Then call the toll free USA number to book the flight so its in US Dollars and not euros. Good Luck planning your trip. PS My kids love Germany.
JeanMS is offline  
Mar 31st, 2008, 08:18 AM
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Thanks Jean on the tip for Ireland/Airfrance. I have not found their US website to be the best.

We do stay in apartments usually with the family but this time it will just be dd and I and I am not planning on staying in most areas (other then where we are doing the language school) for more then 2-3 nights so it makes apartments tough.

I might fly into Munich and out of Venice or Zurich. Really it depends on the airfare. If I do Germany BEFORE the school (which I am thinking might be a good idea) then we could do the overnight train to Rome - stay in rome for a few nights and then head to the school for the 3 weeks - then do a week or so after the school and head up to Venice.
dawnnoelm is offline  
Mar 31st, 2008, 08:27 AM
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Since you and your daughter want to use your newly-learned Italian, perhaps you should join Servas. You would stay in the homes of real people (even cheaper than hostels) but also interact and converse with them, which is the point of the organization--promoting world peace through sharing cultures.

http://www.usservas.org/
ellenem is offline  
Mar 31st, 2008, 08:33 AM
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Wow! I love this board!! Thank you SO much - I will definately check that out. Anyone have any experience with this??
dawnnoelm is offline  
Mar 31st, 2008, 08:40 AM
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I traveled this way many years ago (1979), staying with two different hosts in Paris.

One host had a mattress on the living room for us. We stayed a few days. She took us around town on her day off and included us in two dinner parties she'd planned.

The other host family had a separate bedroom for us, but were less inclined to interact with us.

My traveling companion continued on through Europe, staying with families in Switzerland and Italy. In most cases, he had his own room and made good friends that he returned to visit.

You must be interviewed and approved by Servas. Once approved, they provide information about hosts (accomodations, number of visitors, languages spoken . . .) and you contact them directly.
ellenem is offline  
Mar 31st, 2008, 08:44 AM
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I looked through the application/website quickly and there is an interview person in our area. I will definately check it out Ellen - thank you for the information!
dawnnoelm is offline  
Mar 31st, 2008, 08:51 AM
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Check out hostel reviews at www.hostelz.com .

My daughter and I have stayed at everywhere from 5* hotels down to hostels and have managed to survive.

It's quite possible you can find some B&B or hotel or convent comparable pricewise to a hostel if there are two of you.
WillTravel is offline  
Mar 31st, 2008, 08:55 AM
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WillT - glad to know you lived ;-).

I was thinking if a great hostel (is there such a thing?) is not available I can look for less expensive lodging and perhaps splurge one or two nights on the trip.

I have photos of the apartment by the language school and it seems fine. Great view.

I have over a year to plan - and will wait till I can try to use FF miles...
dawnnoelm is offline  
Mar 31st, 2008, 09:00 AM
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I think the best type of hostel is the ones that are student accommodation let out for the summer. In Oslo, I stayed in what was essentially a studio flat, with kitchen facilities and private bathroom. In Edinburgh and London, I've stayed in student dorms where the rooms were private, but the bathroom and kitchen were shared with four rooms.

There are great hostels - some hostels are former castles or other sorts of historic buildings, some have great common areas, most have at least a few private rooms with private bathrooms, many have kitchen facilities, etc. So with all that time to research, I'm sure you'll find something suitable.
WillTravel is offline  
Mar 31st, 2008, 09:03 AM
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In Rick Steves books he mentions he prefers the hostels out of the south. I have no idea what he means unless he means out of Italy! LOL

I will keep digging and researching and am sure it will keep me busy. Like many here - not happy unless I am planning the next trip .
dawnnoelm is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 09:21 AM
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still looking for feedback on where you would go and routing... :-?
dawnnoelm is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 10:48 AM
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When we travel Europe as a family, we use a combination of hostels, pensions and budget hotels depending on where we are going and what is available. Hostels in the North have better bedding, better water pressure, are cleaner and often quieter because they enforce the rules more strictly.

Having said that as a general statement, each hostel has it's own personality. Some are party havens, others are clean and quiet. Many websites have discussion threads about individual hostels. Since I want to sleep, I like clean and quiet hostels. I tend to avoid the ones where the discussion includes words like insane, awesome and dude.

