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My trip is in your hands! :) Can this itinerary be done in 12 days? If so, how?

My trip is in your hands! :) Can this itinerary be done in 12 days? If so, how?

Old Feb 15th, 2006, 11:38 AM
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My trip is in your hands! :) Can this itinerary be done in 12 days? If so, how?

I posted a few days ago and got some really good suggestions. As a result, we may be changing our itinerary and I wanted to know if it could be done and what method of travel (probably by train but which train and when).

We now plan to fly into London, spend a couple of days, then to Paris for 2-3 days. I would love to see the Swiss Alps so perhaps we could do a train through Switzerland (from Paris) and on to Venice then to Rome for 2-3 days. I know this is a lot but I will be with one elderly lady (my mom) and two others so it's not like we will be getting around a lot by foot anyway. We will mostly be doing local tours and the train from one locale to another and will just have to be happy viewing the scenery.

Many are saying do Paris and Rome and the rest will be there when you go back but the truth is, we will probably never go back, especially my mom.

I would also like suggestions of local tours (preferably English speaking) and any things that are "must do".

Any suggestions for arthritis activities are highly appreciated.

Love the help I'm getting here!
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Old Feb 15th, 2006, 04:24 PM
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I suspect many, if not most, on this board have a tough time relating to such an itinerary and would counsel against it. Having been to all the cities/areas you'd like to visit, I'll offer the following comments.

Whirlwind trips can be utterly exhausting, especially if you're going during the busy season. Going to a large city to sightsee for only a couple of days at a time usually means you're on a go-go-go schedule to fit in as many of the A lists things as possible, knowing that many are left out. And if you aren't go-go-go, what's the point of going. Just to say you've been? Traveling to new cities is always a mental challenge. Finding your way around, figuring out where to go, what to do, what's open/closed, adjusting to the culture, etc. and, by the time you get the hang of things, it will be time to move on. Living out of a suitcase can get very tiresome. If the scenery from city to city is one of the anticipated highlights, you may come back home dissapointed. The scenary might or might not be pretty and many folks easily fall asleep while riding the rails.

I'm afraid your memories will be one big blur if you travel as planned. If you're absolutely, positively set on that type of trip and, most importantly, if your travel partners are, too, (that's a MUST), perhaps a mini-whirlwind to the big 3 would make for a more enjoyable trip, that is, you could spend 3-4 nights in London, Paris, and Rome. You'll need to leave yourself a day to get to London, and if you end up travelling by train, a good half day to get from London to Paris and a full day to get from Paris to Rome. Or you could do 3-4 nights in London, 3-4 nights in Paris, a night in a Swiss town, and 2-3 nights in Venice, leaving Rome out.

Good luck!
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Old Feb 15th, 2006, 05:34 PM
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You don't seem to be allowing for the time it takes to travel place to place. And remember your arrival and departure days mostly don't count either as they are all about the airport, getting to or from hotels, etc.

For instance London couple days, 2-3 days Paris then train thru Switzerland to Venice (as you say)... Actually means the first 1/2 day in Paris is spent checking out of the London hotel, taking a taxi to the train station, traveling down from London by train, taking a taxi to your hotel, checking in to your hotel. I think the train Paris to Venice is approx. 8 hours so either you do an overnight train or must subtract another day from Paris. So your Paris 2-3 days is barely 1-1/2!

It sounds absolutely exhausting to me, especially when yo mention one elderly traveler.

arrive
London
Paris
Venice
Rome
depart
all by train and in only 12 days is simply too too much, especially knowing the make up of your group.

Here's my suggestion. Skip London. Fly into Paris stay 4 days. Fly or take the train to Venice allow 1 day. Stay in Venice 3 days. Train to Rome stay 4 days. Fly home from Rome.
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Old Feb 15th, 2006, 05:39 PM
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I'd have to agree the above poster---I think you're trying to do too much in 12 days. London, Paris, and Rome are all wonderful but big cities with much to see and do, but really, to just fly through them is not, IMO, doing them or yourself a favor. In this trip, I would suggest leaving Rome out and saving it for another time. This way, you can fly into London, go to Paris, take a train through the alps (maybe even stop overnight in Montreau) and then fly out of Venice.
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Old Feb 15th, 2006, 05:44 PM
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Doing three cities in 12 days would be my personal choice. Flying into London was cheaper than into Paris when I was looking last year. If that's still the case, you could fly into London, take EuroStar to Paris, then train to Venice, perhaps stopping in a small town between Paris and Venice, if you want to spend some time in the 'country'. Don't ask me where, as I've never been there. But I hear there are great Italian towns north of Venice.
 
Old Feb 15th, 2006, 05:45 PM
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If you are going to do a whirlwind tour, book a commercial tour. Really. Even though we don't normally like them, it would be the only way to fit that much in that short of a time. It would be the equivalent of a drive-by vacation.

