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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: General

Question:
please, do you have some suggestion for Canaries Isles (Tenerife, maybe)? i plan to go there in March with a friend but, if possible in a K Brown style accommodation. and second question: where can I buy in Turin, your guides? thank you
Asked by Diana Nicastro [Jan 23, 2011]


Answer:

Dear Friends,

Unfortunately, we have not yet researched the Canary Islands, but, if you do go, we would love for you to submit any places you find that you like for other Karen Brown Travelers!!!

In terms of purchasing our guides, I am honestly not certain where you can find them in Italy. Our book distribution is limited.  However, if you want to order them through our website, we do send books overseas.  Simply go to our store, http://www.karenbrown.com/store/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=65 for ordering and shipping information.

Also, note that many of our recommendations are available on our website!

Safe travels and thank you for your interest in our recommendations!

Regards,

Karen

 

 

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Category: General

Question:
I will be visiting Wengen, Switzerland, in June and would like to arrange train tickets from Zurich airport to Wengen, then from Wengen to Chalon-Sur-Saone, France. Can you recommend a travel agent or contact to help me make these train reservations? Thanks. Greg
Asked by Gregory Grove [Jan 20, 2011]


Answer:

Dear Greg,

I would recommend going directly through Rail Europe.  You can link to them directly on our website to check schedules, fares and pass information.  The link is:http://www.raileurope.com/index.html?WT.mc_id=CJ.rail_travel.affiliates

You can also call them and talk to a live agent! 

Rail Europe offers live help 5 days a week: Monday - Friday, 9:00am to 7:30pm  Eastern Time. Call 1-800-622-8600 in the USA, 1-800-361-RAIL (7245) in Canada, 001-800-726-1936 in Mexico.

If you only want the two point to point routes and tickets, you are probably best getting actual point to point tickets, but, I would encourage you to look at a pass for comparison. Sometimes for just a little more or almost the same price you can purchase a pass which gives you more flexibility and additional days. Point to point tickets can be purchased in the United States or at train stations abroad, however, passes are only available for purchase in the United States. 

Also, depending on when you are traveling, i.e., in terms of season, if it is high season, you might want to pay the additional fee for actual seat reservations. I have far too often sat on my suitcase between train cars for lack of an available seat!  If you don't use the reservation, the ticket is still good, you just forfeit the reserved seat on that particular train and day.

Traveling in Europe by train is a wonderful experience!

Best, Karen 

 

 

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Category: Italy

Question:
Do you recommend a guide for Pompeii? Someone who is really knowledgeable.
Asked by Susan Hogue [Jan 15, 2011]


Answer:

I would recommend contacting Nicole of Hidden Treasures of Italy.  She is a researcher for our guide, she is based in Italy and is extremely knowledgable. Her company, Hidden Treasures assists clients with trip planning and reservations. The direct ink to her website is: http://www.htitaly.com/

Another thought would be to contact the tourist office for Campania in which Pompeii is located and find out their resources and recommendations in terms of personal guides.  Their website is: http://www.turismoregionecampania.it

 

Have a wonderful trip! 

Karen 

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Category: Britain

Question:
Karen - We have enjoyed your books for years. I am currently planning a trip in July to England with our well traveled children ages 13, 10 and 8. We will be visiting England for two weeks in July arriving and departing from London. I have your book: England, Wales and Scotland. But I still have a few questions when trying to decide where to spend our time: #1 - We will spend several days in London. What part of town do you most recommend for accommodations? We enjoy walking and hope to see as much of London as possible. ( We also enjoy an area such as St. Germain in Paris that has several options for restaurants in addition to a central location.) #2 - After leaving London, we plan to visit 2 or 3 additional areas such as the Cotswolds, Lake District and/or Northern Wales. Do you think it is too ambitious to go as far at the Lake District? Is it not worth the trip due to crowds in July? (I thought my children would especially enjoy the home of Beatrix Potter, but if it is not worth the trip we can save that for another visit. If you think we should visit would you recommend travel by car or train?). Would Northern Wales be a better option? I appreciate your thoughts regarding these or other key areas that would be ideal for a family visit. Our family has ample interest in art, literature, theater, castles, history and natural beauty. Thank you for your guidance. Warm regards, Colleen
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Jan 11, 2011]


Answer:

Dear Colleen,

Thank you for your kind note and for using our guides!  How wonderful that you are planning a trip with your family. My first trip to Europe began in the United Kingdom. We, too, were a family of five with childrens' ages ranging from 10 to 14-so very similar to your family and it is a trip I will always remember!

London is wonderful!  You definitely want to select a hotel that is convenient to sightseeing and or to a main tube line so that you can easily explore. Although, that being said, do include a cab ride in one of their wonderful old cabs with the drop seats and a ride on a double decker bus! 

