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  1. #1
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    Greece. Or? (Also Italy beta)

    Edit: no more Greece. 100% Italy.

    Despite covid-related uncertainties, we are attending a family reunion (of sorts) in Lucca, Italy in late July.

    We currently have tickets for a 1 week trip in-and-out of Florence. Staying in Lucca with lazy & boozy family. Any insight into what to do nearby (Cinquterra?) for day trips would be great. Bikes around Lucca? Other towns? Food and drink?

    We (family of 4 w/teenage kids) have been planning on extending our trip by a week, but with all of the drama around “omg is this gonna even happen” (thanks, covid) we’ve been dragging our feet on pulling the trigger on other travel arrangements.

    Suddenly (https://thepointsguy.com/news/italy-open-americans/amp/) this trip looks like it’s actually going to come together, so we are scrambling to extend our trip. The loose plan has been to just fly out a week later and go hiking and exploring the Dolomites and maybe a few days on the beach. However, that has become super expensive suddenly.

    We can fly from Florence to Mykonos for cheap. And then from Greece (Athens I think) back to the USA.

    Our last international trip included a week in Bali, and the tourist crowds of Instagram bullshit sucked a dick. And l, recognizing that Greece and Indonesia are wildly different, want to avoid anything like that again.

    Is Greece cool? Anywhere that isn’t ruined? Will late July be oppressively hot? Is this a bad idea.

    What would you do with a week in Europe?
    Last edited by Tech Tonics; 06-28-2021 at 08:02 PM.

  2. #2
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    Siena is great, more relaxed than Florence.

    We stayed here a few days in Selva, centrally located for lifts and hikes in Val Gardena, they have a small pool.
    Super nice folks.
    Garni La Tambra
    Selva Gardena.
    www.la-tambra.com

    The trains from Ponte Gardena/Waldbruck up through Bruneck/Brunico, San Candido/Innichen then up into Austria via Spittal an der Drau, Malnitz and into Bad Gastein are cool.

    Hotel Echo is really nice small hotel in Bad Gastein.
    https://www.hotelechobadgastein.com/
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  3. #3
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    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  4. #4
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    Lucca has awesome food, and can be fun renting a klunker in various shops and riding the circle path on the wall a few times, especially Sunday, when everyone is out strolling. There is a road bike scene in and out of Lucca, and you may be able to rent a nice roadie to check it out. Can't help you with specifics.
    Pisa is close and worth a day trip, and Florence isn't far, and, if you have never been, do at least a day. The Uffizi is a must see, reserve ahead, and Vivoli gelato is the best. San Marco is sublime.
    Rent a car. Tuscany is best done by car, except Florence. Drive to Volterra from Lucca.

    Yes, go to the Dolomites, bring your hiking shoes, try to rent an MTB, and this place looks good for the stay. https://www.hotelmesdi.com/hotel-arabba.htmGood value, awesome location.

    Tripadvisor is your friend, and Rick Steves is very practical advice.

    The world is perfect. Appreciate the details.

  5. #5
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    So much to do in Italy and especially in the north (doubly so if cross-border options are open) I see no reason to go to Greece (which if any of my bud’s posts are accurate, the whole open vs non-open thing changes by the day).

    Florence - Cinque - Nice is the plan.
    I still call it The Jake.

  6. #6
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    Selva Gardena is beautiful. Lots of great hiking, trail running, etc. around there. See pic below, IIRC.

    If you're looking to save money, have you considered Croatia or Slovenia? It might be too much of a hassle but going to a place like Bovec would be fun.

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  7. #7
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    Went a few times to Greece, mountains only.

    It was great, hiking of course, climbing, child, but also small villages.

    North macedonia and the little countries around it would be a cool place to visit, ask mountains, and you get to see how people lived 100 years ago.

    Sent from my Redmi Note 8 Pro using Tapatalk

  8. #8
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    cinqueterra as a day trip misses the point of the cinqueterra. Summer in Italy I'd head to the Alps. So will everyone else.
    We were in the Cyclades and Crete in May some years ago and crowds and heat weren't an issue--we loved it. Does anyone know what the crowds will be like this year? I know it will be hot in July.

  9. #9
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    Greece can easily be a tourist nightmare, beautiful country with awesome food that needs to be visited but be prepared to have everybody try to separate you from your money.

    + 1 on the Dalmatian coast, which was the second 10 day trip after our week in Greece, awesome experience, clean, cheep, safe and very white.

