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Author: tomnat

Joined: 6/4/2010
Posts: 142
GCT Trips Taken: 16
OAT Trips Taken: 4
Traveler Since: 2004

June 19, 2012

The itinerary has changed from 2012 to 2013, summarized as follows:

Amalfi/Sorrento pre-trip is 5 days vs. 7 in 2012 with the Amalfi Coast optional now included, but no lunch. Capri optional is not offered; maybe we can do it on our own??. No home hosted lunch. Conca Park Hotel had good reviews on GCT & Trip Advisor with good location close to Sorrento center.

Sicily main trip is 15 days (w/o air) vs. 13 in 2012: 3 days in Palermo (same Centrale Palace Hotel) vs. 5 in 2012, 2 days in Agrigento (same Dioscuri Hotel) vs. 1 in 2012, 3 days in Siracusa (Roma Hotel-very good Trip Advisor) vs. 0 in 2012, 4 days in Taormina (Mazzaro Sea Palace-very good Trip Advisor) vs. 6 in 2012, and 2 days in Rome (Albani Hotel-very good Trip Advisor) vs. 1 in 2012, before flying back to US or on to Malta post trip.

Sicily optionals in 2013 vs. 2012: no Erice, same Cefalu, new full day Baroque Heritage ($90) from Syracuse, Syracuse now included vs. optional, and new full day Reggio ($100) vs. Messina from Taormina. Reggio is across strait of Messina.

Extra day in Rome includes a city tour before farewell dinner. The 5 day Malta post-trip is same for 2013.

We like the new Amalfi/Sorrento & Sicily 2013 itinerary, but we have not been there yet; so we would much appreciate comments from former expert travelers, before we commit. We are thinking about leaving April 2013 for 27 days (with air). Thank you in advance for your help.

 

 

Author: bad758

Joined: 4/28/2010
Posts: 27
GCT Trips Taken: 12
OAT Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2001

June 20, 2012

Your travel plans sound wonderful!  We took the Sicily tour several years ago when it was "all inclusive" and loved it.  Beautiful scenery, wonderful history, delicious food!!  Monreale Cathredral is absolutely the most beautiful building in the world.  The trip is worth just seeing that.  We also took the tour of Malta for 2 weeks but GCT does not offer that tour any more.  If you go to Sicily, be sure to take the Malta extension; it is well worth it.  All of Italy is so beautiful - so go for it.  You will not be disappointed.

Author: franniepat

Joined: 3/11/2010
Posts: 51
GCT Trips Taken: 3
OAT Trips Taken: 10
Countries Visited:

Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Costa Rica, Peru, Bolivia, Columbia, Mexico, Alaska, Canada, Western US parks.

Traveler Since: 2008

August 15, 2012

I'm thinking of this trip for next year also and would like to hear of others' experiences. Having done some OAT tours, I hope this will wind up being active enough or at least I can do alot of walking. I went to almost all the places on a Sicily tour a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Of course, it's Italy, what's not to enjoy??

Author: tomnat

Joined: 6/4/2010
Posts: 142
GCT Trips Taken: 16
OAT Trips Taken: 4
Traveler Since: 2004

August 20, 2012

Hello again, we decided to book this trip with the revised 2013 itinerary, since all the reviews since our 6/19/12 post were very positive for the 2012 itinerary, which via optionals does cover most of the new 2013 itinerary. Also, Rick Steves, Lonley Planet & DK suggest most of the same sites as GCT.

We do like adding/extending hotel stays in Agrigento, Syracuse & Rome for 2013, as it gives a chance to explore more places in depth on our own. We will have to pack/unpack to more hotels, but maybe some of the bus rides will be shorter, since we probably stay closer to the sites. Apparently, the poorly rated Satellite Hotel in Ostia has been replaced by the Hotel Albani in Rome near the Villa Borghese.

Also some folks suggested saving 50% by doing the Capri optional (not offered in 2013) on your own; so we probably will do that, unless ttime is too short.

Again, any comments on the revised 2013 Amalfi, Sicily & Malta itinerary, optionals, hotels, food, etc. by prior travellers would be appreciated. Thanks!!

Author: franniepat

Joined: 3/11/2010
Posts: 51
GCT Trips Taken: 3
OAT Trips Taken: 10
Countries Visited:

Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Costa Rica, Peru, Bolivia, Columbia, Mexico, Alaska, Canada, Western US parks.

Traveler Since: 2008

August 20, 2012

Just signed up for September 21st.! Looking forward to seeing the ruins and the Mediterranean.

Author: liz109

Joined: 8/10/2010
Posts: 13
GCT Trips Taken: 14
OAT Trips Taken: 5
Countries Visited:

Albania, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czechoslovakia (pre-breakup), Czech Republic, Croatia, England, Egypt, Estonia, France, Greece & Greek Islands, Germany, Hungary, Jordan, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Russia (both pre and post breakup ), Serbia, Sicily, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland , Syria, Tibet, Turkey, Yugoslavia ( pre breakup), Acalpulco, Hong Kong, and via the Trans Siberian Railroad, Mongolia and Siberia...

