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Old 06-30-2007, 10:08 AM   #1
parkaroo
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Med Ports on our Own (long)

Hi we just got back from the June 16th 11 day Mediterranean cruise. I thought I would share info about how we did all but one port on our own to help some of you with your planning since many of you have helped me by reading your posts. Our travel party consisted of 4 adults, my 18 year old nephew, 8 year old son, 7 month old son and 76 year old father. We started our trip by doing an 11 day pre-cruise vacation of Germany, Austria, and Netherlands. We purchased month long eurorail train passes to use for the trip. We flew Lufthansa from Dusseldorf Germany to Barcelona. Once we arrived we chose to take a taxi to the port. It was 35 euros. We checked in put our bags in the room, grabbed lunch at topsiders and then got off the boat and took the shuttle but to the Christopher Columbus monument and then walked around Barcelona. We didnít have much time because we had to be back on board for the boat drill.

Palmero- We got off the ship in the morning and walked around the main street a little it was hard with a stroller. Lots of up and down over curbs and crazy drivers. (One nice thing is drivers would slow down and let us cross I assume it was because of the stroller) We had planned to catch the local bus and go to the catacombs but decided instead to take the hop on hop off bus and see the city. Next we walked back toward the ship and stopped in a local grocery store and bought some Italian pasta to bring home and stopped at The Erre Ceramiche Shop. They had lots of neat products in all price ranges.

Naples- Beware of the taxi drivers!! They bug you to death. We walked to the end of the port and got a taxi to the train station. We had to repeatedly insist that we only wanted to go to the train station and agreed on a price. It was 10 euros. Once we got in the taxi he still tried to get us to let him take us by taxi to our destination. We finally got to the station. After a couple of trips to the window we got a day train tickets. This was the only train that we couldnít use our eurorail pass. The train ticket was 6,40 euro to use all day. After you buy your ticket go down stairs to Circumvesia train. Make sure to validate your ticket in the machine. We got on the train to Pompeii make sure you get on the one that stops at Pompeii Scavi. (that is the stop for the Pompeii site) The train was hot! Filled with people. We arrived at Pompeii scavi and walked a short distance to Pompeii. Make sure you pick up a map of the site when you buy your tickets. The site was huge! When they say not stroller friendly they mean it. (lots of steps and cobblestones) We ended up folding the stroller and carrying the baby. Wish we had brought our carrier with us that day! It was so HOT! Next we went back to the train station and caught the train to Sorrento. Sorrento was a pretty town we walked around visted the shops. We looked down from the town and realized that the hydrofoil dock was down at the bottom of the town. We walked down a bunch of steps to get to the dock. (One good thing about taking the train to the town was that we didnít have to walk up all the steps) We got a ticket to take the hydrofoil back to Naples 9 euros. We had wanted to visit Carpi but we spent too long at Pompeii.

Olbia- Disney Shore Excursion to La Madelana island. We enjoyed the tour- the bus ride exploring the island was a little too long I would have rather had more time to walk around the town. There was beautiful beach we drove by in La Madelana that looked like it would be fun.

Rome- It was easy to get to the train station. First we caught the free shuttle out of the port and then walked down the harbor to the train station. We used our passes for the train so I am not sure the cost. We got on the regular train and headed for Rome termni. We made a mistake and left the station by where the train drops you off. This was far from the main entrance. We should have walked through the station toward the main station to get our tickets for the hop on hop off bus of Rome. We got off at the colloseum and we bombarded with offers for tours. The line was long to get tickets. So I used a tip from the Rick Steveís book. Walk over the hill by the palentine and go to the ticket window there. No line at all. Bought the tickets and walked back to the collosuem- just make your way through all the people in line stay over toward the group tours side when you get to the turnstile insert your ticket. We spent way too much time at the colloseum. My husband is really into history and reads everything. That is one reason we always ran out of time. We walked around the area around the collesuem a little and then got back on the bus. Next we headed toward the Vatican but were stuck in traffic forever. It probably would have been better to take the train to the Vatican stop. During this trip we left the baby in flounders nursery so we were on a time crunch to get back to him. We didnít want to leave him too long. So instead of hopping off the bus we just rode it around and enjoyed looking at the sites. When we got back to the train station we got on a train back to port. Here is an important note- the train heading back was nice, clean and air-conditioned. There must be two different trains the regular and this one. I would take the air-conditioned train both ways if possible.

Pisa- I booked our tickets to climb the tower on the internet. We had to tender to the pier. We chose to take a taxi to the train station. It was 10 euros. It was supposed to be a 10 min. walk but it looked busy and a lot longer to me. We jumped on the train heading for Pisa Centrale. At the train station there is a tobacco counter- buy your bus tickets 1,80 round trip to get to the tower. The bus stop is across the street the bus line is LAM Rosa. Make sure to validate your ticket on the bus. When you get to the field of miracles you can see the tower and other buildings. We walked around the area and then exchanged our printed voucher for our tickets and climbed the tower. Those not having pre-purchased tickets had to wait a couple hours to climb. The bus back to the train station stops across the street from where you get off. We took the bus back to the station. We along with other made the mistake of getting off the train at Le Spezia the conductor luckily told us to get back on. Make sure to get off La Spezia Centrale. I wanted to see the Cinque Terre Towns so some headed back on board the ship and we caught the train to Riomaggiore. We walked around the town it was pretty.

