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Everything posted by slidergirl

  1. I hope enough firefighters can be rounded up to fight the fire. A longtime friend of mine is in Fire Management for the USFS. She is supposed to be retired, but she gets called every summer since retirement to go to a site to help. She's in Idaho right now. There are so many fires around the West and Alaska again that resources are stretched thin. I hope the people affected in Alaska end up on the "good" side of the fires and do not lose property.
  2. Never had rat. But, I caught and killed and BBQ'd rattlesnake at Girl Scout camp one year. Did NOT taste like chicken.
  3. I'm also thinking about those ports where people say there isn't anything to do in the port or have to take excursions that take an hour or so each way. There is always a cool little restaurant to be found. I mean, the local folks do like to go out for a good meal once in awhile, right?? 😉 P.S. avoid Cinque Terre - there's no good place to eat there... (joking, but keeping my places secret)
  4. I agree with taking the train to Milan. If you don't mind spending money, a "nice" place to stay is the Excelsior Gallia. It is part of the "Starriott" portfolio (it was a Starwood Luxury Collection property). Totally redone a few years ago. It's right by the Milano Centrale station.
  5. You can't swing a dead cat in Rome without hitting a young seminarian 🤣 At least you got your choice of a couple of tourist restaurants around Trevi - I hear of people being herded into just one restaurant where they get an "authentic" lunch of spaghetti and chianti...if it's Thursday, it had better be gnocchi...
  6. I have a little problem with being crammed in a small, long metal tube for any long period of time. Unless I get to fly Business and have my own little cocoon to concentrate in and not get claustrophobic, I need to stop once, maybe twice (depending on where I'm going). If I'm traveling cattle class, I'll take a flight from my home base to either ATL or JFK. From there, if I can get a nonstop to my destination, fine. Otherwise, I'll take a connection and relax outside of that tube for a few hours. It's just me. I don't have price dictate what I do. Sometimes, I like to find some "esoteric" routing to get where I'm going, just to see an airport I haven't been to before.
  7. wow. that would be a LONG day driving with a very SHORT time in Petra. Maybe jog down the slot canyon, see The Treasury, and jog back up the canyon. I sure wouldn't even dream of it. When I went to Petra, we spent one day driving from Amman, stopping at some crusader castles, and spending the night at the Marriott. Then, had the entire day on our own inside Petra. Next day, driving back North, we stopped and played in Wadi Rum, and ended back at the Dead Sea, staying the night at the Marriott there. I couldn't imagine doing it any shorter. And, you've got those pesky border crossings, where you may get through quickly or you may not, depending on the mood of the border guards that day, and you have to have a different driver and guide for the Jordanian side. From Ashdod, take a trip down to Masada and maybe a stop at Ein Gedi spa to take a dip in the Dead Sea. Go to Jerusalem, walk all the walkways, through the Christian Quarter, the Jewish Quarter. Pick up some pistachios to nibble on, a nice sandwich, some hummus. Or, go North to Cesarea, an ancient Roman port on the Med. Some really cool ruins to be had there. Drive up into the Carmel Mountains above Haifa and visit the Carmelite Monestary (Beautiful view), and go to the Druze village on the way back. So much to do just within Israel for a day that won't have you running ragged.
  8. I spent 5 nights at the Cavalieri. Free. Perk of winning a Hilton employee contest when I worked at a Waldorf-Astoria. It is a really nice place to sit out on the patio at night, sipping a nice glass of red, nibbling on the free nuts and stuff they bring. Really nice to watch lightning hit on the rooftops around Rome. And, the PILLOW MENU!!! I mean, I've never seen a menu with about 10 different types of pillows. I had a comfortable garden-view room (as am employee, we have to take what we get, but it was still an excellent room). An excellent breakfast buffet (although an American tourist family grossed be out with all the food they stuffed on their plates - like it was their Last Meal). The big minus is how far it is from everything. The hotel shuttle works if it isn't a busy time to get down to Piazza Barberini and walk around from there. I did a few taxis just to get where I wanted to go a little faster. Definitely better than the Westin (where I got the employee discount of $89/night when I left W=A to St. Regis). But, the Westin is walkable to everywhere. I've only heard some chatter on some Hilton sites about the Hilton Garden Inn that is in Rome (NOT the one at the airport). It's out on the other side of Borghese Park. Definitely not walkable to Centro Storico from there. People seem to think it is an OK place if you want to redeem some points for a quick stay.
