Best Way to get to Rome/Florence using FF miles

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by richinaz, Oct 6, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. richinaz
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    richinaz Silver Member

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    I'm pondering a 7 night trip somewhere (I have time off between jobs but my GF is limited to that time frame) in the first week of November.

    Florence seems like a place that is a bit warmer than much of Europe and may be a good base to take day trips from.

    I have at least 250,000 miles on each of the following airlines: AA, BA and US Airways (450K+ miles)

    I live in Arizona. I realize availability may be limited or unavailability in such a short time frame but if it isn't an issue is there a particular product I should try to get. Seats can be either business or first class.

    Thanks
     
  2. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Florence is not particularly warm once winter sets in IME; I'd look at Barcelona as a base if you really want warm.

    With OW or *A points you have a ton of options available to you, especially if you're willing to make a couple connections along the way. Did you have specific dates in mind?

    ETA: Depending on when exactly you want to go I've found a few itineraries already that could meet your needs, including open jaws within Europe if you want.
     
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  3. Jimgotkp
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    Jimgotkp Gold Member

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    Personally, I would purchase KVS Tool or AwardNexus and plan it out myself with the dates I want since it will be more convenient and faster.

    The ideal redemptions from PHX to FLR in terms of less segments for me would be:
    PHX-SFO-ZRH-FLR (US Miles)
    PHX-SFO/LAX-FRA/MUC-FLR (US Miles)
    PHX-YUL-ZRH-FLR (US Miles) *Best availability for LX F from/to ZRH to North America*

    Personally I wouldn't use BA/AA miles since BA doesn't seem worth it. I would use the AA miles for CX F, QF F and JL F. Would even consider using it for the new 787 C product that JL will have to/ from BOS and NRT. BA miles and it's taxes/fees aren't enticing so would use those for domestic AA flights or flights to/from South America and the US.
     
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  4. JohnDeere19
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    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

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    You've got plenty of options for routes if you're looking at star alliance or oneworld airlines and have that level of miles in each account. Availability can vary greatly so don't write it off just yet. With your miles:
    US: 100k in business, 125k in first class (probably your best option)
    AA: 100k in business, 125k in first class (warning, flying BA could result in high fuel surcharges)
    BA: I wouldn't even bother for this redemption because of high fuel surcharges

    If you want to go for a particular product, LX (Swiss) new J/F is the way to go in my opinion and that would be using US miles.

    I don't think it should be a problem to put something together on your own, but if you are, feel free to start a conversation with me.
     
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  5. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Or just get an ANA and Qantas accounts and do it for free. Co.com and Aeroplan are also good research tools for *A and are slightly more user-friendly.
     
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  6. richinaz
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    richinaz Silver Member

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    Warmth isn't necessary, just some place that won't be very cold. If it is mid 50s and not too dreary that would be fine. I've had plenty of warmth the last 8 years in Scottsdale.
     
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  7. Gargoyle
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    Gargoyle Milepoint Guide

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    The issue in Tuscany is that it gets damp in the winter. Five degrees above freezing and humid is, imho, worse than five below freezing and dry. The damp gets in your bones and stays with you, so you never really get warm even when you go inside.

    That said, you might get lucky the first week of November. By the end of the month it could be miserable. (not that that has ever stopped me from going there in mid-winter).
     
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  8. MSPeconomist
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    If you're living in PHX, do you want to consider an early November trip where the fall leaves will be pretty? Just another idea. Maybe southern Germany and take advantage of the game meat dinners. Parts of France and Belgium could also be good for leaves....or Japan in November.

    I second Barcelona. It's a great city with a good climate. Florence could be rainy, damp and grey.
     
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  9. Gardyloo
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    Gardyloo Gold Member

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    One or two notes -

    FLR is not especially well served by too many airlines; in addition a lot of airlines use RJs or prop planes. You can fly instead into Pisa (PSA) which seems to attract larger planes and which is a short ground trip from Florence.

