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Host Bonjour

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About Host Bonjour

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    Cruise Critic Host

About Me

  • Location
    NYC region
  • Interests
    Travel, film, mixed media painting, photography
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Love mew places, some old favorites & going home.

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  1. https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2663008-coaches-from-gatwick-to-southhampton/
  2. I brought home A LOT of chocolate, but from France, awhile ago. I probably did not put it in my checked bag and at the time I did NOT know that the chocolatier, Maurice Bernachon of Lyon, ultimately decided that air travel would be detrimental to the taste of his chocolates and stopped permitting them to be imported and sold at Takashimaya in NYC....when there was a Takashimaya in NYC. For a brief while, it was glorious to have perhaps even sub-par Maurice Bernachon chocolates available here. Pricey but far less so than requiring a trip to Lyon! And yes, they are so far better than anything Belgian I have had and I have made a bit of an amateur study of chocolates in various countries and while they do differ, many offer up some incredibly spectacular confections that rival or even exceed the Belgians. FYI, the Bernachon boxes were not even 'substantial' not all of it was even in proper boxes, and it was mid-June by the time I flew back with them. Everything was just fine, I made sure I managed it as the precious cargo that it was 😉 Yes, I am a chocolate snob. Only a few folks got this as a present, but I did bring back other nice chocolates as presents too. The non-chocolate snobs wouldn't get it though I certainly shared to see if they got it. Most didn't. Yay, more for me! (I don't even think it's sold in Paris, but maybe? But should you be in Lyon, it is conveniently located right next door to Michelin 3 star chef Paul Bocuse's place, not at all by coincidence)
  3. Shops and restaurants should be open on Columbus Day, is that what you're wondering? As to other things being opened, you see the answer regarding official services and departments. Since ATM's would be accessible, hopefully bank services beyond getting cash won't be needed and if you needed a stamp, I'd say try a chain pharmacy or grocery store as most now sell postage stamps were you needing to mail a letter, or even send money as some now have Western Union terminals too. Otherwise, this holiday doesn't cause as significant a stop to everything as the big major religious holidays or Thanksgiving do or as one sees happen in other countries. Everything just keeps on going. 😄
  4. https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations_destinations/189518.aspx https://www.southwesternrailway.com/ https://www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/dover https://www.nationalexpress.com/en/destinations/southampton/london-to-southampton (just a sampling of options....not all-inclusive of options, nor an endorsement of any one option)
  5. One of the most popular questions on this board, and it makes sense especially for folks taking their first cruise calling at Southampton, is how to either get to or from port upon arrival after the cruise or at the start of their journey. The planes don't land nearby so it's a fair question but since it gets asked so often, I've noticed then that other topics, might get lost or overlooked among the important transit info requests which our incredible community are always here assist with. Is My Question Already Answered Here? Maybe! Since there can be a variety of different situations, but then, maybe not too many far out different ones, the transit information you require - other than exact dates/times - might just be found within these posts and links. Which train, how to get tickets; how to get a private car, what does it cost etc; what other options exist if I want neither of those things? Why Look Here? They're not pros, but they know. I reached out to our community here not long ago and some of our tried and true, seasoned contributors were 'on board' (sorry about the pun!) with the idea and so here we go with a trial. On other boards, I am seeing 'themed' topic posts do well when they stay focused and on point, so hopefully that might be the case here. I am going to get one going separately for airport transit. My hope is that with individuating the transport major topics - other ports obviously have different transit requirements and no one is required to post here to get a transit question answered - that topics on specific items like sightseeing, food, culture, weather, accommodations, itinerary ideas.....these topics will get more visibility and replies. The number one key to getting replies is providing clues to what you need in your post subject title but otherwise, I see a lot of posts get lost amongst so many 'How to get from....' posts that I can understand why certain topics might inadvertently get overlooked. Hopefully this might get an abundance of information to as many cruisers as possible in the usual Western Europe/British Isles Cruise Critic community in the usual brilliant style, but even more brilliant. Oh yes....I said it. More brilliant. 😄 https://tenor.com/view/penguin-working-hat-suitcase-cute-gif-3478076 Let's have a go, shall we? Thanks everyone, as always, we appreciate you so much!!! (Below I've collected some recent transit topics to get this kick started...original posts and replies in tact of course. Enough of me. Now add in your transit queries, comments and thoughts!)
