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Urgent- Pleaseee HELP - Spain, Italy or France for Xmass and New years

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Dec 1st, 2016, 08:54 PM
  #21
 
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OK -- there are 70 year olds and then there are 70 year olds. Some are very active, can walk a lot, handle stairs, and dashing about and 'stuff' . . . and some aren't/can't.

Which is your mother?

If at all the latter - then you really only want to visit one city. There is jet lag, and acclimating, and packing and unpacking and moving. If you go to JUST London you still really only have a short time -- and you could do a day trip to Bath or Oxford or somewhere IF your Mom is up to it.

If she is in great shape and more the former, then pick one other city -- probably in Spain -- and do London and that city.
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Dec 1st, 2016, 09:27 PM
  #22
 
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I don't know that trying with a TA was so bad. It is a lot of things: flying RT into a place in which there is little interest, and having to return there, eating up time; trying to accommodate interests that would be better met in another place and time of year; worrying about cost, yet wanting to zip around to many places. Unlimited time allows you to do that. Unlimited money may help, but without the time, even money doesn't make much difference.

Has your Mom been to Paris? What is it she does not like? London and Paris make a great pair. However, you must do what you feel is right and best.

Is it possible to change tickets and have the money applied to a trip in the Spring?

Had your parents planned a long trip to Spain and Portugal? Your Mom must surely realize that you can't do in a week what might have been planned for 2 weeks.

She must also consider that many of the outdoor things and things she likes, just are not as enjoyable in winter, that many people go in winter for museums, shows, winter sports, etc., Also, that week between Christmas and New Years is difficult, lots of stuff before, but then quiets down for a bit.

Suggest you strongly consider either Malaga or Seville. (Not both!)
From Seville, you could do an easy day trip (1 hour by train) to Córdoba for the Mezquita.
From Malaga, you could do a day trip (by bus) to Granada for the Alhambra.
That way, your Mom could see two places in Spain. All are charming, historic and have great food! Take in a flamenco show!

If she prefers Barcelona, it has fantastic architecture, and you might see if there are any concerts or cultural events that week. There is also a fabulous food.

Either way, spend at least 2 nights (1 full day) back in London and take in a show each night. Shop and sight see during the day.

Keep it simple. One city with a day trip and London. That is it! Do more. Travel less. You will both have fun. You are a good daughter! I send you a hug.
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Dec 1st, 2016, 09:43 PM
  #23
 
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What janis said. If your mom has the pluck and energy, go on to Spain for a few days. The word is i-tin-er-ary, btw, pronounced exactly as it is written, 5 syllables. Not itiniary.

Forget the travel agents. They are rarely worth even talking to and generally haven't even set foot on the ground in Europe the way people here have.

Your mom's list of great cities to visit wouldn't be mine, but of the ones she mentions I would half-heartedly pick Barcelona.
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Dec 1st, 2016, 11:28 PM
  #24
mjs
 
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I agree with Janisj as well. i also have a few more comments. One has to do a lot of walking in European cities to get around to see the sights. I am quite fit and so is my daughter and we just left London yesterday after 5 nights and we are generally quite tired by the evening and we have not had to walk as much as you would as we do not do a lot of touristy "things" as we are often in London. As for being used to cold in Buffalo it's different as a tourist as you are out much of the time instead of mostly being indoors at home.
As others have said, you do not have much time in Europe. Visiting another place other than London loses you 1 out of your 7 days. Actually more like 1 out of 6 as everything is closed on Christmas. Moving takes time and money. We just flew to Berlin today and awoke at 0530 for a limo to LHR and a 0910 flight that arrived around 1130 and after immigration and a taxi ride made it to our hotel at1300. After unpacking and Lucy it was 1400 and w had about 2 hours of day light and rain. There is plenty to do in London for your time frame.
If you do a second city do fly out 4+ hours out of your arrival LHR. Paris would be my choice with Eurostar return but Barcelona or Rome etc would work. Do not fly back to LHR on the 1st on your way back unless you wish to possibly miss your flight home and have to pay full fare. If a doing a second city return to London on the 27 or 28.
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Dec 2nd, 2016, 12:27 AM
  #25
 
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Itinerary is one of my most complicated words.
Keep stumbling in this one - I want pronounce it as in French. But if I slow down I can do it.

London + Barcelona would be my take.
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Dec 2nd, 2016, 10:37 AM
  #26
 
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Spain because that's where your mother wants to go. Southern Spain because it will probably be warmer than most other parts of Europe. Barcelona and down the coast toward Seville.