Recommendations for places to stay:

Durley House - with its one and two bedroom apartments are fabulous with children since you have your own kitchenette and the price, although, seemingly high compares competitively with the cost of two separate rooms at other hotels. In an area of shops, neighborhood restaurants, yet close to Hyde Park, Museums, etc. most similar to St Germain of Paris. Note: there are other hotels in this area, refer to book, but I picked the one I think best with a family.

The Goring is a nice, full service hotel that caters well to families.  Convenient for walking, but not in a neighborhood of local restaurants, etc.

For a splurge, a personal favorite is Dukes - near Picadilly...but, definitely a splurge. 

In terms of countryside travels, I would combine bits from our various itineraries. In terms of transportation, I would recommend a car if you want complete freedom to explore villages, be able to follow the temptation of a countryside road and ferret out the best picnic spots.  Trains would be fantastic if you confine your trip to the larger towns and cities, but the network is not extensive enough to reach all the little villages. It is nice not to have to be the driver and confine everyone to seat belts!

If you want to travel by train I would suggest: London, Salisbury, Bath, Oxford, York as key destinations. You could then consider the Rail/drive packages that allow you to rent a car for a few days at each hub. However, renting and returning cars takes time....and once you settle into a car, it is nice not to "pack everything back up!" Also, even though there might be a few days where you are in the car spanning longer distances, you will save money on a longer rental and again, save the time of picking up and returning a rental.

With your childrens' ages and interest in mind, you definitely want to include the Cotswolds: charming villages and beautiful countryside.  To bring to life what they study in school, Windsor Castle (can do as a day trip by train from the heart of London), Runnymeade where King John signed the Magna Carta, Oxford, Blenheim Palace (Churchill's home),  Stratford (Shakespeare's birthplace, Anne Hathaway's cottage - even a play!), Warwick Castle.

From the Southwest Itinerary: Salisbury, Stonehenge and Bath (wonderful old Roman baths) and the enchanting town of Castle Combe!

If you still have time, rather than to then go to the Lake District (I am a big Beatrice Potter fan, but it is more a region for the beauty of the countryside and not the charm of the villages or sightseeing) or Wales (again, more the beauty of the countryside and parks), I would continue on to the region we feature in the Dales & Moors of North Yorkshire. I would journey north to York (beautiful historic town), with charming towns and the countryside of James Harriott, Robin Hood and this is also where you will find Hadrian's wall.

Hope this helps!  I am sure my recommendations will generate additional questions! Don't hesitate to ask! 

Kindest regards,

Karen

 

 

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Category: General

Question:
No question. I just wanted to finally tell you how much I appreciate your guidance. I have been using your books for years (England, Austria, France, Scotland, etc.) and every time I get home, I tell myself to write to you and I never have. You are so good at getting people off the beaten track, so that they really can experience a country. In addition, we used Auto Europe this last month in France and their service was exceptional. Thank you. On past trips, favorite places have been Le Fort de l'ocean in Brittany, The Wind Mill House in Edinburgh, and countless inns in several countries. I recommend you to all of my friends. Again, thank you! Judy Mendel
Asked by Judy Mendel [Jan 2, 2011]


Answer:

Dear Judy,

Thank you for the most wonderful and flattering email!  You have honestly just given me the best gift for the New Year!  It is also so comforting to know that the travelers we are responsible for sending to our friends' and innkeepers' doorsteps are sooooo nice and appreciative!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  If I can ever do anything for you, please don't hesitate to contact me.  Kindest regards, Karen

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Category: France

Question:
We are using your service to plan a trip to Paris in the Fall of 2011. We would like to see if it is possible to hire a personal tour guide while in Paris. If so, can you recommend a few personal guides or any websites we can use to research for a guide? Thank you.
Asked by Rosemary Eberle [Dec 12, 2010]


Answer:

First, not quite sure what "service" you are referring to...but, in terms of personal tour guide, I would recommend contacting Marie of Elegant Europe.  She is one of our research editors for our guides to France, is based in France and her company, Elegant Europe, is set up to offer personalized assistance. She would most likely not serve as your "guide" but would be an incredible resource for finding someone based on your needs and interest.  She is featured on our website, or you can simply go to http://www.elegant-europe.com/.

Thank you for using our guides, recommendations and "service" (?). Karen

 

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Category: General

Question:
More a comment than a question. I am here in Costa Rica at a fabulous bed and breakfast, Turrialba B&B and wanted to let you know about it if you ever do Costa Rica. I wrote you in May about our wonderful stay in Italy at a place you recommended, Casale il Caggio. We are here doing a week of rivers through Costa Rica Rios but the place is small, exquisitely decorated and maintained in the midst of small Central American city which does not have much except access to rivers, which is why we are here. Place is owned by father and son, formerly of New Orleans, Guy and Kip Le Blanc. Just an FYI for the future.
Asked by Patricia Kaplan [Dec 10, 2010]


Answer:

Dear Patricia,

Thank you so much for sharing!  We will most definitely post them on our list of to sees for when our research includes Costa Rica!  Travelers who read our Questions for Karen will happily learn of what sounds like a wonderful B&B...or you can submit it as a Reader Recommendation-we are expanding the Karen Brown World to include destinations outside our published guides.