    We flew from Athens to Dubrovnik, did a tour up the coast which ended in Slovenia and flew home out of Zagreb.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by M_R View Post
    Greece can easily be a tourist nightmare, beautiful country with awesome food that needs to be visited but be prepared to have everybody try to separate you from your money.
    That was not our experience. When we arrived on an island there were people waiting to try to get us to stay at their hotel. Waiters would try to get us to eat at their restaurant as we walked by. The hotel people were convenient when we landed without reservations (these were tiny cheap places on the waterfront promenades); the waiters were friendly and cheerful and we did need to eat somewhere. Nobody was aggressive, nobody was hawking cheap shit. Just people trying to get by in the world. One of the friendliest places we've visited.

    That said, the explosion of tourism has made people living in tourist destinations (including us) more testy in the last few years. What effect the pandemic will have on attitudes towards tourists remains to be seen. I would guess that their will be some resentment towards Americans because of the vaccine situation.

  11. #11
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    My wife and I did a bucket list Europe trip in 2019--2 days in Rome, 3 days in Florence, 5 in Cinque T, 3 in Murano (Venice), and then over to Slovenia for a week.

    Cinque Terre would be way up there on my list if I was traveling with kids. We're already trying to scheme up how were going to time visiting with kids in the future. The swimming/cliff jumping opportunities are fantastic. The trail that connects the towns is stunning, but it will be hot in the summer and does gain and lose a fair amount of elevation, so you wanna plan to walk it in the mornings and evenings if that's your thing. If you stay out outside of the main town areas (we stayed in a hamlet called Prevo), you can avoid the hassle/fees of the trail permits. We really liked hiking down to Vernazza in the morning, swimming, hanging out on the sea wall drinking coffee and watching the human powered taxi boats bring the big $$$ people in from their yachts. If you could only go for a day I'd head to Manarola or Vernazza for the quintessential experience.

    But ya gotta stay at a couple nights to really enjoy it I think.

    So yeah if we went back we'd absolutely do CT and Florence again.

    No car if you can avoid it, that will be a frustration in Florence and nearly impossible in CT.

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  12. #12
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    I would watch Stanley Tucci's CNN show and just go where he goes. The Amalfi coast looks amazing.
    We did Sicily on our last trip. The only place I have seen that is more borderline 3rd world than Sicily, is Greece. So take that for what it is worth.
    I love Italy, but once you get out of the city, it gets a LOT less touristy quickly. That can be a very good thing, or it can be sketchy as hell. I found rural Sicily to be sketchy as hell and Palermo to be a close 2nd. Taoramina was beautiful, but a total tourist hole designed to please the masses.

    Greece is the same to me. Tourist areas are good and mostly safe as long as you are a smart traveller. Get outside that tourist area and there are a lot more people that may take the opportunity to part you with your money or property. I hate that this has been my experience, but it has.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by old goat View Post
    I would guess that their will be some resentment towards Americans because of the vaccine situation.
    Hmm, hadn't really thought about that. This article seems to support that theory to a degree, but it also shows that China and Russia are using this to swing favor.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/ar...-might/618559/

    Interesting.

  14. #14
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    This thread needs some stoke. First pic is the view from our $60/night airbnb... Looking out over Corniglia. If you were to turn to the right you'd be looking out toward Vernazza.

    Second pic is Vernazza from the trail. You can see the nearest swimming area that is accessed through a hole in the rock the city is built on. The other swimming area is tucked inside that cove formed by the seawall and there is a line of bouys that extends down the coast for about a mile to protect swimmers. There are rocky islands and outcroppings to swim to and jump off of etc.

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  15. #15
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    There won't be much resentment in Italy about vaccinated Americans. First, of all Europeans, they like us the most (and hate the Russians the most). Second, tourism is 15% of Italian GDP, and they desperately need our dollars after 15 months of this. The Italian economy was pretty shaky before the virus, and I suspect it's much worse now.

    The world is perfect. Appreciate the details.

  16. #16
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    Here's some Italy stoke. I love that country.

    Dolomites

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    Arraba

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    Verona

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    Val d'Orcia

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    The world is perfect. Appreciate the details.

  17. #17
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    Spent my honeymoon in a tiny little town called casabasciana…. About 45 min from Lucca. If for some reason you go near there… go to villa auroura for dinner.

    If you travel to bagni di lucca…(about 30 min) you will be in a mountainous region with cool hikes and hot springs. Everything around bagni di Lucca is cool…. Just look into the hills… see a tiny town… and go there.

    Cinque terre is cool but don’t be one of the suckers who does the stupid ass hike between the towns…. Go to montorosso and find Stefano on his boat in the harbor. Give him 150 euro to take you by boat to all the towns. Bring booze with you. He will be listening to the stones on his boat and will be kind of drunk… don’t worry. It’s chill.

