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Travel Questions Frequently Asked Karen

TRAVEL QUESTIONS FOR KAREN:

Dear Travelers,

I hope you will understand that because of the overwhelming number of questions received each day it is impossible for me to answer every one. I will select questions to answer based on what I believe will benefit and interest the greatest number of travelers. Also, please make your questions as specific as possible and know that I do not have the luxury of time to plan or detail personalized travel itineraries.

If your question is not selected, I sincerely apologize, as given the time, I would answer them all. If your question is selected you will be informed that it is published on our website as well as receive the answer by email.

Kindest regards,
Karen

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Category: Italy

Question:
We will be traveling to Venice,Florence and Tuscany,and Rome (Vatican) and would like a tour guide to show us around the 1 st day in each location. We would like to be part of small group tours. Do you have a tour company you could recommend? Thank you Mark
Asked by Mark Wilkins [Feb 11, 2012]


Answer:

Dear Mark,

I don't have a tour company to recommend but do have a few personal contacts and recommendations.

Venice:  I don't have a personal recommendation other than to suggest contacting the local tourist office OR use the hotel where you are staying as a resource - they often have recommendations for private tour guides. If you find someone wonderful - please let us know so we can then share with others!

For Florence:  Lisa Mastropieri lmastropieri@yahoo.com   

This is a woman I met at the New York Times Travel show last spring who impressed me very much!  She is American but lives in Florence and was in the process of getting her certification to be an accredited tour guide.  She is extremely knowledgeable, very professional and I believe would be wonderful - I would welcome your feedback!

For Rome:  Christopher   celonghurst@gmail.com

This is a guy my sister hired as a private tour guide last year and thought he was wonderful!  She has recommended him numerous times since and everyone has been extremely pleased!  Originally from Australia, he just got his PHD from the Vatican and has lived in Rome 13 years. He knows
everything and is a super friendly. He has special access to the Vatican too if you want to go Lower levels of the Vatican at night.

Enjoy Italy! 

Kindest regards,

Karen

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Category: Italy

Question:
Karen, are there lockers at the train stations in Italy where we can stow a suitcase while we travel between cities?
Asked by Barb Shives [Feb 7, 2012]


Answer:

Some major train stations have a baggage storage area or lockers that you can access independently, available for a fee. Be sure to have spare change available if you want to use a locker.  If you decide to store your luggage in a manned storage area BE VERY CAREFUL to check their hours of operation!  You do not want to return to catch your train and find them closed and unable to retrieve your luggage.  Rail Europe actually details services available for some of the major stations.  Below is the link to the station information:

http://www.raileurope.com/en/train-faq/all-about-train-travel/at-the-station/other-services-at-the-station.html

Enjoy your travels by rail!

Karen

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Category: Ireland

Question:
A big family group is traveling in the west of Ireland, mainly near Clifden. Your 'Ireland' book has been wonderful. I am wondering about taking children age 8 and 16 to pubs to eat and to listen to music. Is this appropriate and comfortable? Is time of day an issue? Is music usually playing in the pubs late? Thank you.
Asked by Beth Abbott [Jan 26, 2012]


Answer:
Beth it is totally appropriate to take children to pubs to eat and listen to music in Ireland. My experience has been that Irish music sessions often do not get going till 10pm and later and on many occasions end in the early hours of the morning. Mulberry outlet Swiss replica watches Designer replica handbags Louis vuitton handbags Christian louboutin Replica breitling

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Category: Germany

Question:
We are going to Germany for a first-time trip. We are passionate about museums and fine art. Would you suggest hiring a tour guide while we are in Berlin to help us discover art sites not commonly known and if so, how does one find a guide with a specialty in art?
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Jan 20, 2012]


