We are looking forward to our first European trip as newly retired seniors, to new destinations!
Our plan is to stay for 3 months. Sept, Oct, November of 2012.
We are tossing around the idea of renting a home or apartment for one month each in Tuscany, Normandy, Barcelona and taking day trips from our rentals. We are not interested in "jumping around" and cramming everything into one trip. Our goal is to achieve quality rather than quantity.
I have many questions I am hoping you all can help with
How and where do we follow the best weather for those months?
Do we start in France, Spain, Italy??
We don't want to come home to San Diego,, Ca from New York in a snow storm. That is why we are planning our return dates no later than Nov, or early Dec.
Since we want future vacations, we don't want to break the bank either!I guess we want it all!!
Does one purchase international insurance for those months in Europe from the USA.
Are the regions selected by us a good plan for our goals?
We don't want to rent a car..what is the alternative?
Any and all advise welcomed!!
Also rental possibilities in each country? Is it possible to rent a furnished place monthly fro $600.00 to $800.00 US in each location?
One bedroom, decent locations?
My family are following a similar route as you and at a similar time of year. We are travelling for 3 months to UK, Channel Islands, France (Normandy\Brittany), Italy (Tuscany, Cinque Terre, Lake Garda), Belgium, Holland. We leave end of August. This is our fourth trip to Europe.
In regards to weather, Europe is very unpredictable. From September onwards it can be quite cold and wet, but you can also experience a 'late summer' too. France (particularly south), Italy, and Spain are quite similar, although Spain\Italy would be the warmest if you are only doing northern France. We like travelling in the off-peak months as it is less 'sweaty' and less crowded, and cheaper. We live in Australia, so we don't travel to experience summer heat, as we get enough of that at home!
I think any order you pick will be fine, but personally I would determine what route suits you best, eg. Do you want to fly between each country? Rail? Not sure why you wouldn't want to drive - much better for getting away from the main tourist spots and gives you greater flexibility. If flying, I advise checking your options for flights. Sometimes connections between some cities can be a bit limited. We prefer to avoid the big city airports like Rome, Paris, etc. as you can get closer to your destinations from the regional airports, eg. Beauvais for Normandy, Pisa for Tuscany, etc. These airports are also less chaotic too!
We always buy insurance for the whole trip at home.
The choice of regions is purely personal, of course. Your choices are certainly quite close together so that travelling times are smallish if flying.
Unless you have a particular reason for visiting northern France, eg. Battlefields (D-Day beaches, etc) or Paris, you could consider south France as it is very beautiful and is closer to Spain and Italy.
We are staying in a mix of accommodation, from hotels, bed & breakfasts, apartments, youth hostels, furnished homes, and even a converted lighthouse and a priory! As always, you get what you pay for, and it depends a lot on where it is, eg. in town, in the countryside, and at what time of year. We found that for medium standard accommodation for a furnished house you would pay around 400-700EUR a week, which is around $US2,500 - 3,000 a month. There would not be many options for a one bedroom house I suspect. A B&B or hotel would be best for a couple who needs just one bedroom. That is more likely to be around your price range, eg. $US1,000 a month. These would be 1 or 2 star places though. Europe is expensive! If booking for a whole month you may get a big discount as well. Try airB&B which is a site that covers hotels and individuals who let out their spare rooms: http://www.airbnb.com. We found some great deals there.
For French houses: http://www.gite.com
We also heavily rely on TripAdvisor (http://www.tripadvisor.com/) Their reviews from actual guests are usually very accurate.
We hope this helps. Enjoy your trip!
Steve, Louise & Teia
ps. We loved San Diego. It reminded us very much of home - relaxed, nice climate, friendly people!
i never been to Europe..But its great to hear from you about your planning to Europe Trip..do not forget to have travel insurance...please share your experience with us when you come back..happy journey my dear friend...