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Georgia B

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Georgia B

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May142013

Tour/Activity

Skip the Line: Doge's Palace Secret Itineraries Tour

Venice, Italy

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

This tour operated precisely on time and exactly as advertised. The guide was very knowledgeable and organized. The "secret" part of the tour leads through fairly plain offices in which the business of the Venetian Republic was transacted, as well as to the cells for political prisoners and the torture chamber. It included a view right up under the rafters of the palace, so that one could see the construction of the roof and how the cieling of the main audience chamber was supported. All of this was interesting up to a point (the offices are quite plain and rather cramped), but we felt that the time allocated to the secret offices limited the time devoted to the extraordinary, public rooms of the palace which are stunning. Note that the important rooms of the palace are on the upper floors and require climbing a number of staircases before your tour really begins. Backpacks and large camera cases are not permitted in the palace.

May122013

Tour/Activity

Venice Private Arrival Transfer by Water Taxi: Cruise Port to Central Venice

Venice, Italy

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

Our transfer from the cruise port operated exactly as advertised. We were met on time by a lively, English-speaking guide who assisted with our luggage and walked with us to the boat dock (about a quarter of a mile.) She accompanied us on the ride to our hotel and introduced us to some of the sights as we went along. The nearest docking point to our hotel was about two blocks away but once again our guide helped with our bags and walked with us to the hotel lobby. This is not the cheapest way to get to your hotel but if you're new to Venice, it's a worry-free way to get from the cruise terminal to your lodgings.

May122013

Tour/Activity

Murano, Burano and Torcello Half-Day Sightseeing Tour

Venice, Italy

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

My Review

If you have several days in Venice, you are probably going to want to visit these islands. This tour gives an introduction to the islands but, despite lasting four hours, it sometimes seemed rushed and you may be further ahead to visit the islands independently and at your own speed. The stop at Murano (noted for its glass works) featured a very brief exhibition of glass-blowing followed (naturally) with a much longer visit to their store. Torcello is largely uninhabited but features a pleasant walk across the island to an attractive, small village with a few cafés. Burano is famous for its lace-making and is a very pretty and lively island. But again we were constrained by the time limits set for each island. The commentary in five languages was informative but listening to all those languages became a lttle tiresome after a while.

Apr282013

Tour/Activity

Civitavecchia Private Transfer: Rome Fiumicino Airport to Civitavecchia Cruise Port

Rome, Italy

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

Well, there was an initial problem with our transfer. Despite my giving not only the name of our hotel but its address, the assigned driver went to the wrong hotel (on the other side of Rome.) After a somewhat panicky telephone call to the limo company, however, they swung into action and we had a replacement car and driver at our hotel in little more than a half hour. After that we had a very pleasant drive right to our ship at Civitavecchia.

Jun042012

Tour/Activity

Hamburg Hop-on Hop-off Tour - Red Double Decker

Hamburg, Germany

My Rating
1 star rating: I do not recommend this

My Review

In contrast to every other Hop-on Hop-off bus I have ever taken, this bus service did not have a prerecorded commentary available in different languages. Instead, there was a live commentator on the bus. The problem was that on one bus we took, the commentary was 100% in German and on the other bus it was 90% in German, even though the commentator checked with us to see if we were English-speaking. What commentary we did understand seemed geared to being funny rather than informative. Bottom line: unless you speak German, this bus service cannot be recommended.

May312012

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

Very knowledgeable and organized guide. We got through security and ticketing quite quickly and we're given a good overview of the museums, though it was disappointing that we had to skip the art gallery completely. (In fairness, unless you had a week to devote to the museums, you can only see a selection of the items.)

May282012

Tour/Activity

Siena and San Gimignano Day Trip from Florence

Florence, Italy

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

The guide was very good, though all the commentary was done in English, then French and then Spanish, so that the commentary was virtually non-stop on the bus. In Siena, we had a separate English-speaking group with an excellent guide who really helped bring the city alive. (She was herself a resident.) There was no guided tour of San Gimignano; we were just given an hour to wander around on our own.

May262012

Tour/Activity

Florence City Hop-on Hop-off Tour

Florence, Italy

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

This is a pretty good way to get around to the highlights of the city. The only limitation is that the bus does not go through the very heart of the city (cathedral and palzzo vecchio area), I imagine because of the crowded and narrow streets. However, those are areas that you want to walk on your own anyway.

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