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Old 16th July 2018, 19:50   #556
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

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should we exclude Rome? What other places can we explore?
Don't even think on these lines. Rome + Vatican is a must must visit for any Italy holiday.

Try and stay at Trastevere. It is the place to be in Rome and if you can. Saturday evenings / nights on the street are FUN.
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Old 17th July 2018, 09:12   #557
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

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is a day trip to Cinque Terre feasible from Florence?
No it is not. Santa Maria Novella to La Spezia (the southernmost point) alone takes 2.5 hrs one way. Cinque Terre is best done as a day trip from Genova, even that we were just taking the boat and didn't explore every island. It would take 2 full days, if you want to explore in leisure.

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My wife wants to go to Venice but I am not that inclined.
I like Venice, been there 4 times. Only 2 reasons I'd avoid Venice for:

- It can get incredibly crowded in summer months (July, August). Best time is late summer/autumn (September to November) or Spring (April to late May). Winter months can get very cold due to the presence of water all around.
- Lugging a stroller can be a pain in the rear. If you are not travelling with kids, this constraint doesn't exist.

There are couple of Venice-Rome trains (via Bologna, Florence) that go directly to Fiumicino airport. This way you don't have to get down in Termini and transfer.
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Old 19th July 2018, 12:37   #558
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

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No it is not. Santa Maria Novella to La Spezia (the southernmost point) alone takes 2.5 hrs one way. Cinque Terre is best done as a day trip from Genova, even that we were just taking the boat and didn't explore every island. It would take 2 full days, if you want to explore in leisure.
Contrarian view which I definitely endorse. Cinque Terre deserves its own time. However, it is not impossible.

If you are not doing self-drive (you would not need to in Rome and Florence), you can opt for a coach tour of Cinque Terre. There are lots of tour operators who provide you this. Not the best way to experience the villages, but you can opt for it if you want to just visit and see. Choice is entirely yours.

The self-planned travel by train is going to be very time-consuming. As @narayans80 has mentioned, the train travel each way is 2.5-3 hours with a change of trains likely (direct routes ply only on specific days).

Similarly, a self-planned tour to the villages of Tuscany can be time-consuming while a coach tour will be easier.

I personally would not prefer coach tours and so I will not follow my own advice
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Old 19th July 2018, 14:37   #559
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

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Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
Nah; three destinations across 8/9 days is manageable.
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Originally Posted by carboy View Post
Of all the places, I have visited in the world, I consider Rome+Vatican City as #1. #2 is Paris.
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Originally Posted by deepakchan View Post
My itinerary was
Milan 2 nights
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Originally Posted by Eddy View Post
Don't even think on these lines. Rome + Vatican is a must must visit for any Italy holiday.
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Originally Posted by narayans80 View Post
No it is not. Santa Maria Novella to La Spezia (the southernmost point) alone takes 2.5 hrs one way.
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Originally Posted by chetan_l View Post
Contrarian view which I definitely endorse. Cinque Terre deserves its own time. However, it is not impossible.
Thanks for your valuable tips! It seems like I will have to skip Cinque Terre. I have few more questions and would really appreciate your advice.

a) Public transport. I plan to use public transport in Italy as I am not confident of driving in a foreign land. Do we have to take a weekly/monthly train pass? Or should we buy tickets whenever we want to go from one place to another? I ask this because in Switzerland we took a train pass which was valid for 7 days and which could be used multiple times. What kinds of public transport packages are good for tourists there? Do trains/buses in Italy have a common ticketing system like the Oyster cards of London?

b) Flights. I saw that there are no direct flights to Italy from Mumbai. All of them have one stop and take 11-15 hours. There are many airports in Italy so need to do a lot of permutations and combinations. But what flight timings did you choose? Given that I will be in Rome/Florence, does it make sense to use Milan as an airport base for cost considerations?

c) Mobile SIM. I am planning to buy a local SIM card. Do the airports have kiosks of mobile operators from where we can purchase SIMs? How much do they cost? Other option is activating international roaming from Vodafone but I would prefer buying a local SIM.

