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Old 03-03-2015, 05:47 AM   #1861
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My last trip was a cruise from LA to Chile and went to Eastern Island for 3 days - it was a nightmare. Fly into LAX and it was pouring, my luggage and me got totally soaked waiting nearly 2 hours for a cab - it was raining sideways could not avoid it and had to get to the pier for boarding. Went to the cruise ship doc and they had custom inspections holding up the boarding, got soaked again. Got on the ship headed down to Chile and we had to avoid a hurricane, passengers sea sick all over the place, the crew wanted to be tipped for anything and everything, got to Chile (boring, cold and ding ding raining), fly to Eastern Island - 5 hours on a tiny plane filled completely - of course I was next to the 5'5" 310 pound plus women that muffined into my seat space - her side stomach felt like a water balloon. Eastern Island is a tiny island with some statues on it (rained the whole time), extremely overpriced, crappy hotel was $250 a night, room service hamburger $18. Had to fly back to Chile to catch a flight back to the States. Flight from Eastern Island was delayed, missed the flight from Chile to the States (non refundable tickets), had to wait 3 days for another flight where the ticket price was not in the stratosphere. Easter Island is very overrated. If you want to get ripped off, go to Tahiti - better food, weather and the locals don't snear at you.
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Old 03-04-2015, 10:14 AM   #1862
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Originally Posted by Nemo2 View Post
1963....caught a train, (boarded the empty car in the middle of the night...no-one around), from Zahedan, Iran to Quetta, Pakistan.......awakened at dawn by locals loading their sheep into the car through the doors and windows.
I traveled same route in 1996 and same thing happened. Anybody on ER board has fresher update?
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Old 03-04-2015, 10:29 AM   #1863
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Originally Posted by NanoSour View Post
Just booked tickets to Rome this morning. Gonna fulfill a dream of taking my kids to Europe before they go off to college.

The trip will be a total of 10 days split between Rome and Florence, and it looks like we'll be using VRBO for lodging arrangements. Any experiences with VRBO, good or bad, would be appreciated.

Now let the planning begin.
I used VRBO for places in Nimes, France & Barcelona for our trip last October. No problems at all. I'd focus on the places with positive reviews but that said, our place near Nimes had no reviews and went perfectly. They were both managed by a property management company - not sure if that would be better than dealing directly with the owner.

As I recall, the biggest issue was that I needed to figure out how to wire the deposit in euros to one of them.
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Old 03-04-2015, 10:44 AM   #1864
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In the next week or so, we are going to book a bicycle tour through the Alentejo region of Portugal. We are narrowing down the company with which to book, and plan to go in late April/early May (yeah...we are kind of last minute planners).

But we've been talking about this trip for several years, so I am excited for it. Somehow, we keep ending up going to different places instead!
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Old 03-04-2015, 11:16 AM   #1865
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My last trip was a cruise from LA to Chile and went to Eastern Island for 3 days - it was a nightmare. Fly into LAX and it was pouring, my luggage and me got totally soaked waiting nearly 2 hours for a cab - it was raining sideways could not avoid it and had to get to the pier for boarding. Went to the cruise ship doc and they had custom inspections holding up the boarding, got soaked again. Got on the ship headed down to Chile and we had to avoid a hurricane, passengers sea sick all over the place, the crew wanted to be tipped for anything and everything, got to Chile (boring, cold and ding ding raining), fly to Eastern Island - 5 hours on a tiny plane filled completely - of course I was next to the 5'5" 310 pound plus women that muffined into my seat space - her side stomach felt like a water balloon. Eastern Island is a tiny island with some statues on it (rained the whole time), extremely overpriced, crappy hotel was $250 a night, room service hamburger $18. Had to fly back to Chile to catch a flight back to the States. Flight from Eastern Island was delayed, missed the flight from Chile to the States (non refundable tickets), had to wait 3 days for another flight where the ticket price was not in the stratosphere. Easter Island is very overrated. If you want to get ripped off, go to Tahiti - better food, weather and the locals don't snear at you.
I hope you can laugh at this now--a lot of black comedy here.
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Old 03-04-2015, 11:49 AM   #1866
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In the next week or so, we are going to book a bicycle tour through the Alentejo region of Portugal. We are narrowing down the company with which to book, and plan to go in late April/early May (yeah...we are kind of last minute planners).

