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Queenslander Tours: Italy's Great Cities

Berrien Springs...
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Queenslander Tours: Italy's Great Cities

Excellent tour, whether you go Deluxe or Classic Budget. We had the very best Tour Captain; and hotels and restaurants were excellent. The small group (14) tour is a very good value, a little more expensive than big tour coach tours, but so much more intimate - a better value. Walking tours are better; getting in and out of venues is better; dining experiences are better; getting in and out of hotels is better, etc. We'd go again with Queenslander.

Cortland, New York
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1. Re: Queenslander Tours: Italy's Great Cities

Did you do the Amalfi extension?

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Dade City, Florida
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2. Re: Queenslander Tours: Italy's Great Cities

James T: We are considering taking the Italy's Great Cities Tour in May 2013. It sounds like an excellent tour company. Did you take the Deluxe or Classic Budget; what 'star' hotels? Were there any unexpected costs (add'l tour fees, tipping, transfers, etc.) on your trip? Thank you for your help.

Berrien Springs...
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3. Re: Queenslander Tours: Italy's Great Cities

FloridaCathy, I'm not sure you got my reply from 8/27 since it doesn't show up here. So, I'll try again. We went Deluxe and thought it was worth it, and the included meals were part of that value. Some others in our group went Classic and bought the extra meals package. Everyone seemed happy with their choices. Deluxe hotels were 4 & 5 star. The Bristol in Florence was super nice luxury. There was a Tauk group there at the same time, and you know that Tauk stays in all top-line hotels. The Classic hotels were always close to the Deluxe hotels, so getting the group together was pretty easy. In Cortona (Tuscany) we all stayed in the same hotel, but the Deluxe travelers probably had the larger rooms. Recommendation: take the water taxi from the airport to the hotel - it's a great experience after arriving on an overnight flight from the States. We were met at the arrivals door, taken to a mini-van, driven to the dock, which is close to the ariport, placed on the boat (just 4 in our arrival group), and whisked across the bay, into the Grand Canal, through a couple of small canals to the very back door pier of the hotel! What a great way to arrive. It looks pricey, but is the only "optional" excursion on the tour - and worth it. Another recommendation, arrive in Venice one day early, and let Queenslander book you an extra night at the hotel. Jim

Edited: 11:15 am, August 30, 2012
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Province of Florence, Italy
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Province of Arezzo, Italy
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City of Venice, Italy
Berrien Springs...
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4. Re: Queenslander Tours: Italy's Great Cities

Forgot to reply to one of your ??? There were no unexpected costs. All gratuities, for instance, are included in the tour price, even the tour Captain, the bus driver, the local guides - all.

One more thing, if you are fortunate to get Elaine Rodriguez as the tour captain, you will be blessed. she is the best ever. If you don't get her, go anyhway; you'll still enjoy it.

I can offer a few tips on shopping, eating and gelato, if you like.

Edited: 11:20 am, August 30, 2012
Cortland, New York
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5. Re: Queenslander Tours: Italy's Great Cities

Yes Yes...all those tips will be very appreciated!

Dade City, Florida
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6. Re: Queenslander Tours: Italy's Great Cities

JamesT: No, I had not rec'd response of 8/27 so THANKS for trying again! Your info is very helpful and a positive endorsement of Queenslander. Some add'l questions if I may: were the Classic tourists in "3" star hotels? Did you hear any complaints about their rooms? Did all hotels have A/C? Were the meals, in fact, in good authentic Italian restaurants? What were your favorite cities/towns, sights? What do you consider to be 'must sees/dos" besides the Venice ride! Any and all tips are welcome; thank you for taking the time.

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City of Venice, Italy
Berrien Springs...
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7. Re: Queenslander Tours: Italy's Great Cities

i can't say much about the hotels in the Classic package, but I din'thear any complaints from our tour group who stayed there. Our hotels all had A/C, and I expect the Classic hotels did too. Yes, the food is all terrific Italian food. The group dinners had some emphasis on regional specialties, which our tour director, Elaine Rodriguez, explained to us.

Besides the Venice water taxi from airport to hotel, there were no "optionals." Our last free afternoon in Venice, we retraced oursteps to a very good shop and Nico's gelateria. More on that below under "tips."

