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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:
I contacted AutoEurope for a rental. In order to qualify for a free GPS I need a "Promotional Code" from Karen Brown. Please advise. Thank you. Beth McCabe
Asked by Beth Mccabe [Sep 18, 2010]


Answer:

Dear Beth,

You can use the ID 99006187 to identify yourself as a Karen Brown Traveler. I know they generously offer our travelers special discounts and offers, I am just not certain at this time it would include free GPS but, you can always ask!

Thank you for using our recommendations!

Best,

Karen

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Category: France

Question:
Hi Karen Not long back from six weeks in Europe. Benefitted (again) from your advice regarding travel in Scotland (Three Chimneys on Skye) and The Bonham in Edinburgh plus Hotel Wolf in Salzburg and Schonau am Konigsee and G-Partenkirchen (plus the drive getting there) and Torbrau (Munich) plus, I think, Hotel Commercianti in Bologna. Thank you once more. My question is, have you ever done anything on Corsica? I'm interested in this island (having been 11 days in Sicily under your guidance in 2008) and I wonder if you've published anything on it? best wishes Keith Kessell Perth Western Australia
Asked by Keith Kessell [Sep 13, 2010]


Answer:

Dear Keith,

Unfortunately, we have yet to research Corsica for our guides. However, Marie of Elegant Europe who also is a contributing author, is based in the south of France and I am certain that she could offer you some guidance.  Her website is http://www.elegant-europe.com.

Thank you for using our guides and recommendations - you have selected some of our favorites! It is nice to know we have loyal Aussie Fans!

Warmest regards,

Karen 

 

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Category: France

Question:
HI we are going to start a 17 day France trip on Oct. 6 starting in Cannes for business and ending in Paris. Would you suggest we cover Alsace and French Alps or Gorges du Verdon, Gorges du Tarn, Pays Basque and Dordogne/Lot River Valleys?
Asked by Marc Gross [Aug 31, 2010]


Answer:

Because of the road systems in France (if you look at an overview map you will understand) any of the following itinerary routes would work:

1) Riviera north to the Gorges du Verdon; continue on to the Alps; cross over to Burgundy and then either head directly on to Paris (via Vezelay) or detour northeast and include Alsace before heading directly east to Paris (you could drop your car in Strasbourg or Colmar and train into the heart of the city)

2) Riviera to Provence; then travel up the Rhone River Valley to Burgundy; and then (as above) either head directly on to Paris (via Vezelay) or detour northeast and include Alsace before heading directly east to Paris (you could drop your car in Strasbourg or Colmar and train into the heart of the city)

3) Riviera to Provence; (option: include the Gorges du Tarn - or circle south via the autoroutes); to Pays Basque; then north to the Lot/Dordogne - from here if you have included Pays Basque I think you will be almost out of time, so it would be best to train from here into the heart of Paris (Cahors, Brive are train towns)

4) Basically (3) above but substituing Loire Valley for Pays Basque: Riviera to Provence; then circle south/west via the autoroutes to the Lot/Dordogne; then travel north to the Loire and from here train into the heart of Paris (Tours would be the most logical train town)

In terms of personal preference......it would be a hard choice.  If you love wines, I would say Itinerary #2 but, I love the scenery and towns of the Lot & Dordogne so I would perhaps choose #4....hard call...apologies, but France has so many wonderful regions and seventeen days affords so many choices!

Have a wonderful trip! Bon Voyage!

Karen

 

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Category: France

Question:
We are going to France this Oct. We are using your itineraries. If we end the Gorges du Verdon part in Moustiers Ste-Marie, how would you get to Nimes to start the Gorges du Tarn? Also same question if we end in Colliure and want to pick up the Pays Basque tour? Thanks
Asked by Marc Gross [Aug 31, 2010]


Answer:
Because public transportation is limited for exploring the Gorges du Verdon and the Gorges du Tarn and distances between are not that great, I would suggest you simply rent a car and keep it for the duration. From Collioure to Pays Basque, you could either keep a car or take a train (perhaps Perpignan to Biarritz via Toulouse). Best, Karen

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Category: Italy

Question:
Hello Karen, I'm looking for a hotel in Rome in your book Italy Hotels named Hotel Piranesi and can not locate it. Has it been removed from your recommendations? Also do any of your hotels or B&B's give a discount like auto europe? Thanks in advance
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Aug 23, 2010]


Answer:

The Hotel Piranesi is still recommended in our published guide, however, they have chosen not to participate on our website. We have a nominal fee to cover website administration if they want a presence on our website. Sadly, they have not opted to and are missing out on the incredible and ever-growing Karen Brown Website audience.  We do not have any fees associated with our guide as we do not want anything to influence our selection or editorial control.  Please feel comfortable in knowing that it is still featured as a Karen Brown selection in Rome!

