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Back from Europe! Start of My Trip Report with 3 kids

Back from Europe! Start of My Trip Report with 3 kids

Old Jul 31st, 2007, 06:30 AM
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Here are the 3 sections from my kids blogs:

1. My 4 y.o. son's thoughts on Venice

Thoughts on Venice:
We chased the pigeons. It was fun. We feed the pigeons.And we got ice cream. A gondola is a kind of boat.The gondola has a gondolier. I like those gondoliers. I ate ice cream.

2. My 9 y.o. son's blog entry from Venice:

Transportation in Venice: Transportation in Venice are: boats and walking

The water floods in Venice sometimes, but I don’t know why.

The apartment in Venice was really cool. We had a kitchen for us to cook in. One long hallway and 3 bedrooms. The stairs were a spiral staircase. My room was called the “secret hideout” because it used to be a part of an attic.

I closed a door that I thought was unlocked and my brother locked himself in the room. I was feeling worried about him because I thought he would never come out again. If mom would have to call the fire department, they would have to break the door down. Daddy helped him get out of the room.

In San Marco piazza, I chased a lot of pigeons! I fed the pigeons.

We also went on a treasure hunt in Venice. We had to earn points to get gelato! We had to get 40 points to earn a gelato! I ended up getting over 160 points! I ate a lot of chocolate gelato!

Dad & I went up a high tower to see what was inside the clock. We first visited a museum and then a lady came to give us tour. We were the ONLY ones on the tour! I saw the parts of the clock moving!

I was sad to see all the trash thrown everywhere by people.

It was cool to see everything travel on the boats. I told my Dad Venice was timeless.

3. From my 11 y.o. daughter's blog entry for Venice:

I love all the pigeons everywhere!!!! We tried to get one to go on our arm to earn more points for the big Treasure Hunt. I ended earning 210 points.

I could not walk through the columns by the Doges Palace after learning people used to be executed there so I guess I'm superstitious.

It was so hot, but the Secret Itinerary Tour was cool! I learned a lot about the Doges and about Casonova. The tour lady spoke English clearly. We were the only 3 kids in the tour! We met a couple from Canada which is my favorite country to visit. I couldn't believe my little brother made it through without crying or whining. My mom wished she could have taken pictures on the tour.

There is a shop at the 1st floor of our apartment building. The woman in the shop is so nice. I practiced speaking Italian with her and didn't feel so scared trying it. My mom bought stuff from her.

When my Mom and Dad went to an ATM and got money out, they got big bills. I was surprised to see that businesses would not take a $100 bill when my parents wanted to buy something. So they lost business. I don't think I have ever seen that at home. I could tell it bothered my Mom a lot. Even the Post Office ltalian lady told my mother she could not change a $50 bill when my mom wanted to mail postcards and a small package. It got tiring going from store to store till we were able to find stores willing to take our business and FINALLY we were able to get the gifts for our friends and family. I was so glad. It is so hot over here!

The Murano glass is so beautiful. We took a free taxi over to see the glass blowing. The boat was fast and very nice. The man told us not to spill our Sprites in the boat.
It was so hot in the room but I loved seeing the demonstration. Before we left home, we saw a special on TV on the glass blowing so I'm glad we were able to see it in person. My mom is good at saying no so we did not buy anything from the salesman. Murano was hot, but quiet. We ate gelato at a busy shop. There was a cool big Christmas tree made out of Murano glass. The colors were beautiful! We also bought Murano glass "candy". My mom is going to put it in a small bowl in our living room and she bought Murano lollipops! My brothers thought they were real lollipops.

It is so crowded here in Venice and hot. I love coming to the apartment since it is so close to San Marco. I love just picking an alley and following it to wherever. I wish we kept track of how many bridges we have gone over. We have only been tracking gelato. We are supposed to do a chart when we get back home on which gelato was the best. I liked the place we went to called Michelangaleno. I think it was called that.

Mom keeps asking me if I want to buy one of the many pretty masks for my room as a souvenir. I would rather have earrings and I'm looking for matching bracelets for me and Mom to wear.

