My husband and I are in our early 60's and just returned from a 3 week trip to Paris, Nice, Vernazza, Bologna, Venice and Rome with day trips to Florence & Monaco. We are not back-packing, hikers but neither are we 5 star hotel people. We followed Rick's advice re: ONE CARRY ON bag (so glad we did that!!), places to stay,and rail travel. We had a great time but I had to keep reminding myself that the reason Rick makes it sound so effortless and fun is because he has done it hundreds of times! You cannot underestimate the time, energy and brain cells it takes to get from A to B! While we had no problems, we were very cautious & aware. We managed very well with train, bus and subway connections. We did not have any issues with language or feeling unsafe in a situation. All of our hotel reservations went smoothly. Yes, there was a train strike while we were in Vernazza but we determined ahead of time we would be flexible and deal with whatever came our way. We met friendly travelers as well as hoteliers, restaurateurs & locals eager to share. We saw all the things we wanted to see and came home in one piece. I'd say the trip was a success! Except for the part where I wanted to fling myself out of the plane somewhere over Canada en route from Paris to San Francisco!
Cheryl sounds like a fun trip ( except maybe that flight?LOL) but it does sound very fast paced, I would find all those destinations in 21 days very daunting, we did 26 days with about that many stops this summer and I know I wouldn't do that again( and I have been to Europe a fair amount, but you are correct, all the moving about requires being on your toes and organized)
Yes, one of the things you realize is that while an itinerary may work on paper, and seem quite reasonable as described by Rick in his books or TV shows, you have to be quite energetic, focused and strong to travel to a lot of new cities in a short amount of time -- particularly if you are not in your 20's anymore :) I love European train, bus, and metro travel but it's tiring! After a couple of fast-paced European trips, I go slower now, stay in one place longer. Glad you dealt with it well and had a great time. Sounds like it was a good learning experience that will serve you well on your next visit.
Cheryl, you are so right about getting from A to B! I've traveled to Europe for 30 years. Even with planning and experience, on my last trip I missed the first of 5 train/bus connections to get from Tropea to Matera (okay, maybe 5 connections wasn't such a great plan after all), the first one by 10 minutes and the last one - well, I missed the last bus to Matera and had to ask the barista at the train/bus station if she knew anyone who would drive me to Matera for a fee. She did, it took about an hour and more euro than the driver asked for, but by then I was beyond grateful.