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awatt
08-18-2007, 11:15 PM
Just got back and wanted to send a report while it is still fresh.

We booked this trip last fall with Kevin from DU, teh forum moderator. He has been wonderful to deal with, full of information and very patient with my numerous questions. We are a family of 4 with 2 girls age 8 and 10.

Day 1- Arrival in Rome. Booked our air thru ABD and nonstop flight from Newark was uneventful. ABD member met us at baggage claim, brought us to one of our guides, Jamie then we went to our hotel the Grand Hotel Palace. The hotel is lovely. Great location in one of Rome's best neighborhoods, on the Via Veneto. Decor is old world and charming. It was such a nice surprise that at 10AM when we arrived we were able to get into our rooms. This was our first indication of how smoothly everything runs with ABD. Our rooms were fantastic. We had rooms 305 and 306 (they have no quad rooms). This was actually a suite I believe. Our room was a corner room with a standup balcony overlooking Via Veneto. It had a king bed, sofa, chairs, and a desk and was huge for a metropolitan hotel room. Next to us the girls had a king room. Both room were joined by a liitle foyer with a seperate door to the hallway. We really loved teh hotel, accomadations and the location.

Upon checkin we also met our other guide, Dusty who is just a wonderful person and a Disney fanatic. Lots of energy, lots of patience with the Junior Adventurers and lots of fun to spend a week with. For example, after each tour Dustyt would walk around with hand sanitizer, then wipes then tell us it was "tomer time" and spritz all of our faces. They just try to anticipate all of your needs. The ABD guides were just great, so responsive to any needs/issues. They earned every penny of their tips.

We had some free time to we took a cab to the Vatican as I knew we would only have a quick stop there the following day. Line for the museum was very long (several hours) which I anticipated so we went to St Peter's basilica instead, which had a shorter line. St Peter's is truly amazing, could have spent half a day there. If you have time before or after your ABD tour, try to see it. The Pieta is marvelous as is Bernini's work inside. For those who are Catholic like myself, find the statue of St Peter and kiss or touch it, that is the tradition. Also try to read a little about the basilica beforehand, you will get much more out of your visit. Also visited the tombs below including that of John Paul II.

After the basilica, we had lunch on a side street in a sidewalk cafe. Food was great and we really were starting to feel like we were finally in Italy. . A tip: If you are facing the Vatican, go to the side streets to the right , where you will find food and shops are less expensive than those on the street directly in front of the VAtican. The same rosary I bought on the side street was about half of what it was on the main street.

One more thing about St Peter's- There is a dress code. Shoulders and knees must be covered. DH had shorts on and was not allowed in. As he was waiting for us he saw a man lower his shorts to cover the knees and then cover the waist with his shirt, so he did the same and was allowed in. Wish I had been there to see that

Next we took the subway to the Spanish steps, which was easy to do, and the metro was clean and safe during the day. And it's cheap- 1 euro each. Enjoyed a stroll around that area and browsed the piazza and shops.

Our first dinner was at the Grand Palace Hotel with the group. There were 24 of us and as the week went on we all got to know each other andbonded a bit. I am not the greatest mingler and had some reservations about travelling with a group but it all went quite well. A few days into it we were all watching out for each other and each others kids as the scooters were whizzing by!

Another tip: Coke products are very expensive- about $6 for a diet coke from a sidewalk cart for example. If you have time, go teh the little supermarket about 3 blocks from teh hotel and get some sodas and waters for your room. Beer also. The beeers at the hotel were about $12 each.

DAy 2 - Whirlwind Rome.

This was the most intensive touring day of the trip. Bus took us to the colisseum, to begin the tour. We saw the colisseum, forum and VAtican (quick stop for photos) before lunch. Enjoyed a very good lunch of antipasti and pizza at Rei degli AMici. Then continued on a walking tour to the Trevi fountain and the Pantheon. Saw several other less famous obelisks, monuments, churches and palaces along the way. Our local guide Paulo was so good, extremely knowledgeable and pleasant to talk to. Late in the afternoon there was a gelatto stop at the Piazza Nevona. Then we boarded the bus back to the hotel. It was an exhausting day, but I loved it. Particularly loved the Trevi Fountain which was crowded but so beautiful and so Rome! Guides did a good job of engaging the kids with a "person of the day" about whom they gave clues throughout the day. My 10 year old was very tired however by the afternoon. Come to think of it we all were by the end of the tour. But on our own there was no way we would have seen all we did, nor would have learned so much about these beautiful sites.

