Message Board Archive

Message Board Archive

March 2012 to December 2015

Here you will find a selection of the most relevant information from our old message board, arranged by tour. Click on the appropriate links below to see what previous travelers and others have had to say about our tours. Don't forget to search on the page itself if you're looking for something specific (control+f on a PC, command+f on a Mac).

 


Europe

Across Spain and Portugal
Classic Greek Isles
Discovering Eastern Europe
Ireland
European Tapestry
Iceland
Northern Italy
Paradores & Pousadas
Pearls of Dalmatia
Portrait of Italy
Southern Italy and Sicily

The Americas

Colombia Rediscovered
Costa Rica’s Natural Heritage
Panama Canal Cruise with Costa Rica
South American Tapestry
Treasures of Peru

Australia & the South Pacific

Exploring Australia & New Zealand

Asia & the Far East

Insider’s Japan
Journey Through Vietnam
Mongolian Adventure
Mysteries of Myanmar
Mystical India

Africa & the Middle East

Classic Safari
Egypt & the Eternal Nile
Israel: Timeless Wonders
Moroccan Discovery
Southern Africa Odyssey
Tanzania Adventure

General
 


Europe

Across Spain and Portugal

Patty
2015-03-23 14:46:33
Barcelona on AS&P tour


We will be taking the April 21 Across Spain and Portgugal tour and have added the Barcelona extension.  I know we visit the Familia Sagrada on the tour but am wondering how long that visit is and if we would want to spend more time there during the extension.  If so, do we need to buy tickets in advance before we leave the US. Will OU give us ideas for activities during that extension?
Thanks for advice......


ody-admin
2015-03-23 21:11:39
Re: Barcelona on AS&P tour

Hi Patty,
The on-tour visit to Sagrada Familia runs between 60-90 minutes.  We are checking with our travel partners in Barcelona regarding whether it's recommended to purchase tickets ahead of time if you wish to return on your own - will post an answer here as soon as we have it.  As you know, the Barcelona extension is "on your own," so we do not have any proscribed activities for you during your stay.  However, your Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director will be happy to offer suggestions if you ask.  And no doubt you will come up with your own ideas, as Barcelona offers such a wealth of activities and attractions.


Jim S.
2015-03-24 09:23:34
Re: Barcelona on AS&P tour

Patty, we have been to Sagrada Familia twice.  It is a busy place.  Very busy.  Personally, I thought the tour by our Odysseys' guide was more than adequate.  The first part of our visit was a guided tour and then we were free to wander on own for quite a while.  I don't recall our time in the church but it wasn't a rushed visit.


Everett Nay
2015-03-24 12:02:27
Re: Barcelona on AS&P tour


Jim's response is a good one.
Barcelona has many highlights for you to see.  Among them: Tour of Gaudi homes, Gothic Quarter, Palau de la Musica, Santa Maria Basilica, Barcelona Cathedral, Las Ramblas, Montjuic, the Picasso Museum, the Waterfront.  Google "must see places, Barcelona."  Lots to see and do there.  We loved it!
 

Patty
Re: Barcelona on AS&P tour

Thanks for your help.  We are looking forward to this trip and planning the time on our own.  Any more advice for that is greatly appreciated.


ody-admin
2015-03-25 12:02:39
Re: Barcelona on AS&P tour


Hi Patty,
Our travel partner in Barcelona advises that if you purchase your tickets ahead of time, you will not have to wait in line at Sagrada Familia ... so, it is up to you whether you wish to return after the included tour there.  But as noted above, there is so much to do in Barcelona ...!  We wish you a wonderful trip.


Barbara
2015-03-25 13:36:33
Re: Barcelona on AS&P tour


Patty, my husband and I took this trip in spring 2014 and loved it.  When you're in Bilbao, don't miss the Euskalduna Palace - great evening musical performances, and if you love fine dining, by all means check out Etxanobe, top floor of the Palace for late-night dining.  You can make advance reservations from your home computer for both.  Chef Fernando is wonderful - food and wine selections superb!!
The Barcelona extension is a good idea since you're already there.  So much to see and do.  We've been to Barcelona probably 6 times and never run out of new places.  The Palau de la Musica is a must; walking the Ramblas to the Barcelona Zoo is fun experience; the Picasso Museum outstanding!  No end to what's available throughout the city.
You'll have a fabulous time!!


Patty
2015-03-25 15:27:28
Re: Barcelona on AS&P tour


Thanks. Barbara, did you go to a concert in Baracelona at the palace?  Should I buy tickets in advance? I am getting excited since we leave within a months time!
Did you walk a part of the pilgrimage walk to Santiago?


Barbara
2015-03-25 16:15:30
Re: Barcelona on AS&P tour


Hi Patty, yes to all of your questions.  Buying tix in advance is a good idea because online you can pick your seats which you should do soon since the time is getting close.
If you take the Barcelona extension, and have an interest in Salvador Dali, you can take a day trip by train to Figueres and enjoy the Dali Museum -- this was an unforgettable experience for us -- we're both interested in Dali's surrealism!  We found an outdoor café for lunch (nothing fancy) but a good choice, and very close to the museum.  Another wonderful day!!
If I think of anything else, I'll write again.


ody-admin
Re: Barcelona on AS&P tour

Thank you to everyone who has responded to Patty's post about Barcelona - we really appreciate your participation.  And Barbara, you may be interested to know that our Southern France tour (new for 2015) visits the Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres!

___

Sarah
2013-08-03 15:15:02
New Across Spain and Portugal itinerary for 2014


This trip looks fabulous! I had the chance to visit many of these places when I was working in Madrid in 2005 (I also studied at the Universidad de Burgos in Castilla-Leon in 2002). A tempting addition for 2014...I've added it to my potential list along with Pearls of Dalmatia and Discovering Eastern Europe!
I recommend visiting the Museo do Pobo Galego (Museum of the Galician People) in Santiago de Compostela during your free time if you are interested in learning more about Galician culture; it's located in the beautiful former convent of San Domingos de Bonaval (http://www.museodopobo.es/index.php). And definitely catch some local Galician bagpiping (gaita) if you can, and be sure to try the local specialty "torta de Santiago," an almond cake with a St. James' cross stenciled in powdered sugar.
In Barcelona, my absolute must-see is the Palau de la Musica Catalana, a masterpiece of Art Nouveau (in Spain, modernisme) architecture by Domènech i Montaner that is still used as a concert hall. They do give English tours and had a lovely gift shop. The neighborhood is not the best, though...or at least it wasn't last time I was there! http://www.palaumusica.cat/en
Another good diversion in Barcelona is the City History Museum (Museu d'Història de la Ciutat de Barcelona), which showcases a rather remarkable set of Roman foundations below the modern-day city. There are clear plastic walkways, so you're literally walking over the old Roman city.
And I'm glad to see that Montserrat is on your tour; I timed my visit so I could hear Gregorian chant (Montserrat is home to one of the oldest boychoirs in Europe), and there is quite a good little art museum as well at the monastery with works by Caravaggio, Tiepolo, El Greco, Picasso, Dali, Degas, Miro, and Monet.
For all those who choose this tour, have a wonderful time!


Connie
2015-04-08 10:06:33
Re: New Across Spain and Portugal itinerary for 2014


This sounds like a wonderful trip Across Spain and Portugal.  We plan on attending in October.  Can someone kindly tell me the best time (weather wise) to go in October, I noticed several options that month.  Can anyone give feedback if you have already attended.
Thank you


Barbara
Re: New Across Spain and Portugal itinerary for 2014

Connie, we took both Across Spain and Portugal - Mar/Apr 2014 - and Paradores and Pousadas - Apr/May 2012, so I can't speak for October, but both trips were outstanding!  The weather was not a problem, although I remember rain.  The extensions gave us extra time in Barcelona, a city I can't get enough of!!  In Bilbao, the Eskulduna Performing Arts is a wonderful experience, and if you enjoy fine dining, Extanobe is the place to go. Both can be reserved from your home computer.
Wine tastings in Portugal were a fun experience.  And, you'll have a great time, whatever the weather!!


Elaine
2015-06-18 12:43:26
Re: New Across Spain and Portugal itinerary for 2014


Connie, I agree with Barbara....
Book the new "Across Spain and Portugal".
My husband and I took it In October, 2014.  We loved the whole tour (having been on the earlier Paradores and Pousadas tour several years ago).  You might have to get out your umbrella some days, but I think the autumn is probably drier than the springtime.  I would encourage you to think seriously about the tour.    Just rent the movie "The Way" with Martin Sheen and you will be energized into discovering this very special area of Northern Spain (in addition to Portugal....great as well).......... It's a tour not to be forgotten.
I have posted many Odysseys tours on YouTube.... every time a new and another experience.
My YouTube channel is:  travldtwoseven
Happy travels!


 

Classic Greek Isles

 

Beverly
2015-07-06 14:35:43
condition of Harmony V


We are planning to take the Classic Greek Isles in Sept. 2015.  Yesterday I read several Cruise Critic reviews of Harmony V from Odyssey travelers in June which concerned me.  They complained of the cleanliness of the boat, cold buffet food, and dirty towels along with a problem with the steering mechanism.  I would like to hear from other travelers about these issues.


Barbara
2015-07-08 09:18:28
Re: condition of Harmony V


Beverly, we were also considering this trip, but decided a big NO because of the critics' reviews.  We have found the smaller vessels/riverboats to be immaculate.  Perhaps the Harmony line was recently sold?


Missoulasue
2015-07-29 15:35:40
Re: condition of Harmony V


Barbara & Beverly, I'm glad you steered me towards the Cruise Critic reviews. This was going to be our next Odysseys trip, but not now. I wonder if anyone has taken the Aegean Odyssey trip and if the Panorama II is a better experience. Only two reviews on CC and I can't base a whole trip on just two reviews.


Patty
Re: condition of Harmony V

I asked Odysseys about this and they wrote me that they make sure their accommodations are first class and they take their feedback from participants seriously.  We have never been disappointed in three tours with their accommodations.  But they haven't responded to this message.  That disappoints me. Other remarks about the Harmony V?


Judy
Re: condition of Harmony V

We just returned from Greece on the Harmony V. The rooms on the Harmony are basic. We had 2 double beds. The only problem was the plumbing system got backed up several times. All issues were resolved very quickly . We loved going to the small island that bigger cruise ships will not visit. Our guide Zanna was fantastic.  The hotel that Odessey uses in Athens was very nice. It is conveniently located in the Placa area. The Greek people are amazing. Don't let reviews on cruise critic spoil your trip. We had no problems with cleanliness.  All in all it was a great trip.

 

Discovering Eastern Europe

 

Sue S
2014-08-26 06:12:43
Discovering Eastern Europe


I am considering the Discovering Eastern Europe Tour in September, 2015.  I would like very much to hear feedback from people who have taken this tour recently (2013, 2014).  Thank you.


Jim
2014-09-07 07:48:29
Re: Discovering Eastern Europe

 

We took the tour in May of last year and enjoyed it a lot.  I'd say that if visiting "old Europe"--cities with large public squares surrounded by restaurants, shops, churches, and museums, interests you--then you'll likely enjoy this tour.  Warsaw isn't old Europe, having been destroyed in WWII, but it is worth seeing more much the Poles have accomplished since liberation from Moscow.  
Krakow, Budapest, Vienna and Prague are all wonderful cities to visit.  One could easily spend more time in each.  Even Bratislava turned out to be a pleasant surprise.  Krakow's Salt Mine is a wonder to see, a real surprise.  At the other end of emotion, nearby Auschwitz and Schindler's Museum (the more informative, I thought) are sad, but I learned from seeing them.  
As usual, this Odysseys' tour is a nice mix of visiting "big" sites occasionally balanced with small experiences.  In Hungary, for example, we stopped at a rural restaurant that opened just for us.  They enticed all to help make the flat bread and then roll the dough and prepare strudel for baking.  It worked.  Everyone had a good time.  The strudel, well, possibly not worthy of Vienna, was fun to eat.  The hotels were all fine.  If you have any specific questions, please ask.


JoanJ
2014-09-08 10:48:21
Re: Discovering Eastern Europe


I loved the EE tour. I took it in July 2013. Each city was interesting. The hotels are centrally located. The Hilton in Budapest had gorgeous river views. The Grand Bohemia in Prague was a destination in itself. Be sure to see the ballroom in the basement.
The tour had a good mix of activities.  We visited churches, synagogues, cemeteries, museums, monuments, local markets, castles, old towns, etc. Our visit to Auschwitz I and II was extremely moving.
The pace of the tour was good. It was not very strenuous. There was also ample time for independent exploration.
Wifi was available in all hotels.  Some in the lobby. Some in the rooms (Budapest,Prague,Bratislava). It was not available on the bus when I went. That may change. Having just returned from a European trip last week, there are more buses and entire towns that are wifi. Europe is becoming easy to connect to wifi.
Enjoy the trip. It is one of Odysseys best tours.


Sue S
2014-09-08 11:18:07
Re: Discovering Eastern Europe


Thank you both for the response.  I am pleased to read the positive information about the Eastern Europe tour.  Any comment on the included dinners?  I am looking forward to the trip.


Missoulasue
Re: Discovering Eastern Europe


Sue S, I took this trip in 2011 and it was wonderful. All the food was pretty yummy. One suggestion we made that may or may not have been taken was that in the future they not have all three meals provided on the day the tour goes to Auschwitz. No one was in the mood to have a nice dinner upon arrival at the hotel in Krakow. We all just really wanted to have a drink and be left alone to reflect.
In Krakow, ask your TD about the restaurant down the street from the hotel that serves the absolutely fabulous sour rye soup. Not to be missed.
While you're in Prague, be sure to have one of the hot dogs in Wenceslas Square. Sounds odd, I know, but oh so worth it.


KathyA
2014-10-07 11:55:53
Re: Discovering Eastern Europe


Husband and I just returned from this tour one week ago.  It hasn't changed any from previous community responses.  We even experienced the country lunch stopover where we learned how to make the strudel.  There was quite a bit of history learning around WW2 and the holocaust, as well as what life was like behind the Iron Curtain.  It's also a tour that offers plenty of Jewish Heritage.  Hotels are all the same as previous years.  Pay attention to the information about cost of internet.  The Hilton in Budapest normally charges for Wifi, but gave it to our tour attendees at no charge, whereas the Hilton/Vienna wanted to charge 24 Euros/day with free Wifi from the lobby. As I recall the remaining hotels all offered complimentary Wifi.  
For those who want in-room coffee/tea facilities, they were available in all hotels but the Rod Poza in Krakow.
There's significant walking up/down stairs, across uneven surfaces, and cobblestone streets.  After several days of this it caused pain to the arthritic knees.   I've recommended to Odysseys they should mention this with the normal alert used in other tour descriptions.  The only other complaint I and other shorter people had was that the busses used for the entire tour all had high first steps and there should have been provided a small portable step stool.  Most persons 5'4 or shorter had difficulties getting up into and jumping out of the tour busses.  I've provided this feedback in the post-tour survey for future use.


Jodi n jean
2014-12-18 08:26:02
Re: Discovering Eastern Europe


Returned on 10/6. Can't say anything but wonderful and amazing things! Beginning weather a bit cool for us but we survived. Eat in Kraków at the kiosks in the old square. Food is great and fun.  Hotels were all wonderful and our guide Henrick was perfect.  What can we say except Do It! You will have a great time.


Bob & Bob
Re: Discovering Eastern Europe


We were on this tour (our sixth Odysseys) in Jun-July this year.  We confirm that all the positives above are true, including comments about Tour Director Henryk.  The weather was good although a bit warm toward the end (we get plenty of "warm" weather at home in Houston; prefer cooler when traveling!). The Prague on-your-own extension is well worth the time and money in order to spend a couple of extra days there.

___

ChuckP
2015-07-10 09:04:29
"EASTERN EUROPE TRIP"-Questions............

Hello everyone.  Has anyone taken the Eastern Europe trip and if so I would like to hear what you consider the "Highlights" and the "Lowlights".  Its a long trip and I was wondering if you felt there was alot of "down time" where you didn't have enough to do???   Really hope to hear from folks that have done this trip.  Thank You.   ChuckP


Jim W
2015-07-13 09:31:28
Re: "EASTERN EUROPE TRIP"-Questions............


Chuck,
If you browse the Europe Forum, you will find several threads containing detailed posts about the Discovering Eastern Europe tour, including one that I posted on 2012-10-26 at 14:01:42.


Ev Nay
2015-08-06 21:10:29
Re: "EASTERN EUROPE TRIP"-Questions............


Hi, Chuck!
My wife and I took this trip and loved it.  As far as we are concerned, there were no "lowlights".  Everything on the agenda is worthy. As a matter of fact, we found this tour compelling emotionally, seeing the remnants of WW2 and Communist rule.
As you have probably noted, there are several "free times" on this tour.  We always research those places so that we can plan what to do during these times
Your most interesting challenge is juggling all the currencies.
Finally, Prague is a wonderful city; we recommend that you take the extension.


JoanJ
2015-09-04 09:15:41
Re: "EASTERN EUROPE TRIP"-Questions............

Eastern Europe tour was the best tour that I have ever taken. There were many highlights.  Our tour guide, Helina, was the best guide. She was very helpful. She gave us lots of excellent practical information....customs, local restaurants, museums, markets, and info on using public transportation. She always made sure that everyone felt comfortable in each of the places that we visited. In each city, there were many interesting venues. During our free times, Helina made sure that everyone knew what was available and told us/or took us to additional places of interest.  Some of the highlights for me included: Auschwitz, synagogues in Budapest and Prague, Hunderwasser houses in Vienna, duck dinner in Bratislava, and the ghetto in Warsaw. We also enjoyed visits to several historic castles and attended a beautiful Chopin concert.  There was also ample free time to get out and do your own thing in each city.  The only lowlights was that I wished that I could stay longer in some places. Some day I will return to see more.  Don't hesitate taking this tour.


Jodi
Re: "EASTERN EUROPE TRIP"-Questions............