  6. Since it's after the fact now and it sounds like everything worked out, I'm not sure if you're asking. Did someone try to cheat you or did they help you? From where I sit it sounds like for $20 this guide did an OK job and kept you basically on schedule. Honestly, I spent....I don't know how long in the Forum and didn't even go into the Colosseum—I know—but I truly had no interest in going in to see where people sat to watch people get mauled by lions or gladiators or however it went down. It was enough for me to see the structure from outside. Anyway..... ....Mission accomplished, yes? Then I'd say everything was worth it and for only an extra $20. An extra $100? Maybe not. An extra $50....depends on maybe some other variables. But $20? I think yes, given the fact that it sounds like you may not have had the right ticket. I don't know what "3rd Ring" is....usually that's at the Opera, or at least it's the place where I have heard it used but ordinarily for the Colosseum/Forum travelers purchase the "Fast Track/Skip the Line" tickets on...and I was on it the other day website....looking for a friend going their first time to Rome....(when I went to the Forum it was free, didn't need a ticket)....there are a few different sites but I was looking at Rometoolkit, but I might use the ilcolosseo.it site I don't know....as long as I got the same thing, same price; Colosseum at a certain time (you wait a few minutes but you get in, no kilometers long queue) and that's that. Kind of like how it goes with Rail tickets (mostly) when you can purchase through a country site, rail europe, or other place but more or less (shop wisely) end up with what you need at more or less (mind currency fluctuations) same price. So I'd say if you got what you needed at the time, despite maybe not having the right ticket, or....even if you had the right ticket and ended up paying $20 more anyway, it sounded like you really weren't sure and were indeed overwhelmed by the colosseum—yes, it's quite a thing—plus, you're in a very busy place, just got out of your RIL, etc etc, weren't sure if you had the right ticket or whatever....it could have gone crazy but it didn't. I think you did great, got the history, got the Forum and no, not robbed. Maybe someone just saw, or heard, you wonder "do we have skip the line tickets?" and jumped in to help. There are such people in the world. I have had people be good and kind help me on trips and despite all the questions we get here about people expecting or thinking they might get robbed...strangely (or not) there aren't many people coming here to post very often that it happens. Sure it can...but not really as often as is suspected. Otherwise, no one would go. I'm glad it worked out, you got to see these two wonderful, historic places AND also everything worked out in Barcelona where my friend is now (same one I researched the aforementioned Forum website!) with the prebooked tix. It's tough traveling on spotty wifi....or just making plans on international websites. And a good rule of thumb with getting scammed is....you kind of know in an instant. Like, it's either "oh yes, this is money well spent or glad that was an option!" OR "why?' 'no!' 'that was useless!' 'I feel used!' .....see where I'm going? I'm thinking at worst, you're glad it was an option, so then you definitely didn't get scammed. That was a bonafide service. 😉 Everyone gets started somehow. (Hopefully things will go well next time but if it's only ever a little something like this or whatever, it'll be ok 🙂 )
  7. Interesting as I thought the fee was already being charged to enter and I actually JUST this week informed someone, a pilot I'm quite close to 😉 who will now be flying to Rome on 777's, that there's a small fee to go into the Pantheon but he should go in anyway. As there's very little time to spare on the layovers, I thought that the Pantheon was still so worth what was it going to be, two or three euro, for the marvel of engineering and architecture that it is to say nothing of the art and history that goes along with it, the piazza....everything. Alas so much ever depends upon where the hotel is...the other pilots, I don't know. I try! But, getting back to it, indeed great news and hopefully yes, still free for so many reasons. Just doesn't seem very practical to set up a system to pay/collect a fee and keep a system here based simply due to where the Pantheon IS! Not a great place for there to be a giant long queue of people waiting to pay/get in, I don't know, install ATMs? Not really but, it just didn't ever seem practical or make sense. But then the elections last time around.....anyway.... Just watched My Brilliant Friend on HBO Now, an adaptation of an Elena Ferrante book that I've not read but the mini-series was ok. Two clever little Neapolitan girls become friends in elementary school after WW2....as they grow up, life challenges them in different ways. And one gets to go to Ischia. It's all spoken in dialect except for the teachers who speak proper Italian although Mastra Oliviero is slightly relaxed and doesn't sound SO northern like High School teacher in Napoli does. Some good acting.... 🙂