When we first got into Venice, I was disappointed to see businesses sweeping their trash into the Canal. I hope they realize how it's not good for the environment. I think I would like to visit when it floods here and see how they handle that.

Where do all the pigeons go at nite from the big square? That's the big question that we are all asking ourselves. I think they just fly away on to the top of people's homes at night. My brother got pooped on by one of the pigeons while eating gelato in his stroller. It was so gross and he screamed when Mom threw the gelato away. She had a lot of wipes her bag to clean him up. So gross!

I will miss Venice. It smells and there's trash from people everywhere but the history here has been amazing. Dad said I have to look past all the other stuff and try and imagine how things were way back when. He also said I'm lucky because the first man who loves me took me to Venice. I love my Dad and I love this whole trip and I love this apartment. I can't wait for Rome.

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Old Jul 31st, 2007, 06:50 AM
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Great report. I bet that apartment in Venice will be booked by Fodorites from now on.

I thin it's pretty universally agreed that the gelato shop by the Pantheon is the best - at least in Rome. "Everyone" on this board seems to have stumbled upon it.

Loved your laundry story. At our apartment in Barcelona, I felt such a sense of accomplishment when I finally figured out how to use the washing machine (it only took me two loads). Those "universal symbols" aren't so universal.
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Old Jul 31st, 2007, 09:57 AM
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I love all of the things your children wrote, but this is my favorite:

"Dad said I have to look past all the other stuff and try and imagine how things were way back when. He also said I'm lucky because the first man who loves me took me to Venice. I love my Dad and I love this whole trip and I love this apartment. I can't wait for Rome."

That choked me up a bit.

I love your entries, too, but thanks so much for sharing your children's points of view. They are precious.
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Old Jul 31st, 2007, 11:44 AM
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ditto LCBonito - I got choked up too! great trip report!
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Old Jul 31st, 2007, 08:53 PM
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I know, I too choked up after she typed her entry in her blog in Venice.

Here are the ROME entries from all 3 of my kids:

From my 4 y.o.son:

Thoughts on Rome:
The Pantheon--the roof opens and closes. There is a big light coming through it.

The"ice cream" melts fast in Europe.

***From Jasmine: We entered the Pantheon just before 1 p.m. on our first day there. The next day after breakfast, I was getting a map from the Front Desk at the Albergo del Senato and my son had buckled himself into his stroller. He said to me... Hey, I saw that Mom! He was pointing to a huge picture in the lobby facing him. I said “we sure did” then I asked him if he knew what building it was? He said, “It’s the Pantheon”. He was right...it was just a cute moment and to see that he remembered it.

From my 9 y.o. son:

Transportation in Rome: Cars, buses, walking, scooters

On our trip to Rome, we went on a sleeping train from Venice. It was so cool. I slept on the top, right bunk. I liked it because I could reach for the lock to the door and could turn the light on and off.

Our hotel was right near the Pantheon!! Wee hee! The Pantheon had glass at the top and pictures all around. In the Pantheon, it might have had a picture of Jesus dying on the cross.

Our hotel was different. We had 2 rooms. The bathrooms were different. The food was delicious and had croissants at breakfast.

The Colosseum was a place for training for a lot of fights and they even filled it with water and boats. The sand soaked up the blood. Kind of gross to me. The size of the Colosseum was humongous. You can only see “part of it” today. My brother thought it looked like a maze in there.

From my 9 y.o. daughter's blog entry:

Things I like about Rome:
1. It's cleaner to me compared to Venice.
2. I loved studying Ancient Civilizations in school so it was neat to finally see the Forum and the Colosseum. I listened to the ipod walking tour and gave the tour to my family (of the Forum). It was cool. It was so hot on the day we went there.
3. We were at the Trevi Fountain and I didn't even know it! My mom came to me and said "let's take your picture here" and I said "wait until we get to the Trevi Fountain" and she told me we were there! Maybe there were just way too many people around it, but seemed smaller than I imagined in my head.
4. The Spanish Steps were the same way. I have seen it in movies and it looks bigger on the TV!
5. I liked getting the drinking water from the fountains because it was so hot.
6. I love how our hotel is right beside the Pantheon. It is so beautiful!