Eastern Europe is one of the most exciting and educational trips we have ever taken. There are no down times unles you choose to make them. We stayed in Prague extra days so much to see and Kraków is amazing. Take advantage of the market at night for eating. The view from the hotel in Budapest takes your breath away! The weather can be a little chilly so take something to layer. We went in October of 2014 and are going to Spain and Portugal this October. Very pleased with odessey tours. Hotels and sights leave nothing to complain about tour guide was wonderful and very knowledgeable. Free time easily filled with anything you could want. Amazing countries and cities. Enjoy!

 

Ireland

 

Bruce
2015-04-05 11:32:38
Ireland free time


We're on the June 7, 2015 Enchanting Ireland tour.  Our flight from the US gets into Dublin at 6:55 am, and we have free time until the welcoming dinner.  Does anyone have suggestions on things to do that first day that won't duplicate the next day's city tour?  
Also, has anyone fit in some golf anytime on the tour?


Donna and Bob
2015-04-05 13:57:11
Re: Ireland free time


Bruce,
Some possibilities:
Guinness Brewery, Kilmainham Gaol - both stops on the Hop on - Hop off bus.
Dubllin Castle and the Chester Beatty Library (a free museum of old manuscripts and books with a lovely little cafeteria) if you like this sort of thing.
The Archeological Museum is down the street from the hotel and is very interesting.
Grafton Street is close and a lot of fun - street performers, etc.
A couple on our tour stayed an extra day in order to do some golfing.


Bruce
2015-07-14 19:35:22
Re: Ireland free time


Thank you, Donna, for the helpful suggestions.


Sue
2015-07-14 22:57:59
Re: Ireland free time


I am interested in hearing your views of the Ireland trip as I am considering it in 2016.  Thank you.


Donna
Re: Ireland free time


Sue,
We went on the Ireland tour in 2013 and thought it was wonderful. We arrived in Dublin 2 days early to see some sites there and did a day trip to Newgrange. If you have specific questions, I would be happy to try and answer them.


Bruce
Re: Ireland free time


We went the first half of June 2015 and had a very good time.  We took the extension which was worthwhile.  Our guide Jeremiah Daly was helpful and a lot of fun. The weather couldn't have been better -- never hot and almost no rain -- and the food everywhere was surprising good.
We felt we really understood Ireland and the Irish and their culture by the end of the trip.
 

European Tapestry


Marcy Leigh
2015-01-10 05:53:16
European Tapestry alone?


I am seriously considering (and hubby says ok) doing the European Tapestry trip alone (if I can't get a friend to go with).
I am thinking that with the small group, I will have people to talk to and the tours will get me to some cool spots. Additionally, as I am an avid amateur photographer, alone, I won't bore my hubby when I want to stop and take yet another photograph LOL.
What are thoughts on this trip alone?
Thanks in advance!


Sarah
2015-01-10 06:58:15
Re: European Tapestry alone?


I've done two OU trips as a solo/ with the single supplement and it's a blast - bus seating and lunch/dinner seating rotates daily, so you're never with the same group / people all the time and you get to know all your fellow travelers that way (plus sometimes the single rooms can be larger than the double rooms; on two occasions in France, my room was actually more spacious!). I'm also an amateur photographer (I just got my first DSLR) and a great deal of the fun is making travel journals and videos of your trip. There are plenty of opportunities / free time for photo ops; Amsterdam and Bruges in particular are wonderful places to photograph.
You'll have a great time :-)


Donna and Bob
Re: European Tapestry alone?


Based on our Ireland trip, I think OU tours are a great option for solo travelers.  The small group allows you to get to know people easily and there's such a nice mix of structured and free time.  
By the way, we have booked European Tapestry for the July 9th departure and are looking forward to meeting all of our fellow travelers!
 

Iceland


Denise
2015-05-13 21:04:06
Iceland


Hi,
We are mulling over a future tour with OU to Iceland.  I'd appreciate hearing from those who have taken this tour and your thoughts and opinions.
What is the best time of year to visit Iceland?
Thanks!


Jim Woodward
Re: Iceland


Way back in December 2011, I posted the following.  After five trips with OU and several with other companies, I still consider Arni Magnusson to be the best Tour Director I have encountered - with OU or any other company.
We took Exploring Iceland in July 2009.  Temperatures were quite comfortable – 50 to 65 F daytime, 40 – 50 F night.  Most days were partly cloudy to sunny.   The combination of scenery, mythology, history, and geology was wonderful – as good as we’ve found on any group or do it yourself tour anywhere in the US, Canada, Europe, or the rest of Scandinavia.  Our Tour Director, Arni Magnusson, was the best we’ve encountered in the four OU tours we have taken.  Accommodations and meals were excellent.  Exploring Iceland is for people who like wide open spaces and unspoiled nature.  People seeking big cities should consider a different tour.  That said, Reykjavik does have excellent museums, fine restaurants, interesting churches, and many shopping opportunities.  Akureyri also has some interesting places.  We did not do the Greenland extension so I have no comment on that.


Barbara
2015-10-03 11:28:01
Re: Iceland


Denise, I noticed your inquiry about Iceland.  My husband and I just returned from the September 19th trip.  If you love geology this is the trip for you!!   The country is so very different from others we've traveled to.
I have a couple of dinner suggestions if you're interested -  when in Reykavik, if you enjoy fine dining, try Kjallarinn Cellar!!  Outstanding!!  Intimate lighting, wonderful food and service, etc.  In Akureyri, a very fine restaurant - Stirkid, 5th floor with a view!!  We had delicious food, good New Zealand wines, great service.  In fact, we dined at Stirkid 2x.  There is an Italian Ristorante very near the hotel, also a pleasant spot.
There is much to see and do, lots of hiking - we were fortunate the rains came the last 2 days!!  You'll have a great time!


Barbara
Re: Iceland


Denise, a correction - correct spelling of the restaurant in Akureyri is Strikid.  You can check Trip Advisor for additional info on this one!
 

Northern Italy


Nancy
2015-01-15 08:10:30
RE: Northern Italy


Hello,
I am considering taking this Northern Italy trip, I will be travelling as a solo, my hubby has no interest in travelling to Europe. This will be my 3rd time to Italy but first time northern Italy. My hubby does not want me to travel independently by myself so I have been searching small group trips & came across this site. Any information on this trip, hotels, meals etc. & the amount of time you have in each area to do some exploring on your own. I am also considering doing a back to back with France also so any information would be appreciated. I will be traveling late August early Sept. I am into photography & love taking pics!


ody-admin
2015-01-17 11:25:48
Re: RE: Northern Italy


Hi Nancy,
We are delighted that you are interested in joining us in Italy and France.  You can find the complete itineraries (including hotels and meals) right here on our web site by tour name.  Simply go to "Quick Find" in the upper right hand corner, click on the "down" icon then click on the tour name (Northern Italy, Provincial French Countryside, Southern France - and any others of interest).  We warmly welcome single travelers and most likely there will be other singles on your tour as well.    Most of our tours, but especially those in Europe, offer a good balance between included sightseeing and free time to explore on your own, so I think you will find that to your liking.  Should you have further questions, or would like to order a brochure, please contact us by e-mail at customerservice@odysseys-unlimited.com or toll-free at (888) 370-6765.  We hope to have the opportunity to welcome you on a small group tour.


Everett Nay
2015-01-17 16:40:57
Re: RE: Northern Italy


Hi, Nancy!
First of all, congratulations for choosing Odysseys!  They specialize in small groups and do it well (we have taken nine trips.)
In our experience, Odysseys travelers make the effort to socialize with all their fellow guests, including solo travelers; I believe you will feel welcomed by them.
If you have been to Italy before, then I don't have to discuss the food!  The hotels are unique; we liked all of them.  Free time is "sprinkled" throughout the tour; you will have free time in Stresa, Milan, Santa Margherita, Portofino, Lucca, Florence, Siena, San Gimignano and Venice.  
Bottom line: you will love this tour!
One final word.  If you are interested in seeing "The Last Supper" in Milan, you will need to reserve ahead of time; it's very easy to do.  Be sure it fits the free time you will have in Milan.


Mickie
2015-01-19 10:06:01
Re: RE: Northern Italy


Any free time in Milan on northern Italy tour to see Last Supper?


ody-admin
Re: RE: Northern Italy


Hi Mickie,
On Day 5, the Northern Italy tour visits Milan en route from Santa Margherita to Stresa, where you'll stay for the next three nights.  If you wish to see "The Last Supper" and are able to obtain tickets ahead of time (which can be difficult), you will have to be able to meet the rest of the group and the motorcoach in time to continue on the journey - and you likely will miss most, if not all, of the scheduled tour.  You are free to do this, but the timing could be problematic.  Should you have further questions, please don't hesitate to contact our Customer Service department by e-mail:  customerservice@odysseys-unlimited.com or toll-free at (888) 3706765.  We wish you a wonderful journey to Northern Italy.


Pete K
2015-01-30 07:47:54
Re: RE: Northern Italy


I too am looking at the Northern Italy tour.  The small group concept is very appealing to me.  When I went to Israel in 2008, with another tour company, it was a small group also.  Everyone looked out for each other.  With a small group you can do that.  Looking at mid May 2015 for going.


ody-admin
2015-01-30 08:34:51
Re: RE: Northern Italy


Hi Pete K,
We are delighted that you are interested in joining us on the Northern Italy tour.  If we can answer any questions for you, please don't hesitate to contact our Customer Service department:  toll-free at(888) 370-6765 or by e-mail:
Customerservice@odysseys-unlimited.com


mickie
2015-02-02 14:51:42
Re: RE: Northern Italy


Pete K wrote:
I too am looking at the Northern Italy tour.  The small group concept is very appealing to me.  When I went to Israel in 2008, with another tour company, it was a small group also.  Everyone looked out for each other.  With a small group you can do that.  Looking at mid May 2015 for going.
Peter, we r booked on May 7, or is it May 6, northern Italy tour from Milan.  But we will be going by train from Venice to Stresa since we will already be in Italy. I understand that this departure already has a nice sized group committed.


Nancy
2015-02-02 14:55:55

Re: RE: Northern Italy

Thanks for all the information regarding the northern Italy trip. I just booked this trip for Sept 9. I am looking forward to it. I will fly into Milan & am in the process of trying to get a ticket for the last supper. But I am also probably going to do a tour to Paris/France either prior to or after. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated! Ciao!
 

Nancy
Re: RE: Northern Italy


I want to say to each & everyone that is contemplating taking this tour, DO IT you won't be disappointed. The best tour I have ever been on. The tour guide Mauro was fabulous! What an awesome trip, couldn't have asked for anything better!

 

Paradores & Pousadas

 

Dick H
2014-03-31 13:47:46
Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


My wife & I are leaving on May 12 for the Lisbon-Madrid tour and will be taking the Barcelona extension. Literature seems to indicate pre-purchasing access to certain sites in Barcelona. We are thinking of purchasing a day tour. Any suggestions, insights?


Lzc
2014-04-01 17:51:20
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


On our tour, 2 years ago, the hostess scheduled to meet us at Barcelona's airport and escort us to our hotel offered (through our regular guide a few days early) to escort us on a half-day tour.  This made sense because we were arriving in the morning, well before our rooms would be ready.  I believe everyone on the extension took the tour and thought well of it.  Other than for specific events or entertainment, I can't think of a need to pre-purchase tickets to most sites one is likely to visit.  
I should add, although this is an on-your-own extension, after the tour our hostess left us with recommendations for restaurants near our hotel, as well as other useful information, and added her contract number should we need any assistance while in Barcelona.  Nice touch, I thought.


Dick H
2014-04-03 09:32:04
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


Lzc thanks for the info. I have been with OU before when they have also done that. I was more concerned with lines and waiting times at La Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera and some others. I have read you can skip the lines if you pre-purchase admittance. Since we will be on our own, I'd appreciate any highlights you might recommend.


Lzc
2014-04-09 12:18:23
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


Ah, I see.  You have a great idea.  I'd buy tickets ahead of time for any venue with Gauldi’s name attached.  One reason we didn’t go inside La Sagrada Familia was due to the long line.  Since we are booked for OU’s October Lisbon to Barcelona tour, via northern Spain, we’ll have another chance to see it and will follow your advice.  
Recommendations:  We did a lot of walking, including most of Ciutat Vella and all of the Barri Gothic quarter, all fascinating.  Somewhere in there is Picasso’s museum, Santa Maria del la Mar and a maritime museum.  If you walk back to the hotel, a visit to Mercat de la Barcelona is worthwhile.  Also, Parque Guell was a joy to visit.
I also recommend you look at the website for the Galouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon to see if it interests you.  It was the surprise gem of our trip, thanks to our guide, Paz.  The collection surpasses in quality that of many larger and better known museums.  Great trip.  Enjoy.


Dick H
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension

Thanks so much for the insight. I will definitely  purchase tickets before we leave. Also will look into your other suggestions! Enjoy your October trip!!


Ev Nay
2014-06-05 22:54:49
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


Dick H wrote: My wife & I are leaving on May 12 for the Lisbon-Madrid tour and will be taking the Barcelona extension. Literature seems to indicate pre-purchasing access to certain sites in Barcelona. We are thinking of purchasing a day tour. Any suggestions, insights?
I assume that you haven't been to Barcelona before.  First, let me assure you that we just took the same tour....and extension.  We loved Barcelona.  You should consider a Hop On-Hop Off tour since there is so much to see.  At the end of this tour, you will have a pretty good feel for the city plus a few ideas on what you want to see.  We recommend highly that you see Sagrada Familia cathedral.  You can make reservations online and print out a confirmation sheet, the earlier you get there the better.  In a word, it is awesome.  The only other place you might need a reservation is the Picasso museum.  Again, get there early.  We used the metro and felt comfortable doing this.  However, some people don't like this; cabs are the next best option.  In Spain they aren't that expensive.
You will be glad that you chose this extension.  Enjoy!


Jim Woodward
2014-06-06 10:51:06
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


Hop-on, Hop-off can work well, IF the buses operate fairly frequently (every 30 minutes or less) and for a substantial part of the day.  
Recent experience in which the buses only operated hourly (and only between 10:00 and 16:00) was not as satisfying, since that restricted the number of places one could visit in a day, especially when we found we needed to spend more than an hour at some stops to adequately experience them.


Barbara
2014-07-10 07:54:47
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


This is for Dick H:  My husband and I have been to Spain and Barcelona many times, 2x with OU - the trip you're taking and OU's "new" Spain trip.  By all means, DO take the extension.  Another place that's a "don't miss" is the Palau de Musica.  You can go online and reserve tix and seats from home.  We have attended the Palau evening performances twice - really an amazing venue!  We did not need to reserve tix for the Picasso Museum which is a "must" while there.  I could recommend 2 restaurants that are quite good: Tenorio, and Casa Calvet which we reserved for late-night dining - reserve from home and the table is yours for the evening!  Have a fabulous time!!


Richard
2014-07-10 11:09:25
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


My wife and I are taking the 9/4 Paradores and Pousadas trip with the Barcelona extension. Based on other comments on this board, we are thinking of arranging a Context Tour called Farm to Fork concentrating on the Market and Catalan cooking. We would appreciate any comments on this plan.
The Tour is 3-4 hours long.

Barbara
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


Richard, my husband and I have not taken the Farm to Fork tour, but our attitude is to do everything we can possibly do while there because we can't go back next week; we're always glad we took advantage of whatever choices were available.  The 3-4 hour Context Tour sounds like a fun idea!!


Simon
2014-07-14 13:52:40
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


I do highly recommend Context tours. We did use them a few times in Italy, and they were really as promised, not more than six people and tour guides were doctorate level local people.  
We are also going this year with OU on the same trip, October 9th, but we booked the Barcelona extension on our own, an apartment for six nights.  Unfortunately Context has limited availability of tours in Barcelona on days we need, so we  booked a personal guide for a few half days, http://www.barcelona365.es.  He has good ratings at Trip Advisor, although more expensive if you are only a couple.  If you can get four people, his cost is almost the same as Context.


Richard
2014-08-12 19:41:09
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


Thank you, Simon. Good suggestion on a guide. We would be open to joining with 2-4 more folks taking the Barcelona extension in retaining a guide or doing a Context tour. Would like to finalize an arrangement before we leave.


Cynthia
2014-08-19 18:20:05
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


My hubby and I going on October 9 Paradores Spain/Portugal with Barcelona extension. Looking forward to it.  We went to Provincial France last year.


Ernie
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


We did the Barcelona extension in May - fantastic!  The Odysseys representative will meet you at the airport or hotel and provide an orientation.  She is a travel agent and can provide tickets to key sites.  Getting tickets for any Gaudi building when you arrive is a must.  We loved the hop-on hop-off bus and you can buy tickets for that right at the bus stop.  HOWEVER, we found that US swipe-type credit cards did not work to pay for the bus (and at museums) so bring cash.  Our credit cards generally worked at restaurants.  We'll try to find a chip-and-pin or chip-and-signature card before going to Europe again.


peggy
2014-08-22 12:52:34
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


My friend Rhea and I are taking the Paradores Spain tour but I show the date as 9/9.  We are also doing the extension.  Interested in other options for out spare time.  I was going to look into doing some walking tours like I just did in Paris when I was there in June with OU. Loved them there.  Will check them out this week.

Barbara
2014-09-23 19:28:00
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


Peggy, if you take the Barcelona extension, don't miss the Palau de la Musica for an evening concert - this a wonderful experience - you can reserve online from home!  Also, the Barcelona Zoo is a fun time, very different, I thought!  There are so many things to do and see on your own, you probably won't have time for everything.  One of our favorite restaurants is Tenorio (went 3x this past April) having been there on our last trip.  Good food and wonderful wine selections!! ENJOY!


Richard
2014-10-15 16:03:40
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


Just a quick note to tell you that ten of us spent our final night at the Palau Musica for a guitar performance. It was a spectacular way to end our tour. Thanks for the suggestion. We ate 3x at Ciudad Condal around the corner from the hotel. Great tapas.


Christie
2014-10-20 09:58:00
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


We were among those who celebrated our final evening with a guitar performance at the Palau.  Wonderful.  However, it was enhanced by having done the day tour.  The short introductory movie of the history, building, and interviews with celebrated musicians is worth the price of the tour. (We bought tickets that day; there is a senior discount.)  Then you visit up high in the nosebleed seats for a panorama, go out on a balcony for a photo-op amidst the ceramic pillars, then hear a short organ recital from orchestra seats.  The sun streams in, and thousands of pieces of stained glass color the ceramic frosting of the place.  An evening performance isn't as spectacular.


