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guided or self-guided? That is the question....

LucyintheSky12
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guided or self-guided? That is the question....

My healthy,81yr old Dad and I are thinking about Italy in May 09. He was there on the Greece, Italy, Ephasis cruise w/Mom and other relatives about 15 yrs. ago. I am 53, have never been to Europe, and hate boats. He is a WWII vet and would like to spend a day or 2 in Germany on the way to Italy and also visit his family home, Sicily. We've talked of renting a small villa and car to drive where we wish. I would like to see Bari, Tuscany, Amalfi and Capri. I prefer small boutique hotels, or upscale condo rentals and destinations off the beaten track. I have little desire to see ruins and catacombs. Rome is a take it or leave it destination for me. I can return later if possible. This is the daddy/daughter trip of a lifetime for me, perhaps the only chance to go to Italy w/Dad. A friend of his recommended GoAhead Tours, but I am hesitant given posts on this site. Perillo sends catalogs, but appears expensive on the whole. I want at least a 4 star experience, but that does not mean major tourist hotels. I want the food, wine, and flavor of Italy and it's people in case I never get the chance to return. This will be a major expenditure for me (IF I can pull together the money.) To give you and idea of who we are: We are not snooty travelers. We CAN (and have) stayed at the Bellagio in Vegas, but would've been just as happy with another well-placed, clean, and excellent value place. (See my profile and review of Secret Harbour, St. Thomas trip w/hubby.) All suggestions welcome. This would be a trip celebrating my graduation w/a BA from college. I'm figuring 3 grand.

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Greece
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Europe
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Germany
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Bari
Bari
Province of Bari, Italy
Amalfi
Amalfi
Amalfi Coast, Italy
Capri
Capri
Island of Capri, Italy
Rome
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Lazio, Italy
Bellagio
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Lake Como, Italy
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scarpenter4
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1. Re: guided or self-guided? That is the question....

I've read where Go-Ahead Tours are a good value but you have all your hotels taken care of plus many of your meals.

I did a London, Paris, Venice, Florence, and Rome trip with my mother who is 84 last summer. It was a good trip.

I spent a few months on TripAdvisor and other web sites and made and cancelled many reservations..as I learned more and more.

You don't have to spend a fortune, but you have to really search around to find what is best for you ...unless you want to pay more than you need to.

The time of year will make a big difference in how much you pay.

I think we did it for about the same cost as a Go-Ahead Tour...I enjoyed planning it.

I think it all depends on you and your dad. Do you want to such structure? There are advantages in a group..it can be fun to be social. So many thing to consider...in the end ..if i did it again...I'd do the same thing.

Thats why I stay in this forum...picking up information for my next trip. If you read the forum every day ...you'd be surprised at what you learn and the avenues you find to explore online.

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London
England, UK
Paris
Paris
Ile-de-France, France
Venice
Venice
City of Venice, Italy
Florence
Florence
Province of Florence, Italy
Rome
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Lazio, Italy
LucyintheSky12
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30 posts
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2. Re: guided or self-guided? That is the question....

Thanks scarp, I think what Dad liked was that GoAhead chose top rate hotels for his friend, but I prefer lovely boutique hotels or B&Bs which requires research (that I don't mind doing at the time.) Dad's hip isn't great, so walking tours are out, and I neglected to say I'd like to see Padua too. If cost was the same as a GoAhead tour, but it took a lot of work, would you recommend the tour, or were you more pleased with your own choices? Ii'm not real interested in socializing with other travelers.

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Padua
Padua
Province of Padua, Italy
Le Marche, Italy
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3. Re: guided or self-guided? That is the question....

How much time do you have for this trip? If you include Germany and Sicily, you really need a good deal of time. The places you want to see in Italy are all over the country, and you would never find a tour that hit them all. Padua and Bari are a long trip from Amalfi, in particular. The trip you're proposing would be a bit like a European saying, "I'd like to see the US. I want to stop over in Quebec for a few days before going there. Then I was thinking of renting a cottage in Maine, and I'd also like to see Niagara Falls, Pittsburgh and Detroit."

I can see renting a villa in the Amalfi area. Driving is a little hair-raising there, but if you stay away from the coastal road, it's not too bad. If you want to see the Amalfi coast, the best way to enjoy the view is to take a bus or a boat (which you hate). The driver can't take his eyes from the narrow, twisty road for a moment, so he doesn't really get to enjoy the view.

If you hate boats, there's no way to get to Capri, which is an island. Sicily is also an island, but you can fly there from Naples (not too far from Amalfi.) Sicily is a very large island, so if your dad wants to see where his family came from, you'll have to do some research first, and probably rent a car in Sicily. You can't drive from Amalfi to Sicily, but there is an overnight car ferry (another boat). There is also a train, which makes just a very short trip by boat.

From Amalfi to Bari is a pretty long drive, and there's a mountain range in between. You can take a train there, but you have to change trains at least once, and it takes usually 4-6 hours, depending on the train and whether you leave from Naples or Salerno. Plus you'd have to get to one of those train stations from Amalfi. There's not really a lot to see in Bari, but maybe you have something specific in mind.

Bari to Padua is even longer, about 8 hours by train. It's about the same from Amalfi. It's a nice city, but unless you have a particular reason to go there, I think it's too far from the other things you want to see.

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Europe
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Italy
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Padua
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Province of Padua, Italy
Bari
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Province of Bari, Italy
Amalfi
Amalfi
Amalfi Coast, Italy
Capri
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Island of Capri, Italy
Naples
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Province of Naples, Italy
Salerno
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scarpenter4
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4. Re: guided or self-guided? That is the question....

LucyintheSky12

You need to find out exactly what "that GoAhead chose top rate hotels" means.

It was my impression that the hotels were okay, but I'm not sure I'd go as far as "top rated"

I think that if you go to the Go Ahead webisite that they list the hotels for partiuclar tours.

Reasearch each of them for the trip you are interested in.

If I am wrong about the "top rated" portion - I ask anyone to report back. I would have been happy in any of the hotels that I looked up - if I remember correctly. But I think I was happier in my choices and also many b&b have elevators.

cyprus
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5. Re: guided or self-guided? That is the question....

Hi LucyintheSky12,

You can check out my profile with my and other reviews on hotels/prices/places and get ideas... they are exacly about planning and answer most of FAQs... including some additional rewievs of those who alredy replied to you ;)

Regards,

Olga

P.S Congratulations on graduation! :)

Kansas City...
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342 posts
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6. Re: guided or self-guided? That is the question....

I have taken a few Go Ahead tours and the hotels are generally mid-grade, and they have to be large enough to accomodate a group so they will not be small boutique hotels for sure.

I have also traveled quite a bit solo, and would say there are advantages and disadvantages either way. The tours take care of handling all of your luggage, which might be nice for your father at his age. They also do give you an instant group of people to socialize with, so it can be fun in that regard. And they take care of all the planning, which can be a benefit, but if you enjoy that aspect, then it isn't a benefit for you. On your own, you get to tailor your trip to exactly what you want to do.

Bvlenci is totally right in saying you are not going to find a tour that includes all of the places you mentioned. Go Ahead does offer the option to extend your trip for some one your own time for a fee. They can arrange for you to fly into a different city so that you could see something that isn't included in the tour you select, then you would have to arrange your own transportation to the starting hotel for the tour.

7. Re: guided or self-guided? That is the question....

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