What was your best European trip?

Old Jan 16th, 2008, 07:37 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 161
Just got in the mail from NWA that they are starting a direct flight from Minneapolis to Paris. How great is that? My daughter wants Paris, my son doesn't care, and my husband likes the non-stop to Paris thing and says we should go back to our honeymoon location 20 years later with our children. Okay, so I got outvoted, but I am certainly not in any pain.

One of my goals (aging brain thing) was to learn the language of wherever we were going. I realize this will be a rudimentary knowledge, but knowledge nonetheless. Does anyone have any suggestions on a good in-home course? Is the Rosetta Stone as good as they say?

We are planning Paris with the South of France. Of course, that means the Architect will be driving.

As I continue to research and plan, I will move over to the France forum. Thank you all again for your fabulous suggestions. You truly have given us so many future holiday plans!
mosey is offline  
Old Jan 16th, 2008, 08:08 AM
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I have used Pimsleur to get a rudimentary grasp of another language in a short time. Their intro German course on Amazon.com was $15.

Once you get about 100 nouns and 50 verbs, you can communicate competently, but not idiomatically (filling in with a dictionary as needed).
Robespierre is offline  
Old Jan 16th, 2008, 08:31 AM
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I think this will be an amazing vacation for your family.

Your kids will love France.

Have fun!

gruezi is offline  
Old Jan 16th, 2008, 08:40 AM
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We have been traveling to Europe for over 35 years and one of our favorite places is Sicily. Antiquities, beautiful country side, water, spectacular food and small towns, Mt. Etna, and warm people.

We went with a college -aged niece and a friend of hers who propoesed to every young woman in the town of Cefalu where Cinema Paradiso was filmed.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Old Jan 16th, 2008, 09:27 AM
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We had an amazing trip to Spain last spring. If you click on my name you can read my trip report. We've been to Germany, Paris, Southern France, Venice, and Ireland, also, but Spain has been my favorite.
kelliebellie is offline  
Old Jan 16th, 2008, 09:50 PM
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Can you tell us what were the things that made your trip to Spain so amazing? I've only been to Spain once but haven't been compelled to return yet so I think I need to draw more inspiration. Did you take Spanish in school or understand it rather well perhaps?
DAX is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2008, 01:02 AM
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I have to say that the one we are on is the best vacation that we have ever taken to Europe. We have been here for 16 months with more to go and have seen sooooo many beautiful sites and met wonderful people.

Wintering in sunny Spain has also been idyllic with the food, flamenco and warm Andalucian people with wonderful, elaborate festivals.

Sounds like you have found your special place and I am sure you will all have lots of fun. Don't forget Pont du gard in Provence with it's wonderful museum that you will all enjoy! We love Paris and Provence!!

We have not found a place that we have not liked yet, but stand outs have been Morocco, Turkey and Croatia....put them all on your "must see" list....each is quite unique and wonderful hospitality. Morocco is not Europe, but goes fantastic with Moorish Spain and is a bit like going to the middle ages in Fez medina and the Sahara is a profound experience. No place like Morocco on the planet.

Turkey is sooo cheap and drop dead gorgeous & unique in places like Cappadocia & Turquoise coast ( best place to sail pristine area for super cheap). NOt to mention fantastic food, safe, the best hospitality in the world. More Greek ruins than Greece, more Roman ruins than Italy...Ephesus & area is outstanding. Istanbul so beautiful and rich in history.

Dubrovnik, Plitsvice, Rovinj etc etc are drop dead gorgeous, pristine places that should not be missed in a lifetime.

Ahhh, too many wonderful places to see, too little time to see them all.

WTnow is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2008, 07:41 AM
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It's odd that when I read your original post, I thought of Scotland and later on you mentioned the possibility. I loved Scotland when I had visited on my own and was delighted when two of my nephews made it their choice for a trip when it was their turn to go to Europe with their aunt. They were 11 and 14 and we spent two weeks in a rental car. They loved it as much as I did. We hiked, explored wildlife refuges, attended a small highland games in a small town near Loch Ness (spent 6 nights in a delightful B&B there), went through many castles, played on beaches and generally packed in 15 days of fun and memories.

Go with your gut and see Scotland! If you enjoy it even half as much as we did, you'll have a wonderful trip. (Already the older nephew is planning to take his wife back for their fifth wedding anniversary in 3 years. He says he wants to show her all the wonderful things we saw and did.)
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 07:51 AM
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I have enjoyed everyone's contributions - thought I would throw in my ideas as well, as I have taken my two kids to most of the places mentioned. Scotland is beautiful, rural, very undeveloped. We enjoyed the drive, and spent a few days at Loch Ness. Be prepared for driving in beautiful locations, and cooler weather. Edinburgh can be quite windy and cool in the summer. I personally love Switzerland, and if you go I recommend visiting the outdoor museum near Interlochen. I will look for the name - it is a very large "living" museum , where they have taken original buildings and transplanted them to a site - it is amazing and one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Near there I took a group of 14 year old girls to the outdoor summer sledding (very popular in the off season). They loved this experience, where you literally fly down a mountain on this little track, holding onto a flat bed sled. It is a summer "luge" and kids love it. I loved it. My only complaint about Switzerland is the tremendous expense compared with other places.. but I still recommend it for beauty and things to do! Just some ideas from another parent.. have fun.
tlangenbach is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2008, 08:59 AM
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Thank you all for such fabulous ideas. I love reading about your travels, but my husband doesn't like me reading them! Ha! I keep going back to him and saying, maybe we should go to Spain, maybe we should go to Italy, maybe we should go to........

