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Everything posted by kctwinmommy

  1. Yes, on the road going in/out of Sorrento, our guide mentioned how all it takes is one bus to mess it all up. Sure enough, on our way out of town, a bus heading into town had stopped on the side to let out 50 people to take photos! The backup was at least 2-3 miles! And it's already pretty slow going through there.
  2. @Hlitner said it perfectly! We didn't want to do the Sorrento/Pompeii tour, but I kind of screwed up, panicked, and then that was my only option. As it is, Viking had to wait until the night before to even add us. I was very disappointed in our time at Pompeii. Did I see it? Yes. Was it what I wanted? Not even close... =( I was disappointed, but I didn't let it ruin my trip either. Like it was already said too, make sure you get exact details from the tour operator. Make sure they know that you're coming in on a cruise. And just be ready in case there is a problem.
  3. We did the same, went to the adult comedy shows with ours. LOL! We also hit the casino one night, but since none of us are gamblers, we lasted maybe 30 minutes. LOL!
  4. Yes, agreed... I think we did at least 50 for our host on our extension.
  5. Our 18 year old, while he enjoyed our excursions, he was bored on the ship. That's the age where there isn't much for them to do.
  6. 4/24 - Dubrovnik, Croatia - Walking tour (included) So for this, we knew we wanted to do things on our own, so we did the included walking tour knowing that it offered the option to stay in the city on our own. Viking had a shuttle bus that ran right from outside the city gate back to the ship, I believe it was every 30 minutes. There were 2 other ships in port that day, so it was busy when we got into the Old Town area. One thing we learned, after being in Croatia, then Montenegro, then Croatia again, they all have their own opinion on the wars that were raged between their countries (as well as Serbia). It's sad to see and hear about how much damage was done in the Old Town area too. Our guide was really good about explaining that history. She talked a bit about how things are now, it's a little tense still, and understandable. It wasn't that long ago for many people still alive. We took some time right outside the walls, overlooking the water, to hear about all this, then headed into the city. She took us around the main highlights within the Old Town, pointing out various sights. There are also signs around the area to explain parts of the town that were damaged by the Balkan Wars of the 90's. After about an hour or so of walking with the guide, we were at the Dominican Monastery, which was nice. But, they were calling for some rain in the afternoon and we wanted to walk the city walls. We peeled off from our tour and headed to find tickets. Now, we did have a hard time finding tickets by the Ploce Gate, which was where we were close to. Instead of wasting more time, we knew they sold tickets by the main gate, the Pile Gate. It is off to the side, it's not obvious. The actual ticket office is truly tucked into a corner, so you might have to ask someone for its location. Once you start, there are 2 points were you can exit. Also, there are a few cafes along the way, in case you need to rest and refresh. Oh, and one other thing they don't tell you, they do a ticket check at one of the points as well. Thankfully, my husband didn't just toss our tickets. We didn't rush, but we didn't take forever either. It took us about 90 minutes to walk the whole thing. That's with stopping for photos of course. Plus, they have the path set up to go only one way, which is the best! There are a few points where it's a little narrow, so that's helpful. There are quite a few stairs as well. Afterwards, we grabbed some pizza, again, and of course Gelato, again. LOL! We were able to walk right up and jump on the shuttle bus right before it was ready to leave. We had hoped to do the cable car, if we had time, but it was closed in the afternoon. I read that it can happen depending on weather and winds. This was one of my favorite cities for sure and would love to spend more time here. I guess the Game of Thrones fans know this view. Such beautiful views! Areas that were damaged The Onofrio Fountain, about 600 years old The tree grew through the stone The Cathedral of the Assumption of Virgin Mary Inside the Dominican Monastery Vaulted ceilings of the monastery Cat on a hot tin roof. LOL! Overlooking Fort Lovrijenac, if we'd had more time we would have gone over there. Walking on the walls Another view of the fortress Overlooking Old Town A memorial plaque reminding people to not forget what happened. A map showing areas that were damaged. Yummy!! Ugh! Not sure why they rotated this way!!
  7. Yay! I'm so glad! It's funny, my husband was kind of like "Ehh... do we really need that extension." But I did rationalize that it seemed like a good bang for the buck type of thing. After we did it, he was 100% in agreement that it was worth it. He doesn't usually rave about things, but he did about that.
