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trosebery

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About trosebery

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    Ontario, Canada

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  1. Thanks for the advice! I did get my husband to agree to a trip, and we are looking at booking independent travel through a company. It looks fascinating from the photos, and I'm sure it will be a very different travel experience than anything we've experienced to date!
  2. I'm wanting to plan a river cruise in Egypt (from Luxor to Aswan). We would fly into Cairo and see the pyramids and the Egyptian Museum before flying to Luxor and boarding a river cruise to Aswan . . . providing I can get my husband to agree. He has (admittedly, valid) concerns about the security situation in Egypt. Our government's advisory website does say, "Avoid non-essential travel" (although it does make an exception for the Nile between Luxor and Aswan). So, anyone know the best way of convincing him that the risk, if we travel with a reputable company and stick to the areas described, is manageable? I think part of the problem is that we'd be travelling with kids (14 and 11), and risks that we'd take ourselves on our own, he's not willing to take with kids in tow.
  3. As the pp noted, it's not difficult to reach Schwerin by train, which would allow you to explore the town, castle, and gardens at your leisure. The NCL tour isn't outrageously priced (especially if you're using a port credit), but if it's anything like the one I was on, you may feel herded. And I would have preferred to spend more time in the gardens. There is an audio guide available for the castle itself, btw. Do consider, though, just how many castles and palaces you'll be seeing on your cruise! Some of the delights of Schwerin were somewhat lost on us, wedged in between Copenhagen and St. Petersburg ports as it was.
  4. That's a very good point, thank you. It would be better to stay in T5.
  5. Yes, thank you. I did take the advice to contact Smiths about the transfer, and they don't think it will be a problem. And I'd only give about a 50/50 chance on us making the 65 minute Heathrow connection, but you know, I decided to live dangerously and give it a try. We're all young and fit. And if we don't make the connection, that's British Airways problem. (We are booked directly with the airline.) They've got 3 later flights to Stockholm just that day, and that doesn't include flights by partner airlines. The last time we had a failed connection through Heathrow (our arriving flight was reeally late), the gate agent was waiting for us with new boarding passes when we landed. So I'm not too worried. It'll be an adventure! I'll have to report on how it goes on a trip report. Thanks, all!
  6. For the connection: Same terminal (Terminal 5). Luggage should be checked through. Ideally, Heathrow should allow Canadians to go through its e-Passport scanners by this summer. My other concern involves the flight arriving on time. It's difficult to judge its on-time performance during the summer months, as all of the on-time performance data I've found is drawn from the last few months . . . when our airport has been plagued by snowstorms and icestorms. My choice is between a 1:05 hr connection or a 3:20 hr connection.
  7. I've only disembarked in Southampton once, several years ago, and we had a later flight, so I didn't have to worry about timing. Now I'm wondering how early I can make it to the airports -- either Heathrow or Gatwick -- if I prearrange transport with Smiths or other? Our ship (NCL Spirit) is scheduled to be in port at 5 am. I'm guessing that I should be able to disembark by 7 am, especially self-assisted? How much time should I allow to make it to Heathrow or Gatwick on Sunday, September 1st? My preferred flight flies out of Gatwick (to Canada) around noon. *Should* that be okay? . . . I am not loving any of my reasonably-priced flight options on this trip, either the departure or the return. But although I've got a buffer of a couple of days before the cruise, I *have* to be back promptly after. Thank you for any advice you might have! ETA: Follow-up question: How long to allow for connecting in Heathrow? (On the inbound flight, I have to connect through Heathrow to Stockholm.) Is 1:05 hr enough? (Midday, midweek.)
  8. What tour operator are you using in St. Petersburg? (Alla, TJ Travel, Best Guides, SPB, White Nights, Anastasia, Ulko, Red Sun, etc.?) Most offer tours in at least some other ports. With such a large group, setting up your own private tour becomes reasonably cost-effective . . . if everyone wants to stay together. Otherwise, yes, HOHO buses are typically available, even from Nynashamn. Public transportation is pretty easy, though, and some ports like Tallinn are easily walkable. Rick Steves' book offers lots of advice, and will give you the confidence that you can DIY, although do check Google or transit website for updated routes and timetables. But yeah, don't try to do Berlin on your own. (Again, check the St. Petersburg tour operators for their Berlin options.) As for sights to see, that'll depend on your personal preferences. For example, in Stockholm, are you the type of person who'd rather wander around the historic streets of Gamla Stan, or would you rather visit the ABBA Museum? Are you a history buff? An art lover? A pop culture fan? A foodie? A shopper? A photographer who loves interesting scenery? It helps to have some idea of your interests as there are so many wonderful options of things to see and do.
