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Help picking a Euro destination based on Experience

My hubby and I are planning a 7-10 day Euro trip in May and are having trouble selecting a destination(s), so we are seeking any suggestions from this helpful group. We're very fortunate to have hit most of the Euro hot spots over the past 15 years (with Rick Steve's books, of course!) and now want a bit more than the typical tourist trip. Specifically, we'd like to plan a trip around an unforgettable, stimulating experience such as a class (wine, cooking, art, architecture, language) day trip, tour, activity (hike, winemaking, exercise, etc.) or general cultural experience allowing us to connect to a place and people beyond a typical tourist experience. Kind of like a condensed version of our old college study abroad programs. Historically we gravitate to quaint, charming villages that are friendly and accommodating but not overrun with tourists. However, we also love the energy of big romantic cities like Rome, Paris, and Amsterdam. Thanks in advance!

Posted by lnbsig
North Carolina
820 posts

You could take a workshop at the Mosaic Art School in Ravenna, Italy. They have a five-day one.

Posted by ldelecki OP
19 posts

Thank you for your ideas! The RoadScholar program is spot on, except I'm a couple decades away from being their target customer. It reminds me of the Chautauqua family camp concept in upstate NY. I wish someone would borrow that concept for a Euro vacation.

Posted by acraven
Washington DC
8560 posts

Just about any language school would be happy to set up private lessons for the two of you (or you could join a class, but that requires matching up with the school's class schedule. Lessons tend to be 45 minutes, and I've taken 3 a day and 4 a day. You can do fewer, but I wouldn't recommend more than 4 per day for the typical traveler. Normally the classes are conducted back-to-back with short breaks as necessary, all in the AM or all in the PM. Both of my classes had a time shift on at least one day, but that information should normally be available up-front.

I've never asked about the availability of something like a dinhle 3-hour class in "traveler's Spanish", but I assume at least some schools would be willing. I think mist have a list of teachers they can call in when demand warrants.

This is not an inexpensive proposition if you work through a language school. (If you figure out a way to contracct with a teacher directly, please tell me your secret!) Costs vary, but for a single student the cost is likely to push 50€ per lesson in countries like Italy, France and Spain. I'd guess a lesson for two people would be 70-80€. Being part of a larger class is much less expensive. There also always seems to be a "registration fee" of about 60€ (which may be buried in the fine print).

I think Greece, as one example, would be a bit less expensive.

It's not hard to find schools by Googling, and they usually have their fees on their websites. In the checking I've done, I came to the conclusion that there's not a great deal of price variation within a city. I'd expect classes in Paris/Barcelona/Rome to be more expensive than classes in Zaragoza/Toulouse/Orvieto, but not by a great deal. The difference in lodging costs would swamp any variation in class fees.

For casual students I'd recommend choosing a location with good sightseeing opportunities locally or very nearby, since you'll have half of every day free. The longer you plan to take classes, the more important this is. Naturally, you'll make more progress if you spend some time every day reviewing what you've worked on in class, and there is usually some homework.

If you anticipate taking day-trips to sights outside the city, morning classes are much better than afternoon classes, because they leave you with a larger block of free time. Even within the city, if museums open at 10 AM and your first class starts at 1 PM, you'll have a hard time getting in much sightseeing unless you eat lunch on the run. Early-afternoon classes make it pretty much impossible to take advantage of the low-priced lunch menus available in many restaurants.

Most cities of some size that are attractive to tourists have multiple language schools. I think the list for Nice included at least ten. In the future I plan to use the availability of morning time-slots as a screening factor.