  8. Thanks @Podgieree! I hope it helps people. I'm working on getting through it as quickly as possible, without just doing it all at once. I do have others things to work on. LOL! But I also kept a journal with me (and short notes on my phone), so that has helped with remembering the details of things.
  9. Oh, we also learned, in case others weren't aware (like me), when they say you get 1 included at each port, it doesn't matter if it's 3 days that you're there. It makes sense, and it is what they say. I just wasn't totally thinking. LOL! So we could only try to get into one included excursion, and it didn't matter if it was on a day/time that we didn't like. We would have preferred Sunday, but it ended up working out better being on Friday.
  10. So like others have already commented, for our specific cruise, we booked it as one cruise, it was titled as such. We were new to Viking. We didn't realize it until after we booked, that it was technically 3 legs of a longer 4 leg cruise. This means that the 2 ports where it was a turnover day (Venice & Rome) had excursions that weren't posted before we sailed. When we got on board, we were able to book Venice and then the next day we were given forms for Rome. It was kind of weird that there were 2 different ways for the 2 ports. Now, it sounds like others are saying that they have since changed this process. Maybe they finally figured out how to limit access to those excursions to people who are booked through that port. That would be great if they did!
  11. Seems like you've hit the main points. I would also say, since you mentioned your daughter's appearance and concerns, she shouldn't be off on her own then. Make sure she hangs out with other kids. Safety in numbers! Hope they have a great time!
  12. I echo what @euro cruiser said. We did an excursion through our Viking cruise that was Sorrento & Pompeii. We honestly didn't have enough time at either of the places. Traffic was bad both going into Sorrento and getting back to Pompeii. Our friends had a private tour scheduled to just the Amalfi Coast and theirs got cancelled because the your operator said they couldn't guarantee their time back to the ship.
  13. 4/23 - Kotor, Montenegro - Highlights of Montenegro (optional tour). I'll be honest, when they described this in the port talk, we weren't sure we had picked a good one. It sounded a little underwhelming. We got up a little early to see some of the sail into the bay, it's really beautiful. It reminded us of Norway, with the fjords there. It was overcast and they were calling for some rain during the day. We were certainly glad we bought those rain jackets the day before! We headed to our bus and met our guide, George, who spoke perfect English. He even commented that people don't think he's from there, but he's spent about half of his life living there. He explained how his sister was raised as a child in Montenegro, during the good times (the Yugo being a big deal at the time, as the country was part of Yugoslavia at that time). However, after the war in the early 90's, when the country fell apart and their economy tanked, his parents moved with the 2 kids to Toronto for a better life. This means he spent most of his childhood living in Canada, hence, the perfect English. He also explained the insanely high inflation rate the country had when his parents left, it was like 300 million percent! We headed up the mountains on our bus, it's 25 switchbacks and can be really tight at times. If you're prone to anxiety with this, just keep it in mind. He told us how he's had a few guests in the past really freak out. As we climbed, the view down to the bay was beautiful, even with the overcast day. You'll start taking pictures, only to realize the view just gets better and better. LOL! We got pretty high up and stopped at a little town Njegusi, a small town that makes their own smoked meats, pretty common around this entire area. We had a small meal of some meat and cheese, with local wine (or soda). People had a chance to use the bathroom and stretch their legs. This is where the last king of Montenegro was born. From here, we moved through the Lovcen National Park, so pretty, even with the rain and clouds. There was snow on the ground here too, so pretty high up. It's a nice, scenic drive through the area. We continued on to Cetinje, the former capital city of Montenegro. There's a small museum, King Nikola's palace, the last ruler of the country. He actually did a lot for the country, but was exiled after WWI, with the country becoming Yugoslavia. We were in the rain now, it was a decent rain, not heavy, but steady. Everyone was using umbrellas. The museum was small, but some neat things. George showed us around, pointing out various things. It's a little tight in there, and with the wet umbrellas, it was pretty packed in there. We had a little free time after we were done, but again, the weather put a damper on the town. Not much was going on, a few cafes were open. We walked around to see a few of the sights. I wish the weather had been better, so we could have enjoyed it a bit more. There's a beautiful, little church here, the Castle Church, along with the Cetinje Monastery. We headed back to the bus to start our drive back to Kotor. We came in a slightly different way, to see the resort city of Budva. This is their little riviera type town, and they do get thousands of visitors in the summer months. George explained how the country tried to recover, after the wars and to grow in their independence. They wanted to bring more visitors here, so they convinced the producers of the Bond movie Casino Royale (Daniel Craig version) to set the movie in Montenegro. Even though they didn't film it there, the setting is there. A major hotel in the Budva was behind this