Answer:
Berlin is a wonderful city with lots of museums and since it is your first trip I don't think you even need to concern yourself with the "not so commonly known" as the well-known ones are excellent and ones you would NOT want to miss. A private guide is always a wonderful luxury and I would ask the hotel where you will be staying for their personal recommendation if this is something you want to pursue.  However, my recommendation would be to take a city bus tour that will provide an introduction, orientation and overview to the city and its key sightseeing attractions.  I would then suggest returning to the attractions and museums of interest to explore more leisurely on your own. A key international city you will find all museums and attractions well documented in English. Enjoy your travels! Karen For our own recommendations of what to see in this incredible city, go to our website at:http://www.karenbrown.com/List_Regional_Attractions/Germany/Berlin/53/name/page_1.php Replica watches uk Louis vuitton handbags Replica handbags uk Designer replica handbags

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Category: New England

Question:
Small intimate wedding in Massachusetts, Rhode Island or Connecticut in August. Any suggestions?
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Jan 19, 2012]


Answer:

Many of the inns we recommend in our guide would serve as a wonderful and intimate place for a wedding!  If a property does host weddings there will be a wedding bell icon included with other service icons found under the description on their website page or in our printed guide. We have also just started a wedding section on our website and suggested that inns publish additional information specific to weddings.  There are a few that have submitted information, but it is important to note that there are just a few so far-the list does not represent all who do host weddings.  Below is the link to access the wedding page on our website:

http://www.karenbrown.com/List_All_Wedding_Reception_Facilities/New_England/14/name/page_1.php

For specific recommendations, there are truly too many to note without knowing a little more about your preferences, but because of location and ambiance I will recommend the following to get you started in your research! 

CT: Old Mystic, Old Mytstic Inn

CT: Washington, Mayflower Inn

CT: Simsbury, Simsbury 1820 House

ME: Greenville, Lodge at Moosehead Lake

ME: Ogunquit, Hartwell House

ME: York, Dockside Guest Quarters

MA: Ipswich, Inn at Castle Hill

MA: Lee, Applegate Inn

MA: Lenox, Blantyre, Gateways

MA: Nantucket Island-Wauwinet, The Wauwinet

MA: Stockbridge, Inn at Stockbridge

.....any many more! 

Wishing you much happiness, Karen

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Category: France

Question:
I just used your France hotels guide book ( copy right 2010 version) for a trip to Paris and the Loire valley. In Paris we stayed at Saint Germain Left Bank hotel. Hotel was pretty and nice and well located, but they informed us that despite your book saying breakfast is included, they changed that policy after Dec 31, 2011 and no longer include breakfast in the price. Also I made the reservation on line using the link on your website. We had a standard room with a rate on the website of 160 Euros per night + tax and stayed there for 3 nights January 12,13, and 14, 2012. When we got to the hotel, there was a sign on the reception desk that said that this room was 140 Euros per night in low season and the sign specifically mentioned January and February as low season. When we complained about this 20 Euro per night discrepancy, the manager at the hotel tried to say that these 3 particular days in January was not low season !!! despite the fact that the sign on his desk said low season was all of January and February. Between this and needing to pay 12 Euro per person for 2 of us for le petit dejeuner each day on top of the 160 Euros, we felt like we got taken. Also I would like to write some reviews of the 3 inns from your book that we stayed at, but I cannot see on your website how to do this. Can you please direct me how I enter a review? Thanks, Sindee Sommer
Asked by Sindee Sommer [Jan 19, 2012]


Answer:

Dear Sindee,

I am sorry that the information provided in our book was not current for 2012.  I am also a bit surprised that they changed their rates to not include breakfast as this was something they offered for competitive value and I promoted it as such.  I will forward your note on to the hotel and I, too will be eager to learn their response. I personally wish they had handled the situation differently and made a concession based on the change of rates and the posted low season rates that were NOT valid for the dates of your reservation. 

As far as posting other reviews - we would welcome your feedback.  To do so, you need to set up a login through our website so that our system knows to credit you for the review (you can always submit information annonymously).  If you haven't done so, you can set up a login from the top right corner login box on any page on www.karenbrown.com.

After you have set up a login, you can post a review by going to the property page on click on the line prompt that reads: Login To Leave Your Own Review & Photo OR you can go to KB Community Tab and click on Traveler Reviews and follow the prompts.

