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Anyone ever flunk out of a Grand Circle tour?

Anyone ever flunk out of a Grand Circle tour?

Old Jun 13th, 2014, 04:26 AM
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Are you typing in Word and then copying here? If so, do you save incrementally so you don't lose everything?
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 04:29 AM
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Bottom line, td is looking into getting me separate guide for Pompeii and Herculaneum, although at my expense--not sure about that part.... Her first suggestion was for me to fly home w a partial refund...She finally realized I have spent other $ for 10 days I would not be with GCT because no one gets that it is not simple in many ways to go home now???I would have preferred to book in fall but I have significant conflicts then....TD is not the problem. We each we're put in a bad situation.
And, Lauren, I was very forthright about my concerns and did read the fine print and asked many questions about the walking, breaks available (not really until free time I found out now....) over a period of 3 weeks of reading reviews, conversations, etc. don't assume so much...
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 04:32 AM
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No, Adrienne, I have a new mini iPad that I had to buy a few weeks ago when my as us tablet died, so I am pretty clumsy w this thing.
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 05:05 AM
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If you have an iPad you can compose in Notes and then copy to Fodors. Or write it as an email to yourself and save it as a draft.
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 05:19 AM
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I like the make lemons out of lemonade idea.

Do what you can with what you've got. Enjoy city cafe's by sitting outside, sipping something delightful and trying to start a conversation with your table neighbours.

Take a hop on/hop off bus or one of those little trains to get you around the city.

Enjoy what you can see and do and forget about what you can't do. Europe is more than just seeing the sights.... it's breathing it in, sipping it and meeting and seeing the unexpected.

As the hotel receptionist for ideas on what to do if you can't go with the group. Europe is indeed doable by yourself but you must be able to walk a bit.

Good luck, chin up and start breathing in Italy as the locals do... by sitting down and enjoying yourself!
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 06:21 AM
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Good luck with the rest of the trip. You can get audio guides at Pompeii and I think at Herculaneum (although I didn't use one at Herculaneum) and they're not expensive. You do need to leave ID (I used a driver's license but I think they will also take a passport copy) to ensure you return the audio.

Sorrento is a cute town and there are many shops to look into as well as cafes to relax. And the pretty part of town is small so you can easily walk around.
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 07:10 AM
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Don't be afraid to use a taxi. They're relatively cheap in Italy. Ask your tourguide or hotel receptionist for tips on how to use a taxi.
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 08:13 AM
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The TD does not have to look into getting you a separate guide. There are always many right at the entrance to Pompeii. She, or you, can hire one right on the spot. For Herculaneum, pick up a nice guide book at the ticket office and read as you walk around. The book will be a nice memory.

One thing that is also very nice are the books with overlays: pictures of the buildings, etc. now, with colored, transparencies that show what it once looked like. IMHO, they are well worth the money and wonderful to have when you get home. Don't be tempted to save 3 or 4 euros by getting tiny ones. The larger ones are great coffee table books.
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 09:54 AM
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Why would I think GCT would get me a deal for a tour? After waiting til evening, all they suggested was to be totally on my own w trains, etc and pay 200'E for my own guide. I am better off w an audio tour or book as you have said.... So tomorrow somehow I will go to Herculaneum on my own. The TG says no way should I try Naples and the museum. Does anyone know what a taxi would cost from one to the other and how to keep from being cheated? The td also keeps telling me what an easy target I am as I limp along..... If I don't go to the museum, anyone know how to get a taxi from H to the train station and what it would cost?

I had been feeling almost ok about this trip and making the best of it and I have seen some beautiful places and have wonderful pictures to keep. I met a lovely Italian lady on the bus yesterday and she was a treasure along the way. The subject of leaving the tour didn't come up again bec the emphasis was supposedly on working it out.... I am beginning to think the advantages of GCT are slim for me, and I need the td to ask again about a refund where I am not forced to fly home, I think. Today I could not go on a walking tour and pretty much just did laundry in the sink.... And, yay, I am also coming down w a cold. I do love just being here but that is not enough return for the big bucks it cost me....
BTW, I have a digital tape recorder with me and taped our conversation last night, including her reading me the letter she got from GCT promising me a refund....in the us it is legal to tape a conversation you are part of, don't know about Italy.
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 10:04 AM
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State laws vary as to the taping of conversations.
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 10:08 AM
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Are you saying she wouldn't let you go with the tour to the archeological museum in Naples? I have terrible knees, could not do some of the walking you have already done, but could certainly have done this museum!

I don't know about using a tape recorder, was she aware you were using it? Demand, if you don't have one, a copy of the communication she read to you.

How much longer is this tour? Can't you go on the bus with everyone and decide when you get to a site whether or not it's too much for you? As someone else said, if you know the meeting point and time for the end of the tour, what difference is it to anyone if you do what you can at your own pace or sit in the shade and have a cold drink, etc.