pitch, thinking it would help promote the area, and it worked! Many celebrities come to Budva for a getaway. After our return to the port, we walked into the Old Town portion. Again, with the cooler, rainy weather, and our already long day, we didn't do a lot. We would have loved to have climbed some of the higher points, but instead, we walked along the city walls for a bit. Also grabbed a piece of pizza! This was the first place where they gave me a slice, on a lightweight piece of cardboard, and you can basically fold it in half, walk, and eat it. They don't load their pizzas like we do, much more simple toppings. We got Margherita pizza in almost every port! It's a nice old town area, easy to walk around and to get back to the ship. We did go to the pool deck BBQ that night. They have like 3 different musicians throughout. Some acoustic, a duet, and the band. It does get a little loud at times, but some good food - brats, ribs, pulled pork... Sailing into the bay in the morning... At a stop along the way heading up Two bays, with the one our ship was in on the right Cetinje streets, pretty empty Castle Church Budva Kotor Cathedral The streets in Kotor weren't really busy either, it was later in the day and the rain had been falling for awhile. Another pathway in Old Town Kotor Cathedral Stairs in part of the city walls Amazing the old walls around the city. Clock tower in Kotor Kotor in the evening before sailing out.
  14. 4/22 - Corfu - We did the included Old Town Walking Tour this day. It started with a short ride through the town, heading up the hills a bit. We did a stop above the little airport in town, and saw the nunnery that is there. It was the Monastery of Panagia Vlaheran. Really neat little stop with a beautiful view. She explained how the steps out to the monastery is how they used to get out there. On our drive, our guide was also explaining how WWII affected the area, and that the Germans (apparently the other term for them gets starred out on CC) eventually came for the Jews in the area, taking them away, with most not returning. It's always so sad to hear these stories across Europe. Our tour lasted maybe 90 minutes or so, including the drive and some walking through town. In the Old Town area, she pointed out some sights that people might want to see. She also explained where we could pick up a shuttle bus back to the ship, or how we could walk back if we wanted (we opted for this route, just keep the water on your right!). Once we were done with our tour, most people went off on their own instead of taking the bus back with the guide. At this point, we also realized that we needed to get some rain gear. We had somewhat overpacked and mispacked. It's hard to plan for an entire month. Plus, I feel as though my hopeful, wishful thinking of a warm Mediterranean cruise doesn't mean it will actually happen. But, we knew we were going to have rain at least another few times, so off we went. We were walking by several stores, and my husband saw one advertising Crocs, so he thought he'd ask. Well, after several minutes of him not coming out, I went in and realized he'd found the Helly Hansen rain jackets. Yes, the same ones they sell on the ship (but they didn't have his size onboard). Soo.... a few Euros later 🙄 off we left each with a new rain jacket. But the woman was really nice and helpful getting us fitted. We hit a few more little shops, my husband sampled the various liquors along the way. He eventually got a bottle of Limoncello for on the ship, and a smaller bottle of the Kumquat liquor to bring home. They're very generous with their samples, so give it a try! Then we headed over to the Old Fortress. It's €6 for admission, but neat to walk around and climb up to the top. It's a bit of a climb, but you can take your time. It wasn't crowded at all. The Germans used this to detain the Jews in Corfu before transporting them out of the city. Out of about 1800 deported, only around 120 returned after WWII. There's a little cafe on the property, although we didn't stop. You can also see the Church of Agios Georgios, where the late Prince Phillip was baptized. I didn't realize he was born here, although he didn't spend much time here. We grabbed a little lunch, nothing special and not that good. Our mistake for just grabbing a table and not paying attention to the menus. There are a lot of little sidewalk cafes, and they run together, so sometimes we didn't realize there were different places. After walking around and getting tired, we decided to do the 1.5ish mile walk back to the ship. You pretty much just keep walking along the water, keeping it on your right. It's not a difficult walk, just basic sidewalks and a few stops along the way to look at some of the ships. Overall, a cute town, several things to see and easy to do things on your own here. The Old Fortress The Old Fortress Looking down the promenade, there's a bunch of different cafes along here Along the streets of Corfu The tower inside the Old Fortress Looking into the city, the fortress was actually separate from the town On the fortress property Beautiful water below Love all the steps, you could photograph these for days! These old buildings fascinate me, with all the wear & tear on the walls, but still standing. This little kitty found the perfect sleeping spot. It was a little cool that day, overcast at times. But the scooter seat, being black, had absorbed all the heat and was a nice, warm place to sleep. My husband brings a collapsible fishing rod with him whenever we travel. He also makes sure to research the fishing laws in each country. He never catches anything, but he gives it a shot. Overlooking the monastery, with the rocks they used to use to walk out there. In front of the Saint George's church at the Old Fortress.
