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ppiew
09-11-2006, 03:38 PM
Don't know where to post this, but people have asked so I will try two different forums: We took the ABD London & Paris last month. Here is the 'lowdown.' First of all, a backpack was sent to us prior to departure. We took it with us and used it a lot.
Don't sweat the wardrobe. Everyone dressed in jeans or khakis every day and backpacked a windbreaker type jacket. Two evenings were sort of dressy, but suits for men were not ever required. I did see a few sport coats but that is all. Comfortable shoes are a 'must' as there is a LOT of walking.


Hotel VERY nice (especially by European standards - LARGE room). I would say comparable to a Marriott, Hilton or Hyatt in the US. Room had a 'Welcome" tote from ABD with a water bottle, deck of cards, bandanas, wrist bands (don't know what for as no one ever wore them), umbrellas (used every day!) There was an ATM and Underground access within a block of the hotel.
Evening reception had chips, pretzels, champagne, wine, and sodas. Guides gave an overview and passed out the lanyards and first of seven daily pins to all.
Dinner was multiple hors d'oeuvres size portions of a multitude of British dishes - pork pies, fish 'n chips, trifle, shepherds pie etc. A duo of singers performed and it was a lot of fun.

DAY 2
Buffet breakfast at hotel each day. Had a lot of stuff. Fresh fruit, yogurt, American dry cereals, scrambled eggs, sausage and cheese. For touring, we used a 50 year old antique red double decker bus! Really neat. Had a British Blue Badge professional guide for all sites within London. Visited Westminster (very crowded). Walked past Buckingham Palace but didn't see changing of guard as it was raining and they didn't do it. Went for late lunch/tea at Savoy hotel. It was so so. Kids not too enthralled although there was plenty they could eat, ie. ham and cheese sandwiches, scones,salad, dessert, etc.
Night was a really highlight! Saw Mary Poppins (with GREAT seats!!) and were able to walk on the stage and talk to the stage manager afterwards. Everyone loved it!
Before seeing Mary Poppins there was a bag with a MP CD in it featuring the stage cast! Nice touch! Mickey shaped cookies were in our room at night. In our tote bag on night #1 we also received a very nice journal and pen for the kids to keep track of stuff. Also they gave the kids an alarm clock the first night and a one-eyed monocle to have on the London Eye. Have to admit though, the first day the journal was used and then put away! Too much other stuff going on!

DAY 3
Went to the London Eye. Didn't think I would attempt it because I do not like heights, but it was really great and moved very slowly. Kids got a simple plastic backpack that worked really well. Took a short cruise on the Thames to Tower of London. Tower/crown jewels was pretty much on our own without a professional guide but it was very easy and waits were minimal. Saw the Crown Jewels, Beefeater Guards, execution locations, etc.

DAY 4
Cruise down Regents Canal in kind of a shabby canal boat, but it was interesting and fun. Donuts/croissants/coffee were served on board and then we went to Camden Market and shopped in and out of all of the funky shops. Then to Waterloo Station and the Eurostar. And this is THE BEST FOR ME!!! They took ALL our luggage from the hotel - brought it to Paris - and it appeared in our rooms within an hour of arrival!!!!
Whoopee!!!!

DAY 5
Paris. Great tour of Notre Dame. The adventurous climbed the bell tower - me I sat in a sidewalk cafe and had cappuccino. Lots of time to wander around the gardens, etc. After ND came my least favorite part of the trip. We went to Montmartre and to Sacre Coeur. Very crowded! Think parade time at the MK on Easter Sunday! We went for lunch and it took 2 hours! Could NOT hurry the waiter AT ALL. Kids ordered French Onion Soup (Appetizer) and some adults orders normal 'adult' entrees. Asked to have the appetizers and entrees delivered to table together and were told 'no' in no uncertain terms!! It was funny! Food was good though. Wine tasting wasn't much. Only working vineyard in Paris and it is sort of a tourist attraction thing. Artist who drew caricatures of the kids though was really great. Each child got to keep theirs. LUcked out and saw a parade to the church with Priests and parishioners carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary to the church. Sacre Coeur was jammed with people too. We took a cog tram to the top as it is VERY steep. We did walk down though. Any deficiencies during the afternoon were made up with our night dinner at the Eiffel Tower - a big WOW on this one! Those who wanted to could climb to the top (not me!) but my daughter and granddaughter did it! It is enormous! Dinner was quite good too.

DAY 6
Louvre day was much much better than I anticipated. For me the Mona Lisa was a let down, but the buildings themselves were awesome! I was totally impressed with I.M. Pei's pyramid both above and below ground. Kids went together and filled out a book as 'Art Detectives.' They loved it!! In the PM we had free time. lunch at Tuileries Gardens. Some then went on a Seine Cruise and ABD reimbursed them for taxi fare and for tickets as the cruise was not on the agenda anymore. Some others stayed at the Louvre or went shopping.

DAY 7
Versailles complete with tour. Tour didn't include the Petit Trianon but oh well can't have everything. Rains held off so biking was able to be done. Those who went had a great time. Lots of trails etc. Very nice lunch right on the grounds of Versailles near the gardens and fountain. Night dinner was at a French cafe and we had the entire building! Musician playing and everything! Small bags with 'goodies' were given to all attending. The guides showed a video of all the photos they had taken of everyone during the week - really nice! They said they were mailing one to each of us after the tour.

DAY 8
Here was a surprise for us - as we were going to Disneyland Paris for 2 days they actually had a van to take us (and another couple) directly from the hotel to the resort! Super! Didn't have to haul baggage unto a train or anything! Very nice surprise!
Prices also included all tips except gratuities to the guides, of which there were two. Porters, all baggage handling, meals, entrance fees to attractions, transportation to and from, etc. included tipping.

The guides were very good and had a huge responsibility. Roads (especially in London) have very heavy traffic and it would be easy for someone to get into an accident. We Americans tend to 'follow the crowd' and not pay close attention to changing lights etc. Often the entire group could not cross together so it was important to keep looking out for yourselves as well as the tour group.

The hotels were much better than I expected - London was better than Paris, but both were beautiful, spacious, and quite large by European standards. First Class on the Chunnel is the only way to go! Loved it! None of the meals were Michelin star calibre but all were very good. Guides were extremely attentive to everyone at all times.

Yes, this was an expensive trip _BUT everything was First Class and would do it that way again in a heart beat. There is one group loved it so much their entire 40 people are going on another one together next year!! Guess that is a testament to a quality product.

Bexx
09-11-2006, 04:14 PM
Sounds like a fabulous trip!! :goodvibes

Cyrano
09-11-2006, 04:21 PM
Nice to hear about your trip. I have been listening to DIS podcast talking about planning for Adventures by Disney :)

fizz13
09-12-2006, 06:44 AM
Sounds fabulous, glad you liked our London so much, and yes all those canal barges in camden are that shabby :teeth:

Ware Bears
09-12-2006, 08:47 AM
Thanks for sharing :) Glad you enjoyed it! :goodvibes

BONITATIME
09-12-2006, 10:00 AM
It sounds like you have had a great trip. Everything I hear about Adventures by Disney sound first class.

ppiew
09-12-2006, 10:35 AM
The Regents Canal Barges were really a treat! Not super touristy and the short cruise provided seeing parts of London I didn't know existed! We saw the exterior of a zoo, saw the worn stonework on bridges from the years where horses pulled the barges along the sides, saw the million dollar mansions on the shore, saw Camden Lock, had fun shopping and walking thru the market/bazaar. The ABD tour gave us much that you DON'T see on regular tours. This was only one example. We loved the whole thing. I am a grandma, my daughter (age 42) was along and my 9 yr old granddaughter. It was also good to have the Disney 'security' feel to the tour. The guides had a huge job herding us along - yet not let us feel like cattle! The kids saw Westminster in a 'kids' group (with their own guide) and adults were in another. It was nice that both age groups interests were addressed-and this occured in Paris as well.

steve_rob
09-12-2006, 01:13 PM
The Regents Canal Barges were really a treat! Not super touristy and the short cruise provided seeing parts of London I didn't know existed! We saw the exterior of a zoo, saw the worn stonework on bridges from the years where horses pulled the barges along the sides, saw the million dollar mansions on the shore, saw Camden Lock, had fun shopping and walking thru the market/bazaar.
Yes, the canal runs right through London Zoo in Regents Park (if you're in the zoo, you have to take a bridge over the canal to see the other half).

