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Clients Feedback

Europe and Middle East

 


J. L. T , clients of Joan Anderson Travel in TX, Trip to Krakow - Prague

Krakow was a highlight for us, and our hotel was so centrally located that we could come and go during the day. The Jr. Suite (edit: Hotel Pod Roza) was huge and very nice for an old hotel. I would highly recommend staying there. Everything that was coordinated and arranged by Sophia was  A+…guides, driver, etc. was well worth the money. We could not have been more pleased with what she provided.


J.A family from WI, Trip to Romania, July 2015

Our trip was beyond wonderful. Cristian was a very smooth and courteous driver and a very friendly man. Mihai was tremendous. He also was very friendly very patient and a lot of fun to be around. To say that he was also very knowledgeable would be an understatement. Between what you did for us and with those guys did for us made for a very pleasurable and relaxing trip.


Ms. S.N, client of Walking Path Travel, CA, Moosburg, Germany, June 2015.


Moosburg is the site of a former VII-5 POW camp, the client's father was a POW there.
 

I Wanted to let you know in detail what an experience Dieter provided for us in Moosburg to visit the site of my father's prison camp during WWII. If you hadn't been so nice to help me with the contact we would have had a whole different experience.

He had contacted the Historic Society in the town. We were met by 5 people who all are trying to preserve the memory of the camp and what it meant during the war and for those who return to this place because of memories left by POWs.

Each of the people who met us had much knowledge of the camp. A woman active in the community gave a tour of the town church, it's background and history and it significance to the towns people during the War and now.

Then we went to three sites in the town.

The first was a main street in an area that was mostly residential. The road, now paved had been the main road in the camp. Now many of the buildings used as homes had been barracks and renovated and updated over time. There was one abandoned building, overgrown that still had an original wood door and you could see some of the structure and materials it had been built with originally. I found walking around this building that maybe my Dad had stood on the same ground.

We then went to two memorials that had been established recently. One in a park like setting. It was a fountain sculpted by a now famous French artist and former POW of Stalag VII.Then to a site that had been the cemetery for those who died in the war in the Camp. Now a cross and inscribed memorial stone mark the place.. All the graves have been moved to other places.

The people who accompanied us were so full of information and very interested in my Dad's story. They were most appreciative of the information I brought and shared with them.

We visited the small museum and met the Curator who had acquired many artifacts and information from other POW's families that had visited. They interviewed me, took pictures and allowed me to take all the pictures I wanted and answered questions. I made an entry in their guest book.

It was a highlight of my trip. Dieter was great and I would highly recommend him anytime.


Mr. & Mrs. G from FL Clients of Duggar Travel, June 2015, Brussels Chocolate Tour

FANTASTIC....Mr and Mrs G.  returned with accolades for the tour, off the beaten track with no tourists, the tasting, the wonderful, knowledgeable guide ... PERFECT. Your guide even has bottles of water, not just one brand but three different brands..just in case they wished one over the other.  Couldn't say enough ...THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.


R. family from CA, Clients of Walking Path Travel, June 2015, from Venice.

We have high hopes the other tours are as magnificent as was our tour to Dolomites. Cintia our guide was the best with the girls. She worked very hard to make sure everything was perfect and it was.  The girls call her THEIR Cintia. Emma sat next to her in the car and they became excellent friends. And Cintia wants us to send her a picture of the girls with her.  A highlight.  Please pass on the your contact at Sophia  You can definitely add this source to your ideas for future travelers   The tour was great fun...long drive to and from but worth all. We missed wine tasting due to traffics detour and to our climbing up the Dolomites after the cable car drive and to the lunch/dinner that was AWESOME!


 

E.T from MO, Cruise excursion Trabzon Turkey, August 2013

It was wonderful!  The guide was beyond great. He authored 2 books on Trabzon and Sumela Monastery.

He was perfect!  The folks who thought it was too expensive really missed a great day though he said the huge up charge was due to not just getting a larger car, but it would require a separate driver.

It was truly a great day

C&R from GA, 1 month European trip report. April - May 2013


Ginny K, from CA, trip to Germany October 2012

I recently took a trip to Germany with Dr. Dieter Banauch as my guide.  This adventure began 18 months after my husband of 42 years passed away.  I approached it as a challenge to myself to take a solo trip.  My targets were Heidelberg where I lived as a child in the early 50’s and  Burkhards, the birthplace of my husband’s maternal grandfather.  As I tried to determine how to get about without any contacts, I soon realized that I needed help with planning.  With great fortune, I found Loreene Orgoralini at “Can I Go, Too?” who used Sophia at Sophia's Travel in Florida as European Specialist.  Sophia suggested services of her favorite guide. Emails flew from California, to Florida, and on to Germany to Dr. Dieter Banauch.  Soon, I was packing and on my way.  Dieter picked me up at the airport in Frankfurt, the beginning of a week of lessons in travel, history, architecture, art, local customs and food, genealogy, nature, hiking, and a flood of memories – a total experience that left me with strength and confidence in myself and my future. 

It was a pleasure to have the guidance of such a knowledgeable professional.  His efforts to make this trip special for me included contacting and arranging a meeting with the family in Burkhards.  In Heidelberg, he spoke to the owner of the house where I had lived and we were able to enter and take pictures!  He allowed me time to walk along the river front of the Neckar and listened with interest to stories of my life there. 

Not only did we explore the villages, churches, and castles, but we also hiked through forests and granite boulders.  It was a most wonderful trip.  I have and will continue to tell people about this experience.

Cate and Jaclyn S., GA, trip to Morocco May 2012

Sophia you truly did an amazing job planning Morocco for us.  The entire experience has been beyond my wildest dreams.  The 3 hotels, each unique in its own way, are the most wonderful places to stay, which is saying a lot considering how often I travel and all the hotels I have visited over the years.  The encampment and camel ride were truly special experiences. 

Jaclyn doesn't even want to leave La Sultana!  Morocco has spoiled us.  We will have to visit again

Selya Family, MD, Spain April 2012

Dear Sophia,

Our family returned back home from Spain, bringing home so much excitement,  beautiful memories and pictures to share with friends and family !

The trip was so well organized by you and Veronia tours company. All details, including transfers, guides arrangements were so well thought in advance. We would not be able to visit Alcazar without well planned reservation.

Hotels were very comfortable, all with central location. Even with" not the best luck" for the weather in Madrid, under the pouring rain, we were able to get to all main attractions and visit 3 museums in one "free" day.

How can we miss Prada, Reina Sophia and Tis sons ! Tickets and vouchers were delivered, as it was promised to the hotel in time and all guides were prompt and very well educated, not to mention that they were very fluent in English.

Our private driver Mr. Gamal El Sawaf did such an awesome job by bringing us from Seville to Granada and gave us lot of valuable advices in terms of local specifics, cousin and shopping. Trip to Ronda was incredible !

My husband and I and our 13 year old son liked Moses, who navigated us through Seville and showed us some hidden gems, related to jewish history and custom wise adjusted the time of the tour.

Trains transportation happened to be much less problematic, then we anticipated and trains were comfortable and neat.

Everywhere guides were waiting for us ahead of time and made us feel very welcomed!

Markus also impressed us with his knowledge of Barcelona and surrounding towns and showed great knowledge of history, art and overall created the great very pleasant atmosphere over the last few days of our trip.

We would highly recommend this trip and that particular itinerary to everyone, who would like to enjoy visiting such a beautiful country as Spain in 10 days and learn about its Jewish heritage milestones as well as visit such pearls as Gaudi places, art museums with unique collections of Dali, El Greco, Goya, Velasquez and many more.

Thank you very much Sophia for your very professional approach, understanding of our requests and attention to details.

Appreciate !

Selya family.

B.B, UK, Tallinn, Estonia, July 2011

We had a wonderful cruise. No complaints at all.The guide in Estonia, Evelin Alliksoo, was superb. We had a large bus to ourselves, she spoke excellent English and very interesting. You could confidently recommend her to any of your clients.

 

Fred and Joni Lovell, CA, Central Europe trip, August 2010


Ireland and Scotland trip, H. family of 5, MI, July 2010

 Laurie and Jonathan P., NY, Poland trip. July 2010

Our whole trip went perfect, our guides were first rate and the drivers were excellent. The  hotels were great. It was a fantastic well planned experience! I cannot wait to book another trip!


Sandy M., Joyful Journey, MI, St. Petersburg Cruise excursion, July 2010

I just wanted to share with you what an excellent experience Gary and I had in St. Petersburg, Russia using the services Sophia arranged for us.   It was excellent.  Our guide, Nadia was waiting outside of customs (along with about 25 other private guides) and she whisked us outside to meet our driver, Vladimir.  We were off on our adventure.  Turns out it was a holiday weekend (Naval Holiday, lots of sailors in town) and on Sunday they had a great big parade in the morning with a huge street concert in the evening.   

Our tour of the city was very interesting as Nadia showed us the historic places and gave us history to go along with it.  They stopped often so we could take pictures, took us to the “Bazaar” store which also was a DCL recommended shopping spot and had a great restaurant lined up for dinner.  Nadia stayed with us through dinner and then wished us farewell after she made sure we were in the theater for the Folkloric show.  Vladimir was right there at the close of the show to take us back to the ship.l

Sunday morning they were promptly at the pier at 9am and we were off for our busy day to Catherine’s Palace and Peterhoff.  It was an interesting drive thru and out of town as we didn’t take any “expressways” to get to Tsarkoe Village.  Nadia was worth her weight in gold as she got us right up to the front of the queue waiting to get into Catherine’s.  It was quite a site to see all these groups and independents lined up waiting their turn to enter.  She was patient but knew exactly what to say and do.  Her instructions to us were “stick to me like glue”.  Once inside the palace we were able to move ahead of some groups and thus avoid having to wait in line.  Her knowledge of the history and palace were amazing.  We walked around the palace grounds as well before meeting up with Vladimir again on the other side of the palace.  Lunch at Podvorye Restaurant was a delicious 5 or 6 course meal of Russian cuisine. 

I was surprised once again that we didn’t take any “expressways” to get over to Peterhoff.  The weather both days was sunny, hot and humid but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the beautiful fountain gardens at Peterhoff.  Our hydrofoil ride back to city center was a pleasant chance to sit down and rest our feet.  When we returned to town we went back to the Bazaar store as I had a return to make and Nadia had made the arrangements for us to do that. It was less crowded at that time as no cruise line guests were there. We had extra time so they asked us if there was anything we’d like to do.  They stopped at a 5 star hotel so I could go inside and do a site inspection and then they gave us some free time on our own to explore around the Palace Square (near Hermitage)  and take on the challenge of getting dinner on our own.  She had pointed out a couple of café’s that we might want to try.  We were pleased with the choice that we made.  The canal cruise closed out our evening and we were glad to have Nadia along as it was all in Russian.   Our drive back to the ship was interesting as the street concert I mentioned earlier had roads closed so Vladimir was great in finding ways around the congestion.   We tipped them for their services and bid them farewell.   We were very pleased with our time in Russia and all the arrangements you set up for us.  Thanks again for all your efforts on our behalf.   Sandy & Gary  


 

Bruce and Eve Weber, CA, May 2010, Russia and Ukraine

As you know, everything is connected. So what happens when you want to experience an adventure in Russia and the Ukraine combining Jewish heritage and Russian historical and cultural sites?

