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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: France

Question:
We are traveling in France this coming June. We will spend a few days in the Loire Valley and Chinon. We would like to drive to Sarlat-la-Caneda and then on to Carcassonne. Is this possible in two days? Will the roads be confusing? We don't seem to find a train that will bring us directly to Carcassonne from Tours. Any suggestions are appreciated. Thank You.
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Feb 13, 2014]


Answer:

Dear Joy,

The distances you propose to cover are pretty long and will use up most of your two days. For your reference it would take about 4.5 hours to go from the heart of the Loire Valley (Tours) to Sarlat, and then another 3 plus hours to go from Sarlat to Carcassonne. By train, I don't believe there is a direct route from Tours to Carcassonne, but, connections would be feasible via Limoges or Toulouse and on to Carcassonne.  

If you are traveling by car, my recommendation for your time would be to stay in the Dordogne/Lot river valley for two nights (as you would need a car to explore the region) or if you are only traveling by train, then train to Carcassonne as it is a destination in its own right and you would not need a car.

If you travel to the Dordogne/Lot by car you could then train back to Paris (from Cahors or Brive).

Favorite places in the Dordogne/Lot:

Lacave, Chateau de la Treyne

Tremolat, Le Vieux Logis

Mercues, Le Mas Azemar

Mercues, Chateau de Mercues

I will also send you via Google Drive a complimentary copy of our Dordogne/ Lot itinerary which details our suggested routes as well as places to stay.

Hope this will help with your travel plans.

Thank you for your interest in our recommendations!  Karen

 

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Category: Switzerland

Question:
Hello Karen, My husband and I are flying into Zurich on Aug 6th. We will go from Zurich to Lucerne on the morning of the 6th. We have 5 days before we need to be in Budapest on the 11th. We would like to do Switzerland and Austria by train taking some of the mountainous routes. We will not be able to do all of the routes going the whole length. Can you suggest some train trips that would connect with other train trips that would end up in Budapest. We are not really in to Rolex replica watches tourist type towns or big crowds. I appreciate any help you can give us. PS Is renting a car a chore in Switzerland or Austria if we would decide to travel that way??
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Feb 2, 2014]


Answer:
Hope I can possibly help!  You want to cover quite a distance in a short period of time. I have some thoughts but, too many for your time frame so you will need to make a selection based on personal preference.1) You could travel from Lucerne into the Jungfraujoch region (for map reference, Interlaken is at the base) which would address your desire for mountainous routes.  I would suggest using a town such as Wengen, Murren or Grindlewald as your base from which to explore the area and completing the train journey.  You would a minimum of two nights to do the region justice.  2) Another option (you would need to choose between Jungfrajoch or Glacier Express) would be to travel from Lucerne to Zermatt and from there travel the Glacier Express across three dramatic mountain passes to St. Moritz.3) From either Interlaken or St Moritz, you could then continue on into Austria.  A suggestion of a mountain destination where you might want to disembark to break your journey would be Innsbruck (or Kitzbuhel).  From louis vuitton outlet Innsbruck you can easily then train on to Salzburg (climb the mountains Maria climbed!) and/or Vienna before the last leg of the journey on to Budapest.For rail itineraries go to http://www.raileurope.com Enjoy your train adventure!  Karen

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Category: General

Question:
What town with a Karen brown b&b is a good location for Blenheim and the Cotswolds. We would like to stay in the same place for both locations for 2 or 3 nights. Thank you Linda Shirer
Asked by Linda Shirer [Feb 1, 2014]


Answer:

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Category: General

Question:
I have used your books for years. I just purchased the Germany book from Amazon on my Kindle. I am really having trouble using it. I cannot read the maps on the Kindle. I cannot get the iBook app on the iPad without going to Ios 7, which I do not want to do. There is no apparent way to get the entire book on either my Sony computer or on the iPad. Trying to find a hotel in Munich has defeated me. Altogether, it has been a bad experience. I would far rather have the hard book and then get updates on a device. So now, I will have to find another source.
Asked by Barbara Parker [Jan 19, 2014]


Answer:

Dear Barbara,

I am so sorry for your frustration. Yes, Kindle is limited due to the fact it does not have wireless or color. I do not understand issues specific to different computers and browsers but, again, I apologize for the nuisance and frustration. I will send you via Google Docs (too large to send by email) the PDF version of our Germany guide which you should be able to easily save on your computer and hand held devices.

