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Italy, France, and, Amsterdam with kids,young teens

Italy, France, and, Amsterdam with kids,young teens

Old Jul 26th, 2009, 04:53 AM
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Italy, France, and, Amsterdam with kids,young teens

Hi, I'm new to this forum and thought I could get great information here. Have already read some searches but thought I could get more specific information on a post. I am currently planning a trip for the five of us. The kids will be 9,13,15 when we arrive in Rome 5/24/10. The flights have already been booked with the return out of Amsterdam on 6/8. The other relatively fixed item is a timeshare reservation in the Disney Paris area 5/29-6/5. I would prefer staying in the city but can't give up the "free" 2-bedroom villa.

My thoughts were to spend 2-3 days each in Rome and Florence. I also wanted to visit the Cinque Terra. I realize this may be too much. Then take the train or fly to the Paris accommodations....when we leave Paris, then Amsterdam. I don't mind missing a few days of the timeshare on either end of the trip.

My husband and I feel relatively comfortable in Europe but it will be the kids first time. My purpose in taking them is to give them that sense of wonder and excitement about visiting a foreign country and also that thirst for wanting to do it again. That being said how do we make this trip the most interesting and stimulating and what historical things can we throw in there too. We need itinerary help, day trip suggestions, sites to see, etc. We are planning to use public transportation...could rent a car for a few days if needed. Thanks for all your help in advance.
P.S. We love to ride bicycles
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 05:16 AM
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When in Florence, plan a trip to Pisa to climb the Leaning Tower. It's about an hour away by train. You need reservations, so when the time comes, go to opapisa.it
The kids will love it !!
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 05:51 AM
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I bet they would love it !! I didn't know you have to make a reservation. Thanks !
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 06:07 AM
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Just a couple of thoughts:

1) You probably will all be tired and jet-lagged on arrival day, so don't count it as a sightseeing day.

2) I'd spend at least 3 days in Rome.

3) Instead of Florence, how about going to Venice instead? I think your kids will find it more fascinating than Florence.

4) If you go to Venice, you can look into taking the night train to Paris. However, with 5 people, I'm not sure how the sleeping cars are - I think they have 4 and 6 berths but I'm not sure.

5) Do you plan to visit Disneyland while you are in Paris? If yes, have you considered staying there for 2 nights and stay IN Paris for the other 2-3 nights? It takes about 40 minutes to travel between Paris and Disneyland Paris (not including travel time from your timeshare to the RER station); and have you figured out the cost of RER train for 5 of you? While free lodging is great, I don't know if it's worth spending close to 2 hours a day commuting, esp once you add up the train costs.
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 06:15 AM
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Any lodging suggestions in Paris for 5 ?
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 06:27 AM
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Hi JH,

As much as I like Florence, I think that the kids would enjoy Venice a lot more.

You are lucky to have a two bedroom apt outside Paris.

www.ratp.fr will give you directions for public transportation.

Enjoy your visit.

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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 06:36 AM
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And, if you go to Venice (which my teenage kids loved - it is not like anywhere else), you may do better with a flight between Venice and Paris vs. the train. That is a long schlepp with 5 people and the flight will likely be cheaper as well.
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 06:42 AM
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Results with our kids: Rome, Florence and Venice

They always love Rome. So much to do, and so much history that they already know about, understand and are very interested in.

Girls like Venice. After the Doge's Palace, prison, glass blowing demonstration and clock tower, the boys have lost interest. Unlike the girls, the boys can't take much mask and glass shopping.

Florence to them, isn't much at all after seeing David and climbing the Duomo. Again, the boys don't care much for shopping. Climbing the Leaning Tower was a trip highlight for all.

Kids love train travel. We always plan at least one night train.
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 06:50 AM
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Thanks so much for these responses...it's really got me thinking. All three kids are girls and as different as night and day. Is Versailles a do-able day trip from Disneyland Paris?

Would you take tours in Rome ? I've always found it to be a bit intimidating.
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 08:44 AM
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jhpetri wrote<i>My purpose in taking them is to give them that sense of wonder and excitement about visiting a foreign country and also that thirst for wanting to do it again. That being said how do we make this trip the most interesting and stimulating and what historical things can we throw in there too.</i>
How does this match with staying at Dizzyland Paris? There are Dizzylands in the USA which will not waste your France time.