Easy question to answer. You contact Sophia Kulich and give her the outline of your dream trip. Then sit back and let her perform her planning magic.

Sophia held our hands through the maze of Russian bureaucracy (government visas, currency exchange, etc.); reserved top-notch, hospitable hotels in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Kiev; collaborated with tour operators in Russia and Ukraine as well as our personal travel consultant in the United States; established a meaningful itinerary and, in addition, exposed us to must-see historical gems; and, most importantly, selected and vouched for extremely well-versed, English-speaking guides, all steeped in education and knowledge.

As several months went by before the trip, Sophia continued to hone the itinerary, improve an already detailed schedule, and constantly updated us with travel tidbits and important salient facts. She is efficient, dependable and professional.

As veteran global travelers, we have experienced many adventures--and a very few misadventures--and can easily state: "Our customized, private tour of Russia and Ukraine, as developed by Sophia Kulich, ranks as one of our finest and memorable travel adventures.

Would we contact Sophia again to piece together another one-of-a-kind experience? Absolutely yes, in a New York (ooops, Russian) second.

Bruce and Eve Weber


Bob & Frances B., MO, Trip to Germany and Uniworld Cruise Paris - Nuremberg, May 2010

Uniworld's tour manager was not as good as we have had with them in the past. The boat, the itinerary, the food and the service were very nice and as expected.
Dieter (the guide in Germany) was very good and did a fantastic job.  We could not have done the visit to Kirtorf without him. I would recommend Dieter to anyone.  And thank you for all you did for us.


 

John K., party of 4, IL, FL, NY, MA, Trip to Russia, March 2010

I and everyone in the group greatly enjoyed our trip to Russia!  Our two guides, Lina and Anya, are the embodiment of professionalism, knowledge, and courtesy.  Moreover, our two drivers, Valeri and Sergei, were also prompt and professional.  We could not have asked for a better group of individuals to help us along in our journey!

As the only one in our group to have made a previous visit to your country back in July 1992, I can attest to the fact that much has changed since those very difficult and heady days.  It gratified me to see that the material condition of most people I saw and met has improved from those tumultuous times.  Though much still needs to be done, I am pleased to see that the chaos and uncertainty of those times seems to be at an end.

Speaking for myself, I am interested in someday making a return visit to the Russian Federation; only this time desiring to visit the Russian far east-particularly the Kamchakta peninsula and the immense and unspoiled nature there as well as Lake Baikal.  Any feedback you may be able to provide regarding any suggested itinerary and prices would be most appreciated.

I thank you and your staff, both here and in Russia, for your effort and assistance.   Das Veedanya! 


Kathy Murray, PTS Travel, booked clients Sharon and Lindsay H. From FL for trip to Istanbul, Cairo, Jerusalem and Athens, October 2009

I just wanted to share this email I just got from one of my clients. The email below is from one of my clients who just returned from a 10-day trip to Istanbul, Jerusalem, Cairo and Athens. They were very specific about where they wanted to go and what they wanted to do. Sophia helped me put together a wonderful itinerary for them, including hotels, tours and private transfers in each city.  I just wanted to share, and to thank Sophia for all of her help! Sometimes I feel as if I’m bothering her with all of our questions and changes, but she is always very patient!!

Client feedback: Back from the yet another Kathy Murray perfectly orchestrated VIP trip! We are loaded down with 1000 count Egyptian sheets, olive wood, Turkish rugs and of course the medal from the Marathon. The Cairo guide should be recommended highly. Thanks again and we will continue to be your loyal patrons.


Amira F. from NY. Honeymoon to Italy, October 2009

Trip was great. All of your recommendations were right on. The car rental was great- they upgraded us free of charge just because they wanted to get the car back to Milan. Park le Fonti was great- like you said, beautiful views, and really hospitable staff. You were so right about Cinque Terre, too many tourists and Rick Steves everywhere!!! But the hiking there was good. Lake Como was my favorite, we really enjoyed Hotel Centrale. If I were to do it again, I would do a day less in Cinque Terre and a day more in Lake Como. All in all- a beautiful glimpse of Italy.


Clients of All Together Now Travel, Jacqueline and Laurence F, CA , Central Europe September 2009

Hi Barbara,

It was a fantastic trip.  The weather was absolutely perfect with sunny skies every day; you didn’t even need a sweater at night, except when we arrived in Prague.  Every place was beautiful and special in its own right.  Every transfer was right there when we got off the train and the train stations were less than 10 minutes from every hotel.  That was quite nice.  In Prague, we couldn’t find the guy and of course that was when we arrived around 8:30 p.m.  We just waited around and finally I saw a guy flapping a sign against his leg.  I thought…if you’d hold it up we could have found you!   

The hotels were all wonderful, of course the Vienna and Salzburg ones were the best in terms of luxury, but they were all in great locations with good staff, the breakfasts were great also.  I sure miss having someone prepare my omelet, get me my tea, extra forks, etc. LOL

Thanks for everything!


Nikki F., Las Vegas, and her travel agent Marcia B. from A Vacation of A Lifetime - booked private tours of Rome and Florence, September 2009

I just wanted to drop you a quick note of thanks for all of the help you were in putting this fabulous vacation together with Mom.  The sights were amazing, the cruise ship a dream, and the tours with Leticia and Damien (Florence and Rome) just outstanding!  It was all just unforgettable, and a thrill to see Mom enjoying some of the things that she has wanted to see all of her life.  Thanks again and wishing you and yours all of the best       Nikki

Marcia B, A Vacation of a Lifetime

I contracted Sophia for a  full time Rome guide for 2 days -3 years ago and my clients came back with astounding raves on the guide. The following year Sophia’s guide took clients and their families on a day guide (from the ship) in Rome and Florence. They wanted to take both guides HOME with them-they were so fabulous.
I have used Sophia for hotels as well.
This year I talked my agent to use Sophia for her clients who wanted to spend 3 hours in the Vatican Museum.  Yes, more expensive than  the cruise, but they took the tour. Sophia had a history/archeologist guide take care of them.  Results:  “It was worth every penny”

I had 2 daughters with their over 85 yr mother (on a cruise) Rome and Florence-for 1 full day in each of the 2 port.  The mother called to tell me how wonderful and “Perfect” and their knowledge of art and the artists was,  I advised Sophia, the mother is an artist and her dream was to see the Vatican, Uffizzi and the Academia, cathedrals of both areas etc. She advised she would never have been able to hear nor ask questions if she was on a tour bus.

If you need guides, you can be assured you will have nothing but “wow” comments from your clients

No, this is not a Paid advertisement- but when someone has a great product, You all should be aware of it,  I am not interested in “saving” $100 by going with Mr. X from Italy who advertises on the web as I know the quality of guides she has at her fingertips.


 

Joan and Morley B from Ontario, Canada, Jewish Heritage tour of Odessa, Ukraine, September 2009

 

Thank you for your message and excellent planning.  Yes, we did not show up.  We arrived at 2:30 pm.  I had confused September 2 with Day 2 of the cruise--my responsibility entirely.  However your contact in Odessa was wonderful and as it turned out, the next day she had a bus picking up 8 other people from another cruise ship.  She agreed that we could go on it and we had a wonderful tour with a guide who told us to call her Dona.  She is a 73 year old widow and not only did the tour, took all of us to a Kosher restaurant, shared out lunch and then took Morley and myself to a store where I could buy authentic Ukrainian crafts as opposed to Chinese imports and insisted on walking us back to our ship.

 

So all's well that ends well and I thank you for your assistance.

 


 

William and Barbara L, GA, June 2009, Trip to France, Paris and Normandy

We have recovered, though getting our sleeping adjusted after coming home was harder than it was going over.  Our flight going and coming was comfortable with motorized reclining seats. Paris was beautiful, some days overcast, but only a few sprinkles of rain.  Our hotel was perfect.  We visited Versailles, The Louvre, Notre Dame (twice), Monmarte (with a return trip for the Moulin Rouge show), Rodin's Garden and Museum, Musee D'Orsay, the Eiffel Tower (had lunch there), the Cluny Museum, Bon Marche and Luxembourg Gardens.  The staff at the Victoria Palace recommended wonderful places to eat, especially C'est Mon Plaisir, a little bistro on Montparnasse. We became good friends with the bartender at the hotel, who concocted some delicious drinks sans alcohol.

Our guide to Normandy, Olivier Criquet was wonderful. He was terrifically informative about the whole area.  Normandy and Hotel, Chateux Cheneviere were breathtakingly beautiful.  When we arrived at the chateau, they were waiting for us, saying you had contacted them to be sure that we were treated well.  And we were!  All the staff were friendly. Our meal at the chateau was eleven courses and fabulous. We visited Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery before going there, and the next day saw lots of quaint countryside and climbed to the top of Mont St. Michel. We only regretted that our stay in that area was so short.  Giverny was a riot of color. 


Cate S, Georgia, May-June 2009, 5 people trip to Europe

Thank you both so much for all the attention to detail and help planning the trip.  We all had a great time!  We had a very relaxing and at the same time action packed time - - all the pre-arranged train tickets, transfers and great hotels really helped me (and everyone) make the most of our time there despite my health challenges.

Also, thank you so much for dealing with the hotel in Como so quickly when I contacted you - - I was so relieved to get a beautiful room after just 1 day instead of waiting a few days like they were fully expecting me to do...  It was hotter than usual in Como so having a room with a view when I was stuck in bed was a huge relief.

In case this helps:

Cruise - - no issues at all.  Easy boarding and departure, rooms were good.

Transfer to Cambridge and London - - the driver was about 40 minutes late and did not know the area very well but we did have a good time with him - - very personable and pleasant company.

Melia White House Hotel - - this is the only hotel I will use when we go to London in the future.  They were terrific.  Rooms were great, breakfast was yummy and the concierge was truly terrrific.  He arranged to have a couple of our suitcases sent back to the US (we didn't need our cruise clothes in Europe) - he contacted the courier service and called me when I was in Europe to let me know the cost and that the bags were safely on their way back home.  I highly recommend this hotel.

Hotel La Manufacture - - cute little boutique hotel.  Love the lobby and the front desk staff were extremely friendly and helpful.  Great location on the west bank.  Rooms were a little sparse but ok for a one night stay.  The teenagers all loved the hotel.

Hotel Wellenberg, Zurich - - my second stay there.  Still love the hotel and the location.  Will stay there again if we are fortunate enough to get  back to Switzerland.  Highly recommend this hotel.  And the rooms are roomy, nice views and really beautiful contemporary decor - - so a nice change from all the gold and glitz in other European hotels.

Hotel Metropole Suisse in Como - - except for my initial frustration regarding the dungeon room they gave me day 1, wonderful location, breakfast and decor.  Room 42 (the room they gave me day 2) is lovely.  We probably would stay at this hotel again but would want to know for sure what rooms...  The hotel I stayed at a few years ago was under construction so am really glad we decided to go for the Metropole hotel.  Plus the location is right in the center of all the action so this time we had no 30 min walk required to get to the boats, restaurants etc.

Bauer Hotel in Venice.  Wow.  Expensive but well worth it if you can afford it.  We did not have a view from our rooms but the rooms are huge, luxurious - - staff is very helpful and breakfast on the patio beside the Grand Canal and a side canal are truly wonderful.  I also tried the hotel spa across the lagoon.  Amazing.  Really hope to get back to Venice and this hotel but might consider a room with a view if I can afford it.

