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Results of our Europe trip

We are back from our near 2 months away :D

Firstly hubby and I went on a Travelmarvel trip around Canada for two weeks and had a great time. Then we headed to Europe and our 20's kids came over.

I will write only about Europe as it was a "hot thread" when I originally posted it as a few thought it was far too much to do in 3-weeks , one even called it a "ridiculous" itinerary!!. We had three weeks with the kids to do; Paris, Florence, Pisa, Montepulciano, Rome, Ancona, Dubrovnik, Makarska, Bol, Split, Venice, Amsterdam and back to Paris. All accommodations except one was booked through booking.com.

We did it and had the best time ever!! We managed to do everything we set out to do in a fairly leisurely fashion (what we deem to be leisurely), eat at certain places, see the things we wanted to see and all activities!! We only spent a couple of days here and there, but it was enough time to see all the sights we wanted to see or do things. Would we have liked more time there, yes, a couple of places (Paris and Makarska) but the kids had only 3-weeks off work so we maximized their time :) We had absolutely no hiccups at all, everything went to plan, well except the Amsterdam to Paris train stopped for 1.5hrs due to an "electrical problem" in Paris.

Paris - Went up Eiffel tower, Montparnasse tower, Arc de triomphe. Strolled down the Seine banks, ate at Latin Quarter, had lunch under Eiffel tower and put a lock on the bridge, Saint Chapelle, Saint Peirre, Invalides, Notre Dame, Saint Germain, St-Michel, ate our body weight in macarons, croissants, tried escargo and frog legs, Seine river cruise, visited the outside of Louvre (not really museum people), Catacombs
Took the Eurostar to London - Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Waterloo station, rode the HOHO bus (wouldnt recommend), Castle Baynard, London Bridge, Tower bridge, visited Hanleys and other shops
Flew to Florence and hired van - Stayed right beside the Duomo, Baptistery of St John, Santa Maria del Fiore, Piazza Signoria, Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio, Piazza San Giovanni - Pisa - Leaning tower, Cathedral square, duomo - hot dogs and icecream, shopped.

Stopped at San Gimignano and shopped and ate. Went to Sienna and visited the cathedral, spectacular!! - Stayed at Montepulciano, gorgeous
Rome - stayed right beside the Colosseum and did a 3-hr private tour incl underground (highly rec), Vatican city and Sistine chapel tour, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, St Peters square/basilica, Piazza Navona, Piazza Sant'Ignazio, Piazza di San Marcello, Piazza Venezia - Drove from Rome to Ancona through amazing tunnels, shopped and stayed. Ferry to Split.
Croatia - stayed at Mali Ston, gorgeous. Dubrovnik - kayaked, ate, walked the walls, swam by Dodo bar, jumped off the cliff at Buza bar, Walk of shame, Orlandos column, sat on the throne, gondola up Mt Srd and dinner at Panorama - Makarska, ate our body weight in food and relaxed by the beach - ferry to Bol, visited Dracevica, stayed in Bol, went to Zlatni Rat beach, visited Supetar before heading off back to split on ferry - Omis - went ziplining (highly rec), ate, walked around - Split - shopped, ate, relaxed, Saint Domnius - Drove to Venice, biggest day of driving, it was awesome, saw too many things to list!!
Venice - Rio Nuovo, San Polo, Grande canal, Cannaregio, took ferry for half day to Murano and Burano (highly rec), watched glass-making, San Marco, Rialto bridge, St Marks square, Bridge of Sighs, gondola ride with our own music, ferry to airport
Amsterdam - Susie's saloon (highly rec), ate all the trendy things on tiktok (kids) lol, shopped, tandem bike-riding, Anne Frank house, Ripleys.

From here the kids flew home back to NZ, we went on to Santorini for 6 days, then Singapore for a week. Dont let anyone tell you it is far too much :) It did require energy, a lot of walking and of course $$. So many memories on our Trip of a Lifetime!! Make the most of your time and "Just Do it" !!

Posted by
4292 posts

One thing I've learned regarding itinerary advice is don't ask if you may not like the answers. My wife and I keep up a good pace and we (I) love it. I'm glad the trip was a success, but I'm anxious to hear about the Canadian portion.

