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Host Bonjour

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  1. I’m sorry to hear you had a disappointing experience. Similar situations like this occur for travelers purchasing Europe Rail passes or individual country passes with companies offering passes for sail as independent brokers with their own fees that vary on to the price of the rail pass. When typing the words into google or whichever search engine one uses to look for, say a Swiss Rail Pass, is wouldn’t be too easy to mix up a list of results that looked similar: just add in the world “travel” before pass and you’ve got a four word product that sure sounds official but might not be. (Do NOT use any of these words for a Swiss rail pass, it’s only a random example!!!) if in doubt its always best to start on the official tourism website for the country you are visiting and then look for links to verified sources for transportation, lodgings, sightseeing etc and how to determine the difference - in Europe some hotels can post outside lodgings how many “roses” or “stars” they have and you can look up what that indicates in each country. When I got my BritRail pass I went to the National tourism website and connected the dots from there to purchase my railpass. Likewise for Italy but by then I was much a more experienced traveler. Alternatively you could go old school and call a travel agent....that’s who got me my very first Eurail Pass and I didn’t even call him, he called me via a friend helping me plan the trip 25 years ago. I’ve travel mishaps big and small but they always seem to get balanced out by positives that happen during the trip...nice surprises I never expected and make me forget the inconvenience or upset of whatever didn’t go as I hoped it would. For the biggest problems there was great human kindness and generosity and for smaller ones, just a surprise flower or heart shaped pizza - little things that might make for wonderful memories you could never have planned from any guide book or message board. I hope and am pretty sure that you will have these type of experiences on your Japan journey because the people are incredible and the country is fascinating. You’ll see. Good luck and enjoy 😊
  2. Thank you Daniel for your kind words and further insight into what’s next regarding your new energy, new ships as well as your sincere fondness of Greenland. The commitment to removing single use plastic on board is a major step forward for any organization but especially in travel. It’s something to definitely seek out in decision making as we think of how and where we travel not just in ecologically sensitive areas but everywhere. Every place is home to someone. I’m excited about the opportunities and adventures offered by Hurtigruten and glad I am better informed about everything on offer now! There’s a lot to talk about and share with others on our forums and in real life to people looking for outstanding opportunities and experiences on the sea and land. Thanks also to Grayjay and Geezer for contributing to the discussion as well, as always and I’m beyond thrilled (kinda envious too!!) that you’re both be cruising on Hurtigruten soon. You are in for incredible adventures and I can’t wait to hear your reports...with photos please?! These aren’t just trips, they’ll be unforgettable life changing experiences. Thrilled for you. 😊 Cheers!
  3. It’s not an ordeal although I’m sure it sounds like it might be. I arrived in Christchurch, NZ by air from Sydney with friends waiting to collect me at the airport...farmer friends (luckily it was mostly padt their harvest but farms are never slow!) while my luggage was being completely unpacked but it wasn’t for my medicines. Although I was only aged 31 I had many prescriptions for a chronic condition so I was similarly concerned (alarmed!) pre-trip but researched using some WONDERFUL 😉 message boards on our sister site Independent Traveler (where I became a host not long after I returned from my holiday!!) and combined with my other reading was advised to bring a list from my pharmacy of all current prescriptions and I kept everything in its proper containers. Even Tylenol. Guess what? No one asked to see my medicines or my list or anything. I listed anything that was requested on immigration