In terms of discounts, this varies hotel to B&B. Some do offer Karen Brown Traveler specials but they would be noted as a SPECIAL (look for the red check icon) on their website page and on any property lists.

Have a wonderful trip!

Best, Karen

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Category: General

Question:
Hi Karen, We are leaving for Europe in September for a month and will be traveling to Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Greece and Turkey. Do you have a "suggested " packing list that you could recommend? Thanks, Tracey
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Aug 16, 2010]


Answer:

Dear Tracey,

While I find September to be one of the loveliest months of the year to travel - I love the fall and the tourist crowds wain......it is also a month that can experience real temperature swings: from hot Indian Summers to the first snow! Also, you are including a wide range of destinations....you will most definitely need a swimming suit to be able to swim in the gorgeous waters of Greece, and comfortable walking shoes so you can take advantage of all the alpine trails that tempt one up into the Alps!

So your request for a packing list is a bit of a challenge!  Basically, I would suggest outfits that can layer up or down to suit the climate. I would also suggest you pack as light as possible.  This addresses the new and very real costs of travel-charges for additional bags or simply exceeded weight limits.  I also encourage people to put an empty suitcase on the floor a week or two in advance of your trip and whenever you think about something you "don't want to forget" - just throw it in so you won't forget those items when under the pressure of last minute packing. I also make a list of everything I want to take (keep it in my purse and bedside and add to it as I remember the "don't want to forgets") and check the items off when I have actually put them in the suitcase. 

Also, remember, unless you are staying one place for more than a few nights, you really can get away with just a few outfits. I think of it as an excuse to wear my favorite outfits over and over! Honestly, pack, then re-evaluate what you truly need and then repack a few times!  It is a little like cleaning out your closet - what will you honestly really wear and need. However, a note of caution, pack outfits that are forgiving when it comes to drips and stains.  A patterned skirt will camouflage a coffee stain much better than a solid white!

Women have it a bit easier than men as to "dress up" is often accomplished with a change of shoes and a string of pearls.  If you think you will need formal dress (i.e. a coat for a man) you might want to consider wearing rather than packing it to afford more room in your suitcase.

Anticipating purchases, I also always pack a light-weight duffel that takes up hardly in room and lays in the bottom of my suitcase. When it comes time to pack everything up for my return trip home - I find that extra bag is often a welcome addition to accommodate all the loose items in the rental car, brochures and purchased gifts!  Stores always seem to be miles away or already closed when I am in my final packing stages....and you will most likely pay a premium for duffels that can be found so reasonably in your local store at home. I also find the extra duffel comes in handy when I don't want to lug the entire suitcase up the seven flights of stairs to the charming room I requested under the eaves-I simply pack the necessities in my duffel! It has also served as my dirty laundry bag.

Another suggestion, especially if you are not checking luggage, pack minimally when it comes to cosmetic items (lotions, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.) using the required 3oz containers. Since you are traveling for a full month, simply plan to include a pharmacy shop on one of your first days and purchase what you need overseas. 

In summary, I would (1) pack as light as possible, (2) pack so you can layer up and down depending on temperature, (3) plan to wear the same (practical) outfit many times, (4) pack outfits that can be easily adorned to accommodate a casual or fancy events and my final recommendation would be if you over pack in any one department it would be to add an extra pair of comfortable shoes.  I find shoes are the hardest items to shop for overseas. I don't have the delicate small foot that seems to prevail in Europe and have to admit that after entering many a shoe store have been waved away by store-owners when they glance down at my size 10 foot! 

Have a wonderful trip!

