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Our Hurry Up and Go Vacation: how inexperienced travelers booked a 3-week trip to London, Paris, Rome, and Venice for 2 adults and 2 teenagers starting only 2 ½ weeks before departure…

Our Hurry Up and Go Vacation: how inexperienced travelers booked a 3-week trip to London, Paris, Rome, and Venice for 2 adults and 2 teenagers starting only 2 ½ weeks before departure…

Aug 1st, 2006, 11:25 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 269
Thank you, thank you for a wonderful report.

I've got tears in my eyes too, your description of teenager's lives were so spot on. Next week my youngest son and I travel to Singapore and Melbourne, (DH is working out there), but the oldest son has started his first proper job as a Trainee Shipbroker (in London) and for the first time in 15 years, this year summer holidays will be only 3 of us.

thanks again, and best wishes to you all!
OT is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2006, 01:43 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 33

Quit your job now and start writing a book. It will be a best seller. I can't tell you how much your story made me laugh, think and cry.

Thanks for taking the time to share your trip and life with us all.
Marjean is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2006, 03:38 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 181
I just read your report NorCalif, this morning which honestly I had planned on skimming through, but got hooked in your adventure. I am glad you had a great trip and thanks for sharing your experience. You are a great writer.
Nuttela is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2006, 06:04 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 4,874
Terrific report.

But if I may, may I ask for a true confession? Were you able to truly enjoy the greater part of the trip, knowing you had no place to stay in London? If so, there is a big psychological difference between the two of us!

Here's how bad I am: On our second day in Rome, we took the kids to a tap dance show at the Teatro Sistina, which was pretty far from our apartment. We had previously experienced a lot of trouble finding a cab to fit 5 people...there are apparantly "rules" that the cab drivers won't break. I knew that it would be after 11 pm when the show was over. I spent the whole show worrying about whether we would be able to find a cab or otherwise get back to our flat! (As it turned out, there was exactly ONE cab in front of the theatre, and we really had to beg to get the guy to take us home.)

I really admire you if you were able to truly enjoy the moment, and not worry about unfinshed details in the days ahead. I don't think I could have done it. Everyone else in the family would have had a great time, but my mind would have never turned off.
missypie is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2006, 07:05 AM
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Thank you for a beautiful ending to a truly enjoyable trip report!
LCBoniti is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2006, 07:12 AM
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Posts: 16,715

For my failed attempt at this applause emoticon above, and, I'm sure, for everyone else who's enjoyed your "hurry up and go vacation" tale, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Your lessons are too numerous to mention, your wit a breath of fresh air.

I'm sorry the tale's over, but welcome home. **=
mclaurie is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2006, 07:31 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,060
(just a little thing, I notice you call it the tunnel train, which I am sure is correct, but it is referred to as "the Chunnel" here in the UK (the tunnel thru the Channel

Not it b***** well isn't! And we spell the word "through" not "thru"
You were quite right to call it the Channel Tunnel.
Josser is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2006, 07:44 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 332
Oh hurray! This was wonderful and so much fun to read... I see I'm not alone here.

I have to remember your live and let live attitude as I start planning our next trip... thank you so much!!!
pittpurple is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2006, 07:44 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 43
*wild applause*
TuscanTweety is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2006, 08:00 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 269

my apologies for not spelling "through" correctly, although I now live in the British Isles, I am not British by birth and occassionally I make mistakes.
OT is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2006, 08:05 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 3,605
Hurry up and go, AGAIN. Well done and thanks for a delightful report!
mvor is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2006, 08:16 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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What can I say--I, too, just loved it all!

What a wonderful trip, and wonderful report, and a wonderful family!

Byrd is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2006, 11:50 AM
Posts: n/a
NorCalif I enjoyed reading your travel journal and just loved the ending!

We (myself, husband, and two boys, 1 in h.s. and 1 in college) just returned from spending a week in France and 2+ weeks in Italy. This was the 5th trip we have taken as a family to Europe and we have loved every minute! Yes, the sights are fabulous, but nothing can compare to spending 24/7 with your family. That time spent together and the memories made are unforgettable.
Aug 2nd, 2006, 06:02 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,283
Hi NorCalif, my "neighbor"!

I'll just add my congrats and kudos to everyone elses! Fantastic trip report, well written, informative and entertaining!

I just want to go on record and say that I didn't cry, merely puddled up on that last bit..but then, I'm "only" a stepmom to my husband's only son....

Just for clarification on rfbk50's (bless you darling) suggestion about using a travel agent - as I am one, I'm totally prejudiced. I completely understand being a control freak and wanting to plan your own trips (as most of the people on this board are).

However, keep in mind that we do this for a living. It's not just one trip, it's hundreds.

Travel agents have sources that the general public don't have (besides this forum, which is great). A good travel agent could have alleviated alot of the stress of trip planning for you. Remember, they're not "taking over" - they're working FOR you and WITH you. Your imput is invaluable when planning an itinerary.

Things like the flights/code share would have all been taken care of and explained without any nasty surprises or lengthy research. And we use consolidators for cheaper airfare, saving you time and money, as we can find a cheaper fare (in most cases) than you'd find on the internet and STILL make a commission ourselves. I routinely find airfare for $200 less, per person, than quoted online (not always, but then you just have to advise the client of this).