Posted by
52 posts

One thing I have learned from forums, ignore those who say it cant be done :)

We did a Travelmarvel tour of Canada. We really enjoyed it, however I think we will wait till we are a little older before joining a tour group again. We didnt much like being herded or sticking to a time schedule lol. We booked lots of things "outside" of the things that were available on the tour, and it was definitely worth it. There are MANY other things to do that are not on their list as you can imagine!! We were on a coach bus which was very comfortable and was the main reason we did a tour as I hate heights when in a vehicle so couldnt stand the thought of us hiring and driving around those mountainous roads!!

We started in Vancouver, took the ferry to Vancouver Island. Stayed there for a couple of nights and thats where the tour began. We then went to Whistler for a couple of nights (went ziplining and Vallea Lumina). Headed off via Lilliooet to Blue River, gorgeous. Then went onto Jasper, couple of nights there (went rafting). Then off down the Icefields Parkway to Lake Louise, spectacular. Stayed at the Chateau. Then off to Banff, absolutely loved it. We then jumped on the Rocky Mountaineer for 2 days stopping overnight at Kamloops, and back to Vancouver. The next day the tour ended and we were on our own for a couple of days in Vancouver before heading off to Paris (via Heathrow).

If you would like more detailed info I can provide no prob :)

Posted by
5414 posts

had lunch under Eiffel tower and put a lock on the bridge

Ah, you lost me there, what is the obsession with this act of vandalism? Would you spray a graffitti tag or carve your name onto an historic building? Placing a padlock (why?) onto a structure, accompanied by hundreds of others results in significant damage. An act of inane vanity.

Posted by
52 posts

When in Rome... or in this case, Paris. Its a real shame when all you got from our awesome trip was that.

Posted by
46 posts

Awesome! Thanks for sharing. My 20s say they will never travel with us again. :( But perhaps if I proposed this trip…. LOL.

Posted by
52 posts

Our 20's absolutely loved it. We all wrote down where we wanted to visit and we did them all with time to spare to be honest. We did over 600km in walking over 2 months, many many steps :) We are a pretty fit family though. They picked their favs, Caitlin (21) was Paris, of course, her boyfriends fav was Amsterdam lol and my sons fav was Rome. We sat down many times at each place and just took it all in over a coffee, it really was just mind-blowing :)

Posted by
8622 posts

I'm glad that your tour was such a success for you and that it matched your travel style. I think that you might want to actually listen to the European who had a different perspective than you did on the "lock on the bridge." It is all water under the bridge now (pun intended!) but if we are going to be respectful visitors to other countries, I think it is always valuable to get alternate perspectives. I know you viewed this as innocent fun and meant no harm, but it is helpful for all of us on the forum to know that this act of locks on bridges is not always appreciated or desired. We can all learn something here.

It made me wonder what sorts of things I might be doing that were really not appreciated.....

Posted by
1806 posts

Reading your report tired me out, but in a good way. You jammed packed a lot into your trip and that is exactly what I like to do as well. What great memories. Hoped you snapped a lot of pictures. Thanks.

Posted by
52 posts

Re: locks on the bridge - The day they get rid of all the locks will be a good day I think, it looked messy, however yes, we did join the club and added one. I understand the frustration at people doing it and do think that the French should do away with it, the same goes at Sacre Couer, though we didnt add a lock there. If it is hated by the French, why does it still exist, can nothing be done about it by the people? Surely the weight of the locks must be having a bearing on the stability of the bridges/fences?

Posted by
231 posts

Sounds like a great trip. I agree that you can ask advice, but feel free to ignore it. Too much depends on your own situation.

When we travelled in Europe we learned that one night stays were brutal and adapted. However travel has changed. We never worried about reservations on our earlier trips, now we would not travel without them. Glad you enjoyed your trip.

We recently travelled to New Zealand for three weeks. Did a self driving tour. Some would say we did too much, but we loved our trip and are at an age that we will likely not being going back to countries. Backed a lot in and saw a lot. We were fortunate as we flew to White Island about three months before it erupted.