forms but it was all as smooth as if I was walking through JFK at home. Or maybe not...sometimes they’re grumpy but I can’t really blame them....tough job but it’s mostly fine. In New Zealand, as I soon learned and has been mentioned here, was likely the great fruit, food, vegetable smuggling search and I get it. Especially as I was staying with farmers! The wrong kind of insect or parasite or whatever it is (clearly my farm days didn’t stick but I love them dearly my friends!) could potentially devastate flora/fauna and ecomonies and people, etc. you get the implication. Not good. And for we that have seen, experienced, loved NZ, Aussie and possibly Tassie too....no no that can never happen. Too beautiful amp wonderful and vital to this earth. Your RX medications are ok, your snacks are not. They have snacks....and more than you could have ever imagined. So, no worries. Get your pharmacy printout, pack your meds, fill in your declaration form and off you go. It’s gonna be amazing 😎
  4. I love the direction this thread took from deftly and kindly trying to assist with Rome lodgings to an enthralling exchange referencing the Oxford Guide to Rome, Pergamon, Ara Pacis, Piramide Cestia and various other treasures of Ancient Rome. A little bit of a meander onto the path less traveled, always a delight whenever possible. Something to think about for return visits to Rome, especially anyone who found The Forum particularly intriguing (not that all of Rome isn’t!) consider these types of visits on future pre-post Cruise trips....history/culture/art/religion etc lovers, it’s all there for you. Thanks for a wonderful dialogue 🚢🍷😎
  5. You will loooove York and there’s so much to be discovered and enchanted by, the Minster is only a start...I kept returning to it, attended Evensong which was and remains an unmatched experience to this day. Like many of you here I’ve seen many of the beautiful churches and cathedrals but this one is as distinctive as it is majestic. I arrived in York from London with no accommodations booked, it was off season so I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult to find something - I wanted to be able to walk everywhere. I guessed wrong, most of my choices were booked but an office in the train station called around and found me a place at Judges Lodging where I couldn’t have had a more dreamy room with a view of the Minster. I waa only there a couple of days on my way to Edinburgh but there was plenty to see. I think I could have spent days in The Shambles and exploring more of the heart of this historic city in detail. While I was in St Giles Cathedral In Edinburgh a kind gentleman told me that Durham was most certainly a destination to get to but then for me by now and my experiences around the UK, I’m happy just about anywhere there. I know it can be so tempting to see two places when the opportunity is there but I also know how good it feels when I took the time to just be where I was and see what it was all about. When I do this, slow it down and take it all in, I win every time. You ou are going to love York. You’ve got time for tea or Evensong and exploring this beautiful, historic, northern English city.
  6. No no no tipping. It will be offensive although the guide will always always be polite in declining the tip. Japan is a gift giving culture so as someone mentioned above, a small, small, thoughtful gift representing in some small way where you come from would probably be a nice gesture. Small for you to pack and small for them to carry, keep or whatever. Maybe even a little postcard sized watercolor painting or photograph of your home town or city? That sort of thing. Many of the great people doing the tours are doing so as a way to master their English skills. You’ll probably find that their English is already quite good. Nevertheless, improvement is important to students, especially those going to business or advanced sciences and other technical or cross cultural disciplines. The guides will thus possibly have been “tipped” by virtue of being able to converse with you as native speakers. Enjoy your visit, your tour and not having to hand out cash for once! Find something to share and exchange that tells a bit about you or your part of the globe. 😊 You’ll probably end up with new friends in Japan. I did.
