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frenchhorn

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  1. We recommend the Hotel Damaso. It's across from the Piazza Navona, a short walk from the Pantheon, very close to the Campo Di Fiori. It is also close to two bus routes and a taxi stand. The room was lovely, the area was quiet at night, and the breakfast was excellent. It also has adjacent easy short term parking, if you are being picked up or dropped off by car. We loved it and would stay there again, if we went back to Rome.
  2. Yes, ItalyTours.eu and Spain Day Tours and also Barcelona Day Tours are the same company. ItalyTours.eu also operates in southern France. We used them in all three countries and were delighted with all our tours.
  3. We did the Norway in a Nutshell trip from Oslo to Bergen in two days with an overnight in Flam. We were late 70's - early 80's in age and didn't want to haul luggage on the many changes that are part of the NIN. We used the Porter service and thought it was worth every penny. Besides saving our backs, it made quick stops easier when we wanted restrooms or snacks and had only small bags to carry with us. We found (in 2018) that the Porter service picked up only at specific hotels, so we had to change our reservations from the Thon Opera to another Thon hotel near the Oslo station. The service stored the luggage overnight, and when we arrived at the Rosenkrantz in Bergen the next day, it was waiting for us. We loved the NIN setup and especially enjoyed doing it in two days instead of one. We booked through Fjord Tours, but all of the segments can be booked individually. If you plan to use the Porter service, check on the specific hotels on their pick up and drop off lists. We'd do it again exactly the same way, if we could get to Norway!
  4. We've been on several Christmas market cruises, and we often wore silk underwear such as a silk turtleneck under a sweater. The silk washed easily, dried quickly in the bathroom, and looked good under a sweater. When it was really cold, we wore silk long johns under pants. We also preferred merino or cashmere sweaters because of the light weight and easy packability. We always wore Smartwool hiking socks outside and never found them too hot even in warmer weather. I wore fleece mittens and earmuffs instead of gloves and a hat, but those are personal preferrences. I had a longish rain resistant jacket with a zip out lining and often didn't need the lining over the silk and wool layers. On a December cruise on the Mediterranean in 2019, I usually wore a thin down vest under a rain jacket instead of a coat with a liner. We had waterproof walking shoes (alternated with regular walking shoes) but didn't feel that waterproofing was really necessary on our trips.
  5. We are currently 78 and 84 and were booked for a river cruise in late June. We've done several European ocean cruises and 8 European river cruises. We had no trouble keeping up with tours, but we will probably not book outside the US again because of our worries that the coronavirus will continue to put us at greater risk for the next couple of years. Getting ill with a contagious disease in a foreign country is no longer an option for us in spite of our having had good travel medical insurance in the past. We are considering an American river or Great Lakes cruise for 2022, but we will wait and schedule close to the departure date. I believe that the discussions regarding those over 70 is related more to the higher risk of COVID complications in that age group than the activity required on the trip.
  6. We will be ages 84 and 78 in June, when we were scheduled to travel/cruise from Prague to Paris. Because of our ages, we recognized that we are at greater risk of serious complications. Although we have travel medical insurance,we'd have a more difficult time with healthcare in Europe than in the US along with difficult access to family. My husband is a retired physician, is accustomed to being in contact with many infectious diseases, and we are not generally alarmists. Because of our ages, however, we opted to cancel for a refund per our contract vs. vouchers for a future cruise.
  7. We had a river cruise (Cities of Light} scheduled to begin June 24. We had just scheduled it with a good deal and were looking forward to it. However, the more information we gathered, the more worried we became. My husband is a retired physician age almost 84, and I am 78. We decided that we would cancel and get a refund per the terms of the contract, because we don't know if and when we'll be able to travel to Europe in the future. We are both healthy, but we are "old" and therefore at increased risk of serious complications from COVID-19. We have GeoBlue insurance that would cover us in Europe, but we decided that we would rather have more control of our healthcare in the US and easier access to family. We worried about being quarantined in Europe or having difficulty getting home. Our ages are to us the most important factor in making this decision, and we might not have made the same decision 15 years ago. I guess being old is an underlying health condition!