Ed
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


My wife & I traveled to Eastern Europe with Odysseys during summer 2013 and were delighted with our experience! We’re considering the Paradores & Pousadas tour, leaving during either May or June 2015.
I have a few concerns, however, and I’d appreciate feedback from some here who took that tour during 2014. For example:
1] I’m a stickler for clean bathrooms. Were the bathrooms in the various hotels clean?
2] On the subject of bathrooms, I understand that the hotel in Evora has a shower but that it’s necessary to step into a free-standing bathtub to use it. According to some of the hotel reviews I read online, the shower tends to flood the bathroom floor. Did anyone here find that flooding to be an issue?
3] Also in reading those online reviews, I noticed that some opined that the hotel in Madrid needed some TLC. The main such observation seemed to be about soiled and worn carpet. Did anyone here have the same feeling?
Again, I’d appreciate your feedback when you have time!


Barbara
2014-10-31 13:41:28
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


Ed, I understand "particular" since my middle name is "picky"!!  
Do not be concerned about the accommodations on the Paradores and Pousadas tour.  As I remember we had clean bathrooms throughout and I don't remember anything unusual or any flooding at the Pousada dos Loios.  Of course, many times it depends on where in the hotel your room is situated.  Although I prefer the Westin Palace (our stay 2 prior trips), the Hotel Wellington was very nice and well located.  
This is a great trip, and if you decide to go, DO take the Barcelona extension!!!  We enjoyed this trip so much in 2012 that we took the reverse trip this past April/May - Portugal north across the Pyrenees to Bilbao and again ending in Barcelona, a favorite city! You will have a fabulous time, as my husband and I did both trips!  Go for it. . .
If you would like restaurant suggestions, let me know - I have many.


Ev Nay
2014-10-31 13:44:24
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


Just read your request.  We took this tour last and loved it!
Here are the answers to your questions:
1) yes
2) no
3) perhaps.
The trip is entitled "Paradores and Pousadas".  Each hotel on this trip is unique, and charming; each (with the exception of Madrid) has a magnificent location.
We enjoyed our stay at each parodor or pousada.  We loved all of the stops during this trip.  Most notably, Jeremonis monestery in Lisbon, The Spanish Pavillion in Seveille, the Mezquita Cathedral in Cordorba, the Cathedral in Toledo, the Palacio de Real in Madrid and last, but certainly not least, the Sagrad Familia in Barcelona.  All these places had "wow" factors.
This was one of our most memorable trips. Odyssesy made it very special for us. However, if a worn carpet would spoil your trip, I recommend that you think twice about going.


Jim
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


Ed,
It's been 3 years since we took the P&P tour, but we just finished the one covering northern Spain.  On both trips the P&Ps were well maintained, and better than the so-called first-class hotels in Lisbon and Barcelona (where both tours share hotels).  As to a free standing shower in Evora, my memory places it in Ubeda.  Possibly I'm mistaken, but there is one, assuming hotels haven't changed.  In general, I think a tall person when showering will have difficulty keeping water within the partial enclosure in most European-designed tub-shower arrangements.  
I think you have reasons to be concerned if these kinds issues bother you.  Most European hotels have been converted and upgraded over decades.  Ventilation in bathrooms is a common problem, although the P&Ps stand tall in my opinion.   
Lest this sound critical, it isn't.  Odysseys' hotel selection, based on experience and talking to many other travelers, is a cut above what one will find on all but the most expensive tour, and above what we experienced when we selected the hotels.


Patty
2014-12-21 14:11:59
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


We are taking the April 21 Portugal and Spain tour.  Anyone has any more suggestions for Barcelona?  Sounds like a lot to do there.  Has anyone made their own airfare reservations so they can stay longer? Did you like this tour?


Tim
2014-12-28 12:20:24
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


We booked our own flights.  We wanted to arrive in Lisbon a day early.  The cab ride from airport to hotel is about 20 euros.  We also signed up for the tour extension plus added an additional day, mostly to attend a performance at Palau de la Musica Catalana.  Our guide arranged a driver to take us to Barcelona's airport, so I don't have that cost.  
Barcelona is a charming city.  Think of Paris with a Spanish flavor.


Susan B
Re: Paradores & Pousadas - Barcelona Extension


I am hoping to take the Legendary Turkey trip in October.  How strenuous is it?  I walk with a cane.  Do you think I will  be able to do this trip?  I did the Paradors & Pousadas trip and for the most part  I managed.  If I can't do everything, I am OK with that.

 

Pearls of Dalmatia


Joy Johnson
2013-02-28 05:06:58
Pearls of Dalmatia


We are booked on the Oct 17 tour. Would love to hear from others on that same trip. Also would love to hear from anyone who has taken that tour in the past. Thanks.


MightyEl
2013-03-01 16:03:25

Re: Pearls of Dalmatia

http://theelvings.com/Croatia2012.pdf
Hello Joy:
-We were on the tour that commenced September 13th.
-Above is a link to our Trip Journal (with pictures).
Best, Jim


Joy
2013-05-02 11:29:00
Re: Pearls of Dalmatia


Thanks so much!!


croatia
Re: Pearls of Dalmatia


We loved every moment of the Croatia trip.  Hated to come home.  You need casual clothes only.  Everyone speaks perfect English.  So easy, so much fun.

 

Portrait of Italy

 

Felicia
2015-09-02 14:13:18
No pre-booking Florence museums


Our itinerary for the 10/20 Portrait of Italy tour suggests that those who wish to see the Uffizi in Florence after our morning group tour, reserve far in advance. The day we tour Florence is the first Sunday in November when the Uffizi and several other museums are free, i.e., no pre-booking so everyone waits in line. We've decided to forego the Uffizi for (hopefully) another trip, and spend the afternoon exploring the city. I hope this helps others with their plans for the p.m., but I'm wondering how this affects our a.m. tour which includes the Accademia, also free on first Sundays.


Donna
2015-09-02 15:45:53
Re: No pre-booking Florence museums


Several years ago we were in Italy during free museum week. We were still able to get advance tickets for the Uffizzi and the Borghese in Rome for our independent time. The tickets were free but we may have paid a minimum processing fee. The Accademia was part of our tour. All three museums were very crowded and we waited in long lines but still not as long as those with no advance tickets.


ody-admin
Re: No pre-booking Florence museums


Hi Felicia,
Not to worry about your visit to the Accademia - we plan for the free Sundays and get there early so that you won't miss anything.  We hope you have a wonderful trip to Italy.


Felicia
2015-04-23 11:44:57
Portrait of Italy October 20, 2015


We've booked the Portrait of Italy tour - leaving from Boston on October 20. Would love to connect with anyone traveling on the same tour in order to share info, tips, etc. Have heard many positives about this tour from friends who took it last year. Our first Odyssey trip and we're very excited.


Becky
2015-04-23 13:20:42
Re: Portrait of Italy October 20, 2015


Was wondering if you had gotten any feedback on Portrait of Italy.  I am doing this tour in Sept. 2015.  Would love to hear from folks that have done it.


Felicia
2015-04-24 15:49:57
Re: Portrait of Italy October 20, 2015


Not yet, Becky, though many have viewed my post. Having researched several tour companies, our ultimate decision was made after very close friends did the Portrait of Italy tour last October. They've travelled extensively and we value their opinion. They reported being very well pleased with Odyssey in all respects, giving high praise to their tour guide, the hotels, meals, transportation between cities, all tours, etc.
I hope you'll be as happy with your trip. Buona ventura!


JoeK
2015-04-24 16:06:55
Re: Portrait of Italy October 20, 2015


Felicia, The Portrait tour is unbelievable...fantastic.  When you arrive at the Marmorata Hotel...if you don't feel like you've died and went to heaven something is wrong with you.  OMG!  (When you arrive there get a bottle of wine and raise a toast to "JOE,BETSY & LINDA: They told us this was gonna be spectacular!")  Then  if you feel inclined to take off your clothes and jump in the water, all I can tell you is you will not be the first.  My wife, sister-in-law  and I did this tour in 2009 and we're actually considering doing it again...it was that good.  I don't think you can get as much value for your money as you will on this trip.  The hotels are great! the included meals are great!  The included tours are great!  The tour director is great!
Odysseys offers so much.  When you're on your own you don't have to spend a fortune on meals, etc.  Another helpful tip: You can get Euros from AAA.  Their rates are what the exchange rate for the day is and if you are a member you don't have to pay fees...another savings.  We've traveled with Odysseys 5 times and want to book #6 soon.
To all have a grand time, drink wine, and leave your cell phone at home.


Gail Lindley Andrews, AL
Re: Portrait of Italy October 20, 2015


My husband and I just returned from "A Portrait of Italy" and have traveled all over Europe. Without any reservation, it was the most well planned and best tour we have ever been a part of. The accommodations were wonderful and travel was superb. Our tour director, Fabrizio Ruffa, was the most knowledgable, caring, and informative individual we have ever encountered. He made every person in our group feel the same way. Delightful is an understatement and we would always want Fabrizio as a part of our Italian ventures. Odyssey has a 5-Star diamond having Fabrizio on their team. His knowledge was outstanding and his personality infectious! Thank you Odyssey for hiring the best and brightest! This tour is the Greatest!


ody-admin
2015-04-26 13:56:03
Re: Portrait of Italy October 20, 2015


To Joe and Gail,
Thank you both for your very nice comments - we are so glad to know that each of you so enjoyed your Portrait of Italy tours.  We especially appreciate hearing that your tour director Fabrizio contributed so much to your enjoyment of the tour, Gail.   We look forward to welcoming you and your travel companions again soon!


Felicia
2015-04-27 08:03:24
Re: Portrait of Italy October 20, 2015


Joe and Gail, thank you for reaffirming what we have heard from our close friends who did this tour last October. They, too, had the highest praise for their tour guide (I've unfortunately forgotten her name).
I'd love to hear from anyone who has also booked the Oct. 20, 2015 Portrait of Italy tour. Surely we're not the only two people signed up at this point.
To Odyssey Admin: How often are tours cancelled because the minimum of 12 has not been reached?
 

ody-admin
2015-05-03 13:52:38
Re: Portrait of Italy October 20, 2015


Hi Felicia,
Not to worry about Oct 20 - you should have a full group on that departure.  
In general, if enrollment for a tour is low, we try to determine whether it will run by @ 95 days prior to the scheduled departure.  While we try very hard to not cancel departures, sometimes we have no choice if enrollment is too low.  Some tours can operate with fewer than 12, others cannot; we do not have a set percentage or number of tours that are cancelled.


Felicia
2015-05-06 09:24:33
Re: Portrait of Italy October 20, 2015


Ody-admin, thanks for the reassurance. Now can you help me with shoe shopping for the trip? (kidding)


Nancy
Re: Portrait of Italy October 20, 2015


Love hearing all the positive remarks.  A friend took the Northern Italy tour awhile back and raved about it.  This was a big influence for us to choose Odysseys.  I have traveled with an unnamed mega company and it was too hectic and crowded (44 people).  We are leaving from New York on Sept 8th.  So excited!!!  This tour is to celebrate our 40th anniversary.
 

ody-admin
2015-08-23 14:48:49
Re: Portrait of Italy October 20, 2015


Happy Trails in Italy to you both, Felicia and Nancy!
And if "ody-admin" could solve her own shoe "issues," Felicia, she'd be very happy to assist you!
 

Sue
2015-08-23 16:34:34
Re: Portrait of Italy October 20, 2015


We are doing the Portrait of Italy tour on Oct 15, 2015. I cannot wait! Odysseys Unlimited comes very highly recommended from friends whose opinions I highly value! This will be our first Odysseys tour and we are looking forward to it!!
 

nancy
2015-11-15 13:35:30
Re: Portrait of Italy October 20, 2015


We are leaving in 16 days (but who's counting) from New York.

Becky
Re: Portrait of Italy October 20, 2015


Felicia wrote:
Not yet, Becky, though many have viewed my post. Having researched several tour companies, our ultimate decision was made after very close friends did the Portrait of Italy tour last October. They've travelled extensively and we value their opinion. They reported being very well pleased with Odyssey in all respects, giving high praise to their tour guide, the hotels, meals, transportation between cities, all tours, etc. I hope you'll be as happy with your trip. Buona ventura!

So Felicia did you enjoy your trip?  Mine was in Sept/early Oct and it was FABULOUS!  I'm sure yours was too.
 

Southern Italy and Sicily

 

Pat O
2015-01-16 12:16:13
Southern Italy and Sicily


My husband and I are interested in this trip but are concerned about the walking.  We are in our 70's and are starting to have some knee issues.
Also we live in Florida and are not use to walking up hills and uneven surfaces.
If you have been on this tour, based on a scale of 1-10 please let me know how strenuous you found it.
We are hoping to go in May.  We love Italy and this tour goes to parts of the country we have not seen.


ANNE MARIE
 2015-01-19 06:39:16
Re: Southern Italy and Sicily


THERE IS A GOOD BIT OF WALKING AND OF COURSE THE UNEVEN PAVEMENTS CAN BE A CHALLENGE.  WE HAD A LADY ON THE TRIP I WAS ON THAT USED A CANE AND HAD A HIP ISSUE AND WE WOULD MEET BACK UP WITH THEM AT CERTAIN PLACES.  OUR GUIDE (ANNA) WAS VERY ACCOMMODATING - MANY FOLKS ON THE TRIP I WAS ON IN YOUR AGE GROUP.  I WOULD SAY THIS TRIP IS A 5.  ALOT OF WALKING BUT NOTHING VERY STEEP OR ROCKY.  WE WENT IN NOVEMBER. WEATHER WAS FANTASTIC, EVEN IF YOU CANNOT DO EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO YOU CAN STILL GO AND EXPERIENCE IT!


Pat O
2015-01-23 14:25:37
Re: Southern Italy and Sicily


Thanks for the info.  We have decided to do this trip in May.  Wondering what the weather will be like.  Also if you have any recommendations for places not included in the program
 

ANNE MARIE
2015-01-24 00:01:11
Re: Southern Italy and Sicily


I BET IT WILL BE BEAUTIFUL IN MAY!   I REALLY CANNOT REMEMBER ANY SPECIAL PLACES TO EAT, ETC… GET RECOMMENDATIONS FROM TOUR GUIDE.  YOU WILL FALL IN LOVE WITH VILLA ANGELA THE VIEWS ARE SO BEAUTIFUL WITH MT AETNA AND THE IONIAN SEA RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU, STAFF IS WONDERFUL.  IT'S A FANTASTIC TRIP.


George and Marie
Re: Southern Italy and Sicily


We took the trip last October and really enjoyed it.  It was delightful.  I am 74 and have had knee surgery and have problems with both feet. I had no problem with the walking.  I would rate it a 3-4.  We both use Leki treking poles and find that they help a lot, especially on uneven ground. Sara was our tour director.  She was outstanding.


The Americas

 

Colombia Rediscovered


Jo Lynn
2015-11-05 13:26:16
Colombia Rediscovered


I just returned from this tour and want all to know what a great tour it was. The tour director, Juan David Comacho was excellent. The food was absolutely delicious, especially the exotic fruits, the people were welcoming and yes, we felt safe all the time. Our group of 9 are ambassadors of Colombia and will encourage people to go see this country as it is an emerging tourist destination. However, I will say that if you get car sick, do not go. Lots of winding, bumpy roads. In addition, if you are not in good physical shape so that you can walk on rocky roads for up to 1 mile, you will miss out on some of the activities. Pay attention to the altitude and take precautions against altitude sickness. It is really a wonderful trip!! I am happy to answer any questions you might have if you are considering going.


Barbara
2015-11-06 15:26:09
Re: Colombia Rediscovered


Jo Lynn, I was interested in your comments since my husband and I are scheduled for the December Colombia trip.  Do you remember what the elevation was?  I had a slight problem with altitude sickness + a minor infection when we were in Machu Picchu, but a medic was called and I was given a Rx, so fortunately we missed nothing!  I am so looking forward to this trip!!
 

Carol
2015-11-12 20:38:15
Re: Colombia Rediscovered


Jo Lynn,
I was wondering what people wore for dinners.  Should I bring anything dressier than casual daytime clothes?
Thanks


Jo Lynn
Re: Colombia Rediscovered


Altitude issues - We flew from Houston direct to Bogota (sea level to 8600 ft). Our travel clinic recommended altitude sickness pills which you start the day before and continue until you are out of the high altitudes. We had no issues at all - we did drink a lot of water and no alcohol for the first couple days. Even leaving Bogota and going to Armenia, you are still at a high altitude. The day we went to the Cocoru Valley, we were well above 8600. I would highly recommend not taking a chance and getting the pills.
Dress - nothing dressy - nice pants and a nice blouse and jacket. I took black pants and a matching jacket and just changed blouses. But people really wore everything. Sometimes we were too tired to even change from whatever we wore that day touring! This is a busy tour but there is some down time. I would say that we were ready for bed by 9 each evening!!
Definitely need a jacket (or layers) for the higher altitudes and loose, cool clothes for Cartagena which was very hot. I regret not taking a bathing suit!
Also, bug repellent is a must! And a hat came in handy!
Souvenirs - when we were in Armenia at the lodge where we stayed, a man came to breakfast with a very unique handicraft. He takes eggs on all sizes and creates scenes in the eggs. I do not know what he does to make the egg shells hard nor how he gets these minute figures inside, but we did not see anything like these anywhere else in Colombia. And with the dollar so strong, they were not expensive.
Get Colombian money - either before you go or while there. We took $200 each in Colombian pesos and that was plenty. Most stores take credit cards, but the egg handicraft man did not. Plus, it is fun to figure out how much 120,000 pesos really is!!

 

Costa Rica’s Natural Heritage


Don McClure
2014-10-06 14:48:01
Zip line


Is zip lining an option on the Costa Rica trip?


ody-admin
2014-10-13 14:23:26
Re: Zip line


Hi Don,
Yes, zip lining typically is an option during the stay in Monteverde.  Please let us know if you have any other questions about the Costa Rica tour.


