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Trip report. Germany, Belgium, France, and Italy in 2 weeks during Easter. Am I nuts?!?!?

Trip report. Germany, Belgium, France, and Italy in 2 weeks during Easter. Am I nuts?!?!?

Apr 17th, 2007, 05:14 AM
  #41  
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Today we head to Venice, so we mostly just sleep in, pack and relax in the Rue Cler area. www.hotelduchampdemars.com was an excellent value at 89 Euros per night.

We take Metro and RER again to CDG. With the exception of the taxi taken on our first day here, we have used public transportation our entire stay in Paris. The cost saving were astronomical, and the trains were on time and numerous.

We have an afternoon flight to Bologna on MyAir, which we found on whichbudget.com for less than 30 euros. My Air leaves from terminal 3 at CDG, easy to get to, still no horror stories at CDG for us.

Our flight loads on time and we have an absolutely drop dead handsome FA, Emanuel. DAYYYUMMMMM! Oh he was yummy. Looked like an Italian fashion model. Daughter disgusted that mom is drooling. Hey, I am only 42, and even though I am happily engaged, I am NOT dead!! I took his picture and have it up on my screen saver at work. I admit, I will have to go back to the slide show of my grandsons sooner rather than later, but for now, he is such a pleasant diversion to my day...

For some reason, plane does not leave gate, seems we are waiting for 30 passengers coming in on a flight that has been delayed. So we wait, and wait. Passengers finally show up and we seem ready to go, but then there is a problem with the count on board. We have X amount of passengers, but only Y amount of boarding passes. Another 45 minutes go by while that problems is straightened out.

We finally leave almost 2 hours late. This puts a huge damper on our plans for dinner in Venice. Flight is quick and uneventful, land in Bologna with no trouble. Bus to train station. Catch train to Venice, no problems there either, except for the fact that you really have to remember to validate your ticket in the machine. We walked off without doing it, and a very kind college student took pity on us and explained how to do it.

Train station in Venice very handy and easy to navigate. We were off to our apartment in less than 5 minutes. I found this great apartment on Cross-Pollinate.com. It took us around 6 minutes to get to the apartment. The owner had been delayed at his restaurant, so even though he knew we had been delayed, we still had to wait in the dark outside the apartment at 10PM

The owner, Luca, is a very nice man and the pictures on the cross pollinate website do not do this place justice. Whoever renovated this apartment knew what they were doing. Tile floors, granite counters, quality appliances and cabinetry, excellent marble bathroom, just a wonderful apartment throughout. We had a large master bedroom, a small secondary bedroom, and a pull out sofa in the living room. The cost for this apartment was only 115 Euros per night. It was very well kept and clean, the only thing that I would do if it were mine is to take a bottle of spray bleach cleaner and a grout brush to the shower,

It was 10:30 by the time Luca finished showing us around and we were starving. He personally took us to a restaurant to see if they would stay open to get us fed. The first place was closed and locking up, the second place was closing, but agreed to make us pizza and salad. We also had a carafe of the house wine. We left there with a bottle of Proseco for the apartment and headed back to unwind and unpack. From what we have experienced so far, I think we are gonna love Venice!
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Apr 17th, 2007, 05:22 AM
  #42  
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Forgot to give you name of cross pollinate apartment. It is the Ca' Francesco, in the old Jewish Ghetto. Excellent area
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Apr 17th, 2007, 09:00 AM
  #43  
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R
threerohdes is offline  
Apr 17th, 2007, 09:25 AM
  #44  
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Seem to have a problem posting, everything I just posted on 2nd day in Venice just dissapeared Oh no! I will try to replicate it soon.
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Apr 17th, 2007, 11:49 AM
  #45  
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I am going to condense Venice, as there is not much notable in my travel report there. It was a spectacular place, the weather was incredible, the sights absolutely stunning (St. Mark's Basilica absolutely breathtaking). We had lunch one day at the foot of the Rialto bridge with the gondoliers singing Volare' as them came under the bridge. Pretty funny.

Venice was a big argument and squabble city for the daughter and I. I just do not understand it, I really thought this trip would have been a piece of cake, as we get along amazingly well. I had to just hand my daughter the guidebook one day and just walk away. I wonder if having my friend along for part of the trip was a disappointment for her. But then again, she is the one who voted for taking her along, so who knows?

I would love to return to Venice, as 3 nights is not nearly enough time for me.
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Apr 17th, 2007, 12:09 PM
  #46  
 
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Family chemistry is mysterious business. You might find out what was 'wrong' 25 years from now in a minor comment at a holiday dinner.
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Apr 17th, 2007, 12:57 PM
  #47  
 
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My friends with kids in college swear it's nature's way of preparing you for their departure. They say that the last year in high school they get so cocky and mouthy that you're ready to ship them off!

