Sandra K

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Sandra K

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Jul262014

Tour/Activity

Berlin Supersaver: Hop-on Hop-off City Tour and Skip the Line Entry to TV Tower

Berlin, Germany

My Rating
3 star rating: Worth doing

My Review

Having purchased tickets in advance for this bus tour (48 hours inclusive), we wasted about 1 1/2 hours trying to determine WHICH company our voucher was for, and then finding a stop where we could exchange the voucher for actual tickets. (There are at least 2 other similar companies.) Passengers are not picked up reliably at all stops, such as the TV Tower. Once on, the first day's ride went as expected. However, it was obvious why the buses do not always come as frequently as advertised - drivers choosing to take a cigarette brake being one possibility, along with route diversions. Our last use was on an extremely crowded bus, where the lower level was only ventilated by one window that tipped in about 6" from the top. The temp. was in the high 70's outside. The first 4 seats had no way to access the recorded information, and thanks to the driver putting up a solid surface behind his seat, there was also no front view for the first seat behind him. Allowing a passenger to stand and chat with him also blocked the view for front seat passengers on the other side. After telling that driver we would like to get off at stop #2, I suddenly realized we were already past that stop and back again at #3,our starting point. I indicated I was disappointed he never told us when we reached stop #2, and he angrily and defensively rattled off a stream of German at me. I had the distinct impression he did not feel the least bit of responsibility for helping tourists.
Finally, it would be a definite improvement in this type of service if the routes run in BOTH directions! I realize they don't anywhere, but this can result in a great deal of wasted time or necessitate purchasing additional means of transport.
The "Skip the Line Entry" to the tower was VERY helpful, however! We would have been still waiting in one of 3 lines when we were all done by using this feature. Be sure, however, to go to the cashier for regular purchases to the left of the door, NOT the regular line.

Jul252014

Tour/Activity

'An Evening at Charlottenburg Palace' Palace Tour, Dinner and Concert by the Berlin Residence Orchestra

Berlin, Germany

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

Our audio guide tour of the palace was included with a ticket for an evening dinner and concert, but it can be visited independently on a different day. Permission for pictures costs extra. There are many rooms available for viewing on the main floor, as well as an additional museum of items in the treasury, such as the family silver collection, on the second floor. I especially enjoyed having the freedom to proceed through the rooms at my own pace with the audio guide. It is amazing how much restoration work has been done following WWII, seen by comparing postcards of the devestated, bombed palace with today's tourist gem. Well maintained, extensive gardens are also open behind the building. Part of one wing is still under scaffolding, near the small gift shop. Here one may also find a cold drink vending machine, much welcomed on a hot July day!
We attended the dinner the evening before, and on a rainy night it began with a great deal of frustration trying to find the ticket office. After trying 4 different doors on 2 widely separated buildings, someone finally directed us to the correct, LOCKED door. Noticing us through a window, an employee there admitted us and told us to go back to the other building that was now open. In a huge entry hall, seating for only 6 was provided, so many were left standing to await the grand opening of the dining room. The setting from then on was indeed lovely, with candlelight, costumed servers, and white linen. Unfortunately the dinner did not meet our expectations. What we did eat was very good, but someone with a more typical appetite than we have would leave hungry for sure. The classical concert afterward was enjoyable and well performed. However, there was far too much down time before it began at 8:30 - people were done eating by 6:45! We were admitted to the concert hall on the opposite end of the entry room at 8:00, there was no A/C on a very hot evening, and the wooden chairs quicly became uncomfortable.

Jul242014

Tour/Activity

Berlin Bike Tour

Berlin, Germany

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

Biking Berlin with an experienced, attentive and witty guide is a perfect way to become acquainted with many historic sights as well as the layout of the city. The terrain is very flat, and the bike lanes and city park lanes that are used make it a comfortable, nonintimidating tour. Our guide Freddy was lots of fun, and willing to answer all questions. We never felt rushed. FYI: This general city tour did include a lunch stop at a "Beergarden" type restaurant, for which guests need cash.

