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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:
We have stayed in several of your B&B's and Hotel recommendations, including Seal Cove Inn. (loved them all) My question is: My husband and I are travellling down the Rhine & Moselle Rivers next June leaving Amsterdam and ending up in Basel, Switzerland. We want to see Brugges and have thought about going early to Brugges, spending a night and then going to Amsterdam for a night before boarding our Avalon River Cruise. We have thought about the train, but how about hiring someone to take us Amsterdam? Any suggestions?? Thanks, Salese
Asked by Salese Kanter [Aug 26, 2009]


Answer:
Dear Salese, Thank you for being so loyal all these many years - even a guest at our own inn! You deserve a gold star! In terms of your trip - Brugge is wonderful. I assume you have not yet booked your flights. If this is the case, I would definitely fly into Brussels and then train from Brussels to Brugge (about an hour) and then train from Brugge to Amsterdam (via Brussels-about a two and half hour trip) You won't need a car in Brugge - and the train will deliver you right to the heart of Amsterdam. You could hire a car and driver to take you to Amsterdam but I don't see the need as the trip by train is relatively easy. Have a wonderful trip! Thank you again, Karen

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Category: Italy

Question:
Karen, hello. I do not find Padua/Padova Italy listed in your inns/hotel section. Do you have any recommendations for accommodations there? Upon reading your B&B book, I felt fortunate tol get reservation at the Pensione Accademia, Venice in October. I do not see that in your online list. Hopefully, it has not fallen out of favor? I can't wait to go to Venice for the first time and greatly value your opinions. Regards, Marsha Lamson
Asked by Marsha Lamson [Aug 23, 2009]


Answer:
Dear Marsha, Unfortunately, we do not have a property in Padua. However, the closest one is just outside the city in Selvazzano: The Conte Emo Capodilista Estate. I would recommend using our website maps (as opposed to the lists) and zoom in to the area around Padua and you will see all our recommendations in the vicinity. In terms of the Pensione Accademia - yes, they are still a property we recommend, however, they have chosen not to participate on our website. We have no charge to be recommended in our guide as we want nothing to influence our selection or editorial, but we do have a nominal fee for a website presence. Not every property chooses to participate on the website and unfortunately they miss the exposure to an ever-growing internet audience and people like yourself who conclude we no longer recommend them. But, know that we do! Thank you for using our recommendations! Kindest regards, Karen

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Category: Czech Republic

Question:
i cannot get a list of your recommendations for prague to appear from your website.. can you give me the proper steps on the computer as i would like to stay where you rec.. thank you.. heath aldridge one of my favorite trips was a french journey in 1999 (?) using your ideas..just was grand.. now off to venice, croatia, and prague and want to use your wisem observations as much as possible
Asked by Heath Aldridge [Aug 23, 2009]


Answer:
Dear Heath, We do recommend a few properties in Prague although, not all of them choose to participate to be on our website. There is no charge to be featured in our guides as we want nothing to influence our selection or editorial, but we do have a charge for exposure on our website. Three of four the properties we recommend are on our website (the others are published in our guide to Austria!!) The fourth and the most reasonably priced is The Three Ostriches. To find them on our website you can: 1) simply use the SEARCH box (upper right hand corner) and type in Prague - should result in a list 2) Select DESTINATION (blue tab) Czech Republic and then use the map to zoom in and zoom out - our recommendations appear as icons on the map - click on icons for their website page and information 3) Select DESTINATION (blue tab) Czech Republic and then select PLACES TO STAY (green bar) and then go the the list of all the properties we recommend. Hope this proves of some help! Thank you so much for using our recommendations! Kindest regards, Karen

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Category: General

Question:
I haven't seen my question answered before. We are a family of four--two adults, two young teens. We are trying to decide where to go over Christmas break. We currently live in London, but have traveled to France and Italy. I would like to spend time in Italy, Spain or Portugal, assuming that the weather won't be miserable. We enjoy seeing cities, (and mountains and beaches) but are not going for the religious Christmas experience. We are very active, but have already planned a ski trip for February. I guess I'm looking for a place with cultural interest (like Verona, Florence, Paris, where we've been) without bone-chilling cold or rain and gray skies. And I would like to stay in Europe. I'm keeping an open mind, but I have always wanted to see the Alhambra in Spain--don't know whether this would be a good time, or whether spring would be better. Any suggestions would be welcome.
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Aug 19, 2009]