  7. OK so I’m wondering- one of your choices only has six rooms total (sort of like a B&B?) or only has six rooms left for booking at that time - which would imply that they are booking so I’m assuming it’s a six room only establishment. How’s your Italian? Why not consider calling to ask about getting a reservation for September? I’m wondering if that might not get things moving along, especially in a place that’s more “cozy” and possibly family run, accustomed to doing things in a more personal manner. It may be 2019 but if this hotel has been around for 50 years or more, you never know, could be some senior members of the family in the office that don’t want anything to do with this new thing called email! 🤪 It’s what I would do - or send a fax. It’ll get much more attention than the email I believe. In some ways - wonderful , good and “pazzo” Italy can still be a bit old. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want to make reservation now for September. If that’s not possible at this location or the other place you fancy but you feel more at ease and therefore happier about your travel plans if your lodgings are secured well enough in advance then why not select other accommodations? Rome is not lacking in fine places to sleep. You might search through some of our old threads or put out a query specifying what type of requirements you have in your Roman accommodations. I know many replies will soon be coming your way. I stayed in a great little apartment off the Via Veneto (via Lombardini) near the Borghese awhile back and it was incredible but it was arranged by friends in Modena so I’m not even sure how to go about contacting the agent! I loved feeling like I was absolutely doing the “when in Rome...” thing but still exploring and discovering with wonder. Let us us know how things go!! We love to hear about results, outcomes etc. 😎
  8. No, I’m not lost.... I thought since the destinations we talk about in these forums are nearest (in Europe....okay we won’t discuss THAT topic!) and you’re all so wonderfully well traveled I’d post this here too because it’s kind of exciting....wouldn’t want anyone to miss an opportunity to query the CEO of a cruise line. Only this isn’t an ordinary cruise line and sometimes our announcements get lost up there on top among the stickies 😱 Northwest Passage anyone? 😎
  9. Hello Cruisers, For a lot of us right now it’s feeling very “North Atlantic” but I hope the thoughts of planning your upcoming journeys keeps you warm with excitement. I see in some of the threads currently (and previously) lines are stopping in heretofore uncommon or even unavailable destinations like Greenland and beyond....wayyyyyy beyond. On 28 January we’ll have Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of Hurtigruten Lines as our guest answering your questions. Hurtigruten (meaning “fast route” in Norwegian) doesn’t offer quite the usual experience but then these aren’t the usual destinations. They have been operating since 1893 first as a coastal transport between cities and then eventually began offering expeditions as well. I know many of you have had the pleasure of repeat cruises in the Nortn Atlantic and other itineraries and I’ve read your posts. I know many of you are seeking new ports, new experiences, new frontiers because you’ve been fortunate to have seen and done a lot. So....if whether you’ve heard of Hurtigruten or are just now learning about them and thought...what’s up with that? Type out a question here: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/2440-qa-with-daniel-skjeldam-ceo-hurtigruten/ I did. I wanted to know more about their sustainability plans and a fave story. This is uncharted territory and...it’s just never easy to judge everything no matter what the website says. Please submit your questions by the 24th if possible so that Mr. Skjeldam has time to collect them to prepare for his visit. It will be a great opportunity for a direct connection to the “captain” of the corporate ship....they really do run everything 😉 As ever, thanks for making.Cruise Critic wonderful...it’s all YOU. 🆒
  10. Hi Daniel! Welcome and thank you for taking time for questions today. These journeys of faraway places are the type that many adventurers imagine but until recently were extremely limited or virtually non-existent to anyone other than scientists or locals. It’s exciting to know these incredible places are now within reach. But not “bucket list” exciting....more like, Mount Everest exciting except you don’t need oxygen bottles! Although these cruises and Everest are truly exciting and bucket list qualifying depending upon what a certain person fancies! 