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About mwebb

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Laporte, In
  1. The Aya Sofya hamam is fabulous turkish bathexperience and centrally and conveniently located in between the blue mosque and Hagia Sophia. It has excellent reviews on trio advisor . The extravagant pleasures was 115 euros plus tip but there are more basic packages.
  2. Reflection docked in Mykonos during may 6 sailing. Shuttle bus began at 830 and cost $8. For round trip pass. It ran continuously about every 15 minutes to and from the bus stop area on the outskirts of the town area. From the bus stop it was about a 5-10 minute walk into the town area and in my opinion was well worth the cost.
  3. Middle aged single female was there 2 weeks ago and echo other posters about the ease of getting around this magnificent city. Because you are time limited, I would advise against walking it especially if you are pushing a stroller or not as physically fit. Rick Steves guidebook does suggest a walking tour and how to make the most of your visit once in the Sultanahmhet area. Traffic can be horrendous gridlock so I would advise against the HOHO bus or taxi. There are 2 different cruise ports, so depending on where your ship docks you can ask port security directions and walk to the nearest tram station usually a few blocks away. I had gotten a $100 US in Turkish Lira prior to my cruise, so didnt have to worry about an ATM. At the tram stop there are machines that you insert your Lira in exchange for a plastic tram token that costs 3 turkish lira. The token is inserted before you enter the tram area. Take the tram to the Sultanhmet stop which is where most of the major attractions for 1st time visitors are located. There are maps posted overhead on the tram so you can know how many stops until you get off. They do announce it on the tram prior to the stop, but I had a hard time hearing the announcement and just anticipated my stop. Once off the tram you can walk to the area of Hagia Sofya, Blue Mosque, Aya Sofya Hamam, & Arasta Bazaar. Anticipate long lines so if at all possible travel to this area as soon as you get off the ship. The Underground cistern and Grand Bazaar are a reasonable walk from this area. Sites have restrooms, but you may need a few lira coins (and own tissue paper) for some of the public restrooms. Tram ride normally takes about 10 minutes. My return trip to the ship was a bit challenging as the tram was very very very crowded and delayed due to an auto accident so traffic was at a standstill for over an hour, however it still represented the best mode of travel- just allow plenty of time to return to ship.
  4. Did self disembark may 17th following celebrity reflection. Met other cc members at 6:15 on ship for 6:30 pick up by romecabs (210 euros or 30@) to share ride to FCO as some had early flight . Ship not cleared by local til 6:55 so many frantic people worrying about missing flights. Driver there waiting and whisked to FCO in about 45 minutes. Ship transfer was $92 and you wait for the bus to load so not advisable on early flight. I was staying at hilton garden inn airport hotel for next day departure but was taking advantage of shared ride. Issues w Alitalia website would not allow check in so actually went to Alitalia counter at airport day before within 24 hours of flight to make sure I was checked in with an alitalia agent and to try and get my boarding pass to no avail.!!! Not knowing what kind of line or check in problem to expect Returned next morning at 6:00 am to Terminal 3 for my 10 non stop. Took about 90 minutes to check in check my bag and get thru security etc. Alitalia to US is terminal 3. If you have a VAT refund to claim ( spent more then $150 in participating stores you can claim your refund at a customs counter where they verify your receipt then go to a refund counter next to them. (Took about 15 minutes but had time to kill so ends up a refund of about 11% of what you spend).
  5. Currently on reflection. Weather not ideal but This ship is everything a cruise should be. Food,service and entertainment absolutely excellent!!! Will post review when home.
  6. Purchased gorgeous buttery soft long leather coat for me and shorter leather jacket for daughter in "Billys" leather store in Kusadasi port. Haggled the price significantly, didn't want to use a credit card and paid for with a combination of Euros, US dollars & Turkish Lira mentally calculating the exchange rate equivalent. Also found an unusual leather purse at a purse store in Kusadasi.
  7. Rome in Limo is absolutely the best and unbelievably accomodating and flexible to whatever your needs or interests are. We saw and did more in the one day tour than most people do in a week and bypassed lines at all sites. On our Rome in a Day tour, our driver, Vincenzo even managed to squeeze in an hour of shopping time for my teen daughter and also a stop at grocery for wine, soda, & water for the hotel and to take with us on our cruise. Since your time in Rome is limited, it would be essential to have Jany customize your trip based on your specific priorities and an hourly rate for your driver. The guide at the Vatican is essential and RIL can arrange that in advance however the guide fee for a personal guide was extra.
  8. I know shopping is subjective but Rugs & Leather products seem to be the big thing here. Some of the tote bags almost look like a Turkish carpets and seemed to be sold in many places and were interesting. Both my daughter and I bought leather coats & purses of exceptional quality at a very good price For souveniers w bought small purse size makeup mirrors for 5 euros, coin purses for about 1 euro, mosaic type desk lamps for about 25 euros, and pashima-like scarves for about 15 euros. The turkish delight candy sold in boxes tasted old, so unless you are buying it fresh, dont buy the boxed stuff as it was pretty nasty tasting. Be prepared to negotiate prices.
  9. With Lefty's stellar recommendation, imho, he would not recommend anyone that would jeopardize that reputation. Lefty was already booked last May during our cruise, however recommended a colleague, "Yiannis" (sp?) who picked us up promptly as arranged in Mercedes sedan. Provided an absolutely excellent and identical tour route to the same sites that Lefty goes to, a highlight of which was a real local marketplace where we bought some amazing olive oil, spices, olive oil soap, mosaic bowl, and pashima scarves for about 1/3 of the cost at tourist stops. We later joined up with Lefty and another couple touring with him for an authentic lunch with local Cretans in a rural outdoor food locale of the freshest tomatoes, olives, cheese, veggies, yogurt, honey & wine that I have ever tasted. We had been cautioned that there will be other drivers that will be at the Crete port who are more local to the area (Lefty is from the other side of Crete) and may be a bit jealous of the amount of business that Lefty gets and perceive he is infringing on their business.
  10. mwebb