In Holland it may be best to stay outside Amsterdam. I suggest Haarlem. Rent bicycles there to pedal around town and to the beach at Zandvoort. In Amsterdam you probably already know the famous sites. Haarlem has the Frans Hals Museum and the Tylers Museum which my daughter, then about 11, loved. For history the Cruquius Museum in Haarlem is unique and the Grote Kerk is impressive. The city is a charm compared to the hustle of Amsterdam.

For fun, if your kids like water, the most fantastic water park is Duinrel near Wasseraan, near The Hague. I loved the water slides. There are plenty of other rides there also, some of which messed up my stomach just by looking at them in motion. My daughter liked those the most.

There is so much already written on Fodor's about Amsterdam and Holland which I'm sure you have read. I chime in on many of those treads because I've lived there. Click my name to learn more.

I lived in Paris also but my girl was just a todler so I can't recommend kid activities. But I would recommend a repose in the Luxembourg Garden when you want to take a break.
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 09:12 AM
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I recommend the Hotel Residence le Coin in Amsterdam for your family of five. We had two connecting rooms for our family of four, and it was perfect. Each room is quite large and has a little kitchenette and a new-ish bathroom. TVs in each room, too, so the teens can watch their stuff and you can close the door! LOL

It's located centrally, and next to a couple of charming cafes. And a free washer/dryer in the basement, which will probably be a big help at the end of your trip. Here are my trip notes on Amsterdam, including restaurants, a day-trip, and shops for teens-- sorry if it's TMI:

"Final stop: Amsterdam. Five nights’ stay, first visit for all four of us.

LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Amsterdam! You always hear of the Red Light district and the coffee shops and the laissez-faire attitude, but you don’t hear how open and friendly the people are, how lovely the canals and side streets, how wonderfully trendy the restaurants and cafes, how people are out strolling at all hours of the night and you feel safe everywhere. I think I’d expected it to be quaint and charming (which it is), but in a dark wood-paneled cliché way, not in the young and contemporary way it is.

The standard reply we were given in Amsterdam, when we asked for anything, was always “Of course!” How refreshing.

We stayed in a fabulous location, at The Hotel Residence le Coin, which was directly across a small street from the Hotel de l’Europe, down the street from the Hotel Doelan, on Nieuwe Doelenstraat (sp?). A great neighborhood in the heart of old Amsterdam.

The hotel has a lift and A/C, also free use of the hotel’s washing machine and clothes dryer in the basement (which was welcome as we’d been traveling over a week when we arrived there). Each room has a little kitchenette, a nice-sized bath, large rooms with wooden floors and a sitting area. It’s fairly new, so everything sparkles. Very friendly front desk, too.

Two cafes on the same block as the hotel were wonderful: Café Katoen for a university atmosphere, and Café le Jarden, for great table seating on the canal.

Amazing dinners at two restaurants in particular:
“Stout!”, at Haarlemmerstraat 73 (www.restaurantstout.nl). Fabulous ‘foamy asparagus’ soup with shrimp, chateaubriande, fresh fish, dessert course, wine list. Very trendy lighting. Great service. We’d gone to the neighborhood in search of a restaurant called “Lof” which we’d seen written up. We didn’t like its atmosphere, but were lucky that Stout! was just across the street.

Also at “Restaurant Dining Eleven” we had a great dinner. It’s at Reestraat 11. Also trendy and contempory, well-presented and beautifully-served meal.

Another nice dinner at “frenzi”, at Swanenburgwal 232. Very simple and contemporary. We arrived shortly after 10:00p.m., when most restaurants close in Amsterdam, and persuaded the owner to sell us any left-overs they had in the kitchen! They put together a nice Caesar salad with cooked-in-the-shell shrimp and mango. Very nice.

Also a good brunch at a place across the street from frenzi—called “Puccini”. Creative salads and sandwiches. Very nice also.

We took a canal cruise one evening. Toured the Anne Frank Huis and the Van Gogh Museum. Visited the Nieuwe Kerk (sp?) Our teens went to a concert at the Paradiso and loved it.

One afternoon we did the 2:30 “Best of Holland” excursion to Volendam and Marken, with a stop to see wooden clogs made, Gouda cheese created, and to visit windmills. It was by bus, with a boat from Volendam to Marken. A lot of fun. Even our two teens liked it.