🙂 Speaking of Everest, you are aware of how oxygen bottles and trash accumulated on the mountain for years. I know the line has a strict policy of removing rubbish from ports or the ship....I guess I wasn’t exactly sure how that worked and wondered if you would share a bit more about it with us. I know guests and crew participate and it’s outstanding because it would enhance the feeling like everyone was really on a real expedition or voyage - something that probably also further sets the journey apart from other cruises. Also, I think it’s exciting that a sustainably powered ship is coming into service next year! I know that with a large number of your cruisers already living in Norway or North Atlantic or European countries, the line wouldn’t have added these routes without being sure the environment was safe but it helps to know that when we take the trip, our footprint is minimal. Lastly, what has been one of your favorite experiences of visiting one of these “new frontiers” in ok, I’ll stick with Greenland as it’s kind of new, and to be honest it’s even turning up on Netflix. As a traveler (only four continents!) I yearn to hear stories of new people and places and dream of a voyage like one on the Fram. This is why we go places! (Yes ok family and Mickey Mouse too....!) Places like Faroe, Lofoten and so many others that are getting featured in either American television or press and so I think might be super appealing - Hurtigruten offers access and that’s exciting in a way like Aranui does in the South Pacific (maybe) and that’s very cool. I doubt anyone here would have thought to go surfing in Lofoten and yet there it was in The NY Times! Thank you for visiting with us Daniel! (Takk skal du ha)
  11. Edinburgh Castle is fascinating and wonderful to walk through, you can have a guide take you through or use the audio on your own. So much incredible history and the structure itself is magnificent as is the position it has overlooking the city, both the “new” and “old” views. Heading up there would also grant you a wander up along the Royal Mile...in itself quite abother great experience - when I saw all these little, well tiny things called a “close” that ran off the mile and read the signs and learned about the old town living....you just need to see. . Also, Edinburgh....so very different from Glasgow. You’re young to want to have that experience, without a doubt. Don’t miss the opportunity. As for Holyrood, yes you can probably skip that if there isn’t time (versus the castle) and you really do NOT need a tour to do Edinburgh city on your own...very compact and doable on your own. Do pop into St Giles Cathdrral if you’ve got a little time. Head down over to Princes Street too by St Stephens (or you can maybe just see it from the Castle promontory) for a stroll. Enjoy your visit and experiences whatever you decide 🙂
  12. I returned from Edinburgh en route to London on a Sunday when there was scheduled “engineering” and it took about 8 hours to complete the journey. The change of trains in York was probably only a half hour. The train was rolling at only 10mph at times. It was what it was. Just make sure you’ve planned accordingly (that is, your sightseeing, lodgings, any ensuing transport etc) and your onboard entertainment such as podcasts, music, reading, knitting, games, backup batteries charged, snacks and beverages which leads to.... Seriously consider the first class ticket if you absolutely must travel on Sunday. Trust me: you want that bigger seat with free food and beverages on an extended journey. I come from the city of traffic and train delays, often for absolutely NO reasons at all but also, the very very common weekend track work (I’m not sure we’d groan less if they’d call it engineering but it sure sounds nicer 🤪) so if there’s ever a way to make endurance travel easier, you want to avail yourself of that opportunity every time! But one strong strong positive is that you’ll be returning to London (💙) with memories you’re only just beginning to sort through from Edinburgh (💕💕) that will definitely provide great enchantment as the train slowly meanders along the way back to London. Or....do what I maybe ought to have done: get off in Durham and hang for a day. A lovely man in St Giles told me that their Cathedral and this city was something to behold and I do know this is true. Also, Monday or Tuesday would have been much better for riding to London time wise. I had a Brit-rail pass so it was flexible. Probably I was less adventurous back then but also I had people expecting me on Tadley. Dont worry too much about the luggage. Keep valuables on/in/near you always and use good locks and/or straps on your bags on the racks. Make them very noticeable - things that stand out aren’t going to be too appealing to someone looking to grab something and run. “Did you see someone running with a black bag?” A black bag? Got one? Stick some bright colors all over it!!! Put a bell on it. There’s lots of ways to make your bag less inviting to someone that might be keen on a snatch and run. Definitely ways to avoid anyone opening your bags and taking important stuff. Anyway, we give them our bags to take away a few hours before a flight right? Its all random. If this is one of your first big trips though, I get it...valid concerns. But all you need to do is address whatever concerns you, think it through, consider your options, implement a plan and own it. Now you’re in control. These are the steps that ensure that you are and always will be in control of solving problems big or small. You jot this. Switch over to having fun planning your stay in Edinburgh. 😎✌🏼☮️
