Travel Advice, please

Avatar for deenow17
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2004
Travel Advice, please
10
Mon, 10-28-2013 - 3:05pm

Where would you suggest going if London or Amsterdam were your starting point & you wanted to spend 10 to 14 days overseas during first 6 wks of 2014?

Ok, most of you know that DS1 is currently in Holland. He is living outside of Amsterdam in Lijnden. He wants us to come overseas sometime in the first 6 wks of 2014 which is when his partner has a break from school. He isn't fussy if we actually go to Holland but wants to meet with us somewhere if we don't go there. He has just visited Prague & Brussels in the last 2 wks on separate trips with great deals they got locally. They both appealed to me but aren't an option as he has been.  I know we want to go to Britain - at least London for the sites as DH hasn't been & likely to Dover where we have friends. It's a cheap flight from Dover to Amsterdam. But I'm not really sure where else to go as nothing really grabs me when I think about it except for Russia & DH refuses to go there. We can't do a lot of bus or train trips as DH has bad motion sickness & he isn't comfortable driving where he doesn't know where he is going. I know that some of you have been to Spain which we might do but only if we rent a condo as DS1 wants to hit the beach. I love seeing the past in many forms.

I have to admit that neither DH or myself are very adventurous. He loves different food but I'm fussy & we are both really shy when we travel. Neither speak a second language. Ouch, no wonder DS1 says we need to expand our horizons. Thank goodness 2 of my 3 kids have travelled a lot outside of the normal hot spots DH & I head to in the Caribbean.

Dee

PS: I need to keep our trip simple as DH stresses. We are driving to Florida on Nov 15th & he is already grumping about what could go wrong.

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Mon, 10-28-2013 - 3:44pm

The great thing about the British Isles is that you don't have to speak a foreign language, and the food can be as exotic or tame as you like.  That's why our first overseas trips with our kids were to Ireland, England, and Scotland. 

If your DH frets over driving, then you don't want to drive in England, where they drive on the left side of the road.  The good news is that you don't have to.  If you go to London, you can easily spend 4-5 days there, or 6-7 if you do a few bus/train rides out from there to sites such as Stonehenge.  Take the train to Dover, spend 4-5 days with your friends, and voila!  There's your trip.

I suggest you get a couple of travel books, such as Fodors, Rick Steves, and DK.  Fodors and Rick Steves are great for helping you develop itineraries, and DK has wonderful color photos and all kinds of info about specific sites, as well as very good maps.  After you have some ideas and have dogeared some pages, go to the message boards on fodors.com.  I find reading other people's travel reports and the answers to their travel questions to be very helpful.

Be careful though.  Once you start traveling to London and find it so very comfortable to be in and get around in, you might catch the travel bug and then you'll want to do it every year! ;)

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2010
Mon, 10-28-2013 - 4:07pm

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Avatar for deenow17
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2004
Mon, 10-28-2013 - 5:51pm
Thanks for your suggestion. I actually spent 2 wks in England & I agree that it's a breeze to get around. DH has family throughout but is the only one of his 5 siblings who hasn't been to England. I have used Fodors but didn't know about Rick Steves & DK so will check those out. I'm leaning to heading to somewhere we would be less comfortable with while we have DS1 to join us. He has done a lot of traveling & having someone confident will help DH. Dee
Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Mon, 10-28-2013 - 6:37pm

I got a couple of DK books at Costco and agree that they have beautiful photos. The ones I got are "Back Roads" driving books so not what you are looking for lol--or maybe you are since you will have ds to drive? but I have seen other DK travel books at Costco. We used Rick Steves when we went to Spain. His philosophy is to get off the beaten path & away from the touristy hotels and restaurants and he has some adventurous suggestions and ways to mingle with the locals, but he also includes the major attractions so its a good resource even if you don't share his philosophy. He has a website which includes travel forums that he/his staff do not reply to, but many experienced travelers discuss and answer questions. TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet.com also have good info in their forums.

Southern Spain might be a good idea. The Mediterranian coast supposedly has nice beaches and would probably be warm if anyplace is warm at that time. (some winters can be cold even in southern Spain, no way to predict) It has lots of tourist towns (where English will probably be spoken) and your ds might be ready for some warmer weather by then too---I imagine that the weather of Holland is a big adjustment for him after Vancouver? Do you use airbnb or vrbo to find condos?

