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2016 European Vacation

 
 
saab
 
  2  
Reply Fri 8 Jan, 2016 08:35 am
@McGentrix,
Venice - think over if you really want to go there.
1988 Venice figured out it could handle about 33 000 tourists a day and 60 000 come now.It gets a bit crowded.
Venice lives from tourists and tourists destroy Venice.Especially the cruise ships, which are very very bad for the canals. The thousands of people from the ships do not really help Venice either - they do not stay in hotels and as a rule do not use the restaurants.
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  3  
Reply Fri 8 Jan, 2016 08:38 am
@McGentrix,
Congratulations to your son! That's a remarkable achievement. Smile

I'd suggest the Anne Frank house (c'mon, it's not a spoiler). I would also suggest Pompeii if you can swing it. We went to Pompeii when I was 6 (I am 53) and I still remember that part of our first European vacation. I recall it far better than Paris or Munich. I would also suggest Siena as it's gorgeous, but if the Italy time is really limited, then it is, sobeit.

Please take a ton of pics and post 'em. I'm sure you'll have a blast, and congrats again to your son and his proud family.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  2  
Reply Fri 8 Jan, 2016 09:01 am
@McGentrix,
McGentrix wrote:
Rome, ... I want authentic local cuisine.

Here I really suggest that you try some restaurants in the student quarter San Lorenzo (easy to get there by tram or bus)
a) the prices are about 1/3 of those in the centre,
b) the food really is better than most iner city restaurants,
c) you find "real" authentic food
McGentrix wrote:
Drive towards Kaiserslautern for 1 night. Lived there a long time, want to see it again. That and a little place called Niederkirchen which I think is just north of K-town.
If we mean the same community, it's east of Kaiserslautern (just a few kilometres south of Bad Dürkheim, a place I would consider to have a look at as well - since you're there, I mean)
Walter Hinteler
 
  2  
Reply Fri 8 Jan, 2016 09:37 am
@McGentrix,
McGentrix wrote:
Drive to Paris 2 nights. Louvre would be nice but I've heard so many bad things about lines and tourists. Notre Dame is a must and I'd love to just sit for like an hour at a sidewalk cafe sipping coffee... Also want to go to Normandy beach, Versailles, and other local touristy stuff.
As has been already said: consider to ge to the Musée d'Orsay instead of the Louvre.
And a really nice place for sipping café on a trottoir would be in the area around the Canal Saint-Martin - La Marine, Chez Prune, or Le Comptoir Général (the latter is a restaurant/cafè/bar [with a dance floor], colonial style interieur. Additionally, it's an art museum dedicated to ghetto culture, there is a vintage book and clothing shop ...)

Normandy: even if you just look at one or two of the beaches (museums), it will take some time and driving. When you visit the museum Le Mémorial de Caen, you have all together (and it's really an extraordinary good museum!).

Instead of going to Versailles, I would visit the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte - but that's just my opinion, because it's less crowded and nearly as nice.
saab
 
  2  
Reply Fri 8 Jan, 2016 10:23 am
@Walter Hinteler,
At Easter we were at Versailles. Took a couple of hours to get in and then inside we could not see anything worth while because of all the people.
Took a tour over internet when we came home.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 8 Jan, 2016 10:25 am
@saab,
I've been there about a dozen times ... but only inside once, because my wife strongly wanted me to join her.

Edited: I've been inside three times (twice ages ago)
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margo
 
  2  
Reply Fri 8 Jan, 2016 01:08 pm
Left luggage in Florence railway station S. Maria Novella:
http://www.grandistazioni.it/cms/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=9511d0ef6030c110VgnVCM1000003f16f90aRCRD

Note the charge is per bag.

It appears other stations in Italy have left luggage places also.
Walter Hinteler
 
  2  
Reply Fri 8 Jan, 2016 01:29 pm
@margo,
margo wrote:
It appears other stations in Italy have left luggage places also.
At least all larger and medium stations have a "baggage room" (Deposito bagagli)
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  2  
Reply Sat 9 Jan, 2016 08:46 pm
Ok, this will be a splatter.
I'm happy to read you all are doing this.

I agree re using trains from my own experiences, which are all in Italy, never have gotten to the rest of Europe. On the first day in Roma, you will be jet lagged or at least exhausted. Simple is good. Good food, a visit to a place you all want to see. Me, I'm not religious but one of my favorite places is the piazza in front of St. Peter's, designed but not fully finished by Bernini (he planned another segment, and that would certainly have annoyed Mussolini some time later). That could fit with your wife's interest. The places to eat in Rome that I liked may have changed. Gelato hasn't, and is important. Me, I like Giolitti, but there may be newer and now more loved places. You can find it by watching people go by with ice cream cones or cups. It's sort of nearby piazza Colonna and the area where the parliament is, on a side street. If it's a big line, never mind, it goes fast and is interesting. A. Have a good map. B. have a good map.

