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Olivia R

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Olivia R

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Jun092013

Tour/Activity

Skip the Line: Versailles Full-Day Tour

Versailles, France

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

Really great experience. Tour was only 4 of us for the morning part in the gardens which was nice, but then bigger for the palace but still small enough. The guide was enthusiastic and knowledgeable and fun to listen to. It was also nice to have all the tickets pre-collected for us like to the gardens and to the palace and to Marie Antoinette's farm so that there was no line waiting or confusion about buying tickets. And you should go see all the places, so buying the tour that includes all access was the way to go. There's also not very much in the way of readable info in Versailles, so if you went without a guide, I think you'd really miss out on the history and stories which are what make it so fascinating.

Keep in mind that it takes a good while to get there from Paris. I was told 30 mins but it took more like an hour so plan to leave earlier than expected. Also the grounds of Versailles are very pebbly so this is not a day to wear cute or open toed shoes. I got rocks all up in my shoes and was a little miserable walking so much. The grounds are impressively big so you will do a bit of walking.

The garden has a lot of fountains which are only on from 3:30 to 5, so after your tour there is a lot of time to walk around before the fountains start, which you will definitely want to see. There's paddle boats you can take out if its a nice day, or restaurants to lunch at, and all of Marie Antoinette's private grounds to see. There's a little train that runs to Marie's place that costs 7 euro each way but I promise it's so walkable. Absolutely not worth 14 euros for the roundtrip. The map makes things look bigger, just walk.

There's also an app called "maps with me" that I had that shows all the paths around the grounds and uses GPS, not wifi or 3G, which saved me once because it can be a little maze-like once you explore Marie Antoinette's part.

Overall the tour as great. Definitely worth the cost. Highly recommend. Enjoy!

My Photos

  • Marie Antoinette's farm
  • Versailles picstitch

May312013

Tour/Activity

Skip the Line: Small Group Florence Uffizi Gallery Walking Tour

Florence, Italy

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

I went on several Viator tours in Europe and this was BY FAR my favorite. Our guide was so great. So excitable, kept us all in the right spot even though that museum can be very crowded, and had a supremely impressive love for and knowledge of the pieces in the museum.

For me, in retrospect there would have been no reason to go to the museum without a guide. Everyone tells you you have to go to the Uffizi so you go but if I'd walked in alone I would have stayed 30 minutes. It's all old religious art which I honestly think is just not that pretty, nor technically impressive. It's the history that makes you marvel. Maybe if you did art history or something you would know this stuff but while I have studied art technique a lot, history was never explained to me much.

It was mind blowing. Really. Having an understanding of art as a means of communication, entertainment, political statement making, and status boasting was something I did not have before. It really changes your perspective and appreciation for what you are seeing. We think of technology as evolving but art seems intrinsic to personal skill, and not something that necessarily evolves. But it does, and it's so interesting to learn and see how.

If I could have put my tour guide in my pocket and taken him everywhere, I would. I was absolutely gleeful with his delightful energy and fascinating stories. You should get the tour. It's not worth it to go to Uffizi without.

My Photos

  • Uffizi

May292013

Tour/Activity

Skip the Line: Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica Half-Day Walking Tour

Rome, Italy

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

Pro tip: Don't go on Wednesday afteroon! We went to see the pope in the morning, as does everyone, and then thought oh we're already there we'll just stay and do the Vatican that afternoon. As did EVERYONE. Rome's metro is great and it's not a bother to travel to the Vatican at all. So do yourself a favor and don't try to do the papal audience and the Vatican on the same day just to be convenient. There were SO many people we were waiting in lines forever and just shuffling through halls.

That being said, the guide was great. The system they use to communicate was very effective, I could always hear without having to be all bunched up. The guide did her best to navigate us efficiently around the crowds, and yet give us enough time to see everything. St. Peter's is astonishing, it really is.

One thing to keep in mind, when looking for where to meet to start the tour, keep an eye on the paper and directions you print out. Someone on the street in an official looking shirt tried to "direct" me and told me waaaay the wrong spot, not sure if it was someone trying to get me into a different company's tour or just an innocently helpful Roman person but I started to listen to them and then had second thoughts. I'm glad I followed my gut because you don't want to be late as it would be impossible to find your tour once they had started.

The only reason I can't give this 5 stars is because it was soo crowded, which was my own fault because I went Wednesday afternoon.

My Photos

  • St Peter's

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