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Old 10-11-2006, 02:35 AM   #1
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We are landing Athens April 2007.
Spending 5 nights Athens to do the tourist stuff.
Down to Piraeus to catch ferry to Sifnos...maybe 4 nights
Then short ferry ride to Milos with another 4 nights
From Milos over to Santorini for 3 nights.

Our big expense is to fly from Santorini to Rhodes for 4 nights
Hopefully by booking early & well in advance we can get a good deal.

After Rhodes short ferry ride to Kos for a few more days before heading
back to Athens on an overnight ferry.

From Athens we'll take the bus to Patras to catch ferry to Corfu
After 5 or 6 nights in Corfu we'll take an overnight train to Brindisi.
I believe the ferry gets in early morning and there's a train to Salerno
via Taranto leaving Brindisi around 9.00am arriving Salerno at 2.00 in the afternoon.

We'd probably stay a night in Salerno and then can't decide
quite where to stay next...Amalfi, Positano, Praiano or Sorrento?

We want to spend around 7 or 8 days in this area with 3 or 4 nights on Capri.
We do want to end up in Sorrento to catch Train to Pompeii with the intention
of continuing on to Naples after spending the day (4 hours or so) at Pompeii.

Sorry for those of you who love Naples but we'll only spend a couple of nights here
before taking train on to Rome. After 4 or 5 days in Rome it's back on the train to
Florence where we'll make it our base to do the likes of Pisa, Lucca, Sienna, & La Spezia.

From florence we'll train again to Venice.

From there we're not sure.....

We hope to spend up to 4 - 6 months and would like to think we could get right round the
coast of France, Spain and Portugual...ending up in Paris and back to London.

I know this is huge and we need help with hostels and/or budget accommodation.
We have decided that the Eurorail Pass or busabout pass isn't going to work for us
and that point to point will be better with probably country passes in Italy will work better.

We are really interested in any comments, suggestions, help and advice

Cheers Karen and allan
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Old 10-13-2006, 12:37 AM   #2
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Well, it sounds like you've got roughly the first month and a half sorted, which is a great start. I like that you're giving yourself plenty of time in each place, and are getting a nice mix of city/not city areas in. Also, picking a base (Florence) and taking side trips is an excellent decision - much easier to hop on a train in the morning with just yourselves and go back "home" to your gear at night.

I can't give a lot of guidance on places to stay in the areas you mentioned, either because we haven't stayed there or stayed with friends/in hotels. But, since you're traveling together, it's good to know that sometimes small hotels and guest houses which charge a "room rate" are cheaper than "per bed" hostels.

In many places in Europe, the Etap hotels (bed, desk, TV and private bath) are a cheap alternative - we've stayed in them in Vienna, Salzburg and Paris (around 35 - 40 Euro/night for privacy). Generally, they're in industrial parks or slightly outlying areas, though they typically have good public transit links to the centre. The place we stayed in Vienna was about 5 metro stops from the centre, in Salzburg it was an 8 minute bus ride, and in Paris, a 10 minute walk to the metro (with several convenient bakeries along the way for cheap breakfasts). I would generally recommend NOT getting the breakfast at the hotel.

In Spain, they may still be offering a special that we took advantage of: once in Spain, you can go into any local travel agency and buy a 50 Euro voucher to be redeemed at hotels in your next destination (the travel agency makes the booking, based on your criteria). Invariably, the vouchers cost less than if you booked the room yourself. We were traveling with our 4 kids and needed two rooms, so we paid 100 Euro, and asked for a hotel in Madrid with convenient metro access. They booked us a 2 bedroom suite in a four star hotel immediately atop Chamartin station. But you can't book these vouchers from outside Spain, so it's a little known secret. Again, 50 Euro a night may be outside your usual budget, but it makes a nice treat once in a while.

The only specific suggestion I have for your itinerary as it is, is to allow more time for Pompeii. We spent four hours there (having started the day at Vesuvius, we wandered Pompeii from our arrival until closing time) and found that it wasn't long enough to see everything. The site is quite enormous and while you could cover the highlights in that time, you wouldn't have time to stop and examine some of the really fascinating spots. If your time is really limited, be sure to check out the map before you dive in, and work out your plan, because once you're inside it's pretty labyrinthine and you may have difficulty sorting out where you are. If you can find the novel, Pompeii (I don't know the author off hand, but the book is fairly recent and will probably be among the first results in a fiction search at the library) it's an easy read and to me made the experience a lot more vibrant and understandable.

