Thoughts??? 8/9 weeks Europe with Kids

Old Jan 16th, 2013, 10:46 PM
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Thoughts??? 8/9 weeks Europe with Kids

Hi,
New post as after 90 comments on the last I thought a new one would be better.
Here is the rough guide for our trip.
We arrive 10th of June in London so
Day 1-6 - London

Day7-13 - Travel south of England - wants to go to places in Cotsworld and Cornwall but not sure where yet or where to sop and stay - so suggestions would be great

Day14-16-Travel from Dover over to France and stay in Rheims for 2 nights

Day 16-19 - Disney

Day 20-25 - Paris

Day 25-30 - Travel South to Barcelona - again we have some idea but nothing set in stone yet

Day 30-33 - Barcelona

Day 33-36 -Drive through France to arrive in Varenna Italy

Day 36-42 - Varenna

Day 42-45 - Siena

Day 45-50 - Barcciano or Rome ( Since we have the car we thought going into Rome wouldn't be a smart idea )

Day50-52 - Bologna

Day 52-55 -Varona

Day 55-57 - Innsbruck

Day 57-59 - Munich

Day 59-63 - Prague

Day 63 - 67 - Berlin

Day 67 -70 -Frankfurt

I am sure you are exhausted after reading this . . .If you feel some of the two day spots we could take out and get to a better spot let me know. We just thought these would be best.

Hopefully you don't think it's too bad. Basically I am looking for some must do's when in the areas or places to stay and eat etc

Many thanks,
Claire
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Old Jan 16th, 2013, 11:38 PM
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I have never been to Disney Paris but heard it is much smaller than in the States. I bet you could shave off two days from that bit.
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Old Jan 17th, 2013, 01:28 AM
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I was going to comment the same - my understanding is the park is quite small and 1 day should do it.
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Old Jan 17th, 2013, 01:34 AM
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Interesting! I thought 3days would be needed. I think it's a package deal with the hotel and the hotel has a really cool indoor pool . . .I'll see if we can take a day off and do an extra day at Rheims though. Thanks guys
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Old Jan 17th, 2013, 02:32 AM
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There's lots to do in the Cotswolds plus they are close to Stratford-on-Avon and Warwick Castle, the latter would be a big hit with your kids, I expect, but don't know their ages. If your children are very young, choose the area which interests you and your husband because both the Cotswolds and Cornwall have gardens and parks for little ones plus things like petting zoos, minature villages, tourist trains.

Cornwall is also loaded with family-friendly attractions plus beaches. In Cornwall, I like the Fowey-Polperro area on the south coast or further out, in or near St Ives. Look for a cottage for your Cornish holiday.

Have not read your other thread, are you planning to take a rental car across to France? I would not do this, would instead go to the Cotswolds or Cornwall first, then turn in UK rental, spend time in London, then take eurostar London to Paris, use public transport in Paris, go out to Disney via RER, then pick up another rental at Disney.

What are your interests in Reims? If you take a day off Disney, I would add it to Paris.

You should think through the time and effort to drive in and out of the number of cities you've chosen. Consider cutting back on the number of moves. From Day 36 to 55, do you need to change locations so much? Would two bases be better? Siena, for example, is interesting, but I enjoyed it as a day trip from a country base. By the time you reach Italy, it is going to be very crowded and hot. I would want a place with a pool in the country from which I could do day trips.

Why so much time in Frankfurt?
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Old Jan 17th, 2013, 03:22 AM
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I would keep the three days in Disney and sit at the pool. Kids love pools, and with this busy itinerary you might appreciate the downtime.
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Old Jan 17th, 2013, 03:26 AM
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In common with many itineraries we see on this forum, your trip seems to revolve largely around large towns and cities (apart from your week in the Cotswolds/Cornwall). I sometimes wonder if this is because these are the only places people from the other side of the world have heard of, or they are genuinely not interested at all in countryside/scenery. European cities have many many things to see and do, but visiting one after the other for several weeks could be exhausting and repetitive.
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Old Jan 17th, 2013, 03:38 AM
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>>>
Thanks for all your advice!

we are leasing a car as we didn't want to use trains with our luggage so we thought we would rather drive and see parts of Europe that you don't get to see unless you have a car.

can you name any bases for cotsworld or cornswell so we can end up in dover but still get the chance to see all the great things in those areas. We ideally would love just one or two places to sleep in and then do day trips to all of those great places.

We have someone to visit in Frankfurt and we also see there are traintrips from Frankfurt to places of interest.

>>>We have thought by having the car at Disney we could also take a drive out of the area for a day if needed but yes I like the idea of relaxing in the pools etc.