Of course, the most important question is, how did you get on at Disneyland Paris?

Cyrano
09-12-2006, 01:30 PM
Glad you enjoyed the safe feeling with your tour guides :)

ppiew
09-12-2006, 05:00 PM
Ahhhhhh yes DLP!!!!.. (afterall that IS this forum)
We spent two days at DLP staying at the Disneyland Hotel. Check in no problem at all and it was about 11 AM. Rooms were lovely and very large. Loved the MK! The buildings are so much nicer than in WDW. The castle is really a thing of beauty. Rides were every bit as nice as WDW and some were better. Liked the layout and the additional attractions that we don't have at WDW. Lunch at Blue Lagoon was GREAT! a bit of a foul up with order and bill, but it was straightened out promptly. CM's seemed to be trying very very hard to be helpful and pleasant everywhere we went. A gentleman from Belgium allowed us to stand in front of him for the parade (how about THAT for hospitality!!). The Studio was so so. We enjoyed the few hours we were there, but it seemed kind of haphazard to me - no real layout, not a lot to do. Our meals were at Buffalo Bill's (ugh!), Inventions (yeaa, excellent), and California Grill (super!!). Busride to CDG was uneventful (we had a non-speaking driver - guess he was angry about something), but it was about 50 minutes long, so no problems there.
In short, yes, I would go back if I am lucky enough to be in France again. Kids or no kids, DLP is beautiful and you are very lucky to have it in your own backyard!

MJGirl
09-23-2006, 12:29 AM
Hi ppiew ... Glad to hear the update ... I just booked this tour for next year, as well as the Disney Med cruise. Our trip of a lifetime is less than a year away!!!!!

Cyrano
09-23-2006, 05:13 AM
Hi MJGirl and welcome to DLP DIS board :wave2:
We are a friendly bunch here so please join in on any other thread or if you have a number of questions then just start a new thread for each :goodvibes

JulieWent
09-23-2006, 11:51 AM
Hi ppiew ... Glad to hear the update ... I just booked this tour for next year, as well as the Disney Med cruise. Our trip of a lifetime is less than a year away!!!!!

When did you book your tour? We're going on the June 8 tour! Would be fun to meet some people who are going in advance.

(Ppiew has helped SO much in getting ready for this!)

Julie

MJGirl
09-23-2006, 03:02 PM
When did you book your tour? We're going on the June 8 tour! Would be fun to meet some people who are going in advance.

(Ppiew has helped SO much in getting ready for this!)

Julie

Hi Julie ... We are booked for the June 29 tour. This works out perfectly for our July 7 cruise. You will have to let me know how it went!

JulieWent
09-23-2006, 04:16 PM
Hi Julie ... We are booked for the June 29 tour. This works out perfectly for our July 7 cruise. You will have to let me know how it went!

Indeed, we will. I just booked last night (though I've been planning for some time). I think we'll add a trip over to DLP on to the last two days as well. Now we just have to book the air fare, and we'll be set. :-)

Julie

woody73
09-23-2006, 07:18 PM
Lovely trip report.

Woody

MJGirl
09-24-2006, 12:48 AM
Indeed, we will. I just booked last night (though I've been planning for some time). I think we'll add a trip over to DLP on to the last two days as well. Now we just have to book the air fare, and we'll be set. :-)

Julie

It's funny .. I booked Thursday night. :rotfl:

Regarding DLP .. what with the cruise afterwards, I'm not sure I could afford 2 more days. I'm thinking of taking one of our 1/2 days off to take a side trip there. It's not that expensive, and this may be the only chance I get. I've started a post above asking questions to see what the experts think?

I haven't booked my air yet ... Will do that soon .. I have to book Toronto - London and Barcelona - London - Toronto. I also have to book Paris to Barcelona ... It has been suggested to me that the train is the way to go for this. The scenery is beautiful! The train ride is 8 hours.

JulieWent
09-24-2006, 08:54 AM
I don't know. We looked at rail fare -- taking the rail back to London and the flying back to the States from there. The rail fare is relatively expensive. I wonder what the difference would be -- the flight from Paris to Barcelona? It may be worth checking on.

Your flights are much more complicated than ours. We're just flying Atlanta to London and then Paris back to Atlanta. That's expensive enough. Whew! Good luck with fares! :sunny:

Julie

MJGirl
09-24-2006, 09:42 AM
I don't know. We looked at rail fare -- taking the rail back to London and the flying back to the States from there. The rail fare is relatively expensive. I wonder what the difference would be -- the flight from Paris to Barcelona? It may be worth checking on.

Your flights are much more complicated than ours. We're just flying Atlanta to London and then Paris back to Atlanta. That's expensive enough. Whew! Good luck with fares! :sunny:

Julie

I was quoted around $1000 each for the flights ... But don't forget in Canada one third is usually taxes and fees. I'm also going to look into flying out of Buffalo. I can save lots of money doing so!

I looked into the train and the fare this year would be 400 US for the two of us!

wintergreen
09-25-2006, 11:15 AM
What were the names of the hotels that you stayed at in London and Paris? Thanks!

toony
09-25-2006, 12:02 PM
Somehow i missed this thread as yet. :guilty:

Very interesting trip. thanks for sharing! :) We have been several times to Paris, but didn't manage to visit Versaille, but it's on my what-to-do-next-time-in-Paris - list. The Louvre is very impressing, but i was a little bit disappointed of the Mona Lisa, too.

ppiew
09-25-2006, 12:22 PM
In London we stayed at the Chancery Court near Covent Gardens and in Paris at the Westin across from Tuileries Gardens.

DisneyMommyMichelle
09-25-2006, 12:30 PM
Fabulous review! we are very interested in trying this and it's great to hear how much fun you all had!!!

MJGirl
09-25-2006, 05:40 PM
For the 2007 tour they are staying at the Chancery again, however, I believe they are booking at the Hilton Arc de Triomphe in Paris next year.

Tikitoi
09-25-2006, 05:47 PM
Glad to see you had a great trip! I would love to do one of these one day. :wizard:

ppiew
09-25-2006, 07:12 PM
I am not familiar with the Hilton or its location, but I can't imagine anyone becoming disenchanted with the Chancery Court! It was a beautiful and spacious hotel. I did notice that the Westin was undergoing some change while we were there. Either way, I am sure the hotels will be superb! If they weren't, believe me, they wouldn't have people signing up for another tour!

JulieWent
09-25-2006, 07:15 PM
My son and his friends (11 and 12 year olds) like to make fun of Paris Hilton and other "girly girls." We've been teasing him as we've told him that we'll be staying at the Paris Hilton this summer. He just rolls his eyes and says, "Oh, No!" :rotfl2:

Julie

MJGirl
10-08-2006, 06:29 PM
PPiew ... If you don't mind me asking (you don't have to answer if you don't want to or you can pm me the answer if you prefer) I'm in the process of working on my budget and was wondering what I should put aside for tips for the Adventure Guides. There will be two in my party (dd16 and myself). A rough amount would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!

ppiew
10-08-2006, 07:47 PM
You know, I honestly don't remember what we gave them! I will think about it though, I seem to remember there were 'suggested' tipping guidelines in the brochure that they mailed us. I don't know if people gave that amount or more or less, I remember giving them theirs in British Pounds as that is where they stayed/lived. Probably wouldn't make any difference, I know another family gave theirs in USD. I really don't know, I will ask my daughter this week if she remembers. Not trying to be evasive at all. I know it is always good to nail down whatever fixed cost you may have b4 traveling.

disneyjunkie
10-08-2006, 08:17 PM
Anyone know when the 2008 trip dates/rates will be released?