But it's also scary for them, so they lash out at the the safest, softest, person they know, you Mom, because you will love them no matter what.












kraav is offline  
Apr 17th, 2007, 02:18 PM
  #48  
 
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Some friends and I rented an apartment in Rome years ago from cross-pollinate. Our experience was a good one. I'm glad to hear they came through for you; they're quite reasonable, aren't they?

Looking forward to more when you get the chance.
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Apr 17th, 2007, 02:21 PM
  #49  
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Kraav,

Yep, you hit it right on the head. I don't really want anyone to think I am picking on my daughter, I am fully aware that she was thrown into a completely alien world for this trip.

It ends up okay, I just wanted to let you all know what it is like traveling with teenagers
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Apr 17th, 2007, 02:37 PM
  #50  
 
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A couple of years ago a psychologist spoke to parents of seniors at my daughter's high school. He said to expect a lot more conflict with family and with the child's friends during the last months of senior year (and the summer) because it is easier emotionally for a child to leave mad than to leave sad.

Our older daughter was completely easy to be around until January of her senior year. Then it was friction for the next two years. People kept telling me that she would come around, but I had my doubts. It was true. Halfway through her 2nd year of university we worked it all out with some very long talks, lots of tears, and lots of hugs.

She's 21 now, a college junior, and we just took a spring break trip together to London and Cardiff. Just a few minor incidents (hard for her to adjust to having mom around 24/7 when she's been on her own nearly 3 years, including summers) but she apologized for each one. Overall we had an amazing trip, shared lots of laughs, and ended up closer.
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Apr 17th, 2007, 06:04 PM
  #51  
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Noe,

I really needed to hear that, thanks. Glad to hear you had a great trip with your daughter
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Apr 18th, 2007, 01:08 PM
  #52  
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Took an AlpiEagles flight from Venice to Naples for incredible price of 52Euro, all taxes included. Landed at Naples airport, found our way outside to the taxi stand. We were very nervous about the taxi situation, but found a very nice gentleman who took us to Molvo Bellverello Port for 20 Euro. He pointed us to the place to buy hydrofoil tickets and was on his way.

We purchased hydrofoil tickets to Sorrento for 9.50 Euro each. As we came up to the window to purchase tickets, there was a man standing off to the side with a cup out for change. I pretty much ignored him until the agent selling me my tickets told me the boat was getting ready to leave, so I had better hurry. The man off to the side said to follow him, he would take us there. I dropped my 1 euro coin in his cup and he hurried us to the correct boat, right before they took off. Of course he wanted more money, but well all just smiled and told him thank you and bye.

Boat ride over quickly, day slightly overcast and a bit foggy, but we could see that we were coming up onto some beautiful cliffs, and the water was very clear. Grabbed our bags and headed off the boat. As we were getting our bearings, I called the B&B owner for directions. Long story short, GET A TAXI!! Hell of a trek up the steep winding road to the B&B.

We stayed at Casa Dominova for 90 Euros a night for a triple. This price included taxes and breakfast. If you are a strict budget traveler, I would recommend this place, good location, clean, secure. But if you like to hang out in your room or move in the shower, I would pass. Just my 2 cents, but others may like it. We had a very nice afternoon and evening walking around and talking to the locals and the vendors. Lots of dogs in the street, kids playing everywhere around Piazza Tasso, just a homey feeling place. The sun had finally broken through the clouds, and people were out soaking up the sun. Smell of lemons everywhere down the alleyways.

We had a great dinner at the restaurant of the B&B owner, called "da Gigino", and were greeted warmly by Ciro and his staff. We were brought a glass of very good Proseco and handed our menus. Dinner was good and we had a fun time with the waiters, especially Tony, who kinda resembles Vince Vaughn. We head home, but stop in at a grocery to purchase a bottle of Proseco for the room. We have a big day tomorrow, and it is nice to just sit and wind down from the day.

Tomorrow, we have booked a private driver to take us on an all day tour of the Amalfi Coast
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Apr 18th, 2007, 01:45 PM
  #53  
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We get up early, as we have booked a tour of the Amalfi coast with Tour of Italy. Ciro brings us breakfast to our room, we have cappichino, croissants, sweet cake, jam, toast, juice, and tea.

We head outside, the day is absolutely stunning! Clear blue skies and warm. We are warmly greeted by Giovanni, the owner of Tour of Italy. We start our tour driving around the lemon and olive growing regions of Sorrento, where Giovanni was born and raised. It is very pretty and we learn a lot from him about harvesting the fruits. He has a CD of Dean Martin singing Italian songs blaring in the CD player, so every time he gets out of the car, we reach over and turn it down.

