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Old 05-25-2010, 12:47 PM   #41
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We have been to Italy, but did not have time to explore Tuscany. We need to come back, and tour it with a car. Same as the Loire River region of France which we have toured, the hill towns of Tuscany are not convenient to visit using trains.

Oh, so many places to go, so little money, now that we have time...
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Old 05-30-2010, 10:28 AM   #42
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Only downside on cruises or tours where they pair you up with someone when you get there is this: Went to a 2 week course once that just paired folks up as they came in. I got the most boring gal that ever lived. Truly. It really cramped my style alot as you felt some obligation to walk to class with them and so forth, so I vote buying Rick Steve's books as suggested earlier and going it alone. Live dangerously.
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Old 05-30-2010, 02:44 PM   #43
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Many of us remember solo traveling when we were young. Even without language facility, there were always other English speaking travelers around, both North American and Northern European. Being young and mostly unemcumbered, these other travelers were often open to casual social encounters.

Not necesarily true when you are 50+. For one thing, most of similar aged people are traveling with spouses or long time friends, or are in tours themselves. I'll take a boring companion over no companion at all when I am away from home and familiar surrounds for a long time. Anyway, "boring" is a complex determination.

People of the host country, particularly European countries that see more than enough travelers may not be overly eager to get to know some random typically unstylish American tourist.

Ha
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Old 05-31-2010, 06:42 AM   #44
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Some larger cities have travel clubs... That might be a way to connect with other single travelers.
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Old 06-03-2010, 12:26 PM   #45
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Many of us remember solo traveling when we were young. Even without language facility, there were always other English speaking travelers around, both North American and Northern European. Being young and mostly unemcumbered, these other travelers were often open to casual social encounters.

Not necesarily true when you are 50+. For one thing, most of similar aged people are traveling with spouses or long time friends, or are in tours themselves. I'll take a boring companion over no companion at all when I am away from home and familiar surrounds for a long time. Anyway, "boring" is a complex determination.

People of the host country, particularly European countries that see more than enough travelers may not be overly eager to get to know some random typically unstylish American tourist.

Ha

Let's just say that out of all the experiences in my life, I actually remember her as being the most boring person I ever met in my life...and remember I was selling about 35 years and have met..well, quite a few folks in my lifetime so far.

But, okay, I do get your point, haha, and it's a good one I admit at this age.
If I travel with anyone, it's going to be someone I've even just met before. We don't have to be best friends, but someone that, at least, doesn't put me to sleep would be nice.
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Old 06-03-2010, 02:47 PM   #46
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I am looking at a Rick Steves tour of Italy but have no idea whether or not I'd like it. Seems kind of expensive. My inclination is to travel independently but this particular tour goes to a lot of the places I want to go and seems like it would just be easier on me, at age 60. Has anyone gone on a RS tour and did you like or not and why?
oldbabe,

I just got back from a 2-week independent tour of Italy that my friend and I did in a rental car, using Rick Steves' book. We had a great time. Several nights we stayed at his recommended convents/monasteries and other nights we stayed at small hotels he recommends. They met my criteria -- all were clean, quiet, convenient, and comfortable. The convent we stayed at in Florence had an 11:30 pm curfew, but we were so zonked from traveling and walking, that 11:30 was not an issue for us.

We met TONS of people using RS's book -- it became sort of an ice-breaker at the hotel breakfast, at a restaurant for lunch/dinner, or waiting at the train station, etc. We did meet 2 couples who had just completed a Rick Steves' tour (and were extending their vacation time by traveling on their own.) Both couples raved about their tours.

If you have any command of Spanish or French, you can probably muddle along...as many Italians have at least a smattering knowledge of English and somehow they seem to understand their 'sister' languages. About a month before leaving, I went to the library and got the Pimsleur conversational Italian course on CDs and found it to be quite helpful, especially when trying to figure out spoken prices of things.

I would go back in a heartbeat. It's a beautiful country, full of history, culture, and art, the food and wine is fabulous, and we found the people to be rather laid-back, tolerant, and helpful. Even when we did something a bit dumb, like driving the car into the wrong area, someone would just gently wag their finger at us and very helpfully point us in the right direction.