In Naples, stop by the Chapel of San Severino, there are two phenomenal statues there. Also, the Archaeological Museum is closed on Tuesdays.

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Old 10-13-2006, 11:44 AM   #3
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In Santorini u should stay at Annas hostel in Perissa beach, 6 euro a night! and definitely do the boat tour if u get the chance, it was really worth it.
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Old 10-13-2006, 03:29 PM   #4
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Thank you so much for your reply. We will definitely take more time in Pompeii and will probably base ourselves in Sorrento and take train to visit both sites. Really appreciate your response and can't wait to get going. Every night we're on the internet checking out this and that.
One question...Looking at our route so far and where we intend stopping and basing ourselves do you think we'd be better off with point to point tickets rather than a rail pass which is the way we're tending. We don't need any rail passes for Greece and will probably look at one for Spain and Portugual. Once again many thanks. Karen

<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(tumblezweedz @ Oct 13 2006, 08:37 PM) [snapback]142396[/snapback]</div>
Quote:
Well, it sounds like you've got roughly the first month and a half sorted, which is a great start. I like that you're giving yourself plenty of time in each place, and are getting a nice mix of city/not city areas in. Also, picking a base (Florence) and taking side trips is an excellent decision - much easier to hop on a train in the morning with just yourselves and go back "home" to your gear at night.

I can't give a lot of guidance on places to stay in the areas you mentioned, either because we haven't stayed there or stayed with friends/in hotels. But, since you're traveling together, it's good to know that sometimes small hotels and guest houses which charge a "room rate" are cheaper than "per bed" hostels.

In many places in Europe, the Etap hotels (bed, desk, TV and private bath) are a cheap alternative - we've stayed in them in Vienna, Salzburg and Paris (around 35 - 40 Euro/night for privacy). Generally, they're in industrial parks or slightly outlying areas, though they typically have good public transit links to the centre. The place we stayed in Vienna was about 5 metro stops from the centre, in Salzburg it was an 8 minute bus ride, and in Paris, a 10 minute walk to the metro (with several convenient bakeries along the way for cheap breakfasts). I would generally recommend NOT getting the breakfast at the hotel.

In Spain, they may still be offering a special that we took advantage of: once in Spain, you can go into any local travel agency and buy a 50 Euro voucher to be redeemed at hotels in your next destination (the travel agency makes the booking, based on your criteria). Invariably, the vouchers cost less than if you booked the room yourself. We were traveling with our 4 kids and needed two rooms, so we paid 100 Euro, and asked for a hotel in Madrid with convenient metro access. They booked us a 2 bedroom suite in a four star hotel immediately atop Chamartin station. But you can't book these vouchers from outside Spain, so it's a little known secret. Again, 50 Euro a night may be outside your usual budget, but it makes a nice treat once in a while.

The only specific suggestion I have for your itinerary as it is, is to allow more time for Pompeii. We spent four hours there (having started the day at Vesuvius, we wandered Pompeii from our arrival until closing time) and found that it wasn't long enough to see everything. The site is quite enormous and while you could cover the highlights in that time, you wouldn't have time to stop and examine some of the really fascinating spots. If your time is really limited, be sure to check out the map before you dive in, and work out your plan, because once you're inside it's pretty labyrinthine and you may have difficulty sorting out where you are. If you can find the novel, Pompeii (I don't know the author off hand, but the book is fairly recent and will probably be among the first results in a fiction search at the library) it's an easy read and to me made the experience a lot more vibrant and understandable.

In Naples, stop by the Chapel of San Severino, there are two phenomenal statues there. Also, the Archaeological Museum is closed on Tuesdays.


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Old 10-15-2006, 05:09 AM   #5
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If you're planning to do a lot of rail travel once you're on the mainland, it might pay off to get a pass for some or all of the region. The time on the pass doesn't start until you actually use it, so if you're not going to need the trains for the first month or so of your trip, you don't lose that time. As you work out the rest of your itinerary, you may find that a general pass is worthwhile (you can check out train schedules throughout Europe at www.diebahn.de - info is available in English!) If you opt for a limited pass, try to use it only for long journeys, as these are generally more expensive, don't waste pass days on short, cheap daytrips unless you've got extra days to burn.

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