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Solo trip to Paris and Italy-transportation questions

Solo trip to Paris and Italy-transportation questions

Old Jan 12th, 2022, 11:18 AM
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Solo trip to Paris and Italy-transportation questions

After two cancelled trips during Covid, I canít quite settle in with a trip to France or Italy. My current thought is to fly into Paris, stay for 4 days (one of them jet lag day), then spend the rest of a 15 to 16 day trip in Italy. I would like to spend a few days each in Bologna, Florence, and Rome. I would then fly home out of Rome. I have travelled in France and Italy many times before and realize this is jumping around a bit. But, there are a few things I want to see and do in each place and mainly just want to travel again. A nice meal here and there at places I have enjoyed in the past and maybe discovering some new ones would be nice. If I schedule soon and travel by the end of June, the trip with AirFrance is refundable and changeable. I canít decide whether to fly from Paris to Bologna on a nonstop flight or whether to take a train (a hassle/time/interest issue rather than a cost issue) from Paris to Italy. Looking at the seat 61 site, I could take a day train to Milan with some scenic travel in alps, then onto Bologna. Or I could take an afternoon train from Paris to Munich then an overnight train with sleeper car that arrives in Bologna the next morning. Any thoughts about these options? Iím curious as to whether anyone has taken the Munich to Venice overnight train before or the daytime train from Paris (there seem to be 2 options). The idea of train travel is more appealing in terms of relaxation and not having to deal with airports, but an 1 1/2 hour nonstop flight seems efficient.
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Old Jan 12th, 2022, 11:27 AM
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To me, it's a no-brainer. You have a limited amount of time for each the cities you want to visit, so I would travel the most efficient way possible. Of course, there's more time spent in getting to the airport and getting back, but you still won't be spending all day (and night!) doing it. With no more than 12 days to visit 3 large cities, I'd focus on the efficient transport. I'd be exhausted from poor sleep and not enjoy myself if I was on an overnight train and resent losing so much time if I spent an entire day on the train. I could see the possibility of traveling through the scenic alps, but it still seems to be a lot of time spent in transit for a short visit.

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Old Jan 12th, 2022, 07:20 PM
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Even before Covid I would have said to fly. Flying is cheaper and you'll have more time slots to pick from. The only real advantage of the train is no weight limits on your luggage but I doubt that's an issue.

Now with Covid I'd really suggest flying. Even if total travel time won't be much different do you want to be stuck on the train for that long? If price is at all an issue Covid has also limited the number of rail seats making it less likely you'll get a cheaper train ticket. OTOH they're almost paying you to fly.

I'd really avoid any overly complicated multi country routes. It just increases the odds of a covid restriction popping up mid trip.
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Old Jan 12th, 2022, 08:05 PM
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Putting aside any border issues due to Covid (which I know little about) I'd choose to take the train over flying (and pack a gourmet picnic). But to be honest, I would focus on one country or the other. You don't really have enough time to divide your time between Paris and Italy and Covid may add unwanted complexity. Even though I'm sure Paris appeals, I think that overall you'd have a better itinerary if you just visited Italy (or just France).

I'd also consider whether spending your whole holiday in cities is what you want. Some people just love cities but I'd want to include somewhere smaller and/or more rural in the mix. Of course a day trip or two from your chosen cities might work just as well too. If you're a city person, just ignore this. Note that Bologna and Florence are about 40min apart by train.
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Old Jan 13th, 2022, 10:42 AM
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Dreamon, everything you suggest makes perfect sense. One of the Covid trips cancelled in 2020 was a conference in Avignon and a week after renting a car meandering around Provence. I have travelled in Provence before and in the past have tended to divide my time between cities and more slow paced travel in one of the smaller villages or countryside. I have also done the same in Tuscany and Umbria. This time It just seems easier (mindless) for a solo trip to enjoy a few of the things I miss in each of the cities with minimal travel stress. I donít feel compelled to revisit many of the major tourist attractions, just highlight repeats important to me (Díorsay in Paris, Academia in Florence, Borghese gallery and some of the smaller churches in Rome). I am interested in a few days in Bologna, maybe doing a day trip from there (I am interested in a meal at Hosteria Giusti in Modena if possible). Main goals are relaxation, good food and wine, cafe sitting, and hopefully taking this trip during a relative lull in Covid. I will re-think Paris however as I know it is not a practical choice. If it stays, I will forgo the lengthy train via Munich from Paris to Bologna. Still not decided on daytime train vs flying. Train from Paris leaves around 6:30 and gets to Bologna around 3:30 pm. Lose a day but scenic vistas, picnic lunch on train, good book, and arrive in Bologna in plenty of time to get checked into apt or hotel and enjoy a nice supper. Vs quicker 90 minute flight but hassle of getting to airport and transportation issues. If I re-think the total city trip and skip Paris I could shorten or skip Florence, rent a car, and spend a few days in Tuscany (Montepulciano likely as base). Iím having a hard time making these decisions and need to purchase airline ticket soon to qualify for cancel lane/changeable status in case Covid makes travel too difficult. Appreciate all input so far!
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Old Jan 13th, 2022, 03:15 PM
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Italynovice, I hear you about wanting something easy and relaxing. I know how hard it can be to decide where to visit as there is just so much to see and do.

I once spent a few days in Bologna (as a solo traveller) and had a great time. I could very, very easily have spent much longer, especially as Bologna is so well located for excursions to other towns using local trains (e.g. Ferrara, Parma, Modena, Faence, Ravenna, even Florence and many others). And I loved Montepulciano too so that would be a great addition to your plans. A combination of Bologna, Montepulciano and Rome would appeal to me. If looking for an additional stop, then I'd consider Siena, which has a lot to explore within itself and from where there is also a variety of possible day trips. Personally, I would prefer to visit this area when it is not too hot.

If you do end up including Paris, that day train sounds good to me.

Have a lovely trip.

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Old Jan 13th, 2022, 06:18 PM
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Hmmmm. Cancelable flights with full refund for any reason, or must the trip become impossible due to Covid? If the former, get two tickets, one including Paris and one that doesn't. Then make up your mind later.
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Old Jan 15th, 2022, 04:21 PM
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Thanks for input! I couldnít help myself; I booked a flight into Paris and home from Rome. I just have some favorite places and restaurants in Paris that I have looked forward to since my 2020 cancelled trip so canít skip that. Will decide on flight vs daytime train trip from Paris to Bologna later. After input from Dreamon I will cancel Florence and likely rent a car after Bologna for a short car trip in Tuscany en route to Rome. I have stayed in multiple villages/towns in Tuscany before, so a short driving trip on the way to Rome would be enjoyable. 4 days in Paris (one jet lagged), 4 in Bologna, 2 to 3 days in Tuscany, and a few days in Rome. Again, nothing new, more of a nostalgia trip. Will seek advice in regard to apartments or hotels and recommended restaurants on a different thread. Thanks!
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Old Jan 16th, 2022, 07:31 AM
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I really enjoy train trips, so I would opt for the train. However, I would leave the decision for nearer the trip. Trains, in my opinion are not as safe from contagion as flights are. If Covid is still a problem, I would fly.

As for free cancelation, usually you get an e-ticket for future use, not a refund, if you cancel, and you have to pay any difference in fare. My daughter got very cheap tickets to visit me in Italy last summer. She had to cancel and will use her e-ticket to visit me this summer. The fare difference will probably cost more than the original ticket, but this is not a problem, because she normally visits me every year. If it were a trip that you probably wouldn't make again, the e-ticket isn't a great substitute for a refund.
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