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Melissa F

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Melissa F

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Jun072011

Tour/Activity

Skip the Line: Vatican Museums Walking Tour including Sistine Chapel, Raphael's Rooms and St Peter's

Rome, Italy

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

We had an amazing tour guide on this tour, she was extremely knowledgeable regarding the art within the Vatican and the detailed history of the Vatican. There was so much information it was almost information overload. The tour was also very long, 3 hours of continuous walking, so make sure to wear very comfortable shoes and bring water and even maybe a snack. Also, I recommend trying not to bring a big backpack as when you enter the Vatican Museum they will likely make you check it and where you have to go to pick up the backpack and the 30+ minute line you have to wait in doesn't make it worth bringing. The Vatican museums were amazing, lots of beautiful art and interesting pieces collected by popes over the centuries. I was so glad our wonderful guide (I wish I could remember her name) gave us all the background on the art in the Sistine Chapel before we went in as it made the tour of the chapel so much more meaningful. St. Peter's Basillica was overwhelming. I was a huge building again filled with amazing art and statues. It is definitely worth seeing. I would recommend this tour and it is probably a better option than trying to visit on your own as the tour really gives you the highlights of the Vatican museums and the background information on the chapel and the basilica.

Jun062011

Tour/Activity

Skip the Line: Ancient Rome and Colosseum Half-Day Walking Tour

Rome, Italy

My Rating
3 star rating: Worth doing

My Review

One comment about this tour, it is too long!! This tour is three hours of walking up steep steps, uneven ground and cobblestone walkways and streets so be sure you are capable of walking for this length of time in the heat and make sure to bring water, sunscreen (I got terribly burnt) and comfortable walking shoes. The tour started at the Colosseum, which is an impressive sight but on the inside has been stripped down of all its great artifacts by 17th and 18th century popes. The tour them moved onto the ancient sites surrounding the Colosseum. Perhaps if I had known the history of the sites it would have made the tour more interesting. But when in Rome all the ancient sites tend to look alike after a while. The tour guide was extremely knowledgeable but it was almost information overload with all we were told and saw. If you enjoy history this is a great tour for you. But if I had to do it over again, I would probably just see the sites on my own so I could go through them at my own leisure.

Jun042011

Tour/Activity

Venice Gondola Ride and Serenade with Dinner

Venice, Italy

My Rating
3 star rating: Worth doing

My Review

This tour was okay, but the dinner was fabulous. I would recommend instead of doing the group gondala ride (especially if you are a party of two and want a nice romantic ride) to do private gondala ride during the day when the price is typically cheaper than in the evening. There was about 60 people on this tour, so there were 10 gondalas of 6 people each traveling together. The "serenade" was a singer and accordian player in one of the gondalas with a loudspeaker. Their singing was great but the set up was lame. Also the gondala drivers were not engaging and mostly just yelled at the 6 people in my boat for moving the wrong direction and practically tipping over the boat. The dinner spot was extremely difficult to find so definitely find it during the day time before it gets dark. The food was amazing. I highly recommend the gnocchi bolognese and this yummy chocolate ice cream ball for dessert. The people at the restaurant were very friendly and accomodating and you get a three course meal included in this voucher. Make sure to print two copies of the voucher when you go (one for the gondala ride and one for the dinner).

Jun032011

Tour/Activity

Switzerland Mountains, Cheese and Chocolates Tour from Zurich

Zurich, Switzerland

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

My husband and I really enjoyed this tour which was led by Emi. He had a wealth of knowledge about the area we traveled to. We drove about 40 minutes to the Lindt Chocolate store. We were given about 25 minutes to shop here. This was a great stop to buy gifts for friends and family at home. Then we drove for about an hour to the town of Appenzell where we went to the cheese factory. This stop wasn't too exciting. You do get to see how the cheese is made and taste some of the cheese which is very delicious, but terribly smelly. After this the tour moved onto the cable car to take us to Mt. Hoher Kasten. Unfortunately the day we took the tour it was extremely overcast so we didn't have a great view. At the top of the mountain there is a great full service revolving restaurant. Also from the top of the mountain you can see 4 countries which is pretty cool. When the weather cleared a little bit, you got an amazing view of the surrounding valleys and mountains and on a clear day this would be a perfect view. After this we drove to the town of Appenzell and were given about 1.5 hours of free time to explore the village. it was a nice little town but there wasn't a ton to do. I highly recommend trying the Appenzeller beer, my husband especially enjoyed it. This tour is a great way to see and explore many of the typical swiss foods and scenery. Overall it was a great tour that I would recommend.

Jun022011

Tour/Activity

Mount Pilatus Summer Day Trip from Zurich

Zurich, Switzerland

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

This was a great tour especially if you want a taste of everything in the Lake Lucerne area. The drive to the area was maybe 45 minutes. Upon arriving in the area the guide took us to this amazing lion monument carved in the side of a cliff. Then we were given about 45 minutes of free time to talk around the town of Lucerne. Lucerne is a great town with nice shops (great chocolates and pastries can be found here). After this we had about a 15 minute drive to the gondola for Mt. Pilatus. The ride up the mountain was amazing, I only wish the weather had been better the day we went as it was very overcast. You then ride this terrifying cable car to the top of Mt. Pilatus. The views at the top of the mountain was worth the price of the tour alone. At the top of Mt. Pilatus you are literally above the clouds and can see forever. We were given about 1.5 - 2 hours to explore the top of the mountain. There are many walking trails at the summit, so bring appropriate shoes if you enjoy hiking. You then ride a cogwheel train to the bottom of the mountain and from there you take a boat ride back to the center of Lucerne. This ends the tour with about a 45 minute ride to Zurich. Overall this was a great tour, the guide was very knowledgeable and was more than happy to answer questions. I highly recommend taking some tour to the Swiss mountains as there are amazing views that can't be matched.

Jun012011

Tour/Activity

Wine Tasting - Cote de Nuits Region with Two Cellar Visits

Dijon, France

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

This was a great tour. Lou Lou was our guide and he was very friendly, enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable about french wine. The meeting spot for this is tour is about 100 yards from the train station (coming directly out of the train station and walking straight up the street in front). The drive to the wine area is about 30 minutes. During that time Lou Lou gave us a wealth of information about the wine region, who owns the vineyards, how the bottle labeling works, the good growing areas, the varietals grown. Lou Lou was a great tour guide especially since he had schooling in grape growing and wine making. We made two winery stops including one stop where we made a brief stop in the cellar to see how the bottling process works. The wines that we tasted were pinot noir and chardonney, which are typical for the region. Lou Lou made sure to include a stop that had shipping boxes for those that wanted to take wine home with them. It is also a great tour because they keep the size of the tour small, there were only 5 people on my tour so there was lots of personal attention and time for questions. I would recommend this tour as a great option for exploring this wine region. I have done a number of tours in the California wine region and Lou Lou was much more knowledgeable than any guide I had ever encountered there.

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