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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:
My husband and I are going to Coastal Maine the end of June and like to stay in b&B's or small Inn's. Is there such a thing as a B&B coupon book that many B&B's participate in? In England we purchased a coupon book and received a booklet of all the B&B's that accepted the coupons. Thank you!
Asked by Sandra Thomas [May 31, 2009]


Answer:
Dear Sandra, Thank you for your email. There is a marketing organization called Select Registry which is a grouping of over 400 quality inns, bed and breakfasts and small hotels in the United States. The organization publishes a free guidebook to the properties and includes a rewards program in the book. The reward is a $25 discount at one of the properties after staying at 3 other member inns, B&B's or hotels. I know there are some wonderful inns along the coast of Maine listed in the guidebook. For more information about Select Registry please go to http://www.selectregistry.com/. Other than Select Registry I am not aware of any large scale coupon books offered. My recommendation is to contact the properties you are considering and ask if they are offering any specials over the period you are looking for? Have a wonderful trip and thanks again for your question. Karen

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Category: France

Question:
Thank you so much for talking the time to get back with me. After reading your response, I believe Avignon will work for us. I found rooms at the Hotel Avignon Grand or Clarion Hotel Cloitre Saint Louis and am hoping they are in the location to walk places. My daughter is studying Spanish in Barcelona and we will start out there and spend a couple of days. I am struggling with finding flights and would love to find an early morning flight on June 16th to connect with our 10:30am but this doesn't seem possible. My hope is that the girls will enjoy the train ride as that will be all they see of Paris. One more question if you have time about the train passes. I am trying to book on line and there are several classes of service. Would a pass allow this and is there any difference in the class of service with Rail Europe?? I am so excited and have highlighted the things to see in Barcelona and hopefully Avignon. Thank you for all your wonderful information. Susan
Asked by Susan Hugo [May 26, 2009]


Answer:
Dear Susan, I checked the location of the hotels you mention and they are both located within the walls of Avignon. The Hotel Avignon Grand is right at the wall's edge near the train station and the Cloitre Saint Louis is a few blocks closer to the heart of town. But, Avignon is not a large city and any where within the walls is a good location and enjoys walking proximity to all the sites. In terms of travel options back to Paris - you might want to consider a flight late on June 15th from Provence and then stay at an airport hotel (The Sheraton is actually located in the CDG airport!). If not, when you travel from Provence to Paris by train, depending on whether you take a TGV (fast train with a fee surcharge) or a regular train - it will take approximately 6 to 8 hours to get to the heart of the city. You would then still need to overnight in the city or at the airport on the night of the 15th - and if you stay in the city it will require a very early departure on the 16th to be at the airport in time for you 1030am departure. In terms of Rail Europe - it is hard for me to recommend options since I don't know how many days (if any) you plan to travel by train in Spain. Most passes are issued only as first class and often are a great value when compared to point to point ticket purchase. I would recommend calling their toll free number and discuss your travel needs and they can best advise you as to purchase options. Rail Europe tel: 800-622-8600. All the best to you and wishing you and your daughters a wonderful trip! Karen

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Category: France

Question:
I am traveling with my 3 adult daughters beginning in Barcelona and only have from June 12 until June 16 am to see a small piece of France. After studying the train airport schedules until I cannot think anymore, I found either Avignon or Carcassonne to be the easiest. I was looking for a place we could just enjoy staying, would prefer inside the wall, and we will not have a car. Just want to see nearby and get a feel for walking to cafes, shopping and people watching. Something comparable to San Gimignanoin Italy?? Most places are already booked. I would love a suggestion as to where to stay....Hotel, B&B, apartment, farmhouse, I am desperate! Any help would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks, Susan Hugo We will spend the last night June 15 by CDG airport.
Asked by Susan Hugo [May 26, 2009]


Answer:
Dear Susan, You do not have a lot of time and your few days will be absorbed by travel....but, that being said, I would train to Avignon or on to Arles (requires one more train transfer) and use either city as a base. Avignon is a walled town (once the papal city) and is wonderful, charming and easy to explore. Arles is also beautiful with lots of museums, cafes etc. You could use either as a base and then train to the other for a day trip - the train station for both is within walking distance to the heart of downtown. Carcassonne is touristy and after exploring the few main streets doesn't offer much more and there isn't much more to explore by public transportation in the nearby vicinity. In terms of traveling on to Paris - you might honestly want to consider a flight that would connect with your flight out of CDG. Although, initially it might seem more in terms of price, it will save you time (a full day of travel) and the cost of train to the city of Paris and then transportation on to the airport definitely adds up. If you do train from Barcelona to Provence and then on to Paris - also research the passes - sometimes a pass is cheaper than the point to point fares. Hope this helps! Enjoy travels with your daughters! Karen