All other transfers except Venice - - no issues.   The driver in Paris was not friendly or helpful with bags but that is pretty much my experience in Paris anyway so was not surprised.  Venice - - had a bit of an issue finding the contact when we arrived (he was late) but taxi etc. was wonderful.

Eurail passes are still the best - - love the ease of travel with them.  We got discounts on our trip from Lucerne to the top of Mt. Rigi as well as a benefit of the eurail passes.

Thank you also for forwarding me the phone info for the driver in Rome.  We didn't need it since we found him easily but was very nice to have the number just in case.  

Anyway, thank you again for all your help before and during the trip!

Now, next year I hope to do another trip - - cruise across to Europe again then spend a couple of weeks in a couple of countries.  I will contact you for help when I get a better idea of when (maybe late April/early May) and what countries.  We spent 1 day in Lisbon and loved it - - I know in your email you mentioned you had recently been there.  Any suggestions or ideas if we decided to spend a few days there next time?  I think on our next trip we will choose 2 - 3 cities as a home base for maybe 5 days each - - then take little day trips from each of those home bases.  (Kind of what we did in Zurich - - our day in Lucerne and Mt. Rigi worked out perfectly).


Michael and Patricia F, CA,  May 2009 trip, cruise and tour of St. Petersburg, Russia

I just wanted to take a few moments of your time to give you my own personal feedback from our Baltic Cruise. You scored an A+ selecting the guide and chauffeur in ST. Petersburg. Ann was such a delight, so sweet and full of information. I loved the fact that she even had some time to recite poems by Alexander Pushkin and acquaint us with some of his poetry. It is quite evident that she loves her country and is proud of all the wonderful sights of her city. Sergei was always on time, opening doors and just as polite as one would hope our own children are to others.

We were able to convince several people on the ship that private tours were far superior to those offered by the ship.  I gave your name and contact information to a number of people.  I hope they contact you.


Michael and Rosann P., NY, April 2009. Trip to Russia

Sorry I'm late in sending this testimonial; but, I would like to so very much thank you  for the outstanding services you provided for my wife and myself  during our recent trip to Russia.  As with previous trips, in just a few e-mails and phone calls you were able to get a sense of what we desired in regards to accommodations, transfers, transportation, etc.  There was not a single glitch the entire vacation.  In addition, while aboard, any last moment changes that we wished to make  were professionally and efficiently arranged. We will certainly be in touch when we take our next holiday.

Sincerely,

Michael and Rosann


Arlene R from Toledo, OH June, 2008

Switzerland & Southern France (French Riviera).
This has been our second time booking with E & M Travel.  Sophia has been an excellent person to work with on our vacation plans, and we would continue to work with her on future tours.  We took a Tauck guided tour of Switzerland.  Our accommodations were superb, the hotels were great and our tour guide, Karen was very knowledgeable about Switzerland.  My husband and I enjoyed beautiful scenery, lush mountains, and interesting sites such as riding a cogwheel train up to the Mt. Matterhorn (Teddy Roosevelt climbed), and Mt. Jungfraujoch, the Ice Palace (made out of a glacier which we walked on). We visited many cities such as Zermatt, St. Moritz (we viewed the most beautiful scenery), Interlaken, Bern, Lucerne and had a side trip to Italy where we stayed at Lake Lugano.  We had a beautiful balcony overlooking the harbor. The Swiss trains are punctual and clean.  We rode the famous Glacier Express with big panoramic windows where we were able to view waterfalls, tiny alpine villages and glaciers.  We finished our tour in Lucerne and traveled on a train to Basel, which we connected to the Basel airport by bus (very easy to do) to catch an EasyJet plane to Nice. We spent time in Monaco. We saw the market, palace, took a city tour, and the buses made it very easy to get around Monaco.  It is very hilly and there are lifts to take from different levels which is helpful. In  Nice we took a half day tour to Cannes (The film festival area for the celebrities) and our tour guide took us to the synagogue there. There was a Bat Mitzvah going on.  The Cannes synagogue was beautiful. We also saw Antibes (we drove along the beautiful coast and saw the harbor filled with big yachts and fine sandy beaches).  Our last stop was St. Paul de Vence, a quaint village with narrow winding streets, vaulted alleyways, and shopping arcades. This village is noted for painters such as Marc Chagall.  We returned to our hotel SAS Raddison where there was a wonderful pool on the roof overlooking the French Rivera beach. Our trip was wonderful and we thank Sophia for helping us arrange these fine places and working on the fine details to make it an enjoyable trip for us.
  


A group of students from Brooklyn, NY, Shakespeare trip to London, April 2008

This was the second year that Sophia booked our trip to London and Stratford upon Avon for a group of eleven students studying Shakespeare. Of course, we returned to Sophia because of her professional and efficient abilities. Planning school group trips is hard because there are so many different demands -- but Sophia was amazingly patient and compliant throughout.  The trip was a huge success - the students learned a lot and had a wonderful time at the sites and with the guides.  I would recommend Sophia to any student group -- she does all the legwork. Once again, thank you!
Read here Student's trip report
Yael


Michael and Jan B., IL, trip to Russia, September 2007

Dear Sophia,

My husband and I very much appreciate all your efforts to make our trip to Russia a wonderful experience.   We had a great time!

Excellent guides and drivers made it possible for us to see the entire itinerary we had scheduled before our visit.  (Luck with traffic conditions also helped a little.)   The guides were extremely knowledgeable, energetic and enthusiastic.  The drivers were dignified and helpful.

Your help in the planning of our trip was indispensable.  Thank you for your advice and for all the important information you passed on to us.  We will highly recommend you to friends! 
Sincerely yours,
Jan and Michael B.


Kevin M, from CA, Family of 6 , private tours in Paris and Normandy and apartment in Paris, August 2007

Everything went perfect!!!   The Paris and Normandy tour guides were excellent.   My youngest son got to stand right in front of the Mona Lisa by himself because the tour guide knew that kids were allowed in front of the ropes.   Thank you for all your help.  I would highly recommend you to anyone!!


Pilgrimage to Rome for visually impaired person, from South Africa,  August 2007

Thanks, Sophia.  All went well.  The driver, the guides and the hotel staff were out of this world.  The guides, Gregory on Saturday and Keiron on Sunday, were exceptional.  They went out of their way to take me to the places I was interested in, as well as to others that were not on my programme but which they thought I'd like to visit. Their knowledge of art, of Rome and of the churches was fantastic.  Gregory worked overtime on Saturday in order to take me to a Mass in St Peter's.  Please tell Vatican Tours and the Dei Mellini Hotel that I was more than happy with their service.  At the hotel, Michaela and especially Giuseppe were tremendous.  Thank you also for your help and organisation. Kind regards. BvR


Lejfer Family Heritage trip to Lithuania, Ukraine and Central Europe, July 2007 - Read this incredible story.


Group of 12 people from NJ, private cruise excursions in Turkey, Bucharest and Sochi (Black Sea), July 2007

I just wanted to thank you for organizing such great guided tours for us.  We really enjoyed every one of the guides.  However, I did want to specifically site the guide and treatment we got from Mehmet in Istanbul.  Their treatment and response was incredible and exceptionally professional.  We will definitely recommend them to our friends in the future.  Their guide, Ami, was excellent, knowledgeable, accommodating and exceedingly pleasant.

Abe

We thoroughly enjoyed our incredible voyage visiting such ports of great interest and historical significance along the Black Sea. The tours that you arranged for us were outstanding and the guides were extremely well versed, knowledgeable, and most accommodating. It truly made our trip most enjoyable and memorable. I want to thank you for all of your efforts in creating such a wonderful experience for our group. I will certainly recommend your agency to others and look forward to working with you again in planning future excursions.

Best regards, Joy 


Michael and Rosann Petrizzi. from NY, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Paris June 2007

Hi Sophia,
Our trip was wonderful with much credit and thanks to you. I apologize for not getting in touch with you sooner; but, in any event, everything went extremely well.
FYI: *The London people were excellent in correcting the Prague transfer.
* Drivers were prompt, professional, and courteous.
* Your idea of plane + train transfer (as opposed to just train) was great.
*Even beyond the weak dollar, Zurich prices are off the charts (Ex: $34 for 1 coffee and 2 expresso)
* I agree w a Fodor's review that 2 star accommodations in Prague are a step or two below 2 star accomodations in most other European countries.
* Our Prague tours wound up as personal ones as we were the only clients-lucky us!
* The Museum of Communism in Prague is terrific. The fact it's located in a tourist area (next to a Mc Donald's) shouldn't deter people with a bent towards this topic.

I thnk the best compliment I can pay you, Sophia,  is that you were able to sense our needs and accomodate accordingly-all via phone and email!

I have recommended you with great enthusiasm to others and will be in touch when it's time for our next trip. Thanks again. Michael


Lisa S, NC, family of 4, Private 9 day Harry Potter Tour from London

Hi Sophia:
We had a great time, though I think we need a vacation from our vacation we went so many places!   Our guide, David Ambrose, was very informative as well as flexible.   I'd do a couple of things differently, if I had it to do again, but overall, we loved it.  Thanks.
Lisa


Michelle and Pamela from NY and IN, trip to Italy May-June 2007

Pamela and I had a terrific time in Italy and all of the hotels you secured for us were great!  Each of them was in a terrific location and met our expectations.  Given you hadn’t used several of these hotels before we put together a few thoughts/comments on each of them given our experience. We hope it will help you with future clients!

Thanks again for all of your help! Michelle

VENICE: Palazzo Salvadego: Great location, right off St. Mark’s Piazza. Small hotel. Modern, recently redone. Very nice sized room and clean. Continental breakfast (muffins and rolls) is provided at Hotel Monaco right on the Grand Canal. There is a great view of all the Gondolas lining up and taking passengers – fantastic scene to watch while eating breakfast.

CINQUE TERRE: La Sosta. Great bed and breakfast – only four rooms and great attention to the guests. Very spacious and clean room. Owners were extremely helpful on what do to in the area. Hotel is VERY, VERY, VERY difficult to find – guests should be sure to get directions from the hotel prior as it is hard to find once there. A car is almost a necessity as the hotel sits on top of the mountain between Levanto and Monterosso – taxi’s can take you to the cities for about 15 Euros each way.

FLORENCE: Palazzo Raspoli. We were bumped from our hotel our first night there and were put up at the Fenice in a really, really crappy room. It is supposedly a four star hotel but we were in a room on the lower level that was dirty, dark, small, etc.  It was an extremely bad experience and our hotel was not able to do anything for us to compensate. Very disappointing. Once in our hotel room the experience was very positive. Staff was extremely helpful. Rooms are very spacious and clean, however the hotel as a whole, rooms included need a face lift. Linens, etc need to be cleaned, walls could use a paint job, etc.  It looks worn. Very nice breakfast and breakfast room. Downfall: Hotel is right in front of the bus stop so it gets congested. Also not ideal for coming home in the evening as a key is required to get in the front door – a bit tricky of a door to open and then people are gathered right there for the bus.