  13. My guess as to why the excursions disappear from the offerings in May/June is because it’s becoming peak visiting season in Paris and these sorts of arrangements aren’t practical for many reasons. But, as others have mentioned, it’s still quite possible and fairly easy, highly recommended to do on your own for a great experience in Paris. You get the history, architecture, art, ambiance and more by going to the Louvre (originally a palace) and seeing the Eiffel Tower up close. There are guided tours of the Louvre - I took one when I first visited, it was in English and was meant to be 90 minutes but it lasted about 2 hours. The famed works of the museums were highlighted on the tour which was exciting and indeed, it was packed by the Mona Lisa but it’s always mobbed at the Monet or Van Gogh gallery at The Met and at Starry Night in MOMA. I’m wondering if I go now in January it might be calmer...maybe. There’ll probably be school trips :eek: Self guided audio tours are great too. And yes, Musée d’Orsay is amazing! It’s built inside an old train station and there’s also usually a crowd (and a secret, upon entering, go straight up to the impressionist galleries on the top floor, work your way down) queues etc. so it’s probably a matter of the experience you want to have or have had in terms of art, and history and travel and Paris and Europe and....well, only you can decide. As mentioned there are various options for getting from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower. It’s not complicated whichever way you choose even if you do not speak French. I also think it’s nice going from the Louvre to the Tower because, well especially above ground, you are in the middle of Paris and you go from the Righr Bank in the 1st arronondissment over to the Left Bank in the 7th arrondissment crossing over La Seine River. Alternatively, the Louvre métro station always struck me as being one of the most outstanding with its display of classic art! Unexpected to say the least. Other metros around the world are stylish and artsy, but not like this! As for lunch near the Eiffel Tower, there are many great places to eat in the 7th from haute cuisine to casual bistros or maybe even just getting a baguette, some cheeses, wine and chocolates to enjoy outside in the fine Champs du Mars relaxing before heading back to your ship? For some it’s a relaxing and very Parisian way to enjoy some outdoors time. It’s part of the art of living 🙂 (this I enjoyed many times in Paris, no gude necessary!) Let us know what you decide and then how it works out when you get back. We enjoy hearing follow up stories from members here on the boards.
  14. Thanks everyone for the wonderful thread and not pointing out that this ought to have been moved to the France Ports board, I know 😜 For the moment I’m unable to move posts around on Ports so if you see an errant thread or ask me to move one please know that I hear/see you but as we’re still phasing in small updates to our new software, these capabilities will be back soon. For now, since Normandy is only across the Channel, the UK is still in the EU, and there’s the Eurostar or Ferry or plane (and the internet) between France and the UK..probably ok for now. 🇫🇷🇬🇧😊☮️
  15. Great post and you make many good points. I’d still think of going to China though especially if it has been on your bucket list. Why? As as many have pointed out, advisories exist around the world most of the time, either for an entire country or places within one country. That includes the US that now is also under constant video surveillance and security checks, at least in large urban centers and metro areas. Anyone can quickly be tracked or found anywhere. The reasons why, when and by who, are what vary, that’s all. Also, lots and lots of governments have a long history of treating their people (and especially others) well such as China (Mao) Russia, (too many to list) pretty much everyone that colonized Africa, various empires throughout the ages, American colonizers....so Chins isn’t alone in this. They’re not alone in communist, clandestine government either. They’re just big and becoming more modern. But there is an interdependence between China and the US/Western countries that neither can exist without which includes travel/tourism as part of commerce. It’s vital. i went once and it was truly fascinating, that’s why I think it’s worth going to experience. I went on a tour from Hong Kong where I was already visiting a work colleague that took a long term assignment there and lived it (HK) and the trip was more than I ever expected especially from a cultural, sociological and emotional view, I knew there’d be history but I didn’t expect to be so drawn in by everything. When I got home I began reading books about China, getting into Chinese Art, drinking more tea and seeking out films