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Winter Vacation in Europe

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Aug 11th, 2004, 07:44 PM
  #1
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Winter Vacation in Europe

I'm looking for a winter vacation destination in Eastern or Western Europe that does not include nordic sports. We are interested in finding a city in which we can spend 4-5 days strolling along picturesque streets, visiting museums, eating great food and, in general, relaxing. London and Paris are out as we've spent considerable time in both. We would consider almost any locale and don't mind 'roughing' it a bit. A few days in a city and then a few days in the country at a spa might be interesting, too.

I am gratefully accepting recommendations. Thank you in advance for any thoughts.

Jeffrey
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Aug 11th, 2004, 08:11 PM
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Rome - can't help you with the spa as I have never been to one, but some of the hill towns in Italy would be relaxing in the off season.
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Aug 11th, 2004, 08:14 PM
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How about Spain? Madrid is a great place for the kind of visit you describe.
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Aug 11th, 2004, 08:30 PM
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rex
 
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Sicily. Portugal. Croatia? Turkey? - - though I will confess I have never been to any of these places in the winter (and only to Portugal in any season).

Best wishes,

Rex
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Aug 11th, 2004, 09:53 PM
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We're going to be in Edinburgh for New Years, then are going to meet up with a friend in some E. European city, most likely Krakow, Budapest or Prague, or maybe Istanbul. Our friend is working in Kosovo, so we need to go someplace that's reasonably accessible to him. He's offered us bed and board in Pristina, but, well...

I think cold-climate European cities in winter are glorious holiday destinations. Cheaper, less crowded, and one sees more of life as it's lived instead of views filtered through tourist lenses.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 04:48 AM
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Prague! We spend almost a week there in January and it was truly magical. The Old Town covered with snow is enough to take your breath away! And the incredible variety of concerts and musical events is a delight - never mind all of the usual tourist attractions. Also, Czedh food is especially appropos in the winter (sometimes I find it a little heavy in hot weather).
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Aug 12th, 2004, 06:20 AM
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Picturesque sts., museums, food, relaxing, city........VENICE. No personal experience on a spa near there, but doing a web search found this
http://www.myhouseandgarden.com/Travel/Venice.htm

about the spa town of Abano Terme with lots of links.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 06:27 AM
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Oops. Did a text search here and found an awful report on Abano Terme here

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34450593

There were some other mentions in other threads though that sounded ok. But here's a thread on Spas in Italy

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...=2&tid=1315697
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Aug 12th, 2004, 08:15 AM
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Barcelona - not the warmest choice, but not cold either. Gorgeous architecture, interesting museums, picturesque streets (and, unlike Paris, you can actually look up and around without worrying about stepping in dog deposits). There are great restaurants and nightlife and the population is very stylish (good for people-watching).
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Aug 12th, 2004, 08:25 AM
  #10
 
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My husband and I spent at least 8 winter periods in Spain, particularily Costa Del Sol (Torremolinos and Fuengirola), also Portugal and found it wonderful. Especially March and April are great and even January and February, can be in the 50-60-70's and certainly a lot better than spending the winter in the great north (on Lake Superior). So if you flew to Malaga, there are short train trips (1/2 hour) to the towns I mentioned, various bus trips, etc, plenty to see and enjoy and it is noticed for the sunshine (thus the name, coast of the sun). We generally have traveled with Grand Circle Travel, they have great trips to each destination. Have a good time. Halfpint.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 08:38 AM
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We did Venice, Florence and Bologna in January.

Venice in winter, with wisps of fog floating above the canals, was magical.

Florence wasn't too cold- sunny and in the 50s when we were there (which, admittedly, could have been a warm spell.)

Bologna was very cold, but beautiful, and the food was out of this world. The colonnades over the sidewalks mean you can stroll around even in rain or snow. As I've posted before, the hot chocolate in Bologna was the richest, most chocolatey experience of my life. Perfect for cold weather.

