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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: Portugal

Question:
I am going to Portugal, and I have purchased your Portugal guide.   My granddaughter and I will arrive on July 21 and will leave on July 28.   We'd like to spend the first 2 nights and last night in Lisbon, but do the loop you suggest (Alentejo and Medieval Monuments),spending two nights in each area.   We are interested in staying in pousadas.   Where would you suggest we spend these four nights?
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Mar 4, 2010]


Answer:

Dear Elizabeth,

Thank you for your email and thank you for using Karen's Guides and website. By my count you have 5 nights (23rd, 24, 25, 26 & 27) after Lisbon (21 and 22). I would probably recommend staying in Ourem, Marvao and Evora. The last night you might want to be closer to the airport so the drive is not as long the last day or if you have an early flight. I think you will probably want to keep moving if you are trying to fit everything in rather than basing one or two places. If you have 5 nights than I would spend two nights at one of the cities mentioned above.

Have a wonderful trip.

Rick Herbert

Karen Brown's Guides

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Category: General

Question:
why do you not have an itinerary for visit to London in your book on England, Scotland and Wales?
Asked by James Crout [Mar 3, 2010]


Answer:

We used to have a walking itinerary for London in our guides and realize it is a big omission from our guides and recommendations. We hope to republish information about London on the website later this Spring. I am sorry not to have the information available to you at the present.

Kindest regards,

Karen

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Category: France

Question:
HI Karen, we are thinking to have a vacation to France, we never been there, we don't like to drive, we like to have a relaxing time, have a nice place to stay and to see the scenery, do you have any recommendation for us?
Asked by cy wang [Feb 25, 2010]


Answer:

If this is going to be your first trip to France, you definitely need to allocate time to her capital city- Paris is beautiful and a wonderful city to explore on foot.  Then, since you do not want to travel by car, I would recommend countryside destinations you can reach by train. Unfortunately, the transportation network is not as extensive as it once was (trying to reach the little villages and places to stay that are remote in their location would probably prove to be frustrating, time consuming and expensive), but there are some wonderful towns that you can reach by rail.  Some recommendations for regions that would make sense to travel by train:

LOIRE VALLEY - you can easily travel to Tours from Paris via the TGV or local trains and then many of the smaller towns with their respective chateaux are connected by train service (Amboise, Saumur, Chinon to name a few). We have places to stay in many of the Loire Valley towns.

BURGUNDY - Travel to Dijon via the TGV  (at the heart of the region) and then continue on to Beaune. You can use Beaune as your base and either rent bikes, carriages or take a private tour for exploring the numerous wine routes that navigate through the little villages. Trains also service Chalon sur Saone, Macon and Lyon.

ALSACE Travel from Paris via the TGV or regular train to Strasbourg, a beautiful city and  then use it or Colmar as your base. Again you can rent bikes or take a private tour of the wine region.

PROVENCE I would travel to Provence from Paris and then use Avignon, Arles or  Aix as your base of operations.

NORMANDY I would travel first to Vernon (and then taxi to Giverny - 3 km distant) to see Monet's home, then take the train to Reims, then on to Honfleur (actually final leg is a connection by bus) then Caen and Bayeux. To tour D-day beaches you would need to take a private tour or use local buses.

Hope this helps!

Safe travels,

Karen

 

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Category: Italy

Question:
We need to spend a night at the international airport(FCO) in Rome. Do you recommend a reasonably priced hotel there?
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Feb 22, 2010]


Answer:

Unfortunately, we have yet to find an independent hotel with charm that is reasonably priced near the Rome Airport.  There are a number of chain hotels that are convenient and have airport shuttles (which allows you to turn in your car the day before your departure-saves on rental cost and minimizes hassles on the day of your departure) however, they do not afford a final night of "Italian Ambiance"!  This ( http://rome.airporthotelguide.com/map.html ) is a website link that provides an airport map and directory of chain hotels.

However, depending on your departure time, we do have a wonderful bed and breakfast, Casa Plazzi, which is approximately 45 kilometers from Rome.  This is the link ( http://www.karenbrown.com/B&B_Guide/Italy/Lazio/Trevignano/Casa_Plazzi/748.php ), to view their page on our website.

Thank you for using our recommendations and enjoy Italy!

Kindest regards,

Karen

 

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Category: Canada

Question:
Could you suggest a small charming town in the Laurentians, Quebec that would be perfect for a 3 day winter vacation- r&r, cross- country skiing, show shoeing? I heard Mont Saint Sauveur was quite beautiful. Any other suggestions? thanks, Bernice & Michael
Asked by Michael Lurie [Feb 17, 2010]


Answer:

Dear Bernice and Michael,

Unfortunately, we have not yet personally researched eastern Canada.  However, in terms of places to stay there is a wonderful membership organization, Select Registry and they have two properties in Quebec: Ripplecove Inn and Auberge des Gallant. For ease of your reference I have included a link to the map page from their website below:

http://www.selectregistry.com/qv/stn/Quebec/st/QC/locateinnmapsstate/bedandbreakfast.aspx

Enjoy Quebec! Also, please know we would welcome knowing of any personal recommendations and discoveries after your own travel experiences!