!Buen Viaje!
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Dec 2nd, 2016, 12:44 PM
  #27
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Putting together an itinerary this late for a trip over the holidays with cost and time constraints is very difficult. Simplicity is important to help things go smoothly. You are starting out with some complexity as you need to get yourself 100 miles from Buffalo to Toronto via the border in the winter during a major holiday. Assuming you are driving, what is traffic going to be like between the two cities? How long will it take you to cross the border? How long will it take you to drive into the airport itself? Will parking be a problem? It may normally take ~2 1/2 hours to do all of this but I suspect it will take a lot longer on the 23rd even if the weather is perfect. Also consider that the airport itself is going to be mobbed and getting to the ticket counter and through security is going to take much longer than usual. I suspect that you are going to have leave home 8 hours or more to make your flight comfortably. Add a 7 hour flight than a mobbed LHR. Immigration will probably not be fun. Now it gets interesting for you as you need to decide on where you want to go. A brief check finds airfare to Rome later that day expensive. Paris is cheap and Madrid not bad at about $100 more.
Barcelona is a few more hundred than Madrid. Waiting until the 25th to fly out of LHR costs you an extra half day or so. If your Mother has never been to Paris she might find she loves it. On the other hand she may have her heart set on Spain... You are all going to be exhausted by the time you reach your destination unless it's just London. Good luck and hope you have a grand trip. You do have some decisions to make
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Dec 2nd, 2016, 02:06 PM
  #28
 
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Just one thing: don't return from Spain on the day you have to fly back to Toronto. If bad weather delays your flight to London, last-minute replacement tickets will cost a fortune.
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Dec 2nd, 2016, 06:32 PM
  #29
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Thank you so much for all of your replies...

I find them sooo Helpful.

I'm sorry for the misspelling, I'm rushing writing these posts using my phone as I have a lot going on here.

1. My parents lived in Germany during college years and I was born there, they had traveled to parts of France and Italy before, (50 years ago) I think that maybe why she was hesitant to go there. I have never been to Europe, and I would Love to visit France (first choice) esp Paris. I will have to see if i can convince her of this, since most of you suggested this plan would be the easiest and most economical.

2. Since dad and her had planned the Spain trip and were unable to go, I think that's why she wants to go there. Barcelona is her top choice in Spain. Seville is mine from what i found online, also my dad played acoustic guitar and loved flamenco dancers - I was told Seville has the best shows. Someone suggested doing London and Barcelona only. I will have to c if this is ok with her too. She originally said she wanted Barcelona, Madrid and Lisbon in the 7 days.

3. However, the insight you are all providing regarding traveling in these European airports / Heathrow and the immigration, traffic delays - I did not take this into account and was not aware. I am getting very concerned about even planning anywhere vs just staying in London / England.

Do any of you know of a tour company that you recommend ?

4. Mom is def not a super active 70 yo. She did do a Euro Viking Cruise which landed in a different city every day... thus she thinks she will be fine with the plan she came up with (London-Barcelona-Seville-Madrid-London), but none of that involved flying so much, she slept at night and landed in the city during the day.

5. Thank you so much for telling me to go back to London the day before our flight leaves for Toronto.

6. The original reason we decided to fly to London with my husband and son was because they have a 10 hour layover and we thought we could all go sightseeing during that time... is that unrealistic too?
Is Heathrow within close distance to a couple of site seeing places or is it in a remote area?

Thank you again in advance for all of your input.
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Dec 2nd, 2016, 06:44 PM
  #30
 
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>> they have a 10 hour layover and we thought we could all go sightseeing during that time... is that unrealistic too?
Is Heathrow within close distance to a couple of site seeing places or is it in a remote area? <<

It mostly depends on which 10 hours it is. If you land in the early morning and they don't fly out til early evening -- then you (they actually since you and your mom would probably staying over in London) - 10 hours would net you about 5 hours free on the ground in central London. Heathrow is about 18 miles west of London and no matter which mode of transport it takes about an hour to get into the center of town/to any major sites.

re your #4 -- there is NO comparison between a river cruise and a multi city land-based trip. She boarded the ship, unpacked once, and sailed from city to city and packs again once to catch the transfer to the airport to fly home, w/o one in-Europe flight/train/train station. Basically a moving/floating hotel.
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Dec 2nd, 2016, 06:50 PM
  #31
 
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Honestly, I think it may be too late to book a tour. Visiting several places by boat/ cruise is quite a bit different from flying or taking trains. If your mom is not super active, you do not want to include more than two cities. It will be too tiring for her. Again, fly to either Barcelona or Seville and you really need to book now. Spain seems to be the holiday of choice for many Brits and flights may already be full or close to it.

Yes, there are sightseeing possibilities near to LHR. A ten hour layover quickly disintegrates when you include getting through passport control and security ( 2X) . Windsor would be the obvious choice for a a visit.
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Dec 2nd, 2016, 07:13 PM
  #32
 
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Lily I know you want to make your mother happy. But do yourself (and her) a favor and just stay in London. There is SO much to do and you won't have to spend a lot of time in airports going somewhere else for a couple of days. Maybe you can take your mom to Barcelona on another trip.. not Christmas and when the weather will be warmer.