    Rome tour?

    Rome in limo dot com can customize the tour that you want. Saw more in a day with them then most people can hope to see in a week. They knew how to bypass lines and make the most of our limited time. You can email them for a quote.
  11. Thank you so much. Will follow your advise for TL. Is Celebrity generally on schedule and how long does they take to disembark? How long of a walk to the tram?
  12. My itinerary for the May 6th Reflection has us arriving at 7:00 a.m. The cruise originates in Civitavecchia, (Rome) Italy. I plan to get off ship as soon as possible and take the tram as advised on cc. to Sultanmhet. I understand there is time difference between Italy & Turkey, however I am trying to schedule some reserved activities starting at 8:30 a.m. (Istanbul time) the morning of arrival in the Sultanmhet district and am uncertain of ship time vs. port time and how Celebrity handles this and whether they stay on the time zone of the originating port or if they change? Based on other cruisers experience is this workable? Any advise please.
  13. Stayed here last year based on moderate price and good reviews.Hotels in Rome seem very expensive but this met our criteria of clean, close to termini,sites. and more affordable. Included breakfast and free wi fi in lobby. Hotel is lovely but decor a bit dated and rooms small
  14. Research prices and areas on Priceline and then reviews from tripadvisor as a great resource based on maps and quality. Be prepared for high prices of $200-600 a night even for moderate quality. We were very pleased with the Marcella Royal which was walking distance to termini i and restaurants. Lovely small old world hotel, free wi-fi in lobby and breakfast and pleasant staff.
  15. Back from May 16 Esatern Med on Mariner. Most private excursions average 40 euro an hour for a private sedan or mini van with up to 4 in a sedan. Tours are generally 4 -to 9 hours. If you are dividing the cost among your other travelers this ends up being significantly less expensive and the cars can get to where the tour buses cannot. We used Rome in Limo in Rome all day for 350Euros and went to the catacombs, Colliseuem, Parthennon, Trevi Fountain, St Peters, BAsilica,& VAtican, and they proved to be exceptional. For example RCL wants $167 pp just for Vatican, St Peters & city transfer. We saw more and di more on a private excursion for less money than most visitors can do in a week. Because I had a credit, we also used the Shore Excursions Group company for Naples/Amalfi/Pompeei, Ephesus, & Athens.. My only regret was the one shore excursion booked through RCCL The Best of Istanbul tour, 10 hours over 2 days and was supposed to include the highlights- 10 hour tour was more like 6.5 with all the waiting around on fellow passengers. Only had 45 minutes at Grand Bazaar and was bery disappointed in the RCCL tour.
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