Make sure you've got super-comfy walking shoes, as you'll be doing a lot of walking. And no place we visited seemed to have paved streets/sidewalks like we are used to here -- they all seemed to be either [uneven ]cobblestones or huge rocks that were set into the soil. And literally watch your step everywhere you go; we noted a number of freshly-broken arms (that would ruin a nice vacation!) and some fresh facial scabs from recent 'face plants'.

omni
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Old 06-03-2010, 04:39 PM   #47
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I wonder which shoes work best on cobblestones? They say not to wear white tennies to Europe unless you want to automatically be labeled a tourist.
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Old 06-03-2010, 04:56 PM   #48
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On the Rick Steves site is a Graffiti wall section with a link to a walking shoe thread (in the planning and packing section). There are always lots of great suggestions for walking shoes and sandals there.

Graffiti Wall: Best Walking Shoes
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Old 06-03-2010, 05:15 PM   #49
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I wonder which shoes work best on cobblestones? They say not to wear white tennies to Europe unless you want to automatically be labeled a tourist.
Recommend 2 1/2 inch slingback open toe heels.

More responsibly, I would say look at enclosed Birkenstocks, which is what I settled on after a lot of trial and error walking 5-10 miles a day on Seattle city streets. Only drawback is that they are not stylish at all, and once the soles get worn they can be slick on wet brick or tiles. I have resoled my three pairs maybe 10 times each in the past 4 or 5 years.

Advice per se is not that helpful, as by middle age our feet have accumulated their particular set of issues.

Ha
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Old 06-03-2010, 07:11 PM   #50
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there's a couple refs to keen's sandals and smartwool socks
on the r steves site.

that's what i used on city streets travel walking @ 5+ miles a day
and that worked well for me. I actually used some columbia socks
that are very similar to smartwool but cheaper in price.

good socks are important in my opinion..

-mike
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Old 06-04-2010, 02:52 PM   #51
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there's a couple refs to keen's sandals and smartwool socks
on the r steves site.

that's what i used on city streets travel walking @ 5+ miles a day
and that worked well for me. I actually used some columbia socks
that are very similar to smartwool but cheaper in price.

good socks are important in my opinion..

-mike
I have some Keen's but don't feel they are as comfortable for street wear as every pair of Ecco's that I have owned. Echos come in many styles, not clunky like Keens.

Omni, thanks for the report on using your RS book. I have heard that it is very popular now.

I traveled in Italy in my late 20s, staying in hostels, and was never alone, always had companions. I really wouldn't expect to hook up with fellow travelers at my age. So, that's another reason why I'm looking closely at group travel.

My experiences already with group travel have been mostly positive. I did have one nightmare roommate but after that opted for the single supplement. I have found that there are always at least a few people that I enjoy in the group, even if many of the others are jerks. And it's kind of fun for me to meet other Americans that I would very likely never have the opportunity to meet and talk with.
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Old 06-04-2010, 06:56 PM   #52
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I wonder which shoes work best on cobblestones? They say not to wear white tennies to Europe unless you want to automatically be labeled a tourist.
Orchidflower,

All I can suggest is keep shopping until you find shoes that are comfy on your feet that provide cushioning and traction, as you'll be doing a TON of walking.

I did lot of shoe shopping/trying on prior to leaving on the trip. I even ordered a bunch of shoes from Zappo's (free shipping, both ways, BTW). What I ended up wearing 95% of the time were a pair of "BareTraps" I bought at Macy's, as they were quite comfortable for me. Plus they looked fine with both capris and skirts.

I couldn't find a picture of the exact style online, but they looked similar to these
http://www.qvc.com/qic/qvcapp.aspx?view=2&app=detail&params=item^L5324,Re cTypeInd^IOFFER,navlist^L5324*A198925*A91999*,cp^d etail,tmp^related,cpprod^A199660,cm_scid^dtlr&walk =&cmtags=http://

I brought the dreaded tennies (mine are silver and gray) along as back-ups. LOL

I did notice that Europeans are starting to sport 'tennis shoes' --- but their styles are not the big, white marshmallows that are so popular here. Some of the Italian men were wearing very fitted styles of athletic shoes -- sort of like a race car driver's boot but made into a shoe might look like -- and often in wild colors like red or mustard yellow. They looked sort of like these Tecnica Subway PSH Shoes - Leather Casual Lace-Ups (For Men) - Save 56%

And their women's versions were similar ...and sometimes in silver or gold.

