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March 2012 - travel with parents - brainstorm help!

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Aug 6th, 2011, 12:52 AM
  #1
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March 2012 - travel with parents - brainstorm help!

Hi,

I have used these threads a lot when planning my trips however I am really stuck and need some suggestions.

My parents are coming over from NZ for a holiday and we plan to go holiday in Europe. They are 51 and 61 with good health so travel won't be a problem for them. They have never been before so I am so anxious to make the trip amazing for them.

We are flying to Amsterdam to start on 14 March 2012 on an early flight. They both want to see Paris so I was thinking of catching a train there and doing the sights there after. I have been to both of these places before so there won't be much orientation time required and I think we can comfortably do them and be ready to move on 18 March 2012. I would have to be back in London for work on 26 March, so that gives 8 days free including travel.

We aren't really into museums or art so we basically want to enjoy city's, see landmarks, cute quaint towns - that kind of thing. My Dad loves travelling by train as opposed to plane - but that doesn't mean we can't fly where we need to (save time, more economical etc). He is also interested in any war things - but again not imperitive.

I will consider anywhere in Europe (including Eastern Europe) after Paris and would love some suggestions. I am a bit concerned about the time of year and the weather so I want to keep this in mind. I feel like I have researched so much but can't come to a decision. I had thought of Annecy, Jungfrau, Cinque Terre, Venice, Milan etc etc but weather and transport connections keep stumping me.

Thanks in advance!

Caro
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Aug 6th, 2011, 02:43 AM
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As someone who is five years older than your older parent, I find this post somewhat amusing.

Unless you are planning this trip as some kind of surprise gift, why don't you ask your parents what THEY want to do and get them involved in the planning? Some of us old geezers actually know how to use the internet, and most of us have a pretty good idea of what our travel priorities are.

My wife and I are soon to head out on our third trip to Europe this year. We are not in great health but we have a good idea of what we can manage and have a terrific time.

You are a good daughter, but get mom and dad involved and your own stress level will fall. One way to do this is to ask them to visualize: what floats through their mind when they think of a trip to Europe? Ask them to write those things down, then connect the dots.
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Aug 6th, 2011, 04:59 AM
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For a very different third stop, if you are considering train travel, how about the high speed train to Barcelona from Paris for the final week. It's my new favorite city in Europe, with many sites, great culture and food, and the sea a ten minute walk from the city center. Also could take some day trips to the Costa Brava for the most beautiful small towns around.
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Aug 6th, 2011, 07:36 AM
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Ackislander - thanks for your 'helpful' reply. As it is my parents first trip to anywhere other than Australia/Cook Islands, they are happy to just be coming to this side of the world. There is nowhere that they are opposed to going and have specified Paris as their only 'must'.

stephh - thanks for the suggestion. I will look into this.
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Aug 6th, 2011, 11:20 AM
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It might be warmer in Italy. Rome (good connections via air) is a terrific sight-seeing city -- more history (both church and state) than you can imagine. On a short visit, you could skip the museums -- the whole (old) city is a museum. At night you can enjoy colorful street performers at several piazzas. You could also arrange a tour of some hill towns in the vicinity which would satisfy for "quaint towns." When you decide where to go, get a good guide book (Frommer, Fodor, Rick Steves) and start planning.
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Aug 6th, 2011, 11:33 AM
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Another thought -- closer but not as warm as Italy -- London. Take the Chunnel from Paris to London. See the sights by sightseeing bus, tube, walking. For dad's interest in war, the Imperial War Museum and Churchill's War Rooms can't be beat. If you and mom aren't interested, you could shop while dad is playing war games. One evening, see a play. London Walks, www.walks.com, has one-day tours to several places that might be of interest -- Cotswolds and Oxford, Salisbury and Stonehenge, Bath, etc. -- that would give a glimpse of the countryside. They also have walks within the city, rain or shine, that last a couple of hours. We have taken many and all are interesting and entertaining. IMO, London would be a good choice since you won't have to cope with a foreign language and you won't spend a huge amount of time traveling.
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Aug 6th, 2011, 12:52 PM
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Sorry -- I overlooked the fact that you live in London. You know London better than I do!
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Aug 6th, 2011, 01:14 PM
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hi caroline,

I have to say that I feel that you are over-estimating your parents' ability to assimilate new experiences in a relatively short time,

If I have understood you, they fly into amsterdam on 14th March, and you're having them leave Paris by the 18th! also, you are living in London but don't seem to have included any time for them with you in the place where you are living and working - which I suspect will interest them as much if not more than anywhere else.

