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About franski

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Ontario, Canada
  • Interests
    Travel (obviously....) - love the planning as well as the actualy experience!! Quilting, gardening,
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Most river cruise lines - although Avalon "fits" us these days....
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    I love any trip that takes us to Budapest....

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  1. franski

    Egypt 2020

    Thanks for that info... What were the highs & lows (temperature wise) that you encountered? Fran
  2. franski

    Egypt 2020

    Good idea, Jazzbeau… I see Barrheadlass has already done that!! Egypt has been a bucket list item for a few years now... but, the political climate was a bit sketchy for awhile - and then the prices did start to jump. Was looking for a package that would give us 7 nights on the Nile (hate packing and moving every 3 or 4 days if I don't have too....) - as well as some time in Jordan to visit Petra. I am concerned about the heat - but am hoping that traveling in January will reduce that risk for us a bit. After Egypt, we fly to Tel Aviv - and then spend 3 nights in Jerusalem. Then, onto Jordan - 1 night in Aman, 2 in Petra then 4 in a resort on the Dead Sea. We are going with a small travel company based in Toronto (I know not to mention names here...) that is running an escorted tour. We will be on a Movenpick boat on the Nile - the MS Sunray. I must say - if the boat is half as good as the pictures portray it - it will be amazing!! I do like the fact that (as with many cruises) the included excursions are primarily in the morning - when the temperature is cooler. We are traveling with friends (the same couple we went to Peru with...) - and are quite excited. We only have 5 months to plan!! Fran
  3. We have booked a trip to Egypt (with extensions in Israel & Jordan) in January 2020. Thought I would start a generic thread for anyone who is booked next year - or perhaps has done this trip in the past and has some thoughts and/or suggestions about this itinerary. I am sure that many of the questions and answers will be valuable regardless of who you are booked with!! I purposely did not post this on the roll call board, as we are not traveling with one of the mainstream companies for this trip - but feel that "group speak" and collective knowledge can be so helpful. I am a "planner" - so all suggestions/comments are welcome. We can learn so much from our fellow travelers on CC!! Fran
  4. No... the stall I referenced really just sells paprika that is already packaged. They have the "tourist" bags & tins as well as the bags that aren't pretty. And, yes, my understanding as well that it is best used within a year. Fran
  5. The bathrooms were a few forints, I believe... not horrendously priced. And, the last time I was there, a woman was sitting by the door of the upstairs one - and would make change for you. For food - I always hit the strudel stall... there are no words to describe how good the strudel is. DH is fairly traditional, and usually opts for apple. My favourite is apricot & cheese. Upstairs above the front doors is a cafeteria style restaurant - where you can usually find a seat. I love that you can "see & point" when I don't speak the language. I had a goulash - DH had (I believe) sausage and potatoes. Walking to (or from) the market - on the Vaci Utca - look for the shop that sells Chimney Cakes (it is called Molnar's). We first discovered chimney cakes in Prague - and then found them in Budapest. We prefer the Hungarian ones, but both are tasty. https://alizswonderland.com/a-locals-guide-to-the-best-chimney-cakes-in-budapest-hungary/ Can hardly wait to go back... Have to wait another year!! 😞 Fran
  6. These are commonly found.... IMHO, you will pay more for these "pretty" sets - but, if it is a gift, it is probably worth the extra few forints. If you walk in the front doors (close to the bridge) - go to the aisle on your far right. About half way down on your right, there is a stall that sells paprika. I seems to remember it was a fairly large stall - and they have lots of options We bought some for family that was sold in resealable foil bags, as the girl in the stall said that the locals don't buy the "pretty" sets. We paid a bit more, but were told it was a bit higher grade than the "tourist" offerings. (Of course, I have no way of proving that... but chose to believe the pleasant young girl working in the stall!!) It was one of the few places that we could get smoked paprika (most tourist places just have the hot & sweet). You can buy scoops separately if you wish. They also sell paprika paste (in jars) - and they take credit cards. Prices were as good (or better) than other places I looked at. Take a look at the date on the bag (tin). I was told it is best if used within 1 year - so look for a date that is the closest to the date you are purchasing it. Fran
