Vacation: Spain or Italy?

AceHBK

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I have decided to take my first real vacation at my ripe old age of 31. I haven't been out of the country either so this is the perfect time to go.

Right now I am going back and forth about where to go and how to do it. I decided on either Spain or Italy but haven't been able to decide which would be better, I want to go visiti places, shop, take picutres and enjoy the culture. I wouldn't mind taking a walk off of the beaten path to find the true gems of the country I go to and eat the where locals eat and shop where they shop.

I went to Expedia.com and they had some deals but I am also looking at tours as well. One expedia deal was 7 days/6night in Madrid and stayiong at the Ritz hotel for $2500. But for that kind of money I see that I can be on a tour and see more cities instead of just one. The only thing with tours I don't mind being with a group but I also would like to be alone to do some searching myself.

This is so overwhelming that I feel lost. I planned to spend $2500- $3000 on the trip not including my "have fun" money. I unfortunately will be going alone since I can't find anyone else to go with but I am ok with it. I am looking to spend 10-14 days on vacation.

Any ideas, suggestions, recommendations, etc.??

Thanks!
 

SFC JeffJ

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Avoid Venice. I love Italy and their food, but Venice is expensive and their pizza sucks.

If you decide on Italy, go to Tuscany.

If you take the Madrid package, you could easily loose yourself for 6 days there. Lots to see and do.
 
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crushing

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I think a Hemingway adventure in Spain sounds like fun.
 

stickarts

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I have never been to Italy although I have been to Spain three times. I had an awesome time there. There are amazing things to see and do or you can have a great time just relaxing on the beaches. Either trip sounds great to me and I don't think you can make a wrong choice! :)
 

grydth

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Between my parents owning a travel agency and a long stretch in the Army, I got around a lot. Here's what I can offer:

Take the trip, do not find a reason not to. With a management job and 4 kids, I can't get to Rome NY much less Rome, Italy. People need to get the travel in when they can!

First time out of the country, take a tour. Now some things will be annoying - not enough free time, not enough time in certain places - but there are about a million pitfalls a reputable tour can help you avoid. When you are experienced, go back on your own.

I've seen a good part of Italy..... if you like art/history/great buildings, its everywhere you look. Hint - there is more than 1 leaning tower. Rome - what do I need to say? Venice has problems, but it is not to be missed. There's mountain beauty up north - or the Island of Capri if you like the sea.

Have a great time and report back!
 
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AceHBK

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Thanks for the tips everyone I will certainly keep those in mind.

Can anyone recommend a good tour company to use? Also what are the benefits of using a travel agency? Is it really worth it?
 

Tez3

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Ah Americans and their tours! You are notorious throughout Europe for not being able to travel on your own lol!
Europe is easy, they may speak different languages but it's not outer Mongolia, much is familiar.
Stay in bed and breakfasts, either hire a car or use public transport. (Italian driving is fine as long as you don't go to Naples.)
Use the tourist offices to find accomodation and places to go, they speak English (in Spain and Italy) they are very helpful and a mine of information.
http://www.italiantourism.com/campania.html

http://www.spain.info/

Please don't use a tour and be there with other Americans although it sounds friendlier at first you won't get to meet local people or experience the country properly, be a traveller not a tourist.
Buy bread, wine and cheese from local shops and picnic for lunch, wander around ancient buildings in your own time, use local cafes (eat where locals eat it's cheaper and the food is good) Italians are very friendly people and will do their best to make sure you enjoy your stay ( haven't been to Spain) From Spanish people I've met here though I imagine they are as friendly.
Whichever country you are going to try to learn some rudiments of the language ( though sign language works well lol) people respond well if you try.
Jump in with both feet you won't regret it!
 

MA-Caver

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I'd go for Spain... if you get to where-ever they held it at the right time you can put on a white shirt a red kerchief and participate in the running of the bulls... if you're in shape that is... :uhyeah:
 

Drac

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Avoid Venice. I love Italy and their food, but Venice is expensive and their pizza sucks.

If you decide on Italy, go to Tuscany.

If you take the Madrid package, you could easily loose yourself for 6 days there. Lots to see and do.

What he said...
 

JadeDragon3

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Go to Italy. Its awesome. I went back 10 years ago when I was 25 and had a blast. I went to Rome, Venice, and the small island of Capri http://www.capri.net/ . I went through the Vatican and also went through all the cathedrals (churches). I saw all the works by Michael Angelo such as the statue of David and the painting on the cieling of the Sistine chapel in the Vatican. Everything their is just beautiful (including the women). LOL. In Venise I got to ride up and down the canals in the gondolas (boats) with the man pushing it with a big long pole.

GO TO ITALY......LOL.

P.S.- The wine is good and strong.
 

Hagakure

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I think this really boils down to what you're looking for in your adventure.

I'm with Tez3, travel alone, take a phrase book, and learn some of the lingo before departure.

I've been to Italy many times, and Gibraltar, not officially Spain, but near as.

Both countries will have a similar climate/mediteranean culture, both will have phenomenol history and culture and cuisine.

Both are astonishingly beautiful. I would prefer Italy, but only in a 50.1 - 49.9 split.