My biggest concern is that you are expending A LOT of energy just traveling - leaving no time for sight-seeing - with FOUR people. If it were just the two of you (your mom and you) then it is more likely to work. You could just train, bus and boat it through your trip. But, the other two (with more mobility) are surely going to want to SEE something with all that time and money being spent. All four will be tired and grouchy usually follows. It's an accident waiting to happen IMHO.

If you haven't read SharonG's trip report, please do. It's good for a chuckle, but very enlightning. Someone will have to serve the role of TravelNazi on your trip (you?) and the others will grow to hate the TN - and probably mutiny.

If you insist on packing it in, book a tour. It's the only hope for all of you to enjoy the trip.
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Old Feb 15th, 2006, 07:35 PM
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Check out a trip with Grand Circle Travel. Honestly, it's not filled with a bunch of "old" people. They may have a trip that will fill the bill for what you want to see. Doing so much on your own and probably being responsible for getting everyone to wherever will undoubtably ruin your own trip. GTC has some of the best tour prices around and their guides are excellent.

I took two trips with GCT - one to Thailand and one to Malta - and they were excellent. Normally, I would plan my own travel but wouldn't even care to do what you're suggesting.

Having said that I think London, Paris & Venice are the most fabulous cities to see. In London, there's the Big Bus which will give you a great overview - hop on/off. Haven't taken a city tour bus in Paris but there is one for sure. For Venice, I'm sure you can take a walking tour but may be too much for your Mom. Venice is a "foot" city

One other comment and I don't know if it's true particularly in Europe (only took trains in Italy) but trains tend to go thru the least scenic areas. Someone else can correct me on this.
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Old Feb 16th, 2006, 06:01 AM
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Hi D,

Five destinations in 12 days with your elderly mom and two other elderly ladies?

I think that any 2 destinations would be sufficient.



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Old Feb 16th, 2006, 07:59 AM
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If you really want to stick with your original itinerary, I highly recommend looking into an organized tour as others have suggested.

To answer you original title question "can this itinerary be done in 12 days? If so, how?" The how is to call Globus or Grand Circle or similar tour companies.

If you want to self plan, I'll reiterate either cut London from the start, or Rome from the finish, and you'll have a more reasonable plan.
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Old Feb 16th, 2006, 08:17 AM
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Absolutely an organized tour if you want to cover that much ground. I took a Globus tour my first trip to Europe in 1999. The tour I was on was called Thames to Tiber and it was 14 days and went from London, Paris, Lucerne, Florence, Venice, and Rome. They have a very similar tour that goes just the other way, starting in Rome and ending in London that is a couple of days shorter. I can't remember what it is called but you could check one of their brochures. This would allow you to see the most with the least stress. You get into places like the Vatican, or going up the Eiffle Tower without waiting in line, your luggage is taken care of, you don't have to figure out where to go and how to get there, you won't waist time getting lost...getting lost is frequently a lot of fun if you have the time to enjoy it...but you don't have a lot of time. Globus has pretty comfortable buses so even though you are up pretty early each morning, after a nice breakfast, you are on the bus and can relax and view the countryside or take a nap going from one destination to another.
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Old Feb 16th, 2006, 08:48 AM
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Well, if that's what you want to do.

It's 4 hours by train from a central London hotel to one in the centre of Paris, allowing for getting to and from stations and checkin time.

The 0800 train from Paris, changing at Milan, will get you into Venice at 1800. And it goes through the Alps. Checking in for trains is an inconvenience almost unheard-of anywhere other than the London-Paris/Brussels Eurostar.

A 1030 train from Venice gets you into Rome at 1500. And booking an open jaw flight to London, leaving from Rome, is relatively straightforward.

All these trains are infinitely more comfortable and spacious than the ones elderly people used to take all the time 30 years ago. They require no more exertion than occasionally strolling up and down the aisles to stretch your legs.

My suspicion is that your companions may not have hugely ambitious plans for what they see in each city. Let's hope so, because you're likely to have limted sightseeing opportunities on your travelling days. But, if you're really never likely to be able to travel again, two days in each city is a lot better than none at all.

One hint about using this board. You get much, much better advice by asking very specific questions ("what's the most elderly-friendly way of seeing Venice in two days?") than by asking any question that lets people tell you why they wouldn't do what you're planning.
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Old Feb 16th, 2006, 08:49 AM
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Frankly, your title says volumes about you and I agree you definitely need/want an organized tour.
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Old Feb 16th, 2006, 09:21 AM
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I can see a scenario where this might be pleasant. I would recommend the train from Paris to Bern (4 hours) then Bern to Milan and on to Venice. The train from Bern to Milan is really beautiful, going through the Alps and then past Lago Maggiore (how about an overnight at Stressa?). I love train travel and watching Europe go by.

For touring around London, Paris and Rome you might want to take the hop on hop off bus tours. It will minimize the walking required. Venice will be tougher because there are going to be cobbles, steps over bridges and you pretty much have to walk. The vaporettas can be good for resting your feet and seeing the sites inexpensively.