BTW, shorts are a big no-no in Europe -- they consider it beach attire. Every church & cathedral we visited had a sign prohibiting shorts and tank tops.

Interestingly, quite a few European men were wearing capris as casual wear ...and most of the tourist women were too!

Some tourists (males and females both) were wearing hiking boots. They would probably help with ankle support.

omni
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Old 06-05-2010, 12:44 AM   #53
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I did notice that Europeans are starting to sport 'tennis shoes' --- but their styles are not the big, white marshmallows that are so popular here. Some of the Italian men were wearing very fitted styles of athletic shoes -- sort of like a race car driver's boot but made into a shoe might look like -- and often in wild colors like red or mustard yellow. They looked sort of like these Tecnica Subway PSH Shoes - Leather Casual Lace-Ups (For Men) - Save 56%
These shoes are very popular with urban men in the US also. They look a lot like Adidas from the '60s, or Onitsuka Tigers. In fact, some are Tigers. I think Asics bought the designs from Japanese Company Onitsuka.I remember wearing these in the 70s.

Ha
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Old 06-05-2010, 06:50 AM   #54
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I did notice that Europeans are starting to sport 'tennis shoes' --- but their styles are not the big, white marshmallows that are so popular here. Some of the Italian men were wearing very fitted styles of athletic shoes -- sort of like a race car driver's boot but made into a shoe might look like -- and often in wild colors like red or mustard yellow. They looked sort of like these Tecnica Subway PSH Shoes - Leather Casual Lace-Ups (For Men) - Save 56%
I have a pair of black shoes that look like that but DW doesn't like them. I saw them on sale in Spain a year ago and liked them. A little cooler than my regular running shoes.
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Old 06-05-2010, 12:11 PM   #55
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there's a couple refs to keen's sandals and smartwool socks
on the r steves site.

that's what i used on city streets travel walking @ 5+ miles a day
and that worked well for me. I actually used some columbia socks
that are very similar to smartwool but cheaper in price.

good socks are important in my opinion..

-mike
Please, whatever you do, do not wear socks with sandals. This is not a look that is flattering. I have the keen sandals and wear them regularly for long walks (without socks of course), however I normally rotate them with my Vasque hiking shoes.
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Old 06-05-2010, 12:18 PM   #56
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Please, whatever you do, do not wear socks with sandals. This is not a look that is flattering. I have the keen sandals and wear them regularly for long walks (without socks of course), however I normally rotate them with my Vasque hiking shoes.
haha- this is an old Puget Sound look. But then we are not known for our fashion sense.

It may be dorky, but it is very comfortable. Feet are easily chafed or blistered in sandals with bare feet.

Ha
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Old 06-05-2010, 06:41 PM   #57
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I beg you, no matter how comfortable socks and sandals are, please do not wear them, they really do elevate the wearer to a level of dorkdom that it can be hard to recover from.

If your sandals rub at all, apply some of the Blister Block that comes in a roll on form, before you go out for the day. Truly it works a treat.

haha, man you are single and socks and sandals are not going to win over any of the gals. Expose the toes (assuming of course they are nicely presented), I think it gives the air of being younger and hipper.
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Old 06-05-2010, 07:11 PM   #58
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I beg you, no matter how comfortable socks and sandals are, please do not wear them, they really do elevate the wearer to a level of dorkdom that it can be hard to recover from.
What, you think there aren't any girl dorks? It's a matter of knowing your target audience.
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Old 06-05-2010, 08:07 PM   #59
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Please, whatever you do, do not wear socks with sandals. This is not a look that is flattering. I have the keen sandals and wear them regularly for long walks (without socks of course), however I normally rotate them with my Vasque hiking shoes.
I like doing it that way. The keens i wear are basically shoes with some
slits in the side and an open heel. If this still doesn't meet your style requirements , my apologies in advance if we ever happen to meet
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Old 06-06-2010, 06:31 AM   #60
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I wish I could wear sandals. Unfortunately, my feet get destroyed if I walk any distance without orthotics. So it is running shoes or hiking boots for me -- always with the orthotics. Smartwool socks and Blister Block might be a nice addition.
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