Planning a client's vacation is the fun part of my job; to hear them come back and give a trip report like yours makes me a very happy person that I've contributed to it.

Again, thank you for a wonderful report!


Melodie in Menlo Park
wlzmatilida is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2006, 08:00 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 50
Oh NorCalif: I laughed, I cried, I almost destroyed my computer snorting Diet Coke over it while laughing at one of your hilarious insights.

Thank you for showing us the world - and your spirited family - through your eyes. It's been a privilege and a pleasure.
luxing is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2006, 08:36 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 3,424
Thank you all again for your generous remarks and interest in our travel story! I have so enjoyed all of your comments and observations. And your kind enthusiasm was so encouraging, it made the writing a lot of fun. I'm sorry the story's over too - both the living it and the writing it!

Here are some answers, as promised, to various questions that were asked:

Missypie: I can honestly say that I never gave a single thought to the London hotel situation until the last day or so in Rome. That is actually totally unlike me, so I can't really explain why I was so, um, relaxed (derelict) about it. I guess I was just so busy with new sights that London somehow seemed far off in time as well as distance. Plus, I knew, as I said, that we could find something. The question was just whether we could find something to get excited about for a price we could stand to pay. And happily, we did.

LoveItaly: re: medical care. When I realized my toe was mangled enough that I wanted someone to look at it, DH called our travel insurance 24 hour number. They recommended that we go to the American Hospital in Rome. We just walked in the door there about 7:00 PM that evening. It turns out they don't have an ER and are a private hospital that doesn't usually deal with walk-ins. But the receptionist called one of the doctors upstairs, who came down to talk to me. She only spoke a little bit of English, and DD wasn't with me so I was without my interpreter, but when the doctor saw my foot it more or less spoke for itself - she took me upstairs to a treatment room, cleaned all the cuts, bandaged it back in one piece as well as she could, and wrote a Rx for antibiotic ointment. I tried to pay, but she said no, and wouldn't accept anything. I was obviously very grateful, but that's the sum total of my knowledge of the Italian medical system.

Elendil Pickle: DH isn't home right now, so I can't provide a lot in the way of Aubrey/Maturin site details - I think one of the places had something to do with the Admiralty - some government buildings and a little park, as we walked along the road along the Thames a few blocks from the Westminster tube station. I think DH said it was where Stephen met Sophie - I'm not sure if he meant for the first time or they just met there to talk. May have it totally wrong anyway.

Hagan: Hope your day went better today! Re: the apartment. I looked up vicolo del Cinque, it looks like it's right next to vicolo del Bologna, which is where our friends' apartment was. I liked that area of Trastevere and it is very close to the pedestrian bridge. I'd say less than 10 minutes walk from the Falegnami apartment. The Falegnami apartment would be a little closer to most of the sights - Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Vittorio Emmanuelle monument, Colosseum, etc. You can think of them as being sort of located like this:
Cinque -> Falegnami -> Pantheon, for example.

The air conditioning in the Falegnami apartment was not the best. We were comfortable enough there, never had trouble sleeping because it was too warm or anything like that, but if you're going during a hot time of year, I would definitely ask detailed questions about the air conditioning in any apartment you're considering.

re: bedroom layout of Falegnami apartment- it had one big bedroom with what I think was a queen sized bed - it seemed bigger than a double anyway. The other bedroom was small with a small double sofabed. It suited DS just fine. The living room had a double sofabed where DD, and sometimes her friend, slept. Let me know if I can give you any further info.

My best to all of you.

NorCalif is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2006, 09:12 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 320
What a wonderful, wonderful trip report. If you want to apply for a job at a travel magazine, you can use everyone on this board as your "reference" list. But really, I need to know - how do you keep all of the information straight, names of places, streets, etc. Do you walk around with a notepad or a tape recorder? I keep a travel journal that I fill out each night, but honestly, there are travel days that by the end of the evening I can't remember what I ate for lunch, much less the name of the place! So what's your secret?
rfbk50 is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 05:29 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 149
NorCalif: I feel duty-bound to thank you once again for being my entertainment-of-choice for getting through the latest heat-wave. Yours might be the best travel journal I've read on Fodor's (I'm thinking MaiTaiTom might be your equal.My criteria include how many times I laugh out loud, coupled with how many great travel tips I get) PS I'm glad I don't have to judge - but you would also be my current candidate for American Idol. (and I am a travel writer in my spare time!)
betsys is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 06:40 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 45,322
Thanks for the medical/hospital information NorCalif. It sounds the same as it was in Italy back in the 70's. I was afraid things have changed as never need medical attention since. BTW how IS your toe? I really cringed about that.

I don't use a travel agent as I just get my airline tickets and that is it. But I would certainly contact Melodie for an involved trip. And Hi there Melodie!

Thanks again NorCalif for the most entertaining and fun trip report. I loved every moment of it as obviously everyone else has to.
LoveItaly is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 07:39 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 817
Norcalif, thanks for responding with information on the apartment. A/C won't be a problem, as we plan to go in mid-March. I guess the real plus to the one in Trastever is the second bathroom, but will have to decide if it's worth an extra 20 euros a day (DH thinks it is!)
Hagan is offline  

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