The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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WEEKENDER / Entertainment

November 23, 2012

Long way from home

Getting the maximum out of tours of Italy, the Vatican, Switzerland, France, England

Good-bye lift, hello elevator.

We’re back in the USA after more than two weeks in Europe, specifically Italy, the Vatican (it is its own country, you know) Switzerland, France and England.

Wife Louise and myself decided a few years ago other people were spending time abroad, we should save up and go, too.

Slowly, very slowly we prepared. Eventually, we knuckled down and got our passports taken. We took each other’s pictures against the white wall in our kitchen, which has since been painted yellow, for our passport photos.

Since we were novices, we decided to go with a seasoned travel agent, rather than try to book it solo. We had a myriad of questions and having a travel agent (Jayne Colin) helped.

We booked through Trafalgar, a giant company whose buses you will see throughout Europe. We opted for a tour called European Splendor, because it gave us the most countries in one travel experience. It did not offer the most rest and relaxation. It did pack as many sites and sounds into one travel experience as one could hope for, however.

No chance to recover from a day and night in various airports and on airplanes. No time to adjust to time changes. We flew into Italy and were soon at a beautiful Italian restaurant for our first meal of the tour.  

The next day, it was up at 6:15 a.m. to go to the Vatican and Coliseum. Unfortunately, Italy was hit by a nationwide strike of government workers that day so we couldn’t get inside the coliseum, although the ruins were impressive from the outside.

Trafalgar offers local tour guides who are usually local citizens who speak excellent English and are proud of their communities. We had one showing us through the Vatican. As a tour group, we got quick access, not having to wait to get in like everyone else.

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