IMHO you need to slow down, and limit yourself, and them, to 3 places.

i would suggest the following:

14-18 March - Amsterdam [4 nights]

18 march - train to Paris. stay until 23 March. [5 nights] do day trip to normandy beaches

23 March - eurostar to London. spend 3 days with them - cabinet rooms, possible day -trip to Chartwell.
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Aug 6th, 2011, 01:26 PM
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As Paris is the only destination they specifically want to see, I'd spend more time there than what your original timeframe would suggest, and I agree with all of annhig's suggestions. The D-Day sights interested us very much (we're 60ish), but you could substitute another area/town/sight outside of Paris (Giverny, Chartres, etc.) if that would be more to their liking.
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Aug 6th, 2011, 01:28 PM
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I agree with annhig. 4 days for Amsterdam and Paris seems like quite a rushed visit. Will they have had a chance to get over jet lag in London before moving on to Amsterdam?
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Aug 6th, 2011, 01:31 PM
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Or if they are going back to London with you Make it 3 nights in Amsterdam. three in Paris and three in Rome. Fly from Paris to Rome to London with them.

Remember they will have jet-lag, so give them some recovery time before moving on to Paris. And Holland is so full of english-speakers, that should help them adjust, too.
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Aug 6th, 2011, 01:38 PM
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In 8 days might just see a couple of nice cities

and the environs

www.eurocheapo.com

www.virtualtourist.com

www.parisvoice.com.

For me a few days in Amsterdam Thalys Train

to Paris is awesome seat61.com for info

betterbiding.com for great deals on 4 stars

Just snagged the Novotel Les Halles on Hotwire.com

it is their secret Louvre/Vendome hotel for 115 euro/nt

Awesome values there.... might have a look there

Chateau D'Eslimont is an Chateau near

www.chartrestourisme.com and Versailles have stayed there

from 130 euro on www.booking.com in the past

If you wanted one extra place Bruges...

Pare back relax enjoy try not to cram Barcelona

definintely too far for me in the short time you have.

Have fun!
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Aug 6th, 2011, 01:42 PM
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Château d'Esclimont is a 4-star hotel
situated less than an hour from Paris.
www.booking.com/hotel/fr/esclimont.en.html

A truly memorable stay for me..

President of France chopperd into his villa there

and landed in front of the Chateau

had a view from my room... Beautiful and very French.
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Aug 7th, 2011, 07:35 AM
  #14
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Hi CJ,

>We are flying to Amsterdam to start on 14 March 2012 on an early flight...... I would have to be back in London for work on 26 March,<

Sounds like a nice 4 days in Amsterdam, 2 nights in Bruges and a week in Paris.

Enjoy your visit.

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Aug 7th, 2011, 10:09 AM
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If London is totally out for them for some reason, I also think several days in Amsterdam (I can't even imagine the jet lag for that long a trip) and more time in Paris are mandatory. March is not a particularly wonderful time in terms of weather, but at least there shouldn't be the fear of snow and ice storms ruining travel plans.

I'd do Amsterdam, some place in Belgium, Paris and London myself. You can go to the WWII Normany sites as a Paris offshoot, probably an overnight. If you had to add more places, I probably would head over to Spain. Barcelona is one idea, depending on how you are getting around, or Madrid or Seville, both of which are nice enough in March as I have been there then. It's hard to fit all that in given your time frame, although flying from Paris to Madrid or Barcelona would work, and then flying home from Madrid or something like that.

I'm kind of surprised, also, you aren't even mentioning the UK as a possibility. Why go all the way to Europe to go to Annecy if you've never been there before.
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Aug 7th, 2011, 10:24 AM
  #16
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I appreciate everyones comments. They are all very useful.
I should probably just mention that they are arriving in London on the 9th (Friday - we leave London the following Wednesday). From there we are spending the weekend in London and then they are tagging along on my 2 day work trip to Stratford upon Avon so they will have plenty of time to get over their jet lag and see London itself.
We are returning to London on 25 March (Sunday) and then they fly out the following Wednesday home so more time for London at the back end of their time here too.
I think I will extend the timeline a bit for Amsterdam and Paris as suggested. I hadn't thought of Bruge but that sounds like it could be nice to include between Amsterdam and Paris.
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Aug 8th, 2011, 01:38 PM
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aha - so London is sorted.

in which case you have 14th -25th March for your trip.

I would suggest 3 nights in Amsterdam, 2 nights in Bruges, and the rest [i make it 6] in Paris. that gives you 5 clear days, with at least one available for a day trip to the Normandy beaches [though an overnight would be better].
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Aug 8th, 2011, 01:55 PM
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I'm with annhig for the most part. Hub and I made Paris our base on one trip and actually took a guided day tour to Bruge. Being lazy about looking up the time frames but could Bruge be a day trip from Amsterdam? Add another day to A and to Paris.

Day trip to Loire Valley chateaux from Paris or to Normandy Beaches if WWII is of interest. Giverny? Too bad about not being museum folks: the Jacquemart-Andre home in Paris is so cool. How do you all feel about Hemmingway? Montparnasse area has many places of interest. Grande Marché is a neat old place.

And, Ackislander's suggestion that you ask them is a super one unless they want you to do all the heavy travel lifting!
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Aug 8th, 2011, 02:25 PM
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Spend a night in Bruges if you go, It is lovely walking round there at night, and is a good stop on the way to Paris.
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