Agreed - though on the upside bretrooks has confirmed they’ll be travelling in early spring, which will be much better for the cities.
The o Lu caveat being Easter weekend, which is nuts in most cities
To be more economical and efficient timewise i would do one country or the other. Neighboring countries or major cities could be completed in a short itinierary but two countries and countryside trips are a bit toughier to swing.
Ive completed london paris milan/venice and paris and rome in a short time frame like you have mentioned.
Countryside tours I’ve covered on longer trips or more concentrated in country. I really enjoyed Brighton and the summer palace there. Generally countryside is less expensive for food and lodging. The transportation costs though do negate some of the cost savings.
Thanks, Julie. I agree that it’s a lot to try to get through a few stops in two countries within a two-week trip, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to give it a shot anyway, for better or worse. A couple of us are particularly excited to go to the UK and a couple are particularly excited to spend time in Italy, so the plan is to trade depth for breadth and just deal with the extra travel.
As a brief update, I think our itinerary is pretty much set at this point. Tickets to London and back have been purchased, and lodging at a short-term rental in Florence has been lined up.
Recommendations for lodging, particularly, in the other locations would be appreciated. We’re not renting vehicles, so reasonable proximity to train stations or other transportation hubs is preferable. We’re generally looking for “comfortable but economical” places, although we might be up for splurging a little in York or Edinburgh if there’s a particularly interesting option.
Thanks again to all who have weighed in!
I would suggest you Google the Judges Lodgings in York. I haven’t stayed there, but we regularly use others in the same group.
Another alternative is Hotel de Vin.
Are you still going to Florence? If so the museums there are insanely good. One thing I would highly recommend is to hire a registered guide. They can get you to the front of the line in all places (like The David, we skipped a really long line). If your family isn’t into museum’s then 5 days might be too long in Florence but otherwise if you want to see the sites sounds about right.
One word of warning. There are lots of pickpockters about, especially in the squares where there are lots of people so don’t wear any cargo pants or the like or you will lose your wallet (my brother-in-law found this out the hard way).
Yes, we’re definitely going to Florence (probably three full days, plus a day trip to Lucca) and will spend time at a few museums there. We’re at least pre-purchasing tickets for our museum visits, and I’ll look at registered guides.
I remember hearing warnings about pickpockets when my wife I went to Europe last (20 years ago!), and I assumed it was still an issue in some places, but I hadn’t seen it mentioned anywhere since I started making these plans…I’ll keep it in mind, though. Thanks.
Nothing against guides but you can get timed tickets in advance at the Uffizzi and won’t wait in line.
Pickpockets will operate where mass tourism is, and that very much includes transport (buses and trains). Conversely, away from mass tourism, it’s very rare indeed.
As long as you’re not reckless, I’d expect no issues in York or Edinburgh. Firenze not the worst in Italy, but it is mass tourism, so no surprise to hear of the incident Ken describes. Plenty of good advice on the internet from not making it obvious where your money is by tapping the pocket to check it’s still there (a useful signpost to a pickpocket), to cheap but effective money belts and ways of mitigating the risk that if it does happen, you’ve still got other money/cards to get you back to your hotel.
I got picked in Paris on the Metro last spring. 3 guys, one of whom grabbed my lower jean leg and tussled with me. Lost some cash (not much) but not my phone or cards
We have used the same tour guide several times in Florence. She is very good and has allowed us to skip the lines. Let me know if you want her contact information
A friend told me to carry an old wallet with a little cash and some dud cards, make it visible. Your real cards etc should be inside your clothing.
This place in Edinburgh was insane. Right on the royal mile. The perfect parents and two kids place.
In York we stayed at a landmark trust castle which was really cheap. Cawood castle about 20 minutes outside of the city. Was the archbishop of Yorks castle until Henry the viii. Now just a tower is left. Super cool as well but scary stairs.
Yes, I’ve been to Firenze in late March, crowded since it was Easter, but temps were fine. Day trip to Siena was fine via bus. Trained to Venice, nice to stay there. And like Capri, way more special after the hordes leave.
Thanks for the tips, all. I’ll have to see if I can find the money belt I used the last time I traveled abroad years ago.
@R_M_Kriete Thanks! With our family travel dynamics being what they are, I suspect we’re probably going to set our own relatively leisurely and flexible agenda. If we do decide to do something more structured, I’ll reach out.
@Rob_S1 That Edinburgh apartment looks great! Unfortunately, it’s already booked for the dates we’ll be in Edinburgh. The castle sounds like fun too, but since we’re not driving around, we’re focusing on lodging close to the sights and transportation hubs we’re using. Just booked an apartment for our time in York. Still looking around in Edinburgh and London.
Good strategy when driving at night in Mexico. Doesn’t make sense unless you are worried about being jumped or shaken down. Keep anything important in a money belt on your front and a pickpocket will find an easier mark.
It’s too bad you’re skipping Cinque Terre because it’s so special. The hike is stunning and the food is incredible with fewer tourists than in the other major destinations. The problem with Italy is that it’s a beautiful country but run by tourists and that part could feel unbearable when you’re just trying to have a pleasant time with your family. It’s good that you’re planning now.
Restaurant recommendations in Florence; All of these spots are what I consider to be “down home cooking” restaurants where to food is going to be great, the decor is cozy and rustic, and the price is reasonable:
Ristorante del Fagioli
La Davina Pizza
If you can, take a day trip to Siena. It’s a beautiful medieval city. Some of the best meals I’ve had in Italy and they were at these two restaurants:
Trattoria la Torre
Antica Trattoria Papei (order the pici al ragù)
FWIW I take this somewhat to extremes, to the point I’m something of a hypocrite in disliking being around other tourists on holiday.
Sure a few is fine (and the fewer there are, the more **interesting I find them), and Italian tourists exempted, but I find even the CT to be over-touristed. E.g. you would never go a single minute on the coastal paths without passing a (typically American) tourist going the other way saying ‘Buongiorno’, seemingly assuming it was 90% Italians and 5% Americans, rather than the other way round. Rick Steves has a lot to answer for!
It’s much different on the CT paths that head inland, which outside of coastal path closures, can be pleasingly deserted. Even better are the paths that criss-cross the Amalfi coast that are criminally under-appreciated, and indeed the wonderful walking straight through the vineyards of the Langhe wine region (yay! for shared ownership and hence open access).
** I recall a wonderful American couple, who we bumped into on separate occasions in Montepertuso and Minori. They’d been messed around with their accommodation, but took the alternative offered with great grace. I really liked their attitude to enjoying what was there.
You just described every american