Mainly info re off-season travel in Europe using apartments and travelling by car.
A week in each geographic area works well and satisfies many apartment booking conditions, generally Saturday to Saturday.
A week may give adequate time to explore and enjoy the local areas and cultures.
Try to limit the distances in your holiday, avoid wasting your holiday time in airports and carefully consider the following before You Go : travel insurance, passport, visas, itinerary, credit card/s, RFID wallets, drivers licence, copies of those items, power adapter/s, charging transformers for mobile/camera/laptop/etc, travel alarm, camera, GPS with Europe map, clothing in layers, formal if needed, hat, gloves, small umbrella, medications, toiletries, good walking shoes, redirect post & phone, prepay due accounts, advise CentreLink, etc. . . .
OFF SEASON TRAVEL
From June to August most of Europe is on holiday and it is very hot, roads, accommodation, restaurants and attractions are crowded so go off season in March to May (Spring) or September to December (Autumn, but getting colder).
Air-fares are a major outlay so book through a good travel agent, not the internet, for back-up if things go wrong . . . Ever tried ringing some Help Line, especially from overseas ?
Consider Business Class due to the usual 24 hour flights & access to Business Lounges.
April 2007 was hottest UK April since weather has been recorded (350 years). November 2009 had floods. March 2013 still Winter, June 2016 Paris floods. . .
Do not worry about language as your body language and politely pointing to what you want works really well but in France, do say “bonjour” !
FRANCE : CAR LEASE
The item below is Apartments and the best and often cheapest way to use them is by self-drive as using train / bus / taxi can be very difficult. Driving on the “wrong side” in Europe is not difficult and Europeans generally are very fast but have very good road manners. Staying in the right lane, giving way to the right, pedestrians and cyclists.
Peugeot and Renault have “lease” deals booked in Australia which are very good and can be much cheaper than renting more than 17 days and covers all costs except fuel whereas there are now many internet reports of unknown costs incurred in rentals until too late. Your car is brand new and can be collected or dropped off outside France. There may be early bird reductions or free days on this price. In 2003 we collected a Peugeot 206 diesel in Rome for AUS$200 delivery fee which was cheaper than our fuel cost back to Paris. We rented a car in UK as it was much cheaper than using trains but note that the M1 and others can get grid locked. Fuel is more expensive ( AUS$2 / litre ) so choose a diesel lease.
The boot should take all your cases to not attract thieves.
Apartments booked at up to 300km intervals works well but use motorways to each, then enjoy local drives. Pre-calculate your distances A to B, time, fuel costs & tolls using ViaMichelin and alternate routes are also provided. Motorway tolls apply in France and Italy and some you pay only as you exit and credit cards are OK, a 10 day display Vignette purchased at garages as you cross the border or on the motorway is required in Austria & Czech, Swiss has a different duration, autobahns are free in Germany but the slow lane is usually about 100km/hr ! Czech require headlights on for daytime driving. At 2015 French toll-booths will only accept credit, not debit, cards with a chip so you may need cash and I heard that some European toll-roads may be fitted with speed surveillance so exceeding a limit will incur an automatic fine to be paid before you exit.
A GPS is extremely useful. Smart phones have a HereWeGo app which can avoid using data.
Good standard from AUS$70 / night in villages or on farms. Many supply linen and towels in the price, heating can be extra and very expensive so carefully check the floor area size and facilities. WiFi is becoming more available but some charge extra for it. A cleaning fee may be extra. Internet searches now detail size, features, photos, prices and how to book. The owners are usually house proud people and you have the luxury of your own privacy and space to do your own thing.
Advise your Bank before you go so they do not query overseas transactions then just withdraw cash from an airport ATM when you arrive but check your bank charges prior. The Australian Bank BSB and Account system cannot be used for EFT but telegraphic transfers to O/S Banks using Swift and IBAN can. You can use your Credit / Debit card widely in Europe but 4 numbers only are used for your “pin”. Try to limit your need to sell back foreign exchange cash as illustrated by this Australian $ to Japanese Yen to Australian $ example : $1000 * 83.77 = Y83770 / 94.07 = $890 – $20 Commission = $870, a loss of $130.
Some properties will purely trust you to be there at the appointed time and pay in cash, please do not disappoint them. If travelling between apartments and you just need basic accommodation then look near major highways at major towns for Formula 1, Villages, Premiere Classe, etc. Motels. These are self contained, basic, bed/s for 2-3, TV & shower/toilet. Prices are very good and it is wise to find one before 5pm. Usually a credit card transaction and some premises are fully automatic, ie; no book-in staff. Separate showers may be self-cleaning. Eateries are usually quite close. Breakfast is sometimes optional whilst supermarkets usually will have your requirements.
FOOD, LIQUOR & INCIDENTALS
Check COTA for Travel Insurance savings and optional Membership as the backup can be quite important with claims. An Annual Frequent Traveller Policy may be worth considering dollar-wise as it covers other holidays in the year to 6 weeks durations up to 70 years of age. At 2014 many policies have become exhorbinant but some credit cards include FREE travel insurance with various pre-conditions. Restaurants are expensive and sometimes disappointing so apartments enable self catering and generally food prices are the same or better than Australia except meat and fish. Liquor prices are excellent and a huge range. Some clothing bargains especially in USA. Make sandwiches for lunch to maximise quality sight-seeing time and cut costs. Toilets require tipping or charge except McDonalds ( not always ) who have the cheapest ( and OK ) coffee, always carry some 50c coins. Most attractions charge 7 to 10 Euros but some things you just ‘gotta see’ and off-season at least you can get in ! Car parking has become a necessary evil, drive to the attraction, then look for the closest park, off season and Sundays sometimes are free but be careful, read and interpret the signs carefully. On season, be prepared to walk. Paris street parking was 2 Euro/hr and difficult whereas parking stations were 3 Euro. We parked opposite the Louvre with no hassles ! At 2016 maybe try Louvre Samaritaine Parking or park out near the ring road and catch a bus or metro in which should be cheaper.