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Category: France

Question:
Thank you for your most helpful and thorough response. We have both the French hotel and bed/breakfast books and will consult those for week long accommodations near Aix. I am most grateful for your advice regarding visiting the Gorges du Verdon versus Gorges du Tarn with our three children (ages 11, 8, 6). If you have time to suggest the top three or four side trips with children from a home base of Aix, I would appreciate it. It sounds like a day at Gorges du Tarn, Pont du Gard and perhaps a day at a nearby beach such as Cassis would be ideal? Les Baux also sounds appealing. I have read the Provence itinerary in your hotel book, but would love to know if you recommend specific excursions from Aix that would be most appealing for families. Kind regards, Colleen
Asked by Colleen Zorn [May 23, 2009]


Answer:
Dear Colleen, I would include Les Baux, Avignon, Arles, Tarn (possibly Carcassonne especially if you choose to overnight on the Tarn - which would be an adventure - Chateau de la Caze is spectacular in setting), Pont du Gard, and maybe choose market day at one of the hilltowns. I would also suggest not always driving...it is easy to train between Avignon and Arles for example and adds to the adventure. The trains stations are both within walking distance of the heart of town. Have fun and again, thank you for using our recommendations and guides! Karen

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Category: Switzerland

Question:
I want to take the train from Zurich to Interlaken; then to Zermatt; then back to Zurich via The Glacier Express and via Andernatt. Is this possible?
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [May 23, 2009]


Answer:
Traveling by train in Switzerland is wonderful! The network is so extensive and there are some wonderful specialty trains, such as the Glacier Express that you refer to, that afford an experience often resulting as the highlight of your trip!   The following are some general guidelines for the routes that you are interested in:   Zurich to Interlaken: trains depart almost every hour. It is necessary to change trains with most connections via Bern or Luzern.   Interlaken to Zermatt: Again, trains depart almost every hour. You will need to change trains in Spiez and then Visp.   Glacier Express:  entire journey travels between Zermatt and St Moritz.  You can disembark in Andermatt, and then connect with another train to Zurich, but I would suggest taking the entire journey and then travel from St Moritz to Zurich.   Andermatt to Zurich - frequent trains, necessary to connect to another train in Goeschenen.   St Moritz to Zurich - frequent trains, necessary to connect to another train in Chur       For more information, schedules and tickets, click on TRAIN RESERVATIONS from TRAVEL TOOLS on our website.    Enjoy your travels by rail! Karen    

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Category: France

Question:
Dear Karen - I have your French Hotels book and we are traveling to Paris and Aix en Provence with our three children ages 11, 8, and 6 this summer. We plan to stay in Aix for one week and take some daily side trips around the provence region during that time. Do you recommend visiting the Gorges du Verdon region with our children? Can tourists rent kayaks, canoes or small boats to use in the verdon or lake and if so, where would we go to rent them? I look forward to your response. Kind regards, Colleen
Asked by Colleen Zorn [May 22, 2009]


Answer:
Dear Colleen, Thank you for using our guides and recommendations. Concerning your trip to France: First, I would recommend traveling the distance from Paris to Avignon by train - a wonderful experience and also a very relaxed way to cover the miles. Once there you can rent a car and at the end of your journey either train back to Paris or consider a connecting flight back home from Avignon, Marseilles or even Nice. You can easily spend a week exploring Provence and I would recommend finding one property as a base since checking in and out of places is time consuming and hard with a family of five. Avignon is a fabulous walled city but, with three kids, you might want to consider a countryside location and staying at one of our bed & breakfast recommendations ... both for cost and for ease of daily excursions to and from your base. Or for a hotel suggestion, that would also make a great base, Mas de l’Oulivie in Les Baux de Provence is a beautiful property, great value, on the outskirts of town and it has a swimming pool! Concerning the Gorges du Verdon - although, it is dramatic, I would not recommend it when traveling with kids as the road is very demanding, winding, there are not a lot of places to pull off, very few towns and basically just one road that travels each side of the canyon. Instead, I would recommend the Gorges du Tarn - the road travels closer to the river, the scenery is more lush and diverse, there are more towns and lots of places where you can rent kayaks, canoes or small boats. If you do venture to the Tarn - definitely include a stop at Pont du Gard - an incredible Roman Aquaduct. Hope this information serves to help rather than confuse! Enjoy your travels this summer! Karen

