Where would you take your 70+ parents?

Old Jan 31st, 2007, 07:37 PM
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Where would you take your 70+ parents?

I've been thinking of using my growing account of miles to fly my parents to Europe. They've been to Paris and London on a group tour and said it was horrible, felt rushed through sites and museums, were housed in relatively remote hotels, felt forced to "shop".

They're pretty high maintenance and they get whipped into a stressed-out frenzy rather easily. Are there some ideal destinations for elderly parents who have a rather anxious disposition? I think Rome would be too busy and hectic for them although I'd love to take my mother to the Sistine Chapel. Florence might be O.K. and perhaps Venice -- pretty low key? Maybe an entire week in Paris?

They don't have serious physical mobility problems although they aren't particularly active. Dad still plays golf, mom doesn't do much and they aren't going to be able to do tons of walking. They're interested in seeing impressive architecture and famous paintings that they've only heard about or have seen in books.

I was thinking a 2 Br apartment in Paris might make sense (something close to a major busline to minimize stairs) since I can't imagine sharing a hotel room with them without my going completely nuts and throwing myself into the Seine. This would be the first vacation we've taken together in over 12 years, and I imagine it might be their last major trip as they now are unable to endure long flights.

Any suggested destinations? I think a non-urban destination might be "boring" for them since they tend to associate Europe with high art, high culture, "famous" stuff. And there's no way we could rent a car -- they would be able to take trains however.

I'd really appreciate any advice -- I think my window of opportunity is maybe a year. As they are growing older, they are finding everything to be increasingly intimidating, stressful and difficult. But I think if I planned everything and traveled with them, they may actually enjoy themselves.

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Old Jan 31st, 2007, 07:55 PM
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Old Jan 31st, 2007, 08:16 PM
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I don't think I would consider Rome that hectic. Sure, it is very alive but I don't think any more than NYC or London. I find Florence more stifling and crowded. Venice is not an easy city to get to and depending on the time of year it can be extremely crowded and hectic.

Why not go to Rome in the Spring, April or May, before the hordes descend into it? You can always fo a day trip to Orvieto or Florence if you want to "escape" Rome.
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Old Jan 31st, 2007, 08:51 PM
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Random thoughts...

Amsterdam - not hectic at all, excellent art viewing but also plenty of places to stop for coffee, beer...

London is pricy, but excellent public transportation and plenty to see, and lots of parks and neighborhoods for relaxation. Maybe combine it (via train) with a few days in Paris...

What about a cruise in the Med or Scandinavia? Unpack once, sleep in an excellent bed every night, and it can be quite reasonable in cost terms, considering it's room, board, transportation and entertainment. Skip the hokey excursions. Sea days are incredibly restful.
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Old Jan 31st, 2007, 09:00 PM
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I took my 70+ Mum two years ago - 5 days Paris, 5 days Rome (she wanted to go to Rome) and a week in the French countryside. What did she enjoyed most? The time in the countryside. We had a car and drove every day at a very leisurely pace to 2 or 3 nearby villages and spend some time there. We used to break the day into two - and always went back to the Hotel for a nap.

She also liked Rome more than Paris. But the highlight for her was the small villages.
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Old Jan 31st, 2007, 09:31 PM
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Take them on a Cruise we are older Than your parents! & we get to go to different countries & take tours & if one of us don;t feel up to going ashore the other can go.They would be more familiar with the food. If they should have a medical problem there are Drs on board. Plus you will get do have time on your own!!! we are off to an eastern Mediteranean Cruise in June starting in Greece & ending in Turkey.
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Old Jan 31st, 2007, 09:43 PM
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fishee - you are very kind to take your parents on a trip! I bet they'd enjoy Paris and have probably been intrigued by your travels.

I found Rome to be relaxing but Rome may be difficult simply because the pavement is so uneven. I think Paris is easier to walk without paying attention. Vienna may be nice as well.

We took my 75 y-o MIL to Ireland and she enjoyed it. We drove, she rode along and liked the restaurants and the short walks. But then she travels lots.
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Old Jan 31st, 2007, 09:48 PM
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definitely a cruise for their enjoyment and your sanity. Why? Once they are on the ship they will be entertained by others..you won't have to be the social director. They won't have to pack and unpack. They can choose to do as little of much sight seeing as they wish and can use the tours that are set up by the ship if they wish.
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Old Jan 31st, 2007, 10:11 PM
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Austria ?
No offence to the previous poster, but my 70+ parents would go insane 'jailed' on a boat for a cruise (ans i suspect the OP's parents too if they didn't like a group tour)
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Old Jan 31st, 2007, 10:37 PM
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..disagree with the last poster. If you choose the ship well, it is nothing like a group tour. You can sit and read, swim, go to the spa ect. The med cruises have no long periods in which people are "caged" as they sail at night. Your comments might be appropriate for a river cruise.
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Old Jan 31st, 2007, 10:40 PM
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Sounds like Vienna would be perfect for them. It's a city with fabulous art and architecture, but much more staid less frenetic than Rome or Paris.