Feb042014

Tour/Activity

Gaucho Day Trip from Buenos Aires: Santa Susana Ranch

Buenos Aires, Argentina

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

This was a fun, relaxing day, and an enjoyable contrast to being in the city. An initial stop en route at a wonderful shop for regional products was a great place to buy very high quality gifts/souvenirs, with more choices than were available at the ranch.
The horseback ride was a simple walk around the perimeter of the ranch buildings, something anyone could participate in. The display of horsemanship after lunch was quite impressive, and also fun to watch.
As would be expected, the meal was heavy on BBQ meats; vegetarians would have to fill up on salad! All offerings were available in abundance, and with the variety available in meat, most would find plenty to satisfy.
The tango show that followed was very well done by both dancers and musicians. We left for home feeling uplifted, tired, and very full!

May072013

Tour/Activity

Malaga Super Saver: Morocco and Granada Day Trips Including Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens

Malaga, Spain

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

The trip to Morocco was smooth sailing all the way with Viator handling all the details. Although we had a rental car for a week, we appreciated the driver being able to view the surroundings as we drove through southern Spain, It would have been much appreciated if we were given information on the areas we drove through, but that was not the case. The bus tour of Tangiers was informative and brought us to a high point in the city where we had a fun time interacting with 2 baby camels - adorable is the only word for them! The camel "ride" for some amounted to nothing more than mounting, having the camel stand up fully, and then dismounting after the camel folded its legs. No ride at all for our friend, but then the price was only a Euro for the owner. The lunch was bountiful enough, and we enjoyed most of it. However, we noticed that unfortunately this was not a universal experience. In addition, skip the wine; while far from a connoisseur, I could not drink it even though it was an extra cost. The live musical entertainment throughout the meal was a nice touch.
The walk around the Kasbah was fascinating. A survival tip: don't make eye contact with the street hawkers pursuing your tour group unless you are really interested in what they are selling, or they will hound you without mercy. The talk on Moroccan handmade rugs was interesting, as we noted the differences between their methods and those used in Turkey. However, as expected, it concluded with the usual sales pitch, and with a sales person apparently dedicated to us personally, who followed us down all 3 floors of merchandise until we finally tore ourselves free. 90% of our tour group was already on the trail of the next shop and sales pitch for natural healing products. Exactly 15 minutes were allocated for independent shopping outside the rug/multiproduct enterprise - our main criticism of this tour. A second suggestion would be to upgrade the luncheon, and provide an alternative vegetarian meal.

Apr282013

Tour/Activity

Paris City Tour, Seine River Cruise and Eiffel Tower

Paris, France

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

A good overall introduction to the city, which we took on our first afternoon there after a tour of the Garnier Opera, also from Viator and excellent. The cruise was relaxing, and we were thrilled to finally be in the Eiffel Tower. Great city views; just be sure to time your descent to arrive back to the bus as requested. Some in our party kept the bus waiting, and others never showed. Paris at night was beautiful, and we had a grounding for our explorations on foot with the various elements of this tour.

Oct032012

Tour/Activity

Dubrovnik Shore Excursion: Explore Dubrovnik by Cable Car

Dubrovnik, Croatia

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

We met our guide Ivana in Pile Sq. right on time, which we arrived at by taxi at less than 1/2 the cruise ship shuttle price. Walked about 8-10 min. uphill to gondola station, had a great view of the city from the top, and were given an insider's view of what life was like during the most recent war. We then had a walking tour of Old Town. Thoroughly enjoyed the day!

My Photos

  • cable car in Dubrovnik
  • Dubrovnik from nearby peak
  • Dubrovnik's cathedral, Old Town

Sep282012

Tour/Activity

Naples Shore Excursion: Naples City and Pompeii Half Day Sightseeing Tour

Naples, Italy

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

We easily met our guide upon leaving the ship, and found him extremely knowledgeable in all relevant areas of ancient history, church history and doctrine. He has a keen sense of humor and friendly manner. We enjoyed our tour of Naples, and found Pompeii a fascinating place! We would highly recommend this tour and guide!

My Photos

  • That's my sign!
  • 004 Naples cathedral

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