>>>> More then happy for you to suggest other places. We just had a look on the drive to Prague from Italy to choose those days and again Paris to Barcelona and Barcelona to Varenna ..but if you know places that would be better please suggest away. We don't mind a longer drive if the place is better and we can stay a few nights rather then one etc. So far we have booked in London,Paris,Barcelona and Varrena the rest is still able to change so suggest away

Thanks again!
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Old Jan 17th, 2013, 03:54 AM
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Wow, this is some trip with a pair of little kids in tow. I hope they're good in the car! We did something similar with our kids at the same age but slowed it right down and made an effort to give them three or four home bases from which we set out to explore each day. It worked well and they were able to form relationships with local people and know they were going 'home' each day - it's interesting how disoriented small children get when they're moving on all the time. It meant we missed out on a few places we might have visited if we had just been two adults travelling child free but in retrospect I think it made the whole trip less frazzled and more enjoyable.

I agree with what others have said about Disney - it's small and nothing like the US version really. One day is plenty.

I'd also think about Varenna. The lake is lovely but once you've ridden on the ferry and visited a garden or two, there's not a lot that's going to maintain the kids' interest.

Siena is a joy but it's a day trip, or two at the most, with young children. My advice would be to rent a villa in the country, with a pool for the kids, and explore the plethora of lovely hilltowns and villages that are within easy driving distance. You can easily reach all over Umbria and Tuscany in day trips. Have a look at Il Palazzo outside Arezzo for a pleasant place to stay for a week.

Then I would ditch the car and go to Rome, rent an apartment in Trastevere and spend a week exploring the city. There's lots to see and do.

From Rome take a train to Bologna, if it interests you, and Verona. I think a day or two in either place is sufficient. Then get the train up the valley to Austria, a magnificent rail journey. I'd recommend getting off at Bolzano to see a very different side of Italy, where they speak German and eat wurst! There's a superb museum there where you can visit Otzi the Bronze age iceman who popped out of a glacier a few years back. You can travel for the rest of your trip on the excellent trains and you certainly won't need a car in any of the big cities you list to follow.

I imagine your trip will take you from Innsbruck to Salzburg to Vienna before you go on to Prague. Both Salzburg and Vienna are wonderful, more so than Innsbruck which is more of a sporting centre I think. If you do decide to travel by train, they are also logical stopping points.

I also suspect your kids will do much better on a train than in a car as they can move around freely.

I've actually done everything I am recommending to you and wouldn't change any of it. To sum up, my advice would be to slow it down, even if it means coming back some other time to see the things you've missed this trip.
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Old Jan 17th, 2013, 04:04 AM
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I understand wanting a car for most of your trip but work the numbers-- where are you going to park in London and Paris and for how much? You will not want or need a car in either city, in fact, major liability.

Can you return a leased right-side steering wheel car in Frankfurt? I suppose you can and certainly you can drive right-hand cars on the Continent but it takes just that much more diligence. Can't your lease commence after Paris?

The Cotswolds is a relatively small area northwest of London. Cornwall is a large county, the furthest southwest in England. Viamichelin gives the driving distance to Dover as 3 hours from The Cotswolds and 6 hours, 42 minutes from St Ives in Cornwall but you need to add at least 50% to those times.

I can suggest specific hotels, B&Bs and/or cottage rental agencies if you want to rent. What is your budget?

I really, really think you are making more work and incurring more costs than you need but...
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Old Jan 17th, 2013, 04:11 AM
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>>> THANK YOU! We already have slowed it down! We had planned on doing greece and the south of italy but have taken that out because of the kids. Since we are leasing a car we won't have the luxury of doing train trips to move to different countries. We really didn't want to be on trains with our luggage.

We also agree that staying in one place for a few days to a week is best. Can you think of a good base in Tuscany that would allow us to take a train to Siena and such places. We would love a place to stay base at.

We have been to Rome twice before so as much as we love it we are happy with the idea of just training it in for the day etc.

Thanks for all you suggestions . .I'll take a look and see how we go adjusting it
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Old Jan 17th, 2013, 04:19 AM
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I would substitute Mantova for both Verona and Bologna. Mantova is in between them and has much easier logistics if you have a car -- although you MUST be careful about not driving the car into the off-limits areas of the historic center. If you find a place to stay within the center, a b&b will give you a temporary permit to park near them. HOWEVER, you should go to the police station yourself and confirm that your license plates were recorded by them. Just double check that. Othewise, if your license plates are photgraphed, you could later be sent a huge ticket.

This is also true if you stay in Bologna or Verona. Some areas of the cities are off-limitis for cars that whose license plates are not registered with the police as having permission to be in the old historic center.

Mantova is a great place in its own right, and you can easily drive around and find towns to visit, like Modena, Ferrara, towns around Verona and the Lago di Garda. You can park your car and take a train to Milan for an afternoon.

