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Report 875: Family of Nine - Tales of a European Adventure

By b&j and the gang from Massachusetts, USA, Summer 2005

Trip Description: Three weeks in August: Paris, Florence, Venice and Rome with family of nine.

Destinations: Countries - France, Italy; Regions/Cities - Paris, Florence, Rome, Tuscany, Venice

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Vacation Rentals; Art Trip; Day Tours; Sightseeing; Wine Trip; Independent Travel; Adult Children w/ Parents; Adults and Teens; Small Group: 5 to 9

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Page 1 of 18: Prelude to a Trip.....

photo by Allison Beatty-tour guide

All of us in Rome

We are a family with five children. The kids are boys age 18, 16, 16, and 12 and my daughter is 10. We traveled with my parents who are in their 70ís. We have had many great vacations with the kids and have traveled in the U.S. and Canada but we have never taken the kids overseas. My oldest son went to France and England with his other grandparents when he was a lot younger and just this summer went for a week to Arezzo with a school friend and his parents. (Two times to Italy in one summer!) My twins went to Italy two years ago on a school trip. My parents have never been to Europe.

I knew this would be the year. It is my 50th birthday year, our 20th anniversary year and my oldest sonís graduation from high school. It has to be a big trip.

I loved the planning phase of this trip and really had fun with guidebooks, websites and reading other trip reports. I only made one mistake in planning and it is a big one. One night, after maybe too many glasses of wine, I found an opera for my opera-loving parents to attend. I thought the opera was in Rome. To make a long story short I bought two very good seats to the opera in Verona for my parents. Unfortunately we were never going to be in Verona. The closest we would get would be Venice. Somehow I had read Rome instead of Verona (okay, I canít figure out how I could have done that).

After trying to figure out if a change in date and/or a change in itinerary could work we decided to see if we could get a refund. It was interesting using stupidity as an excuse for a refund. We did end up with a refund and I am really grateful to SelectItaly for their understanding. It was supposed to be a wonderful surprise for my parents but they were really reluctant to head up to Verona on their own to enjoy the opera, understandable since it is their first trip to Europe.

We are a busy family, and finding a good time to go was going to be difficult. It came down to August and I tried not to be dissuaded by otherís opinions on August travel to Paris and Italy. I have never been a great planner; I am a seat of the pants kind of person, but I knew that I had to plan this one! We had so little time.

We live outside Boston. My husband is a teacher and works in a canoeing camp in Minnesota for a month in the summer. My twins go to camp there for eight weeks and my youngest son goes with his dad for the second four weeks of camp.

Well, we flew to Paris the day after the boys and my husband came home from camp. My husband did mega loads of laundry in the last few days of camp (yes, he is wonderful!) and they arrived home ready to repack and head out the next day. It was a little hectic and crazy but what fun! The kids (and my husband) didnít know what hit them!

Time to Travel

Our flight is uneventful, except for a small delay to repair toilet facilities. This leads to a lot of toilet humor as we wait for our flight to board. I am thinking this is a good omen for our trip. Laughing about broken toilets sets the mood. We leave Boston in the evening and arrive in Paris at about 8:00 in the morning.

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