But we've been talking about this trip for several years, so I am excited for it. Somehow, we keep ending up going to different places instead!
we love bike tours. Hope you have a great time.
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Old 03-04-2015, 12:24 PM   #1867
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Originally Posted by NanoSour View Post
Just booked tickets to Rome this morning. Gonna fulfill a dream of taking my kids to Europe before they go off to college.

The trip will be a total of 10 days split between Rome and Florence, and it looks like we'll be using VRBO for lodging arrangements. Any experiences with VRBO, good or bad, would be appreciated.

Now let the planning begin.

We stayed in Europe for 3 weeks last year and used VBRO, AirBnB and Booking.com for our stays and didn't have any issues.


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Old 03-04-2015, 12:27 PM   #1868
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Next week to Bandon, Oregon to play the 4 Bandon Dunes course. May play the 13 hole one too if time permits. Will be driving from Bay Area via highway 5. Can't wait.
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Old 03-04-2015, 02:22 PM   #1869
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Old 03-05-2015, 07:56 PM   #1870
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Our trips are way-less-exotic, but, hey, i'll take them.


Boston in April (to see FIL), Atlanta in May, and San Francisco (Road Scholar trip) in September.
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Old 03-05-2015, 09:11 PM   #1871
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.....Sent from my TRS-80 and my ISP Compuserve
You have the same setup as imoldernu?
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Old 03-05-2015, 09:43 PM   #1872
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It so happens that I am reading Bad Trips by Keath Fraser ed. (1991), a collection of essays and book excerpts from many writers about their travel experience.

A reviewer on Amazon makes the comment that this book is more about Sad Trips than Bad Trips as so many stories involve human misery. It's not something to read before traveling to a 3rd world country.
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Old 03-05-2015, 09:45 PM   #1873
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Originally Posted by NanoSour View Post
Just booked tickets to Rome this morning. Gonna fulfill a dream of taking my kids to Europe before they go off to college.

The trip will be a total of 10 days split between Rome and Florence, and it looks like we'll be using VRBO for lodging arrangements. Any experiences with VRBO, good or bad, would be appreciated.

Now let the planning begin.
We've had very good luck with VRBO/Homeaway (now the same company). In Rome we rented this place 8 years ago. (It didn't have the loud tile in the bathroom at the time.) Owners were awesome to deal with.
Apartment for 5 people in Rome - VRBO (Although I rented it through Venere.com at the time.)

When we were in Tuscany about 4 years ago we rented a place south of Florence, outside of Greve in Chianti, but we had a car. It was a great base to go see Florence, the Chianti towns, Sienna, and just chill and relax in the vineyards.
Vacation home Badia in Badia a Passignano,... - VRBO

Your kids are lucky to have you as a parent!
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Old 03-05-2015, 10:46 PM   #1874
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NanoSour View Post
Just booked tickets to Rome this morning. Gonna fulfill a dream of taking my kids to Europe before they go off to college.

The trip will be a total of 10 days split between Rome and Florence, and it looks like we'll be using VRBO for lodging arrangements. Any experiences with VRBO, good or bad, would be appreciated.

Now let the planning begin.
We stay at Olive Tree Hill in Zagarolo, just south of Rome. [url=http://www.olivetreehill.com/[/url]

Olive Tree Hill (Rome, Italy - Zagarolo) - B&B Reviews - TripAdvisor

Ivano is a fabulous tour guide, and he cooks for guests at night. We found as much to do in the Rome suburbs as there is to see in the center city.

We used Booking.com in Florence, and later stayed in an agriturismo outside San Gimignano. We loved day trips to the hilltowns, including Orvieto and Volterra.
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Old 03-06-2015, 07:19 AM   #1875
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Working through the French train system which works completely differently from the German, Austrian or Netherlands/Belgium train system.