Trains were some of the best parts of my trips, and I learned to buy tickets for the next place when I landed at the first one.

I found the metros useful in a lot of ways. Have a metro map for the cities you are going to. That may be accessible by smart phone. For city maps, I still like detailed paper.
cicerone imposter
 
  2  
Reply Sat 9 Jan, 2016 08:50 pm
@ossobuco,
Since my travel included more of Europe, Eurail pass was my choice of transportation.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 9 Jan, 2016 08:56 pm
@cicerone imposter,
I remember that not making sense for me on my trips, but situations differ.
cicerone imposter
 
  2  
Reply Sat 9 Jan, 2016 08:59 pm
@ossobuco,
What was nice about the rail system in Europe is the availability of the info desk at the station that provided hotl accommodations at the price range you requested.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 9 Jan, 2016 09:26 pm
@cicerone imposter,
So true. One of the best places I ever stayed at came from them - I'd wanted to stay there when I researched places back in California, but any room was sky high money for me (on piazza S. Santissima Annunciata in Firenze). But, as it happened, I didn't like the last city I went to (a first and last reaction of that sort) and left there a couple of days early, thus going to the train station office for help. And there on the list of available places was a tiny room at that place I wanted to go to but hadn't been able to afford, at a way lower price.

They helped me also in the ceramics industry town (and I suppose much else) of Faenza. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faenza
I wasn't online back then, late nineties - what a change has happened, but then no guidebooks mentioned much if anything about the place.

Meantime, happy exploring, McG and family.
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ossobuco
 
  2  
Reply Sat 9 Jan, 2016 10:37 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
agree with Walter here..
but there are other places, though never mind, you will be tired. We ate our first night at a pizzeria on viale Aventino. The couple next to us got a piping hot bowl of pasta, a bowl of butter, and a vessel of cheese..

A lesson in itself..
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McGentrix
 
  3  
Reply Sat 9 Jan, 2016 10:43 pm
I showed this thread to wife and son tonight, they didn't believe that i was getting advice about all this already. So much good stuff you guys, much appreciated. Previous adventurers always have good advice from their travels.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 9 Jan, 2016 11:18 pm
People may be sick of me saying this, since I have posted it several times, but on our first trip we took a walloping big suitcase with wheels. I had a second (second!!) much smaller bag to swing. We learned quickly and left the buckaroo at the first place in Rome, where we would go back to at the end of that trip.

We got smarter fast re going light.
I will always love them there, Villa san Pio. The conversations that went on in the lobby (the FAO being nearby), the concierge, a master of such groups happening, that could include such as me.
I had picked it from a guide book because it has a garden. At that time, Fodors or whoever gave it a 1.



Light packing, good.
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saab
 
  3  
Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2016 02:29 am
It might also be good to know that it is a Holy Year in the State of Vatikan this year.
This means much more tourists and everything will be much more expensive in Eome.
After the attac in Paris you will be checked to get into piazza St. Peter and there as far as I have heard long ques. So add even more time for what you wna to see in Rome.
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Lordyaswas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2016 11:44 am
@McGentrix,
"Also want to go to Normandy beaches...."


I would assume that you will go to Omaha, but try to fit this in as well.
I found it utterly enthralling.....

http://www.arromanches360.com/en/
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margo
 
  4  
Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2016 06:14 pm
Best advice is to embrace public transport. I find most Americans, (unless they live in NYC) think that cars are the only way to travel. This is definitely not the case in the most important towns in Europe - pretty much including all you have listed.
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hingehead
 
  3  
Reply Wed 13 Jan, 2016 12:28 am
I'm a slow traveller - so your plans exhaust me!

But...

Vatican is a must see. But I think you can avoid the lines to get in if you pre-book tickets. Make sure you see the Sistine Chapel. The museum and the big inner lawn were way cool to. The only statues with heads and arms in all of Italy are in the Vatican.

If you like cats try to get to the Gatti Di Roma (in the Torre Argentina). The Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Pantheon well worth a look too.

We lived in Trasteverre (just across the Po from the Vatican). Much less touristico food/price wise.

In Milan the roof tour of the Duomo is pretty cool.

In Paris I was glad I went up the Eiffel Tower. Our other hoot was buying a 'book of ten' on the metro and just getting out randomly at stations. Walking a km in any direction to the next station and getting on another metro. Best public transport system I've experienced. Go visit Jim Morrison's grave in Pere Lachaise Cemetery for the heck of it.

Don't know diddly about the Netherlands or Old Blighty, though, sorry.
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