etc. But its impossible not to notice the difference of living within the confines of communism and it’s effects on people and things you see around you. Sometimes it’s subtle and sometimes it’s quite obvious, blatant. Perhaps some travelers wouldn’t even notice at all! I think it’s not so likely to sense it in Shanghai, such a shiny, sparkly, bustling, glittery metropolis. I liked our countryside outings the most because it was just the outdoors, gorgeous scenes and what seemed like regular people, sometimes chickens wandering around. Or end up being the “chicken” as a blonde American to a group of Asian (Mongolian i think) travelers who it seemed hadn’t ever seen one. Or maybe were just collecting pictures. Whatever. I’d go back if only I could do a rail trip across the more remote parts of the country or go out to Chengdu. Tibet was always a dream but it seems that’s gotten largely wrecked in spite...I don’t know, itd be hard but I’m seasoned now, lol. And I know how it is to get pulled aside, questioned, etc. Our little van was pulled over for about 45 minutes but they didn’t want the papers of we six in the van; instead the traffic circle man spent all this time with the driver and guide. Who knows why. I have a second passport to use if it seemed like it was a good move but that’s probably not where my visa would be (or maybe) who knows what I’d do in a hot moment, but mostly, I didn’t yet have it when I was in China the first time and never felt like I needed it even though I *definitely* knew I was in CHINA. Whatever would they want with me? Lastly, if ever there *was* a moment to have a doubt it was upon going through immigration at arrival. We had come by boat and were greeted by soldiers in red and greed uniforms, guns etc. which always creeped me out (not anymore, long guns in the subway and Grand Central) and things are mostly ok until a commotion breaks out and there’s a soldier yelling at someone comimg in. Kiiiiiind of stressful because it’s so not like the TSA just yelling to put your laptops in the bin! Because of course it’s in Mandarin and it’s loud and it’s fierce. So, if I were having thoughts on bailing on the trip, it would have been right then. Instead, I just told myself, you are in China now....just go with it and keep your sometimes loud Brooklyn voice down 😎 and see what they have here. It’s worth going to see once and safety matters anywhere but it’s also relevant to many factors and considerations so consider facts and how they may or may not relate to your situation. Oh and two great reads: The Private Life of Chairman Mao//////// White Swans
  16. Thanks for clarifying JB! And as I added that bit about the hotel to airport transfer last, it was probably easy to misinterpret. It would be great if there was an intra-airport connector but then I write this acknowledgment we have no LGA 😱 to JFK transporter either. I mean there is, but there isn’t. And it would only be of any real value if it utilized tunnels or hovercraft. 🤪 Well, remember when we thought Dick Tracey’s watch was improbable? 😎
  17. Lived in south Brooklyn for two decades, south Queens before that. Two years now in CT. It’s consistently easier for me to get to the city now (what we call Manhattan, when you’re from the boroughs) than it ever has been living in the boroughs. It could take me 25 mins by car from. Brooklyn or....hours from either borough. Whenever planning to go anywhere, for anything, you check weather, traffic, day of the week, time of day, is it a holiday, is the president coming to town, is the UN in session, oh the marathon is marathon is today, I forgot, are the Mets playing, I can go on and on. The question is is for real cause it matters. Having the ferries helps now yes. But Red Hook is and always was, out of the way, aka in nyc terms, a schlepp. Another option is getting a taxi or Uber (nyc’ers are true blue and, if we use taxis, rare but it happens, we stick with real taxis) to a subway station at Atlantic Avenue or Smith & 9th Street or....and then no traffic worries, you’re on the subway. As for the view, I’m absolutely biased because I love my city and I love every view but I don’t think it’s awful sailing up into Brooklyn. You still come down under the Verrazano (my bridge, that’s where I lived in BK) and you’ll see the same Statue of Liberty that anyone sailing into Ellis Island saw, Governors Island, lower Manhattan, the nouveau looking Seaport, which gets increasingly spectacular every year, and probably a Staten Island Ferry and Circle Line boat will pass, along with tugs, barges and a police boat. It’s definitely not shabby. I sit and watch it in wonder any chance I get, alone, with friends or family from the us or overseas. Most are as excited as I am. I hope none of our cruise visitors will be disappointed. I like CT a lot, to me it’s the “country” probably I’ll love it too but not exactly in the way I love NYC. And I’ve been around the world too, not everywhere....there’s a lot of great, fascinating, beautiful, wonderful place but for me there’s no place like here and for me, it’s ❤️ Definitely not for everyone, just like me in really small places :eek: I’m curious and interested but, I just only know big and loud 😉 but I love to visit small as long as I have friends and some very bright flashlights. You all should have seen me on the farm in New Zealand and with that....(maybe that’s why my friends tend to come to the US instead of me going back, lol)
