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Old 01-06-2016, 10:43 AM   #41
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A couple of people have recommended Rome-Florence-Venice. I'm leaning that way for you, especially if you have never been to Italy. From Rome you can take a day trip to Florence, Assisi, Siena. You can also take a weekend trip through Naples/Pompeii to the Amalfi Coast. There is little that I've seen more romantic and honeymoon suited than Positano. I was last there a couple years ago in October--off season and virtually tourist free. Heaven on Earth.
If you do go to Rome you'd like the Hotel Due Torri. Very honeymoon-worthy and in a prime location.
Can I come?
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Old 01-06-2016, 04:50 PM   #42
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Here is another vote for focusing on a smaller area. Over the years DW and I have been to England/Wales, Scotland, Italy, Switzerland, and France. Most of these trips were 2 to 2 1/2 weeks per country, so we could move at a measured pace and take it in. It is nice to stay 2-3 days per location so you do not spend as much time packing and unpacking every day. Most of our travel was by rental car, with some train. We did book lodging ahead so we never got stuck without a place to stay or waste time hunting. If you settle on a place I have been I could give more input on itinerary.
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Old 01-07-2016, 12:22 AM   #43
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Thanks so much for all the great tips! Keep them coming, I'm so glad we posted about this here! I wouldn't have thought about the name change, that would be important.

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Around $1800? Here is a July flight from DFW to the main international airports in Paris and northern Italy - just manipulate this google flights page: https://www.google.com/flights/#sear...016-07-26;tt=m

Yes, book your lodging ahead. You don't want to spend all your time scurrying about looking for lodging when you get there.

2 weeks sounds like a long time. But it's not, it's tight. Those cities are heavily traveled. You need decent hotels central to what you want to visit and to public transportation to and from airports and other cities.

Trip Advisor is a good way to choose hotels. I recommend making reservations 3 months in advance and the best options do tend to fill. You can always cancel a reservation.

Choosing and booking lodging, figuring out all the transportation, etc., is time consuming, but you want to have this worked out before you arrive.

Good spot for a gondola ride - Venice. That is one item you don't need to book ahead. Again, Trip Advisor likely has plenty of gondola ride reviews. As they have reviews about all the most popular activities in any given city. Here is some practical information about what to expect: Gondola Ride (Venice, Italy): Tickets & Tours, Attraction Reviews - TripAdvisor

3 Days in Venice: Travel Guide on TripAdvisor
Thanks for the links! We'll check those out. I'm sure it will fly by like you said. We'll go ahead and book most if not all of our lodging before we head out.

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Totally agree. Our last trips to Europe have involved a 3 city in two weeks approach. Our criteria for the 3 locations has been that they be within a max 5 hour direct train link between each. So one year we did Prague/Vienna/Budapest. Another year we did Venice/Verona/Florence. If you haven't been to Italy I'd adapt that to Venice/Florence/Rome or the reverse. We are contemplating Amsterdam/Brussels/Bruges, but that could be easily adapted to drop Bruges and add Paris. London and Paris would be great as well. For our honeymoon decades ago, we did Madrid/Lisbon/The Algarve. Congratulations and have a great trip. Just a warning though, it will be hot, crowded and expensive in July. You might consider delaying the trip until September or October which are cooler and less crowded not to mention less expensive but still great times to travel through Europe. Our DS is getting married in August this year and he and our DIL will be deferring their honeymoon for several months as they will take off at least a week prior to the wedding and don't feel that they can be away from work for three weeks or more at one time. According to DS this is increasingly the approach his friends choose when they get married. They aren't skipping it-just deferring it.
We're thinking now of possibly waiting until fall to go. Maybe September or October when it's cooler and less people. I don't love huge crowds and lines. In the next few days we'll try to get the locations pinned down and I'll post them up.
What's the best way to pay for everything while you're over? Cash or card or does it matter? I normally use my chase freedom card for all purchases for the cash rewards but it has a 3% foreign transaction fee.
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Old 01-07-2016, 01:39 AM   #44
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Even Paris is too far to combine with Italy during two weeks. It will take the better part of a day if you fly, longer if you take the train.