The link to the Traveler Review tab is:

http://www.karenbrown.com/help_comments.php

Thank you so much for using our books and recommendations. I will email you once I hear back from the Saint Germain Left Bank hotel.

Kindest regards,

Karen

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Category: France

Question:
we have enjoyed your itineraries for years and are going to provence in may. my question is "could we do your entire provence itinerary staying in avignon and doing day trips from there?" if your answer is "yes, but" which other city/town would you recommend on the eastern portion of your itinerary to use as a base. we are two couples who would prefer to pack/unpack a maximum of two times on this trip and have selected la miranda in avignon for a base on the western legs of the itinerary. thanks for your advice david hirsch
Asked by david hirsch [Jan 16, 2012]


Answer:

Dear David,

Yes, it is feasible to use Avignon as a base and, although a "city" it is relatively easy to navigate in and out.  For point of reference, when looking at our itinerary map it is just 20 miles between Avignon and Arles.  One suggestion might be when you do travel to Arles which warrants a full day of exploration, you might want to take the train between the two and avoid the hassle of driving in and out of Arles and parking issues.

To visit the hilltowns of Provence I would suggest either Gordes or Crillon le Brave as a base.  Be sure to consider recommendations in both of our guides (hotels and B&Bs) - lots to choose from!

Thank you for using our guides!

Bon Voyage!

Karen

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Category: Website

Question:
I have used your books fopr over 15 years and love them but do not want to lug them around in Europe anymore. So I suppose my choice is a kindle or an IPAD. I like being able to get on the internet to look at sites for places you recommend. Any suggestions? Thanks, Geoff russell
Asked by Geoffrey Russell [Jan 6, 2012]


Answer:

Dear Geoff,

We are converting all our books to electronic book format and hopefully will have them available in March!  We are excited as they are so dynamic with interactive maps, website and email links and color photos.  It is encouraging to know that we have one customer ready and waiting!

A few of our titles are already available through Kindle but they are dated (2009) and are simply our "print guides" in kindle format and to be honest, not easy to use.

You might want to sign up for our newsletter so that you will be one of the first to know when the ebooks are released and also for special introductory offers!

Kindest regards,

Karen

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Category: Italy

Question:
Hi Karen, A few years ago we stayed at the wonderful Casa Bolsinina in Tuscany. We are looking this time to rent a villa for 2 weeks that sleeps 4. There seem to be an abundance of websites. Any suggestions on how to begin? Thanks so much!
Asked by Judith McQuistion [Nov 26, 2011]


Answer:

When you are trying to decide on a place to stay for two weeks as opposed to just one night - you want to make sure you have all the information you can possibly get to make the selection.  It is one thing when a one night stay does not work out - you can move on - but there is a real time and financial commitment with a long-term vacation rental.  My understanding is the rentals can vary dramatically and price is not always an indicator of comfort or value.  I would recommend contacting someone who has personally seen the properties they recommend so that you can get and honest appraisal.  Nicole Franchini who researches for our guide to Italy; is based in Italy; is familiar with quite a few long term rentals, and helps people with their personalized travel arrangement. If I were looking for a long-term rental I would contact her.  She can be reached via email at: franchini.nicole@gmail.com.  She is also familiar with the Casa Bolsinina so she will have an appreciation for what you like!  Enjoy your time and travels in Italy!

Kindest regards,Karen

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Category: Italy

Question:
We are planning on staying at Hotel Villa Steno, Monterossa (cinque terre) June 2012, do you have any info on the damages in that area from the Mudslide. If it is not advisable to go there what other options should we consider. Thank You, Donald Diones
Asked by Donald Diones [Nov 19, 2011]


Answer:

Dear Donald,

The properties we recommend have assured us that they will be back to normal and more than ready and eager to welcome guests by June!  There have been far too many people who cancelled reservations - so they need your visit more than ever!

Enjoy your trip!
Karen

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