High speed (TGV) trains between major towns/cities. Nice and fast, but reservations required and you have to book ahead to catch a discount.
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Old 03-06-2015, 07:43 AM   #1876
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Man, the Euro is dropping like a rock. $1.0866 and falling......
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Old 03-06-2015, 08:48 AM   #1877
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We've had very good luck with VRBO/Homeaway (now the same company). In Rome we rented this place 8 years ago. (It didn't have the loud tile in the bathroom at the time.) Owners were awesome to deal with.
Apartment for 5 people in Rome - VRBO (Although I rented it through Venere.com at the time.)

When we were in Tuscany about 4 years ago we rented a place south of Florence, outside of Greve in Chianti, but we had a car. It was a great base to go see Florence, the Chianti towns, Sienna, and just chill and relax in the vineyards.
Vacation home Badia in Badia a Passignano,... - VRBO

Your kids are lucky to have you as a parent!

That's a very nice thought to wake up to! Thank you Rodi.

The planning is going very well. There will be 7 of us traveling as I invited my parents to share the experience with us and the kids. For those who may not know my story, we moved almost 2 years ago when we decided to ER, and since then, the kids unfortunately haven't seen their grandparents. Other than facetime of course.

Well I've booked these places in Rome and Florence. The Rome property has lots of great reviews, but the Florence one has none. Even so, it looks great and I'm confident there'll be no problems. The only weird thing is it's cash upon arrival. Guess I'll have to get 1000 Euro's out of the ATM over the course of a couple days.

15% Off Feb-Mar - Trastevere - Luminous Apt... - VRBO

Aldobrandini - Inside: Florentine sky - VRBO

Also, got what I believe is a great buy on airline tickets. Driving 8 hours into Canada and saving almost $1000 per ticket. That adds a couple days to the trip, but also adds nice spending cash for Italy.

Today I'll book the train to/from Florence. Also planning a day trip to Pisa, but from what I've read, don't think I need to pre-book that train.
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Old 03-06-2015, 05:05 PM   #1878
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I spent the last few days booking various train fares as the summer schedules are starting to get released. The seat61.com website is amazing for helping navigate the system. Some of our tickets require reservations even though they're 2nd class - because of overnight cuccettes, legs on the eurostar, etc.

So far I've booked
- bologna-Venice. (Probably didn't need to book that already - but it had a supersaver rate so I snagged it.)
- Venice - Vienna - Prague. It's an overnight trip and there's a huge price difference in the supersaver and the regular price.
- Amsterdam - London. We'd been toying with the idea of doing the rail/sail combo - but the timing would have meant paying extra at checkin in London because of the hour we'd arrive, or losing a day in Amsterdam... after going back and forth at all the options (train, plane, train+ferry) I pulled the cord and bought train tickets. I couldn't get the cheapest price - it kept showing the price - then denying me when I want to buy - so I spent an extra 20euro and locked it in.
- London to Paris.

I still need to get:
* Catania to Giarre-Riposto. I'm waiting on this because I want to see if cousins are going to volunteer to pick us up in Catania.
* Giarre-Riposto to Bologna, via Rome. It's just outside the window of when I can purchase... Again, this is an overnight train, so I want to lock in a low price and reserve the cuccettes.
* Paris to Nice
* Nice to Aix-en-Provence
* Aix-en-Provence to Barcelona.

All the activity of foreign train ticket purchases triggered Capital One fraud folks to contact me. I'm glad they're paying attention.
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Old 03-06-2015, 05:17 PM   #1879
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That's a very nice thought to wake up to! Thank you Rodi.

The planning is going very well. There will be 7 of us traveling as I invited my parents to share the experience with us and the kids. For those who may not know my story, we moved almost 2 years ago when we decided to ER, and since then, the kids unfortunately haven't seen their grandparents. Other than facetime of course.

Well I've booked these places in Rome and Florence. The Rome property has lots of great reviews, but the Florence one has none. Even so, it looks great and I'm confident there'll be no problems. The only weird thing is it's cash upon arrival. Guess I'll have to get 1000 Euro's out of the ATM over the course of a couple days.