MJGirl
10-08-2006, 10:18 PM
Anyone know when the 2008 trip dates/rates will be released?

My guess would be September 2007. They didn't release the 2007 trip dates/rates until last month, so I assume they will do the same for next year. I did call in August and was told the date I wanted was available, but I could not be quoted a price until the brochure came out.

Hope this helps!

ppiew
10-08-2006, 10:22 PM
Based on 2007, this was released in late August or early Sept so I would guess that 2008 will probably be next year abt the same time

disneyjunkie
10-08-2006, 10:25 PM
My guess would be September 2007. They didn't release the 2007 trip dates/rates until last month, so I assume they will do the same for next year. I did call in August and was told the date I wanted was available, but I could not be quoted a price until the brochure came out.

Hope this helps!

I ordered the 2007 brochure this afternoon. That should give me an idea of what to expect for 2008.

I have my fingers crossed for Hawaii. :wizard:

MJGirl
10-15-2006, 11:10 PM
Good news folks! Rumour has it they are setting up a ABD forum ... and should be up sometime soon!!!

:Pinkbounc :Pinkbounc

disneyjunkie
10-15-2006, 11:32 PM
Good news folks! Rumour has it they are setting up a ABD forum ... and should be up sometime soon!!!

:Pinkbounc :Pinkbounc

:cool1: :thumbsup2

princesslondon
10-18-2006, 03:02 PM
So glad I found this board, actually someone directed me to it from cruise boards - Thanks
We are really interested in this London trip. We have a DD who is 6, any ideas on what she would think??

ppiew
10-18-2006, 04:33 PM
You will find that six is a bit young. There is an incredible amount of walking on these tours. A couple on our London/Paris Adventure had a 5 or 6 year old and she had difficulty keeping up. Not too much to interest her either. Remember Notre Dame bell tower is about 400 steps!

momrek06
10-18-2006, 07:21 PM
OKAY...let me start by saying I have no idea what this forum is... :confused3

BUT I do know one thing I will be in London and Paris in December/Jan...

Any chance of getting more data on these tours OR is it too late...

My London is booked but I have done nothing about Paris.

ANY info would be appreciated.

DisneyKevin
10-18-2006, 09:27 PM
Adventures By Disney is the new product introducing Disney into the guided tour market focusing specifically on the family travel.

These tours are luxury guided tours featuring "hand crafted" Disney experiences not offered to the average tourist..

You can read more about Adventures By Disney at Dreams Unlimited Travel's ABD website. You can find that here:

http://www.dreamsunlimitedtravel.com/abd/

If you have any further questions or need assistance with planning your Adventure, you can reach me at ABD@wdwdinfo.com

Kevin

LukenDC
10-18-2006, 09:37 PM
What were the nationalities of the tour guides?

DisneyKevin
10-18-2006, 09:44 PM
Both of the tour guides on the Viva Italia trip were Italian and spoke English and Italian equally well.

At each stop on your tour, you meet a "city guide" or "step on guide" who is an expert in local history and lore. We had a guide in Rome, Siena, Florence and Venice and each was Italian and from the area we were visiting.

Each adventurer was give a small radio device on a lanyard to wear around your neck with a disposable tube and a small plastic ear piece used to hear the local guides.

The additional information provided by these guides was INVALUABLE. We told ours that we were looking to buy gold jewelry in Florence and we got incredible deals. After we got our total price, we told the jeweler we were with the Disney tour and they took an additional 20% off.

Kevin

MJGirl
10-18-2006, 09:46 PM
Glad we made our own forum ... Can't wait to discuss the ABD with everyone further.

ppiew
10-18-2006, 10:54 PM
Re: London/Paris guides. Guides were American and of course spoke English. We had professional local guides in both London and Paris who were fluent in local languages. No problem understanding at all. Both were top shelf professionals!!!

Magix
10-20-2006, 02:07 PM
ppiew - Just discovered your report today. So glad you had a great time!! I told you you'd love it! Did you have Steve as your London Blue Badge guide? He was so terrific on our trip! Where did you go during your free time in each city?

I'm sorry to hear that Montmarte was so crowded. It was much better when I was there and it was a highlight of the trip for me. I've been trying to find a crepe as good as the one I had there ever since! I took a look at the itinerary for the 2007 trips and it looks like Montmarte is no longer a part of the official tour. They also appear to have dropped the canal boat, which is a shame. We didn't have time to shop at Camden Market on our trip, though, as we were running a bit behind for the Eurostar train and had to hop onto the bus to head to the station.

For those concerned about tipping for the Adventure Guides, I think the brochure gave a general guideline of $5-7 per day for each guide. I had called AbD to ask which currency would be best, but they wouldn't tell me and just kept saying "It's totally up to you, if you want to tip or not." I think they weren't getting the point. In the end, I tipped in Euros, because it gave the best exchange rate to whichever currency the guides wanted to use. Plus, one of our guides was from France (she's moved on to a new position with Disney) and the other was from the U.S., living in London, so I figured Euros were pretty neutral for both of them.

I just can't say enough how much I enjoyed the London/Paris trip! I'm so glad to hear that you loved it, too, ppiew! Next year, I'm off on the AbD trip to Italy (La Costa Bella - Rome & the Amalfi Coast) with two girls I met and became friends with on the last trip! Can't wait!!

fwm
10-20-2006, 02:21 PM
Is there any baggage limitation with these tours and did you have any difficulty with the limitations?

ppiew
10-20-2006, 03:17 PM
to fmw: no limitations on baggage given, but I would assume it would be similar to airline limitations. we overpacked in the good ole American way but no problems.

to MAGIX: I know the trip would't have been as enjoyable without the wonderful help you gave me. I thank you so much!
Yes ,Steve was our London guide and he was wonderful! Really knowledgeable and kept things moving.

For our free time in London we went to Covent Gardens, shopped at Harrods, and headed to the War Rooms. WOW! Scarey that the fate of the world eminated from there!!
Although it rained while at Camden, we had a great time! The shops were like middle eastern souks!! We went in and out of many of them - super fun!!

While in Paris, we checked out the Opera House and then went to Ile St Louis and had an absolutely FABULOUS lunch and shopped there for a brief time. It is too bad that the Eiffel Tower next year is lunch instead of dinner. The lights on the tower and the incredible view of Paris at night were so very special. They did not have the canal boat ride when we went either, but some did it anyway and the guides reimbursed them the cost. These tours ARE quite hectic, and it is difficult to get everything jammed into each day that they would like to be able to do. I am sure parking for the bus is difficult also. I would imagine that would account for somethings being eliminated.

I have been to Italy and to the Amalfi coast twice, (be sure to spend as much time as possible in Sorrento - great place) but we are looking at the Austrian trip or the American Southwest for next year. I am sure after one of the ABD tours, MANY of their guests will be repeat visitors. The only thing that DID concern me was that one of the ABD people asked me if we would consider the trip if the hotels were downgraded - and I said NO - it was the reliable first class treatment that enticed me in the first place and if I wanted a tour of lesser quality there are a million to chose from! Guess they didn't expect such a blunt answer! I know people gasp at the cost, but I can only say that it was done 'right' and worth every dime, but that is exactly what I expect from a Disney sponsored tour.
There is one tour to Italy next year that has practically the entire group from this year signing up for another tour together!

Keep in touch!!

Magix
10-20-2006, 03:50 PM
Sounds like you did some great things on your free time. I spent mine in Greenwich at the Maritime Museum, the Cutty Sark and a quick visit to the Royal Observatory (and the Prime Meridian). I loved London so much, I can't wait to go back sometime and see more of England!!

