itinerary help

Hi all: We are planning a 3 week trip to Europe in 2014 with our boys (9 and 11). I am asking about the 1st week below... the second week we will be on a cruise (thought it good to hit some places while allowing the boys some familiarity and a 7 night home base)... third week will be home-based in Munich with a few day trips. Is this do-able for week 1, knowing the pace will slow down the 2nd 2 weeks? Arrive Rome from SF (night hopefully) - for 3 nights, not counting on doing anything on arrival day at all no matter the time. 1- Colosseum etc... 2- Vatican 3 - morning in Rome, fly to Venice (or fly out early?) (2 nights) 4 - Venice touring 5 - morning Venice, fly to Barcelona (2 nights) 6 - Barcelona touring 7 - Board ship around lunchtime I know it's pretty tight, but do you think it's manageable since the last 2 weeks are more relaxed? We have to get to Barcelona to get the ship. I know we won't see everything, but enough for us this trip I think. Thoughts? Thanks!
Kim

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

Kim, It's great that you're getting an early start on the planning! A few thoughts.... Have you accounted for your two travel days? Especially from the west coast, you'll generally arrive in Europe the day after you depart, so you may not have as much time as planned. Could you clarify why you're planning to fly from Rome to Venice? That's a VERY easy trip via high speed trains (which travel at 300 kmH when they get going). Travel by air will not likely be any quicker, and it will definitely be more of a hassle. You could use either Trenitalia or the new Italo trains. If you pre-book your tickets, this will likely be cheaper than air travel also. Your proposed Itinerary is "tight" and you're covering a fairly large geographical area (Rome / Barcelona / Munich), but it should be possible. Rome really deserves more time as there's so much to see. It would be a good idea to keep a fairly "relaxed pace" for your touring, given the ages of your children. If you haven't been to Europe before, it would be a good idea to read Europe Through The Back Door prior to your trip. Use the country or city-specific Guidebooks to plan hotels, sightseeing, transportation, etc. There are some potentially expensive "caveats" to be aware of when riding trains or buses in Italy. If you need more information, post another note. What time of year will this trip be taking place? Good luck with your planning!

Posted by Kim
San Francisco
110 posts

Thanks! Yes I read ETBD, plus like 4 other books so far! I am kind of an obsessive planner - makes me feel sort of like I am already there! We could train to Venice, I thought flying was supposed to be easier, but no? I am not opposed to taking the train. I am all for that if it's relatively the same cost/time/easy... We would probably rather choose the easier thing instead of the cheapest, unless the price difference is huge. This will be summer of 2014, arriving Rome June 1, Saturday. We will fly out some time on Friday (or possibly Thursday, which would give us an extra day). Our two Real Rome days will be Sunday/Monday, leaving for Venice on Tuesday. I figure one day each for the biggies in Rome (Colosseum, Vatican) and then the other parts of those days just roaming around. We ended our trip in Rome last time, and we really didn't like it. I am going to chalk that up to being the end of the trip, and that it is so hectic there. So this time we are trying it first while we are fresh! :) Thanks!! Kim

Posted by Kim
San Francisco
110 posts

Sorry should have clarified... husband and I did 17 days in Europe (london, paris, germany, florence, hill towns, rome) back before kids. The kids have never been.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2826 posts

If you didn't like Rome, you may just want to spend your time in Venice and Barcelona before your cruise. With only 7 nights between them, you won't run out of things to do, and your kids won't feel like their being dragged through Europe. On the other hand, if your kids are interested in Rome (and many kids are, with the Colosseum, etc), don't skip it - it will get the trip off to the right start. For getting between Rome and Venice, the train is faster, cheaper, AND easier than flying. The train takes less than 4 hours. The stations in Rome and Venice are central, and you only need to get to the Rome station (Termini for Trenitalia and Tiburtina for Italo) about 15 minutes before your train, to allow time to find the track; there's no security check. If you buy your tickets in advance online, they can be €19 or €29 each. Getting to the Rome airport takes a half hour even in a cab (longer by other methods), and you have to get there at least an hour early and go through security. The flight is short, but then you're at Venice Airport, and it takes 45-60 minutes to get into town; and if you go by water taxi, it's over €100. To find flights between Venice and Barcelona, use http://www.skyscanner.com/

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
678 posts

When I imagine feeling "fresh" it isn't at the beginning of my trip after a long flight. I always think of that time as the most difficult, but then I don't sleep on planes.
I think your first week plan is doable. It will be tight like you said, but you will have two full days in Rome (not enough, but a taste) it will be chaotic, but that is Rome! Train to Venice, much easier than air travel, and again, a taste of Venice. Sounds like a nice trip. Just don't expect Rome to be any different than your last visit. I love Rome, but I think it will be chaotic whenever you go!

Posted by Kim
San Francisco
110 posts

Thanks!! Hmmm... I didn't think I was asking for travel advice, but so happy that everyone chimed in about train to Venice instead of flying. I think we will definitely do that!! I agree, only a taste of each place, but I think that's ok for this trip. Hopefully on the next one we can dig in a little deeper. Yes Rome will always be chaotic! :) I think I will be better able to appreciate it when I am not just itching to be home. Thank you thank you!
Kim

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2826 posts

I actually disagree that seeing Rome needs to be chaotic. It certainly is if one is attempting to see it all in 2 days (as someone else is on another thread). But, if you accept that you will only see 2-3 major "sights" per day, and allow down time (gelato breaks, naps back at hotel, walks through the city with no set goal), then I find it very relaxing. The Vatican sights are indeed very draining (not only the number of people, but their tension, gets me tired and edgy). But I love just walking around Rome, and find this to be a good recharge. That's why I talked about your kids. If you are dreading a visit to Rome, and going only because you feel you "have" to, you'll communicate this to your kids (even if non-verbally) and no one will have a good time. If that's the case, skip it, and see other places instead. But if your boys want to see it, they'll be excited, and this in turn will rub off on you. In that case, don't miss it.

Posted by Kim
San Francisco
110 posts

We are definitely all excited about Rome. We pretty much just want to see the Colosseum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peters. I plan mostly on just wandering around and eating gelato. :) They are already excited about that part. We are Catholic so I really want to take them to the Vatican. We probably won't look at much in the museum, mainly the chapel. Only planning one major site per day for pretty much the whole trip (well I guess St Peters and Sistine Chapel count as 2, but almost the same to me), leaving lots of downtime. Like I would never try to take them to Colosseum and Vatican in the same day. I can already see the meltdowns coming on that one! Seems a couple of things that we saw last trip may be new, like if we can go underground in Colosseum and climb the Leaning Tower. Same sites for us but new twist, plus some places we haven't been. And we love Germany (we are German, way back, but still). We felt very at home in Germany, it was weird how familiar it seemed. And of course, beer. :) Thank you!
Kim