GoobsMtn
2014-12-23 19:09:02
Re: Zip line


Don - Re Zip Lining, we took the Costa Rica tour Dec 2012, and at Monteverde after you finish the sky walk, you can sign up for a zip line that is out of this world.  First you take a cable car to the top of the mtn, then you walk up 5 flights of stairs to reach the first line.  You are above the tree line and the thrill is great.  We had 18 on our tour, we knew we were going to zip and after all was said and done 16 plus our guide went and had a ball.  We have zipped all over the world and to date this is the best.  By the way we are in our late 60's.


Don McClure
2015-04-23 20:32:09
Re: Zip line


GoobsMtn - thank you very much for the summary of the zip-line experience. We look forward to giving it a try. Don


Dave M
Re: Zip line

We did the zip line in Monteverde in January 2015 and really enjoyed the experience. It was our first time zip lining. The "Sky Trek" zip line is an option at the same location of the included "Sky Walk" hanging bridges canopy tour. You see far more on the hanging bridges tour but the zip line is exciting. The cables are long and fast. Search for Sky Trek Monteverde to learn more.
Cost: $45
 

Panama Canal Cruise with Costa Rica

 

LTJGGJC
2015-11-28 20:36:50
Panama Shots

Going to Panama Canal & Costa Rica on Jan. 15th. Has anyone going or already gone decided what to do about Typhoid, malaria or Yellow Fever shots/meds.?


Dave M
2015-11-29 09:53:57
Re: Panama Shots


I was in Costa Rica (Costa Rica's Natural Heritage with the Tortugero extension - a great trip!) in February 2015 but I've not been to Panama. I've also been in southern Africa (Africa's Wildlife - a great, great trip!!) and have a trip planned to eastern Africa (Classic Safari: Kenya and Tanzania).
You should review the cdc.gov recommendations for Costa Rica and Panama:
http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/costa-rica
http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/panama
You could also consult with a travel physician. The cdc.gov site has a list of clinics that can give Yellow Fever vaccinations.
http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellow-fever-vaccination-clinics/search
I'm not a physician, I've only read a lot and talked to physicians. I'd recommend vaccinations for Typhoid, Hepatitis A, and possibly Hepatitis B.  We got the Typhoid and Hep A vaccinations prior to the Costa Rica trip.
Typhoid vaccine is available in two forms - a shot that gives 2 years of protection and capsules that give 5 years of slightly better protection. You can get the shot at many county health clinics. Any physician can write a prescription for the oral capsules (which must be refrigerated and can be special ordered by a pharmacy).
The Hep A and Hep B vaccines are a series of shots - at this point you don't have time to get the entire series before your trip but even one dose gives some protection.
The Yellow Fever vaccine has some very serious side effects that are possible. It is not a vaccine that you get without careful consideration. We travelled to Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana without the vaccination. WHO recommendations had recently changed but it was still possible that Botswana might have required proof of vaccination or a waiver signed by a physician. We had the waiver but weren't asked for it. Because of the greater Yellow Fever risk in Kenya we are scheduled to get the vaccine prior to our trip. (There is currently a nation-wide shortage of the vaccine.) I don't think you need the Yellow Fever vaccine for your trip and I wouldn't get it.
There is no vaccine for malaria but there are preventative pills. We didn't get the meds for Costa Rica. We did take the meds in Africa. There are several different meds available and if you need it your physician will choose one based on your medical history and your destination. I doubt you need Malaria meds for your trip.
We didn't see a single mosquito in Costa Rica on our February trip. We saw 2 mosquitoes on our July southern Africa trip. In Africa we wore treated insect-repellent clothing and applied DEET to our skin.
 

Dave M
2015-11-29 11:21:39
Re: Panama Shots


US Military veterans may have had Yellow Fever and other vaccinations. Check your Military records.
According to the CDC, a single dose of Yellow Fever vaccine protects against disease for 10 years or more. If a person is at continued risk of infection, a booster dose is recommended every 10 years.
But WHO now says single dose of vaccination is sufficient to confer life-long immunity against yellow fever disease.


Barbara
Re: Panama Shots


Responding to LTJGGJC on Costa Rica and Panama.  My husband and I have been to Costa Rica and Tortugero 2x, and just returned from Panama last night.  
After talking with our travel physician, we did NOT get the vaccinations as we were told they were really not necessary;  if you have had Hepatitis A, tetanus, pneumonia and flu shots that is sufficient.  We drank the water and ate all the foods including salads.  
Transited the canal (an all-day trip); took a train one day; "speed boated" on Gatun Lake another; and visited 4 provinces throughout Panama.  It was extremely hot - 93 degrees with probably 90% humidity; some rain.  It was a wonderful travel experience, so you'll have a great time!!  No long sleeves necessary (too hot), but bring the DEET and ENJOY!!

 

South American Tapestry


Judy
2015-03-27 16:18:00
South American Tapestry Trip


I know this trip is somewhat new, but there is very little on the message board on this trip.  We are thinking about taking this trip in October.  Does anyone who has taken the trip have any feedback on sights, hotels, pace, food, climate  etc ? We like the itinerary and we plan to take the extension to the Amazon. Thank you for any ideas or feedback you can give me.


Vera
2015-03-30 15:19:40
Re: South American Tapestry Trip


We are also considering this trip.  How much time and hassle are the days when you are flying between destinations?  Typically, how much time do you spend in the airport?  How long are the flights?


Barbara
2015-03-30 16:26:23
Re: South American Tapestry Trip


Vera, my husband and I took the Patagonian Frontiers Trip which was totally AWESOME!!  A few of the places visited were the same as the South American Tapestry.  The flights were NOT a problem.  As I recall, there were 3 internal flights: one an hour 45 mins, another was 2 and the third was probably 3-1/2 hours, give or take.  It was comfortable and exciting, actually.  All went smoothly.  I would take this trip again!!  
Hotels were very, very good, also the food - changeable climate.   The pace was active, but not exhausting.  We traveled in November.
I realize you've not chosen the Patagonia trip, but the Stella Australis was a wonderful experience and we had the rare opportunity of circling Cape Horn.  Services and staff were excellent!
Any other questions, let me know.


Barbara
Re: South American Tapestry Trip


Further info for Judy and Vera, if you take this trip, DO NOT miss the Amazon extension.  This is another wonderful adventure, and since you're already close, go for it!!

 

Treasures of Peru


Sue
2015-05-14 09:58:18
Treasures of Peru/Rainforest 6-1-15 anybody signed up?


I guess not a very active board.  We are counting the days down till we leave.  Just can't wait.
If anyone else is signed up for this trip please contact me.  It would be fun to share any info and tips.


Brian
2015-05-14 11:41:48
Re: Treasures of Peru/Rainforest 6-1-15 anybody signed up?


We didn't do this specific trip, however we just returned from the Mahcu Picchu and the Galapagos trip last week with the extension to the Amazon.  We were in the Amazon on April 19th -24th 2015.  The weather was like Florida hit and muggy and we were were at the end of the rainy season so the water levels were up.  You will be during the mid lower season so it will be there winter and low rain.  The fields we had a boat to will be dry and the kids will be playing soccer on dry ground.)    Ceiba Tops Lodge is fun - we had Bascillo as a guide and he was excellent.  You will be kept busy doing the tree top walk (a real trip even though you only get 130 feet off the ground - The short runs are fine - the 150 to 100 foot runs really sway as you walk across. ), pink dolphins and fishing for piranha.  Take malaria pills, sun screen long sleeve light weight shirts and long pants and be prepared to ONLY USE BOTTLED WATER. All food is buffet and is reasonably good.  Real early wake up the  day you leave Lima for Iquitos.   45 minute boat ride to Ceiba Tops - no bathroom.  Say to the tapir.
If you are a flat lander, like me, make sure you have altitude pills for the rest of your trip.  Cuzco is at 11,500, Sacred Valley is at 12,500 , Machu Picchu is lower at 7,800 and going to Lake Titicaca you get up to 14,000 feet.  Foot is decent but to much they believe is 3 course lunches and dinners.  Have enough pills to suffice for stomach problems you will have , my group had 15 people come down with problems that lasted 2 to 5 days.  Prescription pills like Cipro and Lomotil are a must.  You don't flush toilet paper either.  The plumbing can't handle it.  You put the used paper is a basket next to the toilet.  EAT NO unpeeled items so salads are out.  Milk is out and limit alcohol or skip  while at altitude -  bad effect of the body.  You get bottles of water every day and the hotel gives you bottles of water.  Have good hiking shoes and take a rubber tipped walking stick for each person.  Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley the sticks really help.
PS you can buy them when you go to the train to Machu Picchu - the guide will tell you where and the cost.  Have plenty of photo storage and batteries.  Internet is very poor 1 to 5 MB shared so VERY SLOW, IF you can get on.
Take a light jacket and rain gear in your backpack.
Enjoy your self and have fun.  This trip was the most physically demanding Odysseys trip I have been on.  4:30 - 5:00 wake ups a number of days and long days of hiking and walking.
Take crisp 1, 5 10 and 20 dollar bills  they accept them everywhere and will tall you the cost of items in dollars.


Barbara
Re: Treasures of Peru/Rainforest 6-1-15 anybody signed up?


To Cayosusa -- My husband and I took the Machu Picchu/Galapagos tour with Amazon Rainforest extension in October a few years ago.  We did NOT find it at all difficult and if you've traveled at all, the toilet facilities in the area will not be new - they are the same in Costa Rica and many other places.  
So far as food was concerned, the salads were particularly good, and I recall eating fruit, just about everything, as we eat mostly vegetarian (lacto-ovo).
I had one issue with the altitude at Casa Andina, the early morning after we went to the highest elevation, but a medic was called; I had low oxygen level and a bit of an infection for which I was given some tablets.  All was o.k. as we went to breakfast after the medic left.  The Galapagos was absolutely wonderful, our stay on the Coral II couldn't have been better!!
The weather was not a problem, but I love the rainforest.
Sometimes, the less you think about being "totally prepared" for what may or may not happen, the more fun the trip is!
You'll have a fabulous time!!


Marcia
Re: Treasures of Peru/Rainforest 6-1-15 anybody signed up?


Virginia wrote:
Please tell us about your experience on the Treasures of Peru trip.  Did you like it?

Hi, Virginia. I can offer some information on this tour. My husband and I did this trip with Odysseys two years ago with the Amazon extension. We have done a lot of traveling and this trip ranks among our favorites.
Our tour guide Ofelia was excellent, and local guides were very knowledgable and personable. The accommodations were also excellent, especially the hotel in Agua Caliente. The people we encountered everywhere were very warm and friendly.
This was a busy, fast-paced tour that covered a lot of ground with something of interest everywhere -- the incredible ruins, diverse landscape, local markets, and opportunities to visit with local people. Shopping is great--lovely woolens, leather goods, ceramics, and woven fabrics.
Be prepared for a lot of walking in the ruins and in the Amazon extension as well as the high altitude (we took meds from our doc). Machu Picchu is a rugged site with many steps and uneven ground (as are most of the other ruins we visited as well).  People with mobility problems will find this tour too strenuous. But if you are in good physical condition, this tour is outstanding.
 

Australia & the South Pacific

 

Exploring Australia & New Zealand



Judy
2013-12-23 16:11:49
Australia-New Zealand trip 2014


We plan to do the trip next winter and are debating about when.  When is the best time considering temperatures, rain, humidity etc?  February 1st or March 1st? We're from Minnesota and want to get away from here in the winter. (especially after this last one!) Alice Springs will be warm with both choices.  How about Cairns?  Also is the 2 day posttrip in Auckland a good idea?  I'd appreciate hearing from some of you who have taken this trip.  Thanks


julie
2013-12-23 21:02:27
Re: Australia-New Zealand trip 2014


I have been there with my sons 3 times first time we did it with a cruise all the way to New Zealand and then the year after we did it  on our own  christmas time  is wonderful  we leave a week before christmas and stay till after new years and see the new year come in first. the weather is beautiful not hot hot  in December  I would say the best time is December I am going back again with Odyssey if they have it in December of 2014 as it gets very hot in to January It's a place you want to go back every year there is so much to see even on your own but i like the tours becaue it includes everything people are wonderful and the harbor is exciting to be near
hope this helps


Judy
2014-01-14 13:22:25
Re: Australia-New Zealand trip 2014


Julie,
Thanks so much for the reply to the message that I posted in April.  We did booked the Australia/New Zealand trip for March 1-24 with the 2 day extension in Auckland.  I know the trip is full.  Anyone going on that trip???  Really looking forward to it,(except the long flight of course).  We took the "Southern Italy and Sicily" tour and really enjoyed that.  If anyone else has suggestions for clothes, restaurants, additional sights, shopping etc. I'd still like to hear from others.  Thanks


sisters
2014-03-25 09:59:12
Re: Australia-New Zealand trip 2014


My sister and I are taking the Australia/New Zealand trip on Feb. 15th.  Any places that we need to see when we have free time.  Also, wondering how struck the airlines are on luggage and carry on luggage…..we seem to pack too much.  Anybody else out there taking that trip???


Judy
Re: Australia-New Zealand trip 2014


We have just returned from the Australia /New Zealand trip...still in major jet lag...Mar.1-24.  It was a fabulous trip in every way!  Patricia Johnston was our guide, and this was her first Odyssey trip.  She was wonderful in every way.  She was very organized, so caring to everyone, and always went above and beyond. The only drawback is the flight:-)


ody-admin
2014-04-03 19:35:22
Re: Australia-New Zealand trip 2014


Hi Judy,
So glad you had a great trip - thank you so much for posting.  We will pass your praise along to Patricia.
 

Linda Morris
2014-05-09 19:38:56
Re: Australia-New Zealand trip 2014


Took the Aus/NZ tour March 1, 2014.  The weather in March was great everywhere.  The flight over and back on Quantas is terrible.  Seats are shoved in there tight and not much leg room for a 13 hour flight.  There is some spare time on this trip and we filled it with things on our own.  Research ahead of time what to do in these areas.  I found out about a Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs and booked it on our fee time.  It was so wonderful.  Also took Queenstown jet boats, very fun, and zip lining in Rotorua.  The extention in Auckland is plenty long.  It is a big city.  We went to Hobiton and it was really fun.  Just look before you go because tour directors don's always know about all the things available.  The rainforest day in Cairns was a wonderful day.
Enjoy and be prepared for the flies in the outback.


Diane
2014-05-10 17:08:00
Re: Australia-New Zealand trip 2014


Hi all....need some info and advice about Odysseys Unlimited...never went with them before and wondering about traveling solo and how much walking to expect....I'm fine but do have a tricky ankle on occasion and mostly would love to know what to expect re: Australia/New Zealand...anything and everything...I'd love to hear all of it....I sooooooo want to go...swimming the Great Barrier Reef is on my bucket list!!!!!  Anybody know much about that part???  Is it land and cruise???  Just found this site for the first time and, so far, it sounds perfect for this single woman of 60...are there really many singles or mostly couples??  I'm looking for some candid answers and hope to hear from you all very soon!!!!!!....Thanks everyone!! D


Missoulasue
2014-05-10 19:47:36
Re: Australia-New Zealand trip 2014


I am on the odysseys tour in Australia e'en now as we speak and it is fabulous. No strenuous walking thus far. The trip to the Great Barrier Reef is a day trip on a catamaran out to a fixed pontoon. It absolutely was a huge check off the bucket list. There are four single ladies and the rest are couples. It's a great group and Margaret, our guide, is the bee's knees! We're a week in and so far there has not been a single sour note. When we get back I can send you a more detailed diary of the trip.


Diane
Re: Australia-New Zealand trip 2014


Missoulasue wrote:
I am on the odysseys tour in Australia e'en now as we speak and it is fabulous. No strenuous walking thus far. The trip to the Great Barrier Reef is a day trip on a catamaran out to a fixed pontoon. It absolutely was a huge check off the bucket list. There are four single ladies and the rest are couples. It's a great group and Margaret, our guide, is the bee's knees! We're a week in and so far there has not been a single sour note. When we get back I can send you a more detailed diary of the trip.

My dear Missoulasue - I was sooooooooo happy to hear from you...thank you so much..You've already helped and I so look forward to a more detailed report upon your return...esp. more about the amount of walking...whenever you have the time., I'd love to hear all you've got to say....It was wonderful hearing about your Great Barrier Reef excursion...for those who wish to snorkel, is there a need for a wet suit or is the water and waterlife ok for just a bathing suit and shorts?  How did you choose to explore the Reef???  Again, I know you're busy and having the time of your life, so write me whenever you've got a minute and I will be very patient, I promise!.....also, I am very curious to know if you see kangaroos et al...I read the itin. re: Koala Park, but wanted to know about other critters I might be able to see!!!!!....again, thanks so so so very much for the quick reply and know my thoughts are with you...Enjoy!  Enjoy!!  Enjoy!!!!  Diane


Roseville
2014-05-11 14:46:50
Re: Australia-New Zealand trip 2014


I went on this trip last May - my first Odysseys trip - and it was spectacular. Our guides were extremely knowledgeable and accommodating. Regarding the barrier reef trip, all the equipment was supplied. The sea was a bit rough the day we went, so some people chose not to snorkel. Koala Park was wonderful. We saw koalas, kangaroos, penguins and various other birds, among others. On our way to dinner in the outback, the guide surprised us by stopping where we could feed the wallabies. We also stopped at a wildlife preserve one day where we were able to ride camels (i believe Australia has the largest population of feral camels in the world.). You can definitely decide how much walking you want to do, but even if you go on every walk or hike, it isn't very strenuous. There were 19 in our group, ranging in age from mid-50's to (I'm guessing) late 70's. One person was traveling alone and some were singles traveling together.  Everyone was friendly and inclusive. Hope you decide to go.


Barbara
2014-05-11 17:19:18
Re: Australia-New Zealand trip 2014


To Roseville - thank you for this post.  We've been avoiding Australia/NZ because we felt it was mostly a coach ride/scenic tour, not much if any activity.  Obviously, this was not a good guess!  My husband and I will have to re-think this tour.  We enjoy anything where animals and activities are included!  Were the coach rides hours long?  That was another thing we were trying to avoid.