Our teens also liked shopping at one street in particular, between our hotel and the museum district. Also a Zara shop there, and many others like it. They thought the selection and prices were better in Amsterdam than what they’d seen in London and Paris even.

A detail about Amsterdam if you go there-- carry enough Euros in cash, because many places won't accept a credit card for a 'small' purchase (i.e. under 25 EU).

The only unpleasantness we encountered in Amsterdam related to cab rides and inconsistent pricing. Especially when our two teens were grossly overcharged cabbing to the hotel from the concert. They were well aware of the route, having walked it already twice, but we'd wanted them to cab home late at night. They knew the cabbie took a very round-about way back in order to over-charge. Also, when we arrived at the taxi sand at Central Station, I was literally swarmed by rather aggressive cabbies and felt uncomfortably jostled by them all."
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 09:50 AM
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We have travelled a lot with our three kids, 10, 14 and 16. We leave for Rome, Venice etc this week. We ask them to figure out in advance what they want to see. But we still try and keep the pace pretty slow. Some days we do just about nothing. Good luck to you.
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 09:58 AM
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Oops, that's Duinrell near Wassenaar. http://www.duinrell.com/
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 10:37 AM
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Thanks for all the interesting tips on Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Will check out the hotel suggestions too.

As far as Disneyland Paris my kids do want to go for a day. Of course my reason for wanting to overnight in the timeshare was to save a little money. With five people, two hotel rooms a night gets pretty steep. As I mentioned earlier, I don't plan to spend the entire week there.

Looked up Duinrell sounds great. Thanks everybody
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 11:43 AM
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BTW, agree with TravMimi. With teens Rome, Venice, Florence in that order. And, while my boys did like Venice, we did not need too much time there. A few days is plenty - give longer to Rome and Paris.

In Venice, my younger son (then 13ish) liked it better than older one who was more like 16. Also depends on interests.We spent time in the Jewish ghetto, went up the Campanile (Bell Tower),did the Secret Itineraris Tour at the Doge's, and took a boat over to San Georgio Maggiore. It was also World Cup time so we watched soccer (football/calcio) matches in the evenings on the big screens set up all around. Could go to Murano, but we did not. I spent one afternoon shopping while the boys rested and hung out - I find my teens need some down time when traveling and sightseeing a lot. Leave time for ice cream, nap, a swim or whatever.
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 11:43 AM
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Hi, jh,

worknig on what you have posted, so far I ahve this as your "fixed points"

24/5/10. Arrive Rome [get used to using European dates!]

29/5-5/6 Disneyland flat

8/6/10 Leave from Amsterdam.

if your kids are anything like mine, they like staying in one place and getting to feel at home there. so IMHO you are visiting enough places already. you have 5 nights in Rome, [barely enough] 8 in Paris [pretty good] and potentially 3 in Amsterdam. [i might leave Paris a day early to give myself 4 nights in A'dam but that's up to you].

In Rome, your kids will love the Colloseum, the food,
the "buzz". In Paris,as well as Disney, you have the eifel Tower, Notre Dame, Versailles [easy from central Paris on the RER, takes about 30 mins] and if they want a different theme park, try Parc Asterix just down the road from disney.

in Amsterdam, as well as the great ideas above, my kids really enjoyed the science museum near the harbour and the nearby floating chinese restaurant.

regards, ann
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 11:49 AM
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I would stay in Rome rather than trying to add either Florence or venice if you only have the 5 nights before the Paris Disney rental starts. You might be able to find an apartment and would have more space for less money that way. Rome is a wonderful city but can be very frustrating if you try to see it in only a few days and don't have time to wander, sit and people watch, eat gelato, etc.
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Old Jul 27th, 2009, 05:46 AM
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I didn't really look at dates that carefully when suggesting Venice over Florence. If you had more like 7 nights before Paris, 2 locations would make more sense - five nights may make it a bit too much. While 5 nights in Rome would be awesome, I'd consider 2 locations if you could even do 4 Rome/3 Venice before Paris. Otherwise, I agree with the above.
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Old Aug 1st, 2009, 04:08 AM
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Thanks all
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Old Aug 1st, 2009, 05:21 AM
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my sister and i had fun taking the overnight train from Paris to Venice. I thinks kids would find it to be a fun adventure.
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