It is just a beautiful day and the views are breathtaking. Giovanni speaks very loudly and is a touchy feely kind of guy, but I can deal with that and am steered into the front by my daughter and friend. About 45 minutes into the trip, things start going very badly. I think Giovanni needs to retire, he is a very nice man, but his driving is just flat out suicidal. He drives at top speeds on every straight area of the road, slams on the brakes and whips around the corners, passes on blind corners, his collision alarm going off on the Mercedes we are riding in at least 3 times every minute.

I really do not want to slam this man, as he is very nice and I don't believe he realizes how badly he is driving. We come upon a fruit stand at an overlook right before you reach Positano and both my daughter and my friend are scared silly. I try to talk to Giovanni, discreetly telling him that we aren't used to the driving in Italy. How do I tell him that he scares the hell out of us? It is time to get back into the car, and it is all my daughter can do to not break down and cry.

There is a huge BOOM! above us and Giovanni tells us it is part of the cliffs breaking off and coming down the hillside. Tour buses are everywhere, and the normally one way narrow streets are packed with 2 way traffic going into Positano. We sit in a traffic jam while Giovanni screams at a lady on the side of the road. Doesn't look like we are going anywhere, so he turns the CD up.

It takes us an hour of stop and go, ram on the gas, slam on the brakes driving to get from just outside of Positano, to the middle of town, where we are let out of the car for a break of 1 hour to explore the shops and the beach. As we head down to the beach, my daughter just looses it. She is crying and begging me not to make he get back into that car, she just can't do it, she says. I am much more fearless and adventurous than my daughter, but even I am scared we are going to die if we continue on this tour.

My friend and I take my daughter down to the beach to calm her down. There is a boat dock place at the side of the beach, and I reserve a boat to take us back to Sorrento later that afternoon. I walk back up into the town and find Giovanni. I tell him that my daughter has had a bit of a traumatic time with drivers lately, and that we wish to not continue with the rest of our trip. He is extremely understanding and wishes us well. I did pay him the full amount of our tour, it was our decision to bail and he had reserved his day for us.

My daughter began to breathe better when I told her all had been taken care of, and we set out to enjoy or afternoon in Positano. What a gorgeous place, but it is really touristy and obviously priced for patrons a bit more well heeled than us. We found a nice place to have lunch and a bottle of, you guessed it, Proseco. Daughter had her first Bellini and decided she really liked it. She isn't a drinker at all, although on occasion she will sip a bit of my Cabernet if in the mood. Most she has ever drunk is a glass of champagne or two at her sisters wedding a few years ago.

We enjoy our lunch and take a walk around the waterfront to look for water and sunscreen for our boat ride back to Sorrento. For 150 Euros, we got a private boat for just the 3 of us, with a really cute, pleasant driver. He reminded me of someone I used to know years ago, so I will call him Kurt. he gave us his name, but for the life of me, I just can't remember it. It was a great trip back, the sky was blue, the water clear blue, and the company excellent. "Kurt" pointed out the sites as we passed them, slowed down when we wanted to take pictures, laughed and giggled with us as we tried out our Italian on him. He took pictures of the 3 of us, posed for pictures for us, and was generally a pleasure to be around. Our trip back to Sorrento was about 40 minutes and worth every penny that I paid him. My daughter enjoyed the ride, and we were all relaxed and happy by the end of the trip. It turned out just fine.
threerohdes is offline  
Apr 18th, 2007, 04:24 PM
  #54  
 
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I'm REALLY going to need to see pictures. Please (pretty please) post some. Forget the sites... I wanna see your Italian flight attendant and Kurt the boat captain!

Thanks for a great trip report. I have freshman in college and a junior in high school- both boys but I feel your pain.
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Apr 18th, 2007, 04:42 PM
  #55  
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Any ideas on how to post those pics?
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Apr 18th, 2007, 05:51 PM
  #57  
 
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Hey threerohdes,

I am absolutely loving your trip report. Brings back memories of my time in Paris and makes me look forward to my upcoming trip to Germany (now you have me thinking about going to Braubach!).

Oh and whenever I go on a trip with my bf, we always have at least one day of bickering. Being around someone 24/7 will do that sometimes...
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Apr 18th, 2007, 06:17 PM
  #58  
 
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Your trip report is so wonderful - what a great mom you are for providing this opportunity. Regardless of the squabbles that occur on the way, your daughter will remember this time with you for the rest of her life.
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Apr 19th, 2007, 05:16 AM
  #59  
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I will attempt to upload some picture after I get into work today. Thanks for your comments so far.
threerohdes is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 08:15 AM
  #60  
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Let me know if this works

http://tinyurl.com/2aejuy
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