Roseville
2014-05-12 17:57:34
Re: Australia-New Zealand trip 2014


There were a few days where we were on the road quite a bit, but the scenery was always beautiful and the trips were broken up with several stops - sometimes for a hike; sometimes to eat; and once for the camel ride (for those so inclined). Plus, the guides shared tons of information along the way  about the history, culture, politics etc. The most time on the bus was the trip to Milford Sound, which was 5 hours each way, which was a bit much. It was a wonderful 3 weeks. I don't think I could have seen and done as much if I had gone on my own. I wish OU offered tours to other parts of Australia because I would go with them again.


Diane
2014-05-13 13:01:48
Re: Australia-New Zealand trip 2014


Roseville wrote:
I went on this trip last May - my first Odysseys trip - and it was spectacular. Our guides were extremely knowledgeable and accommodating. Regarding the barrier reef trip, all the equipment was supplied. The sea was a bit rough the day we went, so some people chose not to snorkel. Koala Park was wonderful. We saw koalas, kangaroos, penguins and various other birds, among others. On our way to dinner in the outback, the guide surprised us by stopping where we could feed the wallabies. We also stopped at a wildlife preserve one day where we were able to ride camels (i believe Australia has the largest population of feral camels in the world.). You can definitely decide how much walking you want to do, but even if you go on every walk or hike, it isn't very strenuous. There were 19 in our group, ranging in age from mid-50's to (I'm guessing) late 70's. One person was traveling alone and some were singles traveling together.  Everyone was friendly and inclusive. Hope you decide to go.

Dear Roseville - Thanks so very very much for this info...it truly helps, now I know I will indeed see lots of wildlife and still be able to do the walking..I most definitely will go..how was the weather in May????  Again, thanks so much for taking the time to reply...I really do appreciate it....and the flight???how long was it in hours????? Thanks thanks thanks,,,Diane


Roseville
Re: Australia-New Zealand trip 2014


May is their autumn.  It was warm in Cairns (tropical) and central Australia (desert-like), and cooler in Sydney.  It was even cooler and rainier in NZ.  Several layers, including a rain jacket, did the trick.  Be sure to bring gloves. The flight from LA was 14 hours.


Diane
2014-06-01 11:04:41
Re: Australia-New Zealand trip 2014


Thank  you thank you thank you ... replies from people like you who have already had the experience is invaluable to me...I so appreciate it...14 hours...I can handle it...were you on Quantas thru OU or did you make your own flight arrangements?  Hope it's ok to continue with my questions!!!! Again, thanks, and happy travels to you!!! D


Missoulasue
2014-06-02 08:00:42
Re: Australia-New Zealand trip 2014


Diane wrote:
Hi all....need some info and advice about Odysseys Unlimited...never went with them before and wondering about traveling solo and how much walking to expect....I'm fine but do have a tricky ankle on occasion and mostly would love to know what to expect re: Australia/New Zealand...anything and everything...I'd love to hear all of it....I sooooooo want to go...swimming the Great Barrier Reef is on my bucket list!!!!!  Anybody know much about that part???  Is it land and cruise???  Just found this site for the first time and, so far, it sounds perfect for this single woman of 60...are there really many singles or mostly couples??  I'm looking for some candid answers and hope to hear from you all very soon!!!!!!....Thanks everyone!! D

Diane, the only time you might have a problem with your ankle is the walk to Standley chasm. It's loose rock and gravel and it was a bit dicey in places. It was worth the hike, though. If you took a collapsible walking stick, perhaps you wouldn't have a problem.
The trip to the Great Barrier reef is a catamaran ride out to a pontoon boat where you have a buffet lunch which was meh. Geared mostly to Asian & Indian travelers. Snorkel gear is provided and included is a ride in a semi-submersible sub over the reef. It's a day trip and was great. I have to say that was the only truly disappointing meal we had on the whole trip.
It was mostly couples, but there four of us single ladies, traveling in pairs. The single supplement would put me off traveling solo, but certainly not the group. Everybody pal'd around with everybody else. Most everyone was in their sixties with a couple of people on the shy side and a couple of people on the plus side.
It was an absolutely fabulous trip. Our guide was Margaret McIntyre and she was the best. We found that May was the perfect time to go to Australia but it was nippy in NZ. We based our choice on the temperatures in the Red Center. It was around 80, fewer flies. I don't think there is ever a time when there are no flies. We all wore nets that covered our heads. It was quite the fashion statement.
There were some long bus rides and a lot of being on the road or in the air in NZ, but that's the nature of the beast. Plenty of rest stops on all the bus trips and nice activities on some longer stops (wine tasting, etc). You have to get from Point A to B, you have to check out of the hotel at a certain time and can't check into the next one until a certain time. I don't think they could have done anything other than what they did. No one was ever really unhappy with the travel days as they kept us entertained or informed. I was surprised that the bus drivers were, in essence, tour guides themselves.
All in all, I'd say you can't miss with any of the Odysseys trips, really. This was our third and certainly not our last. Try to find someone to go with, though. The dreaded single supplement is a killer. Odysseys doesn't have a matching service per se, but I believe they will put you in contact with another single traveler if someone else inquires about a roommate.


ody-admin
2014-09-04 14:36:25
Re: Australia-New Zealand trip 2014


Missoulasue,
We are delighted that you enjoyed your trip to Australia & New Zealand with us - thank you so much for your post.  We especially appreciate your comments about your tour director Margaret, as we highly value our TDs and consider them among the best in the business.  
Again, many thanks for your kind words - and we look forward to welcoming you again soon.


Seeyatomorrow
2014-09-04 14:50:08
Re: Australia-New Zealand trip 2014


Just got home from Africa .  Had a wonderful time.  Went with OAT and was disappointed in their hotels.  This was our second trip with them and was disappointed with the first trips hotels too.  After they had said they have much better hotels in Africa.   Always like to give second chances.  My question is never done a trip with Odyssey.  What drew me to OAT was the small group .  Now I'm looking for another company to go to Australia and New Zealand with .  How are the hotels?  Has anyone gone with OAT's ?  If so how does Odyssey compare?  Thank you for any feed back.


Barbara
Re: Australia-New Zealand trip 2014


For Seeyatomorrow -- we've never gone with OAT but have friends who have and were quite disappointed with the hotels!  My husband and I have taken 6 trips with Odysseys and have thoroughly enjoyed them all.  Of course, some hotels are better than others, but overall, OU chooses the high-end hotels!  Hope this helps!


Judy
2014-09-04 19:05:16
Re: Australia-New Zealand trip 2014


I'm the Judy that started this topic a long time ago!  We have taken 2 Odysseys trips (Southern Italy and Sicily AND Aust/New Zealand) and 2 OAT trips (Panama Canal AND Morocco.  Also 2 Grand Circle trips (Turkey and South Africa). Our favorite company is Odysseys because of the nice hotels, good guides, lovely restaurants and 24 is a nice number of people.  Grand Circle is mid 30's , but both those trips had great guides, nice hotels and super groups of people.  OAT only has 16 people which is nice, but personality conflicts were bad in Morocco and there were only 2 men on that trip.  Hotels are not the greatest and restaurants not as good.  Our worst guide was on our Morocco trip, but usually there guides are very good.  The tipping on OAT and Grand Circle gets old, but that is changing in 2015.  Odysseys has everything included and the other have some expensive optional trips.  Hope this helps you compare the 3 companies.  We travel independently in Europe.


Seeyatomorrow
Re: Australia-New Zealand trip 2014

Thank you ,  Barbara and Judy,  iIt helps hearing other peoples views.  Looking forward to going with OU.

___

JulieB
2015-10-05 13:12:38
Australia/New Zealand in November?

We're traveling to Australia/New Zealand on the November 4, 2015 trip and wondering if anyone can give me suggestions related to:
-- clothing appropriate for November? (capris? slacks? coat weight?)
-- weather (besides posted temperatures)?
-- suggestions of what to do during free time, such as in Sydney, Aukland?
We've taken Odysseys tours to Italy, China, and Africa and have only wonderful things to say about them.  Now we're looking forward to a similarly exciting trip to the Down Under.


Missoulasue
2015-10-10 14:37:33
Re: Australia/New Zealand in November?


JulieB,
Layer, layer, layer.
Cairns was hot and humid, Alice Springs just plain hot, Sydney was quite pleasant (we were there in May so it was fall, you'll be there in early summer). New Zealand was typical fall weather. I had a hat which I used for the sun and a jacket that I wore enough to merit taking it.
This is a fabulous trip. Our free time in Sydney was used up by going to the zoo (A nice ferry ride and the zoo is really quite lovely. Best view of the harbor bridge is from the giraffe enclosure), wandering along the waterfront. Several of our traveling companions went to a performance at the opera house. We had an included trip to Manly Beach and the choice was to take the bus back to the hotel or hang around and take the ferry back whenever one chose. Everybody chose to hang about and take the ferry (the fare for which we were reimbursed). In Auckland, we spent an entire day at the Maritime Museum which included an hour and a half sail around the harbor. Do take the On Your Own extension in Auckland. I mean, you've come all that way and it isn't very much extra. We actually used our last day in Auckland to hang around the hotel, swimming, spa treatments, etc.


JulieB
Re: Australia/New Zealand in November?


Thank you so much for your response, especially the information about how you spent your free time in Sydney and Auckland.  Yes, we are doing the Auckland extension. Like you, we want to do all we can while we are there.
 

Asia & the Far East

 

Insider’s Japan

 

Elaine
2015-08-14 17:00:41
Japan, Tokyo fish market


My husband and I are leaving for Japan on September 9.  I am hoping to see the Tsukiji Fish Market; however, it is not listed in the itinerary for Tokyo.  Is it included in the early morning hours?


Elaine
2015-08-15 14:38:15
Re: Japan, Tokyo fish market


To Odysseys..... please remove the additional questions which are the same.  I was faster than AOL!!!!  Sorry!  Elaine  
Would like to know about the fish market, though!


Jim S
2015-08-17 07:52:38
Re: Japan, Tokyo fish market


Based on our experience two years ago, it is not a scheduled visit but our guide had all the info needed for a visit.  If you arrive by 5am expect to be part of a large crowd seeking the limited available tours.  Or, I'm told, arrive earlier, 3am or so, and you can wonder through the market on your own.


ody-admin
Re: Japan, Tokyo fish market


Hi Elaine, While a guided visit to the fish market is not officially included in the itinerary, you do have an opportunity (or possibly two) to visit.  The market is @ a 20-minute walk from our hotel, so you can plan to go on your own one morning (ask your tour director for directions the day before).  In addition, your tour director may be able to arrange an afternoon visit if everyone in the group is interested in going (emphasis on "may").  Please note that this is entirely a matter of time and circumstance, and is not included in the tour - but it is a possibility.  
You have our best wishes for a wonderful trip to Japan.


___

Vera
2015-08-26 17:15:38
Non-smoking rooms on Insider's Japan tour

We are considering the Insider's Japan tour in May.  Tripadvisor reviews of the scheduled hotels are generally good but many mention the difficulty of getting a truly non-smoking room and of having to deal with smoking at breakfasts.  I would appreciate any feed back from travelers who have taken this trip on this issue.
Thanks.
 

ody-admin
Re: Non-smoking rooms on Insider's Japan tour


Hi Vera,
We certainly understand your concern about smoking in Japan, but wanted to weigh in with the following from several on our staff who have been on the tour.  First, we request only non-smoking rooms for guests; and, no one has reported encountering smoking at breakfast.  Smoking is restricted to specific areas (even certain parts of the street) throughout Japan and "no smoking" rules are well enforced.  This is not to say that you won't encounter cigarette smoke, but it has not proven to be a problem for our guests, as far as we know.  We hope this helps ...


Tina V
2015-09-28 11:14:22
Japan Free Time Options


I'm wondering how much we need to figure out what to do during free times - ex: there is a free day in Kyoto on day 11, but it lists a possible excursion to Nara on that day. Is it advised to find something to do on our own or is the optional excursion something that will definitely happen? It's difficult to know what, if anything to plan. Thanks!


Jim S.
Re: Japan Free Time Options


I believe everyone on our tour chose the option of going to Nara, which is well worth the experience.  The bicycle tour in Kyoto is another choice worth taking.  Our guide led us through back alleys and quaint neighborhoods and parks.  We stopped several times and talked to people who seemed attracted to (?) tourists (or possibly the only people wearing helmets).  Kyoto is flat and rivals Amsterdam as bicycle friendly.  In smaller towns, one has enough free time to walk the area and explore a few shops, which is about right.  You might want to plan an afternoon activity in Tokyo and for whatever free time you choose in Kyoto.  Otherwise, we always try to have a restaurant idea ready within walking distance of our hotel when needed, though our guide always offers suggestions.


ody-admin
2015-09-30 12:29:18
Re: Japan Free Time Options


Hi Tina,
It is more likely than not that the optional excursion to Nara will operate on your tour, as it typically does on each departure.  Unless there is something specific that you choose to arrange ahead of time, your tour director will be able to offer suggestions for your free time during your tour.  You have our best wishes for a wonderful journey to Japan.


Tina V
2015-10-16 04:03:52
Re: Japan Free Time Options


Thank you for both answers - I am looking forward to this trip!


Sarah
Re: Japan Free Time Options


I visited Kyoto six times while working in Japan in 2011 and hope to take Insider's Japan next year with my family! Kyoto is one of my favorite places on earth and I'm glad to see that it's recently been named top city in several travel polls.

Nara is wonderful - I also highly recommend visiting Arashiyama (to the west of downtown Kyoto), it's an easy train ride from Kyoto station and there are many amazing temples in the hills, my favorite being Tenryuji, as well as Okochi Sanso Villa. There is also a scenic train that follows the river.  And there is a wonderful vegetarian restaurant, Shigetsu, at Tenryuji that allows guests to experience shojin ryori, or  Buddhist "devotion cuisine."
I also highly recommend the Hiroshima extension.


Trudy
2015-12-21 08:07:08
Japanese bath


I am taking the Insider's Japan tour in March 2016 and was wondering if there is an opportunity to experience a Japanese bath.  It would be wonderful to experience this while visiting the country.  All replies will be appreciated.
Thanks!


ody-admin
2015-12-21 16:31:26
Re: Japanese bath

Hi Trudy,
There is indeed an opportunity to experience an authentic Japanese bath at the ryokan.  It is a communal bath (one each for men and women); no bathing suits allowed.  Please let us know if you have further questions.  We wish you a wonderful trip to Japan.


Trudy
2016-01-05 14:09:42
Re: Japanese bath


Many thanks.  I appreciate the information.


Sarah
2016-01-06 14:10:07
Re: Japanese bath


Hi Trudy,
There certainly is an onsen in Hakone (and I believe the hotel in Takayama also has onsens, including a rooftop one - in 2011, I stayed at a hotel in Takayama with a rooftop onsen and it is an amazing experience bathing with the mountains off in the distance). Please take every opportunity to enjoy them in Japan because it is one of the joys of living here once you experience it!
We're signing up for this tour this fall and I can't wait to introduce my family to the joys of traditional Japan :-)
Have a great tour,
Sarah


Trudy
Re: Japanese bath

Thanks so much for your input.  Are bathing suits ever worn in the Japanese bath or is one always "au natural"?


Elaine
Re: Japanese bath


My husband and I were on the Insider's Japan tour (our 20th trip with OU) in September, 2015.  To answer your question about bathing suits, the answer is "NO".  The tour director will explain the bathing protocol, which is interesting...  where to remove clothing, shower first, soak (but do not wash hair or put any cloth in the soaking tub... etc.)  
The roykan, Nunohan Hotel in Suwa, is probably the most "authentic" Japanese bath you might experience.
If you are interested in seeing what I experienced (including Hiroshima at the end), you might find my 5 You Tube videos of the tour interesting:
Tokyo:  https://youtu.be/tnO786JcaOs
Tokyo to Takayama:  https://youtu.be/c0fYiGFfz1c
Kanazawa:  https://youtu.be/gJWR9DsoryA
Kyoto to Nara:  https://youtu.be/w4CGZJDy6tg
Hiroshima:  https://Xah6Q5uUs_g
(Or go to my You Tube Channel:  travldtwoseven)
We loved what was included in this tour and found it very interesting and educational.  The cultural differences between the US and Japan are very evident.  You experience the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, and then visit the countryside where you see rural Japan.  Be prepared for train rides on the "fast" and "very fast" bullet trains, especially to Hiroshima.  Also, be prepared for packing a carry on bag while your main luggage piece is shipped to a future destination.  This is necessary because you will not want to carry more than a small bag on the train.
Any time of the year you will find the Japanese gardens amazing, lush and green in summer and fall, and full of color with red maples in November.  
Also be prepared to sleep on the floor in your roykan in Suwa.  Great experience and actually very comfortable!  There we wore our "authentic Japanese robes" to dinner that evening for a traditional Japanese meal.
FYI...  Since Westerners are not accustomed to sitting on the floor to eat, all of our Odysseys included meals were at tables where the floor was recessed, and we sat on cushions.
Be prepared to take off your shoes before entering a home, inn, or restaurant.  Slippers or socks are provided at most places where shoes must be removed.  The tatami mats are not durable when shoes are worn.
The food will challenge you with Japanese cuisine!  Odysseys' hotels have breakfast menus that are International in nature, or you can experience miso soup and other delicassies  of Japanese culture.  I became hooked on miso soup (southing for the soul!).
Enough said...............
Other than that I am happy I included the Hiroshima add-on at the end of the tour.
Enjoy!
Elaine
If you are willing and open to experience a different culture, sleep on the floor, and dine with the natives....... YOU WILL HAVE A WONDERFUL ADVENTURE!

___

Sarah
2015-11-19 18:49:27
Meals and room types on "Insider's Japan"


Hello, I am interested in taking "Insider's Japan" for Fall 2016 with my family and had a couple of questions related to included meals and room types.