Since the tickets haven't been purchased yet, it's still up in the air, and I have already committed to Switzerland and then France in this post. How do you make a decision?

Thank you Robespierre, I will look into that language course. gruezi, your best wishes are appreciated. Aduchamp1, we have discussed Rome with a trip to Sicily as an option. kelliebellie, I enjoyed your trip report, and we definitely have Spain on the to go list. WTnow - my goodness, what a phenomenal opportunity for you and your family. Thanks for your best so far suggestions. irishface, it's funny, but of all the places I have traveled, Scotland is one that I wish to repeat. Maybe my Celtic ancestry speaks to me when I am there.

Every trip my husband and I have taken prior to kids was wonderful, except, our Germany trip in which we were constantly on the go. It's not that I didn't enjoy it overall, but it just exhasuted me. If my husband had his way, we would continue to travel like this. A bit of an ADD travler that one.

The trips where both my husband and I enjoyed along with our kids enjoying, we have stayed for a week and used that as a base to take day trips or just hang around and sightsee locally or at the most the eight days were divided between only two locations. We have been on only one two week vacation, and we hit a wall all at the same time, and ended up staying in our hotel room all day (Victoria, BC) about half way through the trip.

One important point is that we are not hot weather people. I am originally from the Chicago area, lived in the city for years prior to moving to Minneapolis, and I still love that city. The worst trip I had with our children was when we went there several years ago in August. It was hot and they hated it! Fortunately, since we go back to visit my family, they have learned to love Chicago due to timing in different months. When we go to Disney World, as soon as the temps increase in the afternoon, and I am speaking April temps. not summer, we leave the parks.

So, my only concern is that we have to travel in June, and probably we would go to Paris the third week of June and then onto SOF the last week of June. Will the SOF be too hot since we would be there closer to the end of June?

As I stated earlier, we do need variety: art museums, castles, history museums, historical sites, scenery, or just plain walking around and people watching and eating wonderful food. Cost is a bit of an issue and that's probably why I eliminated Rome for this trip. I don't want to eat most of my meals in our apartment since I am on vacation and this should be a special one at that. We don't like extreme heat so I would save certain locations for fall trips when it would just be my husband and me or Thanksgiving/Christmas trips with the kids. BK, my husband and I loved travelling in the fall - great weather and fewer tourists.

I am truly appreciative of all of your wonderful suggestions! How do you all decide when it all looks so wonderful? This is why I shop in small stores.
mosey is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2008, 09:59 AM
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Dax - I did have some Spanish in school, but promptly forgot it all. But it did help to have very long distant bells ringing in the back of my head unlike France where language-wise I felt like I was under water.

The Spanish lifestyle appeals to me tremendously. If I could stay up late and take a nap every day, that would be great. The people were just really nice and the region of Andalucia was amazing for this relatively flat lander.

We were also able to stay in the (almost) best places (it was a bit cheaper than France) and I loved all the Moorish influences. I'd never experienced that before. I loved the cave with the 30,000 year old paintings. I loved the food and drink.

So, I guess personally for me, the Spanish lifestyle was what I was meant to live. Which is now an insight that maybe I shouldn't be recommending it to others unless they like to live that way too!

Mosey - We did Paris and the south of France and had an amazing time there as well. Look around and find some festival calendars for France and try to plan around one. We saw a bullfighting festival in Nimes and got very pleasantly drunk on sangria and had a great time.

I loved Avignon and the Pope's Palace. Pont du Gard and the little town of Uze is a must. The food in Nice was great and the little town of Eze is adorable. It is a beautiful region!
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 10:09 AM
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Spain comes to mind. If you spend a 3 or 4 days in southern Spain you will have an almost exotic experience as much of the area is Moorish. While there we saw tons of Apes in Gibraltor, very cool caves in Nerja, beautiful architecture in Seville and Granada and Cordoba, Cathedrals, Alcazars (Palaces). Ronda is a great drive with an amazing gorge. Then take the Ave train to Madrid and spend a few days visiting world class Musuems and ultra cool nightlife, (your kids will love it). You can daytrip to Toledo or El Escorial and then spend the rest of your vacation in Barcelona. I'm sure other posters have told you how great a city it is. The whole family will love it.
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