Karen 

 

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Category: Italy

Question:
We are taking a cruise that leaves from Rome. We need transportation from the airport to hotel, hotel to docks and docks to airport. We are not using the excursions available by the cruise line. Do you have any suggestions of a company that would be reliable to provide these services for 6 people?
Asked by Kathy Stadler [Aug 13, 2010]


Answer:

I am happy to share that AutoEurope, a company I have long recommend for car rentals, also provides transfer services.  They will help you evaluate all your options based on price and need.  You can reach them by phone: 800-223-5555 and be sure to use a Karen Brown ID number 99006187 for special offers and discounts.

Enjoy your cruise and travels!

Karen

 

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Category: Britain

Question:
We're going to the U.K. and Republic of Ireland in May and will be gone for about a month. This is a long-past due 35th wedding anniversary trip! We will not need a car while in London and Edinburgh, but will want to pick one up to drive about the Highlands and do some genealogy research. When we are done in Scotland we will drive to the coast of England. Are there car ferries to take us across to Belfast or Dublin?
Asked by Terry A Bruner [Aug 11, 2010]


Answer:

Dear Terry,

The following are links to Ferry companies that offer passage from England/Scotland to Ireland:

http://www.irishferries.co.uk/

Has Ferries from Holyhead to Dublin and Pembroke to Rossslare

http://www.stenaline.co.uk/ferry/

Has a few more crossing options and some a bit further north which might serve your itinerary best:  Strainraer to Belfast; Fleetwood to Larne; Fishguard to Roslare, Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire; Holyhead to Dublin.

One word of advice, however, would be to consider all costs.  You might find it honestly cheaper to rent a car in Scotland/England and then return it before making the crossing.  Sometimes drop charges (picking up in Scotland, dropping in Ireland for example) are high. Even though a longer rental usually is less on a daily rate, the drop charges might negate the savings and it is also important to consider the ferry cost for passenger only versus passenger with a car.

Hope this proves of some help in planning your trip!

Happy 35th Anniversary! 

Regards,

Karen

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Category: General

Question:
In your Germany 2010 book, you recommend train travel with flexipass purchased through DER Tours in Rosemont, IL.  The address, but not phone or e-mail info is included.  Can't seem to connect with that company.  Any additional info available?  
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Aug 10, 2010]


Answer:

Dear Gert,

The current contact information we have for DER Tours is:

9501 West Devon Avenue
Rosemont, IL 60018-4811
(847) 692-9292

However, when I try to call, I learn that the phone number has been disconnected!  It seems they have recently gone out of business and one website referred to www.raileurope.com - so I assume they are absorbing all inquiries. Rail Europe does offer a flexi-pass for travel in Germany as well as passes that combine travel to neighboring countries. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.  We will correct the reference in future guides.

I am going to continue to try to find a contact for DER Tours.  If I learn anything, I will forward the information on.

Thank you for using our guides!

Kindest regards,

Karen

 

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Category: Italy

Question:
We are traveling to Sicily Sept/Oct 2010. I have purchased both your Italy Hotels and Italy B&B's. Why are there no mention of accommodations for Mesinna, Sicily? Do you not recommend it? Many thanks, Diana
Asked by Diana Kilpatrick [Aug 10, 2010]


Answer:

Dear Diana,

Although, Messina is the where most of the ferries come in from the mainland, our recommendations for places to stay are in other towns and villages on the island. It is not that we don't recommend Messina, it is just that we did not find a property that meets our criteria for selection in the city itself.  For your ease of reference, below is the direct link to the list of hotels and bed & breakfasts that of places that are featured on our website:

http://www.karenbrown.com/List_Regional_Hotels_Inns_Bed_and_Breakfasts/Italy/Sicily/59/name/page_1.php

Note: 19 of the 41 properties we recommend in our published guides on Sicily participate on our website. A Premier ($100) or First Class ($50) membership affords access to all our recommendations (both from our Hotel and our Bed & Breakfast guide) on the website, OR if you purchase the downloadable PDF itinerary for Sicily "Exploring the Wonders of Sicily" ($8.50) it includes a link to a list of ALL the properties we recommend for that region-regardless of whether or not they participate on our website.

In terms of recommendations for towns for sightseeing, we suggest two nights in Taormina (one of the island's most attractive cities), two nights in Argigento (to see the incredible temples), and then three nights in the northwest (Palermo or another hub) to visit Palermo, Segesta, Monreale and Erice.

Enjoy your trip!

Regards, Karen

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