Do most group meals offer more "Western"-style meals, or are traditional Japanese-style meals also included? Also, are there options for vegetarians?
And having lived in Japan, I know that many hotels offer both Japanese-style and Western-style rooms; is it possible to request to stay in a Japanese-style room if a hotel offers it, or does Odysseys book in blocks of rooms?
Thanks,
Sarah


Tina V
2015-11-20 09:06:14
Re: Meals and room types on "Insider's Japan"


The group dinners were Japanese style. They were delicious and beautiful and each seemed to highlight a particular style of Japanese cuisine. The breakfasts tended to be buffet style in the hotels where you had a choice of different restaurants and styles in each hotel. We chose to try a traditional Japanese style breakfast the first day in Tokyo which was great, but then found that we could get many of the same dishes along with Western style at the larger buffet. Most hotels had a combination of Japanese and Western style in their buffets which were huge! In the Ryokan, we gathered for a group breakfast and were offered our choice of either style beforehand. The vegetarian in our group was well taken care of throughout but she did feel that her meals tended more towards vegan than vegetarian.
The room question may be one for the Odyssey staff. Our rooms were all Western style except for the Ryokan.
It was a wonderful trip -
Tina


ody-admin
2015-12-18 22:43:52
Re: Meals and room types on "Insider's Japan"


Hi Sarah,
We do book blocks of rooms, so our hotel rooms in Japan are Western-style, except as Tina noted, at the ryokan.  Should you have further questions, please don't hesitate to contact our Customer Service department, toll-free at (888) 370-6765 or by email:  customerservice@odysseys-unlimited.com
We hope to have the opportunity to welcome you on Insider's Japan!
Sarah
Re: Meals and room types on "Insider's Japan"
Fantastic, Tina, thank you for your insights!
I've lived in five countries (including Japan) and visited several more (including two previous tours with OU), and for my money nothing beats a traditional Japanese breakfast! :-)  My tourmates that I will be traveling with have never been to Japan and will probably appreciate having the option of Western food from time to time.


Sarah
Re: Meals and room types on "Insider's Japan"


Does the optional tour to Nara include lunch? Thanks.


Elaine
Re: Meals and room types on "Insider's Japan"


To Sarah,
The optional tour to Nara (as we experienced it with our tour director) included the train fare, entry fee but as I recall did not include a lunch.  If you wish to take this optional tour, I think it will be negotiable with your tour director and others who also want to go to Nara as to whether lunch is included.  However, while in Nara, you will have the opportunity to purchase food if you want.  And, of course, you will want to purchase "cookies" to feed the deer!
It's a great side trip!

___

Tina V
2015-10-17 04:59:17
Hairdryers in Japan


I'm wondering if our hotels on the Japan tour are equipped with hairdryers in the rooms. Would love not to have to cart my own around! But if we do need to bring them will we also need an adaptor? Thanks!


Sarah
2016-01-06 17:07:28
Re: Hairdryers in Japan


Hi Tina,
Every hotel I've stayed at in Japan did provide hair dryers; I brought my own from home as a backup, and most US hairdryers have a switch that allows you to change to 220v. Just be aware that the performance will not be the same. If your room does not have one for some reason, the hotel staff should be able to assist (and most speak at least a little English).
Have a wonderful trip to Japan!


Elaine
Re: Hairdryers in Japan


I agree with Sarah.  All of our hotel rooms had a hair dryer.


___
 

Gino
2014-06-13 17:34:31
Insider's Japan


We're booked on the October 22 departure.  We would appreciate any feedback from those that have taken this trip.

Lzc
2014-06-17 17:25:56
Re: Insider's Japan


Gino, we took the tour last fall.  Prepare for something different if your travel experiences have been limited to the US and Europe.  Japan is different in subtle and delightful ways.

As usual, OU provides a great guide and good balance of activities and sights.  While your highlights may vary, ours were the public parks, with their manicured grounds and foliage, shrines (the Golden Pavilion is something to behold) and displays of bonsai.  Particular highlights:  The religious shrine at Nara, and the bicycle tour in Kyoto.  Somewhere on our own we saw a theatre performance that displayed various forms of traditional Japanese acting and musical styles.  
Japan is a busy, even crowded, country, but also one impeccably polite to visitors. It's clean and organized.  Japanese trains are fast, smooth and clean.  There's lots of bowing, even in quick-stop stores that takes some getting used to.  And you may find, as most on the tour did, that the heated toilet seats maybe something America might want to adopt!
A couple of the provided dinners were traditional.  The artistically prepared and displayed food was worthy of a White House State Dinner.  Alas, some of the flavors may be too exotic for those of us more used to steak and potatoes.  Personally, I thought Mt Fuji looked better from afar, but that's traveling.  
Remember, your ATM card will likely work only at terminals at the post office in most cities.  Have fun.  We did, Lzc


Sarah
2014-06-17 17:28:35
Re: Insider's Japan


Hi Gino,
I haven't taken this particular tour with OU (we took Northern Italy in 2011 and Provincial French Countryside in 2012), but I was stationed in Central Japan in 2010-2011 and visited many of the tour's highlights on my own (if you're interested in seeing my photos / reading my travel blog, you'll find it at komaki.shutterfly.com).
"Insider's Japan" truly covers some of the best temples and sights Japan has to offer; I would highly recommend visiting the Arashiyama district and Tenryuji Temple on your free day in Kyoto (Arashiyama is a short train ride from downtown Kyoto and features hundreds of small and large temples including the impressive Tenryuji and its Zen vegetarian restaurant Shigetsu as well as Kokedera, Moss Temple, which requires a reservation in advance).
Takayama (in the Japan Alps) also features a stellar collection of Art Nouveau glassware and an elegant café and gift shop at the Hida Takayama Museum of Art, which you could choose to visit during your free time; it's about a 20-minute walk from downtown Takayama, or there's a cute double-decker bus that makes the trip.
Takayama's Temple district is also a beautiful hike with some great views (you can pick up a walking guide of the various temples and shrines from the tourist office by the train station). And if you're into quirky, one of my favorite random finds was the Showakan Museum, which is dedicated to Japan's Showa Era (1926-1989). It's a huge random jumble of old Western-influenced movie posters, advertising, toys, and antiques, but a lot of fun!


Sarah
2016-01-17 11:03:10
Re: Insider's Japan


To see a musical slideshow with many of the highlights you'll see on your trip, check out http://tripwow.tripadvisor.com/tripwow/ … 88-8313?ln
and feel free to e-mail me (sbh2006@hotmail.com) with any questions; I've posted dozens of reviews on sights in Kyoto, Nara, Nagoya, Osaka, and Hiroshima on TripAdvisor and answered numerous Japan travel questions on the forum as well.
Have a great trip,
Sarah

 

Journey Through Vietnam

 


Joe
2015-08-03 10:27:59
Vietnam Tour- airline connections, luggage & milk


Hi ...we are booked on the Journey Through Vietnam tour in January 2016 and have a couple of questions:
1- In the info we received from Odysseys Unlimited, we didn't see any specific info on luggage weight restrictions.  On previous Odysseys' Tours there was a 44lbs limit per guest.  Is that limit still in effect?
2- Do the hotels have pasteurized milk for breakfast cereals? We have read that much of the milk in Vietnam isn't pasteurized.
3- We don't have our airline flight schedule as of yet, but there were some posts in this forum about tight/short airline connection times for the flight from Seoul to Hanoi.  Has Odysseys changed the selection of flights to ensure that guests can make their connecting flights?  We are too old to be running through airports.
Thanks


ody-admin
Re: Vietnam Tour- airline connections, luggage & milk


Hi Joe,
We’re thrilled that you’ll be traveling with us to Vietnam. In response to your inquiry regarding luggage requirements, yes, while luggage weight and size restrictions vary by airline and/or route (and are always subject to change), we recommend that your checked luggage not exceed 44 lbs and 62 inches (length plus width plus height).  Note that while some flights departing the U.S. may permit higher weight limits, domestic flights overseas (as well as within the U.S.) typically impose a strict weight limit of 44 lbs per checked bag.  
As for your question about milk, the hotels we stay at in Vietnam will all provide pasteurized milk for your cereal. Milk generally isn’t pasteurized in Vietnam, so we recommend avoiding dairy products sold by street vendors unless you can be assured of pasteurization.
Lastly, we have used our current airline itinerary with Korean Air for many years now. In the past, our guests have had no problems transferring from one gate to the next in Seoul (ICN) for the flight to Hanoi. We can certainly request a longer layover for you in Seoul, but the airline isn’t always able to honor such requests, based on itineraries.
If you have any further questions, you can contact our Customer Service department by email:  customerservice@odysseys-unlimited.com or toll-free at (888) 370-675. We wish you a wonderful tour to Vietnam.

___

Bob & Charlotte Tucson
2014-10-30 07:14:03
Journey through Vietnam


We are booked for the October 9, 2014 Journey through Vietnam.  We are interested in purchasing a gold pendant.  Has anyone had experience along this line?


Bob & Charlotte Tucson
Re: Journey through Vietnam

Thanks to our tour guide, Huy Nguyen Tuan who directed us to a great gold and silver market just across the street form the Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City.  Thank you Huy for a great tour.


Becky
2014-12-07 09:23:10
Flying Korean Air to Vietnam


I'm taking the Jan. 29 Journey through Vietnam trip.
I'm flying to Seoul on Korean Air from Philadelphia, via Atlanta.
I have exactly one hour, twenty minutes between the time I land in Seoul and my connecting flight on to Hanoi!! And you know you need to be at the gate at least 30 minutes prior, which makes it even less.
I checked the Incheon International Airport map and I see it is a MAZE. Has anyone had to make this connection? I don't see how it is possible...
Thank you for any insights you might provide. I am so looking forward to this once in a lifetime excursion and am fearful I'll miss the connection.


glen
2014-12-07 10:43:21
Re: Flying Korean Air to Vietnam


Becky we took the Korean Air from Atlanta this past January to make the same connection you have.  Let me tell you the connection is close, when we got off the plane they stuck a sticker on our chests CC (close connection) and they had people all along the way hurrying us along showing us the way.  They actually held the plane for us.  Unfortunately my suitcase did not make the flight but my wifes did, go figure.  The hotels on this trip are extremely nice.  Be sure you take along CRISP one dollar bills and if you want to be a big hit, take some $2.00 bills.  It is lucky bill for the local people.  You will have a very good time on this trip and if interested I can fill you in on an extra side trip in DaNang. 


Becky
Re: Flying Korean Air to Vietnam


Thank you for your reply, Glen.
I guess the bottom line is that you made the flight, hair raising as it may be. I wondered if they would help you along; I would think they would have to.  
When did your luggage finally get to you? I always pack a clean shirt and personal items in my carry on, just in case.  
Funny, I copied and pasted the comment about the bills into my "notes" doc I keep in prep for a trip. I guess I read your previous post! And Da Nang - is that the Marble Mountain tip? Duly noted!
I'm going alone, and I think the trip to Halong Bay is just too long of a bus ride and will kill the day. I am considering spending that day wandering around Hanoi since time is so limited. Any thoughts on going it alone for the day in Hanoi?
Thanks again.

___

chuckt
2013-02-21 15:27:52
Journey through Viet Nam


My wife are going on this trip Oct 2013, would like to have impressions from others that have been on this trip or meet others that are going.


JeanneYSM
2013-06-26 07:09:14
Re: Journey through Viet Nam


I plan to make a trip to VN - and learned that the schedule was not yet set for early in2013 but Oct sounds like a good time.  I will be traveling alone and am happy to learn there are others planning on going.  Keep me in the loop of your plans if possible.


chuckt
2013-07-14 13:06:08
Re: Journey through Viet Nam


Getting all paper work ready for Oct 10 trip to Vietnam and the extension to Cambodia. Got to wait on flight itinerary before submitting Visa....so far this is my only concern....the waiting.
Hopefully I will manage for me and my wife to pack the right clothes and pack light...usually if it indicates hot weather we get cooler and vise versa. Oh the perils of travel.


nonna
2013-08-16 22:06:50
Re: Journey through Viet Nam


JeanneYSM wrote:
I plan to make a trip to VN - and learned that the schedule was not yet set for early in2013 but Oct sounds like a good time.  I will be traveling alone and am happy to learn there are others planning on going.  Keep me in the loop of your plans if possible.

HOW WAS THE TRIP TO VIETNAM?  I WANT TO GO NEXT YEAR AND WOULD LIKE YOUR EVALUATION AS A SINGLE TRAVELER MYSELF.  THANKS!


GLS
Re: Journey through Viet Nam


Has anyone who has traveled to Vietnam had any issues with Korean airline flight connections in Seoul? I am taking the trip in November and concerned about the short connecting time in Seoul of only 50 minutes before flying to Hanoi.  Normally, I like at least 2 hours with security the way it is.  Any tips or feedback would be helpful.
Looking forward to the trip
Thanks


Rosie
2013-12-30 11:23:37
Re: Journey through Viet Nam


I am looking for a critique of the Vietnam tour.  
are there a lot of early morning hotel  departure pre 8am
What about non included excursions as extras
Hotels look great and love the small group but haven't traveled with Odyssey
so looking for some info....THANKS!!
Rosie


Allan
2014-01-08 19:42:51
Re: Journey through Viet Nam


We're going to Vietnam and Angor Wat leaving on 1/16/14.  Can anyone give me advise on what to wear.  Can men wear shorts?  Are shorts appropriate?
Thanks.
PS:  This will be our 4th Odysseys trip and have another one scheduled for next summer.  They do a great job.
Allan   


JC
2014-12-08 08:09:43
Re: Journey through Viet Nam


Allan

We took the Nov 17, 2013 Vietnam and Cambodia extension.  Hanoi and Ha Long Bay had cool temperatures (55-65).  It got warm (86-90) in Da Nang, Can Tho and Ho Chi Minh and Siem Riep.  A few in our group wore shorts occasionally in the daytime when we were in the warmer areas. However. each day was varied with visits to various places, eating in restaurants, etc.  So it always seemed best to wear long pants and good walking shoes for uneven surfaces.  Convertible pants could provide the option as appropriate.  Your guide will advise you what best to wear each day.
Rosie
There were a few early days that we left early to accommodate the traveling schedule (7:00, 7:30) or to beat the crowds (Cu Chi Tunnels), but that is up to the guide's tour schedule.  This translates to getting up 1-1.5 hours prior to departure.  But getting up to see something is always worth it and is the point of being on a tour.
We had an excellent tour with guides Hiep and Roath.
JC


Becky
2014-12-13 21:11:45
Re: Journey through Viet Nam


GLS wrote:
Has anyone who has traveled to Vietnam had any issues with Korean airline flight connections in Seoul? I am taking the trip in November and concerned about the short connecting time in Seoul of only 50 minutes before flying to Hanoi.  Normally, I like at least 2 hours with security the way it is.  Any tips or feedback would be helpful.
Looking forward to the trip
Thanks

I'm not sure how this chat room works but am replying to an older post to see what they experienced with the close time connection they had to make.  I posed the same question yesterday and the response was that this couple was tagged "close connection" and we're helped through the airport. However, the wife's luggage did not make it!

GLS
Re: Journey through Viet Nam


Reply to Becky
Our Korean flight to Vietnam through Seoul connecting time was hectic. We almost missed our flight but made it to the gate as the plane was loading. In hind site, I would ask for help from the flight attendants on board for any assistance they could offer at the Seoul airport. We were running through the airport and asked for help through security or we would have missed our plane.
Our luggage did arrive on time though.
The Vietnam trip and the Cambodia extension were fabulous
Enjoy!!!

___

Joe M
2015-04-23 16:24:13
Vietnam Visa


I understand that that are two ways to obtain a Vietnam travel visa: obtain before leaving the US or do some paperwork before leaving and the obtain a visa on arrival.
Does anyone have any suggestions as to which is best?


ody-admin
Re: Vietnam Visa


Hi Joe M,
Because of issues our guests have experienced in the past while trying to obtain visas on site in Vietnam, we strongly recommend that guests obtain their visa prior to departure.  We send detailed information about how to obtain the visa upon reservation; you can use our partner G3 or any visa service you prefer.
Should you have further questions, please don't hesitate to contact our Customer Service department, toll-free at (888) 370-6765 or by e-mail:
customerservice@odysseys-unlimited.com

___

Judy
2015-10-16 13:07:41
Journey Through Vietnam trip


We made 2 stops in Vietnam on a 2006 Southeast Asia Cruise, and it's one of the most fascinating places we've seen!!  We know many people who were stationed there, but luckily we were stationed in Germany during that time.  I'd like to hear from those who have taken the trip.  We love Odysseys and they would do a first-class trip there.  Can we get visas upon arrival? Not sure when we'd go yet.  Any information or feedback would be much appreciated.
Judy


Kate in Cody
2015-10-16 14:12:38
Re: Journey Through Vietnam trip


Hello Judy!
We did Journey Through Vietnam in March of 2014 with the extension to Angkor Wat.  There is NOTHING about this trip that we didn't love, were amazed at and delighted with. As with all Odysseys tours, there is the perfect balance between city and country, old and new, group time and down time. The hotels were fabulous, topped only by the food which is fresh, colorful, plentiful and delicious.
There was an emotional quality to visiting Vietnam. The place names are loaded with memory. Hanoi, Saigon, DaNang, Mekong River... It was very rewarding and healing to see these places bustling with vibrancy, friendliness and color.
I highly recommend you take the extension.  You're practically there anyway.

Judy
Re: Journey Through Vietnam trip


Kate,
I was surprised to see a reply to my e-mail as I'd forgotten I wrote it.  We just booked that trip about 3 weeks ago for January 23, 2016!  Yes, we took the extension.  We had 2 stops in Vietnam on a Southeast Asia cruise and it was just amazing.  We have thought about going back, but kept going other places.  We were luckily stationed in Germany during the Vietnam war.  I appreciate your feedback.  We will apply for our Vietnam visa after we get back from our Egypt/Jordan trip coming up in Nov.  I wouldn't go to Vietnam (or Asia) with anyone but Odyssey as they are so first-class with everything.  Did anyone on your trip get sick?? Thanks again - Judy

 

Mongolian Adventure


Missoulasue
2015-10-27 13:24:18
Mongolian Adventure Gers


Do the Gers have electricity? I would very much like to take this tour, but I use a CPAP machine.


ody-admin
Re: Mongolian Adventure Gers


Hi,
Thanks for your question. We stay in three separate ger camps on this tour. One of them has electricity 24/7, and the other two have electricity at varying points throughout the day, but not continuously. Thus, we can't guarantee that your machine would have power when you need it on this tour.