They'd love visiting Schoennbrun palace and the kunsthistorishes museum. They could see an opera and have sacher tort or apfelstrudel at the coffee houses. A daytrip to Salzburg would be a possibility as well. As cheesy as it sounds, "The Sound of Music Tour" was lots of fun.
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Old Jan 31st, 2007, 11:01 PM
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Cimbrone, just beat me to it. I had exactly the same thought. Vienna is a much slower pace but has the history and character one is generally looking for in Europe.

I also like the idea of going to Salzberg but I think it is too far as a day trip for your pareents. I would make it a side trip and do a couple of day drives from there. The surrounding countryside is absolutely fabulous with both lakes and mountains very close by. As Cimbrone says, the Sound of Music tour can be quite fun and does take you through that glorious countryside.

I know that my parents would just be overwhelmed with say, London, Paris or Rome.

I hope you find something to fit the bill and good on you for taking them fishee. Las tyear I took my 80yo father on a trip (just the 2 of us - first time we have ever done it) and it was amazing how much I learnt. I got to hear all these stories that I had never heard before. He played up in his youth much more than I would ever have thought, and I had always considered him so staid.
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Old Feb 1st, 2007, 12:11 AM
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Have you thought of asking them what city they might be interested in visiting?
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Old Feb 1st, 2007, 01:50 AM
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Good question, Dukey! A 2 bedroom apartment in London or Paris would probably be great since they could enjoy the art & architecture.

It also would be a different kind of trip & it sounds like it was only the tour they went on that made them dislike it before.
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Old Feb 1st, 2007, 02:36 AM
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Of course your parents' wishes should determine where you go, but another vote for Vienna. I took my 70-something parents there for their 50th anniversary and they loved it. Plus points: most of the central portion is flat, for easy walking. Mass transit is ample. All the u-bahn stops have escalators and/or elevators. A good selection of good hotels in the central core. Many of the main sights are clustered in a central area, in or near a pedesrian zone. Beautiful parks. Excellent restaurants. Impressive architecture everywhere. Fabulous paintings at the Kunsthistorische, Liechtenstein and Belvedere museums. And finally, it's a city where you will see many people in their age group out and about. It's not a city relentlessly youth oriented.
There are also lots of side trip excursions...Melk abbey, the wine heurigers, Vienna woods, etc.
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Old Feb 1st, 2007, 02:43 AM
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Hi F,


See: Iraís Motherís Trip to Paris
for things we did.

>They're pretty high maintenance and they get whipped into a stressed-out frenzy rather easily. <

I think that you want two hotel rooms.

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Old Feb 1st, 2007, 04:07 AM
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Old Feb 1st, 2007, 04:29 AM
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A few days in Paris followed by a barge cruise in Burgundy. I did the Paris trip with my own parents and I would rate it a success, although there were testy moments when my father decided he would like to eat takeout in the hotel room for dinner...(but I am getting off topic here)

I've also taken a barge trip and it ws so supremely relaxing and interesting; we even did a balloon ride over the countryside, along witht he usual "sights" in beautiful Dijon and Beaune.
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Old Feb 1st, 2007, 06:43 AM
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thanks for the great suggestions -- I wouldn't have thought of some of these cities since I've never been.

I will definitely ask their opinion but I wanted to do some preliminary research on a few options first. That way they can immediately see their flight would be free, I could show them a couple of apartment options in different cities (they won't believe me if I just say -- "we can stay in a very nice apartment and it will be less expensive and crowded than a hotel"), good picture books or a DVD with central sights.

I'm afraid unless I present this all at once, the first thing they'll say is, "no, it's too expensive, this doesn't sound possible, we didn't like the tour and it was too expensive, etc."

Please keep suggestions coming --thanks again.
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Old Feb 1st, 2007, 06:56 AM
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In addition to Vienna and Salzburg I thought of Munich. Switzerland is beautiful and easy to travel around on public transportation, but sounds like not your parents' cup of tea.

Plan this trip for the shoulder season -- spring or fall. Fewer people but still good weather. I prefer spring because the days are longer.

I don't find Venice hectic. You have to stay away from San Marco and the Rialto in a quieter quartiere.

Are you sure your parents found the cities hectic or just the tour? They might really enjoy Rome or London and Paris at a slower pace. You could find them a hotel in a central location convenient to public transportation. Or maybe they'd like an apartment?
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