I wish the market justified us still printing actual books but, the reality is the majority of travelers want information online and in the last few years of selling books - we sold VERY few.  I would continue to loose money if I produced books and sadly, I cannot afford to do so.  I am hoping the Ebooks, although a new vehicle will prove of value to travelers.  Today's publishing world is very challenging but, I refuse to give up.  I so VERY MUCH appreciate that you have used our recommendations and I hope you will continue to do so. 

Sincerely,

Karen

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Category: General

Question:
Can you reccommend a hotel near the Effiel tower?
Asked by Stefanie Angeli [Jan 14, 2014]


Answer:
Dear Stephanie,Apologies for the delay in a response. I was traveling out of the country with limited internet.I hope this reaches you in time to help you with your travels. In terms of Karen Brown recommendations, we do not have any properties in close proximity. However, the Hotel Duc de Saint Simon is the closest one on the left bank, and across the Seine on the right bank is the Hotel San Regis - they are both wonderful hotels. For your ease of reference, I will copy the links below:Hotel San Regis: http://www.karenbrown.com/Hotel_Guide/France/Ile_De_France/Paris/H%C3%B4tel_San_Regis/1927.php Hot Duc de Saint-Simon:http://www.karenbrown.com/Hotel_Guide/France/Ile_De_France/Paris/H%C3%B4tel_Duc_de_Saint_Simon/1652.php Enjoy Paris and thank you for your interest in our recommendations!Karen cheap louis vuitton bags outlet louis vuitton outlet store

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Category: Germany

Question:
Hi, I am planning to go to the bavaria area in germany and places must go are as follow: Munich, visit the famous castle in Fuessen, bergesgaden, the eagle nest, salzburg. i am using public transport either by rail or bus for 10 days and the group would like to stopover in three places. I would be most grateful if you can recommend the route and the hotels for us(5 women). Yours sincerely, QQ
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Dec 27, 2013]


Answer:

Our Bavaria itinerary covers the general route you requested - even crosses the border to Salzburg via Kehlstein!  You can view it on our website (link below)

http://www.karenbrown.com/Trip_Planning_Itinerary/Germany/Bavaria/35.php /

 
It is also possible to purchase the downloadable PDF that also includes all our recommendations for places to stay.  The PDF costs $2.99 and it can then be saved to your computer or hand held device.

Our itineraries are geared for driving by car.  I know you can travel by a combination of train and (mostly) bus, but, I am not conversant on the schedules and routes.  I would suggest contacting the German Tourist Office www.germany.travel for a recommended resource for public transportation.

Enjoy your trip!
Happy Holidays,

Karen

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Category: General

Question:
If I download one of your e-books, is there a way to view it on my Kobo?
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Nov 25, 2013]


Answer:

Dear Don,

I would assume it is possible to copy our Ebook to your Kobo e-reader.  However, if the Kobo is black and white and if it does not have internet capabilities our Ebook will be very limited and not work very well.  I am happy to gift you an ebook to try if you want-just let me know (karen@karenbrown.com).  I just would not want you to judge our product based on the limitation of the hand held device.

Happy Holidays,

Karen

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Category: California

Question:
Karen, My husband and I recently stayed in the Whitestone Bed and Breakfast in Tennesee. That gave us a book of B&B across the country, which gave me acess to you and your travel site. Two of our children have relocated; SanFrancisco,CA, and Oahu,HI. We are planning a holiday trip (Dec 21-28) to San Francisco,CA. We are going to all gather there and then make a trip, for a few days to either: Lake Tahoe or Napa. I was just reviewing your information. Any suggestions, at that time of year which direction would be best to travel? I am enjoying your website. THanks, Elaine
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Nov 24, 2013]


Answer:

Dear Elaine,

Sorry I have been traveling and only just returned home.  I realize your trip is fast approaching and I apologize for the delay in getting back to you.

I love the Napa and Sonoma wine valleys - they are convenient to San Francisco but, the landscape is a little barren in the winter months.  How about Lake Tahoe - which might even offer you a winter wonderland - in combination with the Gold Rush Country and Yosemite.  The Gold Rush Country towns are very festive during the holidays with lots of street decorations and Yosemite is always gorgeous. I would suggest reviewing our itinerary that details the trip with San Francisco as the base. I will email you the downloadable itinerary with my thanks for your interest in our recommendations.

If you decide to simply base in Lake Tahoe - the Sunnyside Lodge is fantastic - right on the water, gorgeous setting and wonderful rooms and restaurant. Below is a link direct to their website page:

http://www.karenbrown.com/Hotel_Guide/California/Sierras/Tahoe_City/Sunnyside_Restaurant_and_Lodge/145.php

Enjoy your time with your family! Wishing you a magical holiday season.