  9. We tipped all our guides in Euro, even in Sweden and Norway, since most others on the tours seemed to be doing the same. The guides didn't bat an eye at the currency but were gracious with their thank yous. I am assuming they're used to exchanging currencies. (Or maybe they have bank accounts in Euros, just like some Canadians have U.S. dollar accounts.) Otherwise, we used our chip-and-pin credit cards everywhere. If you do end up needing, say, coins for the toilet, your guide can probably help you out.
  10. I have used all of the above on various trips: relying on just WhatsApp/Facebook Messenger and WiFi (which worked just fine, even without an Internet plan on the ship: we had no problem finding WiFi in Northern Europe), buying a SIM card for an unlocked phone (a bit of a hassle; most useful for longer trips, especially if you know you're going to be making a lot of calls or using data regularly), and using the $10/24 hours roaming on my plan as a back-up (I was only charged when I used it). If you're going to have the Internet package on ship, I'd recommend just using WhatsApp (just let those back home know, before you leave, that's how they should contact you), and have the $10/24 hours plan on your phone as a back-up.
  11. Where you choose to stay in Rome will depends on where you want to concentrate your time (and how much you enjoy walking). On our past trip, we chose to stay further north than most would recommend -- just south of the Piazza del Popolo, near the Via del Corso. It was still convenient for a first-day walking tour that took in the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, etc. We actually made it all the way down to Piazza Navona and then strolled back along the Tiber, past the Castel Sant'Angelo et al. It was a little further to the Colosseum and Forum . . . but we'd stayed nearby and explored those neighbourhoods on a previous trip. Mostly, we choose our location this time for its proximity to the Villa Borghese, which is one of my favourite places in Rome (and home to my favourite gallery). Map out what you want to see and then go searching for hotels. As for the other ports, again, it'll depend on what you want to see. For example, from Messina, many people like to visit Taormina, but I much preferred Mount Etna. I'm a science geek, not a shopper. We could recommend some tour companies? Browsing their websites might give you some ideas. For example, in both Messina and Naples, we took private tours with Joe Banana Limos -- both drivers were excellent and very responsive to what we wanted to do. (In Naples, they were able to prearrange a guided tour of Pompeii with an archaeologist for us.) In Valetta, My Maltese Guide took us around. In Athens, we had a great time with George's Taxi. Etc. ETA: One of our favourite days that we spent on our last trip was a private tour that we took that took us to Tivoli, to Hadrian's Villa and Villa d'Este (both with a professional guide). Something to look into if you want to get out of the city. Even though sites like the Colosseum and the Forum were packed during mid-summer, Hadrian's Villa was almost deserted.
  12. All the top tour companies are very good. The differences between their small-group tours are minor and a matter of personal preference -- for example, do you want to spend more time at Peterhof or at Catherine's Palace? Do you want to save time with a packed lunch on a bus, or do you want a more relaxed (and hot) sit-down meal? There is no single correct answer to such questions. Last time, we flipped a coin and went with SPB and had no regrets: we very much liked our personable and professional guide and had a great two days with our group.
  13. Some links for you for the companies above: SPB https://www.spb-tours.com/ Alla https://alla-tour.com/ Anastasia https://anastasia.travel/ TJ Tours https://st-petersburg-tours.ru/ Best Guides https://www.bestguides-spb.com/ Some others that I've seen mentioned (on this site): ULKO https://ulkotours.com/ White Nights Travel http://www.wn-travel.com/ Red October http://www.redoctober.ru/ Red Sun https://redsun-tours.com/ I would read through their websites for ideas, select several to contact, and then as fabnfortysomething suggests, see which is most responsive to your requests.
  14. We sampled the chocolate in every port on our last tour, and my favourite was the Estonian chocolate in Tallinn -- and not just the chocolate bars. The hot chocolate we had in a little cafe was amazing. This time, I want to try the chocolate truffle-making workshop at Kalev's Rotermann Quarter shop: https://kalev.eu/en/kauplused/kalevi-sokolaadipood-ja-meistrikoda-rotermanni-kvartalis-2/ (which will also give us an excuse to wander away from the Old Town and see the trendy, modern Tallinn).
  15. Another photo from Copenhagen. One advantage of travelling with young children is that they're early risers! We visited the Little Mermaid at 8 am in the morning and had her all to ourselves.
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