If you decide on Spain I might be able to make some suggestions.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Mon, 10-28-2013 - 10:04pm

Well, the bad thing about Europe in winter, is that it's WINTER.  Not -20F, but cold all the same.  If you don't mind walking around in it, and dress appropriatly, you should be fine, but it depends on your comfort level.  I would much prefer it to Africa-level heat, but that's me.  The good thing about Europe, is that many people speak English, in addition to their native language, especially in places with a high number of tourists. 

Since you don't want to take a bus, train or drive, I don't exactly know what you are intending to do.  Pick a city, fly there and stay?  Then you need a city that will entertain you for 10 days.  German cities have a lot to see and do.  Besides the obvious choices of Berlin and Frankfort, Munich, Cologne and Dresden all offer lots of art, architecture, history, museums and most of it is easily accessible on foot from a city center hotel.  Ditto Italy and Greece.  You could EASILY spend 10-14 days in Rome alone.  We did, and loved every minute.  We spent a week in Copenhagen, and a week in Dublin and the surrounding areas.  Have your Dh take a Dramamine, and take the train to Waterford.  It is a BEAUTIFUL riverfront city.

You are also close to France.  Paris is obvious, but Marseille, Nice and Strasbourg also have lots to see and do, and of course, EAT. 

Google these cities to learn what they have to offer, and Google the countries surrounding the Netherlands to get other ideas.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2009
Tue, 10-29-2013 - 9:26am

Don't worry about the second language, especially in Western Europe. English is spoken everywhere. The only time I had problems was in Vienna

I would stay out of Russia. You don't have enough time.

My favorite country is France. If you going all that way.. I vote for spending time first in London and the surrounding area and then Paris.  Look at the climate reports for the areas you plan to visit. It does snow in Europe.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998
Tue, 10-29-2013 - 3:42pm

My parents did a Rick Steves tour when they were in their late 60s. My dad was like your husband, not a real traveller, picky about food and a bit of a pessimist, but he loved that trip. It was not too expensive and they didn't have to drive at all. Much of their sightseeing was on foot (they had to follow a strict fitness regimen to get in shape before the trip) or used public transportation, which was a great way to meet locals and really see things tourists don't see.  Rick Steves is a Seattle-based company, so many people come down from BC and other western provinces to travel with them. (And no, RIck himself is unlikely to lead your tour.)

Once you get where you're going, RS employs local guides who speak very good English. My dad spoke only English, and my mom speaks English and only a little French.

Avatar for deenow17
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2004
Tue, 10-29-2013 - 3:45pm
Thanks everyone for your input. I know it's cold in Europe in Jan but it is still warmer than here. I have asked if we could put this off until beginning of April at least as I prefer to travel away from freezing cold weather. I have thought about both Rome & Germany but not France. I have had a few friends who were frustrated with the language differences in France so was interested to hear this wasn't a problem. Another friend went to Vienna & suggested not going. She said that the illusion she had in her mind was so much better than the reality. She found it smelly, dirty & the food was terrible according to her. She does a lot of traveling so I found this interesting. The best way to travel for DH would be on a river cruise so I am looking at those too. I know he is only doing this for me as he would be quite happy to stay home. He uses a patch when we travel but finds he gets sleepy & so cruising is best as he can go take a nap. He always feels sick after napping on a bus. We have not tried him on a train but I know my DD, who takes after him, was very ill even with dramamine when we travelled by train in England. I'm waiting for DS1 feedback on timing & his suggestions. Thanks! Dee
Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Tue, 10-29-2013 - 8:35pm

Our experience in Spain was that the hotels, restaurants, services, and attractions that cater to tourists (especially from the UK or N America) will have someone on duty at all times that speaks English well. And other places may have somebody on staff who speaks english (which helps with email correspondence) but if that person is not on duty when you need help, then you'll have to rely on your guidebook or phrasebook. Since we like to find out of the way places we encountered people who spoke no english, even in large cities such as Madrid. I have heard this about France as well but have never been there so cannot confirm. Its all part of the adventure, right?

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-31-2013
Thu, 10-31-2013 - 9:43am

If you're going on a cruise, you should arrive a day in advance. This will stop those close calls of getting stuck in traffic or having your flight delayed and causing you to miss your trip. The stress of almost missing the ship is not how you want to start your trip.

http://getbustours.com/