  8. https://www.hoteldamaso.it/ Perfect location and lovely hotel with good breakfast. It's 5 minutes' walk to Piazza Navona and Campo di Fiori, 10 minutes to Pantheon, and close to two bus stops.
  9. We took the Viking tour Leonardo da Vinci and Lucca on our December cruise and loved the entire tour. Consider that one, if it's offered on yours.
  10. We were in Livorno last December and did Viking's Leonardo daVinci and Lucca tour. It was a full day tour that began in Lucca with an excellent tour and some free time. (I could have stayed there for weeks.) We then visited the farmhouse where Leonardo da Vinci grew up outside the small town of Vinci and followed that with a visit to the museum that contained many structures built using da Vinci's drawings. Some on our tour squeezed in a quick shopping visit to an excellent ceramics studio in Vinci. We loved the entire excursion. It was 8.5 hours, began at 9:30 am, and cost $109 per person. We did both Viking tours and private tours on our Rome to Lisbon cruise, and we thought this was one of the best Viking tours.
  11. We had a terrific driver/guide from the port of Marseille to Aix en Provence, Cassis, and Marseille. She was with ItalyTours.eu. Four of us did the full day tour and were able to adjust the tour based upon how much time we wanted to spend in each place. I don't know if they operate out of the other French ports that you mentioned, but our Marseille tour was outstanding.
  12. We were recently in Rome and purchased the S.U.P.E.R ticket a little less than a month ahead. We knew that we wanted to visit the houses of Augustus and Livia, and we were able to book those for November 30 without charge back in August, months before buying the SUPER ticket for entry to the Palatine Hill. We had not been to the Palatine Hill before, wanted to take a brief trip through the Forum, and didn't want to visit the Colosseum again. The SUPER ticket was perfect for our needs, and we really enjoyed what we saw. It also gave us entry to the museumon the Palatine Hill. I regret that we didn't visit the Domus Transitoria. On Sunday, December 1 we visited the Domus Aurea, which also usually requires a timed reservation and is open only on Saturdays and Sundays. A few people walked up and purchased tickets for later that day, but we had purchased ours in August to be sure we got in. It was terrific. Thanks, Cruisemom42 for all the information you've shared on CruiseCritic - so much has been helpful!
  13. Four of us booked two tours in December with Italytours.eu, and both tours were terrific. We booked first to take us from our Rome hotel to the port in Civitavecchia to meet our ship, but we asked to spend much of the day touring before going to the ship. We went first to Lake Bracciano and then to the sites in Tarquinia and the museum in town. Our driver was excellent and gave us much information as we rode. He stayed with the car at our stops, so we didn't worry about our luggage. We recommend this kind of tour to make great use of a day of transport. The other tour we booked with Italy Tours was from the port in Marseille touring Aix-en-Provence, Cassis, and Marseille. Again we had an outstanding driver/guide who told us so much about the places we visited. We had free time to explore the markets in Aix and Cassis but saw so much of the towns and the countryside and coast. It was a full day but worth every minute. We did not worry about their getting us back in time to sail - they know how to manage the time allowed. Cristina was organized and so easy to work with, and I'd definitely book again with them.
  14. We toured with Alex of Top Ten Tours and visited the Queluz Palace in December. We also had it to ourselves, and your photos are terrific. It was a gorgeous place.
  15. http://www.toptentours.eu/ They specialize in very small groups. Four of us toured for two days in December with a wonderful guide named Alex, and we'd recommend the company to anyone. Their tours are a very reasonable cost for such a small group, and they worked with us to decide what we'd do each day. We stayed at the Altis Avenida Hotel in the Rossio area - across from the train station. The hotel was very nice, and the area was perfect - near restaurants and shops. We ate at a restaurant called Bonjardim, which was tucked away in an alley near the hotel. Our guide recommended it, and it was filled with local families. They specialize in chicken, which was terrific and plentiful. We loved Lisbon and wish we could have stayed longer.
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