Traveler Since: 2004

December 07, 2012

We are signed up for Late May/June 2013.... looking forward to Malta and Sicily.  RE Capri - this is SOOOOO easy to do on your own.  We did the Tuscany and Amalfi Coast trip two months ago, and rather than pay the $100 or so optional trip cost for Capri,  we took the ferry  and explored on our own.  A VERY easy place to explore... I think the cost for the ferry both directions and the finicular to the high part of Capri  was aBout $50.  Moreover, we went on a day with sunshine... and the day the group went ( two days later) they had rain all day. 

Re the Amalfi Coast .... DON"T MISS IT !!  Just gorgeous !!  Make sure you get to Pompeii and the archeology museum in Naples ( where all the frescoes taken from Pompeii are located )

Author: fleetfoot

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 54
GCT Trips Taken: 9
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Traveler Since: 2006

December 08, 2012

I was surprised that Pompeii which is one of the major sites in this area is not included in the itinerary or offered as an optional excursion for the pre-trip to Amalfi/Sorrento.  When we sign up for this trip we will have to look at other options to visit Pompeii. 

Author: pamvaughan11

Joined: 6/17/2012
Posts: 18
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 3
Countries Visited:

China twice, Japan, SE Asia, England and Ireland multiple times, other European countries, Guatemala twice, East Africa.

Traveler Since: 2012

January 26, 2013

 I was just on the Sorrento- Sicily- and Malta trip. Just wonderful. Yes, I think Capri would be easy to do on your own, you can probably read up on how to do this in guide books. In regards to being active, walking, etc.- there is plenty of that. My recommendation to GCT was to put it on their OAT itinerary. The directions in the booklet was that you had to be able to stand for a few hours and walk for 2 or 3 hours. Some of the more fragile tour members had a bit of a problem. Many of the locations are very hilly. If you go in summer, be prepared for heat. We went in November with lots of rain. The tour took us to Pompeii which I think was included in 2012, but I could be mistaken. On a down day, we took the train from Sorrento to Herculaneum which was just a wonderful thing to do. In Sorrento, our fabulous guide, Lorna, took us to Teatro Tasso, dinner theater which was about $40 and fabulous. Malta is sooooo worth it. What an amazing place. the Grand Harbour is the most beautiful harbor I've ever seen (excluding Hong Kong), and the prehistoric ruins are out of this world. The history of Malta is so ancient and intriguing. The food was fabulous everywhere. In Malta, eat the seafood- so good.

 

Author: franniepat

Joined: 3/11/2010
Posts: 51
GCT Trips Taken: 3
OAT Trips Taken: 10
Countries Visited:

Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Costa Rica, Peru, Bolivia, Columbia, Mexico, Alaska, Canada, Western US parks.

Traveler Since: 2008

January 26, 2013

Thanks for the advice-can't wait for this trip!

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 1,013
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

January 27, 2013

When we went to Sicily, it was the post-trip extension to Malta which was the base trip then.  2005 or 2006.  They put us up at the Antares complex at Letojanni outside of Taormina.  It's a very beautiful place but very inconvenient.  A lot of people stay there as family groups, and it's good for that.  Several swimming pools and across the highway to the beach.  But for us, the only times we went into Taormina was when the bus took us for a tour.  The rest of the time, we were stuck there.  Unless we wanted to pay big bucks for taxis.

Do try to take the extension to Malta.  At that time, they used the Golden Tulip Vivaldi, which was just ok.  Very noisy from the rooftop nightclub across the street and the trucks and buses changing gears at the corner.  But Malta is a wonderful place, and the people are very friendly.  Very historic, with excavations going on constantly.

Author: tomnat

Joined: 6/4/2010
Posts: 142
GCT Trips Taken: 16
OAT Trips Taken: 4
Traveler Since: 2004

February 13, 2013

We started this post, reserved in Aug 2012 leaving Apr 22, 2013, and just checked back to find that GCT replaced the Pompei & Naples optional with Capri (both $130) on the Almalfi pre-trip apparently before Dec 2012, as noted by another in this thread.

We were not notified by GCT of this change; so we called today & complained. Please call GCT & complain, too, if you agree.

Also ask them to please notify their already booked customers, when they make significant changes to trips. Being surprised by itinerary changes 2 weeks before or on the trip is not helpful to the PD & the fellow travelers, as well as future business.

GCT also changed from the Pyrohovo Open-Air Museum on our Kiev pre-trip (Russia Revealed) in June 2012; so please complain to get GCT to change their deceptive policies.

As others have said you can do Capri on your own, but Pompei & Naples Archaeological Museum would benefit from a guide. It is also included in the Tuscany & Almalfi tour & supported by the GCT foundation. If GCT does not come through, we will try & do it on our own or with another tour.

Author: pamvaughan11

Joined: 6/17/2012
Posts: 18
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 3
Countries Visited:

China twice, Japan, SE Asia, England and Ireland multiple times, other European countries, Guatemala twice, East Africa.

Traveler Since: 2012

February 15, 2013

 At Pompeii you can rent an audio tour gizmo that works well. We used those at Herculaneum. Lots of fabulous things at the museum. You can find your way around and use a guidebook. They probably have docents. The Roman era mosaics there are really fabulous as are the marble sculptures in the Farnese collection. Getting from Sorrento to these places can probably be figured out from a guidebook. If you wander around Naples, watch your possessions. However, they are supposed to have the best pizza in the world, so it may be worth the risk!

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