Dinner was on our own that night. Guides had lots of recommendations for good places. We went to the place where supposedly fettucine Alfredo was invented, Alfredo de Scrofula. Food was excellent and atmosphere and service were quite nice, although it was expensive. But what the heck we were in Rome after waiting moths in anticipation.

A word about Rome: It is my new favorite city! It is so beautiful, and the buildings while old are well maintained and as you stroll teh sidestreets you can't help but be charmed by it all. Everywhere you turn something new and beautiful hits you in the face. And the Italian people are so friendly. And you don't need to know Italian because everybody speaks English. Although if you try to speak some Italian, as I did, they are particurlaly kind. It was very rewarding to be able to make myself understood in Italian at times- but not necessary.

Day 3- Pompeii and Sorrento

I was sad to leave beautiful Rome but excited to get to the Southern coast.

Be advised this tour keeps you on a schedule, and there is not alot of time to either sleep in, chill out or roam on your own. So if a schedule is not for you, don't do this particular tour.

Anyway, it was 3 hour bus ride to Pompeii, with a stop half way at the Autogrille which is the most high end rest stop I've ever seen. Very nice. They showed the kids a movie (Lizzie Maguire) on the bus.

Had lunch near the entrance to the Pompeii park site at a nice restaurant called something like Marcus and Ceasar. Then we toured Pompeii for about 2 hours. It was hot and tehtour a little long, but interesting. For me it was one of those things I felt we should see and I'm glad we did, but would have preferred going straight to the hotel for a little chill time. At this point we had our next local tout guide Maria who was so nice nad also full of information, and knew how to make history come alive by telling a good story.

It was then about a 30-45 minute drive to the Sorrento Hilton. We also loved this hotel. It is more like American hotels. We were booked in a quad room, which does not have a bay view. But unbeknownst to us, Dusty found a little pixie dust and got us a triple that slept 4 with a bay view. Looked right across the Bay of Naples to Vesuvius. Fantastic. Love waking up to that view every day! The room was large and very bright and sunny, with modern decor. The pool was very large and the kids thoroughly enjoyed it when they could. Hotel is pretty inside with lemon groves outside. Service was excellent.

We had dinner as a group at the Hilton. Food was very good. Kids had their own dinner together followed by a movie night.

I should mention I have some strict dietary requirements- gluten free- and the guides did an excellent job of arranging legal food for me at each of the group meals. Not an easy task in Italy, but they did it.

Also, they take a ton of pictures each day. This makes for some lovely surprises during the week. Also, there is a new pin each day, which we thought was very cool.

Day 4- Sorrent and the Farm

Today we were allowed to sleep in a little, as in didn't have to meeet until 9:15 AM. Then we took a walking tour of Sorento for about 45-60 minutes with Maria. From the HIlton it is a 5-10 minute walk downhill into town. (In the evening after dinner we took a cab back up the hill which was expensive, about 15 euros but worth it IMHO). I really liked Sorrento, lots of good shops and restuarants, very friendly people.

Then we boardded the bus and it was about a 15 minute ride to teh farm. OK, initially I was hesitant about why we were touring a farm, but this turned out to be great afternoon, and one of the best meals of the trip. So don't skip it. Anyway we were shown how olive oil and cheese are made. then we had a neverending antipasti. As everything in the ingredients was made on teh farm it was incredibly deliicious and so fresh. When we were good and stuffed it was time to make the pizzas which was alot of fun. And also very delicious- so good I had to allow a little gluten just once during the trip. The best pizza of my life, no exaggeration.