I agree that it's surprising that the Eiffel Tower was changed to lunch. It was so magical to be there at sunset and see all the lights of the city and the tower. I've got some killer great photos from that evening!

The majority of our stay in Italy will be in Sorrento, so we'll do our best to see as much of the city as we can. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to taking a dip in the Mediterranean sea!! Something I never thought I'd have the chance to do in my lifetime!

I agree that if the hotels were not first class, the trips would lose much of their luster. It's the fact that you're traveling in absolute style, with Disney touches all along the way, that makes AbD so undeniably fantastic.

I'm so glad we all have this new forum to share our stories. This has been such exciting reading!!!

briarroseALS
10-20-2006, 04:25 PM
I am so glad to see this sight! I have so many questions that are probably really silly to all the veteran oversee travelers.
I am so nervous about traveling oversees because I cant speak any language but English. Does the tour guide speak English? I also read where you saw Mary Poppins..Could you be able to follow along even if you dont know the language. I guess you seemy biggest fear here... :teacher:

ppiew
10-20-2006, 04:54 PM
No language problems whatsoever! Tour guides for the group all week were American and professional guides in England spoke English and in Paris were bi-lingual. Absolutely no problem whatsoever in understanding anything. In France at the tourist spots ie. Louvre, Versailles etc. we were given English speaking headphones to hear the narration about the site.
Mary Poppins was in London so naturally it was all in English. Seats were orchestra seats with visit with stage manager after performance.

Magix
10-20-2006, 06:22 PM
I am so glad to see this sight! I have so many questions that are probably really silly to all the veteran oversee travelers.
I am so nervous about traveling oversees because I cant speak any language but English. Does the tour guide speak English? I also read where you saw Mary Poppins..Could you be able to follow along even if you dont know the language. I guess you seemy biggest fear here... :teacher:

You'll get by fine with just English. The only time you might need to know any French is if you wander off on your own during free time. For that, I recommend "In Flight French," a 60 minute CD you can buy at major bookstores. It will give you some very handy traveler's phrases that will get you through most situations. I found that gesturing to get your point across also worked in places where I didn't have the right words (such as the Metro, when I didn't quite understand how the ticket gate worked). Most everyone speaks English to some degree, though, so you'll be okay. Still, it's good to try to learn a little before going, just because making the attempt shows that you have enough respect for the French to give it a shot - they'll be much friendlier and helpful to you if you do that.

MJGirl
10-20-2006, 06:54 PM
... While in Paris, we checked out the Opera House and ...

Are you talking about the Opera House Garnier? My daughter definitely wants to visit there, as she is a huge Phantom fan and supposedly the Opera House Garnier was the inspiration... :confused3 Any way ... Do you know if they have tours of the Opera House? Thanks.

woody73
10-20-2006, 07:30 PM
Last November, we saw an opera at the Opera Garnier. Yes, it is the inspiration for Phantom of the Opera, as it has an underwater lake.

The opera house is open to the public during the day (admission fee), and they offer guided tours (most are in french, but tours in english are available).

Woody

ppiew
10-20-2006, 09:43 PM
Took the 'English' tour - it was fabulous. The Opera House Garnier is so so beautiful! It was also much smaller than I expected from the outside - but beyond gorgeous inside - think lots and lots of velvet, gold baroque etc. Excellent tour!

MJGirl
10-21-2006, 10:09 AM
The main question she has is ...Did you get to see box 5? :rotfl:

LisaTex
10-21-2006, 10:24 AM
Hi - just joining in :) I've been wondering when they would finally get an ABD forum. We are fans :cheer2: We had such a great time on our Hawaii trip this summer that we will now be on the June 8 London/Paris. We are also doing the Med cruise after. Even though Hawaii is not available this year :confused3 the trip was so smooth - effortless - that the "feel" of an ABD trip is what will make us repeat customers for a long time I'm sure. We will have an 8 and 10 year old with us this year - they are excited. Has anyone heard if Trevor or Tina are going to be guides on any other trips? They were great in Hawaii.

woody73
10-22-2006, 04:23 AM
The main question she has is ...Did you get to see box 5?
Ha ha! I am writing from Las Vegas, where tonight we saw the Phantom of the Opera at the Venetian hotel. (Incredible staging and special effects!)

At this production, they designed the theatre to resemble the Opera Garnier. Of course, box 5 had it's usual occupant.

Woody

Magix
10-23-2006, 04:51 PM
I have to ask one more question, ppiew... what dessert did you choose at La Duree the final night? :cake: I had the round, green one with the cherry on top. Couldn't resist the color of it. I thought perhaps it would be a pistachio flavored something. When I took my first bite, I discovered it was a 2 layered item with a cherry layer and an almond layer with a band of white chocolate wrapped around it. Every bite was like the purest form of heaven!! :lovestruc

Did you read that Sophia Coppola based the color palette for "Marie Antoinette" on the pastel colors of the macaroons at La Duree? :thumbsup2

ppiew
10-23-2006, 07:13 PM
Ok now I will go and see the movie even though the critics panned it!

As far as the desserts, I suppose I have to fes up here - we had a standing agreement - EVERYONE GETS SOMETHING DIFFERENT AND THEN WE SHARE!!! I think that plan expanded all around the table and everyone was doing the same thing! Needless to say I cannot even remember them all. I do remember the green one though, and I too thought it was pistachio and the chocolate surprise was incredible!

I did stash the macaroons away and devoured them later that nite and again at breakfast! Figured I couldn't carry them on the plane anyway!

They treated all of us like celebrities and could not have been nicer or more pleasant! What a bonus with the good food too!

Magix
10-23-2006, 07:58 PM
I did stash the macaroons away and devoured them later that nite and again at breakfast! Figured I couldn't carry them on the plane anyway!


Why not? I brought mine to DLRP, then home on the plane, and ate them a couple days later. They told us they'd be good for 4 or 5 days and they were right! I offered one to my Dad, but he was foolish and refused it, so I ate them all! Yay! :p

woody73
10-24-2006, 02:30 AM
. . . Did you read that Sophia Coppola based the color palette for "Marie Antoinette" on the pastel colors of the macaroons at La Duree?
Quite interesting.

Our favorite is macaron au chocolat. We visit Paris twice a year.

Woody

Helsinki
10-31-2006, 12:50 PM
New to this website.... we have booked for our family of 4 to go on the London/Paris trip Leaving Dec 18th and spending Christmas in Paris. Anyone else going on that same one??

Any tips from veterans of London/Paris in December on what to pack?

We're so excited! This is our first European trip as a family, and hopefully there will be many more.

Helsinki

BONITATIME
10-31-2006, 02:16 PM
Thermal undrwear as Paris can be very cold.

katytrott
11-12-2006, 06:08 PM
Just thought I would chime in and clear a few things up. Firstly, to those worried about not understanding the language spoken in London, remember, London is in England, so therefore English is spoken. Agreed cockney (London accent, almost language) is not easy for most English people to understand. England has not joined Europe in using Euros so when tipping etc, you will probably get the same response if you handed Euros or US Dollars. London and Paris in Dec is very cold (particularly Paris for some reason) so wrap up warm with thermals etc. Very rarely snow is seen in London at that time, however I did get snow at DLPR last Dec. One other thing to mention, if it does snow, it turns to mush within hours and you end up getting very wet, so take waterproofs particularly for the lower extremities. Actually I would certainly concentrate on the waterproofs as Dec is a very wet month, and England is known for its rain. Dec 21st is the shortest day of the year, so Dec as a month gets dark very early, expect it about 3 - 3.30pm (seems even earlier if it's a gray day).
To the person visiting Sorento - it is a very beautiful town, however not a great deal to do, so I would recommend doing a bit more touring eg pompeii and certainly island of Caprii.