What do you like? Big cities have museums. A lot of historical buildings and squares.

Places like Florence are near hill Tuscan towns. So you can see beautiful countryside landscapes.

Venice is one of a kind, probably see it before it's flooded over.

One of the best times for Italy is mid to late May, early June. Will still be crowded. In places like Paris, September is still high season with crowds and high prices.

For Italy, you could fly into Venice train down to Florence (maybe do a day trip or two by bus or a guided tour) then train down to Rome and fly back home.

Or vice versa, just get an open jaw ticket so you don't have to lose a day backtracking.

Credit cards and ATM cards. There are credit cards with minimal transaction fees like the Chase Sapphire Rewards card. Or Bank of America Cash Rewards or Travel Rewards. No annual fees and one of them have no transaction fees.

Make sure to get a card with a chip. Chip and PIN better, search forum for thread.
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Old 01-07-2016, 05:44 AM   #45
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What's the best way to pay for everything while you're over? Cash or card or does it matter? I normally use my chase freedom card for all purchases for the cash rewards but it has a 3% foreign transaction fee.
I use my PenFed credit card to pay for most things; it has no foreign transaction fee. For cash, I just use my ATM card once I get there (I usually have a couple hundred Euros left over from my last trip that will carry me until I can find a Bancomat (ATM), but they are often in the airport, so it is not strictly necessary.
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Old 01-07-2016, 07:03 AM   #46
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Same as Gumby. I use the PenFed credit card. Just get one with no foreign transaction fee. Of course, tell the credit card company you will be abroad before you go--you can do this online typically.
I also carry a bank card for the ATM. It is worth a stop in your bank to make sure it has an appropriate PIN for overseas cash machines and to write down any numbers you might need to call if it doesn't or gets lost.
My experience in Rome--I've flown into the airport there many times--is that the ATMs can be empty of money, especially on a day with lots of arrivals. I don't know if that happens in other airports. After several such experiences I now make sure to get about $100.00 of Euros before leaving home. It is peace of mind.
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Old 01-07-2016, 07:09 AM   #47
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Thanks so much for all the great tips! Keep them coming, I'm so glad we posted about this here! I wouldn't have thought about the name change, that would be important. Thanks for the links! We'll check those out. I'm sure it will fly by like you said. We'll go ahead and book most if not all of our lodging before we head out. We're thinking now of possibly waiting until fall to go. Maybe September or October when it's cooler and less people. I don't love huge crowds and lines. In the next few days we'll try to get the locations pinned down and I'll post them up. What's the best way to pay for everything while you're over? Cash or card or does it matter? I normally use my chase freedom card for all purchases for the cash rewards but it has a 3% foreign transaction fee.
You'll definitely want to get a no foreign transaction fee credit card. You may also want to get a no foreign transaction fee checking account. Capitol One offers both. The credit card comes in a cash back version and a travel rewards version. The idea with the checking account, is to open and use it just for the trip, not to change your banking permanently. There are no fees or minimums for this checking ac. You'll accomplish 3 things doing this. 1) ATM's give you the best exchange rate vs prepurchasing Euro's, or travelers checks or foreign exchange kiosks so you'll max your exchange rate, and you will need some local currency 2) only put in as much cash as you feel you'll need so you protect the rest of your money if the card should be hacked at an ATM or lost or stolen and 3) there is no foreign transaction fee which most U.S. Banks charge 3% for. Also if you were to get a Cap One 360 account and you use an All Point ATM there is no ATM fee. And it is a chip and pin debit card, just as their credit card is. There is a handy mobile app that is an All Point ATM finder. There are 55,000 of them worldwide. Cap One has an easy way to transfer $$ linking to your main bank checking accounts.

