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Andrea M

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Andrea M

Andrea M

Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else.

Jun222012

Tour/Activity

Heidiland and Liechtenstein Tour from Zurich: Two Countries in One Day

Zurich, Switzerland

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

A good tour with a great guide! The tour includes Zurich, Rapperswil, Heidiland, and Lichtenstein. The Zurich tour is brief and basic, with only one stop at a church. Rapperswil (which is on the lake across from Zurich) was a really nice stop with time for a light lunch and some really nice views. I was pleasantly surprised by the rose gardens and quaint buildings. Heidiland, the house tour is not included in the rate you pay. I didn't go in as I was happy photographing the goats and surrounding scenery. The meadows and hill sides were beautiful. We ran across a slight delay on the way down from Heidiland, there was an accident and the tour guide and bus driver happily extended their day to ensure we would still see Lichtenstein. We made it, and took a brief walk around Vaduz, the capital city. My only regret: we arrived at Vaduz at 4:55pm and the guide told us the passport stamping office was open for "a while". We did our walk and returned to find the office had closed at 5pm. I really wanted that rare stamp!! Keep an eye on the time for the stamp offices and passport offices, or you will miss out! Overall, a good tour with some great views and well placed stops.

Jun212012

Tour/Activity

Jungfraujoch: Top of Europe Day Trip from Zurich

Zurich, Switzerland

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

Awesome! We had the now famous tour guide, Kid. At first people were a little put off by his style but he is responsible for "herding cats" or a double decker bus full of people heading in all directions onto 4 trains and then back. It's a long day, but the views are amazing. With the exception of the very first hour (out of Zurich) and the very last hour (back to Zurich), the scenery was amazing. Green alpine meadows, raging waterfalls, cliffs, high alpine scenery. The weather on Jungfraujoch went from partly cloudy to cloudy/foggy during our visit, so we got to see the contrast of the Alp weather. The train rides were amazing, with breathtaking scenery. Kid will stop and point out photographic points along the way and will grab your camera to photograph something you may miss. He also makes sure to give you opportunities for group photos with your family. The view from the top was impressive. A few people were struggling with the altitude so it is important to take it slow. The Ice Palace was great but wear good non-slip shoes. Definitely a unique tour with some amazing scenery. I would do this again in a minute!

Jun192012

Tour/Activity

Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Small Group Tour from Munich

Munich, Germany

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

Of my six tours in Europe this trip, this one stands out the most. The tour is very well run time wise, no running around wondering if you are on the right train. The tour was very comprehensive, and detailed from a historical perspective. The entire site is visited with time for reflection at the memorials. The guide was extremely knowledgeable, bridging the history before the camp was established, through the camp's evolution and it's bearing on the other camps, and commentary about current views (children in Germany all visit a camp as part of their learning). You could do this alone, and just read the signs at the site, but I highly recommend the tour and guide as I found all of my questions and queries answered as topics were presented at the various sites within the camp. There is a quick view of the SS barracks (currently the Bavarian Police), workshops (now the museum), main courtyard, solitary confinement cells, and barracks. The barracks show the evolution and crowding that occurred over time. A walk down the main "avenue" (most barracks are outlined but no longer stand) to the memorials, then on to the crematorium and a shower room that may or may not have been used. This was the tough part of the tour, the guide was a bit more passive and let us absorb the impact of this area on a more individual basis after a brief introductory presentation. A very informative day, that still leaves me thinking. Not a typical vacation activity, but a must do. The only downside was the public bus transfer to the site from the train. Very, very crowded.Actually, I feel silly complaining about a bus, knowing what these prisoners had to endure.

Jun182012

Tour/Activity

Royal Castles of Neuschwanstein and Linderhof Day Tour from Munich

Munich, Germany

My Rating
2 star rating: It was OK, but could have been better

My Review

I scheduled 6 tours on this trip to Europe and this one stands out as the worst of the bunch. I do mark it as ok, but maybe with another tour group. The line used a double decker bus so a lot of people to herd on and off a bus. The scenery into the Bavarian Alps was fantastic. Linderhof looked amazing, but we did not get 2 hours to visit it. 10 minute walk to the castle, wait in a line for 20 min, tour the castle for 25 minutes, 10 minute walk back. There was absolutely no time to visit the grounds or walk around the magnificent fountains and gardens. Oberammergau is a very pretty little town, but really it is only a shopping stop. You are dropped by the shops and not by anything scenic. I would have preferred more time at the castles and avoided this stop. This was the stop where we left behind two Italian tourists. They were 7 minutes late. This tour will leave you behind. On to the star of the show, Neuschwanstein! I was so looking forward to this and the "4" hour visit. It was a 2.75 hour visit. 4 would have been perfect, particularly on a hot day. The guide assured us restaurant reservations and quick service so we could fit in the castle but there is no such thing. We grabbed a sandwich at a cafe, made it to the top, and joined our group for a tour. The heat and quick hike caused two people to become light headed, and one to pass out during the tour. We needed the 4 hours. The scenery was breathtaking, the castle tours were wonderful, pick another company to guide you to these gems.

Jun162012

Tour/Activity

Stonehenge, Salisbury and Bath Day Trip from London

London, United Kingdom

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

A very enjoyable trip...well planned with well spaced stops. We started off seeing a few highlights of London on the way out of the city, the guide was very knowledgeable. Bath was amazing, we had enough time to see the main sites then have some excellent scones and tea at the Mad Hatters. The Roman Baths were extremely crowded, but this was peak tourist season so it is understandable.

Salisbury was a nice stop, there was a wedding at the Cathedral and the stop was long enough to walk around the building and area (I would have preferred more time at Stonehenge instead).

The last stop was Stonehenge, it was awesome to see the site (even in the wind driven rain), but I really would have enjoyed more time at this site. There was not enough time to listen to the audio guide provided, so you had to pick and choose the topics you most wanted to hear.

The Cornish Pasties at Stonehenge are very tasty and a nice bridge to dinner for the long ride back to London.

A very full, but well spaced day to see the Salisbury Plain and Bath areas.

Jun152012

Tour/Activity

London Full-Day Sightseeing Tour

London, United Kingdom

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

A great tour if you have a short amount of time in London. The tour was well put together timewise, we never felt overly rushed. It was nice getting our own warder at the Tower of London, and seeing the Crown Jewels. The tour of St. Pauls Cathedral was excellent. A couple of improvements, I really think a visit to Westminster Abbey and Big Ben is needed. There is a drive by of the exterior, and a brief stop at Westminster, but these are two of the must see stops in London. The viewing of the changing of the guard was good, but was no where near Buckingham Palace. It would make sense to add Big Ben and Westminster as longer stops and advise people to see the guard change on their own. Additionally, the boat cruise is a ferry ride with some brief commentary from our guide. As another note, the Victoria Coach station wait can be confusing, with several buses leaving at the same time. Our start time was listed as 8:00am, but the bus was slated for 8:30 and then didn't leave until 8:45. The extra 45 minutes of sleep would have been nice. My mom and I did choose to eat lunch at the pub recommended. Service was good and quick and the vegetable pie was excellent. Finally, we added the Harrod's Tea option. Tea time was very close to lunch time, so we were not terribly hungry at Harrod's. It is an impressive spread of goodies (sandwiches and pastries), but we were stuffed from lunch so plan accordingly and have a light lunch. Overall, a good tour and a good guide. I would do this again.

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