All the best of luck.
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 10:08 AM
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Is the group taking the tour bus to Herculaneum? I imagine they will drive the bus right to the ticket area and park. If so, I would demand to ride the bus and tell the td you will just sit while they tour if you need to. You could then rest and walk at your own pace, allowing plenty of time to be back at the bus for departure.

Herculaneum, itself, is pretty flat and covers a small area, but you have to walk down a hill to get to the site. Taking the train would be harder because there is a walk of several blocks of downhill and uphill walking and I do not know if there is a lift at the Herculaneum station.

I don't know the cost, but the easiest way would be a taxi to get you as close to the site as possible. If you can manage to get down to the actual site, you can get a good feeling for it by just being there.
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 10:14 AM
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This is the commuter rail you need to get to Herculaneum, Pompeii and Naples: http://www.eavcampania.it/web/en

Herculaneum is very close to the train station - Ercolano Scavi station - I would think you could walk it, but I don't know how limited you are. I seem to remember that Pompeii was close to the station also, but someone else here will know.

I see no reason why you can't visit the museum in Naples. I trust that you are wearing a money belt? If not, make sure you split your money between multiple places and don't take more than you need for the day. You can take a taxi from the station to the museum.

With taxis you need to insist on the driver using the meter, and make sure it is set on the day rate (should be number one). Boarding with map in hand isn't a bad idea either, in case the driver tries to go the long way round.
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 10:18 AM
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I'm not understanding why she couldn't go TO Siena with the tour and make arrangements there like the taxi, etc. Same for Pompeii. If she can't keep up, they should at least take her to the town on the tour.
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 10:34 AM
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Naples, Herculaneum, and Pompeii Scavi are all on the same train line. You could take an early train to Naples (1 hour from Sorrento) and a taxi to the museum.

At the Garabaldi station in Naples (downstairs) there is an escalator but I don't know if it's easily spotted from the platform (I can't remember). Just ask someone for the escalator to go upstairs to the main level). Walk out the front door and you will see taxis.

Just make sure the meter is turned on and you can't be cheated on the fare.

After the museum there will be taxis at the front. Take one back to Napoli Centrali and go downstairs to buy your ticket to Herculaneum.

I did not see any taxi when I was there and there probably aren't any as the distance is so short a taxi couldn't make any money at that station.

I do remember benches just before you enter the site so you could rest for a few minutes.

Once you're at Herculaneum it's quite flat.

Don't forget to bring water.
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 10:35 AM
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Several years ago, a taxi from the train station for Herculaneum to the ruins was about $5 each way, (We had just climbed Vesuvius and were lazy on the return.) I would not recommend taking the train into Naples. The train station is large, congested and somewhat confusing (the train you need, the Circumvesuviana, arrives on a lower level from the other trains.) You'll be tired and not at your most alert, an easy target for pick pocketing.
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 04:08 PM
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>>>If so, I would demand to ride the bus and tell the td you will just sit while they tour if you need to. <<<

I would do this also. No need for you to have to pay a entrance ticket and transport since it's already paid. I would tell the TD that you will find your own guide there and transport back if you aren't ready when they are leaving (you can take a taxi uphill the station which is just a few blocks and train back to Sorrento -3€).

If she refuses to allow you to ride the bus, you can still do it on your own. It's all downhill to the entrance to Herculaneum from the train station. They do have audio guides (6€ or so) you can rent although sometimes they run out of English ones.

If you have to buy your Herculaneum ticket(11€), go on a buy a combo ticket (20€ and good 3 consecutive days) that includes Pompeii, Ercolano (Herculaneum), Oplonti, Stabia, Boscoreale.

You might ask your hotel if there is a 1/2 day tour to the museum in Naples as that might be a bit much to navigate multiple transport with walking problems. The entry fee is only 8€ or so.
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 04:20 PM
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As I recall, the walk from the Circumvesuviana to Herculaneum is flat, but you might want to take a taxi any way, as it is (I think) a kilometer or more, and saving your energy for the site might make most sense. Also, although it's been a while since I was there, I remember thinking that the audio guide was quite good.

Keep hanging in there, twoteachers -- you continue to impress with your initiative, determination, and willingness to make the most of the options you have!
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Old Jun 14th, 2014, 04:25 AM
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Dear Madam,

Are you still going on to Venice by yourself?

If you are, I hope you took my advice and booked a hotel close to a vaporetto stop.

Thin
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Old Jun 14th, 2014, 06:46 AM
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>>>As I recall, the walk from the Circumvesuviana to Herculaneum is flat,<<<

No, the walk from the station is downhill (several blocks on sidewalks)which she would probably be able to manage. The walk back, take a taxi the few blocks since it will be uphill.
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