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Wonderful, exhausting 5 week trip: London, Italy, Spain and Austria

First, thanks to everyone who responded to my questions I had while planning. This report isn't very detailed, but just wanted to share a little bit about our trip.

We left Orlando August 27. We were originally going to fly Norwegian Air to Rome, but the layover in Copenhagen was 7-8 hours and we would have arrived in Rome around midnight. Seemed like a good idea at the time of booking. We were meeting a friend and brother and sister-in-law for this part of the trip and decided it would take us more than a day to recover from that flight. So, we added a week on the front end of our trip and for a small increase in price, flew nonstop in to London.

Spent 3 nights in London. Since we had a 6:30 am flight to Rome, decided to spend the 3rd night at the Sofitel at Gatwick. Checked in late morning. They held our bags and we took the train from Gatwick to Brighton. Spent the better part of the day there. Started with coffee and a treat from The Flour Pot coffee shop. Really yummy. Walked through the town and down to the beach. Lots of nice shops. Quite crowded. Stopped for glass of wine and a sandwich before heading back to hotel. We were flying EasyJet to Rome and we were able to check our bags in the night before. Very handy. Next morning we went right to security. (Yes, we check bags).
Next stop, Montepulciano. Since we still had a few days before we met friends and family in Rome, that's where we decided to go. Flew to Rome, train to Chiusi and were picked up by a taxi prearranged by hotel in Montepulciano. Decided we didn't want to went a car. Loved Montepulciano. Took a HOHO bus that did different tours, depending on the day. It was good, but decided we could have done the same thing and much cheaper by just taking the bus. Stayed at a great B&B with wonderful views. Lots of uphill walking!!

Next stop - Rome. Took bus to Chiusi, then train to Rome. First time in Rome. We took prebooked, guided tours of Vatican, Colosseum, etc. Tours were great, but weather was hot and most places were very, very crowded. We were told by several people that this wasn't even the busiest time. Can't imagine being there with even more people! I know many people are in love with Rome, but we all left feeling that we were glad we went, but it's not a place we would go back to. Too hot, too crowded, too much traffic.

Next stop - Majorca, Spain. Our dear friend treated us to this part of the trip. Spent 3 nights being pampered at a wonderful resort. Only downside - she had bronchitis and "shared" it with me. Had to see a doctor for treatment. Ended up too sick to fly, so spent one day in bed. Bright side - what a great place to spend an extra day.

Then on to Monterosso. Flew to Milan, then train. Was't sure what to expect because we kept reading about how crowded it would be. It wasn't. Sure, the trains were crowded, but no big mobs of tourists I was expecting. We both thought the Cinque Terre was beautiful. Only able to visit two other towns because of this part of the trip being cut short by a day due to illness. Weather was very hot. We stayed in a wonderful B&B with a beautiful garden that we were happy to return to at the end of the day.

Next stop - Varenna on Lake Como. We were here 4 nights. What a beautiful area. Did lots of walking. Took ferry to nearby towns. Ate some really good food and lots of gelato. Weather still hot. Thought it would be cooler by now. Everyone kept telling us how unusual the hot weather was for this time if year. Ugh! No a/c in hotel. Balcony faced the lake (west), so couldn't enjoy it until well after sunset. For other reasons, we weren't really happy with the room we had in this highly rated hotel. But, didn't let it spoil our trip.
To be continued.
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Posted by
410 posts

Sorry, didn't think I had so much to say.
Next stop - Verona. Stayed here 3 nights. Weather still unseasonably hot. Really thought we would be in long pants by now. But, we stayed in a wonderful hotel with a/c. What a welcome relief. We really liked Verona. Kind of like a small Rome. Did the Rick Steves walking tour. Ate at 3 great restaurants recommended by hotel staff. Colosseum is beautiful!

Then on to Ortisei in the Dolomites. Took train to Bolzano, then bus to Ortisei. What a bus ride it was! Narrow, very windy road, but the views were beautiful. Glad we decided not to drive. Really, really enjoyed Ortisei. Purchased a 3 day pass that got us on all the lifts. Did lots and lots of hiking. Trails are all beautiful. Food at the "huts" was wonderful. Weather finally cooled down. On day two, almost a little too cool, but great for hiking. Ate all of our meals at hotel. Half-board was included in rate. Food was fantastic.
We were originally going to stay 6 nights, but decided to spend night 6 in Bolzano so we didn't have to take the bus back on the same morning we were taking train to Salzburg. Think it was a wise decision. Enjoyed our day in Bolzano. Would definitely return for a longer stay.

Then - train to Salzburg. We had been here years ago to go to Christmas market, but that's all we saw. We really enjoyed our second visit. Weather was beautiful. Didn't do anything special, just strolled around the gardens and beautiful Salzburg. By this point in our trip we were really exhausted.

Then we flew back to London. Stayed at an apartment we had stayed before. We just love London, so decided to end our trip where we started. That and the fact that it's a nonstop flight. We went to see the musical Hamilton. Wonderful. Went to Imperial War Museum, which is right across the street from the apartment. Had a realaxing last 3 days and a good flight home.

Had a wonderful trip, but realized we had really "pushed the envelope" this time. We walked a total of 215 miles and felt every mile. But every place we went was so beautiful, you just had to get out and go. My hubby is 74 and I'm 69, but we also realize we should be thankful we could still do it.

Other than being hot, we were lucky with the weather. Didn't use our umbrellas once. Still packed a little too much. Each suitcase weighed about 22 pounds. Did a lot of sink washing in hotel bathroom sinks. That does get old. We did use cabs more this time, especially from train stations to hotels and back. Didn't have any problems with credit or debit card ATM's. Only wore a money belt on days we hiked, because I didn't want to carry my purse. Realized we're getting old because in several train stations we had people offer to help us with luggage either up the stairs or getting on the train. Heck yes, you can help. Much appreciated!

So, we are pretty much rested up. I'm already looking at places to go next year. Hubby isn't ready to talk about it yet. He'll come around. Only a matter of time. Happy Travels!

Posted by
3369 posts

Wow, you covered a lot of beautiful locations during your vacation! We might have crossed paths in Montepulciano! I had planned to take the HOHO bus to some of the surrounding towns, also, but I enjoyed Montepulciano so much that I just took the regular bus on Day 3 over to Pienza (loved it!)

I smiled reading your ending sentences! ; )

Posted by
1953 posts

Sue, thank you for sharing your wonderful journey. Some of our favorite places. It does sound like you covered a lot of areas! I completely understand your husbands sentiment. I tend to start planning our next tour on our return flight! My husband needs a little time to "decompress."

Posted by
7680 posts

What a fun trip! You all really covered a lot of territory. Sorry it was so hot...that really wrings it out of me. I keep making my trips earlier in the spring and later in the fall...lol.

Thanks for taking the time to post!

Posted by
901 posts

Sue, thanks for your trip report. You covered quite a bit of territory and it seems you must have done a lot of good planning so that it ran so smoothly. Good on you for not letting your illness or your displeasure with some of your accommodations spoil your trip.

Posted by
679 posts

I enjoyed your trip report. I have been to the places you described and enjoyed "visiting" them again with you. Keep on planning, what the hubby doesn't know won't hurt him (at least not until he is ready).

Posted by
12099 posts

Thanks for an interesting report. Yes, very convenient...the Thameslink train goes from Gatwick to Brighton.

Posted by
23550 posts

I really enjoyed following this trip. I love the way you modify and flow with what you get and still have a great time, and ready again to dip back in.

I wish I'd been with you.

Posted by
653 posts

Sounds like a wonderful trip! Verona, Varenna, and the Dolomites are on my “get there” list and you just reinforced that!