  7. I would highly recommend Café Kor in Budapest... One of our favourite restaurants. It is frequented by the locals, and one of our cruise directors (who was from Budapest) - said she always goes there when she goes home. She said it reminds her of her Grandmother's cooking. But - it isn't open on Sundays, only takes cash - and you most likely need a reservation. It is on the Pest side - not far (ie: very walkable) from the Chain Bridge. When we have gone, I have contacted the hotel where I am staying (before I go) and ask them to make reservations for us. You don't always have a waiter that is fluent in English - but they are willing to try. And, the menu is in English (as well as the daily specials written on a large piece of brown paper hanging on the wall... they cross the special off when/if it is sold out). Enjoy!! Fran
  8. Some of the shops will - but can't speak to all of them. Many of the craft stalls upstairs take cards - as the purchases are a bit bigger than a bowl of goulash or a piece of strudel. There is an ATM on the main floor - at the back of the hall - but their ATM fees are higher than most of the ATMs closer to the Chain Bridge. If you get asked if you want the charge in local currency - always say yes. If you say no (ie: you want it in your "home" currency") they charge you a rate they have agreed upon with the bank, and it is often higher than what you would pay if your own bank does the exchange. BTW - if you plan to use the bathrooms in the Market Hall, the one on the upper level (above the front doors) is less expensive than the one on the main floor by the ATM. And, keep the piece of paper that they give you - as it says that you have paid the bathroom entrance fee - so you could go back in again before you leave if you need to. Fran
  9. We have done this trip - starting in Bucharest. It is very different than sailing the Rhine, the Seine or further up the Danube - but well worth it IMHO. In fact, we are going back again next year - although we are going with Avalon this time - and spend a couple of days in Transylvania before getting on the boat in Fetesti. Most Eastern European cruises board in Giurgiu and you spend 7 nights on the boat. By boarding in Fetesti, we actually will get to Km 0 on the Danube - and see the Black Sea. We spend 9 nights on board before ending in Budapest (which is one of our favourite cities in Europe....). At the end, we are planning on taking the train to Krakow for a few days (we have not been to Poland before). If you are unsure if you want to do Russia, this is certainly something to consider. This is not as scenic a trip as others you may have taken - but lots of history. We chose (and are choosing) to start in Bucharest - as this way you cruise from Romania to areas that have recovered a bit more - and you can see the recovery as you go along. Fran
  10. Again, I think it really depends on what you are looking for. And - to some extent - the company you sail with. We travelled with Uniworld - and felt that the time was well planned in both Moscow & SP. Yes, the stops along the river are fairly short - but we had a professor on board who gave lectures about Russian history in the afternoons. We were quite happy to have some quiet time in the afternoons to watch the world go by as we sailed the river. I was still working when we did this tour - and do not feel any of it was a waste of time. Although your river cruise was not to your liking, I think that others may feel differently. And, seems a bit bold (IMHO) to "advise against it"... Bake Apple - this is one cruise that definitely has people "choosing sides" (if you will) - and only you know what you are looking for in Russia. Not everyone is comfortable travelling on their own in a country where they don't speak the language. And, a river cruise is a good way to get a taste (not an immersion) into the country, and its' history/culture etc. Russia is more than SP and/or Moscow - but, the big cities may really be what you are looking for. If you decide to go, be prepared for traffic in both SP & Moscow (not sure where you are in Ontario.... but, it is no different than the 401 corridor in rush hour....) - and realize that is life if you live there. Enjoy your planning - what ever you decide!! Fran
  11. Thanks - the light rail or airport bus looks like the best bet. Was looking at the Bergen card - as that would get us on the light rail for free. Is it worth buying? Not sure if it gets us much other than the transportation. Fran
  12. Thanks for all the advice... We have booked for mid-January 2020. We will have 7 nights on the Nile - followed by 3 days in Cairo. We then go to Israel for 4 days - before heading to Jordan for 7 days. We are VERY excited to be doing this trip... Fran
  13. I am one of the people who enjoyed the time on the river. A few hours in each of the stops is long enough - and we enjoy the river cruise experience so did not feel it was a waste of time. Fran
  14. We also did this cruise northbound - had a great trip. We flew in early and spent a few days in Nice before taking the train to Monaco (where the tour started...) Agree with the suggestion about Valrhona chocolate store. I am not a big chocolate fan - but love Valrhona chocolate. I was able to buy lots as presents for people back home. And the "freebies" they threw into my bag where a lovely treat. Fran
  15. Hi - We are booked on a RT coastal voyage in early October - going in to Bergen 2 days early. I am trying to figure out the best way to get from the airport to our hotel (in the Bryggen area...) Any thoughts/suggestions? Taxi service or private transfers (we are a party of 4) look expensive (close to $150 CAD). Is that the best we can hope for? Fran
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