We got back to the hotel and had free time until 6:30 PM. We opted to be dropped off in town and shopped a little. If you are looking for a cameo, I'd recommend Bimonte (bimontesorrento.com). We shopped all around and found their prices the best and they were so pleasant. And as a bonus there was aman carving the cameos right there which was neat to see. Silk ties are also a good buy here. And the pottery is beautiful.

At 6:45 we took the bus as a group to Z'Ntonio Mare, a restaurant on the water. What a great location! The food was OK. (At the group dinners there are usually two menu choices, and these were not great tonight for my taste) But it was still a very nice dinner. As an added bonus we got to see a processional along the waterfront as it was the feast of the Asssumption the next day, followed by fireworks. Pure magic!

Day 5- Capri!

At 8:30 we left the hotel to catch a ferry to Capri. It is ashort ride on teh fast ferry (hydrofoil). Once we arrived there were some pictures taken, then we rode the funicular to the top of Capti town. We had a very short walking tour with Maria, about 20 minutes, followed by more pictures overlooking the Faraglioni rocks, and then we had almost 2 hours to shop on our own. If designer clothing is your thing, Capri is for you! I really liked the homemade perfume stores nad bought some perfumes made from the flowers of the island. As it was a national holiday (actually the whole week is a vacation week for many Italians) Capri was very crowded and by lunchtime we were hot and tired of the crowds. Enjoyed lunch at La Pigna, which was very good.

Next we got changed and boarded our private boat. This was one of the highlights of the trip! We had about 2 hours on the boat. Maria pointed out some beautiful spots and caves and grottos. Don't want to ruin the surprise but there is one in store for you in the Farglioni rocks. Will always remember teh "love tunnel". Once we passed the rocks, we swam for about half an hour. The guides even brought along floats for everybody. It was really a thrill for me to be swimming in the Mediterranean. Kids had a ball!

We took the bus back to the hotel and arrive dthere about 5 PM. Dinner was on our own that night. We went to a place called something like Parruchiano La Favorita. It was in a greenhouse setting with lemon trees all around, very pretty and teh food was delicious. Prices very reasonable. Good place for families. Shopped a little more after dinner. Streets were crowded as it was the holiday. Went to bed very tired but very happy after our day in Capri!

Day 6: Positano and Amalfi

This was another memorable day.

I've wanted to see Positano for years and I was not disapponted. It was about a 45 minute ride by bus. After a 15 minute walking tour we had about 1 and a half or two hours to shop. The pottery here is very beautiful. Also got handmade sandals for a very reasonable price. There are some good spots for photos on teh beach. This town with its little streets, flowers and pretty buildings built into the hill is so picturesque. Would love to have spent more time here, and hope to go back.

Next we boarded our private boat and toured the Amalfi coast for about an hour on our way to Amalfi. Maria again pointed out some very interesting sites along the cliffs of the coast. Amalfi is another lovely town. We had about a 10 minute walking tour then about an hour and 45 minutes for lunch on our own, and shopping. At Maria's recommendation we went to Pizzeria Maria and had an awesome lunch. I highly recommend this place for the wonderful food, homey atmosphere and reasonable prices. Also lunch was not so long that we still had some time to walk around town.

After lunch we took a tour of teh paper millwhich was interesting. Originally we were going to skiptheis, but it was hot, and the beaches were very crowded, so we were looking for someplace cool. It was enjoyable enough, and the girls really liked actually making our their own paper.

It was a two hour bus ride back to Sorrento along very high, narrow roads. If you don't like heights sit on the right hand side of the bus (do the opposite going to Positano in the AM).

THat night was our farewell dinner and they really made it special. We had dinner outside in the lemon grove with candlelit tables and local musicians and dancers. The guides had the kids at their own table. There were a couple of magical surprises which I won't spoil. It was a memorable dinner topping off a very memorable day.