  15. I'm working on my review and each excursion we did. We didn't go to all of these ports, but we did hit 5 of them. Otherwise, I went to the ports of call pages to start finding information, I read through the descriptions, Googled a bit, and then we just picked what we thought we'd enjoy the most.
  16. I decided to start a new thread for the review of the actual cruise. I figure if people are looking through titles, they'll be looking for that. If anyone wants to read about it, it's over here. It's going to take me a little time to get through it all. LOL! But trying to get a day at a time done.
  17. Here is my husband's 2nd attempt at the race dropping about 10 seconds from his first. He is proud of his 2nd place finish, behind the 20 year old young man that raced him, LOL!! He would often tell others of his days as an Olympic runner on the rest of our trip. 🙄 🤣 20240421_144533.mp4
  18. (4/21) - Katakolon (Olympia) - I won't lie, we weren't expecting to enjoy this tour as much as we did! I guess we thought it was going to be a little less than what it was. It was a great start to the actual cruise for us, having a good day on our first stop. I will say, that we truly enjoyed almost every port we stopped in, except probably two (I'll share those as they come up). 😉 So, we did the included tour for this - Ancient Olympia (4 hours). This is when we discovered that the start time for included tours, when there's a lot and they're close together, is a little fuzzy. We had a ticket for 1:15 and our friends had 1:00. We just walked down with them, as this was our first tour and we didn't know how it would work. We didn't ask, just checked in with the Viking crew, showed them our tickets, and they put us on the same bus group together. Now, I would imagine that if we had a 3:30 instead of the 1:15 being so close to theirs, that wouldn't have happened. They seem to know how many people are going and there was always at least 4-8 empty seats on every bus tour we did. It was a beautiful bus ride out to the site. We had a great guide, Saskia, who explained a lot of things about the area and country. She talked about her family. She was interesting too, because she was Dutch and she had moved to Greece about 10-15 years ago. So she still counted in Dutch, but obviously spoke Greek. We heard about the way Greeks raise families, which had heard on our days with our pre-extension guide Paris too. Very close families, add onto the houses to keep the family together. It was funny, they both made references to the move "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." She told us about Spyros Skouras, who was from the town she lives in. He immigrated to the US and became President of 20th Century Fox studios, he was also responsible for signed Marilyn Monroe! The busses park a short walk from the sight entrance, often leaving and coming back when it's time to go. This, we discovered, was extremely common in Europe. They have strict idling laws, so busses often can't stay in the spot, or if they do, they aren't allowed to stay running. The site of Olympia was pretty busy, lots of groups all over. But, the guides are usually pretty good about moving their own group around, so that you're not crowded on top of each other. Saskia explained a lot about the different events that took place, where the various buildings were located, etc... You have to remember, a lot of things are gone. She showed us the spot where they had just lit the Olympic flame barely a week earlier. Everyone expected it was this more grand stage area, but nope! Some simple rocks, very small. Of course, the highlight is getting a chance to run on the actual field where they help the original games. My husband did it, twice! LOL! He was happy to drop 10 seconds from his first to second attempt. He even took a photo on one of the pedestals in anticipation of his participation. After we spent about 90 minutes or so giving us the tour, she gave us some free time on our own. Now, I admit, we were a little goofy in not going into the museum during that free time. She mentioned it on our way passing it, for a bathroom break before starting the tour, but yeah, not sure what we were thinking. We instead walked into the little town. It was a good thing though, I picked up a really, super soft sweatshirt that would come in super handy over the next cool days we had. My husband also picked up a bottle of Limoncello! I would absolutely recommend this tour! As I said, I don't know what we were expecting, but it was so much better than that. A statue that was outside the museum The Gymnasium The Palaestra The Palaestra She explained how when they were building the sight, the stone and materials used included shells from the sea. Zeus's column My husband, celebrating/reenacting his impending race in the Olympics! LOL! The Stadium where the first games were held. Just a simple 200M race, that was it. They were strict on cheating and did actually test samples to ensure a clean race. Those who were found to have cheated were branded as such, with a their names being published outside the games. Just amazing to think of what it was like a few thousand years ago! The sight where they lit the flame, just a week prior to our arrival. The Phillippeion The Palaestra again, beautiful purple flowers! A map of the sight.