  9. I'll get down in the dirt with you!!! But, if we find mosaic or "gingerbread" in the ruins, you have to let me get up close and take a bunch of pictures... I wonder who saw or remembers this one on a ceiling in the Museums. I got a chuckle out of it - the cherub looks looks like he's going to pull someone's tooth!!! Call me weird...
  10. Four questions for you: did you or the Vatican guide decide what were the most important things to see? Were you asked about your preferences for the Museums (Etruscan, Matisse, tapestries, the Map Room, the Raphael Rooms, sculptures)? The restaurant: how did you know it was authentic? what was on the menu (vegetarian/gluten-free available?)? I don't eat a guide-recommended restaurant, so I want to know.
  11. Depending on the port, sometimes the long meal IS the "sight." I'd rather have a leisurely lunch at a nice restaurant than fighting the hordes at some spots...
  12. I know you - you are an "outlier" - you want every second you have at the places you are - you dive headlong into the digs all day long, not just a drive-by and on to the next one!! 😊
  13. Besides those well-known, high-end stores on Via Condotti, you will find a few little gems. Walk a block or two on either side of that street and I've found some nice, reasonably prices jewelry stores. I'm a sucker for fun office/kitchen stuff, and there was at least one around the area that I bought some pens at. I've shopped at that Zara store on Via del Corso - at the time, I had no Zara around where I live, so I'd hit that store and the one in Paris when I was in the area. I think the Benneton store moved a few blocks "in" from VdC. I found a Napajuri and a Ferrari store in the area on some side streets just off of VdC. One trip, bought a nice scarf and a fleece sweater at Napajuri and bought a stylin' baseball hat and some luggage tags at the Ferrari store. Don't forget the Riscante (sorry about spelling) little mall between Trevi and the Pantheon. There are some cute stores in there. If you are starting your cruise in Rome or if you are missing some of your cosmetics, the Riscante store has a large selections and there is also a couple of Sephora stores in the area (and one in Termini). Yes, I shop...
  14. If, as the OP says they are comfortable with DIY and have travelled elsewhere DIY, not sure why they would be "well advised" to join a private tour group. I guess I am an odd duck. I "did" Rome the first time, and subsequent times, on my own. I was solo, and I did not feel the need to be on a private tour. I had no idea if I'd ever be back, but I didn't feel the need to stuff as many things into the day as possible. I don't like those tours, especially in Rome. I am being dictated on on how much time I can spend at any site. If I find something fascinating and want to explore more, I can't do it because the tour has to get back on those damn mini-vans and rush to the next spot, sometimes coming dangerously close to running someone down (personal experience)... To each their own.
  15. But, I wonder if we are the norm. I hear cruisers talking about making sure they get back to the ship to have lunch and dinner because they've paid for those meals already. Or, they are taking a ship or private excursion where the meal is provided. Not the same as eating local.
  16. And, apparently, Costa Rica. Authorities are finding bottles of booze mixed with methanol...
  17. Totally inappropriate comparison. The hiking and climbing season at Everest is a very narrow window of time each year. The cruise or land vacation to popular tourist attractions is year-round. Not every person is capable of doing Everest. A large majority of people are capable of doing a cruise or leisure vacation. You do have yahoos who have no business doing Everest willing to pay and they end up dead. You just don't wake up one day and say "I'm going to go climb Everest" without preparation. People can and do wake up and say "I'm going to take a cruise" without preparation. The Nepalese government charges $11,000 for a climbing permit; those climbing fees is the majority of the government's income. We had a couple here in town who climbed Everest this past season - years of preparation, physically and financially. Climbing is their passion, so for them, it was a once-in-a-lifetime excursion. Cruising is a passion for some and will spend the same $50,000 they spent for a World Cruise. Paying to visit "attractions" is part of the price you pay for a vacation. If you don't want to pay, don't plan on visiting. That simple. It's not going to limit places like Venice to the elite - just cut back on your coffee stop or your McDonalds lunch and put that money aside. It's not that tough. Budgeting is part of getting ready for a vacation. Paying for visas to visit someplace is part of it, paying to visit attractions is part of it. Even here at home. I live 30 minutes from a National Forest and a few more hours from multiple National Parks. Every time I drive to one of those, I would have to pay an entrance fee. The casual tourist does that every day. I paid for an annual pass so I can visit as many times as I want. Not any different to me.