JulieWent
11-12-2006, 07:04 PM
Goodness, I don't think anyone worried about not understanding the language in England, did they? ;)

Thanks for all the other good information! Your information about December in London makes me think of Charles Dickens.

How about early June? I'm guessing it will still be cool (June 8).

Julie

katytrott
11-13-2006, 04:27 PM
June 21st is the longest day, so the whole of June gets dark quite late (about 9.30 - 10pmish). It is often sunny and warm, but probably still cardigan/jumper weather. June is probably the nicest month to visit - not too hot, which is important particularly in London. This country is not kitted out with aircon - most of the buildings in London are too old for it to be fitted.

MJGirl
11-13-2006, 05:11 PM
June 21st is the longest day, so the whole of June gets dark quite late (about 9.30 - 10pmish). It is often sunny and warm, but probably still cardigan/jumper weather. June is probably the nicest month to visit - not too hot, which is important particularly in London. This country is not kitted out with aircon - most of the buildings in London are too old for it to be fitted.

So if I'm going to be in London June 29 - July 1, should I expect to sweat :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

katytrott
11-14-2006, 09:43 AM
Nah, You'll be fine too. Starts to get hot end of July and August. Saying that we only probably get only 3/4 days where the temp is over 30 celcius in the whole year. Even then, prepare yourself for wet weather ;) .

jjpenguin
11-21-2006, 05:39 AM
Temps in the UK have been a lot warmer than usual in the last years, and I have read a lot of hotel reports on another website complaining about the lack of aircon.

lonegungirl
03-11-2007, 05:35 PM
I agree that it's surprising that the Eiffel Tower was changed to lunch. It was so magical to be there at sunset and see all the lights of the city and the tower. I've got some killer great photos from that evening!

I agree that if the hotels were not first class, the trips would lose much of their luster. It's the fact that you're traveling in absolute style, with Disney touches all along the way, that makes AbD so undeniably fantastic.

That's a shame that the meal was changed to lunch. I was thinking of taking the tour with a friend who has never been to England/France before, but it is rather expensive, and if the tour has downgraded from its inception, I wonder if it's still worth it.

I've been to London and Paris before, so I'd mostly be going to experience the Disney "magic" in those settings. Do people think the experience was significantly different from what you would have had on, say, a Globus tour?

Thanks for sharing all the information! It's very helpful when trying to make a decision.

woody73
03-11-2007, 09:47 PM
. . . Any tips from veterans of London/Paris in December on what to pack? . . .
Dress in layers. It might be freezing outside, but it is often quite warm inside.

Woody

ppiew
03-11-2007, 09:57 PM
Having been on the ABD London/Paris trip I agree that lunch at the Eiffel Tower is a significant downgrade, however, it would not be the make or break reason in making my decision to go with ABD. The big things in my view, are the really excellent rooms that we had in really excellent hotels and the first class chunnel to Paris. Add in the total baggage handling and I definitely loved the seamless way things were taken care of. Although the Regents Canal excursion wasn't an eyepopper, it certainly gave one a view of London not often seen in other tours, but I guess that has been eliminated also. We had a lot of fun on that part of the tour. It should also be mentioned that the ABD tours limit the # of people on the tour - you don't feel like cattle being herded on to a bus to go here and there. I am glad we went last year and truly enjoyed it, but if I hadn't, I would still strongly consider taking this excursion this year regardless of the changes.

MJGirl
03-11-2007, 11:11 PM
I will be on the London Paris trip in June/July. I am actually not that upset that the Eiffel Tower meal has been switched to lunch as it gives us an extra afternoon/evening to tour Paris on our own. We definitely want to see the Opera Garnier, plus would like to spend more time at the Louvre if we could. I would also like to go to Man Ray bar/restaurant in Paris as it is owned by my favourite Johnny Depp. Another thing I'm considering is seeing the Moulon Rouge. I'm still haven't decided on this yet!

fwm
03-12-2007, 09:32 AM
Dress in layers. It might be freezing outside, but it is often quite warm inside.

Woody

Your advice is probably accurate, but a bit late.

lonegungirl
03-12-2007, 05:34 PM
Just got off the phone with an ABD cm. Is it just me, or did other people think you could book an extension on your tour to Disneyland Paris? Because I was told that they had nothing to do with it, and you would have to call Disneyland Paris separately to arrange whatever you wanted. She said the only thing they could do would be to book an extra night at the hotel and then you could take a cab over for about $100. Is that what most people do?

ppiew
03-12-2007, 08:15 PM
Boy I would try again and hopefully get someone else! Last year, I booked our rooms at DLP ourselves and ABD arranged for and PAID the transportation to DLP. You can take the RER train for a minimal amt if you wanted to but we paid nothing for the transport to the hotel

LisaTex
03-12-2007, 08:42 PM
It seems to me that if taking you back to the airport (transferring you), they could transfer you to DLP as well. I talked with ABD this weekend and all she said was " I would check on the train".:confused3

Magix
03-13-2007, 02:02 PM
Just got off the phone with an ABD cm. Is it just me, or did other people think you could book an extension on your tour to Disneyland Paris? Because I was told that they had nothing to do with it, and you would have to call Disneyland Paris separately to arrange whatever you wanted. She said the only thing they could do would be to book an extra night at the hotel and then you could take a cab over for about $100. Is that what most people do?

I did have to book DLRP myself (which you can do on their website) and attempted to come up with a workable way to get there by train. But, ABD provided transportation to DLRP, since there were quite a few of us going. However, this was not promised as part of the trip and I only found out about it the final day of the ABD trip. So, figure out a way to get there on your own, but hope that ABD will come through for you with transportation.

lonegungirl
03-28-2007, 12:21 AM
Thanks everyone for all the input! As it turned out, I was unable to convince my friend to take a Disney trip (like Miranda in Sex and the City, she hates all kids, except for the ones she might have one day) so we're doing an Insight trip to Greece instead. I still intend to make an ABD trip sometime though! And definitely want to get to Disneyland Paris as soon as possible!

KLondon
04-11-2007, 07:11 PM
Hey Magix --

I saw your earlier post about going to Grenwich during your free time in London. We're thinking of doing that too! I'm just wondering if you have any advice about making the trip. We're thinking of using City Cruises to get there.

Thanks!

JulieWent
04-18-2007, 08:01 PM
Got my box of "goodies" and backpacks today. That means our trip is just around the corner! Yeah!

Julie

ppiew
04-18-2007, 09:28 PM
Way to go Julie!!! I think (I hope) my son will accompany me and 10 yr old DGD on Imperial Cities this year. (DDinL fears this old lady alone with 10 yr old if a tragedy occurs and so needs someone else along) Actually not the worst of ideas - age not being the determining factor. Will let all know shortly if we have the 'green light.'

MJGirl
04-19-2007, 10:25 AM
Got my box of "goodies" and backpacks today. That means our trip is just around the corner! Yeah!

Julie

If I recall correctly, you are going on the June 8 tour? If so, I guess that I will get my "goodies in three weeks!!! (I'm on the June 29 tour) :banana: :banana: :banana:

Can't wait ... The trip is getting so close!!!!

Magix
04-19-2007, 12:57 PM
Hey Magix --

I saw your earlier post about going to Grenwich during your free time in London. We're thinking of doing that too! I'm just wondering if you have any advice about making the trip. We're thinking of using City Cruises to get there.

Thanks!

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you! Yes, City Cruises is what I used. When I was one the tour, our free time was at the end of the day that we were at the Tower of London, so I just picked up the City Cruises boat from there and it dropped me right at the Cutty Sark in Greenwich. From there, the Natl Maritime Museum is just a couple blocks.