Since many hostels now offer family rooms, it's a good alternative to more expensive hotels. Sleeping in a bunk bed in a dorm room with other travelers (seperated by sexes) will probably put you off.

Hostels in A-dam aren't that great. I've stayed at Vondelpark hostel. It was okay, but not as clean or quiet as elsewhere in the North. It's supposed to be no drugs, but I found a bag of pot on the stairway and you have to walk through a cloud to get in the front door.

In Salzburg, I really like Institute San Sebastian. It's a girl's college that lets out dorm rooms. They have many small two or three bed rooms that would work for you and are very clean, quiet and affordable. I've stayed in a dorm as a single and in a couple of rooms as a family.

Pensions are another good option. You will stay at a private residence in a guest bedroom. They are on par with budget hotels but are homier.
bdjtbenson is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 11:06 AM
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bdjtbenson thanks for the feedback. I have been reading more and more about hostels and admit I am slightly freaked out. No, I will not sleep in a dorm style room with strangers. Call me what you want but it is not happening. The family room might not actually be a "savings" to me - if I rented it and paid by the bed it would cost me what a budget hotel might.

The most important thing to me is honestly feeling safe - being alone traveling with my daughter who will be 12 at the time has me slightly freaked out and in and of itself is outside of my comfort zone but I want to do it.

I do not have the budget to live it up so to speak - as I want to be able to continue to travel with her over seas as she ages - not that it will be a one time event.

Travel like for most on this board is important to me - I have been reading Rick Steve's books as they seem to be focused on budget travel and have good ideas.

It seems Venice will be tough to get less expensive accomadations.
dawnnoelm is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 11:17 AM
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There are convents in Venice and I think these offer the best value, likely. Hostels in Venice are not so great - this is well-known to backpackers. Here's an example of a budget hotel, though, and there are others:
http://www.hotelsansamuele.com/


WillTravel is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 11:55 AM
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As always - thanks WT - you are a plathora of advice/information. I was thinking due to budget reasons to just stay a night or two in Venice ... but it is all such a loose plan right now. I need to wait and see where I can get the best airfare in and out of. I need to be in Lecci <sp> for about 3 weeks give or take a day for the language school... other then that...we have open time...
dawnnoelm is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 11:56 AM
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that was plethora of course... duh.
dawnnoelm is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 02:12 PM
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I'm glad your daughter is doing better and best of luck for a fast and easy recovery.

We stayed at Hotel Astoria in Venice - it's right in the centre of town and was really affordable and definitely safe! We find lots of cheap hotels on www.hostelworld.com - I draw the line at dorms as well, but this site lists lots of 1-2 star hotels and cheap B&B's as well. If you read the reviews, you'll be able to tell the sort of place it is.

What an amazing trip! I'm just now taking my first trip with my mother and I'm really excited about it. Your daughter will remember this forever.

pittpurple is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 09:32 PM
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pittpurple - thanks for the well wishes for my daughter. It is one week tomorrow - she is still on a lot of pain and on medication.

I am very excited about the trip -- as I said a little scared - traveling with my dd to another county alone freaks me out a little as well as being gone that long. But it is something that I am hoping will be a life long experience!

I found an Italian tutor to come to the house starting next week - we will do that a few times a month and then in September start a 15 week Italian class -

Thanks for the link - and enjoy YOUR trip with our Mom. I love traveling with my Mom.
dawnnoelm is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 04:04 AM
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ira
 
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Hi D,

>..fly into Rome - Otranto is about 5 hours away by train.

Are you sure?
www.trenitalia.com/en/index.html says it is 9 hr or more.

>I have 2-3 weeks after the class.
......thinking of spending about 10 days going up Italy from the south - we have not been to Venice. Then I was thinking of going through Switzerland to Germany and flying home from Amsterdam?

1 day to get to Rome - 4 nights
train to Florence - 3 nights
train to Venice - 3 nights
1 day to train to Munich - 4 nights
daytrips to Fuessen and Salzburg

If you want to visit Switzerland, you need 3 weeks.

Why not fly home from Munich, Stuttgart or Frankfurt?

Enjoy your adventure.

ira is online now  

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