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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: Spain

Question:
I am trying to make train reservations for Spain and I went through your site to EuRail (we have Eurail Passes already for Spain) but for every itinerary I try to book I get a "no information found" note.  Our trip is May 20th through June 11th and we need to make 6 reservations.  Any suggestions?
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Apr 22, 2010]


Answer:

I have often found that Rail Europe does not have many of the LOCAL routes in their computerized system and/or it might also be that their computer program isn't clever enough to generate/determine the routing /connections for the longer journeys. It sometimes require that you know the logical route and create the itinerary by requesting Point A to Point B and then Point B to Point C in order to generate the schedules you need for travel between Point A and Point C (have I lost you yet?!!) However, if you call and speak with an agent, especially since you are a customer having purchased their pass, they will help you research possible train routes and schedules.  Although, they might not be able to issue reservations for the local routes, they can confirm that trains exist and schedules.

Per their website:

Rail Europe offers live help 7 days a week: Monday - Friday, 9:00am to 8:30pm, Saturday and Sunday 9:00am to 5:00pm Eastern Time. Call 1-800-622-8600 in the USA, 1-800-361-RAIL (7245) in Canada, 001-800-726-1936 in Mexico.

Thank you for using our website and recommendations!

Kindest regards,

Karen 

 

 

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Category: Italy

Question:
I am not sure which book (books) to purchase. I am planning a week trip from Venice to Portofino, flying out of Pisa. What do you suggest? Rena Kaplan
Asked by Rena Kaplan [Apr 21, 2010]


Answer:

Dear Rene,

Both our guides to Italy Hotels or Italy Bed & Breakfasts include all our regional countryside itineraries. The difference in the guides are the recommendations concerning places to stay.  I would recommend you purchase the guide that appeals to you most in terms of where to stay-i.e., do you prefer hotels and inns or bed & breakfasts?  You can then use our website to cross reference the majority of places recommended in the guide you purchased as well as the places referenced in the other title.

Thank you for using our guides.  Have a wonderful trip!

Kindest regards,

Karen

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Category: Italy

Question:
Hi, I am planning a trip to Prague in June, 2010. We fly from the US to Malpensa arriving at 9:10AM & change planes there. I have two options: a plane that leaves Malpensa at 11:00 AM or a plane that leaves at 7:00 PM from Bergamo. Is two hours enough time to make the Malpensa connection? If not, how far is Bergamo? How long should it take to get there? Is there any shuttle service? How much should the transfer cost? Thank you. Susan
Asked by Susan Michaelson [Apr 20, 2010]


Answer:

Dear Susan,

I would recommend you contact the airline or your travel agent to ask if you have sufficient time to make a connection.  There are guidelines for allowable connection times. In fact if the same airline is making the reservation and the connection, they are not allowed to confirm a connection if it doesn't afford enough time.   If you are making the two reservations independently, you could still ask the airlines-I am just not comfortable providing the information. 

In terms of travel time and cost between the two airports, I found a wonderful website that details all your options.  It is:

 

http://www.aboutmilan.com/airport-milan.html

> Hope this helps with your decisions and planning.

Thank you for using our guides! 

You will love Prague!  We have some information and suggested exploration of the city on our website. For ease of finding it, the link to the page is:

http://www.karenbrown.com/City_Travel_Guide/Czech_Republic/Czech_Republic/Prague/3021.php

Karen  

 

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Category: Germany

Question:
Thank you for responding so quickly for clarification to my question. I realize that I did not give you much information with which to answer. Sorry! I have purchased the 2010 Karen Brown's Germany guidebook and am using Map 2 and its itinerary as I plan a portion of our trip. It's become my second Bible! We are traveling to the Mosel & Rhine areas...July 14-23. Several overnight reservations are already made. I have 2 questions: 1. Whether to reserve Hotel Krone in Assmannshausen or Auf Schonburg in Oberwesel for our first night's stay in Germany. Both look delightful. However, I always worry about hotels with no A/C. Which do you recommend? 2. The original question I expressed to you (not enough specificity) was asking for help in finding a hotel in the Speyer, Worms, Neudstadt area. My hiusband was stationed in this region when in the US Army. We are taking 3 of our adult children and a daughter-in-law to visit the base and little town (Hassloch) where he was stationed. I know that this is not a hugely popular region of Germany for tourists, making the location of a unique hotel harder to find. Any recommendations you can give would really be appreciated. Thanks, Nancy B. Davis, Orangeburg, South Carolina
Asked by Nancy & Harris Davis [Apr 17, 2010]


Answer:

Dear Nancy,

First, I agree, air conditioning is very important when traveling in July. That being said, not all the properties provide all their details - so the fact that the air-conditioning symbol does not appear in our guide does not mean that they don't have air-conditioning. 

