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About mapleleaves

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    Redmond WA
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    DIY land travel
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    W Med

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  1. there's a 'chat' feature on the tren italia site, 9am -6pm. Might be worthwhile asking what the issue is, and if there's a chance the timing of the track mtx could change ? You might get nowhere, but it doesnt hurt to try.
  2. I think it depends on your 'meeting' plans. Are you just going to meet for a 10 minute chat before they head to the airport? or are you going to meet up then go someplace for a few hrs? We were among the last stragglers to disembark, 9am. If you can't drop your bags until 10am, it will be rather uncomfortable for all of you to be standing around with all your luggage.
  3. Snow starts to melt as summer progresses, so earlier in the summer will obviously be better. Even in Washington state we have mountains that are covered year round, but at the lower elevations of those mountains the snow has melted by summers end. In Alaska some of the dog sledding camps close down in mid August due to snow melt. If you're planning on a land tour that includes Denali, you;ll want to arrive after JUNE 1 as that is when the park road is open to Eielson Visitor Center; June 10 is when the road is fully open. If you're doing a RT out of Vancouver or Seattle, late May early June will guarantee the most snow.
  4. Keep in mind that Venice is quite small .... they say you can walk from Piazzale Roma to St Marks in under an hour. I have zero sense of direction, so it took me much longer! I agree with cruisemom that P Roma is a rather 'soul-less' area. I stayed there once and it was fine, but not my favorite. And I prefer an apt . I like having a kitchen so I can make a cup of coffee first thing, and a fridge to keep snacks and cold drinks. We've stayed at each of the apts owned by the family who owns Pensione Gueratto. The Pensione was in a Rick Steves book and located nr the Rialto Bridge. It was full on my first visit to Venice but since we were a family of 4 and staying 2 nites, they offered one of their apts. The apts are located near the Rialto Bridge or halfway between Rialto and St Marks. Great area ! I also like cruisemoms idea of staying near a airport boat stop. Just keep in mind that the Alilaguna is not a short ride from the airport, depending on your stop. The link I provided earlier has hotels near each stop and an orientation map showing the stops: https://europeforvisitors.com/venice/orientation-map.htm https://europeforvisitors.com/venice/directions/index-alilaguna.htm If you stay nr an Alilaguna stop you can also use their boat to reach the pier. https://www.alilaguna.it/en/lines/lines-map
  5. Since you asked :>) I have a few thoughts for you to consider: 1. the short boat trip is of Resurrection Bay? The longer boat tour starts off in RBay so it will cover the same route as the shorter one; an expensive duplication. (when my relatives have visited from Manchester, they loved spending time at the harbor, watching the fishing boats come and go, weighing and cleaning their catch, and watching for bald eagles and otters.) 2. instead of taking the bus to Anchorage, consider the train. This is the most scenic leg of the Alaska Railroad. For the most part the train tracks parallel the hwy, but after Moose Pass, the train goes inland and provides excellent glacier viewing that you don't get from the road. 3. since you will have a rental car, use it for your day in Whitter instead of the train. It's an easy drive. Just be mindful of the opening times for the tunnel. The tunnel is shared by the train and cars/buses and is only open once an hr in each direction; on the half-hr going TO Whittier and on the hr FROM Whittier. It takes about an hr to get from Anc to the tunnel waiting area but give yourself 1 1/2 hrs. Info and a short video of the drive in this link: http://www.dot.state.ak.us/creg/whittiertunnel/index.shtml 4. Instead of returning to Anchorage, why not spend the night in Girdwood or even the Alyeska Resort? It would be more convenient for the sightseeing you have planned along the Turnagain Arm ..... Conservation Center (AWCC), Potters Marsh. https://www.alaska.org/guide/turnagain-arm-drive If you DID want to visit Denali, you would need to add 3 days. You could take the train to Denali (8-4), overnight at the Princess Lodge (or any option that provides transportation to/from the depot), on Day 2 take a transit bus to Eielson Visitor Center (9-5), on day 3 watch the free sled dog demo in the morning then catch the 1:30pm bus back to Anchorage www.alaskacoach.com. Enjoy your trip !
  6. Much better. Gives you breathing room, plus extra time if weather doesn't cooperate. The tram is something for a clear day so don't schedule it. Weather might be better on the way back to Anc. Check the Kenai cruise web sites frequently for specials, and Groupon. I remember deals around Thxgiving.
  7. I haven't done the Philips tour, but have done the 6hr Kenai tour twice (and 2 tours that were downgraded to Resurrection Bay tours when the seas were too rough for the full Kenai cruise ). The cruises are very different Too bad Major Marine pulled out of Whittier. I think Philips 26 Glacier is just that .... racing around to see all 26 glaciers with little time for stops for wildlife or anything of interest. So to be honest I haven't been interested in that itinerary. However the Sound is pretty sheltered so it's usually a smooth sailing. The Kenai cruise has a little of everything ... wildlife plus an upclose and personal glacier visit. As you first leave the harbor, going thru Resurrection Bay, you see otters, bald eagles and go past a eagles nest. Up in the mountains we saw a few mountain goats. Then as you get further away from Seward you see so many and various types of birds, plus sealion colony. Then you cruise thru 'bergy bits' and sit in front of the glacier for awhile where you listen to it creak and groan, then eventually a chunk falls off and an iceberg is created. This cruise passes into the Gulf of Alaska so there's a stretch for about 15-20 minutes where the sea is pretty rough. I was starting to turn green. On a bad day, half the passengers will be heaving. So taking this cruise might be weather dependent for your family ..... p.s. I forgot to mention the whales. On both cruises we saw a couple of whales. Very up close and personal.