  19. Here's my review after returning from our first one. This is just general things about the cruise & ship... I also did a post about making excursion reservations for those of us doing it the first time, it could help you as well.
  20. I did my general review of our Viking cruise already, but wanted to have this title, so when people are looking for it, they can find this. This will take me some time to get through for sure. We did the 4 day Classical Greece extension before our cruise and then 22 days on the Viking Mars, going from Athens to Barcelona. I'll start with the extension first, and then try to do each day. We flew from Chicago to Atlanta, had a 90 minute layover, then Atlanta to Athens, landing at around 10:30 the next morning. The flight was good, we were fortunate to upgrade our seats to the Delta One pods! We got through security, grabbed our bags, and the shuttle driver was there to take all 3 couples to the hotel. We had ours changed several months ago and we were put up at the Intercontinental. While the hotel was nice, large breakfast buffet, it's in a poor location. There is nothing to do or see around the area, not even restaurants. Our guide, Anastasia, recommended a little family owned place nearby, so most people from the cruise ended up there. It was a cute little place, and they were so friendly. (4/17) The first full day we left at 7:30 a.m. to head out to Mycenae, Corinth Canal, and Epidaurus. We met our tour guide, Paris, on the bus. He was great and with us for all 3 tour days. Traffic was a little busy this day due to a public transportation strike, so lots of people driving themselves. About 1/2 way to Mycenae we did a stop at the Corinth Canal. There's a little cafe here, with a small shop. Next stop was at Mycenae with Agamemnon's tomb, really cool to see these things they built hundreds of years ago. Again, as we were reminded, it's all about math! We walked through the remaining ruins. Paris took the group up to the Lion's gate, then let us explore on our own, as people had different comfort levels. It was so neat to see all the technology that existed here. We did a lunch stop near here at a local restaurant, so that was a nice break. After lunch we had another 45 minute drive to Epidaurus and the theater there. Paris explained a lot about how it was used, the major events that would take place, how people would travel from all over to attend things there. The theater is 2,500 years old. Once he explained things, he again gave us a little time to walk around, those of us who wanted to, climbed to the top of the theater. (4/18) Second full day was out to Delphi. This is about a 2 hour bus ride, with a stop along the way to use the bathroom, get a snack, etc... We found that on a lot of longer bus tours, they often scheduled stops like this, there are a lot of little stops along highways for busses to use. It was so pretty to drive through the mountains in this area, such a change from Athens. We drove through the town of Arachova. Super narrow streets, but these busses do it! At Delphi we started at the museum, seeing many of the artifacts. I love that they really allow you to get fairly up close with these pieces too, you can truly see the work. Then we headed over to the ruins. Again, Paris gave us all the main information at the bottom, then allowed those of us who wanted to climb to the top head off on our own. We did have lunch on this day as well, but I didn't put it in my journal as to when and where. LOL! (4/19) This was our free day. Anastasia was in the lobby to help give people direction and tips in the morning, as needed. Us, and another couple we met, took a taxi into the downtown area to go to the National Archaeological Museum. We got there right about when they opened, and there were already long lines of school kids. We bought our tickets and went in. There's a LOT to see here, and honestly, it's a little back & forth with the layout, so we didn't even see everything. After a few hours, we wanted to get to the changing of the guard, so we did left. We saw the guard changing, then walked through the gardens there. After that, we headed towards the Plaka district, with a stop at the Hotel Electra rooftop for a little lunch and cocktails. It was totally empty, and beautiful views of the Acropolis! We did some more walking around, seeing various sights, churches, etc... before finally heading back to the hotel by around 5 p.m. (4/20) Embarkation & Acropolis Day. We had to have our luggage outside our room at 6:30 a.m., the staff collected it, then we had to go down at 7:30 to make sure it was all there. We got on the bus by 8 to head to the Acropolis. Your luggage is put