 

Mysteries of Myanmar

 

Mary
2015-05-06 08:34:24
Flights to Yangon from US


Wondering if anyone has upgraded to business class on Korean Air re: the Myanmar trip......if so how was your experience?  Are the seats lie flat?  Did you have club room access?

Jim
2015-05-15 13:29:53
Re: Flights to Yangon from US


Use seatguru.com for information about seating.  You can check under the airline's name for general information about each aircraft flown and specific information for a specific flight when you know it.


Pcake
2015-05-24 16:53:02
Re: Flights to Yangon from US


We just returned from the Indonesia trip using Business class on Korean Air, which was for us, Atlanta-Seoul, then Seoul-Denpasar.  It was our first experience with upgrading seats, so I have no point of reference on this, but we were very pleased.  The seats were flat and roomy, easy to use for sleep.  The service was extremely attentive- staff thanking us for our business both pre and post flights.  Restrooms cleaned frequently; easy access both on and off plane.  Lights were dimmed for the majority of the flights for ease in sleeping.  Private lounges pre and at connections.  We are still adjusting to the 12 hour time change but have none of the post flight aches  from sitting in a cramped position for so long.  We may have been throughly spoiled now......


Wandering Robin
Re: Flights to Yangon from US


I, too, used business class on Korean Air in 2014 to Myanmar from Los Angeles. I did use "miles" which I save to be able to fly business class on international flights.  It was a most comfortable flight and did enjoy the lounge at the Hong Kong airport as that is where my connection was - hope this helps.

 

Mystical India


Anne
2014-08-01 17:11:39
Air arrangements to India


We are signed up for the Mystical India tour starting on January 8th. We live in Phoenix and are a little concerned about air arrangements. We are thinking of flying to New York the day before and "leaving" from NY. No matter how I look at it, flying emirates from Phoenix gets us in around 3 in the morning-not the way I want to start the trip. I also noticed that even from NY there were some extremely long layovers. Any suggestion?


John M
2014-09-19 14:01:55
Re: Air arrangements to India


I had the same concerns (just booked the same departure). I live in New York state and wanted to fly out of JFK but the company could not guarantee that connection. They did say that I could change my connections if I did not like what they booked. By 'change', I mean cancel the flight out of my home town, just get the flight from JFK and then get myself to JFK in time to make their connection.
There is also a fairly good connection on Emirates out of Dulles (IAD) which I also considered.
I didn't want to get in at 3:00 am on day 3 of the trip - guessing that I would be pretty tired! See you in January....


Anne
2014-10-14 17:16:51
Re: Air arrangements to India


Just found your reply today! We eventually booked a non-stop flight to Delhi out of Newark on January 6th. We leave Phoenix at 7 in the morning and have a few hours in Newark before we get an evening flight. Our only concern was weather but it would be pretty similar from most of the east coast. Not looking forward to the 14 hour flight but we get in at 10 in the evening-on the 7th- and anything is better than changing planes! We booked a room at the same hotel from which the tour starts and should be in good shape for the adventure. Looking forward to meeting you.
Anne and Bob


naj
2014-10-17 12:02:46
Re: Air arrangements to India


We, too, are going on the Mystical India trip, but later in January. We will be flying from Phoenix to LA and then on Emirates to Dubai----No weather issues like we might have to the East coast, although the flight is longer! There is no easy way to get to New Delhi. Odysseys will be doing our flights for us, as we feel it is safer for us. If you haven't been to the Dubai airport, it is amazing and quite the shopping and people watching scene. This is our 7th trip with Odysseys. Obviously we like what they do.


John M
Re: Air arrangements to India


We just got our reservations from Odyssey. They started our trip on 07 Jan rather than 08 Jan. Flying through Chicago. Overnight in a hotel in Dubai (included) on the 8th and arrive in Delhi the morning of the 9th. 09 Jan is day 2 of the itinerary and it looks as if the tour doesn't really get started until day 3, which would be 10 Jan. Not great, but I've never been to Dubai! See you soon...


John M
2014-10-18 10:11:20
Re: Air arrangements to India


We just got our reservations from Odyssey. They started our trip on 07 Jan rather than 08 Jan. Flying through Chicago. Overnight in a hotel in Dubai (included) on the 8th and arrive in Delhi the morning of the 9th. 09 Jan is day 2 of the itinerary and it looks as if the tour doesn't really get started until day 3, which would be 10 Jan. Not great, but I've never been to Dubai! See you soon...


Anne
2014-10-18 10:14:29
Re: Air arrangements to India


That doesn't sound bad at all! Overnight in Dubai sounds like a lot of fun. I've heard even the airport is something to see. Just waiting for our visas and we're ready to go.


Anne
Re: Air arrangements to India


That doesn't sound bad at all! The overnight in Dubai could be a lot of fun and I've heard that the airport itself is a sight to see. Just waiting for our visas and we are ready to go.

___

Susan
2014-12-04 01:12:55
Mystical India: weather and food


We are going the beginning of November.  I was wondering what we should expect weather-wise in the places we are visiting.  Also for those who have been on the trip, how was the food?  I enjoy Indian food here in CA but not sure how that compares to the real thing. Thanks.


Julane
Re: Mystical India: weather and food


Also writing from California. Too late for your trip Susan but we went about a week before you did and are back now so I am replying for anyone else that may be wondering. The weather was very pleasant, warm enough but not hot like it would have been in summer--a great thing about going at this time of year if you can. The food was very good; the hotels, restaurants and in two cases private homes we ate in all know how to provide food that is not overwhelmingly spicy. For safety's sake we stayed away from produce that would have been washed in the local water but others ate salads and cut-up fruit and nobody got sick. You will be staying in pretty high-end hotels and they do take care but also you will be provided with plenty of bottled water for drinking and teeth-brushing.
We did go on to Nepal and that was cooler than India but not freezing. Our guide told us that the weather doesn't get below the mid-30s Fahrenheit in Kathmandu and that's not until late December through January or February. I brought one of those down jackets that can be stuffed into a tiny bag and it kept me warm enough.


Pete
2015-01-19 09:38:55

Mystical India: Question on visa

Now that India has started issuing India Tourist Visa on Arrival (http://www.immihelp.com/nri/indiavisa/t … rival.html), has anyone gone through the steps and can share your experience that this is a timely process to go through? Many thanks in advance!

ody-admin
2015-02-19 13:13:58

Re: Mystical India: Question on visa

Hi Pete,
You are correct that India has introduced the e-visa to U.S. citizens.  As this is brand-new, though, we are not yet recommending the e-visa.  We would like to give the process some time to operate and work out any glitches to make sure  that our guests do not encounter any issues upon arrival in Delhi.  As soon as we understand that all is proceeding smoothly, we will reach out to all of our guests to advise about the e-visas.


naj
2015-04-15 16:42:26
Re: Mystical India: Question on visa


We just returned from Mystical India and saw the area in the Delhi airport where Visas were being offered. We paid a goodly sum to get our visas from the visa service and  wondered why Odysseys didn't offer this option. However, given the complexity of the visa process, I can't imagine it would be very easy/quick to get it once in the country. Most flight arrivals are late at night or in middle of night, and collecting bags, getting a transfer to hotel are quite enough to deal with at that time. I concur with Odysseys that this process needs to be vetted before using it.


Pete
2015-04-16 14:52:48
Re: Mystical India: Question on visa


I posted the original inquiry of this topic. Now that I have gone through the online process of successfully acquiring the India Tourist Visa on Arrival and presenting it to custom agent at Delhi airport upon arrival, I am happy to report that the process was efficient and painless, and I would not hesitate to use it again for my next India visit.
The process of applying and getting the Tourist Visa on Arrival is documented by the link I provided in my original inquiry. Once I filled out and submitted the application with a US$60 credit card payment and uploaded the required documents (passport photo and first two pages of passport), I received an email acknowledgement of my application within hours, and then another email within 48 hours to notify me of my application's approval and a visa document to print and to bring to show the custom agent upon arrival at airport. It couldn't be any easier in my opinion.
I do want to emphasize that I have not heard from others of their experience, positive or negative, for using this online service, this is only one data point that I am very pleased with the process. In order to minimize approval delay, I believe it is important to fill out the online application form accurately and to submit the required documents in the format and size specified. And for those arriving at the Delhi airport, there is actually a separate line in the custom hall for those with Tourist Visa on Arrival, look for the posted "Tourist Visa on Arrival" sign once you arrive in the custom hall and follow its direction. Show your printed visa document to a custom agent, he/she will cross-check the info with their database, ask you a few questions, take your picture, get your finger prints, and put a stamp on your passport; this whole process takes between 5 to 10 minutes and you are then out the door to have cleared customs.


ody-admin
Re: Mystical India: Question on visa

Hi Pete,
Thank you for posting  about your experience with the India e-visa.  We are in the process of determining whether to recommend this to our guests, and this information about your experience is definitely helpful to us.
 

Africa & the Middle East

 

Classic Safari


Shawn
2015-04-10 10:22:36
Classic Safari


We are going on the Classic Safari trip in Sep.  In reading the posts about luggage I am now confused.  I was planning to use a soft sided duffel that has wheels and a retractable handle.  Is that acceptable for this trip--as long as I stay within the weight limits?


Barbara
2015-04-10 11:12:20
Re: Classic Safari


We reserved a November date for the Southern Africa Odyssey.  QUESTION:  Can someone give me approximate flight hours from San Francisco to Johannesburg?  World Atlas says the flight is over 10,000 air miles to Cape Town.  How does this translate to hours with connection stops?  This doesn't seem to be "Happy Hours" for me, so some roundabout time frame from OU would help us.  My estimate tells me total flight time might be in the neighborhood of 25 hours???
Thanks much, BC


ody-admin
2015-04-10 11:19:38
Re: Classic Safari


Hi Shawn,
We do require that you use a soft-sided duffel for Classic Safari; however, not one with a retractable handle, as the frame required for that makes it difficult to pack all of the luggage into the vehicles we use.   Instead, if you wish to use a duffel with wheels, we request that it be the kind with a strap for pulling.  Eagle Creek and L.L. Bean, among others, sell this type of bag.  You can see a picture on My Odysseys Outfitter (link below), our on-line store.  Should you have further questions about this, or anything else about the safari, please don't hesitate to contact our Customer Service team, toll-free at (888) 370-6765 or by e-mail:  customerservice@odysseys-unlimited.com
We wish you a wonderful safari in Kenya and Tanzania.


ody-admin
2015-04-10 13:18:34
Re: Classic Safari


Hi Barbara,
Emirates is the preferred carrier that we use for this tour. We will send your Preliminary Airline Itinerary 2 1/2 months prior to your departure; please note that flight schedules are subject to change until that time.  For Southern Africa Odyssey, typically guests departing from the West Coast must leave one day prior to the advertised departure date and will connect in Dubai (DXB) en route to Johannesburg (JNB).  The flight from San Francisco to Dubai is @ 16 hours; the flight from Dubai to Johannesburg is @ 8 hours -- so you are right on track with the total flying time.


Barbara
Re: Classic Safari


Thank you for your answer, but another question:  If we changed our plans and left from JFK rather than SFO, would the NY flight go to Dubai and then on to Johannesburg?  We're trying to figure a way to break up the air time, and a stayover in NY is one.  This might make the flight from NY to Dubai 11 hours rather than 16???  Thanks, BC

 

Egypt & the Eternal Nile


Marla
2014-12-23 07:17:52
Anyone taken the Egypt trip previously??


Glad to see an Egypt tour itinerary back on line...
Has anyone out there been on this tour prior to the political problems in 2011?  If so, we would like some feedback.
Please tell me a bit more about the sites you saw on Lake Nasser.  We are considering this tour with Odysseys in November 2015, but also comparing it to another company's itinerary that has a heavy focus on archaeology itself.  I am just wondering if the cruise on Lake Nasser is worth it?
Also, we would like to see Petra, but my husband has zero interest in staying in Amman for two nights and touring there.  We would appreciate your insights and comments.
We were in Cairo for three nights in 1981.  We have wanted to go back to do the Nile and Upper Egypt, but travelled so many other places in between!!I am certain a lot has changed.
We have travelled with Odysseys twice before and do like the way they do their tours.
Thanks for your comments.
Marla


Melinda
2015-01-29 16:56:17
Re: Anyone taken the Egypt trip previously??


We went to Egypt in 2008 - our first trip with Odysseys. Hands down this is our overall favorite trip of the last 20 years. The itinerary has changed a little but it is just a wonderful trip. We were in Amman just 1 night and thought it was really interesting and wished we had spent more time there. Petra is just amazing. The Lake Nassar cruise, which started with Abu Simbel, was really great. There was a man on our trip who had been to Egypt 10 years earlier but just wanted to come back an do it again. After our trip we completely understood as it is one place we would definitely re-visit. You will just love it.


Lorna
2015-08-07 12:24:14
Re: Anyone taken the Egypt trip previously??


Maria, I took the OU Egypt trip in December 2009.  It remains the most phenomenal trip I've ever taken and I travel a lot. Abu Simbal is at the top of my list of favorite spots. I'd say the area is definitely worth doing.


Alan
2015-08-07 13:01:41
Re: Anyone taken the Egypt trip previously??


We were on one of the Odysseys trips that got caught in the revolution of 2011 - and I'll have to say that the company did an outstanding job watching out for us.  As for the Lake Nasser cruise, you will not be sorry to do it.  It will be even better if you do your homework ahead of time and find out about the temples, etc., that were moved to higher ground before the lake filled.  Each of the sites where we stopped contained at least two temples, and all were different if you took the time to look.  The more you know about the history of ancient Egypt, the more you will get out of the cruise.  I strongly recommend the Great Courses audio course taught by Bob Brier, entitled (not surprisingly!) The History of Ancient Egypt.  Having that kind of background will make your trip much more enjoyable.


Alan
Re: Anyone taken the Egypt trip previously??


We were on one of the Odysseys trips that got caught in the revolution of 2011 - and I'll have to say that the company did an outstanding job watching out for us.  As for the Lake Nasser cruise, you will not be sorry to do it.  It will be even better if you do your homework ahead of time and find out about the temples, etc., that were moved to higher ground before the lake filled.  Each of the sites where we stopped contained at least two temples, and all were different if you took the time to look.  The more you know about the history of ancient Egypt, the more you will get out of the cruise.  I strongly recommend the Great Courses audio course taught by Bob Brier, entitled (not surprisingly!) The History of Ancient Egypt.  Having that kind of background will make your trip much more enjoyable.

 

Israel: Timeless Wonders

 

Judy
2014-06-29 15:51:20
Israel/Jordan trip


There is nothing on the message board about this trip. I assume it's been offered for awhile.  It looks like a great trip, especially with the Jordan extension.  Any feedback from those who have taken it?  Hotels look very nice.  So much history there.  I'd appreciate any information on safety, food, hotels, etc. Thank you.


AudreyC
2015-04-13 15:12:03
Re: Israel/Jordan trip


i took the Israel trip in April 2010.  I had taken a similar trip in 2008 with another company and really wanted to go back.  Israel is so small and yet there is so much to see.  Some of my comments are a result of a comparison between the two trips.
Altho the Odysseys program was more expensive, the hotel experience was better on the first trip. That was partly because the first trip was in January (very off season) and the second one was in April (crowded with tourists).  The hotel sites were upgraded on the first trip.  Also, the kibbutz hotels were far more attractive on the first trip ( the January/April comment is irrelevant re the kibbutz hotels). The Odysseys guide kept us (or tried to) under his very watchful eye.  For example, he was reluctant to let us go on our separate ways at the Jerusalem market but he relented.  The Odysseys program was 100 percent Jewish oriented while the other program brought us to Arab households and introduced Palestinian speakers.  In the end, both experiences were worthwhile. If my Arab/Palestinian comment interests you, then I would carefully investigate the itineraries to see precisely what exposure you will have to what and to whom. I did not take the Jordan extension.


JoanJ
Re: Israel/Jordan trip


Took the tour in 2014.  I disagree with the person who posted that the tour was a Jewish tour. It was not a religious tour. Although we visited some religious sites, the tour was more historical. We went to several Christian sites including Tiberias, Nazareth, and Bethlehem.  We visited Roman ruins, museums,dairy farm, tunnels, kibbutz, winery,local markets, etc.


charlene
2015-09-08 10:50:07
Israel/Jordan Oct Tour


My husband and I, along with our dearest friend, are traveling on the Oct 8th Israel/Jordan tour.  We noticed the itinerary does not include Bethlehem, which we are interested in visiting.  Can either Odysseys or a previous guest recommend an local tour operator that could take us there on one of our free times while we are in Jerusalem?  Thanks.


ody-admin
2015-09-12 11:02:40
Re: Israel/Jordan Oct Tour


Hi Charlene,
Thanks so much for the question. Bethlehem is not on the itinerary, however, you can feel free to ask your Odysseys Unlimited tour director when you arrive in Israel about visiting Bethlehem and he/she will be able to organize that for you. Let us know if you have any more questions, and have a great trip!


charlene
2015-09-14 06:40:09
Re: Israel/Jordan Oct Tour


Thanks for the response and that's what we shall do.  Just curious as to why "banned" is listed under my name as opposed to "guest"?


ody-admin
Re: Israel/Jordan Oct Tour


Hi Charlene - Sorry, that comes up sometimes when our system thinks you're entering duplicate posts. Rest assured that you are not banned! We'll correct that on our end this morning.

 

Moroccan Discovery

 

John
2015-01-21 07:57:04
Morocco Discovery


My wife and I will be going on the Morocco Discovery Tour next month. We wonder what the weather is apt to be like in February, as we want to pack the appropriate clothing. Can anyone offer advice? Thank you.


ody-admin
2015-01-21 18:30:11
Re: Morocco Discovery


Hi John,
Following is packing information along with average temperatures and rainfall for the time you will be in Morocco:
To keep comfortable day and night in cities, deserts, and mountains, pack light- to medium-weight clothes with extra layers for cool High Atlas evenings.  Since Morocco is an Islamic country, women should avoid wearing overly short skirts, very tight-fitting clothing, and otherwise immodest dress.  Comfortable walking shoes also are a must for this tour.  Other helpful items:  bathing suit (most of your hotels have swimming pools), sun block, brimmed hat, sunglasses with UV ray blocking, mosquito repellent, and a scarf (to cover your face in the desert at Merzouga).
Average High (F)  Average Low (F)  Average Rainfall (inches)
Rabat:           65           47                            2.5
Marrackech:  68           43                             1.1
Should you have further questions, please don't hesitate to contact our Customer Service department, toll-free at (888) 370-6765 or by e-mail:
Customerservice@odysseys-unlimited.com
You have our best wishes for a wonderful travel experience in Morocco.


