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Three Couples Three Weeks Spain, France and Italy-- Advise needed:)

Three Couples Three Weeks Spain, France and Italy-- Advise needed:)

Old Feb 1st, 2014, 09:14 AM
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Three Couples Three Weeks Spain, France and Italy-- Advise needed:)

Hi there Fodorites! We are planning a trip to Spain France and Italy next Sept. and need some advise from the most knowledgeable forum on the web IMHO. We are three couples, related to each other, have travelled together years ago and are in our late 50's and early 60's. This is what we have so far:
Aug. 30 Dept Toronto AC direct to Barcelona
Aug.31 Arr. BCN 10:20 am . Get taxi to Casp Apt in the Eixample and get settled.
Sept. 1 Take an organized tour of Barc. ( yet to be arranged)
Sept. 2 - 5 TBD perhaps a couple of day trips, wine tour etc. beach day,
Sept. 5. Pick up our rental van - drive to Uzes France. 5 Hour Drive, according to Google
Sept. 6 Enjoy Market day there and stock the fridge
Sept. 7 - 11 Various day trips. Wine routes, Gigondas, Vacqueras..etc. Avignon. Lussan.
Advise on other day trips would be appreciated. Ales, or Arles ..never been.. I
myself have been to Uzes and have enjoyed to area, but my cousins have not
so thought it would be nice to show them areas we have gone while there.
Sept. 12 Depart for Italy and make our way to the Cuneo region. Since I am in the cheese
business, we are visiting a small village called Valcasotto in the Peidmonte.
Beppino Occhelli is the cheesemaker, and I will be arranging a cheese visit with
them. If anyone knows of a nice little town where we could stay for 2 nights, that
would be great. Wondered about Bra or Alba?
Sept.14- Depart this area
This part is tricky. Plan to make our way to the La Spezia area, although my BIL
advised us to think about Lucca. This would be a home base to visit Genoa, Cinque
Terre. Suggestions? He may be right...says La S is a busy seaport area..kind of big
Want to stay 4 nights.
Sept 18 Depart Italy and make our way back to Barcelona for a flight that leaves on the 20th

Any suggestions or ideas would be greatly appreciatd! We had no choice about flying in and out of BCN as rental cars and timing were at issue. (I know a kind Foderite suggested leasing...but that ship has sailed - ty anyway).

Sorry for this long winded post, but i needed to give you some detail.....my DH would have asked in about 4 point form questions! lol

Thanks again...

Cathy Toner
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 09:29 AM
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Hi CT,

>2 - 5 TBD perhaps a couple of day trips, wine tour etc. beach day,

Maybe 1 day trip. There is a lot to dpo in BCN.

>Sept. 6 Enjoy Market day there and stock the fridge

Have you checked on the hours for the market in Uzes.
Markets often close by 2:00 PM.

> Depart Italy and make our way back to Barcelona for a flight that leaves on the 20th

Would it not save time and money if you dropped your car at each border and picked up another one in the next country?

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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 09:31 AM
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Even with a 7-9 passenger people mover (van), things might be tight (luggage-wise), and parking a pain. You may be better off renting two smaller sedans or wagons (estate wagons) for the trip.

The driver(s) will also need an IDP (International Driving Permit) from AAA. It's required in Spain and Italy, but not France, should you be stopped by the police for some reason.
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 09:42 AM
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Doing a lot of backtracking.

If this was my trip, after your time in Barcelona, I would consider flying non-stop Barcelona to Pisa on an inexpensive evening flight. [ one hour and thirty five minutes]

Then start the Italy portion of the trip in Lucca or in that area.

Then head to the Piedmont area.

And on to France and finally to Barcelona for the trip home.
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 09:45 AM
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We spent a month in Lucca last year at this time and loved it - we drove to Cinque Terre which was easy but Genoa might be a bit far. If you're interested in an apartment friends of ours are staying in this 3 bedroom/3 bathroom apartment right now which would be perfect for 3 couples (although it has 60 stairs/no elevator).

http://apartmentlucca.com/default.asp
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 10:01 AM
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Something to consider:

An open jaw flight into Barcelona and out of Pisa would save you time and perhaps money as you would avoid the return flight or the drive to Barcelona. Check the "multicity" option on airline reservation pages. A car for 6 will be hard to manage so you should consider train travel where possible.
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 11:20 AM
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Thanks so much for your replies. Embarrassed that I didn't tell you that our flights are booked as well as our accommodation in Uzes...so that is static.

Ira, ty for that...1 day tour is prob just about right in BCN! Good thought on Uzes market! We usually get into that place on a Friday, so we can get up bright and early to hit the amazing Sat market. Van is booked, although can be cancelled. My only fear is that there may be a lot of time wasted just picking and dropping off rentals. Really appreciate your input. You certainly steered us in the right direction when looking for Rome accommodation on our last trip!