on that same bus, so in case something comes up, you do have your things with you still. There was some light rain that morning, I was worried it was going to wash us out. But, we got lucky! The rain slowed to a light spit/mist, and gave us awesome skies, plus a beautiful rainbow! The walk up is tricky, very slick at times, especially with the rain, and it gets busy - fast! We were there right when they opened as a group. By the time we were coming back down, they had the whole area roped into 2 sections (one up, one down) and the line was all the way to the bottom. After Paris gave us his tour, we had a little time to take more pictures and all meet up at the bottom. We then went into the museum, guided by Paris to the highlights, with again, about 30-40 minutes on our own. It's sad to see major pieces missing in their museum because other countries have refused to return those items. They were told by a certain other country that they didn't have a proper facility, so hopefully, now they will get these things back. Finally, onto the busses to head to the ship. Embarkation the easiest I've ever been through! The staff took our luggage, to get it to our rooms and we went to check in. We did the pre-check online, and they didn't ask for much. Because we were on 3 legs of a 4 leg cruise, each leg is considered it's own segment. This means we only got our excursion tickets for the first week. We headed to the pool deck, got some lunch at the grill, then they announced around 1 that our rooms were ready. Headed down to our room (DV4 cabin) to unpack. Met our room steward who was great, although she left after a week (she had her 2 months off!). We found the small magnetic hooks handy to hang our hats, my little crossbody, and such. Had a nice dinner in the restaurant. Came back to find our bed turned down and the steward had put bookmarks into our books, instead of the pieces of paper we had. LOL! The only issues we had with this part would be the location of the hotel, but at least it was a nice room/property. I also found that at dinners, getting a soda for me to drink took a really long time. They were quick with the wine bottles, but it would take 10-15 minutes, and I would have to ask a 2nd or 3rd time. Corinth Canal The burial chambers Epidaurus theater Delphi museum Arachova National Archaeological museum Changing of the guard Hadrian's library (we just walked past it, didn't buy tickets to tour it) Dramatic storm clouds! Giving us this beautiful rainbow! Inside Agamemnon's tomb, the beehive that they built! Paris pointed out that piece of stone above the door, it's ONE large piece! The outside of the Acropolis museum Our cabin (4027) The fridge, our stewards would take out the things we didn't want, and add extras of things we did want. With our new friends at the Hotel Electra
  21. kctwinmommy


    Like everyone says, this is a subjective topic of course. Now, I'm a somewhat picky eater, in that I don't eat much exotic or different cuisines, I fully admit that. I'm good with a nice piece of meat, some potatoes, and good bread. LOL! Now, my husband eats way different and will try everything. We also made friends with another couple and ate dinner with them quite often. All 4 of us said we weren't overly impressed with the food. Very few standout dishes (my husband's venison on the last night was one that did stand out, probably his favorite). In fact, I actually lost 3 pounds on our cruise and my husband, who needs to work on his diet, only gained 2, which was fine for him. He did enjoy the Gelato, but not much else from the desserts. I will say, the french fries at the grill in the afternoon were great! I would sometimes just get a plate of those to munch on while sitting poolside. I also loved the Caesar salad! And I really liked getting it at the World Cafe for dinner because then it was easy to ask for extra cheese and dressing. 😃
  22. Yes, we pretty much walked right in. But leaving, the line was long already. And like I said, it was raining! But it gave us some great skies! We thought we were going to be soaked, but it never came, just some light sprinkles. And a gorgeous rainbow!
  23. OK... we were there at 8:30 a.m., but we were there as part of the pre-cruise extension, so it was a group we were with. Within an hour of starting, climbing to the top, and heading down, the line to go up was all the way to the bottom. It gets really busy pretty fast. Just be prepared. And it's windy up there, so be prepared for that too. Of course, we were there in mid-April and a Saturday morning.
  24. Totally agree. I said before that "on average" the price was $100/person.
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