Where to Begin?

Jun 3rd, 2012, 04:35 AM
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colduphere is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 04:41 AM
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People here almost always say slow down. Not sure how you can say there will be other trips. Lots of people only go once. We're not all "travelers".
colduphere is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 05:54 AM
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Thanks to all for this wonderful advice. I really, really appreciate it. I love the suggestions so I thought it may be helpful to give more information about myself so that experienced travelers as you would be able to give me additional advice. With that, here's a little synopsis of my thinking...

The reason I say "once in a lifetime" is that it is hard to travel as a family once the kids are grown without bringing everyone and their brother. As it is, my son (24) wants to bring his girlfriend at his cost. She was in my count of the three kids. On top of that, I'm not in the greatest of health so I'm not sure if there will be another opportunity.

I queried my son and he thought London and Rome. However, I'm thinking London and Paris because of the advice about the train (versus flying to Rome). I love history (and I would have majored in it had I not been pushed into a more practical degree. I loved reading biographies of European royalty. I thought that it may be cool to see places like the Tower of London. If we stay a few extra days in Paris, perhaps we can visit Versailles.

On the other hand, I also dreamed for all of the kids' lives of taking them to Germany to see the castles as well as the sad impacts of WWII on a beautiful country. My father was in the infantry and he landed at Omaha Beach and then was in the Battle of the Bulge. We also lived there but it was before I was 7 so I don't remember a lot. I thought it may help them to understand my dad's life. (My mom was Japanese...we thought of Tokyo but decided against it.)

So...and this is going to get a lot of opinions I know, if you could go to any two European cities that are rich in history and things to see and do, where would you go?

Again, thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm listening to it all.
Liljill8 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 06:24 AM
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hi again,

thanks for your thoughtful response - yes it does help us if we know a little bit about you and the motivation for your trip. the bit about your family really helps to know what might interest you and the kids.

in fact you could possibly get to the WW2 beaches with your family if you took the Paris only, or London -Paris option. if you don't mind a really long day in a coach, you can see the beaches in a day trip from Paris - here's an example:

annhig is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 06:51 AM
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Thanks, Ann. This forum is fantastic!
Liljill8 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 06:53 AM
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First let me say that you are very kind to allow your son to bring his girlfriend on your family trip, regardless of the fact he is paying for her. We always felt family trips were just for family.

You are going to get lots of suggestions for different cites to visit based on personnel interests but I think you should go with what you want to see. If you always wanted to see London, Paris and Rome, then that is where I would go.Fly into London, take the Eurostar to Paris and then take a flight or overnight train to Rome. It will be a hectic pace and more expensive to move around, but doable, if your health will allow it. Pick a couple major sites to see in each city and don't worry about not seeing everything.

When our kids were teens we took them to Europe for a two week whirlwind trip. That kick started a love affair with travel that has led them in the years since all over the world.

One site I did not see mentioned thus far is airbnb.com for apartment rentals. My husband and I have used vrbo.com many times for international rentals and our kids have had great experiences with airbnb.

Have a wonderful trip!
Barblab is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 07:14 AM
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Your additional details helped. If indeed
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 07:22 AM
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Sorry for the unfinished post. Meant to say if indeed this may be your only trip as a family, anyway to extend the length of the trip?

If not, I think with your interest in history, you would be more fulfilled with time to explore two places, but up to you.

Germany is another trip or a substitute for your current thinking.

The devastation of WWII isn't evident in what was West Germany, not so sure about former East Germany. What is evident is the amazing growth and re-build of post-war Germany.
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 07:42 AM
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I don't think you can book London to Paris more than 120 days in advance). eurostar.com

If you select US when initially entering the Eurostar website you can generally book longer than that in advance
alanRow is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 07:43 AM
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The devastation of WWII isn't evident in what was West Germany, not so sure about former East Germany. What is evident is the amazing growth and re-build of post-war Germany.>>

cath - my recent trip to what was eastern Germany leads me to suppose that had you visited that region 20 or even 10 years ago, the devastation in places like Dresden ad Leipzig would have been all too obvious. However, since unification, a huge amount of work has been done to restore what was destroyed and improve what was not.

they are now fabulous places to visit, but possibly not quite what the OP has in mind for this trip.
annhig is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 08:09 AM
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We took a similar trip with our then 3 teens, and I highly recommend the London/Paris idea, starting in London, fly out of Paris. We also took a long day trip to see the WWII beaches in Normandy as Grandpa Jim had landed there, and it was perhaps the most memorable day of our trip. With your time frame, and the long distance flying from the west coast, this will actually give you a chance to unwind and enjoy the cities you are in. The chunnel was a cool experence for us too. Less can often be more. Save Rome for a trip when you can see more of Italy. There will be another trip, especially if you don't exhaust your husband on this one. Italy is romantic, go without the grown kids, we did.
socaltraveler is online now  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 08:21 AM
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There will be another trip, especially if you don't exhaust your husband on this one. Italy is romantic, go without the grown kids, we did.>>

lol, we took our kids to Italy several times and still managed to have a bit of romance....

