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Italy/France/Greece help w/ summer itinerary


Jan 12th, 2018, 10:49 PM
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Italy/France/Greece help w/ summer itinerary

We are a retired couple who are coming to Europe for the first time together (been to UK together once). I backpacked in Greece 40 years ago and hiked 7 days the Camino Ingles 2 years ago. But we are looking at more traditional travel and preparing to act our age most of the time. We are taking a 7 day cruise from Venice to Rome in late July/early August and we are then leaving Rome immediately for a nonstop flight to begin a 7 day river cruise from Avignon/Arles to St. Jean de Losne. One is a small ship and the other is large. We hope to find we like one or both types for future travel, and meanwhile spend 2 weeks moving around without packing and unpacking but once in 14 days.

We naturally do want to add on some pre- and post cruise time at Venice, Rome and in France. I would appreciate advise on any and all of this itinerary—too much/just enough/not IN SUMMER heat/Not worth the detour or leave out X but DON’T MISS Y. I’m usually inclined to look at the map and try to plan around the start and the end of the trip—hence Venice and Rome and rural France. This trip I needed to put the Rome portion in early since we won’t be able to do it at the end of Cruise 1, and that is a definite must on our list. Right now, I have put only 2 days in for Venice because I sense that I will want to return to the area and spend time there so I decided to make it shorter and then make notes for how long I want to stay next time and listen to people on the boat who may have advice on what they liked/didn’t like in the area. That’s Plan A, but I could be persuaded to skip the 3 days in the Riviera if more experienced travelers suggest that it would be better to just divvy the days between Rome and Venice as there are plenty to do and the hiking in the summer temperatures will be hard. As noted, the fewer times I have to pack/unpack the better. But I will if it's worth it and I'm staying 3 days.

7/18 Depart LAX on nonstop redeye
7/19 Arrive in Rome late afternoon and check in and get adjust to time change
7/20 Day 1 in Rome
7/21 Day 2 in Rome
7/22 Day 3 in Rome
7/23 Day 4 in Rome
so much to do--which are must sees/which are save for second trip?
7/24 early train to Rapallo or Camogli (have refundable reservations for 3 nights at each town) plan to trek as much

7/25 first full day

7/26 second full day

7/27 early morning train to Venice 9:22-2:20 pm and late afternoon/evening in Venice

7/28 full day in Venice with departure at 4:30 (so boarding earlier)7/29 Dubrovik, Croatia docked
7/30 Corfu, Greece docked 9-4
7/31 Santorini docked 2-9 pm
8/1 Mykonos docked 7am to 5
8/2 day at sea
8/3 Naples docked 7 am to 6 (Pompeii/Vesuvius or other land tour?)
8/4 arrive in Rome at 6:30 am, fly to Avignon, and board Cruise 2

8/5 Arles docked until 2 pm

8/6 through 8/11 is basically cruising the river and stopping at various rural stops sometimes 3 stops of 1 to 2 hours each, sometimes ˝ day—hikes and bike rides. Other than recommendations for Arles, we will hang loose and go with how we feel each day on any other land excursions. So I haven’t listed the times for stops along the river but the ones listed are La Voulte, Tournon, Lyon, Trevoux, Macon, Tournus, Chalon-sur Saone.

Also, we especially could use advise on what to consider on the limited shore excursions in Greece, Croatia and Naples. We are pretty healthy, but we can do many things in Southern CA so I don’t want to spend 4 hours doing a great hike, but we are missing a priceless unique chance to see (architecture, museum, whatever).
The big decision is how to wrap up the trip and head home. Part of me feels that taking the train into Paris and trying to do a first time introduction to Paris in August is totally undoing the relaxation and composure we will have enjoyed on the cruises and the quieter part of France. Yet clearly that is the best place for us to get a nonstop back to LA. We could do 1-5 nights before our return either in the Burgundy region or in Paris.
We are considering disembarking August 11 and staying 3-5 nights in the area and exploring Bibracte and Morvan and then taking the train to Paris for either a redeye the same day or only 1 or 2 nights before we fly out and saving Paris (like Venice) for a return in-depth trip.
IF this is feasible and recommended, what should we see and explore and where would be a good place to stay?
We are NOT shoppers or bar hoppers, we are vegans and the second cruise is a vegan river cruise through France (yeah). We have hiked, trekked and traveled with Ice axe and crampons, but we are slowing down and altitude is affecting us more. We want to do as much ambulatory and out of the way stuff now and save the more handicap accessible urban travel for a time when we cannot wander off like this.

Also, suggestions of where to stay in Venice, Rome and Paris if we do need to stay over are welcomed. We are definitely train travelers, not long distance drivers out of our own country so we will rely on walking and public transportation, except we may consider renting a car for the add-on within the Burgundy and surrounding region. We enjoy trains so no problem.

P.S. Sorry this is all over the map. That is why I need to post the ideas and get feedback that gets some ideas not worthy of consideration out of my mind. Love planning vacations, but I am all over the map at the beginning. Thank heaven for Fodors Forums.
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Jan 13th, 2018, 05:46 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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In July/August the less time you spend in Venice the better. Just long enough to fall in love and come back when it's cooler and the crowds are less intense.

There is quite a lot to see in Naples itself, and it will be a lot cooler in the museum than at Pompeii where there is no shade, You could visit Ostia Antica while you are in Rome instead.

Does the cruise end in Chalon-sur Saone? If so, I would head for Beaune/Dijon, followed by Strasbourg and Nancy and then Paris.I always plan to spend at least the last night in the city where I'm catching a long distance flight. For train travel in Europe see https://www.seat61.com/

Last edited by thursdaysd; Jan 13th, 2018 at 05:46 AM. Reason: Typo
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Jan 13th, 2018, 09:42 PM
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Thank you Thursdaysd. That's reassuring about my timing in Venice this time around. Definitely will not return in the heat of summer next time. We arrive at Chalon-sur Saone at 9:30 at night and overnight and spend a morning there. We depart at 13:00 on our last day and disembark at St. Jean de Losne on the next/final morning. Hence, our thoughts about Bibracte and Morvan Regional Park but I found little information on either in the Forums. We would like some outdoor activity and history interspersed with museums and architecture.

We definitely appreciate the suggestion to move east to the Alsace region, and since we have not done any booking, we are considering returning via Zurich as we would be closer. We are also considering a few days hiking in the Jura Mountains. It’s a level of altitude we can still handle easily and it appears we could take the train from Strasbourg to Jura and Jura to Zurich. So maybe 3 days in Strausbourg/2 in Jura and 1 in Zurich.
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