All the best,

Karen

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Category: Netherlands

Question:
Hi Karen: We have always enjoyed your inns, and can't seem to locate a Travel Book of yours for Amsterdam. Do you have a recommendation for a one night accommodation with a good location for sight seeing. We have one night and one full day before boarding our River Cruise down the Rhine. Thank you for your suggestions. Salese
Asked by Salese Kanter [Feb 8, 2010]


Answer:

Dear Salese,

Although, Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities, we have yet to research it for our guides or for our website.  However, a property that contacted us that looks wonderful and is well-located is the Flying Pancake.  For your reference, their website is http://www.theflyingpancake.com/

Their email contact is info@theflyingpancake.com

If you do decide to stay here, we would welcome your feedback based on your personal experience. You can either share directly with me or, better yet, with the Karen Brown Community by submitting it as a Reader Discovery.  The link to submit a discovery is:  http://www.karenbrown.com/user_discovery.php

Thank you for the confidence you place in our recommendations!  Correspondence from travelers like you give us the incentive to keep going!

Enjoy your travels!

Karen

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Category: France

Question:
Dear Karen, I've been a follower of yours for the last 10 years and have enjoyed quite a few of your wonderful B & B recommendations in both France and Italy. This May, a friend and I will be spending 5 nights in Paris and then 5 nights in the Dordogne (2 of which will be at the magical looking Moulin de Fresquet!). We are trying to decide whether to take the train from Paris to Brive and then rent a car, taking the train back to Paris, or, whether to rent a car at Orly and drive down and back. Would you have any ideas about the type of roads we would be driving on. Neither of is thrilled about the idea of driving in Paris, though I see that Orly is 14 miles south, which might get us out into the country a bit more. Would it be a scenic trip and worth the drive, or would we be smarter to just take the train? I've checked and AutoEurope would have cars in both spots. Thank you, so much, for any advice you might be able to give us. Sincerely, Ginger Foss, Vermont P.S. In my next life, I want to work for Karen Brown Guides!!!
Asked by Virginia Foss [Feb 3, 2010]


Answer:

Dear Virginia,

You are traveling to one of my favorite regions in France!  Since your time is limited with only five nights in the Dordogne - I would most definitely travel the distance by train. As you say, simply getting out of Paris will take a lot of time and when you travel by train you simply leave from the center of the city - a simple taxi ride from your hotel.  When researching the southwest quadrant of France I always travel by train (to either Brive or Cahors-a little further south-depends on where you are spending the other three days) and then pick up a car rental.  It is a pretty train ride and very relaxing.  I always spend my time on the train with maps and detailing where I am going! 

Another thought to complicate your decision, assuming your return flight home is out of Paris, you might want to get a flight from Bordeaux to connect with your flight out of Paris.  If you haven't already booked your flights, I would compare fares Vermont/Paris/Vermont   against   Vermont/Paris  then  Bordeaux/Paris/Vermont.  The difference in round trip fare is often negligible.  Or, now with wonderful intra-Europe fares, you could research on the website purchasing an additional airline ticket Bordeaux/Paris to connect with your flight home.  Ryan Air is one that has incredibly low fares. This will save you time and I believe the airfare will be comparable to the cost of traveling by train especially if train and air times require that you add one more overnight in Paris or at the airport before you fly home. Note: FYI - When I looked at Rail Europe for fares it showed $84 per person, one way for a first class ticket to travel from Paris to Brive.

I am so pleased to know you have booked the Moulin de Fresquet -Claude & Gérard are wonderful as is their inn!  Definitely take advantage of dining with them! Also, with the Moulin as a base you can easily explore a bit of the Lot River Valley and the Dordogne.  May I ask where you have booked your other three nights?   

Thank you for your kind letter. We look forward to welcoming you to our team in your second life!  In the meantime, we would welcome any discoveries you have found.  You can share them as Reader Discoveries - a new part of our website.

If you have other questions, don't hesitate to contact us.

Kindest regards,

Karen

 

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Category: General

Question:
Karen, We have used your guides all over Europe for many years and found them to be an irreplacable resource. Now we are planning a trip to Hawaii, including most islands, and are looking for a resource nearly as good as yours. Can you make a recommendation? Warm Regards, Harold Krall
Asked by Harold Krall [Feb 1, 2010]


Answer:

Dear Mr. Krall,

Thank you so very much for your kind note. It sincerely means alot!