A monthly bus/metro pass in Paris requires a passport photo, well worth the cost, easy to navigate and interesting changing scenes by bus. A “carnet” of 10 tickets is the easiest option by cash or credit card in Metro stations. One ticket covers a trip by Metro which can involve various line changes, by bus there is a transfers limit of 90 minutes and the ticket must be re-validated at each bus boarding. From a Metro ticket office get the FREE Plan des Lignes showing all Bus-Metro-RER routes in Paris, this makes it real easy.
Supermarkets are found at the outskirts of larger towns and generally open Mon-Fri about 12 hours plus Sat mornings, closed Sundays and smaller ones may close 12-2pm daily but these restrictions are rapidly lifting. Many only accepted local currency but Visa, etc. cards are now more prevalent but sometimes a minimum spend is required, typically 10 Euros.
It pays to ask before purchasing as there are often no signs and the same applies to fuel.
You must remember these limitations when moving from one apartment to another so buy your necessary food and wine on Friday before your Saturday move.
Bad Windsheim, vicinity Rothenburg on Tauber. Kur & Golf Apartments
Chieming, Lake Chiemsee, vicinity Salzburg. Ferienwohnungen Wennesz
Altenau, Harz mountains. Ferienwohnung Bergblick
Bad Schandau, vicinity Czech Switzerland. Ferienwohnung auf dem Bauernhof
Feriendorf Eichwald, Rhineland-Palatinate. Kurt Schneider
St.Goar-Biebernheim, above Rhein Valley. Dreiburgen Apartment
Rosendahl, Munsterland. Rosendahl Apartment
Amerongen, near Utrecht. Utrechtse Villa & Garden Chalet
Oberloiben, Wachau UNESCO area. Karl Brustbauer
Poysdorf, between Vienna & Czech. Das Veltlinerhaus
Stezzano, near Bergamo, Lombardy. Stezzano
Canalicchio, Umbria. Il Salignano
Volta Mantovana, vicinity Lake Garda. Agriturismo Gardenali
Vicinity Vicenza, close to Bassano di Grappa. Cas predemaule die Sotto
Greve-in-Chianti, Tuscany. Agriturismo Falciani
Rome, near Termini. Hotel Rimini
Note that Paris apartments are invariably small, on upper floors with no elevator or views.
Paris. Apartments Actually
Paris. Rental France. Agent Pascal.
Paris. Hotel Dieu Hospitel Paris. By Notre Dame.
Paris. Appia Lafayette Hotel. Good value 3 star near Gare du Nord.
Paris near CDG. Ermenonville
Bordeaux, Ste Eulalie, Bordeaux. Garden Passion
Endrimons, vicinity Pau & Navarrenx. Viellesegure
Draguignan, Provence. Gites de France
Aurons, Provence. La-Lavandiere
Voiron, near Grenoble. 2 persons
Montferrier, near Carcassone. Gites de France
Perpignan. Easy walk city centre & car park
Talloires, Lake Annecy
Ferrette, Haut-Rhin. Vicinity Basel
Near Troyes, Bourgogne. Sennevoy-le-Bas, Yonne
Sierck les Bains, Moselle River. 2 Gites Vicinity Luxembourg.
Frelinghien, near Lille. Gite de la Chapelette
Toulis-et-Attencourt, Aisne. Gite Les Pierres Qui Vivent 20km from Laon.
Loire Valley, near Blois. At Tessier winery.
Midi-Pyrenees, Gignac-Lot. Gite
Haro, la Rioja. Central apartment with views
San Blas, Madrid. Cosy flat near Ciudad Lineal, parking
Hlasna Treban, adjacent Karlstejn Castle, 28km to Prague. Via Interhome
St Petersburg. Petersburg Lodging
Lomarengas. Cottage on pond
USA / NEW YORK
Valley Stream, New York. 10km JFK, 20km New York City.
Penthouse 4br. Guilin Also Daisy’s tours service.
Shibuya, Tokyo. 2br sleeps 6.
Osaka. Mion’s apartment with courtyard.
Taupo. Rainbow’s End Cottage
|QUICK EUROPE GUIDE||Comments & AUS $|
|Passport, Airline Tickets, Car lease, Credit Cards||Take secure copies|
|Travel Insurance||International Cover|
|Air-Fares p.p. Business Class||From $6000|
|Air-Fares p.p. Economy Class||From $1500|
|French Car Lease||3 weeks min. 6 months max.|
|Apartment usually Saturday-Saturday||$70 up. Linen, heating extra ?|
|Motorway Tolls &/or Vignettes||Tolls about 10km / $1|
|Parking, coins needed||About $2 minimum. Venice $36.|
|Public Transport usually easy in Cities||Weekly or Daily|
|Dining out||Often expensive & tips|
|Supermarket & Wine||Similar price to Australia|
|Admissions: Castles, Museums, Galleries||Usually from $10|
|Luggage||Travel light, Bon Voyage !|