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Dan G.

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Dan G.

Dan G.

USA

Mar122013

Tour/Activity

Pacaya Volcano Day Trip from Guatemala City

Guatemala City, Guatemala

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

Short version: Incredible trip with breathtaking scenery and even better hospitality from driver and guide. Out of shape travelers NOT encouraged!

Long Version: Let me start this off by saying my wife is a native Spanish speaker and it went a LONG way in Guatemala as a whole since tourism is slowly coming back after decades of civil war. That aside, this was truly an experience unlike anything my wife and I have every done before. We were picked up right at our hotel at 7:30AM after breakfast. The driver, Henry, was INCREDIBLY nice and hospitable(we actually used him again the next day to set up a private cab to Antigua). Upon getting there, we were introduced to our guide who would take us up the mountain. The only slightly annoying part was right in the beginning as they try to convince you to rent a walking stick or take a horse up the mountain, but this is expected in tourist areas. After respectfully declining (about a dozen times!), we were off on our adventure. As we went up the mountain we would stop frequently to take in wild life and learn the different uses of the local plants by the natives to cure anything from headaches and stomachaches to wiping the sweat from your brow! As we reached the peak of our ascent, we stopped at a place called the oven. It was basically just two rocks jutting out and inside the rocks were temps of over 400 degrees! Our guide had gotten us sticks so we could roast marshmallows from the heat. It was a tasty treat and good half way point before the descent. The descent was a little hairy as the ground is not really set due to the activity of the volcano. Just go slow and you will be fine! When we got to the bottom of the mountain we got back in the van with Henry and were dropped off back at our hotel by early afternoon with plenty of time before dinner to shower off the adventure. Awesome trip and a MUST if you are visiting Guatemala!

Mar232012

Attraction

Ghirardelli Square

San Francisco

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

Short Version: Great, informative tour guide and gets you all around San Fran.

The details: We booked this tour hoping to get acquainted with the city and then of course to see Alcatraz. We got that and more! Our tour guide (his name is eluding me right now) was incredibly knowledgable, personable, and made all kinds of great recommendations while driving us around San Francisco. We started by driving straight to the Golden Gate Bridge where we were allowed to get out and walk onto the span and take all those breathtaking pictures you see in the magazines. We then toured all through San Francisco hitting all the highlights including the Victorian Houses, Chinatown and the Wharf. The tour ends at the Wharf where you are dropped off right on the dock by Alcatraz. Alcatraz is a MUST in San Francisco, whether you take this tour or not. It is an incredible experience and is absolutely not to be missed. Not only did we love the tour but we followed two of our guide's recommendations to the best seafood my wife and I have ever had (Skoma's) and the best hot fudge sundae as well (ice cream shop in Ghirardelli Square). Totally worth it, and I recommend doing it on your first day in San Fran so that you can get oriented and then go exploring on your own after.

Mar162012

Tour/Activity

San Francisco CityPass

San Francisco, California

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

Short Version: Worth every penny, saves you plenty of money, especially if you are there a while.

The details: The one problem I will share was completely my fault which is this: Don't give yourself only three days for San Francisco! We didn't get to everything we wanted to including the MOMA which we had free admission to thanks to this awesome city pass. This pass gives you free transportation for a week! That alone could pay for itself if you are there for the full seven days. But on top of that, we were able to go to the Exploratorium (incredible hands on science museum), the California Academy of Sciences (another incredible science museum with a man made rainforest you can walk through and a planetarium all in one building), and a few other great attractions. Each attraction is around $25 or more so if you get to all of them you are once again getting your money's worth. I highly recommend this pass to anybody who is visiting San Fran for the first time and is planning on visiting some of these awesome attractions (if you are not, you can just get a metro pass for three days to get around the city).

Aug042011

Tour/Activity

Champagne Region Day Trip from Paris

Paris, France

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

Short Version: Overall great day that got better as it went on.
The details: This was an all day trip out to the idyllic Champagne Region of France. We visited two cellars, Mumm' s and Moet and Chandon. Mumm's was first. It was informative but not overly exciting and the cellar was fabricated not the actual cellar. After that visit, we went to a small town to visit an amazing church (one of a million you will see in Europe but still gorgeous) and then were given a nice long time for lunch. We had a great lunch at a restaurant in the town where we had some amazing profiteroles! After that we went to the Moet and Chandon cellar. This was the kind of tour my wife and I were expecting. The guide was great, we were toured through the actual cellars on the premises. Each tour only gave you one glass of champagne so if you are expecting a tasting, you would want to try a different tour. If you are looking for a great day of beautiful scenery and informative champagne tours, this is the tour for you!