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Category: General

Question:
Hello, we are attempting to go through Karen Brown to rent a car through AutoEurope, but the price quote when we go through your site is higher than the quote when we go directly though the AutoEurope site. There was no place to put in the code you give in your book, but it did say on the web page KAren Brown readers. Can you help please?
Asked by Mary Pat Campbell [May 2, 2009]


Answer:
Dear Mary Pat, This really concerns me. I contact AutoEurope over the weekend for an explanation and hope to hear back from their administration today. They have promised us that they would extend the best rate and even discount rates to our Karen Brown Travelers. I will let you know as soon as I have answers. In terms of codes...not sure myself where they should be entered on the website, but, if nothing else, (and to be honest I find it preferable to call and discuss all my options with an agent as often in the course of discussion find an even better rental as a result), simply call their toll free number (1-800-223-5555) and reference KB web code 12008470 for preferred discounts. Thank you so much for using our recommendations. Again, I will be back in touch as soon as I receive an explanation from AutoEurope. Karen

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Category: Spain

Question:
Barcelona hotels in your 1999 book do not appear on your website.  any particular reason?
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Apr 30, 2009]


Answer:
I don’t have a 1999 book to refer to – but, as we revise books each year and re-evaluate the properties we recommend with the goal to provide what we consider the best selection a town/region has to offer in terms of charm, value and welcome and as a result the list of places we recommend does change from one edition to the next.  Since your book is now ten years old I would imagine the list is different.  However, another factor as to why you might not see all the properties we recommend in our books on our website is that, while we do not charge properties to be in our guides as we do not want anything to influence our selection or editorial, we do have a nominal fee to cover administrative costs if they want to be featured on our website.  Whether a property chooses to be on our website is completely their choice and not everyone takes advantage of the internet audience exposure.  Certain Karen Brown membership levels allow you to see every property we recommend in our guides. Thank you again for using our recommendations. Kindest regards, Karen

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Category: General

Question:
Three questions for Italy: Is Parma worth going to? Would you suggest driving from Civitavecchia to Cinque Terre or take a train? Drive or take the train to Como?
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Apr 29, 2009]


Answer:
Parma is indeed a very pretty walled medieval town famous for Parma ham and also cheeses. There are so many picturesque towns in this rich agricultural region that is famous for its food. I think the reason that we do not mention it in the book is because we don't feature any hotels here and it is not on one of our itinerary routes. I would take a train from Civitavecchia to Cinque Terre. You would take the train to La Spezia and then board the small train that stops at the villages along the Cinque Terre. I would also take the train from La Spezia to Como (changing trains in Milan). You will have no need for a car in along the Cinque Terre since cars are not allowed except in a couple of the towns. If you are staying in Milan, you definitely do not need a car within the city. You might want to rent a car in Como unless you are staying in a hotel on the lake and exploring by boat. What a wonderful trip you have planned. Have Fun!

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Category: General

Question:
First, let me say how much I appreciate your fantastic site!  I understand that on your hotel lists, a red check mark indicates, "Property has specials."  How do we find out about those specials?  Are they special to folks from your site?  Do we need to call the property to obtain them?    Thank you
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Apr 26, 2009]


Answer:
Thank you for your kind and enthusiastic feedback on our site - we REALLY appreciate your note!!!! In terms of Property Specials, to view them, go the actual property page on our site and then click on the Red Check box. This will result in opening a new window that will provide a description and details for the specials.  The specials are available to anyone visiting our website. Sometimes the property will detail "how to identify yourself" in order to qualify for the special, but in most cases, all you simply need to state in your correspondence is that you saw the special posted on www.karenbrown.com. Hope this is of some help and that you can benefit from some wonderful offers. Again, thank you for using our website and for your positive feedback,Karen

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