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cjacob Nov 8th, 2006 08:42 AM

"Special" trip for parents 30th anniversary
My parents are planning on a trip to Europe for their 30th Anniversary. They are going with 3 other couples for 10-14 days. They want something really special, not just the typical site-seeing, but they also don't want to just relax.

This group has travelled all over Italy together, visited Paris, London, Southern France. My parents have been to Barcelona, Amsterdam.

The trip that was discussed was: Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague and the Lake region of Italy. As soon as I heard that I thought it was way too much and didn't sound that special. They also discussed cruises in Greece, but vetoed that as they don't want to be getting on and off a boat all the time.

My idea was Prague, Vienna, Budapest, but I want to have suggestions for them of relaxing places to go along with the site seeing in those countries. I personally didn't love Budapest, but it works well with the other two countries.

The idea of Switzerland was mentioned for a "chi-chi" resort for a couple of days at the end of the trip to relax.

This sounds all over the place, but suggestions for a few different countries mixing site-seeing and relaxing for 10-14 days would be great. I think they should do Eastern Europe as a lot of the families come from there and these places haven't been visited before.

nessundorma Nov 8th, 2006 08:53 AM

I'm missing something here:

Did someone ask you to plan the trip for them?

It sounds like the people going are pretty well traveled and know what they like and don't like.

cjacob Nov 8th, 2006 09:18 AM

No one asked me to plan a trip, I was asked to help come up with suggestions for a trip. It's my parents and they know how much I love to travel and enjoy planning trips so they asked for help.

They're very well traveled people, all the couples are. They want something a little different then our past trips which involved only Western Europe.

I really want suggestions on a trip that could mix site-seeing and relaxation. I didn't agree with their original trip as it sounded like too much, so they asked me to come up with an alternative.

My thoughts are Prague, Vienna, Switzerland, but I want other suggestions.

If it were up to my parents they would be in Asia, but the other couples aren't as adventurous.

alyssamma Nov 8th, 2006 09:32 AM

What about renting a private boat and sailing the Greek islands?

Or, Croatia?

Christina Nov 8th, 2006 10:24 AM

I also think you are making a lot of value judgments based on what you want, rather than what they want. I don't think it's your position to tell them that they places they've picked aren't "special" enough, they should go elsewhere.

I think about everything you've mentioned is too much in 10-14 days, and that includes your ideas if you tack on Switzerland at the end to "relax". I'll admit I don't think any of these touring-type vacations to see new countries are "relaxing". I don't get the whole relaxing thing, actually. If one wants to relax you can just sit at home.

I don't think there is anything more special about what you want them to do than what they wanted to do.

rex Nov 8th, 2006 10:26 AM

<< If it were up to my parents they would be in Asia, but the other couples aren't as adventurous. >>

Spells T-U-R-K-E-Y to me.

(or should I say TURKIYE?)

Best wishes,


cjacob Nov 8th, 2006 11:14 AM

I'm their daughter, I know what special means to them. A site-seeing tour is not that "special" to them because we do trips like this often. These places are magical and amazing, but they want something unique and a trip of a lifetime.

Nothing is "wowing" them which is the problem. I suggested Turkey too, that way they can do site-seeing and have the most amazing beach time, but for some reason it wasn't a big take.

angethereader Nov 8th, 2006 11:54 AM

I would suggest Prague, Vienna, Budapest.
Maybe because that's the trip I want to take.
My mom and sister did this a few years ago and loved it. It was a 2 week trip, so exactly in line with your parents time line.
Their favorite city of the three was Budapest.

shellio Nov 8th, 2006 12:01 PM

Since the Italian lakes were on their first list, how about doing that and adding Venice, which doesn't seem to be someplace they've already been. I think Venice is pretty special (although I don't think the lakes are, IMHO). Another alternative is Venice and the coast of former Yugoslavia, including Dubrovnik.

BTilke Nov 8th, 2006 12:18 PM

I would suggest Vienna and Prague, but not Budapest. Instead, take the day train from Vienna to Venice and finish the trip there, flying home from Milan. The train ride from Vienna to Venice is scenic (go first class, since this is a special occasion).
Days 1-4 Prague (starting slowly with a day to get over jet lag)
Days 5-8 Vienna
Days 9 morning train to Venice
Days 10-13 Venice
Day 14--back to U.S.

To make the trip more special, perhaps arrange a customized walking (or whatever) tour of each city, with a personal guide tailored to the couples' interest. Arrange for a celebratory dinner at one of the best restaurants in each of the three cities.

OR...perhaps Copenhagen and Stockholm, with a side trip to St. Petersburg.

OR...since they expressed an interest in Switzerland and the Lakes, how about starting in Rome, then train up to the Lakes, then finish at a posh resort in Switzerlannd like Gstaad or St. Moritz?

But a few questions: what time of year? What's their budget?