    Barga…. Just go to barga… walk around barga. I know you’ve never heard anyone talk about barga when visiting Italy…. But yeah…. Barga.

    Edit for: you can totally kill a week cruising around just the province of Lucca and not get bored. It’s not real touristy… very quiet and authentic. You won’t be bummed out if you never leave the province of Lucca.

    2nd edit: rent a car. It’s worth it. You’ll save time and be on your own schedule instead of having to abide by a train schedule. You want another glass of wine? Cool… you don’t have to worry about a train schedule… you just order another glass of wine. I didn’t have a hard time finding parking in cinque terre or Lucca or anywhere else. Even in Florence I found a spot on the street by my hotel.

    3rd edit: don’t try to see everything in Italy in one trip. Stick to one zone and murder just that zone. Everyone I met in Italy who was doing Rome-Florence-Venice-Milan. Was absolutely miserable and they hated their life. Totally serious…
    Last edited by Wrecked; 06-20-2021 at 10:54 AM.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by waveshello View Post
    This thread needs some stoke. First pic is the view from our $60/night airbnb... Looking out over Corniglia. If you were to turn to the right you'd be looking out toward Vernazza.

    Second pic is Vernazza from the trail. You can see the nearest swimming area that is accessed through a hole in the rock the city is built on. The other swimming area is tucked inside that cove formed by the seawall and there is a line of bouys that extends down the coast for about a mile to protect swimmers. There are rocky islands and outcroppings to swim to and jump off of etc.

    Sent from my BND-L24 using Tapatalk
    We stayed in Vernazza which has a lot of single rooms here and there rented by small local owners. We stayed in the first building off the waterfront, across the hall from the very friendly parents of the owner, who had an enormous kitchen as big as the rest of their apartment and gave us a bottle of (undrinkable) home made wine. (It was probably a dessert wine and quite good but we didn't share enough common language for us to figure that out.)
    One of the fun things was watching the local team play water polo against one of the other town's teams in the harbor.

    We drove because of the logistics of the whole trip but it was a miserable drive that ended well above town where we got a shuttle to town. Definitely take the train. And if I did have that second glass of wine I wouldn't drive.

    The first time we went to Italy we did Venice Florence Siena Rome and had a great time--my first overseas trip and it was life changing. But I'm not nearly as cool and in-the-know as Wrecked--I'm just an unmiserable sucker who likes to do stupid ass things.

  19. #19
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    Right?….

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by fool View Post
    Selva Gardena is beautiful. Lots of great hiking, trail running, etc. around there. See pic below, IIRC.

    If you're looking to save money, have you considered Croatia or Slovenia? It might be too much of a hassle but going to a place like Bovec would be fun.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Slovenia is a nice escape from the summer heat in Italy. It is incredibly scenic and the entire country seems to be largely focused on sports (skiing, cycling, MTB, hiking), so there are lots of opportunities. Swimming opportunities abound.

    Slovenia has a different vibe than Italy for sure... Much more casual. The food is not as good as Italy, and sometimes kind of bizarre (hello horse burgers) decent coffee seemingly nowhere to be found. But friendly locals, pretty good English comprehension. Being of eastern European descent I felt like I fit right in there and could easily get lost in a crowd.

    We rented a car in Ljubljana and stayed in a village outside of lake bohinj. We didn't do much... Did some hiking, swimming in lakes and rivers, explored a few castles. Just kinda relaxed after our time in Italy.

    First pic was the view from the air bnb.

    Second was a little village we passed through--kinda sums it all up.

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  21. #21
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    Lucca is fantastic +100 for renting bikes to cruise along the wall. Florence is awesome if touristy- sometimes you just have to suck it up. Same with CT and I would absolutely hike tho that boat thing sounds great too


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  22. #22
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    No Roger, No Rerun, No Rent

  23. #23
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    PS- I would not bounce around too too much- have done 3 euro trips with my chilling and we always make that mistake. Doin Greece this year and only 2 locales…


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  24. #24
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    Some advice about Euro travel at this stage.

    Europe travel is complicated. Take these 7 tips from travelers who just went.
    By Natalie B. Compton

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/trave...-restrictions/

    The world is perfect. Appreciate the details.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldLarry View Post
    PS- I would not bounce around too too much- have done 3 euro trips with my chilling and we always make that mistake. Doin Greece this year and only 2 locales…


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums
    Agree. It's an easy mistake to make. Rick Steves' books and shows bounce around a lot but in an interview he says when he personally vacations he goes to a European city and stays for 2 weeks. But he knows his audience--it's not about the experience but about how many items you can check off your list.

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