Answer:
Living in London you have experienced "bone-chilling cold and gray skies" and I can understand your desire to escape! Most definitely the further south you go improves your chances for warmer weather. I love Paris anytime of year - but it can be very cold in December- so I would suggest continuing even further south. I don't think you could go wrong with either Italy or Spain-and both would be very festive for the holidays and both would be fun with teenagers. I would suggest traveling by train and going from one destination to the next - it isn't as much fun to drive when it is inclement weather and traveling by train is always an adventure and let's everyone enjoy the journey. Also, even though I usually prefer countryside destinations, teenagers will enjoy the diversity of the cities - and there will be more to entertain them if it isn't a beautiful sunny day-such as shopping, theater, museums. Hope this proves of some help. Enjoy your travels abroad. Best, Karen

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Category: Italy

Question:
Hi Karen, I have one of your books on the B&Bs of Italy. However, I wondered if I can ask you for direct recommendation. I am looking for a place which is warm and friendly and where my 7 year old son can enjoy too in Italy. My husband is Italian so we won't have language barriers but I am really looking for a unique countryside B&B which is also not boring for a child. We love vinyards and olive groves but my son will want more than that. Pls let me know if you have any ideas. Best regards, Marjan.
Asked by Marjan Riggi [Aug 17, 2009]


Answer:
Dear Marjan, Thank you for your request for information on B&Bs in Italy. Our B&B Italy guide has almost 300 hand-picked recommendations all with the same criteria: charm and warmth of welcome, so in order to narrow down the choices, it would be helpful to know in which regions you will be travelling. Many of the agriturismo farms have become almost resorts, offering sport facilities, pool, etc ideal for families. For instance, near Rome on Lake Bracciano is the I DUE LAGHI which also has horses and other animals besides pool, and lake boating. TUSCANY: MONSIGNOR DELLA CASA, Borgo San Lorenzo Salvadonica, Mercatale Fattoria Casa Sola, Barberino UMBRIA: La Malvarina, in Assisi Pomurlo Vecchio, Baschi By consulting our descriptions, you can better verify which property adapts most to your needs, budget and itinerary. Buon viaggio!

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Category: General

Question:
Trip Planner is not under Travel Tool Tab as instructed. Under Trip Planner it does not allow me to SAVE MY ITINERARY. How do I save and print?
Asked by Ann Barnes [Aug 16, 2009]


Answer:
Dear Ann, Sorry for any frustration with our Trip Planning - but have patience - it is an incredible tool and function of our site. If you could please help me understand where we refer to Travel Tool Tab....I apologize if we have our directions wrong but I can't find the reference. We want to make this as intuitive as possible so your feedback is invaluable. In terms of trip planning - once you build an itinerary (i.e., click the "Add to my Itinerary" for attractions, cities and places to stay) then you go to the green tab - Trip Planner and your Current trip should appear in the drop down option. When you click on "Current Trip - My Trip" you will then be redirected to the Trip Planning section of our website. Here you can add comments, change the sequence of desired destinations, delete, edit, and add destinations that are not featured on our website, etc. When you want to add more destinations to your trip you will need to return to the main Karen Brown Website - I do this by either clicking on the numbered icon on the map and or on the name in the list and selecting "click here for more information" which will take you back to a "true" page on our website from which you can add more destinations to your itinerary. You can build an itinerary of up to twenty-five legs - and you can print the itinerary. But to save it requires a membership level, the minimum of which is Coach Plus for $10 which easily pays for itself as it affords: * Unrestricted trip planning. Build as many personalized trips as you want and be able to save them for a period of twelve months from start of membership * 1 Downloadable Karen Brown PDF Itinerary – value $8.50 * 10% Discount on any purchases made through the Karen Brown store – value increases relative to purchases made * Karen Brown’s World of Travel Newsletter Thank you for your interest in the Karen Brown World of Travel. If I can help you best understand and appreciate all we have to offer, I am happy to do so. Kindest regards, Karen Karen Brown Herbert Karen Brown's Guides www.karenbrown.com