Karen

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Category: France

Question:
When traveling on the wine road in Burgundy, how do you know if a winery is open to the public for tastings and/or tours?
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Oct 3, 2013]


Answer:
The larger wineries are real businesses and have posted hours for tours and tastings.  For the smaller, family owned, just off the road vineyards, if you see the sign DEGUSTATION - (TASTING) - it means if you can find someone on the property, they will gladly let you sample their wines.

This is a link to all the accredited vineyards in Burgundy with contact information.  You could verify in advance of your trip their hours of operation and policies.

http://www.bourgogne-wines.com/find-out-about/the-people/wine-growers-list/wine-growers-list,948,5478.html?

A votre sante!
Karen

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Category: France

Question:
Karen we are planning a trip to France next summer, we are looking to stay in one of the wine areas is there one better than the other? We would like to stay in the country side and travel by car and maybe bike for short trips. Reading some of your questions would it be easier to take a train to a town out of Paris and then rent a car from there instead of trying to drive out of Paris. ( We did drive into Paris many years back and it took us awhile to get out of Paris) If the train would be better what city would you suggest? One Last question have you heard of Touraine Vacances? I found them are the internet it says it is at Vrigny close to Chateau De Chenonceau the have cottages for rent and one is called the barn it is for just a couple sounds nice just want to make sure it is for real. I guess I do have one more question a lot of B&B don't take credit cards, do they take traveler checks or just cash and do you carry that much cash along? Thanks for the help.
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Sep 25, 2013]


Answer:

Many people select wine regions based on their preference for wines.  However, they do vary dramatically and I will offer some candid comments about each below:

Champagne: least attractive in terms of scenery and towns

Alsace: definitely influenced by Germany that borders it from north to south - both in character of the towns and food. Easy to navigate the well marked wine routes, lots of charming timbered towns. Not an abundance of places to stay. Train from Paris to Strasbourg (larger town but serviced by the faster, more direct TGV trains) or Colmar (smaller town, easier to navigate out, but will probably have to connect via Mulhouse or Strasbourg)

Burgundy: for me typifies the French Wine Country. Lovely country roads banded by vineyards, charming wine towns, lots of vineyards to visit - lots of hotels and B&Bs to choose from.  Train to Dijon (larger town serviced by TGV) or right into the heart of Beaune.

Provence:  Lots of wineries but, also so much more. I don't think of the wine region as the draw or focus of the people or region in terms of tourism- but, this can also be perceived as positive since there is so much more to do than just visit wineries.  Train to Avignon.

Bordeaux:  The premier wine region is located on the peninsula to the north of Bordeaux, referred to as Medoc.  It is a flat region and towns are non-descript.  To the east of Bordeaux are some charming wine towns, St Emilion as an example and then you would have reason to continue on to two of my favorite regions: the Dordogne and Lot River Valleys.  Train - TGV direct to Bordeaux. If you do decide to travel east to explore the Dordogne and Lot River Valleys I would suggest taking a return train to Paris from either Cahors or Brive.

In general - there are vineyards throughout France - and you will find "Degustation" signs (wine tasting) everywhere you travel. Certain regions are more wine oriented (Champagne, Alsace, Burgundy) - in others, wineries are just an added bonus. I do strongly recommend training in and out of Paris, or using the airport as the point of departure or return rather than trying to navigate around Paris.  Driving is difficult and cars are both an expense and a nuisance in the city.

You can find train schedules and fares through Rail Europe:

http://www.raileurope.com/index.html?WT.mc_id=CJ.rail_travel.affiliates&AID=10401540&PID=594393>;

You can research car rentals through AutoEurope that represents many for easy comparison (be sure to ask about drop fees if your pick up location is different from your drop off-often a larger company with a larger fleet of cars can absorb different return points while a small company might have an excessive surcharge.)

AUTOEUROPE: http://www.autoeurope.com/index.cfm?aff=karenbrown

In terms of Touraine Vacances I am sorry that I have not heard of them but, there are many organizations that promote and package recommendations of where to stay. I caution that many are featured because they pay and not necessarily based on their merits.  It is nice to use one place as a base.  Many of the bed & breakfasts we recommend also have gites or self-catering units.  That being said, I personally prefer to pay a little more to have daily room service and not have to worry about calling the plumber as an example when there are issues.  

In terms of Credit Cards, many B&Bs will accept them to guarantee arrival but then surprise guests by requiring that they pay in cash.  Travelers checks are definitely an option - much safer than cash, but ATMs are now readily available (even in the smallest towns). I would just encourage you to use a credit card or bank that does not charge fees (such as United Explorer  Visa card or First Republic Bank).

Thank you for using our recommendations!  Karen

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