Things I did not like about Rome:

1. The annoying people trying to sell us toys all the time even when we are eating at an outdoor table. It was hard for us to enjoy when people kept interrupting us.
2. How they let people sleep outside the Pantheon at night. The police should not allow it, I think.
3. How hot it is!! I miss the rain in Germany!

Here's my entry for Dates: 7/19/07-7/22/07

Husband called me at 6:40 a.m. to make sure I was awake. We got the kids down to breakfast by 7:15 a.m. Had a nice breakfast at the Albergo Del Senato. We then took a cab to Vatican City.

I booked a private tour through Romaround Tours for the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica (just our family). Worked with a man named Rob who was great to work with. Our tour guide was Rosanna S. and she was terrific! She knew how to gear it towards our kids.

Pre-booking it was worth it for us since we didn’t want to wait in any lines and wanted to go at our own pace and stop when the kids needed a break. She took us through the Vatican Museums. The kids loved the room with all the statues of the animals.

The Sistine Chapel....I don’t know how to describe it all. It was gorgeous. I had imagined some absolutely huge room that would be well-lit. Instead we walk into this room that is much smaller than I had imagined and darker. No pics allowed. I just savored my time in there. Rosanna talked with us for a while about what we would see before we walked in. She then took us to the tombs where the Popes were buried so we saw where Pope John Paul the II was buried.

We were then off to St. Peter’s Basilica...MUCH larger than St. Mark’s in Venice. We spent a while in this church with Rosanna. We did not walk up to the top of St. Peter’s. After going around the church, she walked us around Vatican Square (HUGE). Showed us he Papal palace and where the Pope gives the blessing (he is on vacation at this time). Sorry Missy I was hoping to get a picture of him for you on Sunday at noon!

Fountain break for the kids.

We parted from Rosanna after our 3 hours with her. Definitely worth it and much more personable than some huge tour group.

She recommended a great pizza place. We walk down about 3 blocks and find it. They serve soda with LOTS OF CRUSHED ICE! We are in heaven! I miss ICE!!!! Great service and pizza. We also buy a DVD at a stand nearby.

We then decide to find a cab. We walk back towards Vatican Square. This cab was double the price than the a.m. cab ride over !! We then totally crash for a few hours at the hotel.

Our plans for early evening are to see the Trevi Fountain and walk to the Spanish Steps. We easily find the Trevi Fountain from our hotel (maybe a 6 min. walk?) It is soooooooo crowded around the Fountain. Very hard to enjoy. I try to take pics of my daughter and she is resistant. She doesn't believe we're at Trevi! I try to throw my coin backwards into the fountain from “up top” and husband said it hit some man (oops!)

We then walk down an alley to try and find the Spanish Steps. Find a fruit stand and buy some water and yummy fresh fruit. Very refreshing.

We take our pics and decide to find Hard Rock Cafe so I can get my Hurricane Glass. All we know it is in the Via Veneto Area which doesn’t appear too far away according to the map. Lots of steep hills! We finally find it! The kids tell us they want to eat there. I am told over 90 min. wait and no one wants to wait that long to eat (by this time it is 8:45 p.m. time frame. We walk back down the hill and find Caffe Gran Ristorante. We eat outdoors (which we love). Food was pretty good. Service was so-so. But the desserts were out of this world. Daughter found her “tart” limone sorbetto (yet again)! I had this fresh fruit salad with gelato. I swear I could have eaten 3 of them! The boys got their typical chocolate gelato and husband had some huge chocolate dessert that he said was yummy. We left satisfied. Had no trouble find the hotel (about a 30 min. walk back).

Husband and I decided that we would get up early again for tomorrow as we were doing the Roman Forum and Colosseum on our own.

Again a 6:40 a.m. call from husband. It was tougher getting the kids moving this a.m. We didn’t get down to breakfast until 7:30 a.m.

We looked at a map and decided to just walk with the kids to the Forum/Colosseum.