Do be sure to visit the Cutty Sark, it's pretty nifty. And at the Maritime Museum, visit the display of Admiral Nelson's uniform from the battle of Trafalgar. So historic, it's fascinating. Also, try to leave enough time to walk up the hill (the very steep hill) to the Royal Observatory. There, you can stand on the prime meridien line (0 degrees longitude, the separation point between the Western & Eastern hemispheres) and can also see the clock from which Greenwich Mean Time originates.

Returning to London, I took the Docklands light rail line from Greenwich (about 1/2 block from the Cutty Sark), switched to the Tube at the Bank station and got off at the stop a block from the hotel (Chancery Court Hotel). Very convenient.

While you're on the boat to Greenwich, be sure to keep your eyes out along the shore to your left for the "Captain Kidd" pub. That's the area where Execution Dock used to be located in the 18th/19th century. That's where some pirates were executed in their day , particularly Captain Kidd himself (though I don't actually consider him a pirate). They were hanged from the gallows located between the high and low water mark, which was the jurisdiction of the Admiralty courts.

Have fun in Greenwich!! I loved it! Just wish I'd had more time. I plan to go back in the next year or two to see it properly.

ppiew
04-19-2007, 10:18 PM
To MAGIX & JULIE WENT: (and anyone else interested)
Last year it was the London/Paris and now this year -------(drum roll)
THE IMPERIAL CITIES!!!!! Yup, Instead of daughter going this year, I will be taking our son and our now 10 yr old granddaughter! She will be a world traveler before she is in high school if I last long enough! I am just so excited and so pleased for this opportunity. I will be sure to share our view of the trip with fellow Dis'ers even though it is 4 months from now. Many of you were a big help to me last year and I want to spread the magic where I can!

MJGirl
04-20-2007, 08:50 AM
To MAGIX & JULIE WENT: (and anyone else interested)
Last year it was the London/Paris and now this year -------(drum roll)
THE IMPERIAL CITIES!!!!! Yup, Instead of daughter going this year, I will be taking our son and our now 10 yr old granddaughter! She will be a world traveler before she is in high school if I last long enough! I am just so excited and so pleased for this opportunity. I will be sure to share our view of the trip with fellow Dis'ers even though it is 4 months from now. Many of you were a big help to me last year and I want to spread the magic where I can!

Congrats on your second trip. I'm envious. I just wanted to say thank you for all your help to me with planning my trip. Your report is what helped to sell me on the excursion.

Magix
04-20-2007, 04:44 PM
To MAGIX & JULIE WENT: (and anyone else interested)
Last year it was the London/Paris and now this year -------(drum roll)
THE IMPERIAL CITIES!!!!! Yup, Instead of daughter going this year, I will be taking our son and our now 10 yr old granddaughter! She will be a world traveler before she is in high school if I last long enough! I am just so excited and so pleased for this opportunity. I will be sure to share our view of the trip with fellow Dis'ers even though it is 4 months from now. Many of you were a big help to me last year and I want to spread the magic where I can!

Congrats on your next trip, ppiew!! I have my second coming up next month - Rome & The Amalfi Coast. Can't wait!! Do be sure to let us all know how the Imperial Cities tour is. I think that one looks great.

JulieWent
04-20-2007, 08:55 PM
Oh, man! All you second timers already! Congrats on that trip, ppiew! It'll be neat to have your son along. What a great place to travel.

DS is already trying to plan a trip to Rome after this one, but I think we'll have to see about one every other year.

MJGirl, we are doing the June 8 tour. So, yep, that should put you about three weeks away. DS really started talking about the trip once we got the box. Also started driving his foreign language teacher crazy. He's in a "survey" class -- they get four weeks of German, four of Spanish, and four of French to see which they like the best. He started pestering his teacher about hurrying on to the French unit.

Julie

ppiew
04-20-2007, 11:20 PM
Good for you Julie! Hope your son enjoys the trip! I admire you for the exposure to language skills. On our Imperial Cities Tour this year, we are going into Croatio prior to the tour. Needless to say ALL of our Croatin is TOTALLY non existent!! Sill not going to stop me from having a great time!!!!

Magix
04-23-2007, 03:16 PM
I've been learning some Italian for my trip. I've always wanted to speak Italian, so now I've finally got a real reason!

Oh heavens, my countdown says 19 days to go! Might be time to start freaking out.

MJGirl
04-23-2007, 03:28 PM
I've been learning some Italian for my trip. I've always wanted to speak Italian, so now I've finally got a real reason!

Oh heavens, my countdown says 19 days to go! Might be time to start freaking out.

The freaking out is part of the fun. I always tell my daughter that half the fun of the roller coaster is the panic and fear you have while waiting in line!!:rotfl2: The anticipation is almost as much fun as the trip itself!

Have a great trip Magix... Let us hear all about it!

judee
04-24-2007, 03:30 PM
hello Everyone--
I just received my backpacks and guides from ABD!
I noticed that they recommend just one suitcase per person.
I really am not sure I can do just one suitcase since I am extending my trip. (airlines let you take check two bags)
Do you think that there will be a problem if I take 2 bags/pp?
:) :) :) :)

Also any new info on tipping the guides from people who went to Paris?
Thanks

MJGirl
04-24-2007, 03:47 PM
hello Everyone--
I just received my backpacks and guides from ABD!
I noticed that they recommend just one suitcase per person.
I really am not sure I can do just one suitcase since I am extending my trip. (airlines let you take check two bags)
Do you think that there will be a problem if I take 2 bags/pp?
:) :) :) :)

Also any new info on tipping the guides from people who went to Paris?
Thanks

I called them on this, as I am also extending my trip and will be packing for 22 days. I would give them a quick call and explain the situation. That is what I did, and the cast member said it wouldn't be a problem considering the situation. They like to limit it to one bag because of space limitations on the bus. I will be doing a few loads of laundry while I'm gone!

Which tour are you going on? I'm on the June 29th tour!

I'm not sure about the recommendations for tipping, but I was considering $100 for each guide for the 2 of us. I'm not sure though if I should pay in Pounds, Euros or US dollars? Can't wait to hear if you get any other answers. I hope I'm not being a skinflint at $100?

Magix
04-24-2007, 07:05 PM
When I went last year, I think I gave them each 70 or 80 Euros. I figured that gave them the best exchange rate, if they wanted to change it into US or Pounds. Roughly 10 Euros per day. The recommended tip was something a little lower than that, so I don't think you're too far out of line with $100 per guide for the 2 of you. I was uncertain which currency to use and ABD was no help when I called them. So, I went with Euros as the best overall for the guides, no matter what country they used the money in.

MJGirl
04-24-2007, 09:48 PM
When I went last year, I think I gave them each 70 or 80 Euros. I figured that gave them the best exchange rate, if they wanted to change it into US or Pounds. Roughly 10 Euros per day. The recommended tip was something a little lower than that, so I don't think you're too far out of line with $100 per guide for the 2 of you. I was uncertain which currency to use and ABD was no help when I called them. So, I went with Euros as the best overall for the guides, no matter what country they used the money in.

Thanks Magix. I feel better now. I'm thinking of giving the tip in Euros as well.

KLondon
04-26-2007, 08:28 AM
Sorry it took me so long to get back to you! Yes, City Cruises is what I used. When I was one the tour, our free time was at the end of the day that we were at the Tower of London, so I just picked up the City Cruises boat from there and it dropped me right at the Cutty Sark in Greenwich. From there, the Natl Maritime Museum is just a couple blocks.


Magix.... I cannot thank you enough. Being a bit of a fan of things 'nautical', I'm really looking forward to Grenwich.

Thanks!