There are many, many places to visit without getting on to an airplane from London. Find a fab apartment or hotel and settle in for some fairly stress free family time in a fantastic city.

Barcelona will be there for later.
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Dec 2nd, 2016, 07:19 PM
  #33
 
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I checked skyscanner. If you are arriving at LHR at noon, there are no non-stop flights to Barcelona or Seville. There are non-stop flights you could take to Madrid or Lisbon, but I would be somewhat reluctant to leave the airport as they depart around 6:00 or 7:00 pm and you would need to be back two hours ahead. In amy case, it will be Christmas Eve. LHR will be a mad house. London will be a mad house. Windsor is the closest place you could visit, but the castle closes at 4:15 pm, with last admission at 3:00 pm, so you would be pushed to make it there. I have mo idea how long it will take you to clear passport control, but I doubt it will be quick.

As already said, a cruise is a completely different experience to independent travel, whether by plane or train.
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Dec 2nd, 2016, 07:30 PM
  #34
 
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If your mother wants to go to Barcelona, then by all means let that be the second city. Give yourself enough time to get in to Heathrow, then fly out to Barcelona. There is lots to see, do, and eat in three or four days. Then fly back to London and spend a few days there before heading home. London is also one of Europe's great cities and very different from Barcelona, which is a more free-spirited city. Alternately, you could squeeze Madrid in by taking a train from Barcelona, but you would lose another day travelling. As others have said, the fewer cities you visit, the more time you'll have to actually see things. Inter-city travel takes up a lot more time than you might imagine.

Enjoy!
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Dec 2nd, 2016, 07:37 PM
  #35
 
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@burts - the OP has six full days, total. Your suggestion is unrealistic.
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Dec 3rd, 2016, 02:34 AM
  #36
 
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Go to wonderful Málaga city by the Med, the best climate in Europe and something special in December/Christmas time. Direct flights from London to the large Málaga international airport all the time: http://www.spainforpleasure.com/2014...ime-in-malaga/
http://www.guidetomalaga.com/5-reaso...mas-in-malaga/

Málaga is Andalucía's "city of culture with its so-called 'mile of art' being compared to Madrid, and its dynamism and fine dining to Barcelona": https://www.lonelyplanet.com/spain/andalucia/malaga

3000 year old Málaga is the major museum city in Andalucía, a fabulous food and bar scene and historic sights right in the city center (the Roman theater, the Moorish Palace fortress, the huge 16th century cathedral, the Picasso birth house etc. etc.). http://www.malagaturismo.com/en/

Weather statistics for Málaga in December says highs at 60-65F, average 5 hours sun/day and rainfall one in five days. (wetteronline.de).
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Dec 3rd, 2016, 04:29 AM
  #38
 
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I heartily agree with rialto girl. Unfortunately, you have boxed yourself in by being ticketed to and from London and choosing to travel at an insanely busy time of year at all airports (trains, too). Add in the fact that your mother has no recent experience in moving around from one foreign country to another (it is NOTHING like a cruise) and all that that entails, and I can't see a good outcome for any plan other than staying in London, which BTW is magical at Christmastime.

My own experience is: I live in Europe. I have 40 years' experience criss-crossing the Continent. I speak a few languages and am thoroughly familiar with procedures, signage, customs, etc. I'm younger than your mother. And I frequently come home dead exhausted from week-long trips (even 2-week trips) trying to squeeze in more than one or two places. You just can't imagine, until you've done it, how much energy it consumes to get back and forth to airports and train stations, go through security procedures, handle your own luggage, sit around and wait...etc., etc. I can't imagine your mother taking all this in stride and enjoying it.
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Dec 3rd, 2016, 05:05 AM
  #39
 
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Taking StCirq's wise considerations into account, Málaga would still be quite stress-free. 15 direct flights from London to Málaga on Dec. 23, 2h 50 mins flying time. (momondo.com)

In Málaga, you are also only 50 mins with train away from Córdoba with the spectacular Mezquita, the most advanced city in Europe around 1000AD: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/spain/andalucia/cordoba
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Dec 3rd, 2016, 05:17 AM
  #40
 
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@kimhe - there is NO direct flight from LHR to Malaga the afternoon of Dec. 24th.

There is a flight leavng at 4:35 pm that the OP might be able to make, but it requires a two and a half hour layover in Madrid and arrives at 11:00 pm. They will already have traveled from Buffalo to Toronto and overnight from Toronto to London.

I agree that the sensible thing to do is to stay in London, and expend the effort currently being spent to find a second city in finding somewhere to stay, and somewhere to eat on Christmas Day. London is a wonderful city with loads to do/see, and there will be the lights on Oxford Street, the skating rinks, and special displays in museums like the Geffrye.
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