    It can indeed be a bit damp that time of year (but still glorious). If you're looking for southern European alternatives with relatively easy access and places to go on day trips then indeed Barcelona comes easily to mind, also Seville and Cordoba, or (a big fave and really easy to get around) - fly into Nice and spend a few days on the Cote d'Azur and in the hills of Provence. Menton, a little town right on the French/Italian border (next to Monaco) has lemon and orange trees blooming in the town square at that time of year - gorgeous.
     
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  10. richinaz
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    richinaz Silver Member

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    Germany is always at the top of the list but I actually prefer it in December when the Christmas markets are opened. We were there (and also in Salzburg) last December and had a wonderful (and snowy) time exploring Rothenburg, Nurnberg, Munich & Wurzburg.

    I was pondering Luxembourg and Brussels/Brugges/etc. but it sounded like the weather there would be much worse than Florence. I'm not 100% oppose to Spain especially since my GF speaks Spanish. I'll run some ideas past her. She's pretty much a trooper when it comes to vacation. Not much bothers her, just give her plenty of layers of clothes and not having to go to work and she is happy.
     
  11. MSPeconomist
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    In Barcelona, the native language is Catalan, although everyone can speak Spanish also. Catalan seems to be between Spanish and French, so that it's possible to guess at a lot of the words easily.
     
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  12. RNE

    RNE Silver Member

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    Dang, you never play travel agent for us! :(

    TSMRSRNE and I were close to pulling the trigger on Rome/Pompeii/Florence in, coincidentally, late November. Air fares are reasonable; hotels are too, and tourists are not legion in Rome. (Get it? Rome...legion? Ha! I'm so clever!) It was the weather that put us off. Not the temperature so much as the rain. November is the peak month for precipitation; December is second. A lot of what there is to do in Italy is outside, and rain makes that decidedly unpleasant. Add cold to that rain and...well, you get the picture.

    We booked instead for early May. We beat the rising air fare by booking a reward. Got BF to Rome on the saver. Yes, hotels are a lot more expensive then, but it's not quite high season yet. And, back to the point, there should be good weather (most days).
     
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  13. richinaz
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    richinaz Silver Member

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    I'm intrigued by your suggestions. Can you expand more on Nice/Cote d'Azur? In terms of any language issues and transportation (trains/cars/taxis)?

    Generally I prefer not to deal with the hassles of driving in a foreign country. Usually getting into the country side requires a car. Also neither of use speak French (sadly my 4 yrs of French classes ended with me retaining almost nothing since I had no interest in it, I was more of a math geek). I hear so many mixed opinions on France I've avoided it so far in my limited travels (Just to get an idea I've been to Brussels/Bruges, London,Naples (work), Switzerland, Austria & Germany).

    I had read on another travel site about Cordoba/Seville and Granada being decent (weather wise) places to visit in November.

    @rne, I just checked on the avg rainfalls and Nov is easily the wettest one of the month. Thanks.
     
  14. dayone
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    dayone Silver Member

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    PHX-DFW-FRA-FLR on US/LH is another option.
     
  15. Jimgotkp
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    Jimgotkp Gold Member

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    If you want to "maximize" this award and you plan on flying LX and LH, I would do LX towards Europe and LH back to the US. ;)
     
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  16. JohnDeere19
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    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

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    Well if you really want to maximize, why not check out FRA, MUC, and ZRH lounges both ways :p
     
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  17. Jimgotkp
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    Jimgotkp Gold Member

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    Touche! That's a lot of ducks too! :p
     
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  18. MSPeconomist
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    For southern France, the Nice airport is very close to town and has some longhaul service, nonstop from the USA, as well as lots of connections within Europe. There's a good train system along the coast, with service to Monaco and all of the larger French towns. Taxis are plentiful, although not necessarily cheap. There are also some hydrofoils and other boats, for example between Antibes and Saint Tropez. However, it's still nice to have a rental car for the scenic drives and to visit smaller villages in the hills. Express and TGV trains serve Marseille (don't mix Aix-en-Provence) and Avignon, Lyon, etc. You could easily fly into CDG and then take the TGV train to the French Riviera.

    English is spoken just about everywhere that tourists commonly go. There are good (primarily modern) art museums. The regional food is somewhat between French and Italian, with lots of fresh local ingredients.

    I love this area. However, my favorite time to go is spring, when you see fields of little red poppies in bloom.
     