In terms of Hawaii, we have considered researching the islands but, our challenge would be not to  recommend just inns and bed & breakfasts as we do with our other destinations, but, to research all types of accommodations (i.e., resorts, luxury hotels, rentals, condominiums, bed & breakfasts and inns) and then make a selection of what we consider the best in each category.  As a result, the daunting task has remained in the planning stage!

However, an incredible travel industry reference is The Star Report.  The report not only rates properties but also offers editorial to support their rating.  The report always impressed me as being honest and candid - not a paid reference. I couldn't find a reference online that was available to the general public, but most travel agencies will have the Star Report Binder and I would believe they would let you look at it and the listings (especially if you were willing to book through them so they would receive the resulting commission.)

Other than the Star Report, I think the best resource (although, a bit overwhelming) is researching via websites...it is just hard to receive an objective critique when most websites are written by the properties themselves - or either paid advertisements.  Cross-referencing any properties you are interested with reviews on Trip Adviser might help in your evaluation and selection.

Again, thank you for your interest in our guides and recommendations.

Kindest regards,

Karen

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Category: General

Question:
KAREN! WE ARE "3 STEAMROLLING-TOWARD-'75' AND 60-YEARS OF FRIENDSHIP" SWEET BUT SASSY LADIES. THIS SEPT. WE PLAN TO SEE THE DELIGHTS OF AUTUMN IN NEW ENGLAND AND LOVE YOUR 2 ITINERIES BUT ARE TOTALLY CONFUSED! ALL B&B'S SOUND BREATHTAKING SO WOULD YOU PLEASE DIRECT US WHERE TO GO FOR 4 DAYS OF 'GIRL-STUFF..'.ANTIQUING', ETC? PERHAPS STAY 2 NIGHTS IN 2 DIFFERENT PLACES? MOST I LOOKED AT WERE FOR DOUBLE-OCC...AND WE NEED 3 TWIN BEDS? BLESS YOU! MARLIS
Asked by MARLIS CARSON [Feb 1, 2010]


Answer:

Dear Marlis, I forwarded your question on to Jack Bullard who is responsible for the majority of research for our guide to New England AND he is a New Englander by birth!   His response:

"There are two ways to get into the heart of New England in the fall - one is to fly to Boston and then drive west on the Mass Tpke to Route 5 north to Route 30 stopping perhaps at the Four Columns Inn in Newfane (this village is quintessential New England with its village green and all buildings painted white with narrangansett green shutters).  Taking route 11 out of Newfane will bring you to Route 7a from which you can take a short drive to the village of Dorset staying at the Barrows House - a more casual family oriented inn.

 

North of these two inns located in the southern part of Vermont are three others that cannot go unmentioned.  In Jamaica there is the Three Mountain Inn';  in Barnard is the Maple Leaf Inn and then further north up Route 100 we all love the Pitcher Inn in Warren for its unusual folk art decor.

 

These are five of the best.  Be sure to make your reservations promptly as foliage is at its height in the first two weeks of October; and be sure to make  reservations in the dining room of the inn in which you stay and then another recommended by the innkeepers.

 

The other route to these same five properties is to fly into Albany,  New York and rent a car to access the routes mentioned above.  You will have too ask these inns if they can accommodate three of your in the same room.  All inns have a rollaway, and you might even find an inn with three twins.

 

Good luck and let us know how your trip went.  We are always interested in our readers' comments."

Jack Bullard

 

 

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Category: General

Question:
I have traveled all over Europe with your books. Will not leave home without it! Do you have any info on Key West I can share with a friend of mine? She wants a good B&B.
Asked by Carol S Peck [Feb 1, 2010]


Answer:

Dear Carol,

Thank you for traveling all over the world using our recommendations!  We so very much appreciate our loyal Karen Brown Readers!  Unfortunately, we have yet to research places to stay in Florida. However, we do recommend a membership organization, Select Registry, that sets high standards for acceptance and admission.  I looked on their website and found a property in Key West.  I will copy below their contact information and the write up as published on their site.

If your friend does find a property she likes in Key West, we would love it if she would be willing to share her experience as a reader discovery - a new area on our website that allows us to expand the Karen Brown World to destinations we have yet to research.

Wishing you all the best,

Karen

 

The Marquesa Hotel
Key West, FL - US
305-292-1919, 800-869-4631
Fax: 305-294-2121

  In the heart of Key West's Historic District, the Marquesa Hotel and Cafe is a landmark 118 year-old home, restored to four-diamond status. Floor-to-ceiling windows, large bouquets of flowers, two shimmering pools and lush gardens are Marquesa trademarks. Rooms and suites are luxurious with private marble baths, bathrobes, and fine furnishings. Located one block from Duval Street for shops, galleries, restaurants and night life. The Miami Herald rated it as one of Florida's top 10 Inns, and Zagat's rated it 17th in the U.S.A.     

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