  18. I’d add to the list, especially if one has an interest in the history and culture of Australia, the Quarantine Station museum at the North Head - also a spectacular location - that I admittedly went to see with an “oh, alright...” frame of mind but my attitude soon changed once I was immersed in the atmosphere, stories and incredible views. Maybe some old spirits got me too. It’s false equivalency to say this is Australia’s Ellis Island because the people arriving on these boats weren’t coming by choice or filled with hope but they ,became immigrants too. Images of Ellis Island don’t always look like it was party time either but people didn’t arrive in shackles. This definitely qualifies as one of the most hidden or lesser known highlights of Sydney sightseeing but it’s worth looking into and adding to your itinerary of some of the other things on the list aren’t grabbing you. Admittedly, there’s no shortage of wonderful in Sydney and probably not enough time for it all but as the saying goes, there is something for everyone and I think a lot of people would be fascinated by this and find it unforgettable. I was SO glad I went. There are ghost tours too it seems but I don’t bother with those things...got my own ghosts :eek:
  19. I needed an airport hotel at Gatwick a few years ago, checked online and reviews are still good for the Belmont in Horley. They kind of like a pub in the evenings at night and if I remember right there was breakfast in the morning but my flight to Italy was early (ha, not...no plane!) so I had to leave at 6am. Thats the other great thing....transfers to/from Gatwick via van are free. Rooms are small and basic but it’s not touristy, it’s all you need for an overnight, good atmosphere in the “pub” and good food (I ate there) and gracious hosts. Price was great, I needed to mind my £! Only thing weak was the WiFi but I bet they have a better router now 😉 Hope it works out you get the flight combination you like!
  20. I was in Venice on my own and go figure, my beloved aunt and uncle are there right now but I’d be surprised if they had a gondola ride, I think they’re just not the kind that are into boats.i love boats and used the vaporetti but what I did do was watch many gondola, not to be creepy and see people but it was TRULY amazing to see them maneuvering in the small and narrow canals away from the hustle and bustle of the Grand Canal. Each time I’d think, “oh, they’re not going to make that turn, the boat is too long but then, certamente the boat turned. So, in many ways it seemed if anything, the gondolier quite earned their rate in their skill not to mention the work that goes into the upkeep of any boat, which I do know from experience, that’s a lot of work too. Add to that the serenity of peacefulness of cruising in the back canals, well if you’re going to have a gondola ride, that’s where I’d go if I wanted the experience with my sweetie. It’s so much more authentic and realistic, the Venice you might see in an old movie. In fact my favorite picture from that visit is one I shot back in that area of a big dog, looking oh so lazy with a paw dangling from his Juliet balcony, barely awake looking out over the random boats passing by with workers going by. Some balconies had flowers, some had washing hanging...it was just...Venice. The gondolas are all the same rate, I doubt there’s any negotiation, there’s enough demand although who knows, on the right day, right time, if your Italian is good? The only difference I discerned was the prow on some of their boats but that was just probably just a point of interest to me and connotes...probably I should have looked it up. Maybe make a playlist of music you two love and bring it on your gondola ride. Put it on an old nano or iPod and get an inexpensive waterproof Bluetooth speaker (or borrow) so you have music you love for the experience and in case it goes over the side...you never know 😜 it’s not your phones in the drink! You may may not like opera but something about it just works in Venice. There’s an Amazon show called Mozart In The Jungle and the most recent season 4 featured an episode set in Venice with Placido Domingo and Monica Belluci doing a duet at night floating on platforms coming together on the grand canal.....it was breathtaking. Is this what you’re thinking of? You can make a playlist like that! There are are lots of gondolas everywhere. I think, even on a Sunday you’ll be ok although indeed...Italy becomes a sleepy place on Sundays, I notice they tend to partly “awake” later in the day on Sunday. The gondoliers are competitive so I’m sure some won’t risk losing the euros. It will work out.