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Category: General

Question:
Dear Karen, Thank you so much for your very prompt and sympathetic reply. I was led to ask because of a recent experience in attempting to book at Villa Mimosa in Bagnone in Corlaga, Lunigiana, Italy. My partner and I wanted to stay in this area because we are looking for our own guest house/small hotel there. I looked at their website and discovered that the place actually for sale! Imagine my excitement, not only was it beautiful but it might be the kind of thing we were looking for. I emailed Mr. & Mrs Pratt there about the dates we required and thought it was polite to mention our reasons for being in the area and our excitement that Villa Mimosa is for sale. Because of the dual reasons for the visit I thought it polite to send the email from both of us. I waited a couple of days and resent the email when no reply was forthcoming & did the same thing a couple of days later - again, no reply was forthcoming. Finally, I emailed a third time thinking they may have a computer problem. I started to wonder if they had a problem with us as a couple and so I asked a friend to email regarding availability on the dates I had requested. She received a reply within a couple of hours with a positive response and a booking form. A "gay friendly" icon might be a good idea or as an alternative you could ask each establishment visited to sign up to an "equal welcome" policy statement. This might just be a statement to say they don't discriminate on the grounds, of race, sexual orientation etc. You might then have an icon which highlights those who signed up to it and leave travellers to draw their own conclusions regarding those who don't. Please don't feel the need to post this message on the site - the first one makes the point I guess. Thanks once again for the quick reply. Best wishes ~ Jonathan Smith ----- Original Message ----- From: "KBFAQ" To: Sent: Sunday, August 16, 2009 7:50 PM Subject: Answer To Your Question For Karen Brown > > Karen has answered the question you asked on the Karen Brown website. > > The question you asked is: Karen - Just enquiring about whether or not any > of your vetting procedures for properties (I'm looking in Italy) included > information on whether a welcome is extended to gay couples or if you have > ever had feedback from same-sex couples encountering problems in Italy. > Thanks in anticipation. > > Karen's answer is: Dear Jonathan, > It makes me sad to think this is even a question you would even have to > ask. We once had an inn and I received a call similar to yours asking > about our welcome and policy. It caught me off-guard as it never occurred > to me to think of anyone who crossed our threshold as anything but a > welcome guest. Anyone who is in the hospitality business should genuinely > be in the hospitality business. That being said, people are people. > However, Italy is so very international in terms of the multitude and > diversity of people who travel there (it is not like a small town in > Timbucktwo!). On an individual property basis I have NOT received any > feedback about issues with negative attitudes towards gay couples. You > question makes me wonder if we should candidly ask properties as to their > honest feelings-if this is something that the traveler is concerned about. > Bottom line, my responsibility is to the traveler. You definitely want to > stay somewhere where you do not have to worry about the welcome. So keep > posted for a future icon - what would you suggest I term it, would > "gay friendly" be diplomatically appropriate? Also, please let > me know if you encounter any circumstances good or bad. Also, know that > there are a number of properties owned by same-sex couples - any of these > you would be assured a genuine welcome. > Thank you for using our guides and recommendations. > Kindest regards, > Karen > Karen Brown Herbert > >Karen - Just enquiring about whether or not any of your vetting procedures for properties (I'm looking in Italy) included information on whether a welcome is extended to gay couples or if you have ever had feedback from same-sex couples encountering problems in Italy. Thanks in anticipation.
Asked by Jonathan Smith [Aug 16, 2009]


Answer:
Dear Jonathan, It makes me sad to think this is even a question you would even have to ask. We once had an inn and I received a call similar to yours asking about our welcome and policy. It caught me off-guard as it never occurred to me to think of anyone who crossed our threshold as anything but a welcome guest. Anyone who is in the hospitality business should genuinely be in the hospitality business. That being said, people are people. However, Italy is so very international in terms of the multitude and diversity of people who travel there (it is not like a small town in Timbucktwo!). On an individual property basis I have NOT received any feedback about issues with negative attitudes towards gay couples. You question makes me wonder if we should candidly ask properties as to their honest feelings-if this is something that the traveler is concerned about. Bottom line, my responsibility is to the traveler. You definitely want to stay somewhere where you do not have to worry about the welcome. So keep posted for a future icon - what would you suggest I term it, would "gay friendly" be diplomatically appropriate? Also, please let me know if you encounter any circumstances good or bad. Also, know that there are a number of properties owned by same-sex couples - any of these you would be assured a genuine welcome. Thank you for using our guides and recommendations. Kindest regards, Karen Karen Brown Herbert

