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Trip Report South Florida, Transatlantic cruise, Berlin, Gorlitz and Dresden and Poland

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We are 70 and live outside Boston. We travel frequently often in Asia of late.
We are moderate in budget with splashes of lux, but require comfort as well.

Our trip began on April 16 with a U/A flt from Boston to Ft. Lauderdale via Newark... Cheap from Expedia, booked months in advance.

We stayed our first night at the Hyatt Place Cruise Port, Ft. L, used an award night. Great location for airport and/or cruise, but only a so so hotel. Next day we picked up our car from Ace car rentals, just around the corner and I drove to Key West. I dropped my wife off at Miami airport and she flew--needed to save her expiring A/A miles. Easy 3 hour drive and we arrived about the same time.

We had more award nights available so chose the Hyatt Resort and Spa right on the water. Great room overlooking the water and pool. dinner first night was at Hogfish Cafe, a joint one key up from key west. Short wait, but good meal. K had hogfish which she loved--a. Speciality... I had lobster chowder and shrimp and fries... We shared a key lime pie...

K roamed around a bit the next AM, had a swim and then we went looking for Old Town Bakery---WOW... All fresh and amazing. Also ordered breakfast pastry for following morning.. If you spend $8 they will deliver for free. OUTSTANDING!!!!!

Late afternoon dinner at Pepe's, the oldest restaurant in KW... Early bird oysters $1.10 each, $1 beers, and $4 wine... Bring on a dozen, ok bring another dozen... We both had the swordfish special with asparagus and mango salsa... Coconut cream pie for dessert... $101. Specials 4-6 PM... 806 Caroline St. extra tip as our waiter was fantastic!!

Next AM the pastry arrived at our door at 8:30 as promised... Could not have been better.

Headed north.. Lunch stop at Midway Cafe , 80499 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada. Looks hooky but it is delicious.. Multi colored bldg on right side of road.

stayed this night at the Renaissance Hotel in Plantation...$118,senior rate, upgraded to a 5 room suite because I am Platinum with Marriott. K loved the laundromat on the 2nd floor, and I loved having free parking, and the drive to the cruise port was less than a 1/2 hour--- so much better, cheaper and nicer than hotels at cruise port.

Met some FLA Fodorites for dinner (florida1) at Le Petit Cafe in Dania (3308 Griffin Rd--954-967-9912) for dinner at 6 (special fixe price dinner if seated before 6:30---$25.99). fantastic.

Sunday we were up early and had breakfast in the dining room. Dropped our bags off at the ship by 9 and took the car back to ACE. Free shuttle back to the ship-- 5 minutes.

for the second year in a row we book the Celebrity Silhouette for it's Spring Transatlantic cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Rome--15 nights. We had a veranda Concierge Room (9267) on deck 9, too far astern for our liking, but... P rice was an amazing $1299. Each thru

We had lunch at Bistro on 5 after embarking before our room was ready-- $5 surcharge. Far superior to the cattle car cafe on 14.

The cruise was enjoyable. we were joined by some friends whom we had met the year before. each evening we had drinks up near the pool in a quiet corner. We were the only ones there. dinner each night was in the main dining room at 8:30, which meant that we could enjoy the show in the theater each night at 7.

Our stops were Funchal, Madiera, Portugal; Gilbralta, UK; Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy; Messina, Sicily, Italy; Naples, Italy and finally Rome's port north of the city.

a fantastic driver in Funchal is Manuel Rodrigues: He drove us around on a set tour in his comfortable Mercedes-- 40 E for 3 hours.

Most ports we hire a taxi for the 4 of us, but not all. They all had a set route. K took a tour to Pompeii, Sorrento and along the Almafi coast from a shore vendor outside the gate-- 65 E vs $164 for a similar tour with the ship.

Upon arrival in Rome we used Bob's Limo to drive us in a van to the airport and local airport hotels--- 105 E for the 4 of us sharing an 8 person van with some others. Very cheap... Ship charges about 90 e per person for a bus...

We flew Air Berlin on an 11:45 flt to Berlin... Cheap, also bought months in advance... Like $170 for the 2 of us ( basic fare was 6 E).

NOW FINALLY the Europe part starts.

I bought 5* Priceline hotel, months in advance for Berlin. $111. Per night for the Berlin Marriott...BINGO. About 30% of normal price. Plus they honored my platinum status and upgraded our room to an exec king with full club privileges... the hotel is at Potsdammer Platz which could not be more central or convenient.

We purchased hop on hop off bus tickets for 48 hours and really got our $$ worth... there are 2 routes and we did them both more than once... 51 E for 2 seniors.

On our 2nd night I had purchased symphony tickets for us on line. The Orquestra de Cadaques with Sir Neville Marriner conducting ( age 90 now) at Koncerthaus, one of the best acoustical venues in the world. We were in the 6th row, center. 50 E each. Fantastic music, even some favorites.

Another day K walked to the site of the new Memorial to the Jews of Europe, next to the American Embassy.

After 3 days in Berlin we picked up a rental car from Avis at Europa Place which I had pre-paid thru Gemut in Oregon. They do fabulous things for German travel as well as other parts of Europe. I have often used them. 11 day rental for a Ford Fusion station wagon with all the power eqpt. And a very good built-in GPS ( included in cost of car, not an extra).
BTW, not all cars may be driven into former soviet block countries-- tell them where you are going--- theft is still a huge problem.

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