Marsilles- We took the free shuttle to town. When you get off turn to your left and walk along the harbor. This stop is on Sunday so no stores are open. We did find a couple bakeries open and tried some French pastries. There was an outdoor market with various vendors. The stop for the little train is near the vendors. It was 5 euros to ride. They have two routes we chose to go to the Basilica Lady of the Guard church. They let you get off the train and explore the church and then catch a later train to go back down to the town. It was pretty we spent some time walking around and enjoying the views. The church has a gift shop. I bought some Santons (little saint figurines hand made in Marseille.
Villefranche- We took the tender into the port and then walked along the harbor to the train station. The train station is up some steps. We missed the steps because we were checking out the beach. If we had known there was a beach right there in the town we would have worn our swimwear under our clothes so that the kids could have swam in the Mediterranean. We made our way up to the station and caught the train heading toward Eze. After you get off the train there is a bus to take you to the village of Eze it was 1,30 euro. When you get off the bus there are a few shops and cafes. The actual medieval town is up this old looking fort. It was beautiful tucked in the pathways was little shops. We had to carry the baby with his carrier this time. Too many steps for stollers. We had fun exploring this neat village. We decided to take the bus from Eze to Monte Carlo. It was 1,30 euro. Get off the bus at the last stop and then we walked to the casino and around the area. We wanted to go to Cannes and Nice so we headed to the train. The station is quite a walk from the casino so catch the bus 1 euro to get to the station. When you get off the bus you need to go down an elevator to reach the station. We caught the train heading back toward Villefranche- we were going to go on to Cannes but decided we wanted to make dinner and have the lobster so we decided to head back to the ship.

Disembark day- The line to take the taxi to the airport was an hour long. I tried to convince everyone to take the public bus. It passed by us 4 times almost empty but they didnít want to deal with carrying luggage. It was 25 euros to take the taxi.

I hope this helps with your planning. One thing I learned is that there is not enough time to see everything. Take your time and enjoy the trip without tiring yourself out too much. We discovered a lot of neat places but just taking the time to walk and explore the towns on our own.
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Old 06-30-2007, 11:09 AM   #2
JeanieP
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Parkaroo -- Thanks!

Thank you for taking the time to write about exploring the ports on your own. We are planning on doing this and trying to not wear ourselves out. I think you gave excellent advice -- try not to see everything, look at this experience as a taste, not a meal. I did have a question about Rome. Some folks took a train straight to the Vatican, while my internet research shows only a train to the main Termini in Rome. Sounds like you took the train to the main Termini -- my husband and I are familiar with the main Termini of Rome, but wondered if we should start our stroll at the Vatican and work our way to the Forum. We don't plan to visit the Vatican museums, as we have done that before, but only wanted to stroll St. Peter's Basilica. Are there two trains at the port?
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Old 06-30-2007, 01:07 PM   #3
parkaroo
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I used the German rail page to research train connections. http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/que...rotocol=http:&
If you want to get off at the Vatican your stop would be Roma San Pietro. If you check on this web site just click where it says show intermediate stops and that will tell all the stops that the train makes. I printed these out for our trips to help us to judge how far it was until our needed stop. This helped because some trains announce each stop and some you just have to look out the window and read the station signs.
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Old 07-05-2007, 06:31 PM   #4
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Parkaroo, thanks for the great info. We are attempting to try all the ports on our own as well. Did you purchase your month long Eurorail pass on-line or when you arrived in Europe? We will be in the Netherlands for 11 days before flying to Barcelona. From what I understand, the only time your train pass did not work is when you went to Pompeii? Thanks again.
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Old 07-07-2007, 03:34 PM   #5
shortkathleen
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Parkaroo,

We are thinking about doing Pisa on our own. How much did the train tickets cost and how often did they run? Also, how long was the train ride? We would like to sleep in a little after a long day in Rome so we are reconsidering doing the dcl 1/2 day pisa that leaves at 8:15. Would you say that this was an easy port to do on your own or should we spend the $79 per person to take the dcl trip? Thanks for your help.

Kathleen
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Old 07-17-2007, 09:55 PM   #6
parkaroo
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sorry for such a delay answering your questions we have been out of town and with no internet access.
You must buy eurorail passes in the USA they are not for sale in Europe. If you are only going to a few countries I would suggest checking out the various country eurorail passes. We bought our passes at AAA. Yes we used our passes everywhere except the train to pompeii.

Pisa was a very easy port to do on our own. We used our passes so I am not sure of what the train would cost. I doubt it would be very much. If you want to climb the tower plan to do it on your own, I don't think the people on the dcl tour where able to climb the tower.
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Old 07-19-2007, 09:27 PM   #7
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A couple of notes about Pisa. It is about an hour from La Spezia, but unsure of the cost, as we did Florence as well. DCL now has an afternoon half-day trip there as well, but it is very easy to do on your own. Do not take the train to Pisa Centrale - but get off at the stop before - Pisa Sossore (spelling?). Very short walk to the Leaning Tower from there.

For some of our experiences, go to Post #392
http://www.disboards.com/showthread....474234&page=27

Just trying to help others, like we got helped here before our trip.
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Old 07-19-2007, 09:32 PM   #8
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JeanieP - Yes, you can go to Roma S. Pietro and be very near the Vatican and St. Peter's. From there, you can walk to the Forum/Colosseum area (good exercise) and tour the historic area. If you buy the B.I.R.G. pass (9 euro at Civitavecchia), it will give you access to the buses and subway in Roma. We took the subway from the Colosseum to Termini, where we caught the train back to Civitavecchia. One adbvantage of doing it this way is you can get a seat for the hour ride home.
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