  21. I’d tend to arrive with about US$50 or so (maybe a bit more) on hand in local £¥€ simply because after long trips, I simply didn’t want to go searching for an ATM upon arrival. What I might want is something else that I need currency for and while cards are becoming widely accepted even for purchasing a bottle of water or coffee in a shop, if I want something and cards aren’t accepted - still happens sometimes - I’m all set. Whatever helps me get out of the airport and satisfy wants/needs and get to wherever i need to be in the easiest way - I’m down for that. Upon returning home, keep some tucked away for next time, unless this was a “once in a lifetime” and then spend/give it away. Next trip youll be set with some spending money, probably just enough, for small needs. No need to ever pre-order again. and always seek out the fee-free credit, bank debit cards. 🙂 Thamks for the great thread! 😎
  22. Similar situations here in NYC, creating quite a situation - licensing, regulatory and beyond. Uber operates here to along with other services like Via but many of us locals, would (if we weren’t using the subway) get in a yellow taxi because they ARE suitably licensed and regulated. Moreover, in NYC, the number of license the city is granting to operate an Uber going forward is being restricted annually. Hence the the rationale for my suggestion. I have ave used twice London black taxis (maybe three times?) always wonderful and the tube. I know the vast and extensive training cabbies undertake to obtain their licences and that, I think, they are required to know virtually almost every street, district, neighbourhood in London? Well, how could one go wrong with such a qualified driver. Costs a bit extra but for me, I honestly and truly needed the help when I availed myself so the treat was worth it. My my goal is always to offer helpful advice or suggestions based on experience or current information although that information can change in an instant these days, I’ll do a double check if time or season is involved before posting. I had no intention of bias against Uber and certainly never against London with regard to how I mentioned the two in my previous post. I only meant to state that like here in NYC, the municipality and the company were at odds as to the size and scope of operating in the city. My words were too vague but were unintentional in this way. London remains one of my favorite places in the world and Uber is one of the worlds favorite transportation solutions. There you have it. What made the London black cabs the best went beyond their expert navigation, and a big part of my London love: KINDNESS. Obviously they meet so many people each day, busy business folk, maybe stressed MPs, LOTS of tourists but through it all they remain cheerful and kind. We are all just doing our best 🙂 Glad it worked out so well for you with Gett! I forgot all about them, and so you got to use and support the black cabbies and have a real sort of London experience too. Excellent!!
  23. Great advice, absolutely make a phone call, I don’t think enough people realize this is an option. My sister recently traveled to India with her three young children and more importantly a husband that had just had serious back surgery; he wasn’t quite recovered yet but they were going! She called Qatar Airways and they arranged everything from when they arrived at the airport to security, gates etc. Obviously it still has to be thorough but she they were assisted. She was so relieved and said everything went well. If they did this here at JFK, I reckon they’ll do it at the Eurostar. Good luck, enjoy your trip and let us know how it goes
  24. You can also check out the National Expresswhich is the British bus system. You can purchase tickets to take the coach from Heathrow into London, Victoria Station. Tickets are sold in the airport, online and at the kiosk outside. Think i bought mine outside at the kiosk then walked up up to the where the coach was, they put my bags underneath and I had a comfy ride into the city. The Paddington Express is a great option but it’s not always easy with luggage so unless you travel quite light, think of booking one of the private cars recommended widely on this board or take the National Express. Uber has been greatly restricted in London so I’m not quite sure how well that’s going now...probably ok but I’d choose another option. Luckily, there are several! 😊
  25. Hi! Glad you received helpful replies here on the Britain/Western Europe board. I’d have moved this to the France board for you but our new boards are still in the growing pain stages although for the most part, without issue. Everyone is, as evidenced here, always so very helpful! In no time things will be on track and the change will have been forgotten. The best and most irreplaceable part of these boards are all of you. As long as there is some place for you to post, and there will be, a minor glitch can’t stop this mighty forum. 😎
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