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2 week trip to Italy and Paris with 11 and 9 y/o June 2013

Travel Forums Europe 2 week trip to Italy and Paris with 11 and 9 y/o June 2013

1. Posted by shelleycq (First Time Poster 1 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

Hello everyone! I'm new to this forum and this is my first post, so I apologize if this is answered elsewhere. This is our first trip to Europe from the US WITH our children! We are making plans for the first 2 weeks of June 2013. We are very excited and hope that our children enjoy the trip. First, let me say that I realize that our 11 y/o and 9 y/o daughters are not going to "appreciate" the trip as my spouse and I did last year, nevertheless, we would like to make it educational and fun for them! In my mind, I feel that we will want several days in each place, hoping that it will break up the monotony of being in one place for too long. With that being said, I also don't want to wear them (or us) down moving from place to place. We will be packing light and I am making sure that each B&B we will be staying at will at least have a washing machine. I hope for each person to only have one carry on bag...wishful thinking??? Maybe:) I will add that we love walking, our kids are good travelers as well... We love to be with the locals and always steer clear of Hotels, usually opting for B&B's. We love budget friendly trips, allowing us to travel more often. Here's our itinerary in a nutshell with my current mode of transport included. Any and all suggestions or changes are welcome!! I am willing to rearrange the order of stops, totally eliminate or add new destinations!! Bear with me please, this will be lengthy!! As of right now, this is what I have:

Fly into Rome, spend 4 nights. Here we plan on doing the typical: Colosseum, short version tour of the Vatican mainly to see the Sistine (due to their young ages) and then on the St Peters, Castel Sant'Angelo, the fountains, Spanish Steps, Borghese Gardens, Mouth of Truth photo and lots of pizza and gelato!! Maybe a bike rental afternoon at the aqueduct park?? We will be doing self/audio-guided tours and will purchase all tickets in advance to avoid lines. From Rome, take Sena Bus from Rome to Siena (approx. 3 hour trip)

Have our Tuscany base in Siena, spend 3 nights in Siena. Arrive first day, walk around to get our bearings, check out a few sites, have dinner. Day 2 take 1/2 day trip via train (1 hr, 45 min) to Pisa (my husband and I have been there, done that, but this is the ONE thing the girls have asked for, so I feel that we have to do it again), return to Siena and do more sight seeing that evening. Third day, take bus to Florence (1 hour ride) site see for the day in Florence which I realize is not enough time. I just feel that by this time, our girls are going to be all "church'd" and "museum'd" out!! At least we will get to say we saw it, ate there, etc. On the fourth day, wake up and take the train to Cinque Terre via La Spezia to catch a local train (about 1.5 hours total) to Monterosso.

Spend 4 nights in Cinque husband and I only had one day there last year and can't get it out of our minds!! Also felt this would allow a little rest time for the girls in between big cities and also some beach time, as we will be there in June. We think our base will be in Monterosso only due to it having the largest sandy beach for the kids. Having 4 full days there, we hope to do easy hiking, lots of eating, some beach time and possibly at day trip to Portofino if not too tired?? Then on to Venice...

Take train from Cinque Terre (Genoa vs. La Spezia??) to Venice with a train change in Milan. Spend 3 nights in Venice (or less??) Do the main sites and then this is where I start to flounder around:) Is 3 nights too much?? Is it worth visiting the other islands: Murano, Burano, Lido with the kids??
Then on to Paris..

Take a Thello night train to Paris. This just sounds fun to me, has anyone taken this train?? It leaves Venice around 8:30 pm and arrives in Paris at 9:20 am and costs approximately $300 US total for all 4 of us to have our own private 4 berth cabin with bathroom. Just thought it a cool/different/fun option for the kids and maybe a bit easier than arriving at airport 2-3 hours early for international flight, transports to and from airport with kids, etc. Plus, they get to sleep while traveling and not something we get at chance to do in the States. I realize there are also cheap flight options with RyanAir and EasyJet for something like $50-70 each.

Spend 3 nights in Paris and do the typical sight seeing with kids. Any suggestions of best neighborhoods for families and within walking distance to major sights/restaurants?? My husband and I have been to Italy, however not Paris, so my research on Paris is just beginning.

To all of you who have taken the time to read through all of this, I truly appreciate it!! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!!


2. Posted by Love_Travelling (Budding Member 52 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

You have a really great plan! :) Just a few remarks/ suggestions/ answers:
1) You meant June 2014, not June 2013, right? Just a little remark. :)
2) About the islands in Venice. Well, I haven't visited Burano and Lido, so i can't really tell you anything about it, but I have been to Murano. I wouldn't recommend Murano to anyone really drom my experience. Well, as you probably know Murano is known for its glass. We went there to see how the glass is made - basically we went to this glass museum. Well, first of all they show you,how the glass is made and that is pretty intesting. But then another man came and led us to the gallerey. He wanted to sell something from the gallerey to us and he was really intrusive. And the prices were huge, everything was extremely expensive( not that we'd have wanted to buy sth, just saying). We explained to him that we didn't want to buy anything and he led us to the souvenir shop. Well, there was only crap and we didn't buy anything also and he was really angry. Ww got back and everything was fine, but it didn't leave me a good memory. And it wasn't just us, it was everyone, who were there - they did the same thing to them. I wouldn't reccommend going there, especially with kids.
3) The lenght of your stay in Venice... Well, you know that is personal - for some people 2 days is enough, for others 1 week is not enough. Just keep in mind that Venice can be overwhelming and it is not like any other city in Europe or in the states. Everything seems so magical because there is a lot of water and no cars and the coty itself is just gorgeous. But that can be also overwhelming. There aren't that many sites - it is a really great city to just wander around, but it can get a little overwhelming, because everywhere is something. If you ask my opinion, I would cut it down to 2 days just because it may get overwhelming and you are with kids. Plus, 2-3 days isn't enough to see everyhting there anyway, so if you end up liking this city, you'll probably go back there one day. :)
4) Definitely take the overnight train. The kids will love it! :) It is a new experience for them and it is way comfortable for the whole family than a plane. I haven't done this exact route, but I have travelled from Germany to France many times and also in Finland from south to north many times by overnight trains in Europe. They are really cool! :) And even though the price will be a little bit more expensive than travelling with RyanAir or EasyJet, the price is actually the same or even cheaper as airports are normally further away from the city, so you have to pay for the transport more + you don't have to pay for your accomadation that night as you'll sleap in the train! :)

Hope it helped you! :) Have a nice and safe trip! :)

3. Posted by Chamonix (Budding Member 2 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

You will have a most marvelous trip! We did much the same last year with our teenagers but we drove everywhere.

In Rome, the activity we enjoyed most of all was the Segway tour of the Palatine Hill ( one of the 7 hills of Rome). I thoroughly recommend this! Our children also enjoyed The Time Elevator in Rome - it's a movement ride in a sensaround cinema about the history of Rome - an excellent way to introduce the kids to history without listening to boring tour guides.

We have the same policy - one bag and pack only for 3 days - no matter where we go or for how long, that's the maximum we pack for.

We've found from years of traveling as a family, the most cost effective accommodation is self contained apartments. It's cheaper than Youth Hostels and we like living and shopping with the locals, checking out the supermarkets, going to the produce markets, baker, butcher - it's great fun and much cheaper to cook for ourselves than to buy food 3 times a day.

Each place you've listed, is just fabulous. Our children have accompanied us on all our travels since they were babies, and they see themselves as citizens of the world. I am certain your kids too will appreciate the vacation as a family.