Nov 6th, 2006, 12:03 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,626
I would recommend that you try to spend at least 3 nights (4 if possible, in one or two places) so that you have some time to unwind, chill out and get some laundry done. 4 nights will give you time to scope out the town, find and book an interesting tour, and see the sights. You can do day trips from a city where you have a longer stretch of time.

A possible itinerary might be:

3 nights Amsterdam (with a day trip)
4 nights Barcelona (day trip to Montserrat or Girona)
3 nights Rome
3 nights exploring in Southern Italy (instead of the Greek Islands, why not go to Sicily?)

May would be a good time of year. However, make sure that you investigate the statutory holidays in the countries you will be visiting. In France, for example, there are three statutory holidays in May: May 1 (Labour Day - a holiday in many European countries - allthough not everything is closed); May 8 (Liberation Day) and, in 2007, May 17 (Ascension). There is also often another religious holiday in late May or early June (in 2007, its Pentecost Monday on May 28). There might be similar holidays in Spain and Italy. The reasons for keeping these holidays in mind are that: a) lots of European nationals are likely to be travelling around these dates (if the holiday falls on a weekday, they'll take a super-long weekend); b) consequently, flights, trains and hotels might book up sooner than usual; c) some of the sights, restaurants and shops you want to visit might be closed; and d) labour unions love to go on strike and inconvenience travellers during these periods. It's a good idea to figure out when the Brits have bank holiday and half-term school holidays, too, since they love to travel to Spain and Italy on their holidays and will also affect flight, train and hotel costs. Finally, although I believe the violent demonstrations have died off in the past few years, Labour Day in some European countries used to be marked by protests and demonstrations that sometimes turned violent.

I stayed at an interesting hotel in Amsterdam a few years ago, called de Filosoof (the Philosopher). Go to It is located in a quiet neighbourhood about a 20 minute walk from central Amsterdam, near the park. It's easy to catch a streetcar downtown if you don't want to walk. The rooms are decorated individually according to philosophical themes and there's a lovely booked-filled breakfast lounge area. It's very low key - and not your standard cookie cutter hotel at all.

In Barcelona, I recommend staying in the Eixample District, which is just north of the central Barri Gotic. It is more upscale and not as crowded. I feel safer there, because it's not "tourist central" (where pickpockets often focus their efforts). The architecture is astounding, and there is a lively enough mix of restaurants, shops and residences. I've had good luck staying in hotels that are part of the Derby chain (the Astoria and the Balmes). I also liked the H10 Catalunya Plaza Hotel, which is just on the border between Eixample and the Barri Gotic and only a few dozen metres away from where the airport express drops you off.
Kate_W is offline  
Nov 7th, 2006, 09:55 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 43
Thank you so much for that info. It's been a long time since we travelled in May. I'll investigate all of the above and thank you for the input on hotels. I've been very lucky with the recommendations that have been posted on Fodors.
MxSmrs is offline  
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