Day 7- Travelling back home

Your departure time depends on your flight time. We were the last group to leave at 8:30 AM. Enjoyed a leisurely breakfast- forgot to mention the breakfast daily at the HIlton is fantastic. Then we took the bus to teh NAples airport and said goodbye to Jamie Dusty, and our fellow travellers. The Naples airport for us was a nightmare, our flight was delayed and noone ever gave us any info . We just waited and waited. We nearly missed our connection in Rome (picture us sprinting through the large Rome airport as final call were being made overhead for our flight). But we did make our connection and flew home with memories of our trip of a lifetime.

We were so impressed with ABD we are considering booking the Ireland tour for next year.

If there was one thing I would change it would be to build a little more on your own time, even just ine afternoon as it is tiring to be going all day, every day. Either Pompeii or the Paper MIll could be omitted to allow for this.

Am happy to answer any questions.

heaven2006
08-19-2007, 06:05 AM
Fantastic trip report!

I have to say that I was waiting for a Trip report of this tour, because when I was in Rome I saw your group in the Colosseum! I was quite impressed of how everything was taken care of. First when I was in line for the tickets I saw the group entering (it was maybe 9:15); then I saw one guide playing with the children while the adults were upstairs with another guide; and finally when I exited the colosseum to visit the foruns it started raining and I saw your guides giving ponchos for everyone!

This day was my last day of a 7 day tour of Italy (it started in Venice and ended in Rome) but my tour has nothing to do with the quality that seemed to exist in Adventures by Disney! But the price I paid for the tour isn't obvious the same ;)

Anyway it was great to see anything related to Disney when I was in Italy... because all i wanted to see was the Disney Magic ship and unfortunately it didn't happen :guilty:

*** EDITED ***

Sorry for the post but what I saw was the group of the "viva Italia" tour. The day that I'm talking about is 10 August and your tour only started on the 11th. So forget about the post :)

I took one pic:
http://img182.imageshack.us/img182/4394/dsc05598or5.jpg

Beth
08-20-2007, 05:36 AM
Thanks so much for your report. We leave in about 30 days, and I am SO excited!!

Can you tell me?.... on the day in Capri - when you went swimming... did you return to the hotel after that, or did you change back into your clothes and do anything else?

Also - silly question... but I just want to confirm. There were hairdryers in both of those hotels?

I really appreciate you talking about your free time in Rome on the first day. It sounds like we'll be arriving around the same time you did. I really want to take off and see some sights, but I'm so afraid I'll be exhausted from the trip. Sounds like you guys had no problem, though.

Thanks again....
~ Beth

awatt
08-20-2007, 04:41 PM
Beth-

On Capri you go to a place to change before and after the boat ride. After getting changed into dry clothes after the boat ride, we boarded the bus. We were all tired at that point and most folks napped on the bus.

Both hotels had hairdryers.

We took Ginseng pills upon arrival in Rome, on theadvice of a friend who did this for a similar trip 3 months ago. Worked like a charm and we did not feel tired while walking around the first day. Try to avoid sleeping the first day if you can. It is best to get on the local time schedule if possible as soon as possible.

Beth
08-20-2007, 08:37 PM
Thanks very much for the response... I'll have to look into the ginseng pills...

I really appreciated your report!

disneydance
08-21-2007, 10:38 PM
Great job I think in a few we will take a ABD trip possibly next well wait and see!!!!!!

mwebsite
08-28-2007, 10:45 AM
Awatt,
Did you have trouble deciding between this trip and Viva Italia? They both look so interesting, with different destinations. Would you recommend arriving a day or 2 ahead of time and extending your Rome stay?

awatt
08-28-2007, 12:36 PM
For me the choice was easy. i have wanted to see teh Amalfi coast for about 15 years. And my family is from there. And I felt that itinerary would work better with the kids.

If you have the time i would definitely try to arrive in Rome a day or 2 early. Wish we could have, as I absolutely loved Rome and did not get enouigh of it. Guess we'll ahve to go baack!

mrosen
10-18-2007, 08:48 PM
I'm interested in if you recommend a trip like this for families with kids
that are 9 and 8? I noticed you took your 2 girls at 8 and 10.
Was it worth it? We would like to go to Italy but wondering if our
girls are too young to really enjoy this trip. Any comments based
on your experience?