ROME: Locanda Scenatorium. Great location and hotel. Very modern, and clean rooms. Room was the smallest one we had but manageable. All the other rooms seemed to be a bit more spacious than ours. No lift and a lot of stairs to take luggage up! The included breakfast is average at best – clients are given a voucher for a beverage and croissant at the local café and the quality is not so great.  


Brenda N from Greenwich, CT, trip to Egypt, May 2007

My trip was wonderful.  My only wish is that it was longer.  Everyone there was so great and all the transfers went smoothly.  Thank you so much for recommending them to me as I have recommended Isram World to others.

I'm thinking that my next vacation sometime next year will be the Grand Canyon, Greece or the Galapagos.  If you have any suggestions, I'm definitely open.

Thanks again,
Brenda


Student group from Brooklyn, NY for a Shakespeare trip to London , December 2006

Dear Sophia,
Thank you for the really wonderful job that you did arranging all of the details for our England Shakespeare trip. The itinerary was thoughtfully planned out and we had wonderful guides in all the places that we visited. My students learned tons about Shakespeare and London through first-hand visits and experiences.  Your hard work and patience definitely made the trip a success!
Yael
 


Peter and Jeanne from NY, Private wine tour from cruise, Bordeaux

Yes, the ship was late, but we had an absolutely fabulous tour of St. Emilion and Bordeaux!  Our guide couldn't have been more accommodating.  She enriched our visit and definitely made us want to return for a longer visit.  Thanks again for all your help!

Srinath Sampath and family of 4 from FL, July 2006, trip to Italy.

Day 1. The car renting at Milan was no problem but we lost one bag for a week. They finally delivered it at Bauer Hotel in Venice. We landed in Stresa in about 40 minutes and Borromees Palace was incredible. It is one of the most beautiful places we have ever stayed in the whole world. Luckily they put us in a big quad room and charged us 430 Euros per day. I would rate that hotel as a 10. We drove to Switzerland side the next day and after that driving to (in the Alfa Romeo) Verona was about 3 hours. But finding the guide was quite difficult once inside the city. I stopped at the train station and called the guide to come and get us.  The guide was good, spoke decent English and because it was hot, he drove us around for about an hour explaining the history. We loved it. The hotel Accademia Verona  was in downtown and was ok, no good view though (rating 6). Walking in the evening around the center square was fun. 
 
Day 4 we drove to Cortina and loved the Dolomite mountains. I wish we stayed there one more day. The hotel was ok (rating 7) but there were other 4 star hotels situated with better mountain views. 

Day 5 we drove to Venice and dropping of the car was ok. There is no sign for rental cars at all.  We took the private boat to Bauer hotel. Hotel was good but the std room had no view at all and we felt it was too expensive for the overall convenience. The breakfast was served in a beautiful location though. I would rate it as 7. The Gondola ride was ridiculously expensive at 140 Euros for a 50 minute ride but we had to do it once.

Day 6: The tours to Murano and Burano were excellent thanks to the guide. He was very good and honest and began at 11:15 AM and completed at 5:30PM. He was also the owner of the tour company.  The walking tour in the morning was ok, we were a little late and started at 9:20AM but she rushed out at 11AM. You can easily skip that and advise us to walk around on our own. She made us avoid the long line to the inside of San Marcos basilica and that was the only advantage.

Day 7: Guide to Trieste was ok, but the tour to the caves was good. The ruins were very interesting.

Day 9: Taking train to Florence was fun and Bauer hotel booked the tickets. There was a taxi strike and we had to walk to the hotel. But that was not too far. The hotel De La Ville was very good . Walking around in the city was fun.

Day10: No problem going to Pisa by local train. Came back by 5 pm and went to see David and other sculptures. Had to stand in hot sun for tickets  for 1.5 hours. We should have booked the tickets in advance through the hotel.

Day 11: Morning we checked out and went to another sculpture museum which was very good,  we missed one more important museum so we should have stayed one more day. Renting the car took 2.5 hours because of their inefficiency and we left by 5PM and drove to Assisi.

Day 12: Assisi hotel was beautiful (rate 8) and so was the town. Left for Paganica by 2:30PM. Instead of taking three hours it took 6 hours because the roads are small and we got lost many times when we hit small towns. We found that Paganica is not at the edge of Abruzzo national park. It is the entrance to another park called Gran Sasso. So we missed Abruzzo completely.

Day 13: We drove around in Gran Sasso and visited a couple of medieval ruins way up in the mountains (Castello Rocco). That stay requires one more day even for Gran Sasso. In the evening we drove to Rome airport and dropped our car by 10PM. There is no sign again for rental return so we lost one hour trying to find it.  We paid 53 Euros to get to the hotel by 10PM and the taxi driver was excellent. The hotel Colonna Palace was good (rate 7).

Day 14  Morning guide to Roma was very good, she was from Sweden. It was worth it. Afternoon guide to Vatican was the best, a real professional.

Day 15: Guide to Ostia Antica was ok.  The ruins were great to visit though.

Day 16: We were driven to Pompeii in the morning and reached there by 12 noon. The guide showed us the highlights only and missed showing us the second group of casts of bodies as well as the largest arena. It was not important to go for big lunch and after that they decided that it is easier to travel to Naples than go to Sorrento. We reached the ferry at about 4:40 PM and took a 5PM one to Capri. Hotel Luna at Capri was beautiful and but we did not have sea side room. We badly missed it. I rate the hotel as 8. 

Day 17:  Capri was beautiful and we rented a boat for 150 Euro to take us around the island for 3.5 hours. The boat guy was very good and let us swim in the ocean on three different times. That was the best 150 Euro we ever spent in Italy for a tour. You can not really miss seeing the blue grotto there. Overall Isle of Capri gave us the best value and fun.

Day 18: Ferried to Naples and was received by the guide at the ferry terminal, rushed to the museum. She was very good and showed us the highlights but that was enough. In the afternoon we went to visit Herculaneum because of Pompeii's unconvincing visit. That was great. It cost us 100 Euros for a taxi for the full 4 hour trip. We thoroughly enjoyed the trip.

Day 19: Flew to Catania without a problem, got received at the airport by the guide. She showed us the town but it was hot and a bit boring too. The visit to baroness was great though. Even the guide was thrilled and complimented Angela, our tour contact. The hotel at Taormina Villa Diodoro was beautiful, my rating is 8. Taormina is the city we loved at night to walk around. The cooking class that night was exotic and great. Thank you for that. We went there by 6:30PM and ate at 10:30PM.

Day 20: Drive to Ragusa was good, Lunch at baroness was fantastic. She was very welcoming, She made sure  her American neighbor came and spent time with us during the entire lunch. I would love to go back for lunch again! She also runs bed and breakfast (as well as cooking lady) and we wish we had stayed there for a day! Afternoon guide at Syracusa was very good.

Day 21: Morning visit to Mt Etna was great. Guide and the driver was energetic and very good. So it was a waste returning for just lunch. We should have skipped it and trekked Mt Etna. He was very willing to spend the whole day with us and we were ready.

Day 22: Island of Volcano and Lipari visit was great, we loved it. The guide was very good and tried his best to make us happy. We climbed the volcano as well as we toured the island in the boat. But most importantly we found that there was an island nearby called Stromboli that continuously put out lava and best visible at night. There was a boat leaving at 8PM from Volcano and Lipari and returning back by 10:30PM. But that requires a stay in either Lipari or Volcano island. If we only knew it, we would have jumped at the opportunity to do it. We could have skipped seeing Catania the first day and spent that night there. The second day we could have taken cooking class. The overall experience at Sicily was very good.

 
Day 23: Going to Taormina airport was no problem but it was a zoo out there. We barely caught the flight.
 
It was a wonderful experience especially when in Sicily they take it so easy. I found that they are not stressed because the towns are built in a way they can walk. Next, they have no medical insurance scare. Thirdly they spend very little for college education. With those three combined with the desire to keep the old buildings maintained, not rebuild them, makes it a stress free life.
 
Like I said, we had a great time overall I will be happy to recommend you to my friends, I rate you as 10.

 


Dale and Ray from CA., trip to Northern Spain, July 2006

Our trip to Spain was great; all hotels and the rental car worked out fine. The best hotels were the Passeo de Arte in Madrid (excellent value) and the Casa del Marques (Santillana de Mar). Breakfasts were excellent and most hotels had free wi-fi internet access. Rental car pickup, dropoff and performance were good. Roads were better than I had expected. It was easy to get a local train from San Sebastian to Hendaye (all connections walking distance with our light luggage) and then catch the Paris train.

Northern Spain is very beautiful; the mountains, Bay of Biscay, coastal towns. San Sebastian is very nice. Thanks for your help in arranging this trip.


Mr. & Mrs. H.E, NJ , June 2006  Private Jewish Heritage Tour to Turkey

First we'd like to thank your for making all the arrangements, and for making sure that we had good guides who were able to enhance the experience. We had a very good trip.  Turkey is a remarkable place for tourists- it has just about everything one would want- history, entertainment, spectacular scenery, friendly people, good weather and more.  We were very happy that we finally made the trip- we were thinking about it for a long time.  

Every city we visited had something different to offer us, and we took advantage of all we could.  Our days were packed with things to do all day.  We returned back to the hotel tired but happy.  We especially enjoyed Ephesus and Cappadocia.  We had no idea how interesting these places could be.  Our guides were very good, accommodating and willing to makes changes we desired, and you can inform Mr. Dervis of this.  Sardis was so-so.  We especially were happy to have Jewish guides in Istanbul and Izmir.  Since they were knowledgeable about the Jewish communities and synagogues, we were able to visit many synagogues and places of Jewish interest in both cities.  Without them we would never have gotten into the synagogues since security is very tight and people just cannot arrive unannounced and expect to be allowed in to visit them. 

The only thing I would change in the itinerary was our visit to Ankara.  Although our half -day tour was interesting and we did get a glimpse of Ankara, the 4-hour boring drive to Cappadocia from there was too much.  It would have been better to skip Ankara and fly from Istanbul early in the AM directly to Cappadocia (Kayseri airport).  We would then still have 1 1/2 days in Cappadocia, which is sufficient to see everything and would have cut out 1 day from the trip.  Our guide in Cappadocia was also very good.

Our hotel in Istanbul was great.  We arrived to Istanbul in the PM and our room overlooked the city.  All the mosques and other buildings were lighted and the scene was breathtaking.  It also was a very nice, very well run hotel.  Breakfast was outstanding. The hotel in Izmir was fair- acceptable.  However the cave hotel in Cappadocia was not satisfactory.  It certainly was not a 4 star hotel- not by a long shot.  The experience of sleeping in a cave was interesting but we could have easily missed the experience.  The breakfast was stingy.  The personnel, however, were very nice and accommodating.  

One thing we'd like to add for your information when you book other tourists on trips to Turkey.  We did not want to carry too much cash so we used ATM machines, and they were available, albeit one had to search for them.  We also took American Express traveler's checks, and that was a disaster.  We were unable, for some mysterious reason, to cash them anywhere we visited in Turkey.  Even the banks did not accept them.  We cashed some in our first hotel (at a poor rate) but the other hotels would not cash them or would only if they charged an exorbitant.  However, we might have been able to pay for large purchases with checks.  If you pay in US dollars you get a better rate than if you pay by credit cards.  Very few places take American Express- Visa or Mastercard are preferred.

Thanks again for your effort in putting the trip together.  We know it took a lot of work on your part.  It was a pleasure working with you again.


