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About ljandgb

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  1. I love the London Tube, but be careful of walking distances TO the stations. Search hotels very carefully with this in mind. The buses are also very easy. My dd's favorite thing of our entire London trip was sitting in the front row of the top of the bus. The app Moovit can give you VERY specific directions on bus/subway details. You can get an Oyster card for each person from the airport, which works as a bus/train/subway pass.
  2. I'm glad someone likes Excel. Not my cup of tea! My daughter loves it too, enough that her degree uses it heavily. I really don't remember the London car service, and it was 2 years ago. I'd just ask over on the TA London forum. It sounds like you have a really nice trip planned. I understand the time crunch. With our kids and their responsibilities there was usually a 2 week window in July that everyone was free to travel. This is actually the first July in over a decade that I've been home for the entire month.
  3. I'll add I'm the travel coordinator for our family and it can be stressful. I, too, have a binder with info for each stop, contact info, envelopes of money for payments, etc. I've begun to enjoy package tours since I can just show up and let someone else do all the work. LOL I do those with friends, and leave my family at home. I love time with my family, but those other tours have become my true vacations as far as relaxation goes. Have you been to London before? You might want to check the TripAdvisor travel forum there and get suggestions on a good location for a large group. Someplace with easy access to the tube and restaurants would be good. I got a good suggestion on the forum for a car service to Heathrow, though I can't remember the name right now, but that would make transporting all those people easier.
  4. Yes, ship's tours are the pits. Our first cruise, my family was hesitant to branch out and we did half with the ship and half tours I arranged. They unanimously agreed to never do a ship tour again. Sometimes on TripAdvisor, you can access the company's website and then contact them that way. I never arrange tours thru a third company as it makes communication, or disputes if necessary, very difficult. How long will you be in Paris? We used a local company, https://www.france-justforyou.com who I would recommend without hesitation. They arranged a one week trip for our family that included Paris and Provence before we boarded our MSC cruise in Marseilles. I don't think I could speak highly enough of them and were poised to use them again for northern France this June (which obviously did not happen.) They arranged all transportation (airport pick up, trains, and rental cars,) lodging, and guides as we wanted (we had one the first day in Paris.) We got a 100 page bound book of all the details we needed, suggested off time things to do, restaurants, etc. We got maps, Paris metro tickets, and more. The lodging was perfect, from the sweet small boutique Paris hotel to the B&B in Provence. I'm sure they would be happy to arrange even just a few days for you, especially since travel companies are hurting, like much of the economy, and any business would be appreciated. Their prices were very reasonable also. I can't comment on any of the Spain locations as I've not been to any of the ones you mention besides Sardinia.
  5. I'm really glad to hear it. We had a really nice day with him. You'll love Sardinia. It's gorgeous. When looking for things to do on any trip, I scour TripAdvisor, google searches, etc, then always contact several companies directly. I go with the one who is responsive with communications and, like you said, listens. We usually travel with 8 of us, ages 15-79, so have specific requests. We've had very good luck so far with the companies or individuals we finally choose. I tried to message you my real name but it says that feature is disabled. ??
  6. Good idea skipping Florence. I did not love it, but San Gimignano is one of my favorite places. We went all the way up to the park in the abandoned fortifications at the top and talked to a painter up there. I have a sweet little watercolor from him. We really, really enjoyed Sardinia, unexpectedly. I hope you can contact Dirk. It was nice to get away from all the other tourists and see more of the island, but still have time for an amazing beach. I'm sure chocolate in Barcelona will be a lot of fun. I agree with Marseilles. We were there overnight before leaving for home and it seems to be mostly soap shops and souvenirs. Maybe make that a beach day? Or take a tour to Aix en Provence.
  7. I'd add that at that age, I don't expect gratitude per se with the kids, just that they try to enjoy what we do. We do try to include something for everyone balancing out museums with food tours and more kid friendly activities. I have to say that my kids like to eat, so we include a food tour on every trip we take. If you trust the younger kids on bikes, we did a Steel Donkey bike tour in Barcelona. It was fabulous. Barcelona is basically flat with many wide pedestrian/bike only boulevards. It was a really nice way to see a huge chunk of the city. If you don't want to pedal you can get an eBike as well. I can't edit the above post, but the beach we went to had umbrellas, tables, and chairs so the grandparents didn't have to just sit in the sun as well. And it had a food truck, which, like I said, made my kids happy.