HallGirl
05-28-2007, 02:43 PM
We took the ABD London/Paris trip from May 18-25. Most of this is from memory, but I kept a journal everyday, so that helps with detail. I apologize for length, but I like to be detailed.
It was a lot of fun and we had really nice weather all week. It was as if Disney hadarranged it, but our guides were pleasantly surprised by it too. There were very few days when it was cloudy and the only time it rained was when we were on the Eurostar. In the mornings it was usually in the 60s and then got into the 70s, though towards the end of the tour it was getting into the 80s.
We had two guides: Roni and Alexandra (Alex), both Americans. We also had two guides in training: Francesc and the other guy I never caught his name. Both were from London and I think Francesc is doing the tour that starts at the end of the week.
As far as clothes, nobody dressed up except for the show and for the farewell dinner. We did have plenty of time to change, so we didn't have to wear them all day. I would recommend not wearing shirts that say anything, just because you are obiously a tourist if you do. Also, there is a lot of walking so good walking shoes are a must.

Day 1 (Friday 18 May):
We arrived in London at the Renaissance Chancery Court hotel around lunch time (Very nice hotel, better than the one we stayed at in Paris). Our guides were there to greet us and help us check in. We asked them about where we could eat lunch. Here is where they weren't very helpful, but I guess it's because our tour hadn't officially started yet. They told us not to eat in the hotel restaurant because it was too expensive. They recommended finding something in the area. We did try the hotel restaurant, but they told us it was booked (though there was no one in there!) We didn't feel adventerous to wander far from the hotel and we needed food right away. There was a Pret A Manger nearby but it was crowded. We ended up eating at a McDonald's.
Our guide had given us vouchers to get tickets for the London Eye. We had the option of doing that on Friday or on Sunday. It was such a nice day we walked over to the London Eye. The line was only about a half hour or so long. The view up there is very nice and I got some good pictures. The ride only lasts about half an hour but that is maybe a bit too long. You can only look at the same view for so long.
After that we walked back to the hotel to freshen up before our welcome dinner. There was a cocktail hour where we could introduce ourselves to everyone. We had a private room for dinner and there were samples of British dishes. My favorite was the fish and chips, which was served in fake newspapers. I'll mention right now that I'm a picky eater and so I was concerned about finding something I'd eat. The first time I went up to
get food, there was very little I knew I'd eat, but that was because everyone had gone up before me and taken all the good stuff. Anyway, our guides gave us a story book with a more detailed itinerary, with times for everything. Each day we got a pin.
We had also gotten a tote bag with several things in it, including 2 umbrellas (there were 4 of us so I wonder if they wanted us to share), bandanas, pens, a strap for sunglasses, playing cards, hats, luggage tags, and spa stuff.

Day 2 (Saturday 19 May):
This day was our Jolly Holiday. We got on board an old Routemaster double decker bus and we had a local blue badge guide to point out things as we drove by. His name was Steven (though it might be spelled Stephen, I'm not sure). He was an excellent guide, making every bit of history interesting. Our first stop was Westminster Abbey. We had another guide so we
could split up the group for a tour of the place. The second guide was a woman named Kathleen and my family went with her. She was amazing. I felt like I had gone back in time. She had a history book with her so she could show us some pictures. We noticed it in the gift shop but bought a different one with more pictures.
Next, we walked through St. James park. At the end we went to a spot to watch the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. We were at the end point of the parade so we could see the band disperse. A lot of blue badge guides took their groups there. After the parade we walked over to Buckingham Palace to take pictures.
We had lunch at Harrods. It was a traditional English tea, with a variety of small sandwiches (which I didn't like), scones, and small desserts. The tea was good, but the meal was not very filling. We had a little bit of time to wander around the store and we could stay if we wanted to. If we didn't stay we could go back to the hotel. When we got there we had a Mary Poppins bag in the room that had programs (the British version of the Broadway Playbill, though you have to buy it at the theatre) and cds of the cast recording. I was excited to see the show because I wanted to compare it to the Broadway version.
We had dinner before the show at Soho house, which is an exclusive place. We dined in a room that actually faced the Prince Edward Theatre, where Mary Poppins is. Our guides had told us that dinner would be king prawn. I don't like seafood so I was hoping there'd be something else I'd eat. The kids got burgers and chicken fingers. I think the waitor heard me longing
for the kids' food and so he brought over some for me and for my sister. That was good because the other dish was beef,which was good but was a bit too pink for me. The meal was served family style.
So then we saw Mary Poppins. Our seats were center orchestra (towards the back of the theatre), which is the best place to see any show, imo. It's a great show and I enjoyed the London cast better than the Broadway cast. I think it's because the accents are natural and so they could be more expressive with the lines. After the show we got to go backstage. Not much was new to me because I've watched backstage videos (including one for Mary Poppins, which can be found on theatre.com) but it was cool to see the sets up close. The highlight for a man in our group was when he walked out the stage door. Apparently someone thought he was in the show and he
almost gave them his autograph before they realized he wasn't in the show. We saw Lisa O'Hare as Mary Poppins, and it was her last night. She had a great final performance and she was my favorite Mary Poppins. She really captured the image of Mary Poppins I have from reading the books.

Day 3 (Sunday 20 May):
We went to the Tower of London. We walked to the City, going by St. Paul's Cathedral (how appropriate after seeing Mary Poppins). We also walked by the Globe Theatre. I enjoyed the Tower. Steven gave us a tour of the grounds. We were on our own for the Jewel House. We got meal vouchers to eat at the restaurant there and we could either go off on our own or stay and then take the bus back to the hotel. We stayed because we wanted to look around in the white tower and then look at the gift shop. Some people in the group went to the London Eye. There were a few people in our group who tried to do a lot in a short amount of time. I think some took a train to Hampton Court. We decided to go to the British Museum, which was a ten minute walk from the hotel. The museum has pieces I studied in an art class, which is why I wanted to go there. If you like mummies, they have a good amount of them. I recommend only seeing a few sections rather than trying
to see it all because there is a lot of stuff there.
Since it was Sunday and the hotel was in the business section, there were very few options for dinner close to the hotel. It sounded like a lot of people at at Covent Garden, but we ended up getting room service.

Day 4 (Monday 21 May):
There was an optional walk through Inns Field. It was nice to have a small group and it was a beautiful crisp morning, perfect for a walk. Steven took us by the Temple and down some side streets. After our walk we went to Waterloo Station and took the Eurostar to Paris. It was a really nice journey. First class is definitely the way to travel for that, especially because we didn't have to deal with our luggage. They told us we'd get lunch, but we were served breakfast. It was good, anyway. The seats were comfortable enough to nap for the nearly 3 hour journey. Like I said before, on the train was the only time it rained.
When we exited the Gare du Nord, we were immediately aware of the gypsies. We didn't know what the deal was with them until we asked later. One will come up to you and ask "Speak English?" and if you say yes then they'll have you read a piece of paper. We assume that another would pick your pockets while you're distracted. We looked like easy targets with our backpacks. Once we knew what they looked like, we could keep an eye out for them and avoid them if possible. The easiest way to avoid them is to just ignore them or say no. Some people in our group tried being creative by saying something in another language.
We had two local guides while we were in Paris, Sylvie and Corinne. Sylvie was in charge, but if we split into two groups Corinne would take one. We took a short tour of Paris before going to the hotel. We also went into a park near the hotel, to wait for our rooms to be ready, presumably. There we got chocolate filled croissants and those are soooo good. The hotel served them for breakfast, too.
The hotel is the Hilton Arc de Triomphe, since it's near the Arc de Triomphe. The hotel is on the Rue de Courcelles and if we wanted to get to the Arc we turned down the Avenue Hoche. From there it was easy to get to the Champs Elysees. We had a little bit of free time so we decided to check out the Arc. There is an underground path to get across the roundabout.
To see the Arc is free but if you want to go to the top you have to pay money. I'm not sure how much it was, though.
We had a buffet dinner at the hotel. The best part of all of the meals in France was dessert. They do pastries very well and since we did a lot of walking, we could easily work off the extra calories. It was still light out when we went to bed at 9.