Steve J., family of 4, Jewish Heritage trip to Latvia and Lithuania., June 2006

The trip was great.  We looked forward to everyday and were never disappointed.  Yulik was amazing.  He made the trip a journey of a lifetime for all of us.  His passion for guiding and sharing is something that was contagious.  He is extremely resourceful and truly loves what he does. We were very fortunate to have him with us for this trip.


Foster-Chan family from CA (2 adults, 2 children - 3,4 years old). Private tour to  to Greece

June 30th, 2006  
Dear Sophia, 
Our family would like to thank you for your excellent help in planning our recent vacation trip to Greece.  We loved Greece and everything about the trip was wonderful including the people of Greece, the places we visited, and last but not least, the amazing Greek food we couldn’t get enough of! 

Our family has traveled throughout the world and quite frankly our trip to Greece was one of the best vacations we have ever experienced.   The special care to ensure our accommodations were “just right” and also the dedication and patience you took to plan the trip were admirable.   You were thoroughly attuned to our special needs especially since we were traveling with children and your knowledge of Greece and islands really was an enormous help to us as we began to plan and finalize this vacation.  We loved the tours you secured for us throughout our Greece adventure and are still talking about the beautiful scenery and historical sites we saw during our visit to this amazing country.

We are so fortunate to have worked with you and consider you a gracious and extremely proficient travel professional.

Our family would recommend your services to anyone who is seeking travel planning.  You are the best Sophia!  

Sincerely yours, The Foster-Chan family


Dear Sophia,
 
My clients  had a FANTASTIC time in Italy.  Loved the kid who transferred them to the hotel in Sorrento so much that they bought him for $30 per hour to take them around the area one day.  Loved Capris, and loved Pompeii.  They did say they thought that it would have worked well to have the Pompeii driver just take them back to the train in Naples for the transfer back to Rome...they loved riding the rail there.  More room to spread out.  I think they felt cramped in the car they had.  When they go back (and they will!) I think they will opt for more rail.
 
But thought you'd like to hear   Thanks for your help with them!  He's a very happy client.
 
Bobbie Murphy, ACC
Accredited Cruise Counselor
Bobbie's Travel, Ltd.
Your Travel Agency for a Lifetime of Memories!

 


Helene W. sent her parents and friends on a trip of lifetime to Eastern Europe in Israel . July, 2006


 

Heather A., Slovakia, Da Vinci Tour in Paris November 2005 , Rolls-Royce transfer

Lunch at the Ritz in Paris.

It was excellent. Haven't had chance to get on line to thank you until today. We had an amazing day. Everything went as planned (except us over
running our lunch.....) and was organised excellently by you and your team. Even the weather was beautiful and sunny. I guess you booked that too ;-).
So thank you very much.


Deb & Greg T., from CA, October 2005, Private tour of Morocco and Portugal

All of our lodgings in Portugal were wonderful. Especially the  Convento Espinheiro outside Evora. It was absolutely luxurious!, beautiful, historic, and the service was incredible. The Hotel Barrio Alto in Lisbon was also amazing. Also with wonderful staff and service. Sintra was the most beautiful town and the Hotel Palacio Seteasis fantastic..what a spot.

As for Morocco. We loved the country. Our accommodations were wonderful. I would warn anyone who signs up for the tent in the desert experience, that it is bare bones, not at all "comfy", or "harem tent like which is what I envisioned. The tents were wool blankets stretched over a wood frame, with two cots, sandy sheets and one blanket for a very cold and sandy night sleep. The dunes, the camel ride, and the berber meal and entertainment all under a full moon, with no one else staying out there with us, was worth it, however! Also, for the next traveler. Let them know that you cover about twelve hundred miles on this route we took. So the time in the car is considerable.


Roberta & Baruch K. , Aug 2005 FL, Private tour of Russia

We are back from Russia, where we had a great time. I would first like to thank you for all your help. the trip was AMAZING and we all had a wonderful time. St. Petersburg is a beautiful city -- Peter the Great can be proud! And the Hermitage is an amazing place. (But you need a month and strong legs to see everything!)
We liked the Alexander Hotel  very much: small, very cozy, with a very attentive staff. Excellent for our needs. We had
 2 rooms right near each other facing the street.The staff was most courteous and the breakfasts were wonderful. They lent us a computer for the entire time and it was very helpful for us to stay in contact with the states. The hotel was a 10 minute walk from the synagogue and the restaurant. In all it was a wonderful place for us to stay.

 

Moscow is not "pretty" but it is very, very interesting, and a major world capital. Both cities deserve to be visited -- and I'm delighted that we did not destroy them during the Cold War! The Novotel on Novoslobodskaya was a good choice. We took the overnight train to Moscow -- it was a very good experience that I would recommend to tourists who wish to travel between those two cities. Much more fun than another airplane ride. I would do it again. Also: I took George's advice and ate "a peach from the market" (those were his words to me) and I must report that it was excellent/delicious! So thanks for the advice, and for your excellent service. Best regards

In Moscow the Novotel was OK but not spectacular (editor note: hotel is in walking distance to the synagogue). They did not offer good service. When I wanted to change money they gave me a hard time. The teller did not speak english and was most nasty. I had to go somewhere else to change money. the breakfast was very nice but they gave me a hard time about bringing food up for my daughter who would not eat in the dining room. all I wanted was vegetables and fruit. All in all it was wonderful.
It was a pleasure working with you and I will recommend you to anyone  I know who is planning to visit Russia.

 


Jack R, FL, Jewish Heritage tour from Port of Odessa, Ukraine

The tour was terrific.  The guide  really knew her way around and made the four hours go too quickly.  Her knowledge of the surroundings and history and her pleasant manner were all we could ask for. Thank you.

Terri and Joe M., NJ, trip to Italy Sept 2005

I would like to thank you for our recent trip to Venice and Lake Como. Couple of comments to pass to other clients:

Westin hotel in Venice
Great location. Bar on canal which was enjoyable.
Front desk had knowledge of restaurants and other aspects of getting around the city
Hotel had MP 3 players with tours of the churches and museums. Very helpful.
Hotel had transportation from airport to hotel via water taxi - very helpful when you are tired.

Lake Como
About a four hour drive from Venice. Lots of traffic on the autostrada!  Autogrill had good pizza!

Grand Hotel Tremezzo is a nice hotel. Good views and attentive staff. The lake view is disappointing since it is on a busy road.  The hotel does do a bit of ' small convention business.'
Easy access via boat to to Bellagio and some of the other cities. Bellagio had some nice restaurants. Ville D'este hotel is lovely. Nice place for lunch, an expensive lunch.

About 1 1/2 drive to airport in Milan. Line for tax rebate  is about one hour long. So you need lots of time at the airport.

Thanks for a nice trip. Look forward to another trip

Teri
 


Lev and Marina K, CT, 2005 trip to Italy

We came back last Thursday, but I still can feel a 'past-taste' of Italy. We could not even go to the Russian art show at Guggenheim museum this Sunday, because our minds are still full of Michelangelo, Bernini, Tintoretto, etc. The trip was great

Regarding the hotels:

Casa Cosmo guest house in Venice - nice and clean room, NO TELEPHONE or TV in the room, safe-deposit box in the room, convenient location - easy to find and close to almost all attractions; breakfast includes croissants, butter, jam and coffee (they even made decaf cappuccino for me) delivered directly to your room. The reception closes after 7 PM, but they may leave your keys in a nearby guest house. We had prepaid worldwide phone card (Nobelcom), but it did not work from public phones, and the guest house did not let us use their reception phone to make a phone call to our family.

Palazzo Ricasoli hotel in Florence - nice room, but not clean enough (room service, for some reason, did not clean the floor), the shower needs work; telephone, TV and small refrigerator in the room, but NO safe-deposit box; location relatively close to the historical center, but it's hard to find if you don't have detailed map for that area; car parking with small lots - for compact cars only; breakfast includes almost everything you may need - yogurts, cheeses, ham, bread, butter, jam, fruits, coffee. They also have a bar where you can buy additional food and drinks. The reception closes after 11 PM, but there was a guy waiting for us at the entrance.


Subasio Hotel in Assisi - very nice big and clean room with a small balcony open to a beautiful panorama, telephone, refrigerator and safe-deposit box in the room, bathtub and window in the bathroom, convenient location, public parking is about 100 meters down the street, and the hotel validates your parking ticket, so that you pay less; breakfast is good enough - same as at the Palazzo Ricasoli hotel in Florence. They also have a nice restaurant, but we could not have lunch there, because it is closed from 3 PM to 7 PM. Free Internet access from the hotel lobby.


Antica Roma hotel in Rome - very nice and clean room with a large terrace (shared with another room), telephone, TV, safe-deposit box and small refrigerator in the room, convenient location - easy to find and close to almost all attractions; breakfast is good enough - same as at the Palazzo Ricasoli hotel in Florence, but they provide instant coffee - unusual for Italy. They have affiliated car service, so getting to the airport (Fiumicino) is cheaper than by using a regular taxi.

Thank you again for your advice and help with the hotels.


Diane B, NYC, 4 people , private trip to Russia, Sept 2005

We had a wonderful time. I found the cities, people, food, etc all very inviting. Our guides were friendly and knowledgeable. With the exception of the Armory tour mishap, the trip went without a hitch. The weather was very agreeable too. I only lament that we did not have more time to see more of the sites :) Given the opportunity, I would most certainly go back


Jacqueline D, September,  2005. Group of 10 people from Australia.  Stayed at Beaune, France, Hotel Hostellerie Le Cedre

The hotel in Beaune Le Cedre was fantastic.  Thanks for your help with booking this hotel.  The staff were very friendly, the location perfect and the hotel facilities were great


Ester H., August, 2005. Trip to Lithuania

I have not replied to you sooner, we had a wonderful trip.  The guide is Vilna was not who you had assigned but it was a lovely woman name Tamar, she was great and it was a fantastic experience.  Thank you for all your help.  Esther


John P, UK, August 2005, Da Vinci Code Tour, Paris

The tour was very good especially in the Louvre as I don’t think without Delphine you could put together the scene of the murder etc.


Arlene from OH, June 2005, Paris, Rome and Central Europe.
(Editor's note: Alex is in Prague - our local support office)

 

I would like to share our trip with you.  It was fantastic.  You did a nice and thorough job planning for us. Let's start with Paris. Adventure tours, we had an Evening illumination cruise which was lovely.  The next day we had a full day tour for three of us.

Now eastern Europe. You did a nice job planning our trip.  The hotels were fine, the transfers were almost fine. The sightseeings were almost fine too.   The drivers all met us at the stations and picked us up okay except in Prague.  It was pouring rain.  We waited for the driver who never showed up at the train station.  We tried to call Alex.  We ended up taking a taxi to the Ramada.   Alex did reimburse us for the taxi.  This was the only bad problem with our transportation. 

 

In Budapest July 5 our tour guide never showed.  We called Alex many times.  So, we bought a Budapest card and went on the metro and trolley to the Gellert baths. The next day Alex found us a tour.  This was fine.  We enjoyed Budapest.

