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Jul262013

Tour/Activity

Skip the Line: Vatican in One Day

Rome, Italy

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

We were told we were lucky to be in the Vatican on a relatively uncrowded day. Yet it did not feel that way at all, with a mass of humanity all around, especially in the Sistene Chapel. While the museum rooms were lovely, they were not easy to enjoy, due to the crowds. Our tour guide, Nicholi, was excellet, and provided headsets for everyone, allowing us to hear him clearly in spite of the crowds. St Peter's was awe-inspiring.
We were released for lunch for a couple of hours, then onto buses for the afternoon visit to the three other Basilicas (St Paul's, St John's, St Mary's.) We were initially concerned that seeing 4 cathedrals inthe same day would be too much of the same thing. But that was not the case. These were all beautiful,in different styles from St Peter's, and actually more enjoyable to visit than St Peter's, since there were no crowds at all, giving time and peace to enjoy them properly.

Jul252013

Tour/Activity

Pompeii Day Trip from Rome

Rome, Italy

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

We took this tour as a one-day get-away from Rome, and highly recommend it. First stop was Mt Vesuvious, with a 20 minute hike up a gravel trail to the rim of the volcano crater. Views of the surrounding area wer spectacular. We then were provided with an excellent lunch of salad and pizza before heading into Pompeii. At Pompeii, we were handed over to a local guide, Vicente, donned headsets, and began the tour. Vicente was a wealth of knowledge and really brought the dead city back to life. The city is far larger than we expected and took a good 2 hours to walk through. Highly recommend.

Jul242013

Tour/Activity

Skip the Line: Ancient Rome and Colosseum Half-Day Walking Tour

Rome, Italy

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

Best of 5 Dark Rome tours we took in Rome. Our guide, Simone (PhD in Archiology) was highly knowledgable with a great sense of humor. He really made the tour enjoyable, despite crowds and heat. As advertized, we passed hundreds in line and went right into the Colossuem. We saw areas that the general public could not see ( (walked on the floor/stage and in the cells under). The Colosseum is spectactular and clearly a must-see sight in Rome. From there we walked across the street to the Forum, which was basically the city square of ancient Rome. Pretty much as expected: antient temple ruins, columns, fountains, etc. We took this tour on a hot July morning and ended the tour before it got too uncomfortable. Would not have wanted to take the tour in the afternoon.

Jul192013

Tour/Activity

Hitler and the Third Reich Munich Walking Tour

Munich, Germany

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

We've done this tour before, but came back with our teenage boys. Our tour guide made this one of the best of many tours on our trip. Can't remember her name, but she was a native German with a degree in modern European history, which allowed her to give us the German perspective of a very difficult topic. The tour itself walked the streets of Munich, going to numerous sites and buildings with significance to the birth and rise of the Nazi party. The tour gave both history, and a great introduction to Munich.

Jul172013

Tour/Activity

Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Oxford Custom Day Trip

London, United Kingdom

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

Our whole family really enjoyed this trip. First stop out of London was Stonehenge, which was the most anticipated stop by those on our bus prior to departure, and the least memorable upon our return (really, it's just a big, curious pile of rocks). On this tour, we had to pay extra upon arrival to get close to Stonehenge and get the audio guide. Next stop was Windsor Castle. We took this tour rather than a similar one in which entrance to the castle is included because we had the London Pass, which included free entrance. Highly recommend you do the same, if you are planning to buy London Passes. We actually got into the castle 30 minutes before the rest of our tour group since they had to wait in a long line of tour groups while we went through the single-person entrance. The castle was amazing, both inside and out. Everything you'd expect to see in a caslte: massive walls and fortifications, huge banquet halls, lavishly decorated rooms. Last stop was Oxford. Our guide conducted a walking tour of the town and small section of the university, then set us free for exploration or shopping. Recommend visiting one of the colleges--for a couple of pounds we were able to walk through their courtyards, gardens, chapel, etc. Should note that this tour does not go to Christ Church College, so if you're looking for Harry Potter's dining hall, you won't see it.

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