Anyway, good luck! We took my parents to London and Vienna for the 50th anniversary. They had been to London a few times before; on their last trip, they found London too rushed and "too few people with gray hair" but they really liked Vienna.

cjacob Nov 8th, 2006 12:35 PM

Thanks for your advice BTilke. They are planning on going in July and money is really not a concern for them. They're extremely lucky that they don't have to budget all too much for these trips, it's also a special occassion so they'll be willing to spend a little more then usual.

I don't think they want to go back to Italy, as the four couples did that together already.

They said if I came up with a great itineray for Turkey they would present it to the group...

I'm also really liking Prague, Vienna and say the St. Mortiz in Switzerland. I've been to Budapest and didn't love it so they're not dying to get there. But I absolutely loved Prague and Vienna. I think Vienna is such a charming city and know they would love it.

They just want to go on a fabulous trip but do none of the homework, luckily I like doing all of this! Slightly mad I'm not invited though.

annhig Nov 8th, 2006 02:42 PM

how about a boat trip down the danube - vienna to Budapest I think - that would be different. also the orient express still goes to Venice, which could be a thrill.
Or St. Petersburg?? [again, cruises available]
Or a cruise down the canal du midi on a fully catered barge?
i'll stop now, but you get the idea.
good luck to them and you!

Shanghainese Nov 8th, 2006 02:53 PM

Speaking from experience as a mother and daughter, daughters are not always in the "know".

Why can't it be up to them to go to Asia without the 3 other couples since they are paying for the "special" trip themselves?

crazychick Nov 8th, 2006 02:55 PM

Portugal or Maderia

sandys Nov 8th, 2006 03:28 PM

Why not go to Greece and stay on the islands of Santorini (very relaxing with fantastic views), Mykenos, and possibly Rhodes (staying in the old town). If their travel agent arranges the trip right, they can fly from island to island, rather than flying through Athens to change islands.

BTilke Nov 8th, 2006 05:09 PM

Hmmm...July. I would leave out Venice then. Too crowded. Scandinavian capitals and St. Petersburg or a Norwegian fjord cruise might be fun. OR Copenhagen/Stockholm and a few days chilling in the upscale German beaches of Sylt (so stylish, in fact, that Harrod's recently arranged to sell Sylt-style beach chairs). THAT would be different. There is a particularly charming hotel in Sylt:

Or fly into Vienna, spend a few days there, then up to Prague for another few days, and then unwind at the end in the luxury resort/spa town of Baden-Baden, Germany, before flying home from Frankfurt. It's beautiful in summer with quite a bit to do. Great food and shopping, too. The Dorint/Sofitel in BB is a wonderful 5 star hotel with an excellent concierge staff who could put together some activities individually tailored for your group.

Remember, Vienna can get very warm and muggy in mid-summer.

Dreamer2 Nov 8th, 2006 05:14 PM

Venice is really "special," as is Zermatt, Switzerland. I think the lack of cars and other speeding vehicles just puts you in a different mode. And the scenery is incredible at both.
Lucerne, Switzerland and Vienna, Austria are also spectacular. Since they are going in the summer, and since they have not been to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, I think an Alpine/Bavarian ten day trip would be really spectacular.
I'd research a bit about Munich, Konstanz/Lindau, Lucerne, Chur, Salzburg, and Vienna, and see what they think.
Best wishes!

veletas Nov 9th, 2006 12:36 AM

What about Spain?
I mean a long slow trip around some of the amazing cities, staying in Paradors some of which are incredible historical monuments.
There are 91 Paraodors from the Pyranees border to the Portguese coast and from Malaga to Bilbao.
The Paradors are mainly 4* with excellent facilities and restaurants for a leisurely stay.

sfmaster Nov 9th, 2006 09:24 AM

I like the suggestion of scandinavia or Turkey.

The other idea I had was charterd boat down the Adriatic/Croatia.... not sure if they are off boats at all. That would be a very relaxing...something different.

I also am disappointed at how judgemental people are about your soliciting ideas. People who love to travel like to come up with ideas. Do we really want Four Page posts where everyone has to explain every detail to make explicitly clear that the relationship is such that a request of advice is not overstepping bounds of that the parents will be able to evaluate any advice given.

MaureenB Nov 9th, 2006 09:45 AM

What about Croatia, then Greece? They could stay on different islands in Greece, then take a ferry or a flight to the next island. My daughter raved about Greece from her visit last March, how wonderful and affordable the food is (and she's very picky about fresh fish!), and how friendly the people are. Her photos in Greece are amazing, too.

I helped her research the trip, and have a very long e-mail I put together from lots and lots of Fodorites' recommendations. I could e-mail it to you if you want.

And our Greek friend gave us his recommendations for my daughter's March visit:

"Dino said some islands are pretty much shut down this time of year, like you said. Like Naxos, Tinos and Paros might be pretty closed up, so not good to visit now. But you can count on Santorini and Mykonos being open for tourism, and Andros, too.

