Subject: Re: do it yourself arrangements
We have always done our planning by ourselves. Usually, I check the airfares on travocity or one of the other airplane ticket sites, and then I call my travel agent to see what she can find. Often it is better than the fares on the Internet. Also, if the price changes for the better, she can reissue the ticket at the lower price with a small fee.

For hotels, I use the list for recommendations. I used to use travel-l which no longer exist. When we went to Italy, last year, I used the suggestion of the Belletini in Florence which is a lovely old hotel. Be careful that you have the dates correct. Somehow I did not and we came to Florence a day late, and were only able to stay there one night. The second night was spent in the pensione from hell!! We then booked into the Grand Majestic, a great, but expeensive business class hotel. It was very quiet, lovely rooms, great breakfast, and views of the Duomo and San Lorenzo from the room.

In Venice, I found a place on the Internet on the Lido which appealed to us as it was quiet, a beach, and away from the hustle and bustle of Venice but a 10 minute ride on the Vaparetto to San Marco. There were pictures of the rooms, and I found something else on the Internet from someone's trip notes about the hotel which backed up my opinion that we should stay there. It turned out fine. We used recommendations from the list on several evenings for dinner, and sometimes it was just senedipituous where we ate. It does take more time than going through an agent, and you are on your own if you make a mistake. But it is fun to do. Good luck Michele