For your first night - your two choices are both excellent but offer completely different accommodation and experience. The most unique is the Auf Schonburg - very dramatic perched high above the river and its thick stone medieval walls probably keep the heat out! If you decide you just have to have air-conditioning, I would recommend the Romantik Hotel Schloss Rheinfels in St Goar.

I am so pleased you are also going to venture along the Mosel - I LOVE this region.  There is a Romantik hotel that I can confirm has air-conditioning - Romantik Jugenstilhotel Bellevue in Traben-Trarbach - set right along the river's edge and although, I can't confirm if they have air-conditioned rooms, I love the Hotel Haus Lipmann in Beilstein and the six rooms in the main house all open up to the river, river views and fresh air!

For a location near your husband's military base, we recommend in nearby Deidesheim, The Hotel Deidesheimer Hof (air-conditioning!) and definitely check out our website as a Reader Discovery has come in for a property that looks wonderful, the Ketschauer Hof, also in Deidesheim. The direct link to their page on our website is:

http://www.karenbrown.com/Hotel_Guide/Germany/Rhineland_Palatinate/Deidesheim/Ketschauer_Hof/7513.php

Have a wonderful family vacation. If I can be of further assistance, just let me know! I so very much appreciate our loyal Karen Brown Travelers.

Auf Wiedersehen!

Karen

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Category: Germany

Question:
Karen, I am having difficulty planning a trip to Germany (lower Rhine area) for July. Hotels are particularly hard to locate for 6 people. Can you help?
Asked by Nancy & Harris Davis [Apr 16, 2010]


Answer:
Can you help me better understand where you are traveling?  Perhaps reference a region as we have featured on our website for Germany and I can then suggest hotels that might be large enough and still have availability.  Thanks for your interest in our recommendations! Karen

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Category: General

Question:
Dear Karen, My husband, daughter and I want to spend a week relaxing in northern Spain beginning July 21, 2010. We will have done a lot of touring and want a beautiful, restful hotel/inn with excellent food and a pool. I think the northern are would be best because the climate is a bit more temperate. We had planned to stay at La Bobadilla, but I think it will be too hot there. Any suggestions?
Asked by Nora Radest [Apr 15, 2010]


Answer:

La Bobadilla is a splendid choice for a week of relaxing and being pampered, particularly if the last stop on your touring itinerary is Granada or Seville. The hotel has air conditioning and lots of shady spots. It's a very beautiful property perfect for a secluded hideaway.

The Costa Brava is a long drive from Andalucia.

If your final destination is Barcelona consider Mas de Torrent and stay in one of the cottages by the swimming pool. 

Have a wonderful trip and thank you for using our recommendations!

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Category: France

Question:
I have a group of 4 women who will be in Paris only 2 full days and we are hoping that you could possibly recommend a guide for us. WE do not wish to spend a fortune but think this would be the smart way to see the most important aspects of Paris. Thank you very much.  
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Apr 14, 2010]


Answer:

Unfortunately, I do not have a personal recommendation of a tour guide in Paris. However, I would suggest that your hotel might prove an excellence resource and another thought would be to contact one of the many American Associations located in Paris that might offer personal tours as a welcome service!  The link to a website page that I found which lists the various groups is:

http://www.understandfrance.org/Paris/AmericanCommunity.html

It is always possible to contact AutoEurope and hire a private car and driver. The only issue is this is not inexpensive, and, assuming you are able, walking Paris is the best way to experience this beautiful city.  I of course do go underground and use the metro to cover long distances or retrace my steps back to where my explorations began.  

 

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Category: France

Question:
This is not a new question, but, rather a response to your kind answer to my question dated Feb 10. I responded immediately to your email but now see that it did not reach you. I had questions regarding travel to the Dordogne from Paris--whether to take a train or drive. We have decided to take the train down and rent a car, then, since there is no available train for our timing to return, we will drive back to Orly in time to take a flight to Rome to visit with my daughter, her husband, and their one year old daughter. They live in Fiuggi, 1 hour east of Rome. You had asked where we were staying besides the Moulin de Fresquet and we will be in Sarlat at La Maison des Peyrat. It looks quite wonderful also and up to par with your recommendations. It is in the "hotels des charmes" guide according to their info. It is an ancient stone building with beautiful gardens, serene bedrooms, and delicious food. If you like, I will send you a review when we return. One of the favorite places that your guide recommended in Provence was La Ferme de la Huppe - I still think of the serenity there, and delicious food, though I see that it is under new ownership. Sorry this response didn't go right through. Ginger Foss, Vermont
Asked by Virginia Foss [Apr 14, 2010]


Answer:

Dear Ginger,

Thank you for your kind reply and sharing the information on your upcoming trip!  I will be eager to hear how you like the La Maison des Peyrat in Sarlat - perhaps you will be willing to share it with the Karen Brown Community as a Reader Discovery on your return :)! I know we have similar tastes as La Ferme de la Huppe is also a personal favorite of mine!