  8. I get it about Zurich and Cinque Terre, and wanting to see Switzerland by rail (didn't that come up in the thread....well...it was spectacular going from Zurich to Lugano, bringing me to....) So.... On my very first trip to Europe, which was by rail and planned for me by a well-traveled friend who went often for business and pleasure at the same time I think, I was in Zurich but not really. I actually stayed down the lake in a place called Rapperswil which was actually charming, has a 12th century (or 13th?) small castle, market days, a uniformed band that appeared in the square for reasons I never ascertained, pretty gardens and other delights including swans-a-plenty swimming just outside yes, Hotel Schwanen where I stayed. Regular trains went into Zurich fast and easy and to be honest, I found the city to be interesting but then I am a city person and I had some places of interest I wanted to see and other things that surprised me unexpectedly. From there I took the train down to Lugano - my aunt and uncle were there just last week and while I haven't yet had the direct verbal account, the online reports seem to be glowing and I'm glad because I suggested Lugano to them as an add-on to Como. They were thinking Maggiore which would be phenomenal but isn't easy to access by bus/train the way they wanted from Como and then back to Milano. Allora, I really like Lugano a lot anyway - when I was there in Switzerland (!!) I could think of only one other place I love like it (surprisingly, it's way up north in NYS near Canada and Vermont near mountains too, and yes, tends to be cold!) and yet, it has that Italian but it's still Switzerland thing going on, following that brilliant train ride. Imagine it'd be kind of busy in July too, but probably more so with other Europeans or whomever tourists than....whomever else? I don't know. And yes, the other regions cruisemom mention are worth looking into as well. I watched a crime series on Netflix recently....it was set in the Aosta region and on that alone, I was all "add that to the list!" of places to get to, along with places like Trieste and yes, Piemonte, etc., Dolomites....bit more work to get there but when you see what's there, you kind of get it. Cinque Terre was once this way. I remember when my friend first told me about it in the 90's and sent me the tiniest guide book as a gift/incentive to go an visit this 'unknown' place, the guide wasn't even a half inch thick and published by, I don't know, the same company Wile E. Coyote bought all his stuff to catch Road Runner with that as yet has proved fruitless; the guidebook was a success though. 😉 JB has given you some great advice on other alternatives in Switzerland...Interlaken was on my preliminary "first Euro-trip" and I was excited about that possibility too but as I wasn't in charge of making it, nor brave enough to do so (I sooooo needed to be pushed into doing the trip and was grateful for the nudge!) that I welcomed the assist and whatever choices ultimately made, I decided to trust because they all sounded great and they were. If I could have done them all, I would have, including Interlaken....look at it! My sister also loved Lucerne, she went there with her husband pre-kids. Honestly....it's Switzerland....pick a place. There's no bad choices here, really. Even Geneva, the "work" city - would I turn down a chance to go there if it's my ONLY option? Not really. It's on a lake, it's in Switzerland, they've got some of the best trains, restaurants and probably even unsold rooms available in the world. I'm going. But since there's lots of other places in Switzerland to choose from....well, you've got options and....Geneva is kind of to the west a bit but...anyway, you've been there before, you know. PS: Last year my aunt and uncle went to Cinque Terre too but....also in April. They loved it, it was not too crowded. But....if your heart is set on Cinque Terre, try to pick a day when as few ships are in port and/or smallest ships, and/or Mon/Tues/Weds because summer and the weekends.....challenging....I'm haunted by a Saturday in Paris in July. I avoid my own city in season - I mean, Manhattan and many attractions. But not always, and sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised. A lot of the time you have to just do it and go anyway but....know before you go and so you will. Have options and a plan. Everything will be alright 🙂
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