 

In Vienna, more rain.  We went to the Schrombrunn castle, toured the Vienna Opera House.  We also were surprised when we got to our hotel to see your thoughtfulness. You sent my husband a bottle of wine and a nice note for his birthday. Thank you.  We went out for my husband's birthday to the Strauss Musical with some ballet.  Afterwards, next door was the Strauss restaurant and had a fine dinner.  We celebrated birthday with Strauss in Vienna.  Also, did some shopping in the rain.

 

Prague we enjoyed very much.  Alex knew our schedule very well. He was nice to work with. We just had a few time schedule problems.

 

You sent us good information before we left on the cities, currency, and language information. Thank you it was helpful.  We enjoyed your plans and would use your tavel service again if we took another vacation.  We would also inform other people of your services. We were glad you sent us Alex's cell number and numbers.  We needed to use them.  I enjoyed working with you. 

 


Martin from IL, 8 people , Tallin , Estonia, private tour, August 2005
 
The day in Tallin was a highlight of our Baltic trip and we are grateful to you for your knowledge and ability to have arranged such a meaningful day..Our guide Kaia was excellent and we had an amazing experience at the dedication of the Estonian Holocaust Memorial..There were only about 50-60 people in attendance and we were in this clearing in the forest barely about 10 yards from the President of Estonia when he spoke..It will be  my pleasure to recommend you to any that I learn are planning a trip in that region..Many thanks and all the best...
 

Linda F., CT,  Paris and South of France, June - July 2005

We enjoyed our vacation very much. The train to Paris was lovely. I did have a problem with the luggage when we left for Nice. Easy Jet charged me about $500.00 for extra baggage weight!  It would have been the same amount of money to fly Air France. Live and learn!!

The Marignan was nice. Friendly people and a great location.  It went by so fast that I never Had a chance to take the girls to the left bank. Next time.

The Carlton was fantastic. I would recommend this hotel to everyone.  The hotel was beautiful, The people were very friendly and accommodating. There wasn’t anything that I would complain About my stay there; except the euro!!  It cost about $25.00 for a Belini on the beach. (but worth it). We were able to rent a car and go to San Remo for lunch, Monte Carlo for dinner, and stop off at the Palace in Monaco. I drove to Grasse and stopped in the village of Mougins. I loved it. I felt comfortable and safe. We took a boat over to St Margarite Island and another one to St. Tropez.  The food was delicious everywhere we dined. I was so please that everyone was so friendly and helpful. Can’t wait to book my next trip there.

My only disappointment was the last night. Leaving the Carlton and taking a taxis to the Negresco cost About $130.00. They charged me 77 euros for a cot; which the Carlton didn’t do. The people were nice.  But I am happy that it was only the night.  I was told that it would cost about 30 euros for the taxi to the Airport; it was another $130.00!!!!!!  I felt that I was being taken advantage of . We would have been better off staying our last night in Cannes. 

Thank you so much for all of your help; especially that it was last minute


Maria and Roxanna M. form NYC, London trip including Private Harry Potter 1.5 day tour , Feb 2005

It was wonderful, we had a great time. We would like to go again. Everything was so perfect! The Hop on hop off bus was not a very good idea but we did part of the tour. It was too cold over there, I guess because it is very humid. The other tour we did not go to was the Windsor Castle, they did not have enough people to go on the tour, but we enjoyed everything anyway. We loved the Portobello Market, I wanted to go there the Saturday we arrived but we got off the airport at 12, no time to go... We went for tea at the Ritz, we had the tour of London with the London Eye, that was a great tour.  Stonehedge and Bath was nice but we had a very cold and rainy day... We loved the Victoria and Albert Museum! We went to other museums as well. The Hotel was fabulous!  (notes from the editor - they stayed in Jury's Kenisghton). Foleys was really nice! I could go on and on. Great trip! We would like to go there again. I told my husband he has to come because he will enjoy it there. The tour of Harry Potter we did with a guy named Mike, he was really nice, went out of his way, showed us a lot of places... really good! Now I can't wait to go there again. I felt at home over there! Everyone was really nice!


Steve.H., Ohio- private tours in Turkey, Oct 2005, Black Sea Cruise

Kate and I wish to thank you again for arranging the tours in Istanbul and Kusadasi. I am enclosing a copy of the letter  we sent to Mehmet. Not only did he personally conducted our tour of Istanbul, he also called us in Kusadasi to ensure that we were properly taken care of on our visit. He is an outstanding person and a top ambassador for Turkey! Your entire handling of our excursions from the first call to you and after return follow up has left us with a very pleasant and positive feeling. We will be recommending your company to fellow travelers and will be looking forward to another opportunity to use your services ourselves.

And a copy of client's letter to the guide:

Dear Mehmet,
Kate and I wish to thank you again for the wonderful introduction to Istanbul you gave us, your knowledge and insights, your commentaries, and the little extras you added to our tour and he day the highlight of our entire cruise! We can understand with such outstanding service why you and your company are sought after by our White House and other international Dignitaries. It will be our pleasure to recommend you and your company to anyone visiting Turkey. We hope to return to Istanbul and will consider and honour and pleasure to continue our relationship with you. Please pass our thanks to our driver for the skillful and smooth way in which he maneuvered the vehicle in some very close quarters. We were especially impressed with last stretch down the hill and through the merging lanes to get us back to our ship unruffled and well ahead of the "all aboard" time.

ps. The apple tea you presented to us is wonderful and brings back great memories.


Bruce and Jackie E, Hawaii, Trip on to Russia, Sept 2004  Viking River Cruise, Waterways of the Tzars

We're back home we're beat, jet lagged, and terrifically enthused about our trip! Everything went wonderfully, from our transfer connections to the tour itself. It was a terrific trip which we won't hesitate to recommend to others. We really appreciated your help and support through that craziness with the visas. After that, everything went fine.

We're really glad we spent the extra money for the up-graded accommodations, especially after seeing what the lower cost rooms provided...I think some of the other tour members were wishing they'd made the same decision. We (our bus-#2 of the four) had easily the best Russian tour guide, Yuri, of those assigned to our ship. An ex-history teacher, full of information and insights about Russia and being a current citizen there, which he shared with total interest and candor. A wonderful guy. So, thanks again for your help and support, we'll stay in touch.


Bill and Carita M, WA, August 2004 , Harry Potter tour  , England

Sarita and I had a great time traveling with back roads tours on the Harry Potter Tour. We spent two days in London, three days around Bristol Bay, seeing Stonehenge, Wells cathedral, the town of Cheddar, a Roman Villa, Tor mountain, Glouster, and the forest of Dee. Then we finished the tour in Oxford mostly at Christchurch College.

One of the highlights while in London was a visit to the Kew Bridge steam museum, a collection of very large nineteenth steam engines used mostly for pumping water to supply London. On Sundays, the museum fires up the boiler and the engines are energized for about a half hour each. The largest engine operational had a cylinder 90 inches large and a stroke of eleven feet. Truly awesome!

The owner of the backroads tours policy is to never cancel a trip because of low signups, and we benefited from this policy. Our tour guide was a blast, a very educated and interesting man that was a delight to be with.

Thank you for booking this tour.


Norman and Adele A., NJ, August 2004, Private tour of Russia (Moscow and St. Petersburg)

Thanks to you and your organizations our trip to Russia was without equal.  Everything was organized perfectly and Adele and I will be happy to recommend E&M Travel and Interactive Russia in the future. 

Just one thought.  We were not comfortable with the night train between the two cities.  An airplane trip would have worked better especially since we were unable to sleep on the train and when we arrived in St. Petersburg we had to sit in the lobby from 6:00 am to 10:00 am because no room was available.  Saving a night's hotel wasn't worth losing the night's sleep.

We thought the Radisson Hotel in St. Petersburg worked well.  Our room was fine(heated tiles in the bathroom), its location is excellent, and the price was fair.  The National in Moscow, of course, is one of the best.

We were highly impressed with the Interactive Russia staff.  The guides in both cities were outstanding and the drivers most professional.  They did everything they could to make our trip enjoyable.  Elana, Anna and Svetlana were a delight. Thanks much for your help to make our trip a success.


John P. CA , July 2004, trip to London and Portugal

Trip was great.

Night flight to London from LA is the way to go. The premier economy does make a difference, wider seat better service. Thistle was great. Only complaint about all of Europe is that they don't have real Air Conditioning. The castle at Crato was the best. We had the best room on the top floor of the castle. Our balcony was one of the turrets and we had private access to the very top of the castle. Condo in Algarve was good. Should have gone with one of your suggestions or more of a hotel. Hotel in Lisbon was great. Very centrally located we were able to take the bus or trolley everywhere. A little hot but fun. The car and the car company were very good. We ended up in a Ford Focus wagon. Plenty of room and good gas mileage.

You were a great help. Next year we are planning on going to Hawaii can you help for that?

I would also be more than willing to give you a recommendation if you ever need it.


Nikki W and grandson Michael, IL, Image tours Harry Potter,  June 17

Dear George, Sorry this rook longer than expected to get settled back in from the flurry of our trip. We had a GREAT time!! the itinerary took us to many places we probably would never have seen on our own. The tour guide Julie Schultz was excellent . She related to all of us individually and as a group with humor light heartedness and great asides on historical notes about her country of England and Scotland,
 It was a good mix of people and we all were looked after in fine comfort with good food.  The only thing I would recommend is that the hotels have better access to computer use for those not carrying a laptop with them. The two Novotel's at the end of the trip offered a machine for internet use but the first one was inoperative and the second one was cost prohibitive at 3 pounds for 15 mins.
Jullie got the names of close internet cafes for each stop on the journey. If not I would recommend this be researched and put into your brochure of info at some point. The only other thing I would give as constructive criticism would be.. have the company change the airport map!! It was very confusing and we waited at the wrong place that even the airport information staff thought to be the right spot. We would have missed the bus departure had I not had Julie paged at the last minute. This could be a problem for others in the future and needs to be looked. at.
 Otherwise, it was a great tour, and I will recommend it to others. We will use your tour company again if our travels call us to merry ole England or beyond!

Camilla D. From Sweden, party of 6, house in Portugal , June 2004

It was a fantastic trip and a lovely house and hosts. Really to recommend to other guests!


Doug G, from IL, France, Chateaux in Burgundy and Wine Sightseeing tour, June 2004

Everything went very smoothly. We had a wonderful time. The Castle was fun and the wine tasting trip was very interesting and handled in a very personal manner by the guide.


Gary and Diana G. from MD, Family of 5, 3 generations.  Heritage Trip to Lithuania and Poland, June 2004

Our trip overall was wonderful. The guide in Vilnius, Yulik, was fabulous! He was so knowledgeable and so accommodating that our stay in Vilnius was as perfect as we could imagine. The Hotel Conti was also fabulous. The accommodations and staff were simply wonderful. I think the hotel deserves more stars and Yulik is an absolute treasure!

We had a very nice guide in Krakow though he wasn't the one that you arranged originally. Apparently there was a last minute switch. The guide's name was Pawel (I have the last name at home). One difference between our experience in Vilnius and Krakow is that the tours with Pawel did not include any entrance fees which I thought should have been included as they were in Vilnius. Was I mistaken? I also had the impression that, although he was obviously very knowledgeable about facts in Krakow, he seemed less experienced with the whole process.

The pension in Szczawnica was ok. Perhaps I expected more luxury for the price. The sheets didn't really cover the mattresses which were old and unattractive. However, the owner was very nice and the breakfasts were good. My mother and father did the raft ride with us and it was outstanding. We had a terrific time in the town and found LOTS of relatives.