Just a final note concerning your trip - you are not committed to returning your car to the same train station where you rented it (there might be a drop fee).  I mention this only in case you want to research other return trains and not drive the entire distance back to Orly. 

Enjoy your travels and time with your daughter.  

All the Best!

Karen

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Category: General

Question:
We have used your guides for our European adventures since your service began, always with great success using "your" hotel pics. This year and this is a little different. My husband and I are taking our grandchildren ages 9 and 11 to Europe to celebrate our 50th! We will spend one week in London, the second in Paris. We will need two adjoining hotel rooms or a lovely 2 bedroom 2 bath apartment. In Paris we prefer St. Germain; in London, Knightsbridge, South Kensington or Notting Hill. I find that few St. Germain area hotels have adjoining rooms. How crazy would it be to book the very new and very un-charming Holiday Inn Hotel Paris-Notre Dame which seems to have a great location, though one might wonder about the beds, breakfast, etc. Any thoughts for us in both cities?
Asked by Judy Columbus [Apr 9, 2010]


Answer:

Thank you for using our guides all these years and congratulations on 50 years of marriage and romance!

To answer your question concerning a traditional hotel versus a more intimate inn, if you were in the countryside, I wouldn't hesitate to say "stay in an inn!"  However, it is a little more complicated in the cities.  You honestly might get a better price at a traditional hotel - they can afford to be more competitive in these difficult economic times.  I would definitely "shop" prices and website deals and specials (both through the portals such as Orbitz, hotels.com, expedia etc as well as with the hotel directly-it is always better to book directly with the hotel if it makes economic sense - they will consider you "their" guest and not a "discount-booking").  One word of caution, be sure to compare "apples to apples" - make sure the rates quoted include applicable taxes, VAT etc.  Also, if breakfast is included - this is a wonderful value and the larger hotels will probably have a buffet offering that will appeal to your grandchildren.  Another concern would be whether or not would you find the type of accommodation you want or need with your grandchildren.  In the cities, you definitely want a two-room suite or be assured that rooms are connected by an internal door. You might be more comfortable with a confirmation  of a "standard" room that you are assured is what you expect. However, be sure to study the location and make sure that the location truly is convenient.  Another recommendation would be to make sure they are at least convenient to a tube or metro station. After touring the cities by day - your grandchildren will be tired and you want convenient transportation and access.

Now, all that being said - I do have some lovely small hotels that you might want to consider. I would just encourage you to communicate directly with them (after you have researched prices and offerings of the larger hotels so you can easily compare) to determine exactly what they have in terms of room accommodation.  Unfortunately, I do not remember every hotel room and the ones I remember that might have a room that would serve your purpose, the room I remember might not be available for your travel dates.  So to confuse you completely, personal favorites (not necessarily inexpensive) that I think would work well when traveling with children are:

LONDON:

Durley House (they offer apartments-even the one bedroom might serve your needs and the kitchen comes in handy-it is fun to shop at local markets and shops for your own-inhouse meals!)

The Goring - traditional and nice

Knightsbridge Green - a great value - not fancy - but well located and they have suites with sofa beds

Dukes - expensive - but love it!

PARIS:

Horset Opera - left bank - nice, standard hotel rooms - great buffet breakfast, good value

St Germain Left Bank Hotel - right bank - good value, they do have a few suites - again, a great buffet breakfast, great location at the heart of the left bank with round the clock restaurants, cafes etc

Le Relais du Louvre - left bank, next to the Louvre - so it is convenient to both banks - and if you can get the penthouse it has a kitchenette - and the staff is very service oriented

Hope this proves of some help!

Thank you for your kind note and again, enjoy your time in London and Paris with your grandchildren!

Kindest regards,

Karen


 

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Category: General

Question:
Karen, Hello. Should I buy train tickets from Barcelona to Marseille and then Marseille to Milan in advance (seems pricey!) or buy them once in country? Thanks, Juan
Asked by Juan Dominguez [Apr 8, 2010]


Answer:

Dear Juan,

It really depends on when you are traveling.  At the height of season, without reservations, I have found myself perched on luggage between rail cars - and my ticket was the same price as someone who enjoyed the luxury and comfort of a reserved seat!   Also, on the longer journeys, it is nice to have a seat reserved for the entire length of the trip.  Without a reservation, you can often find an unoccupied seat but you might find that you have to move around a bit, vacating a seat that is reserved for a portion of the journey by someone else.  So, I guess, if you know your travel dates, I would recommend a reservation in advance.  With a ticket and reservation in hand, it also affords the ability to go directly to the train and not wait in lines at the station.

Safe travels and thank you for using our guides and recommendations.

Karen

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