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Category: France

Question:
Karen - Found a great hotel in (I think) Hôtel Les deux Frères, Roquebrune Cap Martin - but not sure if the restrictions on making the reservation are suitable. Is it best to avoid the hotels where they require a deposit and what is a secure way to give them a deposit if I do decide to take this one???? If this hotel is not a good idea, can you recommend another in the hill towns that have triple rooms? Thanks!
Asked by Kay Akins [Aug 9, 2009]


Answer:
I am glad you have found a hotel that appeals! I do not personally know this one - so if you like it - we would love your feedback!!! In terms of making a reservation, I think the best way is by credit card as it gives you a record and the backing of the credit card company if there are misunderstandings. However, I would recommend faxing the number to the property directly or sending it by email in two parts - that is, two different emails: have the number with one email, half with the expiration date with another. However, before securing the reservation with a firm deposit, do make sure you understand the specifics of their cancellation policy. Some properties have a completely non-refundable policy. Enjoy your trip! Karen

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Category: Italy

Question:
We are looking for lodging on Lake Garda. It appears that Hotel Gardesana and Park Hotel Querceto do not appear on your website list altho they do appear in your book. Have I misinterpreted something and if not have these been removed. Do you have any suggestion for a moderately priced stay on the lake. Thank you.
Asked by Alan Somers [Aug 3, 2009]


Answer:
Dear Friends, Not every property we recommend in our guides participates on our website. While we do not have a charge to be featured in our guides as we want nothing to influence our selection or editorial, we do have a charge for a website presence. The Hotel Gardesana and the Park Hotel Querceto are still recommended in our guides but they have not opted for exposure to the much greater website audience. Another recommendation however, on the other side of the lake that is on our website is the Hotel du Lac in Gargnana. To summarize a bit from their description: " Hotel du Lac, an intimate, family-managed hotel in the colorful, tiny village of Villa di Gargnano, is very special. ....for genuine hospitality, superb lakefront setting, and spotlessly clean, attractive rooms at very reasonable prices, the Hotel du Lac is a real winner." The link direct to their page is: http://www.karenbrown.com/Hotel_Guide/Italy/Lombardy/Gargnano/Hotel_du_Lac/1645.php Thank you for using our guides and recommendations. Best, Karen

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Category: Spain

Question:
We used your guides to Portugal and Spain recently and thought they were fabulous. We LOVED Dolly Schlingensiepens home on the Algarve in Portimao and she was flabbergasted that we found her just from your description. We also loved the Taberna del Alabardero in Sevilla as a hotel - great location and reasonable price, with on site parking garage. We stopped wondering where we would stay the next night and started just heading for Karen Brown recommended destinations. We had the luxury of traveling without reservation because we were slightly ahead of the high season for tourists and because tourism in general is down. We got a room at the parador in the Alhambra in Granada, reserving it just one night in advance. Do you have plans for a book on any new destinations? Your taste, priorities and price range well suit our desires and likes.
Asked by Linda Lee [Jul 30, 2009]


Answer:
Dear Linda, First - thank you for such a lovely letter!!! You have made my day, week, month! Thank you. We, too, think Dolly is wonderful. She is the perfect example of the fact that often the innkeepers are what make a property so extra special. I am also pleased to learn you liked the Taberna as well. As a city, Sevilla is one of my personal favorites! We would be pleased if you wanted to post your comments on the actual property pages. Positive reviews most definitely enhance the property website pages and they welcome the feedback. Also, you can earn discounts in our website store for posting reviews. For every four reviews you receive a discount coupon...and more for a free book! In terms of your question..."Do you have plans for a book on any new destinations?" ... we currently have seventeen titles and I am not honestly certain we will expand the series with more published titles as guidebooks are becoming a challenge. People are using the web for travel rather than purchasing books. So we are concentrating our efforts on expanding the Karen Brown World online. We now have recommendations in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Greece, Norway, Sweden....and are expanding as fast as we can. So keep a watch on our website. Thank you again for your kind and supportive note. I am glad we have the same taste. Kindest regards, Karen

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