d) Food. How is the availability of vegetarian food? Although we will be stocking our suitcases with dehydrated food packets, I just wanted to know the availability of vegetarian food in Rome/Florence/Naples.
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Old 19th July 2018, 14:46   #560
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

We used daily / 48 hour bus passes for travel within Italy. I do not remember how much they cost. But please take care of two things:

1- A lot of people (unfortunately migrants from Asian subcontinent mostly) will "advice" you to not buy bus tickets and save money. While it is true that ticketless travel can be easy to pull off in Rome given there are no human conductors and very few surprise checks, I would advice you not to try this. Fines are hefty and you are in foreign land on a vacation - not worth the risk, saving or thrill.

2- Even if you have purchased a ticket, you need to "activate" it inside the bus. Failure to do that is seen as a ticket less travel offence.

My wife was an eggeterian and she did not have any issues with the food at all. Are you staying in a hotel or airbnb ?
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Old 19th July 2018, 14:55   #561
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

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We used daily / 48 hour bus passes for travel within Italy. I do not remember how much they cost. But please take care of two things:

My wife was an eggeterian and she did not have any issues with the food at all. Are you staying in a hotel or airbnb ?
I will definitely not travel without a ticket and remember to activate tickets if required. We have not yet fixed hotel/airbnb. I guess with airbnb, you get the flexibility of cooking at least one meal and save some costs.

Do hotels/apartments have air conditioning? I have seen that in some places, there are no AC's or even fans which can get unbearable during summers.
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Old 19th July 2018, 15:01   #562
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

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I will definitely not travel without a ticket and remember to activate tickets if required. We have not yet fixed hotel/airbnb. I guess with airbnb, you get the flexibility of cooking at least one meal and save some costs.

Do hotels/apartments have air conditioning? I have seen that in some places, there are no AC's or even fans which can get unbearable during summers.
We did (Me, wife & 5 year old) the entire trip in Airbnbs. This is where I stayed in Rome. I found it to be very VFM. The location was excellent.

https://www.airbnb.co.in/rooms/5465816

Edit: Yes, it was air conditioned.
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Old 19th July 2018, 15:36   #563
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

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A lot of people (unfortunately migrants from Asian subcontinent mostly) will "advice" you to not buy bus tickets and save money. While it is true that ticketless travel can be easy to pull off in Rome given there are no human conductors and very few surprise checks, I would advice you not to try this. Fines are hefty and you are in foreign land on a vacation - not worth the risk, saving or thrill.
Terrific advice!
This reminded me of a couple of incidents during our trip to one of the mountains by cable car in Europe. I cannot remember if it was Switzerland or Germany.
An Indian family was arguing with the authorities there about a kid being below the age limit (I think 8 years), when the kid clearly looked 12 or so. Further, the parents (around 165cm tall themselves) were claiming to a near 2 m tall attendant that Indian kids are tall.

I have also seen notice boards at viewpoints stating that the binoculars accept only 1 EUR coins, so people should avoid using other currencies. The first currency on the list of not to be used?

Indian Rupee
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Old 20th July 2018, 09:44   #564
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

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Public transport
For intercity travel look at Trenitalia, which is the official site of the Italian rail system.

These will be the broad train choices available:

Regionale - Equivalent to passenger trains. Lowest average speeds. No seat booking, infact IIRC booking opens 1 week ahead. During peak travel times (like August, X-Mas, New Year) they can be loaded to the gills and might be full standing. We faced this once travelling Bologna to Rimini in August.

For Regionale alone, you need to validate the ticket. There are ticket valdiation machines on all platforms catering Regionale. Basically it will punch the time, which may be verified sometimes by a ticket inspector.

Intercity/Intercity Notte - Almost par or slightly better average speeds compared to Regionale. You'll be able to book seats here though. Intercity Notte as the name implies are overnight trains.

Frecciabianco, Frecciargento, Frecciarossa - Average speeds are high, Frecciarossa does 200-250, argento does 150-200, bianco does 100-150. There are different class options available depending on type of train. Bianco has just 1st and 2nd class. Argento/Rossa have Standard, Premium, Business, Business Silenzio, Executive.