On another note I think you mentioned your wife wanted a gondola ride. Venice will meet that need in spades. If you decide on Italy, I would fly into Venice. The airport is on the mainland and the way you travel from there to Venice proper is by boat and it is so romantic and magical to approach Venice this way. There are boats that are for the masses but I would hire a private water taxi to San Marco through the Grand Canal! Google Venice water taxi. The taxi can bring you directly to your hotel or the closest docking point. The trip from the airport across the bay and then down the canal would be such a terrific start to your honeymoon.
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Old 01-07-2016, 07:48 AM   #48
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I've not done the water taxi or gondola. Very expensive.

Week pass for the vaporetti aren't cheap either but less than a single gondola or water taxi ride.
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Old 01-07-2016, 08:11 AM   #49
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What's the best way to pay for everything while you're over? Cash or card or does it matter? I normally use my chase freedom card for all purchases for the cash rewards but it has a 3% foreign transaction fee.

A word on cash: be very careful with it and don't carry too much around at once. DH is a pickpocket magnet; he's had money stolen in Rome, St. Petersburg and Madrid. He's older and moves more slowly, which probably doesn't apply to the two of you. We think they followed him from the ATM in St. Petersburg.

We love Europe and we're willing to accept the risk, but be careful! (DH isn't allowed to carry cash in Europe anymore.)
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Old 01-07-2016, 08:19 AM   #50
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I've not done the water taxi or gondola. Very expensive.

Week pass for the vaporetti aren't cheap either but less than a single gondola or water taxi ride.
I agree on the gondola but the OP's wife-to-be wants a gondola ride and it is their honeymoon after all. The vaporetti pass is something we have never done as we walked everywhere, crossing so many beautiful bridges along the way, but a one way private water taxi in one of those shiny mahogany old world boats across the bay and down the Grand Canal after arriving, would be a real "memory maker". I still remember when we did it over 20 years ago. Positively magical!
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Old 01-07-2016, 09:01 AM   #51
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The Clooneys did Venice.....but probably not LBYM!

How to do Venice like George and Amal Clooney | Daily Mail Online
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Old 01-07-2016, 10:02 AM   #52
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I use my PenFed credit card to pay for most things; it has no foreign transaction fee. For cash, I just use my ATM card once I get there (I usually have a couple hundred Euros left over from my last trip that will carry me until I can find a Bancomat (ATM), but they are often in the airport, so it is not strictly necessary.
We also use a CC with no foreign transaction fee--I don't know if you really have to do this, but we always say to the merchant that we want the charges put through in the local currency, not in dollars. The exchange rate when we get the bill is usually really good, plus we get rewards. Our ATM fee is 1 percent, not bad imo as we don't need too much cash and DH always end up using it up at the airport on gifts rather than bring it home.

DH usually gets some yen, quetzales, pesos, euros, whatever through our bank before we go, but that transaction has a $15 fee regardless of the amount and I think I have him talked out of it. Really, the CC is the way to go.
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Old 01-07-2016, 11:15 AM   #53
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Even Paris is too far to combine with Italy during two weeks. It will take the better part of a day if you fly, longer if you take the train...
Hence the night train, as I suggested in an earlier post. And in comparison to flying, trains usually take you from city center and deliver you to city center, or at least to a convenient metro station to get you to town. Have an early dinner in Rome, and have breakfast in Paris the next morning.
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Old 01-07-2016, 11:33 AM   #54
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A word on cash: be very careful with it and don't carry too much around at once. DH is a pickpocket magnet; he's had money stolen in Rome, St. Petersburg and Madrid. He's older and moves more slowly, which probably doesn't apply to the two of you. We think they followed him from the ATM in St. Petersburg.