  8. We did a private tour in Sardinia when my kids were 12, 15, 18, and 18. We went up into the mountains to learn a bit about the flora and fauna, had lunch at an agritourissimo and learned about the local culture, then had 3 hours at a local pocket beach that the kids loved. We used Secrets of Sardinia. The owner is Dirk, a somewhat crusty German expat. I'd definitely recommend him for a tour. We had a great day, and were also able to stop for coffee, snacks, and refreshments whenever the kids started to lag.
  9. We did a walking food tour and it was one of the highlights of our trip. I think you could easily do Tallinn on your own, as its not hard to get to the old town and navigate the main areas, but we really appreciated the insight from a local. She had family "disappeared" when the Soviets invaded the country, and was a mid-teen when they regained independence. She had some fascinating stories. That sort of experience you can't get with an audio guide or book.
  10. I don't have first hand experience, but I've heard the third bed on AMA is more of a pull out single chair bed. Good for kids, maybe not for an adult. I believe those rooms were created more for families than a third adult, as several of them also connect with the adjoining room. Avalon does seem to have quite a few singles options available. A friend was looking at sailing with us. She was disappointed, though, that the single supplement was only waived on aquarium class rooms. No luck with the french balcony rooms.
  11. We were looking at Avalon for the Danube next year. I know some of the sailings waived the single supplement.
  12. Barcelona is very easy to get around on public transportation. We use an app called Moovit which has subway/bus/train/walking directions with time tables, etc, for every major city we've been to so far. Very helpful. Transit in Barcelona was clean, safe, and efficient.
  13. We were in Spain for a hiking trip, and spent a night in Andorra afterward for the simple reason of being able to say we went there before carrying on to Barcelona. It's beautiful, and we stayed at one of the nicest hotels I have ever been in - the Hermitage Sport Hotel and Spa. It's a ski resort, so got a fabulous deal for a summer stay - cheaper than our Barcelona hotel. We had a huge room with a large patio overlooking the mountain behind us. The tasting menu at the restaurant there was amazing, and they have a great spa on the bottom 2 floors. It was completely worth the drive, which was easy. Had we had time, I would have tried out some of their jeep tours or other summer activities they were offering. I know I sound like I'm raving, or running out of adjectives, but everything there really exceeded our expectations. On top of that, we practically had the entire place to ourselves. We were there the second week of June. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g190404-d638418-Reviews-Sport_Hotel_Hermitage_Spa-Soldeu_Canillo_Parish.html If you enter from Spain, the first half of Andorra is fairly unexciting. Lots of car dealerships and shopping. The second half is the prettier, more resort looking area. We stopped at the mirador Roc del Quer, which is a lookout at the top of one of the mountains. It's an amazing view, a real birds eye view of the valley.
  14. If one of us got very sick, yes, I'm sure he would. I think for most people, they can't actually imagine the level of illness that a Covid ICU patient experiences. Not the details. Not the fact that most of these people spend WEEKS on a vent, that their organs frequently continue to deteriorate due to the unique way this virus invades the vascular system, that they can spend weeks in delirium even after they come off the vent, not to mention will need significant physical therapy because their muscles have atrophied from disuse. That all assumes they were lucky enough to survive. There seems to be a significant portion of patients that have lingering pulmonary issues even among those not sick enough to need a ventilator. I also think non-medical professionals really can't imagine a health care system that is overwhelmed. Where you have more sick patients than beds or supplies. I've not experienced that, per se, but I can extrapolate from some of my worst nights in an inner city trauma center and that feeling of "it's never going to end." One thing that scares me is that with our record number of cases, it will be up to 2 weeks before anyone infected by those people show up in the stats. And since it takes an average of 28 days to die from date of diagnosis, our fatality rates will peak at least a month from now, and most likely later. This can only get worse before it gets better.
  15. I'm in Texas, and while there are many young people going out and about, there are many "old enough to know better" with the same disregard for public health. I'm a physician and hear it from all ages, how silly the masks are, how only really old people get sick, how the economy is the most important aspect and should trump concerns for health. I'd say my senior citizens are the ones taking it most seriously, for good reason. For an example, my 53 yo husband and a group of 10 local guys all just got back from 8 days in Las Vegas, no masks except when required, and he can't understand why I have moved into the guest room. He also refuses to wear a mask in town, honestly I think as a political point. I really just don't argue, as it won't help, but he's a good representation of his age group in our small town just an hour from both Houston and Austin - where currently the ICU's are full and overflow wards are being set up. Mind boggling, really.
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