There are 3 type of fares: Base, Economy and Super Economy. Base is expensive, but offers flexibility of cancellation/reschedule. Economy is cheaper than Base, I think you can't cancel but can reschedule. Super Economy is the cheapest, but is rigid on schedule. Apart from this there are some offers from time to time, like reduced rates of Tuesday, Wednesday. One kid travels free with adult and such like.

Apart from Trenitalia, there is a private company called Italo, which has fast trains for select destinations.

On local travel, each city has either one/3/7 day passes. In Venice, it covers the vaporettos and buses (on landside) and is the most expensive (IIRC 60 EUR for 3 days). In Rome, will include the metro and buses but not Leonardo Express (Termini <-> Fiumicino).

Ideally in Florence, you may not need bus pass (individual tickets might suffice) at all, its a wonderfully compact city where you can walk between the attractions that are north of Arno river, where most of the museums are. Infact buses consume more time for these destinations than walking. Destinations south of Arno like Piazza Michealangelo, Siena, you'd need to use buses.

Google Transit works wonderfully in all cities I've visited.

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Flights
11-15 hrs is good travel time man Air India has a direct flight from DEL to FCO (Rome Fiumicino) and MXP (Milan Malpensa) on alternate days. This offers the quickest travel time. The best in terms of travel experience has been Emirates, though they are among the most expensive. I've been satisfied with Lufthansa and Oman Air, which workout cheaper and are decent (personal experience). Air France might also workout from BOM, but I least prefer them since they are trigger happy in calling pilot strikes.

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Mobile SIM
- Vodafone is the best
- TIM is BSNL of Italy. I prefer them less, after some disastrous coverage at my past workplace.
- Wind is OK. Works out cheaper than Vodafone.
- Tre is my least preferred. You'll be hard pressed to find a store.

Just walk with your passport and you should be revved and ready in 20 mins time with an activated SIM. SIM cost usually is 10 EUR, rest depends on package you choose or offers they have at that time.

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Food
Rome has many including desi restaurants. Few Subway outlets are there in Florence and Rome. In the omnipresent pizzerias, the term 'senza carne' (without meat) is your friend. Magherita pizza pieces will mostly be there, even if nothing else is on offer. Penne Arrabiata, Fusili Genovese are couple of my regular orders where pasta is on offer.

Few names I can remember visiting, where vegetarian is on offer:
Krishna 13, Roma
Tijuana, Florence (mexican)
Iguana, Venice (mexican) - This one's my fav, have visited 6-7 times
Ristorante Pars, Bologna (Iranian)

Hope this helps!
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Old 20th July 2018, 10:43   #565
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

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Hope this helps!
This should be the understatement of the year!

Is there a way to bookmark a single post? This is worthy of one!

Very well explained @narayans80.
I have my own request. I am planning another trip to Europe this winter and will be traveling down several of central-eastern European countries (starting from Denmark and ending in Italy). Which mobile service provider would you recommend for pan-European coverage? My requirements will mostly be for using data on maps, google, yelp/foursquare, WhatsApp, Instagram, transport apps, etc. Not much of talk time required, and of course, I would have downloaded Google Translate language packs, Google Trips city guides, etc for offline usage. So, usage is not likely to be high. Thinking of a 45 day plan.
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Old 20th July 2018, 11:48   #566
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I am planning another trip to Europe this winter and will be traveling down several of central-eastern European countries (starting from Denmark and ending in Italy). Which mobile service provider would you recommend for pan-European coverage?
Calls wise IIRC incoming is free when you are travelling across Europe. Honestly, I'd land and buy a local SIM in that country. You might get Lebara at airports itself, as I got in Paris CDG and Copenhagen. Every main train station usually has one major local mobile provider setup shop, elsewhere in city you are very likely to bump into one shop or the other.