We stumble upon the Forum----I guess it’s about 8:30 a.m. and we realize we have forgotten the huge zoom lens! I tell husband not to worry about it and he tells me we’ll regret not having it so I stay with the kids and he literally runs to the hotel. He was back in record time!

Daughter is our tour guide. Ijourneys tour for the ipod. She listens and walks us through. Taj is our map holder. We thought it was all pretty cool.

We then head to the colosseum. I hop in the line with my 2 sons. Dad & daughter grab us some gelatos to cool down! Saw some gladiators. We did not get our pics with them. I got annoyed being approached by everyone asking if we wanted a private tour and how we could skip the long line and then some of them rolling their eyes as if we couldn’t do the tour on our own! Anyhow, I guess we waited about 40 mins. in line. It didn’t seem too bad. Youngest son was free (again).

Wow! Hard to believe this place was constructed for bloodbaths. We spent a while at the Colosseum. The heat was unbearable (later learned it was 97 degrees F)!!! It was very humid. 4 y.o. son though it looked like a huge maze (where they fought) and they liked wandering through the entire place.

As we exited the Colosseum towards the Arch of Constantine. We saw a bride and a groom with some photographers. It was really beautiful!

We got back to the hotel (4 y.o. and I crashed).
Daughter and DAd went down to the lobby to get wi-fi access.

We ended up eating at the restaurant across from the hotel in the piazza. The Pantheon was right by us. I felt like we were on some movie set. The food was so-so. The atmosphere was cool. It was annoying with all the people stopping by trying to sell your kids light-up toys, etc.

After dinner, we grabbed gelato and then came back to the hotel after a very short walk. I like to people watch from my window down onto the Pantheon.

Tomorrow is a day with no real agenda. It will be our last full day before we head off to Florence.

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Old Nov 19th, 2007, 01:23 PM
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Dear Fodor’s forum readers,

In regards to the jasmine3 review,

I am Clark and I was her tour guide on the day she spoke of. I am a 4 year employee of Autobus Oberbayern, the Gray Line affiliate in Munich.

I took almost 5,000 guests to Neuschwanstein in the 2007 season. I take pride in my work and attempt to give each and every guest a good experience as well as value for their money.

Rick Steves pretty much nailed it with his review of our Neuschwanstein tour. It can be somewhat rushed. We try to cram a lot in a day. It is a great value.

I would like to comment on just a couple points that jasmine3 made.

First of all, It was a tough season here in the Alps. Nice weather was at a premium. It is a hard job to get a family with children around in the rain with jet lag in the height of tourist season. I am a parent and I can appreciate the challenge.

It is unfortunate that she left her family’s rain gear at the hotel. That might have made the day better.

It was also unfortunate that her and her husband were sitting apart. Some important tips got lost on them. Per my instructions and with the aid of the map I handed out, almost all the guests that day took the shuttle bus directly to Mary’s Bridge. They only had a 15 minute downhill walk to the castle from there. The children would have faired much better.

I take a group picture of each of my tour groups. I post the photos at no cost on my web site for guests to view and save. Many guests will correspond and comment thru email and my guest book. It has proven to be a lot of fun for all. www.munichclark.com

I very much take exception to having my ethics and the reputation of the fine people at the Hotel Müller questioned so flippantly. The Müller family has served the area for more than a century. I receive no compensation for recommending the restaurant to my guests. The percs I do receive are discounted meal prices for me and my driver. (We sit just outside the kitchen). I also get preferred treatment for my guests so that they always have seating and service. We are allowed to park our coach in the center of town. My guests are allowed to use the free toilet even if they do not eat there. They give my guests ice and aspirin for aches and pains. They give me access to their complete first-aid kit. They give a comfortable place to relax for those guests who choose not to make the trek thru the castle. They also let me use their umbrella. That is the extent of our “agreement.”

In closing, I am sorry for the experience had by jasmine3. Judging by my reviews and comments, hers was a rarity.

Please visit me on tour and see for yourself the pride and hard work I put into showing you an enjoyable day.

Thank you,

Autobus Oberbayern / Gray Line - Munich

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