your experience is interesting, st, and hopefully it will encourage the OP. could you post which company you did your D-Day beaches tour with?
annhig is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 08:24 AM
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You asked which cities are rich in history. ROME!! It was a rich developed city-state when Paris and London were small tribal camps! Italy was the birthplace of the Renaissance. What more can I say?
charnees is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 08:42 AM
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For ten days full of history, it would have to be Rome, Venice, Florence.
But you want royalty and castles, Which means Paris/London. The Louvre is the largest castle in Europe and although we beheaded our king, we've still got princes, dukes and barons with the added bonus of a DDay side trip.. In London you can walk up to the palace gates and even have tea in the orangerie of Kensington palace.
Phread is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 08:47 AM
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You indicated an interest in reading about European royalty. London and Paris are great for that. You can visit Windsor Castle or Hampton Court and Versailles. The Tower of London and the crown jewels are a great stop. A thought if you plan to visit the Normandy beaches. We took a trip to London, Normandy and Paris several years ago. We took the train from London and the ferry across at Dover, visited Normandy and then trained to Paris. Staying in Normandy for one night would allow you to avoid the long, long day trip. Bayeux is a lovely place to stay and convenient to the WWII beaches.

You have much to think about. Enjoy the planning and the trip.
mamcalice is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 09:06 AM
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Just an aside: If this really is the one and only time you will see Europe, I would recommend thinking about what is the one place you feel you must see before you die. You will want to have fond memories, not mad rushing from place to place memories.;-)
eastenderusvi is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 10:23 AM
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We did not use a tour company, we rented a car in Paris and drove to Normandy, a very long day trip, but we stopped in Bayeaux,saw the tapestries, too. I can tell this story on myself now, but we were map reading, DH and I in front seat, well I was map reading, he was driving, teens squabbling in back seat, and I said "Bayeaux looks a big enough place for a late lunch." 13 yr old in back says " Bayeaux? We studied that this year, there's a very old tapestry there." So we drove there, parked, just barely found a place still open for a meal and saw the 'very old tapestry'. Serendipity traveling. DH, 13 yr old and I were mesmerized, 16 yr & 18 yr old less so, but that was pretty much the way our European adventure went with the older teens . That said, we have never returned to Europe with all of them together, but we all have traveled back many times. DH & I discovered Italy (6+tris),all 3 kids married and honeymooned in Italy, Denmark/Germany & Spain. Youngest studied in Siena, her brother and DH went to World Cup in Germany, so hopefully our England/France mini-adventure was the catalyst for all this.

Which is why I think the 1st trip is just that, the 1st trip.
socaltraveler is online now  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 11:27 AM
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Make it Paris and "somewhere" else. I still say that Paris is the bargain capital of western Europe. PLUS it is Paris.
I think it's great to bring the girlfriend. I assume she is a "live in" or how are you arranging the two rooms.
We took our kids when teens, and then again with spouses and the prospective fiancee!! Nothing more fun than traveling with adult children.
In Paris I REALLY recommend that you hire Michael Osman for at least a day and maybe two. Our family LOVED him and it took all the "guesswork" of what to do those days off of me (even though we have been to Paris many times--I was NOT the tour director, which with adult children is a good thing). He will be worth his weight in gold to you in knowledge, and fun. He is VERY reasonable for what he delivers.
I am not a fan of Rome--but I've been several times. And it's a "hike" to get there.
London is more accessible, but there will be some sticker shock there also.
Have fun!!
Gretchen is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 12:30 PM
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Wonderful suggestions. After hearing all of this, I think it will be London and Paris. I was thinking of 4 nights in London and 5 in Paris.

Thanks for Barblah for the suggestion about airbnb. I took a look at their site today and it looks great. I'll also check vrbo.com.

Thank you for the suggestion of Michael Osman, Gretchen. I'm going to see if he is available during our time in Paris.

Do you have a suggestion for a London guide similar to Michael?
Liljill8 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 02:32 PM
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London and Paris. There is such a wealth of things to do that I really think that trying for Rome too will just be too much - and this from someone who absolutely loves a different place every night. Given your circumstances though I just think you will all have a better time keeping it to two cities. Verseilles is wonderful but it will take a whole day and there is so much else in Paris. Good luck.
tjhome1 is offline  

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