Factor in a generous amount for taxis into your budget. It makes like so much easier on people who are walking restricted. You won't get indepth experiences but you'll definitely get a nice peek into what these places are like.

If you want hotel recommendations I'll be happy to suggest some. Happy planning.
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Old Feb 16th, 2006, 09:43 AM
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dherron, when my mother was 85 she and a friend took a Tauck tour and loved it, because they didn' have to worry about anything and saw so much of the country of Ireland. The Globus tours and others look good also.
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Old Feb 16th, 2006, 11:07 AM
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I agree totally with Catbert, train travel in Europe is a great way to go. Near the big cities is not to nice sometimes, but the country side is great.

Don't let people discourage you with your stated itinerary. Some people have to stay put for a time to feel like they have been there. Others are very happy to just have seen a couple of the major sites and moved on. Much of the country side is so nice along your route, you will love it. It is doable.

I am over 60 with bad knees, a bad back and walk with a cane. If my daughter asked me to do your plans, I would go in a heart beat. Don't be afraid to plan the trip yourself, there is alot of helpful info on this board. Just pack light, one rolling bag apiece, arrange for hotels and train tickets before you leave. Use BETS for train reservations-very helpful.(We are using them for our London, Belgium, Prais- June trip.) Look into hop-on bus tours for London, Paris and Rome and stay in a Hotel in Venice overlooking the Grand Canal. That way if your mom can't handle the canal bridges and uneven walks she can still enjoy Venice. We were there a day and a half, had a canal view room, took a boat ride and walked around some, loved every minute. We have not made it back yet though.

The first time I was in Rome, was a day trip off a cruise ship. We trained in, took a tour I arrange with a taxi and loved every minute of it. Did we see Rome in depth, no, but I did see things I had aways heard about. Yes, we have been back and stayed longer, but the first time was great.

We have done several driving and train combos in Europe over the years along with cruises where we go into the major cities for the day. It IS worth going even with just for one day in each city especially since you are planning to visit 4 major ones. Two full days would be better if you have the time, then allow a full day for train/travel between each. That's 3 days travel time(2 going to Europe and 1 back to US) then another 1-2 full days and nights in London, allow a day (and night though actually you are in Paris now) for travel to Paris, 1-2 full days and nights in Paris, a travel day(and night) to Venice, 1-2 days in Venice, a travel day (night) to Rome and 1-2 days in Rome. That is 10 to 14 days that you can play with. Yes, the travel days will be busy, but try to get the best train times you can and the most comfortable seat you can afford for longer trips. In some cases there will be seveal times. Plan the whole day as a travel/free time so you are not rushed. Have some plannig for the city days and above all have everyone on the same page before you leave. Either plan to do things together or agree that every one will do their own thing on the city days. You can also do a gruop tour as suggested if one does what you want, but if you are willing to plan ahead, it is easy to do on your own. With four, it will be alot of fun!

Have a great time! Your Mom must be proud of you!
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Old Feb 17th, 2006, 09:20 AM
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cwn:

Thank you so much for the encouragement! So many people have made me so discouraged. A large part of our trip will be for viewing the scenery so we don't need to go to every "fruit stand" in Europe . Your response certainly makes it sound like this can be done.

I really think this will be the last Mom/daughter trip. However, I took her to Hawaii about 5 years ago and was sure that would be the last. And, yes, she is so proud of me, which really makes me want to do these trips for her!
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Old Feb 17th, 2006, 10:15 AM
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hopefully you did not take people's helpful suggestions above (visiting fewer places at a slower pace, or joining a tour group for ease to see more places in a shorter time)... as meant to make you feel "discouraged".
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Old Feb 17th, 2006, 10:27 AM
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If you plan ahead and know what you can/can not do and have realistic expectations you'll be fine. Sure if you could add a day, or subtract a city, it would a little easier, but map it out on paper and if it all works for you then go for it. Don't be discouraged by responses here, but do be realistic. Some of the responses here are similar in tone to when I once asked about taking a train throughout France and not renting a car; you think I had said I want to ride a donkey through the country! I was told the only way I could truly experience anything of value was to drive, but I knew that wouldn't work for me. Most people here had a huge hissy fit, which some tend to do when you don't want to do something the way they would.

ANYWAY, have fun and please share a trip report when you return!
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Old Feb 17th, 2006, 12:10 PM
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Suze,

No, I did not take people's "helpful suggestions (visiting fewer places at a slower pace, or joining a tour group for ease to see more places in a shorter time)... as "meant" to make me feel "discouraged"." I was just starting to get disappointed that my itinerary could not be met. I was glad someone agreed that it was possible. I appreciate all the help I get here, even when it's "discouraging".
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Old Feb 17th, 2006, 12:18 PM
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anything's possible
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