Robert --ty, yes, that has been discussed at length over several glasses of wine, but everyone came to the conclusion, we should stay together as it would be more fun...Thx for the info on IDL. We usually get that as a precaution.

Iris: TY for that info! Rats...things are now booked ie apartments and villas, the only saving grace is that people want to make a stop in the Riviera on the way back to Spain...although we won't stay there. Have to research a nice spot somewhere in between...where? Not really sure..

Elizabeth: TY so much!!!! I'm going to have a peek and see how that would be! 60 stairs wouldn't be too bad...did 70 in the AC and that turned out to be a blessing in disguise

Mamcalice: Thanks for your response. Appreciated....We have managed van travel and for some it's not comfortable...but we managed and kept a sense of humour...which helps.

Again, thanks for all your kind help. If you can think of any other places, given our itinerary that would be great!
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 11:33 AM
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I'm sorry, but your trip itinerary would not be easy as shown.
I'd suggest you fly open ended into one city and out of another. Backtracking is expensive and inefficient.
You'd do best traveling in 2 cars, as 6 passenger vans are very, very expensive to rent.
It's also very expensive to drop a rental car off in another country. Start your trip in Pisa and take the train to La Spezia and stay at the Cinque Terre. Then take trains to Nice. Your cheese maker is about 60 miles NE of Nice--off the beaten path.
Then go do your wine tour of Southern France. Turn your car in at a city that's served by Vueling or other budget air carriers that'll get you to Barcelona. (Vueling goes Nice-BCN.)
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 11:38 AM
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Sorry that I didn't read that your flights were already set in stone. Please disregard the above posting.
For those that want to travel great distances in Europe, flying open jaw is just about always preferred.
Your visit to the cheese maker should be a treat. The area should be very beautiful, as it's really back in the mountains. Get ready to be put to work if they're making cheese the day you're there.
Good luck to you.
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 12:02 PM
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Hi Bamaman! Thanks for the input. I know the back and forth seems a little crazy, but after exhausting research and discussion this is what we came up with. Renting a vehicle in Italy lets say and dropping it off in Spain was going to cost about 6000 CAD ...We managed to get a 7 passenger van for about 1500 Then it came down to availability of places we really wanted to stay. Also, driving in Europe is not too bad we have found. Having said that, one day when my DH and I travel solo, we will give that a whirl.. Yes, really looking forward to meeting Beppino Occelli....what he does with cheese is amazing. If you ever get the chance to try his cheese...do so!
Cathy
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 12:06 PM
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If you pick up your van and drop it off in Barcelona, you wouldn't be subject to the horrendous drop off charges. I myself just looked into this yesterday. Two rental companies wanted €1200, another €700 !
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 12:19 PM
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Yes, Bedar....we are picking up in Barcelona and dropping off there. That made sense to us, after looking at this right side up and inside out... The 1500 CAD is for 15 days for van rental.
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 12:28 PM
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1500CAD for the rental - wow, great rate!
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 12:39 PM
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What company are you renting from ? We're only 4 people, but my daughter travels with steamer trunks ! She needs the whole luggage space of a van for herself !!!
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 12:41 PM
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Elizabeth_S It certainly suits our needs! BTW, I did send and enquiry to the link you sent me! Absolutely beautiful!! Couldn't find rates on the site, but I'm sure they will advise. Thanks again!
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 12:53 PM
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I know the off season rates but not sure how relevant they are. The owner (Neil ) is lovely and our friends are raving about it. It's raining there and snowing here (toronto) so they're happy! I'll post my lucca blog links tomorrow.
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 01:26 PM
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Okay...that is fabulous!! Look forward to your post. BTW...snowing here in Cobourg...again... Thanks!
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 01:45 PM
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Had a minute before we brave the snow - here are links to our Lucca blog. You'll see our gorgeous apartment which is 3 bedrooms but it has been converted to a B&B and is not available. But there is another 3 bedroom in the same building (same owners) that is almost as lovely.....smaller kitchen but for 4 nights that's probably not an issue. Link to that apartment below the blog links

http://lizandrichardsa.typepad.com/2...italy/c-lucca/

http://lizandrichardsa.typepad.com/2...-lucca/page/2/


http://www.rentalslucca.com/index2.php/?p=127
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 02:08 PM
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Thanks so much, Elizabeth! So nice of you! I'll check it out!!
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 02:43 PM
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Bedar... we are renting from Hertz. I know about girls and luggage! lol We have our luggage down to a science...well, trying Suggest you stay on the side of a cliff, as you do in coastal Italy with the caveat that she carry her own luggage! lol
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