  8. Can you easily manage your luggage ? That's usually the deciding factor for a hotel location. As well as budget. Venice is very pricey. If you can easily manage your luggage you can stay anywhere. IF you can't, most people tend to stay around the Piazzale Roma area which is the last point of land travel in Venice (where taxis, cars, buses drop off their airport passengers). There are a few hotels right on the plaza, and if you can manage a small bridge and 2 blocks several more hotels to choose from. If you need an elevator, be sure to inquire as they're not everywhere. OR, pay for a water taxi , around 110E to take you from the airport to your hotel. I travel light so I take the ATVO express bus, nonstop from airport to Piazzale Roma ( around 8E, 20 minutes), then I walk a couple of blocks to the Grand Canal and hop on a vaporetto to take me within a few blocks of my apt or hotel. If I was boarding a ship, I'd go back to Piazzale Roma, walk 2 blocks to the People Mover entrance and ride the monorail to the pier ( 3 minutes, 1.2E ), then walk a few blocks to whichever berth. If you can't manage your luggage a cab can take you from P Roma to the pier, for a 5 minute ride. I've heard it can cost 20/25E tho. As for sights to see, you'll need to do some research and determine YOUR priorities. What I choose to see won't necessarily interest you. PLUS, my favorite activities are riding the vaporetto and wandering around the lesser canals to see daily life. Churches, not. I'd suggest getting a Venice travel book from your library to figure out your priorities. This web site has lots of useful info: https://europeforvisitors.com/venice/articles/vi-index.htm Have fun with your research !
  9. Whittier tunnel info: http://www.dot.state.ak.us/creg/whittiertunnel/index.shtml Turnagain Arm stopping points: https://www.alaska.org/guide/turnagain-arm-drive If I remember correctly, you have kids ...... the Turnagain Arm can be nice relaxing family day if you have the time. Stopping at Potters Marsh boardwalk to look for birds (ocassionally moose), gold panning, hiking to Byron Glacier to play in the snow, Portage Lake/Glacier and Visitor Center., Wildlife Conservation Center, looking for Dall sheep on the ridges by the hwy.
  10. with only 4 days, you'd need to skip Fairbanks..... I don't know whether your're considering a drive tour to the Arctic Circle SIGNPOST, or a fly/drive to Prudhoe bay to see the Arctic Ocean but either way you don't have time. When would you land in Anchorage ? and what time of day does the cruisetour start ? Hopefully you land mid - late afternoon. With only 4 days, It could look like this: Day 1 arrive, Pick up rental car. Drive to Alyeska Resort (45 minutes) to overnight, stopping at sights long the way. Maybe you ll have time for the (AWCC )Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center or do the tram (if the weather is clear) Day 2 Morning along the Turnagain Arm, AWCC or the tram. Drive to Whittier (in time for the 11:30am tunnel opening). I assume youre looking at the Philips 26 glacier cruise at 12:30. Cruise ends at 5:30. Try to make the 6pm tunnel opening or else you'll have to wait until 7pm. Overnight again at Alyeska, or drive 30 minutes south to Summit Lake Lodge. Day 3 drive to Seward, 2 hr. Do a Kenai Cruise ... I think they leave around noon-ish. Evening, explore the harbor, or visit Exit Glacier. Overnight in Seward. Day 4 sled dogs at Ididaride in the morning. (or did you want to do a glacier landing/sled dog? ) Drive back to Anc (3 hrs ) . Return car, overnight in Anc to meet the cruisetour. If you dropped the cruisetour and did it on your own, you'd have extra time. ie Talkeetna is a good stop if you want to do a Denali flight seeing trip otherwise it's a wasted night you could have elsewhere.
  11. Sorry, but I'm still confused.... What destinations and activities are included in the land tour ? and the ship departs from Seward ? No stop in Denali ? With the travel times, you'd need almost a week to do what you've outlined above.
  12. In my research I found that most private tours run about 400E for an 8 hr day. To decrease the cost, you could post on your Roll Call to find 2 or more people to join you. We were a group of 4 so we didn't look for anyone else to join us. It was an 8 pax Mercedes mini van but I think over 6 pax would have been too much. The ferry was about 20 minutes and cost around 8E pp.
  13. Without knowing how many days you have to work with it's impossible to plan a route. Also, what do you plan to do at each location, since that determines how much time you'll need. Where does your ship depart from ? And are you willing to spend long days in a car ? or do you have a limit of 5 hrs a day? I've made a dozen land-only trips to Alaska. I start my plan by deciding WHERE I want to go, WHAT to do at each destination, TRAVEL TIME between each one, and the number of days available. So you'll need to fill in the blanks before anyone can offer meaningful suggestions.
  14. options include .... cruiseline shuttle, Park Connection Bus (alaskacoach.com) Seward Buslines, HERTZ rental car, limo/taxi, several private shuttle companies such as ACT (https://alaskacruisetransfer.com/ ). It's about 125 miles, 2 1/2 hr drive. Your ship may also have a cruiseline contracted train which has different times that the regular schedule.
  15. our original plan was to do a tour which included 2 hrs at Pompeii then a drive along the Amalfi Coast. Many tour companies offer this itinerary but we found that they didn't really provide much time along the coast; some spent time in Sorrento then only stopped at an overlook for Positano. for a photo opp. So as you research these itineraries, be mindful of the details, so you know what you're getting. The Coast was our priority so we decided to give up Pompeii. We visited Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello. Awesome drive, awesome scenery ! We (group of 4) hired a driver with Aldo Limos so we could have a private tour and customize the itinerary. For instance, I had been to Cinque Terre on a previous trip and seeing the villages from the sea was the highlight. So we wanted to see the Amalfi Coast from the water. Our driver took us to Positano where we spent an hour, then we took the ferry to Amalfi, spent an hr, then met up with the driver to visit Ravello and have lunch. It was a great day! Enjoy !
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