Budapest was a beautiful city and reminded me of Paris. I would like to go back someday without my parents so that we could explore more of the city.

Thank you for all your help in making our travels to eastern Europe a great experience.

With best regards,

Diana


Mike and Pat from CA, May 2004, private tours in ports of Rome, Naples, Florence.

We greatly enjoyed our trip.
Your tours were a great contribution to the success and enjoyment of the last month.
We passed your name and number onto some of the people we met on the cruise.  Hopefully, they will be able to take advantage of your expertise and good contacts.
One minor item which ultimately worked to our favor occurred on the Napoli tour.  Our driver and the guide miscommunicated and we ended up at Pompei with no guide.  The driver (Rocco) was sweating and really had to hustle to find us a guide.  Just before we said to forget the guide, he came up with a an archeologist who also does guided tours.  We had a great time with him and it just goes to prove that things happen for a reason.
Thanks again and we will be in touch soon.

Steve E. , a family of 3 from MD, Trip to Prague and Budapest, May 2004

We loved the trip.  My mother did great.  Hope I have her energy and stamina when I am 86.  

As promised, I will give you some specific feedback to help your future clients.  

Prague is drop dead gorgeous.  Just a fabulous city to visit.  Budapest is also a fine city but does not have the city center walk and gorgeous architecture of Prague.  The people in both countries were for the most part very friendly and good to be around.

Otto (a private guide in Budapest) did his job most professionally. He is very Americanized after living in US for 30 years.  He is a slick entrepreneurial guy. He was very punctual. You can recommend him without reservation.  We give him an A.  

Both of his guides were adequate.  We would score them a B. Adequate but not memorable and several notches down from the guides we experienced with Abercrombie and Robinson. The guy guide, Valentine, did not have much of a personality and spoke very softly but a very nice young man.  The gal was a motor mouth and talked nonstop. Very knowledgeable but after hearing a zillion dates and stats, you would rather get a sense of the dynamics of the history.  Nevertheless, we are pleased we chose the tours we selected.  Every site was memorable.  Perhaps the Spanish synagogue and cemetery in Prague were the most memorable sites but Parliament in Budapest was awesome also. On our own, we saw the ethnography museum in Budapest which is highly recommended.

One suggestion for future clients:   From Hotel Julis you do not need any transportation from the castle tour back to center of Prague because it is a short walk from castle to Charles Bridge and from there, the hotel is 10 minutes.  The driver never showed up going and we took a taxi.  Going back, we walked so we wasted money arranging for the transportation.

Food.  Highlight restaurant among many fun bistros was a Russian place down the street a few hundred meters from the Hilton in Budapest.  Incredible comfort, service, wonderful food. Wines were adequate in Hungary not memorable and simply awful in Prague.  Stick to the superb beer there, at half the cost of bottled water!

Weather.  Except for one cold rainy day in Prague, the weather was fine for walking around.  Low 60s...perfect walking around weather.

Hotel selections:  We loved both hotels. Julis in Prague has a fabulous location and is very modern.  The staff and receptionists are rather cold and unhelpful but the place is spotless with every modern convenience including free internet in the lobby reception area.  You can walk everywhere from there. The Hilton in Budapest does NOT have a convenient location.  I recommend stay on the Pest side where all the major sites and shops and restaurants are except for the castle.  You need taxis to get anywhere. However, the staff is wonderful.  Very, very helpful, friendly and welcoming.  Could not be nicer.  The hotel is equal to any Four Seasons.  Very beautiful in a 13th centrury castle site.  Views are spectacular and again, the rooms have every convenience.  We loved it....especially with breakfasts in the VIP lounge which also had gorgeous views.

In summary, this trip was totally successful.  We got to see what we wanted to see and walked both cities every day.  The time in both cities was just about right but did not leave time for excursions to outside destinations.

The score of A+ goes to you.  We are grateful for your attention to us as your clients as well as your handling of the many details that go into planning a trip.  We look forward to a long and successful association with you and George and be assured that we will call upon you first for any and all of our travel plans.

Bye for now and again many thanks


Paul Z. , a family from California, Jewish Heritage trip to Latvia and Lithuania, May 2004:

The trip went better than expected.  It is impossible to describe the last two weeks in a short email.  But, let me start by saying that we were completely satisfied with our guides.  Yulik, in particular, is a real find.  He is a tremendous resource for anyone interested in Baltic Jewish history and culture.  All of the arrangements went very smoothly.  All of the accommodations were satisfactory.  
I hesitate getting into the content of the trip, because we saw and learned so much.  I don't know quite where to begin.  We did find the general location of my grandparents place of birth, which was very important to my mother.  If you have any specific questions, don't hesitate to ask.  Thanks again for all of your contacts & arrangements.

Mark and Margaret from CT, August 2003, Italy trip

Once we got over a rough start, the trip was fabulous. Alitalia overbooked our Rome/Naples flight by 60 people and so they spent 3 hours refunding everyone's money and putting us all on a bus to Naples. They also lost my luggage. I did implore one of the Alitalia agents to call the local number you had provided for our car transfer from Naples to Positano. When we arrived in Naples 4 1/2 hours late, there was Alphonso waiting for us. He didn't speak English but I speak Italian so we had a lovely ride to Positano. We met Alphonso that night while we were on a passagiata in Positano and he bought us a drink. He was truly a charming gentleman and we thoroughly enjoyed his company. Please let the car company know how happy we were with the company and with Alphonso in particular.

Villa Franca was terrific. The hotel is beautiful, our room overlooked the water, and the staff made us feel like special guests. Upon our late afternoon arrival they suggested we go up to the roof top pool to relax. I told them that unfortunately Alitalia had lost my luggage so on this very hot day all I had were the long pants that I had traveled in. 5 minutes after checking into the room there was a knock at our door and a staff member handed me a pair of shorts and a swim suit. All of the staff at Villa Franca could not have been more helpful.

Punta Tragara on Capri was magnificent and the staff there also enormously accommodating. I could go on forever about our experiences there. Hotel Genio in Rome was in a perfect location and an excellent value.

We're planning on Sicily at about the same time next year, but before that we were thinking of Rome again for 4 days over Thanksgiving.

Thanks for all your work, looking forward to traveling with you again soon.


Ed and Kelly from Washington DC, Italy trip , August 2003

We're back from a wonderful trip. Thanks so much for your help. The hotels were terrific as were all city to city travel arrangements. All travel went without a hitch.
Rome, of course, was beautiful. Hotel Raphael is in a great location. We took in all the sights. Naples was not so tourist friendly. It was larger, busier, and more closed up for August than I anticipated. Still, I am happy we experienced it. Spaccanapoli was a fascinating surrealistic walk. The museum at Capodimonte, while not as impressive as Borghese in Rome, was very much worth the visit. We had an unbelievable dining experience on the water a Ciro at Mergillina. The food in Naples was outstanding, as was the Hotel Parkers.
The driver/Pompeii tour worked out very well. We arranged to leave Naples at 9 a.m., had a very nice guide in Pompeii, and were checked in at Villa France by early afternoon.
Positano and Villa Franca were delightful. A great place to unwind.
Thanks again. I'll be certain to provide your name to anyone I hear needing travel assistance.
I hope to get a chance to return to Europe soon, and will be in touch

Joyce and Irwin from PA, Heritage trip to Germany and Poland, July 2003.

I just sat down to send you a thank you for a very well planned trip.  It was great. We enjoyed all the hotels, and their locations in the various cities!  The Selters visit was perfect!  We were met by Mr. Leyendecker and other people in the town, including the mayor and vice-mayor, all of whom had stories about my family!

Special thanks to Dietriech at Hotel Taunus.  He was most charming and helpful.  The Jewish tour guide in Berlin was excellent!  We really related very well to her.  
We'll be contacting you in the future for our Italy trip! 

Chris M.  and family from VA. August 2003, Spain. Hotel Conquistador in Cordoba, AVE speed train.

The train was terrific.  I have never been on a better one.  Club car was great.  Our kids loved it.  The Conquistador was ok, but while they claim to have air conditioning, it doesn't work.  Our room registered 30 degreed C.  When I told them about it, they said it was working.  The lobby had good air conditioning.  Anyway, it was very well located and for one night was quite adequate.  Overall, it was a great trip.  We enjoyed Spain a lot.  Thank you for your help.


Lev & Marina K. from CT. June 2003, trip to Turkey and Israel.

I'm happy returning back to the US. The trip was better than Marina expected (she was afraid of going to Israel).

In fact, the first part (Limra hotel, Kemer, Antalya) was nice. I would recommend this hotel/resort to people who want to relax and forget about everything. The sea beach is good enough (no sands, but a lot of tents and beach chairs), and the sea is wonderful. Food is good enough too - for many different tastes. The hotel is 50 km from AYT, and the taxi costs 60-80 euro. The Turkish agency (Novista) promised to provide local transportation between AYT and the hotel, but they did not keep this promise. There were a lot of tourists from Russia there, so if somebody wants to speak to 'real' Russians, this place is worth visiting.

The second part (Dan Panorama hotel, Haifa) was also good enough. We did not expect anything extraordinary from this part. The situation in Israel was relatively calm, and the weather was hot.

BTW, the I(nternational) C(omfort) hotel (~1 km from AYT) is very comfortable, so if somebody wants to stay close to the Antalya airport, this hotel is the best choice.

The only problem was Turkish Airlines itself. It seems like they don't obey the schedule, so the passengers may wait for hours without being provided with any reliable information. You are relatively lucky, if you are waiting inside the terminal, because the air conditioning works good enough there. If the flight is delayed after the boarding is completed, and you are waiting inside the plane, you may think about Nazi gas chambers - no air conditioning before the plane takes off, and the outside temperature is near 100 F.

In the whole, the trip was successful. Thank you very much for your help ! Please, send our thanks to Mehmet Dervis. The air tickets and the hotel voucher arrived in time.


Walt L. from IL, group of 9 people, trip to Eastern and Central Europe, June 2003

The trip was great!  Everyone enjoyed it.  My only regret is that we did not have an opportunity to get into the countryside. 
 
For the trains not being first class (the two overnight trains), I think I will send you the receipts I have.  I cannot make much of them.  I only know there was not first class on either train - 2nd only.
 
Each city was unique and I liked them all.  Perhaps the biggest surprise was Krakow.  It was a really neat city.  Everything was walkable from the Classic Hotel - I do recommend it.  It had an excellent location, was reasonable and the people friendly.  The side trips (salt mines and concentration camps) were extremely worthwhile.  The town square was very lively.
 
Berlin, as I mentioned earlier, has changed so much each time we go.  It is a great city.  The Reichstag was open for the first time since our initial trip in 1992.  We got to Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam.  It was really a nice tour.  Rick Steves was right about getting there early.  Hardly anyone there at 9:30.  We ended up with a 10:00 tour.  When we finished the tour (about 45 minutes) the place was packed - tour buses everywhere.
 