TIPS:

You can get euros in cash from ATM's. There is an ATM in the baggage claim room at the airport on the wall opposite of where you come in. Go there while awaiting your bags. To use ATM's in Europe your PIN should be a 4-digit numeric, no alpha characters. Of course there will be a small fee to use the ATM, just like in the U.S., and you will get a reasonable exchange rate. Thereare plenty of ATM's in the cities, so don't worry about their availability.

If you plan to pay for a meal with a credit card, be sure the restaurant takes credit cards. Quite a few restaurants and cafes do not, even some of the nicer places. However, if oneof these places puts a dent in your euro bank roll, there are ATM's, so it's not a tragedy.

Ladies especially, when shopping for clothing (scarves, sweaters, etc.) do NOT finger the material without asking permission. Feeling the fabric is considered dirty or rude or something. Anyway, ask permission, and if given, minimize the touching. Same goes for trying something on.

Murano glass on the Murano factory tour is expensive, but there's a lot of neat stuff to look at. In cheaper tourist shops, a lot of "Murano" glass is made in China, and it's ususally labeled as such. It looks good, and is inexpensive, but not the real McCoy. My wife found a very nice shop for Muran bead jewelry (and I picked up some of those wine bottle stoppers for gifts). I'm not sure of the shop's name, but here is how to find it:

Use a street map of Venice (Venezia), and find the Accademia bridge across the Grand Canal. When you walk across the bridge toward the Accademia Gallery, descend from the bridge and bear to the left up the street along the back of the Gallery. On the corner, to the left, at the first little street to theleft, there is a nice small shop. They have a good selection at reasonable prices, and the sales lady was very helpful - on both of our visits. The Chef de Concierge at the hotel can show you on a map how to get to the bridge (Ponte deli' Accademia) on a street map.

He can also show you how to continue from the little shop on down the street behind the Accademia to a water front ( a few blocks), then turn right and go another 50 yds or so to Nico's (blue awning) for BEST gelati! Our first visit we just bought 2 scoops each at the counter. On our next visit, we sat at the outdoor tables, rested our feet, and watched the boats pass by. It costs an extra 2 euros each to use a table (standard practice in Italy), but it was worth it. They give you a menu, and they serve you in ice cream glasses on a saucer with a wafer stuck in the top. It's worth a sit down there.

When you're not eating a big organized dinner, there's lots of little side walk, or A/C indoors places to eat and get a good pizza, a pastadish or whatever for a smaller meal. We found Italians to be very helpfuland friendly, unless you touch the garments without permission.

In Rome, a few of us left the group after touring the Forum and Colloseum and took the subway to the Spanish Steps, then walked back to the Pantheon. Both the Deluxe andClassic hotels were located within a block of the Pantheon, which means they're also within easy walking distance of Trevi Fountain.

With your back to the front entrance to the Pantheon,standingto the right side of the fountain, look traight ahead into a small street. Go up that street,and on your right is a very good small gelato shop called "Snow Flake" but in Italian of course. Very good and reasonably priced, unlike some of the other larger, fancier gelaterias in the area. Keep on up that narrow little street and it widens into the Via della Madalenna. On your left is a nice but pricier restaurant, Clemente's. Go a little further up the street and there is one of those nice sidewalk /in door cafes where you can order less expensive grinds. Just past that place on a corner is a fancy gelateria and candy store. There, you buy tickets for the size of gelato you want at the cashier stand, then take the ticket to the serving counter to select and order your gelato.

OK. That's all for now. Hope a few of these comments help.

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8. Re: Queenslander Tours: Italy's Great Cities

James if you keep up all of the awesome posts Queenslander will be hiring you to work for them! Your suggestions are great, and I love the specific detail of how to get to places.

Berrien Springs...
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9. Re: Queenslander Tours: Italy's Great Cities

Prego. I'm glad you enjoy all the yadda yadda detail.

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10. Re: Queenslander Tours: Italy's Great Cities

This posting was great....thanks James....My husband and I are planning a trip with Queenslander in Sept 2013 and I love all the helpful hints!!!!

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