To those of you wanting a break from Europe, try New Zealand, it is a great country to visit.

Posted by
4292 posts

If you would like more detailed info I can provide no prob :)

Just like reading about impressions when people visit my neck of the woods. It's an hour and 10 minute drive from my house to Banff. I think the Icefields Parkway is one of the most outstanding drives in the world.

Posted by
7067 posts

I am glad you had a good, hassle-free adventure!

I'll try to offer some perspective on this:

I understand the frustration at people doing it and do think that the French should do away with it, the same goes at Sacre Couer, though we didnt add a lock there. If it is hated by the French, why does it still exist, can nothing be done about it by the people? Surely the weight of the locks must be having a bearing on the stability of the bridges/fences?

"Hated" is a bit strong (at most a mild annoyance...) but the only way to prevent the locks from being set up is to replace the wired fences by glass/plastic ones. They have done so on Pont des Arts. It does not look great (glass/plastic gets scratched) and it costs money, hence the annoyance at this relatively recent trend!
Otherwise, you'd need a police officer by every fence at every tourist site: not an option.

I must say, I get a good chuckle everytime I see a combination lock instead of the throw-away-the-key variant.

Posted by
2744 posts

What an amazing trip report; I really enjoyed it! It is so helpful to hear from people who like to move around a lot and have a great time doing it because most people on this forum prefer slower travel. It’s good to be reminded that no one travel style works for everyone.

I’m so glad you had a marvelous trip! Thanks for sharing!

Posted by
52 posts

Mister E - crowds werent bad at all in most places. Paris, Florence, Pisa, Tuscany all fine. Rome of course was busier but only every now and then, I think the heat drove a few indoors or kept them there. Dubrovnik (Old Town) was busy, would hate to do that in the peak of summer. Makarska, Brac were nice. Split was very busy as well. Venice very busy, the boat coming back from Murano to mainland was pretty horrific, wouldnt do that again in a hurry, jammed in like sardines!! Amsterdam was madness but I think its like that all the time? car, bike, tram, bike, car, bike lol. Hard to believe there arent more accidents there!

Canada - Vancouver Island was nice, enjoyed the food there. We loved Banff the most, then Whistler then Jasper. I think seeing all the animals was my fav part of Canada. I think Canada is the same as New Zealand as far as scenery, but on a much grander scale :) We didnt enjoy the Rocky Mountaineer as much as we hoped, this was mainly due to the fact that it shares the rail with freight trains and gives way to them, so on the first day it was meant to be 8-10hr trip, it was 15-hours (7am-10pm)it was a long day and we couldnt wait to get off it quite frankly. The next day we jumped back on at 7am and got into Vancouver at about 3pm so that was much better. We did gold class and it was worth every cent!! The food was incredible. Loved Vancouver, went to Gastown, Granville Island, Grouse Mountain, all great :)

Europe has never been on my todo list, circumstances just led us there, couldnt believe how much I loved it. Not sure whether we will be back as there are many other places in the world I want to go to, if we were to go back though I would spend more time in Paris and maybe Croatia. My fear of heights (primarily when in a vehicle) was tested 10 times over on this 2-month trip, I survived :) I am very proud of myself for doing it, those roads in Croatia especially, stunning roads but horrifically high, even the A1 motorway!!

Posted by
3050 posts

I didn't see the original thread but I think you probably got some pushback because this style of travel is very different from the Rick Steves ethos more generally, and naturally people who like that style of travel are drawn here. But everyone has different preferences! I'm a little confused by not visiting the Louvre as you're not museum people but then visiting the Vatican (which is a museum) but on the other hand, the Louvre is nearly as big of a pain to visit as the Vatican, so if you didn't think you'd enjoy it, it makes sense to skip it. (My inner art history geek is crying a bit now...I've probably spent a total of 24 hours in that museum total, lol).

I do think when traveling from so far away - the flight sounds SO brutal, as I have Aussie friends who visit Europe about once a year - it makes sense to see as much as you can. Sounds like a fun family trip but I've done just week-long trips that moved at this pace and thought I'd die and that's when I was still in my 30s. Good on ya, as they say!