15% Off Feb-Mar - Trastevere - Luminous Apt... - VRBO

Aldobrandini - Inside: Florentine sky - VRBO

Also, got what I believe is a great buy on airline tickets. Driving 8 hours into Canada and saving almost $1000 per ticket. That adds a couple days to the trip, but also adds nice spending cash for Italy.

Today I'll book the train to/from Florence. Also planning a day trip to Pisa, but from what I've read, don't think I need to pre-book that train.
Great apartments in great locations. The Florence one is in a perfect spot.

Here are some reviews of the florence apartment
https://www.waytostay.com/florence-a...-5698/reviews/
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Road Scholar Aon Trip Insurance Ripoff
Old 03-06-2015, 07:31 PM   #1880
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Road Scholar Aon Trip Insurance Ripoff

“Road Scholar Travel Insurance Ripoff on 13-day Panama Costa Rica tour”

I booked a 13-day Panama Costa Rica tour in October 2014. The tour was very pricy, $4,389 (this included a solo supplement), plus $366 in Road Scholar-recommended travel insurance through Berkely Care, a division of Aon. Since I am not a US citizen, I required a B2 Visa to enter the US from Costa Rica. I applied for the visa in October 2014 and got an appointment at the US embassy in Panama on January 7, 2015, three days before the trip began. The embassy normally grants B2 visas in 2-4 days. On January 8, I was notified that the embassy had a problem reading my fingerprints and that I needed to see a doctor to determine the medical causes and treatment of this condition. On January 13, I saw a dermatologist who wrote a letter that the embassy accepted on January 14th. However, the group was leaving Panama on January 15th and I did not have my passport, which was still at the embassy from January 7th. I did eventually get the visa, but too late to rejoin the party. I incurred considerable expense in hotels, extra airfare and Road Scholar taxis to Panama City doctor/US embassy from various tour group locations.

After my January 21 return from Panama, I filed a claim with Aon. Aon initially didn't even want to send the claim forms. I contacted Road Scholar, but they said maybe they could offer me another tour but only after receiving a formal denial of my claim from Aon. So I insisted that Aon send me the claim forms and Aon denied the claim on the basis of "inappropriate documents" (my fingerprints?) When I challenged Aon, they agreed to look at the case once more, and denied it again:

"Since you did not seek treatment by a licensed physician during the program, your losses are not covered covered under the terms and conditions of the Road Scholar Protection Plan."

I knew then that Aon hadn't even looked at the file, since I had provided them with the January 13, 2015 dermatologist's letter. Road Scholar, needless to say, would not answer my calls, although they bombarded me with offers to go on future trips and wanted feedback on the trip I had only partially taken. In looking closer at the relationship between Road Scholar and Aon, I learned the following:

"The Berkley Group is a travel insurance wholesaler who provides travel insurance to tour operators, cruise lines, and other travel providers. Most of their plans are custom designed for the specific travel provider, however, since they use the same underwriting company there are similarities in benefit wording and exclusions. Many of the plans that they offer are combination plans that have two components:

pre-departure "waiver" plan that is usually not underwritten by a licensed insurance carrier but rather by the tour operator. In some cases it's advertised as "cancel for any reason" however, instead of a cash payment for your loss they offer a travel voucher that is only good for a specific period of time and which can only be used with the tour operator; and
post departure coverage is the second portion provided by The Berkely Group and underwritten by a licensed insurance company which usually includes all of the typical post-departure coverage such as trip interruption, emergency evacuation, travel medical, baggage, etc. Some of the tour company plans that we've seen have had less than modest amounts of emergency evacuation coverage that might only be appropriate for travel within the USA or Canada.


"Most consumer advocates recommend against buying coverage that is offered directly to you from a tour operator, cruise line, or airline. Custom made plans offered by travel providers usually have more restrictions and because they are mass marketed they tend to generate more consumer complaints. Also, most custom made plans offered by travel providers are "community rated" instead of age rated. That means that much older travelers might find them lower priced than the retail age rated plans however, for everybody else they might be more expensive than retail plans available through on line comparison sites."

So if you are considering a trip with Road Scholar, make sure that nothing unforeseen happens to you pre-or post-commencement of the tour to render your investment in the trip worthless. And take a pass on their insurance.
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