My husband and I decided, last minute, to take a couple of extra weeks to see a bit of Europe after a business trip. We decided to use an agent to help plan the trip, as we only had a month before we were to leave and no time to research. We usually book all of our own travel and were a little skeptical of the value a custom agent could provide. We found Zicasso, who referred several agents to us. We settled on this travel planner and his company.
Our trip included London, Paris, Venice, Florence, Positano (Amalfi Coast), and Rome. We stayed an average of three nights in each location. We told our travel planner were we wanted to go, and gave detailed info on the types of places we wanted to stay and activities we wanted to do. He really listened to us and tried to get good understanding of who we are, what we would enjoy, and what we wanted out of this trip. He was extremely responsive to our questions and then provided an itinerary with hotels, and sites to visit interspersed with other activities we would not have thought of. He worked with us to add and eliminate things until we had the trip and price we wanted. He provided a nice pace that was relaxed and gave a great mix of sites, guided tours, food events, cruises, etc. We had a wonderful trip!!
This was so much better than a packaged trip, as we were able to visit exactly where we wanted to go and see only the sites we cared about. We also had plenty of free time to just enjoy being there and poke around. Robert also provided some small group tours as well as private guided time. I was skeptical of the value for the money on these, but they turned out to be worth every cent and more. The context and understanding they gave us in a short amount of time was wonderful. We came away with a much deeper, richer experience than expected. He also recommended several activities that we would have never scheduled ourselves, and they turned out to be the highlights of our trip! We took a Seine River dinner cruise (not the usual commercial ones - a much smaller, better one), road Vespas on the Amalfi Coast, had a gourmet picnic in France, took a cruise to Capri island and swam in the Mediterranean, and had a small group dinner on a private home rooftop terrace in Rome (wonderful!). Robert also met us in Venice and was our guide one evening, taking us to places off the beaten path and giving wonderful insight into this fascinating city.
The expertise our travel planner provided in choosing the pace, mix of activities, tours, travel between locations (we used a mix of air, train, private cars and taxis), lodging and lodging location, and use of time was truly invaluable. We ended up with an amazing trip that would have taken me months to plan and research, and I wouldn't have known of or added the very things we ended up enjoying most. Every detail was well thought out and seamless. When we had a couple of minor glitches (cancelled flight, and a missed train), our travel planner was immediately available and took care of everything for us while we continued on with our day. We can't recommend this company and our travel planner highly enough and can't wait to use them again in the future!
The most enjoyable and memorable parts of our trip were the very things we would not have scheduled if we had planned our own trip or purchased a commercial package. These included:
Riding Vespas on the Amalfi Coast (so memorable, beautiful and a blast),
A Seine River dinner cruise (not the commercialized big boats, but smaller with better food and a great atmosphere. This was timed so it was right in front of the Eiffel Tower, on the river at dusk when the lights sparkle.)
A private rooftop small group dinner in Rome (amazing food, company and super fun!)
Our travel planner meeting us in Venice for an evening tour (so fun, and a fascinating city!)
Several of our guides were especially fun, knowledgeable, and provided great information that made the most of our time.
Our private car driver and guide in Paris was a delight, as was our Vespas guide on the Amalfi Coast for the day.
If we could take the trip again and do anything differently, we would add more time in each location. This was our first trip, so we felt like we needed to see and do some of the big things (attractions/sites) in each city. That was important on this trip, and we enjoyed those things, but the highlights for us were the above activities that were unexpected. On future trips, we would add more time so we can enjoy a few sites or a museum, but have more free time to do just BE there, without scheduled time. Our travel planner did a great job in giving us this mix, and we didn't feel overscheduled. We only had so much time in each location and wanted to see what we did, but on a future trip I would definitely add more unscheduled time and stay longer in each location.
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