Pat L

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Pat L

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Sep292012

Tour/Activity

Skip the Line: Florence Accademia and Uffizi Gallery Tour

Florence, Italy

My Rating
3 star rating: Worth doing

My Review

Unfortunately there was a museum workers strike the day before we went causing the “Skip the line” benefit of the tour null and void since every one who had reservations the day of the strike were rescheduled to our day, doubling the amount of people, tour groups, and causing great chaos and long lines. This had a negative effect on our plans outside of the tours for the day. Our tour guide was not the most organized guide, and it felt that he talked about only the things he found interesting in the museum, though he was a very knowledgeable guide, who definitely had a deep artistic understanding of each of the works we focused on. Accademia was a small museum, which unfortunately contained both the classics and modern art in the same room (I felt the modern art to detract from seeing the great works, and take up too much standing space). Ladies should be warned about a mirrored floor in the last room. Uffizi was an amazing museum very large, and should be done first to give enough time to explore after the tour, closing time came quickly after the tour especially after the lines to enter.

Pros:
* Very Educated guide who knew his art history.
* Amazing must see works were covered in great detail.
* Works illustrating the evolution/revolution in art leading to the master pieces were also mapped out, and covered with good detail.

Cons:
* Waited over an hour in line for Accademia and 30 min for Uffizi, defeating the benefit of “skip the line”.
* Price: The Cost the ticket prices are 6 and 5 euros, probably would have been worth it more if there had not been the strike the previous day.
* The guide was unorganized, we found ourselves weaving strange patterns in each of the rooms due to a “Oh and you know what else is neat” type of guide.
* No museum maps, or informational handouts were given.

Sep282012

Tour/Activity

Tuscany in One Day Sightseeing Tour

Florence, Italy

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

This was a great way to see the Tuscan Countryside, and visit some major sites along the way. A lot was packed in for a full day trip, however it never seemed rushed. Our tour guide Elisa, gave wonderful explanations of each of the areas we visited. The guided tour of Siena was nicely done, covering the major sites and the history of banking, I would have liked more time here, as much of it was squandered waiting in line for the restrooms at the Siena Cathedral since the bus did not have any restrooms on board. When I had booked the tour, I was afraid the lunch stop was not going to be filling, but I was proven wrong after a nice tour of the farm, the meat and wine tasting was substantial, and the longer bus ride was nice to relax after all that food and wine. San Gimignano was a wonderful place, though I half would have liked a guided walk around the streets, however we did make good use of the time just wandering the scenic streets, and eating gelato. The time in Pisa the final destination could have been cut a bit shorter, and the tram ride was a bit hot and uncomfortable, in addition our tram had a bad connection so as our guide spoke, we missed some of what she said. It was nice go to the top of the leaning tower. Pros: Saw a lot without feeling too rushed, a wonderful meal, and lots of good wine, Informative tour of Siena, nice amount of time for wandering in San Gimignano, Cons: No bathroom on bus (this took time away from exploring each of the sites), too much time in Pisa, would have liked a short guided tour in San Gimignano, would have liked more free time in Siena, tram in Pisa was not fun

Sep262012

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

The Vatican museum tour was a wonderful way to get a glimpse of the great works they have especially if you have a limited amount of time, especially when you get to skip the line. Even with the early morning tour it was very crowded, noisy and generally chaotic. The tour group lead by Angela moved along at a good clip glazing over many of the roman sculptures, and lesser known frescos and works or art, making taking any pictures a bit rushed. It was a shame that the descriptions and notes on the Sistine Chapel had to be given outside and well in advance of seeing it, as to rules by the Vatican. Unfortunately we chose a Wednesday where the Pope gave a mass in St Peter’s Square, which meant that St Peter’s Basilica was not apart of the tour, so be weary of of Wednesdays with the tour.

Pros:
* Microphone / whisper system was very helpful in the noise of the crowds.
* Major/Famous works were very well explained
* We saw a lot in a little amount of time

Cons:
* Many of the works were missed / glazed over.
* No handouts, or museum map given.
* Too much time between explanation of the work of the Sistine Chapel and when we got to see it.
* No guided tour of the St Peter’s Basilica (Due to closure on Wednesday morning)

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