It is hot there, and there are mosquitoes, so get a place that is air conditioned.
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Old Jan 17th, 2013, 04:24 AM
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PS: Verona holds its HUGE opera festival during the time you will be in Italy, and this year it is the 150th anniversary of the festival. That means prices in Verona will be very high, and the city will be crowded on days when there are opera goings on. It is another reason to avoid staying in the city, and if you decide you want to visit Verona, you might find it much easier to take a train from Mantova that day.

If you would like something cooler than Mantova for a break, you could also consider staying in Peschiera del Garda, on Lago di Garda. Make sure wherever you book has parking.
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Old Jan 17th, 2013, 04:33 AM
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I can see that you are trying to avoid one-night stays, and that is the right plan, but you are still buying a long highway drive from Lago Bracciano to northern Italy, even if you make Bologna your first stop. It gets even longer if you take my suggestion of Mantova instead, or Peschiera del Garda.

You might consider going just past Florence and stopping for the night, and then going on to Peschiera del Garda for 3 nights. The area just north of Florence is known as the Mugello, and you can find lots of small places with swimming pools. I think you will need air con too for that time of year.

http://www.discovertuscany.com/mugello/
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Old Jan 17th, 2013, 04:35 AM
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http://www.discovertuscany.com/mugello-accommodation/
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Old Jan 17th, 2013, 04:42 AM
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Also, I've forgotten, but aren't your children really very small? I realize this is an expensive trip no matter how you slice it, but Disneyland is going to be nothing but paying through the nose for everything at every turn. Unless you want to go, I think your kids would probably more appreciate not being cooped up in a car for some of the long drives you could shorten by taking the Disney days adding them to the latter half of your trip, where you are moving pretty much all the time.
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Old Jan 17th, 2013, 04:44 AM
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>> thank you ever so much for letting us know about Varona . .we have been before and don't need to go again so thanks! and I will check out your suggestion! So would you stay that we would be able to find one place in Tuscany to stay at and then take our trips from here by train to the different towns including Rome?

I would hate to think how we would have gone without all your help!
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Old Jan 17th, 2013, 04:46 AM
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Oh . . is Disney not free once you pay for your ticket?
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Old Jan 17th, 2013, 06:31 AM
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No, I was not suggesting one location in Tuscany from which you could visit Rome. I was suggesting (if you end up doing such a huge car tour through Europe):


Day 45-50 - Bracciano (visit Rome from this location)

Day50-51 - Mugello area of Tuscany -- rest

Day 53-55 - Peschiera del Garda

If you prefer 2 nights in Mugello + 2 nights in Peschiera del Garda, that would also be my suggestion instead 2 Bologna + 2 Verona

However, in general, I think you are missing an opportunity in Italy to take a break from all the driving and city hopping, and just enjoy some extended relaxation, since Italy and the Italian countryside and lakes are so wonderful for relaxation. It is especially time consuming that you are coming from Mediterranean France and heading almost to the Swiss border, only to turn around and head south through Tuscany to reach Rome -- where you have already been and it will be hellishly hot by then -- and then turn around to head back again through Tuscany in order to get across the northern border.

If you have been to Rome and Verona, and you are not picking your Italian itinerary based on targeting sights you have always wanted to see, I suggest that once you are leaving Nice/Monaco, head to the area of Lucca (you can even stay in Lucca itself, or in another small town like Pescia or Montecatini). Or if you would prefer to be in the Chianti so you can visit Siena, go there. After a nice rest, go to Peschiera del Garda. (There is an Italian amusement park there that is much more suitable for small children plus you get to see an Italian amusement park).

Or, if you have your heart set on Lago di Como, go there but then pick another town west of Innsbruck if you really want to go to Munich.

So, essentially take 15 days from the time you leave Nice (skip Montecarlo) to the time you leave in Italy somewhere in northern Tuscany, and then on one of the lakes. Add the savings of days to slowing down for the remainder of your trip.

I've never been to Disneyland anywhere except Anaheim, CA as a child, and my recollection of that was you bought books of tickets for amusement rides in addition to paying an admission fee, and nothing was cheap. I don't know if it is now different at the park in Paris. Once you are inside the park, food is expensive. Children who are very small don't need such a high dose of entertainment. I wouldn't be inclined to spend a lot of money keeping them amused when there are plenty of places with swings and sandboxes and where they can play with balls and kites.
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Old Jan 17th, 2013, 06:37 AM
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This is what I'm suggesting in case it wasn't clear:

Day 33-36 -Drive through France to arrive in Italy

Day 36-42 - Lucca area OR Chianti area

Day 42-49 - Lago di Garda OR Lago di Como

Day 50 -- 53 -- Leave from Lago di Garda from Innsbruck OR Leave from Lago di Como for Swiss town north on way to Munich

So you will have more days to move more slowly in other places, and even more than that if you skip Disneyland as well (I would just add those days to Paris to make a full week's apartment rental there).
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