If you fly to Athens, go to Lavrion, where the ferries depart. Probably you take a bus to Lavrion from Athens.

Your movement will be dependent on the ferry schedule, he said. In March, they will probably be going every other day, at least, if not daily. So plan your trip around the ferries. Search on-line to see if you can find schedules, leaving from Lavrion. But the ferries also go according to the weather, so not a completely dependable schedule.

He suggests you consider these islands: Andros, Mykonos, Amorgos and Santorini.

(Actually, Dino had never even been to Amorgos, but he got out his book of maps and thought Amorgos looked interesting, because you'd asked. He said it's small and would probably be quiet.)

The only nightlife you'll find this time of year is on Mykonos.

Dino calls Andros a "big ship owners' island" which I think means wealthy with nice accomodations. He said really nice museums there, and architecture.

He said it's easier to travel on ferries from north to south, because you aren't going into the wind. (Don't know if you'll have an option on this point.)

He said all of the islands named above will have good hiking trails. I think he said especially Andros. (He thought you should definitely go to Andros. Maybe as a ship owner himself, he has respect for Andros-- that's my sense of his feelings about it, anyway.)

He said the Greeks like Americans and will be friendly. He said it's safe, just use good judgment and stay together with a friend.

The Cyclades are mountainous islands, not so sandy-beachy. But the beaches are mostly on the southern sides of the islands. All the islands in the Cyclades group will have the same weather."

Have fun planning with your parents!

Shanghainese Nov 10th, 2006 08:12 AM

sfmaster: There must be a reason more than one Fodorite is of the same opinion you don't care for, that shifts "judgemental" to you.

cjacob Nov 10th, 2006 08:43 AM

Thank you for those that understand my want to help my parents plan this perfect trip. I love doing this, they don't have the time, I'm not saying to them "you have to do this trip", simply trying to get them to think about things they wouldn't normally think of.

I was actually just in Greece this summer with a friend after traveling through Israel. Our parents aren't too set on going there. I didn't rave about it when I went. I went to Mykonos and Santorini. We absolutely loved Santorini, thought it was breathtaking and a great Island, I just know my parents are looking for a little more then that. Not that there isn't tons to explore in Greece and the surrounding islands, but none of the four couples were jumping up and down about Greece. I think they're all crazy! You now see the difficulty in planning this trip. They want to be "wowed"!

I am going to come up with two trips for them: Prague, Vienna, Switzerland (though I don't know where in Switzerland, or what's convenient from Prauge/Vienna). I also want them to consider Turkey. They said they would consider it if I came up with the itinerary and if it sounded amazing.

Those are the directions I'm going in...I'm hoping they pick Turkey, from what I've read and heard, it sounds like a great mix of site-seeing and beach-going.

Ideas are still welcome! Thanks!

Dreamer2 Nov 10th, 2006 04:28 PM

As far as Switzerland, I think I'd try to include Lake Konstanz with the Isle of Mainau and Lindau, Germany. Chur is a very sweet, albeit low-key, day visit nearby, or get them over to Lucerne for some beautiful scenery. A definite WOW factor throughout the Alps; probably The Most incredible and beautiful places I have ever been. Have fun!

ira Nov 11th, 2006 05:23 AM

Hi CJ,

I think 4 nights in each of Prague, Vienna and Venice would be lovely.

The train from Vienna to Venice goes over the Alps and is quite a pretty ride.


Gardyloo Nov 11th, 2006 08:52 AM

What about a 7-day river cruise - Danube, Seine, Provence - followed by a few days in some landside resort of their choosing? No packing/unpacking drill for a week, great for small groups, interesting cities and countryside without cruise-port crowds or bouncing tenders to the dock or on-board schlunk.

kmw819 Jan 3rd, 2007 11:19 AM

What about a canal barge cruise for part of their trip?(The cruises are 6 nights-7 days) They can either charter their own private barge or join a larger group. Barge cruises are great for high-end well traveled people - and explores different regions in greater depth. - The sightseeing excursions are amazing. France(all different regions), Ireland, England, Holland, Germany, Italy and Scotland. - I recommend The Barge Lady - - we took a barge cruise to Ireland last May and it was the experience of a lifetime. We plan to barge France next. - She also does river cruises as well. She would also problably have good ideas for before and after as well. Don't know if this will help at all, but if they are looikng for a totally unique experience - this is it!

RufusTFirefly Jan 3rd, 2007 11:43 AM

We just returned from 3-1/2 days in each Prague and Berlin. It was a great trip, partially because the two cities differ from one another a great deal. Both have more than enough to see and do in that amount of time. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend both cities for their trip.

In pretty much any location, you can make it as busy or relaxing as you want.

BTilke Jan 3rd, 2007 01:22 PM

It would be nice if the OP would come back and let us know what the parents decided on!

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