Day 5 (Monday 22 May):
We took a bus over to the Centre Pompidou and then walked to Notre Dame. We could walk around inside and then we could go to the top. This was one of my favorite things on the trip. Notre Dame doesn't let people up to the top until 10 and we got there before 10. Disney pulled strings so that we could be the first ones up there. That was so nice. There are about
400 steps all the way to the top. Your legs hurt, but the view is worth it. After our climb we took a Batobus to the Eiffel Tower. Our French guides had gone ahead to get our tickets and we also got to cut in line (which upset a group leader we cut). We had lunch on the first level and here was where there were some kinks in the trip. The wait staff was confused
about the number of kids in the group and so our lunch took a lot longer than planned. (The food was good, but after all the stair climbing it wasn't enough.) We also had to wait to get our tickets to the third level because the ticket seller took a lunch break. The elevator lines were long because two of the elevators had broken down. However, once we were able to get to the second and third levels, the views were amazing. Some people
decided not to go up so that they could go off and do something else. We were going to go to the Invalides but by the time we came back down it would be closing by the time we walked over there. So we rode the Batobus around the Seine and got off at the Champs Elysees. We had dinner at Pizza Pino, which is an Italian restaurant. Very good food. We also shopped.

Day 6 (Tuesday 23 May):
There was an optional walk in the morning to the Louvre. We walked to the Place de la Concorde and through the Tuileries garden. It was cloudy but at least it didn't rain. We split into two groups of adults and the kids were in a separate group. Sylvie was our guide and she was wonderful. She showed us highlights and it was as if she lived there, she knew her way around so well. We had headphones so that we could all hear her.
After our tour we were on our own. We stayed at the Louvre, had lunch in a food court, and decided to do a Da Vinci Code audio tour. That was fun. We did see some of the same paintings, but it was neat to see rooms where the movie was filmed and the book took place.
From there we could walk to the Champs Elysees. We ended up eating dinner at Planet Hollywood just because we were hungry and we knew there was something we'd eat there. My sister and I had a croque monsieur, so at least we had some French food.

Day 7 (Wednesday 24 May):
We took a bus to Versailles. Sylvie gave us a tour around the city before the bus dropped us off at the palace. We went with Corinne for a tour on the inside and used the headphones again. Rennovations were just being completed in the hall of mirrors, so we were able to see
it. There were rennovations on the front of the palace, though, so any pictures we took had scaffolding visible. It got into the 80s that day. We took a tram around the grounds and then had lunch at La Flotille. Then we rode bikes around the grounds. This was my other favorite part. It was fun and a great way to enjoy the beautiful weather and the beautiful grounds.
We went back to the hotel so we could freshen up for our farewell dinner at Laduree, which was on the Champs Elysees. This was another issue with having food I'd eat. I had lamb, but it was a bit too pink for me. At least the desserts were really good. I had a strawberry tart. There was also an accordianist and a caricaturist to entertain us. After dinner the guides showed us a slide show of some of the pictures they had taken. We were told that they'd send us a copy.

Day 8 (Wednesday 25 May):
A few of us were staying an extra day or more, but some people left this day. My family decided to go to Disneyland Paris. I posted a report here: http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=18890368&postcount=9
but I will mention that we just went for the day. We took the RER A train to Marne La Vallee. It's very easy to get to. Thunderstorms had been in the forecast, but didn't come until the hour before the park closed. We left Paris the next day in the evening and Disney arranged a car to take us to the airport.

JulieWent
05-28-2007, 04:19 PM
HallGirl!
Thanks for your great trip report. We're leaving for this tour on Saturday. (The tour doesn't start until next week, but we're going early to do some exploring outside of London.)

I wanted to ask you a question about the third day in London, the day you went to the Tower. What time does the group split up? We were thinking about taking a cab to Madame Tussauds. (I know, it's cheesy, but DS is 11 and would love it. He will be doing a lot that it basically adult stuff, so I'd like to plan something that he's asking for.) I'm wondering if we'll have time.

Thanks in advance. And once again, your trip report was spectacular and very helpful.

Julie

HallGirl
05-28-2007, 04:34 PM
HallGirl!
Thanks for your great trip report. We're leaving for this tour on Saturday. (The tour doesn't start until next week, but we're going early to do some exploring outside of London.)

I wanted to ask you a question about the third day in London, the day you went to the Tower. What time does the group split up? We were thinking about taking a cab to Madame Tussauds. (I know, it's cheesy, but DS is 11 and would love it. He will be doing a lot that it basically adult stuff, so I'd like to plan something that he's asking for.) I'm wondering if we'll have time.

Thanks in advance. And once again, your trip report was spectacular and very helpful.

Julie

I'm glad it was helpful for you :goodvibes . We got our lunch vouchers around 11:30, so we could leave around then. We just had to let the guides know that we were leaving. The bus back to the hotel left at 1:30, I think, so even if you decided to stay a bit longer, take the bus back to the hotel, and then take the underground to Madame Tussaud's, I'd say you'd still have time. Have fun! I know my family did.

MJGirl
05-28-2007, 11:49 PM
HallGirl ... Thank you very much for the great trip report. My daughter is a picky eater too, so I'm glad there will be some options for her. One month to go ... Can't wait!

Mary Jane

JulieWent
05-29-2007, 09:22 AM
Oh! HallGirl, another quick question. You said you had two guides, but then you had two local guides in Paris. Did you tip the local guides and the "main" guides? I'm trying to plan our tips and set the money aside for that this week, but I wanted to make sure on that. I'm assuming we'll have two guides. Does that mean two at each location or two total?

Thanks. Sorry for all the goofy questions.

Julie

ppiew
05-29-2007, 10:20 AM
Hi Julie! We only tipped the 2 ABD guides last year. ABD pays the local guides and includes their gratuity.

PiperPilot
05-30-2007, 11:39 AM
Oh! HallGirl, another quick question. You said you had two guides, but then you had two local guides in Paris. Did you tip the local guides and the "main" guides? I'm trying to plan our tips and set the money aside for that this week, but I wanted to make sure on that. I'm assuming we'll have two guides. Does that mean two at each location or two total?

Thanks. Sorry for all the goofy questions.

Julie

On that particular trip there were 2 official ABD guides (Alex & Roni). There were also 2 ABD guides "in-training" (Francesc & Eddie). There were 2 special local-flavor guides in London (Steven & Kathleen) and in Paris (Sylvie & Corinne).

The only guides that you were encouraged to tip were the 2 official ABD tour guides (Alex & Roni).

PiperPilot
05-30-2007, 12:05 PM
We just completed the London/Paris trip. I'd be happy to share our metro and train experiences or answer questions.

We took train trips outside of London and Paris to Windsor Castle, Hampton Court, and Chateau Fontainebleau during our free time. We also used the metro system alot within Paris to get around.

I'd highly recommend taking an evening cruise down the Seine River in Paris after the welcoming dinner at the hotel is finished. It was fairly easy to navigate the metro and take a river cruise. If I remember correctly it was 9.50 euro per person for the cruise, 2.00 euro for the metro. We would have paid much more for the river cruise (great value). The buildings change character when lit up at night.

woody73
05-30-2007, 11:04 PM
. . . Any tips from veterans of London/Paris in December on what to pack?
Dress in layers. We were in Paris in November 2005, and it snowed.

Woody

woody73
05-30-2007, 11:10 PM
HallGirl: Very nice report. Brought back fond memories of our visits to London and Paris.

We were in London one week before you, and also saw Lisa O'Hare as Mary Poppins. Brilliant!

Woody

fraggle1_rs
06-29-2009, 04:39 PM
hi

we have been to DLP a few times usually in the begining of dec.

pack thermal clothing and/or layers of clothing as it came be quite cold, last time we went it was cold and rainned alot, but we brought poncho's which helped.

It is pretty at christmas time though. different atmosphere to WDW obvisously due to more parks and better weather. DLP is probably better in summer.:)