Thank you again for taking time to write us while on vacation! Enjoy!

Karen

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Category: France

Question:
I am seeking a charming place to stay in south central France during early June. Somewhere near Clermont-Ferrand or Brive-la-Gaillarde. Have you any suggestions?
Asked by William Weldon [Dec 8, 2010]


Answer:

We don't actually have a property to recommend in Clermont-Ferrand or in Brive, nor do we have a property located between the two. However, we do have some wonderful places to stay near Brive!

In Martel, Relais Sainte Anne (website page: http://www.karenbrown.com/Hotel_Guide/France/Midi_Pyrenees/Martel/H%C3%B4tel_le_Relais_Sainte_Anne/1787.php)

In Coly, Manoir d'Hautegente (website page: http://www.karenbrown.com/Hotel_Guide/France/Aquitaine/Coly/Manoir_dHautegente/5565.php)

In Turenne, Manoir des Chanoines (website page:http://www.karenbrown.com/Hotel_Guide/France/Limousin/Turenne/La_Maison_des_Chanoines/2347.php)

They are all lovely but, also quite different. I would recommend visiting their website pages to determine which one best suits your preference.

Thank you for using our recommendations. Happy Holidays! 

Karen

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Category: France

Question:
I find your hotel choices always wonderful. So, now I have a question regarding France. I will be traveling to Paris by myself in June and need to find lodging in the 6th or 7th arrondissement. I would like luxurious lodging (and not with severe modern design) on a quiet street with outdoor dining or even a room with a terrace. I have looked at Hotel Duc de Saint Simon but have read that some of their rooms are shabby and without air conditioning. Is this still true and would you still recommend this hotel. I am also considering Hotel Pont Royal, Relais Saint Germain, Hotel Luxemburg Parc, and Relais Christine. Can you help me narrow this list or do you have one that you could recommend over all the others. Thank you so much for your attention.
Asked by Sallye Hof [Nov 21, 2010]


Answer:

Dear Sallye,

Thank you for your kind note!  It is so nice to hear from such appreciative travelers!

I also like your "picks" for Paris.  Based on your stated preferences, I would select:

1) Relais Christine - lovely, quiet courtyard setting....although, they do not have a restaurant.  A few rooms open onto their own private garden. Spa, lobby bar, great location.

2) Duc de Saint Simon - I have never seen it "shabby" but, I have not revisited in a year....lovely rooms and I refer to two (19 & 42) that have a garden setting or terrace, and they do have tables set in the front courtyard where I imagine you could order from their downstairs restaurant/bar - you would need to ask. 

Between the two, I find the location of the Relais Christine more convenient to the heart of the district.

Hope this helps! Enjoy Paris in June! Best, Karen

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Category: Germany

Question:
We are planning a family trip (adult children ages 22 and 25) and are flying in and out of Munich. We thought we could take a train and go somewhere in the Italian Lake District, but upon reading your itineraries I believe we do not have the time - 8 days. Do you have any suggestions?
Asked by Susie Stern [Nov 17, 2010]


Answer:

Dear Susie,

Eight days is not much time if that also includes your arrival and departure days...which basically whittles down your time for travel to six full days. However, you definitely want to consider a destination that will appeal to all.  You can train to the Italian Lake District but the routing is a bit cumbersome (e.g. Munich/Stuttgart/Zurich/Como, or Munich/Verona/Milan/Varenna) so you would need almost a day for travel simply to and from....and then you would need to rent a car to explore. Also, if you are traveling at the height of summer season, roads around the lakes are very crowded.

Another thought would be to stay closer to Munich..a suggestion would be (I am going to assume you have 8 days for explorations) :

Day 1- Day and overnight in Munich

Day 2 - train to Salzburg, overnight in Salzburg

Day 3 - pick up a car rental - drive to area of Berchtesgaden/Konigsee

Day 4 - Berchtesgaden/Konigsee (lake trip, Hitler's Eagle's nest)

Day 5 & 6 - continue on to area of Mad King Ludwig's castles (Neuschwanstein, Hohenschwangau, Herrenchiemsee), GarmischPartenkirchen, etc.  Select one place to base for two nights.

Day 7 & 8 - continue on to Lake Constance (Bodensee), stay in Stein am Rhein or Meersburg - lake trips, Schaffhausen, Mainau, Stein am Rhein

Day 9 (or end of Day 8-depending on your  flight time you might need to overnight at the airport) train back to Munich airport - there is a train station direct to the airport

Enjoy your family vacation! Thank you for using our recommendations!

Karen

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