Budapest was also nice but certainly more expensive than I imagined.  The Carlton Hotel was excellent.  Good location and close to public transportation.  We took a boat ride up to Szentendre - kind of an artist area but certainly set up for tourists.  It was a relaxing trip and enjoyable.  It fit well into a schedule that had been so busy - always on  the go.  The palace on the hill was very picturesque and took considerable time to tour the area.  We did not get much time in Pest other than the main shopping area.  Also, we got a shuttle from the train station to the hotel for a very reasonable price. so I would also suggest that for people. We really enjoyed going through the Parliament building there.  It was another real highlight.
 
Vienna, good train ride there.  Played cards and drank some beer.  Very pleasant.  We took the tram to the Hotel Graben and had a short walk to the hotel.  It was very well located but was nowhere near a 4 star!  The first night was not too great as it was hot and we had to close the windows due to street noise.  The next day we asked for and got fans - they made a big difference!  We all really like Vienna and highly recommend the city.  Public transportation was readily available.  We did attend a Mozart concert at the Symphonic Hall.  Also went to Grinzing for a Heurigen wine restaurant.  It was a dynamite night.  Vienna is also quite expensive.
 
Prague, was a total walking town.  The hotel Betlem Club, as I mentioned before, had a great location but other than that was a major disappointment.  Every door squeaked and beds were very, very, very hard.  Breakfast also not much.  Oh well, so it goes.  We survived.  Once again noisy at nights.  Many sights in Prague though.  The castle on the hill was a majestic sight.  Also, quite a contrast from old to new town.  It did get better each day. 
 
Zurich was great.  Got the Zurich card which included virtually all sights and transportation (even an hour and a half boat ride on the Lake).  My son lives in Lake Zurich, IL so we got some postcards of the lake for him.  Actually, Lake Zurich, IL was named after the Swiss City.  The developer had fallen in love with it.  As I said before it is extremely high priced!  If I had to live in European city, this might be my choice, although there certainly are some rivals for it.
 
I am updating my map on the office wall.  I put a pin in each country I have visited and a different color pin if I have been to the country more than once. It requires a stay, not just passing through.  I am up to 50 now.  In western Europe, I have not visited Spain or Portugal only.  Other than Berlin, this was our first trip to Eastern Europe although I have been in Russia.
 
I really would like to get to South America, Australia and New Zealand.
 
Guess I can end now.  I will send the train reservations, receipts, etc.  Hopefully, we can get a refund on the first class portion of those two night trains.
 
Thanks for all you assistance.
 
Walt

Joan K and family from MA, June 2003, Prague and Vienna

Things went pretty smoothly. Bob took us on his "death marches" as my son affectionately calls them. In London on the first day we walked almost 20 miles! I was wishing I had my tennis shoes that day! In Prague I insisted we buy 3 day transportation passes so he would be forced to take the metro or trams because he had paid for them! He insists you get to know a city by walking, and I agree, but metro and trams have their benefits too!

Vienna was beautiful, but they seemed a bit hostile to Americans on occasions. One night we went to a beer garden off the beaten path, and they totally ignored us. We finally got up and left. We were able to see an opera in Vienna which was fun. We loved Prague...it has such fabulous, old architecture and delicious, cheap beer. There were lots of American tourists in Prague...more than I expected. I would go back to Prague. The women there were not dressed as stylishly as Vienna, but I suspect it's because Communism restricted their trade for all those years. All European women are thin...is it because they don't always hop in a car, but rather walk places? As soon as we got back into America, I noticed the difference in weights. I enjoyed reading about Prague's history. We met an American man at our hotel who had a "mail order" bride from Ukrane with him. 

The Hotel de France was lovely...nice air conditioned rooms, good breakfast. Thanks for finding that hotel. The Bohemia Plaza was nice also, but there was no air conditioning and the temps were in the high 80's. Nothing in Prague was

air conditioned! The apartment is on a very busy. loud street and the windows  had to be kept open because of the heat so it was very loud for watching tv and sleeping. If the windows could have been closed it would have been perfect. The rollaway bed was not comfortable. Also, the "concierge" was a young girl who had fairly good English but was not knowledgeable. She sent us on several "wild goose chases" because she didn't know the streets. This is just for feedback, not complaints at all.

Again, thanks for helping us out on this trip. I only wish we could have stayed much longer. Could you please send me a card so I can keep it on file for our next trip. I'll e-mail a picture of us later so you can see whom you did all this work for.


Seymour F. from Maryland. Grand Hotel Michellaci,  and Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittorio, Sorrento, Italy, April 2003

The total trip was excellent. The Passover portion worked out perfectly. The hotel @ Gabicci Mare was very lovely as was the staff. It is a very pretty town and was not crowded quite yet. The price for this portion of the trip was half of what is offered by other Passover tours. In spite of this and my worst fears, the food was very good and plentiful. The drive to Sorrento was uneventful until we got to Naples. The lady @ the hotel @ Gabicci Mare had told us it was a holiday weekend. We did not understand what this entailed. Of course I believe it is always a holiday weekend in Italy. I have never seen traffic or drivers like the drivers trying to get out of Naples that day. Each driver seemed intent on cutting me off. However I survived this jam and eventually got to my palace in Sorrento. I have been in many fine hotels but I thought the Excelsior Vittoria is superior to all of them. It was worth the extra $, particularly since you obtained such an excellent rate. The next day we decided to drive down to Positano. Another drastic error for all of the reasons listed above. However, we survived this trip and determined not to repeat this error. I parked my car amongst the garden parking lot and determined not to even think of moving it again. We found that there are boats plying the placid waters between Naples and all points South . We used the boats and public transportation for the rest of our tour. We are trying to reduce our luggage so that next year we can use the train system in lieu of renting a car. I did not leave a tip for Rafi the tour guide for Masserat @ Gabicci Mare. I would like to be able to send him a gratuity . I thought that Masserat did an excellent job. We very much enjoyed the young Rabbi Jonathan, that was in charge. The food and the service were both excellent. We thank you for your help with this trip and look forward to using your services again.


4 Ladies from NY and MA went on a cooking trip in March 15-22, 2003. It took some negotiations to make this tour happen and eventually ladies went and had a great time.

I have just one suggestion about the daily planning at Malverina. Each day we were taken on a great tour of a town by Phillipo and Bambino - the greatest two guys - we loved them both!!! The problem was they would tell us about 12 or 1 you now have free time till 3. Well, that's when the whole town closes!!! We were finally able to get them to drop us off at a town, and then give us the tour during the "siesta" time, so we had time to wander on our own and shop. This worked out much better.

All in all, Sophia, thanks for sticking with us through all the turmoil and making sure we were able to go on this glorious vacation!!! By the way, the two ladies from California were wonderful travel companions!!   Use me anytime for a reference. 

We loved everything about our visit to Italy. Everbody at Malvarina was a delight. We are so happy it all came together.  

It was great!! We loved Maria, her family, especially our translator Phillipo and his friend and our guide, Pepe Bambini. Umbria is spectacular! I've never seen so many unspoiled medieval walled cities. And of course, Maria's food was great! We even had a surprise snowstorm Sunday night.  Thanks so much for everything! 


Ms. Angela B. Palazzo Mannaioni, Italy

I liked it very much. Thank you for your help, this place was a gem. For what it's worth, there's a restauant in Mannaioni that's excellent. It's called Osteria Piccolo. The meal I had there was one of two that will be very memorable.
Take care,
Angela


Brian and Crystal A. from Washington DC had their honeymoon on Windstar Cruise, and Italy and Malta.  

I cannot thank you enough. I/we don't travel that much but over the last few years we have found no one who could provide the customer service we thought we deserved. When we began planning this honeymoon I cannot tell you the fear I had in finding someone who could "put it all together" and work with us. I never thought a search on the internet would land someone like you. I personally visited the two "best" travel agencies in my town and were terribly disappointed. I would imagine my praise for you will only increase after the trip. Your work on this particular trip has secured two customers for life. Any friend or colleague who needs travel help will surely get your number from me. I had an idea in my head of what I wanted this trip to be and I would say we came about as close as we could to living that idea out.  It really made us appreciate traveling.  We need to see more of this beautiful world.  We will use you for all our future travel plans.  I hope my comments about the different locations help you with recommendations.


Diahann and Ted B. from NYC on their trip to Barcelona, Spain, March 2002


Sam and Alla E. from New Jersey, trip to London, July 2001

Trip was wonderful, hotel was right in the center so we have walked to everywhere, that was the intention, especially giving the London's horrible public transportation, their polluting busses (but talking a lot about 'Kyoto protocol'), ant the horrible 'tube', we were only one in it and couldn't stay away fro people pressing at us or sitting 1 ft away on the opposite row. Inside the hotel is very old, with shaking floors and windows facing permanent construction, but we managed to sleep with ears plugs and covered noses.  Otherwise, the restaurant and breakfast were great. My personal greatest impressions were a live Berlioze Requiem in St. Paul's, Concert in the Hyde park with Pavarotti and an Italian Singer which I fell in love with, and a 'Diana' tape I found in the records store, which I can't play as it was made by the 'English system'. Otherwise all went well, except I had to buy a new pair of sandals to walk. I have greatly enjoyed the weather as well, and have discovered that the rain there is not wet, as on a few occasions we were running though the rain, but my  jeans were absolutely dry after. 

Alla wants to add that after the tea at the hotel's 'tea party' that cost us $60 she is now abstains from tea. 

Thanks for your help.

Sam & Alla

ps from editor.  Hotel  was Brown's in London (deluxe)


 

Rhonda and Alex from Louisiana, honeymooned in Germany and Austria. This is a photo of them in Salzburg, Austria. March 2000  
"We would like to thank E&M Travel for helping us arrange our honeymoon vacation.  We loved the freedom that independent travel allowed us!  The vouchers for our train tickets, car rental, hotel rooms and tours were convenient and easy to use.  At the same time, we felt we were  seeing Europe on our own.  E&M Travel provided us with many options to choose from and answered all of our questions in a detailed and timely manner.  It was great to plan our trip from the comfort of our home.  We highly recommend this service and plan to use it again!"  


Karen, Stephen and their three children from Virginia spent 4 weeks in June and July 2000 in Spain. Below is their postcard from Barcelona.

   


Mark L. from Baltimore, Europe, May 2001

Thanks for the "Jewish information"- I know it will come in handy ! You have been so wonderful to work with, it has been a real pleasure and we thank you for everything. I will be giving your number to my niece and nephew who will be traveling to Italy in July.


Kate and Alan G. from Baltimore. Trip to Italy, April 2001

Sophia would be most happy to talk to anyone you want me to  I can do it e-mail or by phone you know that I love you and what you have done for us. 


Melanie M.,  NY,  trip to Spain, May 2001

I just got back, we decided to go to Mallorca for a few days. We loved the parador in Vic, it was beautiful, and the accommodations were great there.  So glad we were able to go there.  Hotel Rialto was in a great location, but of course the room was a bit tight, and not the most helpful staff, but very convenient.  We went to the Hotel Formentor in Mallorca and LOVED it, very pricey, but we wanted the beach badly.  Weather was great everywhere, great time to go I guess. We are very thankful for all your help.  I will definitely be in touch for my next trip, and I assume I can tell all my friends and family about your agency. 
 
It is very refreshing to be able to say I found an agent who really helped me and will definitely be in touch again. We are very thankful for all your help.  I will definitely be in touch for my next trip, and I assume I can tell all my friends and family about your agency. It is very refreshing to be able to say I found an agent who really helped me and will definitely be in touch again. Thanks

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