John
2015-02-21 08:23:15
Re: Morocco Discovery


Thanks very much.
John


ChristieA
Re: Morocco Discovery


The most important thing that Odysseys doesn't tell you for this Morocco trip is TAKE A SECOND CAMERA for the camel ride on the dunes.  At least five of us got sand in our cameras (February), and the cameras were out of commission until three days later when sand was taken out in Marrakech - if at all.  I lost three of the most scenic days of the trip over the mountains, through the Route of the Thousand Kasbahs.  An older or backup camera is a must!

 

Southern Africa Odyssey

 


D&D
2015-09-11 06:53:57
Yellow fever Immunization.


We are taking the Southern Africa Odyssey tour starting Oct 15, 2016.  From the Odyssey handout "General Information" it looks like we need Hepatitis A,& Typhoid immunizations & also Anti-Malaria medication.  Do we need immunization for Yellow fever?  We've had most of our immunizations but still need to get Rx for Malaria & update our Yellow fever (if needed).  Thanks, any assistance in this matter is appreciated.


ody-admin
Re: Yellow fever Immunization.


Hi there,
It's a good question. In the four countries you'll be visiting during Southern Africa Odyssey (South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe), there is no risk of Yellow Fever, per the CDC website. Therefore, you don't need an immunization against it. If you want to stay up to date with this kind of information, you can check the CDC's site here: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list/
Once there, you can click the country drop down menu under "Where are you going?" and read about the different immunizations and medications you'll need.
We hope this helps, and that you enjoy your tour of southern Africa!

 

Tanzania Adventure

 

Nancy
2015-11-30 14:25:30
Luggage Requirements for Tanzania


We will be taking the Odyssey Tanzania trip in Feb. 2016 and are concerned about the luggage requirements. We purchased an Eagle Creek 32" flatbed duffel (top and sides soft-sided) with wheels and a retractable handle on back and an Eagle Creek
28" three sides soft with wheels and a backside retractable handle for our checked bags. One of our carry-ons is an Eagle Creek 20" Wheeled Duffel with retractable handle. They all meet the re


Nancy
2015-12-01 10:39:54
Re: Luggage Requirements for Tanzania


As stated in my original question, we are concerned you will not allow us to use these pieces of luggage which we used for your Africa's Wildlife tour. Please confirm if these pieces of luggage will be acceptable for the Tanzania trip.


ody-admin
Re: Luggage Requirements for Tanzania


Hi Nancy,
The flatbed duffel with the retractable handle unfortunately is not acceptable for the Tanzania trip.  Because of space restrictions relating to the vehicles in which you will be traveling while in Tanzania, luggage for this trip must be a soft-sided (collapsible) duffle-type bag and the total weight of your checked luggage cannot exceed 33 lbs (15 kgs) per person.  Regarding your carry-on luggage:  as long as it does not exceed 15 lbs and 43” (length plus width plus height), the retractable handle in this case is fine.
Should you have further questions, please contact our Customer Service department, toll-free at (888) 370-6765 for by e-mail:  customerservice@odysseys-unlimited.com
We wish you a wonderful safari in Tanzania.

 

General



Kimberly
2012-03-26 09:34:16
Ages of OU travelers


Hi,
I am curious to find out the ages of people who have used this company. I am in my late 30's and am ideally would like to meet and travel with people in my age range. I know we generally don't have the choice when using tour operators.
I am going on the Iceland trip in May.
Many thanks,
Kimberly


lzc
2012-03-31 11:17:03
Re: Ages of OU travelers


Kimberly, based on 3 Odysseys tours, you will likely be the youngest person on your Iceland tour, excluding possibly the guide and driver.   The reality is that older people are more likely to have the time, money, and prefer escorted travel than most young people.  Odysseys' demographics are probably typical.  
In defense of older travelers, if defense be needed, the people I've experienced on tour have been friendly and inquisitive.  Some may retire to their rooms after dinner, but by no means all.  Many head out for nightclubs and other extra curricular activities.  In general, it's been a well educated group, who made for interesting conversation along the way.


Sarah
Re: Ages of OU travelers


Kimberly,
I am 31 and went on my first Odysseys tour last year. I was the youngest by far in my group; ages ranged from 31 to 80, with most being in their 50s and 60s.
Out of the several tour companies we've used (including Tauck and Uniworld), we were very impressed with Odysseys, so much so that we've booked another trip this year.
Our group of 24 had fabulous dynamics and were the perfect traveling companions; it really added a lot to the experience! Because of the particular tour we were on (Northern Italy), there were sometimes limited opportunities for local sightseeing and nightlife due to the remoteness of the accommodations, but I did go on several side trips with some of my traveling companions, and we still keep in touch via e-mail.
Have fun in Iceland,
Sarah

___

Simon
2015-08-11 11:14:31
Reservation of airline seat with more room


It is my understanding, after speaking to OU rep, that OU does not book economy airline seats (for example on Lufthansa) that are described as economy seat with more legroom (about 5" more).  Lufthansa states that on all flights from US such extra fee is: the price is EUR 70,00/USD 100,00.
We used such seats last year on our flights to Europe, as we booked the flights on our own (we did OU tour).  The difference in comfort level on long flight was well worth the extra $100.
Could OU look into providing a service of adding such "more leg room" seat for economy class reservations when they confirm the flights?
Thank you.


ody-admin
2015-08-11 14:43:17

Re: Reservation of airline seat with more room

Hi Simon,
We do offer Premium Economy on a number of our trips to Europe, as well as Israel and Exploring Australia & New Zealand.  If it is available on a particular tour, you will see it below the rate chart on both our web site and in our brochure with the heading:  "Airline upgrades on round-trip [Trans-Atlantic] flight:  Business Class -- $0000 per person; Premium Economy: $0000 per person"
Should you have further questions, please don't hesitate to contact our Customer Service department, toll-free at (888) 370-6765 or by e-mail:
customerservice@odysseys-unlimited.com
 

Simon
2015-08-11 14:56:01
Re: Reservation of airline seat with more room


Sorry for asking again the same request, but the "premium economy" seats are not the same as "economy seats with more leg room".  
For example OU is quoting for a trip to Eastern Europe an upgrade to Premium Economy seat at $895 per person, whereas an economy seat with more leg room on the same route goes for only $100 in additional fees.
Can you please ask your experts in airfare: Could OU look into providing a service of adding such "more leg room" seat for economy class reservations when they confirm the flights?
Thank you again.


ody-admin
2015-08-11 15:32:41
Re: Reservation of airline seat with more room


Hi Simon,
With apologies for our misunderstand your question.  Unfortunately, at this time our contracts with the airlines do not include the option of economy seats with more leg room.


Simon
Re: Reservation of airline seat with more room


Thank you.  It is my understanding that upon flight confirmation (to Europe trips) OU does not obtain a specific seat assignment.
I was told that I could get such seat assignment for a fee on my own, by calling the airline  after OU books the flight in my name.  I also think, but not sure, that at the time of  getting seat assignment I could select, by paying $100 more, the seat with more legroom.
Could OU confirm with Lufthansa and Swiss airlines ( I think these are the two airlines OU has contract with for Europe) if this is a viable option to buy the economy seat with more leg room?

ody-admin
Re: Reservation of airline seat with more room


Hi Simon,
This is completely tour dependent.  Some of our European tours do offer an Economy Plus upgrade; in some cases we are able to pre-assign seats (and thus an Economy Plus upgrade) - however, in other cases we are unable to pre-assign.  As we cannot guarantee specific seat assignments, you may wish to consider purchasing the ‘land only’ package and obtaining your own airfare.  This will give you complete flexibility to book the carrier, routing, seat, and class of service of your choice.


___

Amy
2015-12-13 19:05:14
USD to Argentina Pesos


We are traveling to Buenos Aires/Antarctica in January.  For some reason, we are having trouble finding a bank or currency exchange location to convert US Dollars to Argentina Pesos.  Any suggestions?


Dave M
2015-12-14 10:31:25
Re: USD to Argentina Pesos


I never get foreign currency prior to leaving the U.S. I use an ATM in the foreign country - often in the airport - with a debit card. Usually I get a better exchange rate than the US banks offer. The worst option is to use a currency exchange in the foreign country - those exchange rates are very poor.


Dianne
2015-12-14 15:57:20
Re: USD to Argentina Pesos


I NEVER travel to a foreign county without some of "their" money.   Best place is with AAA - you can order the amount of  money ahead of time.  If you're forced to get funds at the airport - you pay a very high fee.


clw
2015-12-14 16:03:36
Re: USD to Argentina Pesos


Virtually no one wants Argentine pesos, including the Argentines. Our tour guides in Argentina have generally recommended not changing signficant amounts of money into pesos. Many places there will take US dollars and give a better than official exchange rate. We usually use our credit cards and get a small amount of pesos either at an ATM or at our hotel desk(often better exchange rate). If you change dollars to pesos down there, be careful how much you change, you will likely lose money on the deal.


clw
Re: USD to Argentina Pesos


Plenty of ATMs at the airport. Generally for Argentina don't get too much in pesos. The Argentine peso is very weak and their folks prefer dollars. Discuss with your tour guide and get on the spot advice. If you exchange too much, you'll end up losing money on both ends. For the Antarctica trip, you're only in BA a short time and will likely be able to get along with very few pesos as long as you don't travel around BA too much. In Ushuaia, you can likely use credit cards for most purchases. On the ship, they won't want pesos.


Dave M
Re: USD to Argentina Pesos


Lots of experts recommend using a ATM. Just make sure it is in the network of your debit card. Otherwise you may get huge fees. Look for indication that it is PLUS, Cirrus or Maestro network. Use your debit card's website to find locations of ATMs in their network.
Make large withdrawals rather than many small withdrawals to save fees.
http://www.independenttraveler.com/travel-tips/money-and-insurance/atms-...
Avoid "independent" ATMs. Pick one operated by a major bank. A good location is outside the bank building. The airport ATMs are another good choice. But avoid ATMs in back alleys.
Do not use currency exchange kiosks. The exchange rates are very poor.
http://www.fodors.com/news/exchanging-your-3870
http://www.independenttraveler.com/travel-tips/money-and-insurance/atms-...
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/41282577/ns/travel-travel_tips/t/traveling-abr...
http://traveltips.usatoday.com/exchange-foreign-money-13374.html
http://www.independenttraveler.com/travel-tips/money-and-insurance/get-t...
http://europeforvisitors.com/europe/articles/atms_exchange_machines.htm
https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/money
https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/money/cash-machine-atm-tips


__

Barbara S
2015-06-22 10:36:11
Binoculars


What is the basic strength of binoculars recommended for good animal viewing on Classic Safari?


ody-admin
2015-06-22 17:05:21
Re: Binoculars


Hi Barbara S,
We would recommend that that you get the strongest binoculars at the price and weight best for you.  As you will want to pack them in your carry-on, remember that they will count toward your maximum weight - not to mention that you will be wearing / carrying them during your safari excursions.  When looking up binoculars on line, you will see that some are recommended for African safaris.


Dae M
Re: Binoculars


Binoculars have two numbers such as 7x25 or 10x32 or 8x42. The first number is the magnification. I recommend 8x or 10x but 7x is ok too. Stronger magnifications are difficult to use because it becomes hard to hold the binocs steady.
The second number (such as 25 or 32 or 42 or 50) is the diameter of the 'objective' (the large lens farthest from your eye. Larger objectives let in more light and the image will be brighter, especially when the lighting is poor, at dusk for example. The disadvantage of a large objective is greater size and weight. I recommend you don't get an objective smaller than 30mm for your safari.
The ratio of the second number divided by the first number determines the "exit pupil." For example 10x32 has an exit pupil of 3.2mm. You must align the binocular's exit pupil with your own eye's pupil (which can be as big as 7mm in dim light). Binoculars with a large exit pupil are easier to get aligned with your eye and are more comfortable to use.
Binoculars also differ in field of view (the width of the area you can see) but this depends on the design of the binoculars and less so on the two numbers. Larger field of view is nicer.
If you wear glass you'll be interested in "eye relief" which is the distance from the eyepiece to the focus point. Eyeglass wearers like a larger eye relief.
You'll find both "poro prism" and "roof prism" designs. Poro prism binoculars are an older classic design and look like the image takes a zig-zag jog as it passes through the lenses. Roof prism binoculars look like the image goes straight through the binoculars. Generally the roof prism binoculars are better quality, better performing as well as being more compact.
Beyond those specs, binoculars differ in the coatings on the lenses (which affect clarity and brightness), waterproofing, and general durability and quality. Good binoculars are expensive.
You should physically try binoculars at an outdoor sporting goods store such as REI. You'll find 3 basic sizes. Compact are around 8x25. Easiest to carry but compromised optical performance. Mid-size are around 10x32. Large are about 8x42 or 10x50 and are larger and heavier. I recommend mid-size or large for your safari. I am bringing 2 pairs of Nikon Monarch 5 8x42 binoculars on my safari.
REI has a good description of binoculars.
http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/binoculars.html

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Barbara
2015-06-23 08:22:42
Iceland performing arts


Since we're scheduled to be in Iceland mid-September, I've been searching for performing arts entertainment on our free nights.  I cannot find anything with mid-September dates - and, of course, it isn't easy to find websites in English, although there are some; we were hoping to get advance tix to either a symphony, opera or theatre performance.  There is one comedy in English "Let's Talk Iceland", but I don't see prices or seat selection.  Can someone help here?
Thanks.


ody-admin
2015-06-24 10:28:42
Re: Iceland performing arts


Hi Barbara,
We are trying to find out some information for you and will respond as soon as we have it.  Thank you for your patience.


ody-admin
2015-06-24 16:45:27
Re: Iceland performing arts


Hi Barbara,
We have learned that the following is the best web site to obtain tickets for the performing arts in Iceland:  Harpa Concert Hall - http://en.harpa.is/?month=9
We wish you a wonderful journey to Iceland.


Barbara
Re: Iceland performing arts


Thank you for the response, but I've tried harpa, and leikfelag.is.  Earlier, I e-mailed sinfonia@sinfonia.is and have yet to receive a response.  The people who did respond were from kradak@kradak.is.  There is an evening performance "Let's Talk Iceland" but I was told it is very pricey for 2 people - $300 US/per person - if there is a group between 5 - 40, they would divide $300 by the number attending.  It's a one-hour performance usually in a pub.  My husband and I always book evening entertainment on our free nights, but Iceland doesn't make it easy.  Sooo different from Spain - Barcelona, for instance!!  I'm beginning to think there is nothing going on in September. . .
Thanks again.

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Dave M
2015-07-01 19:57:51
Insect Repellent Clothing


Unfortunately many of the most interesting travel destinations might have mosquitoes and other pesky insects. These insects are not only annoying but also can carry serious diseases such as Malaria, Chikungunya, Dengue, Yellow Fever, West Nile virus, and Japanese Encephalitis. Vaccinations are available for some diseases such as Yellow Fever and preventative medication is available for some such as Malaria. Travelers are still advised to apply insect repellent to exposed skin. DEET (30-50%) and Picaridin (19%) are recognized as effective. There are other popular repellents but none are as effective. Many leading authorities recommend Ultrathon lotion (34% DEET) which is especially long-lasting. I dislike sprays (which might get into eyes) and like the ability to apply lotion exactly where I want it. Apply insect repellent 20-30 minutes AFTER applying sun screen. DEET should not be used over cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
Travelers may get additional insect-repellent protection by wearing clothing (hats, shirts, pants, and socks) treated with permetherin. You can apply a permetherin spray that lasts for 3 washings. You can also purchase pre-treated clothing that lasts for 70 washings. The permetherin pre-treated clothing is expensive and, for me, was difficult to find locally. I did purchase some locally but bought most online. I often ordered more than one size and more than one color and returned the size or color I didn't want. The pre-treated clothing is odorless and my research indicated it was effective and safe to wear.
Insect-repellent clothing is advertised as "BugsAway," "No Fly Zone," "Insect Shield," "Insect Blocker," and "Insect Defense System." Using those search terms will help you find such clothing. The brands ExOfficio, Columbia, LLBean, and Cabelas have insect-repelling clothing. Some of these brands have retail stores but often don't fully stock insect-repellent clothes thus requiring online orders. Retailers such as REI carry some brands and you can find other reputable online retailers.
Happy travels!


Dave M
Re: Insect Repellent Clothing


RailRiders and White Sierra also make insect repellent clothing.



Barbara
2015-07-01 19:55:03
Spraying clothing

I have heard conflicting opinions about spraying clothing for bugs and am curious what people going to Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) in July/Aug.are planning on doing.
Thanks for your input


Dave M
Re: Spraying clothing


I've talked to many people and read extensively but I don't have any personal experience with spraying clothing with permethrin. My conclusion is that it is effective and lasts 6 washings. But as a chemist I'm a little concerned (not a lot but a little) about the safety of application and of wearing self-treated clothing.
If you choose to treat clothing with permethrin I would do it outdoors (not indoors) and wear protective clothing (goggles, mask, and nitrile or similar gloves). Permethrin spray has a nasty odor when wet but is odorless after it dries.
I decided that commercially pre-treated clothing was both safer and more effective. The downside is that it is expensive and difficult to find locally. For a safari I wanted "safari" colors such as khaki or brown which further limited my choices. I had an easier time selecting clothing than did my wife.
I purchased a booney hat, shirts, pants, and socks for my "Africa's Wildlife" trip to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia. I'm going soon (in the dry season) and the mosquito population shouldn't be as bad as during the wet season but I really don't know what we'll find. I'll also use DEET on my skin and take anti-malaria medication.
I wrote an earlier post ("Insect Repellent Clothing" in the General Chat message board) about brand names and would add RailRiders and White Sierra to my list of manufacturers of insect-repellent clothing.