We love Europe and we're willing to accept the risk, but be careful! (DH isn't allowed to carry cash in Europe anymore.)
Though my DH hasn't been pickpocketed (yet), he, too, is not allowed to carry cash, or much else, when we travel. I carry nearly all of our valuables, in my waist belt. After a few close calls, we realized that most muggers/pickpockets automatically assume the man has the money, and thus never hit me up when we are together.
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Old 01-07-2016, 03:05 PM   #55
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After a few close calls, we realized that most muggers/pickpockets automatically assume the man has the money, and thus never hit me up when we are together.
Wow- I hadn't thought of that. Glad the pickpockets are stuck in the 1950s!
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Old 01-07-2016, 04:33 PM   #56
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We also use a CC with no foreign transaction fee--I don't know if you really have to do this, but we always say to the merchant that we want the charges put through in the local currency, not in dollars. The exchange rate when we get the bill is usually really good, plus we get rewards.

DH usually gets some yen, quetzales, pesos, euros, whatever through our bank before we go, but that transaction has a $15 fee regardless of the amount and I think I have him talked out of it. Really, the CC is the way to go.
+1 on the no foreign exchange fee CC, and pay in local currency. Also, we wait on getting foreign currency until we are in country. That fee is lower there than here.

Have you settled on a single country or smaller region yet?
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Old 01-07-2016, 04:39 PM   #57
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Also, we wait on getting foreign currency until we are in country. That fee is lower there than here.
More a suggestion for the NEXT trip, but hold on to a couple of hundred euros at the end of the trip. Then you'll have your arrival cash when you go back.
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Old 01-09-2016, 12:07 AM   #58
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Thank you so much for all the tips and advice! It's really helpful!

We'll use my Penfed card since there are no foreign transaction fees on it and will definitely watch out for pickpockets.

So we nailed it down to Venice, Florence, Rome and Paris. The wife wants to see the museums, a few shows, nice countryside and definitely a gondola ride she says. I'm pretty easily entertained, just traveling and seeing something different is nice for me.

Leaning towards the night train to Paris that way we don't waste a day traveling. Not sure yet where we will fly into initially so we'll look more into that to see the route we want to start and what place to hit first and last that would be most efficient for our time. Any suggestions on that now that we have it narrowed down?
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Old 01-09-2016, 12:45 AM   #59
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Leaning towards the night train to Paris that way we don't waste a day traveling. Not sure yet where we will fly into initially so we'll look more into that to see the route we want to start and what place to hit first and last that would be most efficient for our time. Any suggestions on that now that we have it narrowed down?
Bit late to the party .. I live and have traveled plenty in Europe though.

Flying into Paris should be cheapest and with more options out of the places you listed. Tickets can sometimes be found for 600$ (from Atlanta), but realistically it would be more like 1200$ up to 1500$, depending on booking class, how you book, from which US city you fly etc.. There should be direct flights (so not e.g. via London) if start from the US east coast. Watch the luggage restrictions (typically 20kg max).

Paris: Note that the Louvre alone (just one museum) can take you months to explore fully, depending on what you want. But you can get the vibe of Paris in several days just wandering around and doing a few cultural things.

Cash: get a few euros out of the ATM at the airport (for emergencies) and pay with credit card in local currency as mentioned as much as possible. Then find an ATM in town and withdraw more. Take public transit into the city. If you take a taxi, check if they accept credit cards upfront. Not all do.

Italy still likes cash a lot, France not so much, in tourist hotspots it doesn't matter though (mastercard and visa are fine). Train network in France is really good (fast trains that go 300 km/h). And it's an experience in itself, zipping through the country like that. Night train is a good suggestion.

Climate wise I'd certainly go to France and Italy late spring or early autumn, also avoids the holiday pile-up. September or even October can be great. Paris is always very busy though, same with Rome.

Frankly, I'd consider removing another city. Also nice to realize: The Vatican is in Rome .. so that warrants a visit too

Good luck!
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Old 01-09-2016, 01:14 AM   #60
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Yeah it's a lot to pack into two weeks.

Paris and Rome might work for two weeks but it makes more sense to group the Italian cities because of their proximity.
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