Aug022011

Tour/Activity

Versailles and Giverny Day Trip

Paris, France

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

Short Version: Amazing sights, quite crowded in August.
The Details: The trip starts off with a short bus ride to Giverny. Having gone to the Orangerie just the day before, my wife and I were truly excited to see famous pond that "launched a thousand impressionistic water lily paintings". The gardens did not disappoint. Beautiful and quaint they were truly something to behold. Monet's house itself was interesting, but slow moving and crowding made it less enjoyable. The bus then took us to Versailles. Anybody not impressed by these marvel of architectural and decorative decadence needs to have their pulse checked. The place was amazing, but again INCREDIBLY crowded. Our tour guide was very nice and informative. However, my one complaint was that it took too long to get through the palace, leaving us little time to appreciate the hundreds of acres of breathtaking gardens in behind it. I might suggest a self-guided tour through the palace so that you may have more time to meander through the gardens. Overall great experience, and probably even better in the spring and fall when the crowds are not so overwhelming!

Jul312011

Tour/Activity

Paris Pass

Paris, France

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

Short Version: Worth every penny. Second city pass I have bought and they are great purchases!

The details: The Paris Pass is a very good purchase. Does not have as many perks or deals as the London pass, but the metro is included (as opposed to an additional charge on London) and skipping the lines was a HUGE advantage. We probably saved a total of 2-3 hours between the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and the Orsay lines. Also you MUST take advantage of the free Siene River cruise as part of your card. Make sure to go in the evening because Paris is even more beautiful by night. Just like with all these passes, the key is to take the time to read the book that comes with it to see which deals are worth it to you.

Jul292011

Tour/Activity

Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and Bath Day Trip from London

London, United Kingdom

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

Short Version: Good day trip with Bath being a real highlight.
The details: Once again this is a whirlwind type excursion. Three sites in one day is a lot, but it is a good way to see as much as possible on a short schedule. Our guide on this trip was good but not as good as the other tour guide we had in London. Sometimes a guide needs to know when to withhold words on the bus and just let the countryside wash over the tourists. The sights were all interesting and fun to visit, but Bath in particular was outstanding. Like straight out of a Jane Austen novel, Bath is an exquisite city with the ancient Roman Bath houses as its main attraction. Even if you don't like tours, take the time to visit this magical city!

Jul272011

Tour/Activity

Oxford, Cotswolds, Stratford-on-Avon and Warwick Castle Day Trip from London

London, United Kingdom

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

Short Version: Awesome day, saw A LOT, and GREAT tour guide.
The details: First of all it was wonderfully convenient to get picked up right from our hotel in the morning, giving us time to eat breakfast in the hotel first. This tour was a whirlwind. We went to Oxford first. Our tour guide was just fantastic and full of information. We walked the magnificent campus for about an hour and a half. Next we drove through the breathtaking Cotswold hills region with our tour guide giving wonderful and interesting tidbits the whole drive to Stratford-on-Avon. We again had around an hour and half or so to see Shakespeare's cottage and grad a quick lunch at a local restaurant. The last stop was Warwick castle. This was the one place I wish we had more time at, but again not the fault of the tour guide. If you go on a all day trip with this many stops, you have to understand some places will get short changed. However, this was a great way to get all these great experiences in one day and leave my wife and I more time in London to explore the city!

Jul262011

Tour/Activity

London Pass

London, United Kingdom

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

Short Version: DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT!
The details: The london pass was THE BEST thing we did in traveling to London. We chose the pass WITH the travel card option, and although it is a little pricey, we made our money back and then some! Just the freedom to hop on and off the tube all week (we did the 6 day pass) and prepaid admission to all the museums and sights were well worth it, but if you really get a chance use some of the other perks as well! We had a wonderful afternoon tea at the Orangerie at Kensington Palace and enjoyed a discount (either 10 or 20%) and we were able to receive free audio guides at many of the museums which really enhances the overall experience of the visit. Truly a must have for any person going to London and be sure to READ ALL THE DEALS WHEN YOU GET IT to make sure you are getting the best value out of your purchase!

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