We're debating either Turin and the Piedmont area of Italy or the Amalfi Coast and Puglia for our January trip this year. I can't decide- I'd love to see the Alps from afar, covered in snow, and the seasonal food in the Peidmont sounds appealing, but everyone raves about the Amalfi Coast. Any advice, anyone?
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Aug 12th, 2004, 03:16 PM
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We visted the cote d'azur in Feb. Flowers were blooming and we only had to wear light jackets. I had some apprehensions about whether or not I'd like the area because I had read some negative things about it, but it was very interesting.

Last March we visited Andalusia. The weather couldn't have been better. Seville is great if you are looking for city life. We also spent some time in the mountains hiking. It was a fabulour area for a winter vacation.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 06:27 PM
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I suggest one of the following three cities: Vienna, Prague, Budapest.
Theses cities just don't have that "Old World" charm or ambience during the warm months in my opinion. None are nearly as touristy and crowded during the winter. You'll see the locals going through their daily routine. All three are great for "strolling along picturesque streets, visiting museums, eating great food and relaxing". And the operas and symphonies are in high season. I especially enjoy the fully sung masses on Sundays (ie Augustinerkirche, near the Vienna Hofburg).
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Aug 12th, 2004, 07:26 PM
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Vienna, Prague, Budapest. I haven't been yet, but am trying to plan a trip to Vienna in November or December and have been reading up on the place. I don't have a guide book in front of me but I recall a spa nearby (Baden?). It sounds like it has everything you desired...
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Aug 13th, 2004, 02:48 PM
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Prague and then to a spa in Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad).
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Aug 13th, 2004, 05:33 PM
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Hi - if you're from Chicago, you might appreciate the Pfalz region of Germany. It's the warmest - although in winter what does that mean? - and it's full of small, really cute authentic towns and many of them begin with the word "Bad" as in "bath." Lots of towns, some with spas, along the Weinstrasse. An hour from Frankfurt. And if you get the urge there is Spier and some other really old towns to visit in the region. I've not been in winter but it's on the list. Of course, the food may be an issue in the smaller towns - I'm not eating saumagen (sow stomach), regardless of what anybody says - local restaurants will have ordinary fare, but there are plenty of upscale restaurants in the place like Bad Durkheim. Oh - great beer and wine you simply cannot find in the U.S.
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Aug 13th, 2004, 05:41 PM
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Amsterdam fits. You didn't say anything about the weather, but it certainly fits the bill for picturesque streets, museums, great food and some nice side trips if you're up for it. You can relax, or boogie all night. You're a short train ride from Spa - the real Spa, located in Belgium.
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Aug 13th, 2004, 09:36 PM
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Several combinations that might meet your requirements:

#1--Budapest, and you don't have to "leave town" to visit the spas, if you don't want to.

#2-- Prague, combined with the spas at Karlovy Vary. Very "Old World" formal, with medecinal spa atomosphere.
Picturesque location in a valley --will be all but deserted in winter. The spas here are not attached to the hotels.

#3--Venice, combined with a few days at the Hotel Karawankenhof in Warmbad Villach, Austria. (We have done this in early December, and loved it. Huge indoor and outdoor thermal pools, jacuzzis, fitness centers, and every imaginable spa treatment. Nothing like swimming under the stars in the middle of winter when the snow is all around on the hillsides.) On the drive between the two cities, you can stop to visit the Grotto Gigante----amazing place!

#4-- Lisbon and surrounding towns.

Lisbon is great at any time of the year. It has so much to offer. Of course, the winter temps would be very moderate here--close to spring-like in the daytime.

Although there are no "nearby spas", there are several beachside hotels on the peninsula south of Lisbon that have indoor pools, saunas and fitness centers. We have also done this in winter. Fun to sit on your indoor, poolside loungechair and watch the surfers in "wet suits" trying to catch the winter waves. Then, hop in the sauna, and cool off with a dip in heated pool.


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Aug 14th, 2004, 07:45 AM
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TURKEY..... 4 DAys istanbul, 3 days Cappadocia and 5 days in Antalya with bright sunshine....

If you think its an idea would be happy to gather your itinerary...

Regards
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Aug 14th, 2004, 10:30 AM
  #20
mms
 
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We are planning the exact same type of trip, so I am really enjoying all of these ideas! Jeffrey...looks like we are looking for the exact same type of vacation.
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