  18. True. I generalized based on my experiences. I haven't had to pay yet for a seat selection.
  19. I wonder just how many cruisers pay for 2 meals off ship at a port.... I am definitely different as a land tourist vs cruise tourist. I DIY, so the local tour companies aren't making any money off of me. I don't buy tourist crap at those shops near the port. If I want to buy something, I go further into town and hunt. I also rent a car sometimes or take the train to get out of the tourist stuff. I have no issue with Venice or Cinque Terre or any other highly-visited and overcrowded location charging a "day use" fee. If I travel that far and really want to spend time, I'll gladly pay, probably up to 100EU.
  20. Did Barcelona to Pisa on Vueling one year. It was easy. I would image doing a quickie between Barcelona and Rome would be similar. As Mapleleaves said, be very aware of those extra costs for baggage. I remember Easyjet (between Pisa and Paris on same trip) had a strict only one cabin bag rule and a charge for every checked bag. If you go into it fully informed, you should have fun on the short trip to Rome. Maybe see if you can store luggage in Barcelona and only take a tiny bag with you!!!
  21. There are no "highlights" to check off in Cinque Terre. The entire area and each unique village IS the highlight. As others have said, CT has been overrun in the past few years with thousands of cruisers adding to the daytrippers daily. The trains are indeed crowded from La Spezia to each village and back. There are some tours that use boats, but you are subject to the ability to dock, which sometimes can't happen. Private tours can't drive into the villages - they have to go into the parking areas above the villages and you walk down. If it were me now, I would skip CT and save it for a time where I can go back and stay again for a few days so I can hike in the early morning, take a long nap during the day, come back out after the hordes have left and have a wonderful evening with the locals. Sorry to be such a Debbie Downer.
  22. Well, that is a 5% decrease in crowding. Better than nothing. What suggestion do you offer to help address over tourism? Venice wants to implement a "day visitor" fee. Cinque Terre wants to figure out a way to close access daily once a certain number of people arrive. Some have an opportunity to regulate before it gets bad. Port Canaveral is a regional example. There was a day a few months ago when 5 ships were docked. It was not pretty. It is usually 2 at a given time. There just isn't enough cruise tourist infrastructure in the area. Canaveral/Cocoa Beach is still basically beach and a couple of mini golf courses. A few kayak companies. Drive to KSC or make the trek to MouseLand. I guess some could do what they do in Cozumel and just get off the ship and park oneself at the bar of the restaurants at the Port. Carnival is building a new terminal and is going to homeport the new behemoth, the Mardi Gras, there, apparently. RCI has been porting the Harmony of the Seas there. NCL has been porting the Sun and Breakaway this year. It's just too much. Even my friend, who still lives in Cocoa Beach and whose family developed the Port at the beginning and started Premier Cruise lines agrees that it is too much.
  23. I'm not sure why CC reposted my reply above - it was several days ago. Anyway, I read somewhere in the past 2 days (sorry, can't remember where) about cruise lines starting some new ports/destinations in 2020/2021. One that stuck out was that Celebrity was going to stop in Marina di Carrara, Italy. If you don't know the area, it sounds good - the home of the Carrera Marble quarries. BUT, there isn't really anything else (well, there is a small crowded beach there). Why, then, would Celebrity stop there? It's very close (30 minute drive)to La Spezia, where everyone takes the trips to Cinque Terre. It's still too far to really go to Florence. So, it's a very sneaky way of overcrowding Cinque Terre even more without stopping in La Spezia like the other ships.
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