Both have incredible beaches, although I'd say Spain has the win here. The beaches in Italy are better the further south you go. As mentioned earlier, you could fly in to Rome, spend a couple of days in the Eternal City, then travel south, stay in Capri, the paradise island where since the earliest days of the Republic through to the days of Empire has been a popular spot for Roman Emperors alike. You could then take in Naples, which is filthy but charming and then explore Vesuvius/Herculaneum/Pompeii, the latter is well worth a visit.

Spain will have equally enticing places to visit. Gaudi's cathedral in Barce ( I think?) looks cool.

End of the day, tis up to you. The wife and I have decided we're off to Paris at the end of the month, it's cheap for us, so we may as well. I've been to places all over Europe, and France many times, but never Paris, so here's a first for us too. Good luck choosing, it'll be tough. ;)

Given me an idea for a thread.
 

Ramirez

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Did you consider Portugal and the Algarve? I had a ball there, everyone speaks English because the Brits all vacation there and while nothing in Europe is cheap, Portugal is one of the less expensive places to visit.
 

JadeDragon3

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End of the day, tis up to you. The wife and I have decided we're off to Paris at the end of the month, it's cheap for us, so we may as well. I've been to places all over Europe, and France many times, but never Paris, so here's a first for us too. Good luck choosing, it'll be tough. ;)

Have you been to Paris before? There is a very cool piano bar called Gueness (i assume named after the beer) right around the corner from a hotel called The Hotel Royal. At this pub there is a guy that plays the piano and the whole bar is singing. The guy plays songs like Piano Man, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Yellow Submarine, and Maggie May. I went there just about every night (a drank my fill). :) I highly recommend this place if it's still there but I can't imagine it going out of business. Ya got to ride the big Farris Wheel, go to the Louve, and go to the top of the Ifle Tower. Also take a side tour into the wine country and visit some vineyards and do a wine sampling.
 

Hagakure

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Have you been to Paris before? There is a very cool piano bar called Gueness (i assume named after the beer) right around the corner from a hotel called The Hotel Royal. At this pub there is a guy that plays the piano and the whole bar is singing. The guy plays songs like Piano Man, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Yellow Submarine, and Maggie May. I went there just about every night (a drank my fill). :) I highly recommend this place if it's still there but I can't imagine it going out of business. Ya got to ride the big Farris Wheel, go to the Louve, and go to the top of the Ifle Tower. Also take a side tour into the wine country and visit some vineyards and do a wine sampling.

Hi JD3, I've not been before no, but I'll certainly have a hunt for any pub. ;)

Just have to convince the wife that it's a traditional French pub, and we're going there for the "culture".

Also. The wife wants to go to NYC, it's a passion for her, goodness knows why, but it is. So. Can anyone recommend anything to go/do/see/stay in NYC? So I'm going to surprise her at some point with a trip, hopefully this year. When's best to come?
 

JadeDragon3

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Also. The wife wants to go to NYC, it's a passion for her, goodness knows why, but it is. So. Can anyone recommend anything to go/do/see/stay in NYC? So I'm going to surprise her at some point with a trip, hopefully this year. When's best to come?

Go to the Waldorff Estoria Hotel. It's a first class Hotel as I'm sure you've heard of it. My cousin is the head conciere(sp?) at the Waldorf Estoria Hotel. Tell him (Johnathan Henthorn) you know his cousin Mark Reed in Kentucky and he can hook you up with tickets to anything thats going on in town (concerts, ball games, broadway plays, etc...). He might charge you but becuase you told him you know me he will do it for cheap.
 

Hagakure

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Go to the Waldorff Estoria Hotel. It's a first class Hotel as I'm sure you've heard of it. My cousin is the head conciere(sp?) at the Waldorf Estoria Hotel. Tell him (Johnathan Henthorn) you know his cousin Mark Reed in Kentucky and he can hook you up with tickets to anything thats going on in town (concerts, ball games, broadway plays, etc...). He might charge you but becuase you told him you know me he will do it for cheap.


Happy with that mate. :D I may yet do it, just to see what happens more than anything. ;)
 
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AceHBK

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I thought about Paris but nothing about the place interests me at all.

Ok I have decided to go to .....................Italy!

I have decided to do a tour BUT (Tez3 :) )it is 20% tour and the rest independent which I do like. I decided to find a trip through Globus Monogram service which has gotten good reviews and gives you the best of both worlds.
http://monogramstravel.com/


Ok now the question comes, what in Italy is an A list (what you must do without a doubt) and what is a B list (what you should try to do but if you don't it is nothing to lose sleep over.)
 

Hagakure

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I thought about Paris but nothing about the place interests me at all.

Ok I have decided to go to .....................Italy!

I have decided to do a tour BUT (Tez3 :) )it is 20% tour and the rest independent which I do like. I decided to find a trip through Globus Monogram service which has gotten good reviews and gives you the best of both worlds.
http://monogramstravel.com/


Ok now the question comes, what in Italy is an A list (what you must do without a doubt) and what is a B list (what you should try to do but if you don't it is nothing to lose sleep over.)

That's fine, you will have an amazing time. However, one little thing, if someone asks "Does anyone here speak English?" Please, please, PLEASE! Don't say "No, but I speak American" as I heard once in Rome. Grrrrrrrr!!!!!! ;) Enjoy, it'll blow your socks off.
 

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