You'll spend 20-30 EUR in each country at most, which is fraction of what you'd spend on a taxi, stay, flights. Which should more or less give you 100-200 mins of talktime with 1-1.5 GB data with a week/month validity. The data connection pays for itself by virtue of navigation, transit information, finding out restaurants, even on the spot ticket bookings.

Denmark can be cold and damp in December. If you are thick skinned and love cold weather, you'll survive, otherwise spring and autumn are best times to explore across Europe that'd avoid crowds and reasonable weather to explore. Also daytime is short, it was dark by 330-345 pm in Copenhagen can be worse as Winter Equinox approaches. If you do visit Copenhagen and have time, do drive/take a bus across the Oresund bridge to Sweden's Malmo (was the subject of TV series Bron). Tivoli is good fun for kids.
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Old 9th August 2018, 15:34   #567
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

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This is where I stayed in Rome. I found it to be very VFM. The location was excellent.
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Originally Posted by narayans80 View Post
Hope this helps!
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Originally Posted by chetan_l View Post
Contrarian view which I definitely endorse. Cinque Terre deserves its own time. However, it is not impossible.
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Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
You have a good no. of days given the places you've listed.
If you're a history & culture nut, you're going to go crazy with all the museums, monuments and culture.
Thanks a ton for your superb suggestions! I have booked my flight tickets and also the apartments (all from Airbnb). I realized that apartments in Rome are relatively expensive and are quite compact. I have also booked the intercity train tickets via Trenitalia.

One question if I may - Do I also need to the book the tickets for day trips in advance? Is there any cost advantage in booking these day trips 1 month in advance? I am talking about trips like Naples to Amalfi, Tuscany tour from Florence?

Also what kind of tickets should I book for the main attractions of Rome/Florence? For Rome, is there a single ticket which can be used everywhere? I saw some tickets with 'skip the queue' highlight? Do they really work as advertised?
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Old 9th August 2018, 15:43   #568
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

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One question if I may - Do I also need to the book the tickets for day trips in advance? Is there any cost advantage in booking these day trips 1 month in advance? I am talking about trips like Naples to Amalfi, Tuscany tour from Florence?
There is some advantage booking online, not always about booking way in advance.

Quote:
Also what kind of tickets should I book for the main attractions of Rome/Florence? For Rome, is there a single ticket which can be used everywhere? I saw some tickets with 'skip the queue' highlight? Do they really work as advertised?
We booked three things in advance:

1) Tour of the Colosseum
2) Tour of the Vatican
3) A day trip around Florence: Pisa, a trip to a vineyard and lunch with locals

The top two are "skip the queue" as you just need to get the tickets validated, saves a lot of hassle. Plus, it could be cheap online. Lastly, you don't have to worry about missing out on something just because the tickets are sold out. Be sure to chose the English language tours.
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Old 10th August 2018, 07:57   #569
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

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For Rome, is there a single ticket which can be used everywhere? I saw some tickets with 'skip the queue' highlight? Do they really work as advertised?
You should definitely buy skip-the-line tickets for the major attractions. There are a few combo cards which do work as advertised, but will provide value only if you can leverage it fully. Else, direct online booking works better. I found this guide useful (though it promotes one particular card)...

https://www.findingtheuniverse.com/3...ome-itinerary/

Hope this helps. Have a great trip
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Old 10th August 2018, 08:54   #570
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I realized that apartments in Rome are relatively expensive and are quite compact.
It would be expensive only along the A-line where all the attractions are. Along the other line its cheaper. I stayed here, which was close to the B-line metro.

Rome is the only place I've stayed for under 100 EUR, checkout stay rates in Copenhagen and Venice

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Do I also need to the book the tickets for day trips in advance?
Hop on Hop off buses? Nah! Any day you are better off taking one/multi day passes and use public transport to see what you want to see.

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For Rome, is there a single ticket which can be used everywhere?
The most crowded attraction was Colloseum. Advanced tickets the better, the workaround is to buy ticket from Palatine Hill or Forum (there's a ticket that covers all 3) and use that to enter Colloseum.

Vatican, Pisa tickets were all quick affair though.
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