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  19. Gardyloo
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    Gardyloo Gold Member

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    Well, where to start...

    Of course a lot depends on your traveling style. In my view the Riviera and adjacent hills/mountains have a lot to offer in various dimensions. Basically it's where the Alps meet the sea, so you have these very steep hills with villages on the top, then slopes descending down to the water. As you go up/down the climate changes, so that at sea level (Cannes, Nice, Monaco, Menton et al) it's very reminiscent of, say, Santa Barbara in California - blue water, rocky coves and some decent beaches (like most of the Med, more gravel/shingle than sand) with palm trees, eucalyptus, citrus and lots of flowering shrubbery on the land. Lots of rich people and Ferraris in the towns, but also quite a lot of everyday folks. (We like Menton because it has a bit more diversity than some of the others, plus - due to something of a micro-climate, the best weather, e.g the warmest, and least precipitation in Oct/Dec.)

    Higher up, you get into hill villages that ultimately blend into the Alps; as you go a bit west it flattens out into gorgeous rolling foothill country around Aix-en-Provence (one of France's most beautiful small cities) with country villages sitting amidst lavender fields and superb countryside. Through it run some amazing river gorges (like the Gorge du Loup - fab) and other natural wonders. Because it's warmer than farther north, in early November you'll undoubtedly have some autumn foliage still around (lots of oak trees) - it should be great.

    While you can certainly get around without a car (there's an excellent local rail system running along the coastline with many trains daily between the main towns) a car is a huge plus, because you can get up into the hills. In addition to the main coastal highway there are a series of corniche roads running laterally along the hillsides overlooking the ocean (think Cary Grant and Grace Kelly) which offer some of the best driving on Earth IMO. Driving in France is (again IMO) very different from driving in Italy, especially Tuscany. The roads are better, the drivers better behaved, the signage and facilities just fabulous, and car rentals are way, way cheaper absent the punishing Italian taxes. Stay at some lodgings with cheap or free parking (it's the low season, so the deals ought to be terrific) and use the car to explore - maybe 3 or 4 days, then use the train the rest?

    Regarding language issues, not an issue. You're talking about one of the prime destinations for international tourism - been that way for 150 years. Menton is especially popular with British retirees (not that that's necessarily an endorsement) but it's in indicator. The BS about the French being unfriendly to US visitors is just that - BS.

    Oh, I should mention the food. It's French. 'Nuff said.

    A couple of snaps of Menton and vicinity. I know I sound like a booster. That's 'cause I am.

    Beach at Menton, Italy in the distance

    mentonbeachs.jpg

    Menton old town

    mentonoldtown1s.jpg

    Villa Ephruzzi de Rothschild in nearby Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

    rothsmuseum2s.jpg
     
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  20. richinaz
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    richinaz Silver Member

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    Thanks for all of the wonderful advice. I'll check with the GF and see if she wants an adventure or just take it easy. I'm not a fan of laying on the beach or cruise vacations. Generally I like walking around and seeing the scenery, whether it is castles, mountains, churches, etc.

    Sometimes I've done some very on the go vacations (8 cities/12 days- although fabulous exploring Zermatt, Gindelwald, Bern, Zurich, Rothenburg, Fussen, Heidelburg, Baden-Baden it was almost too hectic). Earlier this year (using the CP certs on US Airways) we spent a week in London and lucked out with spectacular weather (clear and 70s+) just after the big wedding.

    This time, partly due to the shorter time frame and also due to the hectic situation moving from the west to the east coast, I'd like to do something more relaxing and using 1 or at most 2 cities as a base. The weather doesn't bother me too much except for lots of rain and wind where an umbrella is just useless.

    Of course the destination may also end up as a function of where I can find FF awards.

    Thanks again for the suggestions and the photos.
     
  21. richinaz
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    richinaz Silver Member

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    I think the winner may be (depending on availability) Nice. Close enough to explore Monaco, Cannes, etc. Some sights and some R&R. Next step will be finding the awards.

    I'll provide a recap message once things are finalize. Thanks Gardyloo for the suggestion. I think I may owe you a drink or two.
     

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