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Apr162013

Tour/Activity

Skip the Line: Small-Group Milan Walking Tour with da Vinci's 'The Last Supper' Tickets

Milan, Italy

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

My Review

The highlight of this tour was getting in to see The Last Supper, otherwise I thought it was much too long for what you get from it. The group itself was much too large, and this contributed to my low rating. A smaller number of people would be much more satisfying and more manageable. The Duomo tour was really quite fast and so didn't cover several of the more interesting items of the Church. I went back on my own the next day, paid for an audio guide, and frankly had a much more satisfying experience; I certainly saw and learned more than I did with the tour.

Another highlight was seeing the Sforza Castle (Castello Sforzesco), but again you'll have a more satisfying experience if you see it on your own. We spent much more time than was necessary just walking the streets, getting from one site to the other (they are not close together and a lot of walking is involved). Because we were such a large group we were strung out in single file along the sidewalks, far from our guide, and the ear plugs for the radio were very poor quality which made it difficult to near impossible to hear the guide speaking. Most people in the group were really just along for the walk and entry to the Last Supper and didn't pay much attention to the guide.

My review of the tour is in no way a criticism of the guide; she was very friendly and knowledgeable. It's more that the tour itinerary was lacking, the size of the group was much too large, and the audio was inferior quality. The only thing that made this tour okay was the entry to see the Last Supper - amazing and a must see!

Apr122013

Tour/Activity

Skip the Line: Best of Venice Walking Tour including Basilica di San Marco

Venice, Italy

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

My Review

This tour too was longer than it should've been. It was nice to see the Marco Polo home, but otherwise the walk through Venice was uneventful and not very interesting. The group was much too large and the ear plugs were of poor quality, which made it difficult to hear. The tour itself was rushed so when we did come upon sites that generated questions we only stopped briefly but then had to keep going to stay on schedule. The highlights of the tour were the Basilica and Doge's Palace, only I wish we had more time to explore at a slower pace and ask questions. We didn't get any history of the Palazzo or the bell tower. I do think the itinerary was too much for the amount of time devoted; it would have been better to spend the whole time just in and around the Palazzo, Basilica, and Doge's Palace, rather then spending the first part of the tour walking around the city.

My recommendation is based primarily on the fact that we didn't have to wait to enter the Basilica or Doge's Palace, which was nice. The lines to get into both were very long; if you can arrange another tour or purchase your tickets to these sites in advance, it might be more worth it than taking this specific tour.

Apr122013

Tour/Activity

Venice Grand Canal Boat Tour

Venice, Italy

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

Be sure to be the first in the boat to get a seat in the rear, otherwise you may have to sit inside in which case this tour would have a much lower rating. The whole point of this tour is to see and experience a ride on the canals, which sitting inside makes difficult. The tour itself was very pleasant. We saw many of the major sites from the boat, including little known areas that I visited by foot the next day. The guide was very professional and knowledgeable; in fact he was a native Venetian! This is a good and less expensive way to see Venice by boat (rather than a gondola), but again, make sure you get in first and get a seat in the stern!

Sep262012

Tour/Activity

Sitges and Freixenet's Cava Wine Cellars Day Trip from Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

Trip to Freixenet and Sitges was definitely a highlight during my trip to Barcelona. I arrived at the travel office about 10 minutes before the stated departure and while the office was very busy, I was able to check-in quickly. I would recommend though to definitely print and take your travel voucher with you; when I arrived they had no record of my reservation even though I booked over a week in advance. I presented my voucher and in no time had my tickets for the tour.

There were approximately 30 people on the tour and the bus ride from Barcelona was a pleasant 30 min drive. The Freixenet Winery and wine cellars were amazing and the tour host was great. I would definitely recommend this visit for anyone interested in Cava and Spanish wines.

The trip to Sitges was also a pleasant bus ride and the guide provided very interesting facts about Sitges and history of Catalonia that made the ride that much more enjoyable. Sitges is a beautiful, historic seaside resort town about 30 miles south of Barcelona with beautiful Mediterranean beaches and views.

You're only given about 2 hours in Sitges for lunch and shopping before having to get back on the bus, which is not nearly enough time. You do have the option to stay longer and return by train on your own, which is what I did, and is only a 30 min ride back to central Barcelona. Do take advantage of this option. I stayed about 6 hours enjoying lunch, walking the beautiful beaches, and exploring the town. Bring a swimsuit if you plan to stay and enjoy the beach! The visit to Sitges alone is worth the trip!

I highly recommend this tour!

Sep222012

Tour/Activity

Barcelona Airport Private Arrival Transfer

Barcelona, Spain

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

The arrival transfer was perfect and I did not experience any problems. The driver was waiting with a sign with my name and the drive into Barcelona was comfortable. If cost is a concern, consider a taxi ride which is about 20 euros cheaper than a private transfer. I took a taxi back to the airport after my trip to Barcelona without any problems.

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