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Leslie_S Apr 28th, 2012 05:46 AM

How nice to get to Hawaii once a year - we've not been yet - it's definitely on my list.

We leave mid-May so I have a little time left to sort out my packing list. You're tips have been very helpful!

Hopefully I'll have the time/energy to write up a little report when I get back but I usually have neither after returning from a trip. I'm usually just on to focusing on the next one.

Thanks again :)

Eschew Apr 30th, 2012 03:45 PM

Librarylass, glad you enjoyed the trip and found the post here helpful. If I knew your age earlier, I would probably recommend different footware, and definitely not the Vibram!

I can't wait to get back there again in a few years time. But then there are so many places on my bucket list.

Leslie_S, we found a nice restaurant in Quito called" Rincon La Ronda". It is not located in La Ronda. It is only called La Ronda. Make sure you tell the cab driver it is the restauarnt ou are going to. It is only $3 cab fare away from the Colon Hilton. Great service, great local music and great local cusine. The ceviche langostinos del Pacífico is highly recommeded as an appeitizer. Warning: portions are big and spliting an order is quite acceptable. They will even do it for you in the kitchen. Most staff speaks Spanish only but there are staff that speak good enough English.

If you have time, visit the equator museum while in Quito.

Wet landing, it's really nothing to worry about. Go look at the picture posted. The links is somewhere on this thread above.

Good luck on your trip!

Leslie_S May 1st, 2012 09:49 AM

Getting close now. Once we get packed (maybe this weekend) I'll really be excited!

Librarylass May 5th, 2012 12:15 PM

Hi Eschew,
BTW, I thought about you while we climbed through the ruins at Ollantaytambo--and was so careful I didn't even trip once!What a beautiful place it is. Later our guide told us that a few days after we were there a woman who was so focused on taking photos of those ruins took a terrible fall. Unfortunately there was speculation that she might not live. I tried to find any news about it on Google--but no luck. Sad.
About shoes? I do think those toe shaped shoes are really fun looking- but perhaps not the best thing for me. hee hee. However, I must tell you that I did manage to do the early morning climb to the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu--in the rain, mind you! So where there is a will...well, you know what I mean! Thanks again for the great review of the Galapagos cruise--it was so helpful--yup, I would like to go back as well--however, like you--my Bucket List still has many other wonders on it that I hope to see.
Leslie S--have a wonderful trip--I know you are going to have tons of fun and many adventures!Oh do try to check in when you return--OK?

Leslie_S May 5th, 2012 01:30 PM

Thanks - I'll definitely report back.

Eschew May 9th, 2012 02:39 PM

Hi Librarylass,

Glad that the report on the Galapagos was helpful. Did you find Cezar and Daniella (Tinkerbell) as described?

My fall was totally my fault as I was trying to "run" down to catch up to my wife. It obviously could have been a whole lot worst if I didn't managed to stop my slide after the fall. I hope whoever that lady the guide refered to is okay. I saw a lady slipped on the last step when she was getting off her tour bus. I found out later that was taken to the hospital to Cusco by ambualnce. So anything could happen.

Good for you that you made it to the Sun Gate. It wasn't really that bad a climb. We went early in he morning as well. There was only 5 of us (plus a local guide) and we didn't encounter many people on our way up or down. We stopped many times and admired the view and took many pictures.

Librarylass May 23rd, 2012 04:19 PM

Hi Eschew,
Just checking to see if Leslie S. has returned from her trip--and here you are!
Oh, on the Explorer-- I did like Cezar lots--he was one of the more friendly guides. However, we were not graced with Danielle/ Tinkerbell. No one around to take our pix--too bad--it sounded like she was a fun lady. What a wonderful trip it was--starting to feel like it was all just a dream! The one piece of advice I have been giving younger folks who have MP & Galapagos on Bucket List is--don't wait--do it now or asap--while you have your youthful energy and before they start limiting how many people can be there at any one time. Our guide in Peru told us there was an ongoing discussion about starting to limit the number of people on the MP site each day--and we heard speculation that a similar process may be in the future for the Galapagos. The beat goes on.

Eschew May 27th, 2012 01:24 PM

Librarylass, nice to hear from you again. Too bad Danniella is gone. Maybe she took some time off? They do not have a photographer on staff to take pictures and sell you the pictures and CDs afterward?

The Galapagos limit is already happening. The ships are not allowed to stop at the same place twice within a certain time frame (it was 9 days) but I heard it will be expanded to 14 days so everyone is looking for new spots.

It is understandable taht they ahve to set limits. Too many tourist will ruin teh eco system and it has already affecting many world heritage sites by too many (and unruly) tourists.

They have put a limit on number of people trekking through the Inca trail but not to the MP site itself but I heard it is coming.

Yup, do it now while you are still youthful and have the energy. Walking with a cane is tough at the best of time and MP and Galapagos will be even more challenging.

Percy May 27th, 2012 05:29 PM

Yep, do it while you can and you can still get around well.

I did the Galapagos, and Machu Picchu 4 years ago when there were no restrictions, but it seems with each passing year, restrictions are creeping in.

Four and a half years ago I paid $20.00 ( my tour guide got me a ticket ahead of my visit ) to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

I here now the Italian Government has and is clamping down on the number and the frequency of people climbing the Leaning Tower.

Maybe it is already forbidden.?

Yes sir do as much as you can while you can.

I am waiting for Leslie and her husband's trip report on the Galapgos. :)

Hi Everyone

Leslie_S May 29th, 2012 08:33 AM

Hello -- just back from our wonderful Galapogos adventure. I'll try to write up a little trip report next weekend (in a separate post) but in the meantime I wanted to say thanks to you folks here for the advice you gave me beforehand. It was super helpful - fodorites are the best :)

We had a great time and I thought smartours did a fabulous job. This was my second trip with them and both were A+. I realize most fodorites are DIYers but in case anyone is looking for a group to go with I'd recommend them.

Anyhoo, more on all that later but a big thank you to Eschew and Librarylass!

Eschew May 29th, 2012 01:12 PM

Weldome back Leslie, I guess I will have a bit longer before I can read it as we are leaving this weekend for the Baltic.

Percy, we have booked with Alla (I can never spell her last name) for 4 different cities. I'll let everyone know how it went after we got back.

Percy May 29th, 2012 01:47 PM


Okie Dokie!!!

Her last name is Ushakova

Leslie_S May 30th, 2012 06:13 AM

Enjoy your Baltic cruise - another beautiful area - very different from the Galapagos! :)

Eschew May 30th, 2012 10:40 AM

Just got word that my foreign currency is in. The Baltic will be a more relaxed trip. No more 6:30 am wake up call and probably a whole lot more sitting than walking.

Percy, we ended up booking to Berlin rather than Rostok. Gotta keep peace in the family. Happy wife = harmony in the household?

Personally, I am not looking forward to the 3 hours train ride there and then 3 hours back. I will have my eye-covers and headphones with me so I hope I can sleep all the way both ways. I ended up getting a 25% discount from the ship for the Berlin excusion so I booked it through the ship instead of Alla as I do not have to worry about traffic jam and not getting back to the ship on time. Paying a bit extra for "insurance" purposes. BTW. I have been told no AC on the train.

On a seprate note, on the Galapagos trip, LAN cancelled the flight back to the US and we were stranded in Guayaquil overnight and missed all the conenctions going home. We finally received the insurance settlement yesterday.

We ended up staying at Miami for overnight as well and rebook all our flights. All in all, costed us almost $1,000 extra. We bought travel interruption insurance but they won't pay us until LAN told them why it was cancelled and LAN is not replying to me or them. So I was surprise to see the pay out. I knew my TA was working on the background trying to help. So, this is the one time that travel interruption insurnace pays off.

I think what what saved us was the pictures I took of the board for the flight cancellation and a picture of the boarding pass that had "cxl" written on top and then the new flight info was written on top. The insurance comapny wanted us to show proof of cancellation before they will do anything so the 2 pictures were what I used to intiate the claim. Happy ending, but it took 7 months to get my money back.

Percy May 30th, 2012 03:15 PM

Eschew :

Have a nice trip.

Yeah ,I know , keeping peace in the family!! :)

Enjoy Berlin, the tour guide from the cruise ship , of course will know where to take all of you for the best sites.

When you see that TV Tower almost in the middle of the city... I waited a good hour in line to go to the top. Great views of course.

In the same Square as the TV Tower is the Old Red City Hall.

This is where President Kennedy stood and said, " I am a Berliner", as the German crowd went crazy !!

It is really something to see where the Berlin Wall once was.

A part of the Wall remains for tourist to see.

If no Air Condition on the Train,let hope it is a cool day.

Oh , yes , you can buy a postcard with a piece of the Berlin Wall under a bubble pak.

Bon Voyage

Leslie_S May 31st, 2012 10:33 AM

That was smart to take pictures of the flight cancellation notice - I'll keep that in mind for the future. I've only had to submit a claim twice for travel insurance but both times I got reimbursed with no hassles.

But I want to look into getting an annual policy just for travel medical insurance and taking a chance on the other - flight delays, etc. Trip insurance is becoming a big part of my budget!

Librarylass Jun 8th, 2012 03:51 PM

Hi Leslie S!
Great that you are back and that you had a good experience with Smartours. Looking forward to any observations you may have about the Galapagos Islands and G. Explorer II ship!

Percy Jun 8th, 2012 06:27 PM

Leslie S posted a Trip Report, maybe you missed it.

Just scroll down , it is on the left hand side.

Leslie_S Jun 10th, 2012 05:15 AM

Thanks, Librarylass. As Percy mentions above I did do a little trip report titled "Cruise on the Galapagos Explorer II" if you want to relive any of your trip or see how ours was different.

I was just reading above and saw about the ship photographer on Eschew's trip but not yours. We didn't have one either -- and it would have been nice because my photos are all quite amateurish. The one I like best of my husband and myself was taken by another passenger & has our feet cut off so we look a bit dwarf-like. A pro on board to help us and also to buy good shots from would've been great.

Librarylass Jun 17th, 2012 11:02 AM

Hi Leslie S!
Very nice review on your Galapagos and ship board experience. You are pretty much right on the mark with our experience as well. It all seems like a dream now...sigh.
We would have no problem doing another SmarTours--and yes, I would love to see more of the Galapagos Islands, however, there are so many more places we have yet to see. We signed up for a cruise in 2013 that goes around South America (49 days!) including a visit to the Falkland Islands --that will tick many of our Bucket List travel dreams. Life is good.
Chow for now!

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