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  #1  
Old July 27th, 2004, 03:55 PM
Cothou Cothou is offline
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Thumbs up Private Guides-Rome, Naples, Santorini and Athens

Just got back from the Celebrity Galaxy Eastern Med trip and wanted to pass along my evaluations of private guides we used:
Rome-We used Max Leotta. He arranged all of our airport transfers and gave us a great one-day tour of Ancient Rome. We used Max's driver Rinaldo for several days and he was great--a real gentleman who went out of his way to be helpful. He found out I was interested in ancient sites so on the way back from Civatevecchia we went to Tarquinia to see the Etruscan sites and then went to Rome's ancient port, Ostia, which made for a really interesting day. Then, the next day, Rinaldo took us to Hadrian's Villa, Villa D'Este (near Tivoli), and then to the catacombs. I highly recommend Max and Rinaldo. All transfers were reliable and efficiently arranged.
Naples-We used Gennaro at SorrentoLimo. Also a fantastic driver and great gentleman. We used him to do the Amalfi Coast drive and go to Herculaneum. We saw so much more than the ship's tours did and Gennaro made us a reservation at a restaurant in Ravello that must have the most beautiful view in the world. I highly recommend him and intend to use him in the future.
Santorini-There is a lot of talk on the board about not using a guide here and I agree that if you just want to see a little scenery and visit a few shops you probably don't need one. But if you are like me, and want to really see the island and its archaeological sites in detail, you will find them well worth the money. We used Nikos at www.Santorini-private-tours.com   (arranged for us by Markos and his wife Anna) and they also arranged for an archaeological guide named Katherina. Akrotiri is becoming one of the most important archaeological excavations in the world but it is a complicated, hard to visualize site and you might as well not even go see it if you are not with a competent guide.It was a fabulous day and Nikos said at the end that we had seen more in that one day than most people do in a week. We went to Akrotiri, Oia, climbed the mountain to Ancient Thera, visited the main museum, a winery and some Byzantine sites and generally hiked and drove all over the Island. The archaeological guide was really great and even my seven year old son loved the day. Nikos also brings his camera and takes pictures of your family all day and hands you a CD at the end with really great pictures on it. This is probably controversial but we really enjoyed our guided tour of Santorini and I think they are well worth the money if you want to really see the sites in a day.
Athens-We went with Spiros of Spiros Taxi service. We decided not to do Sounion and to instead concentrate on Athens. We saw so much I couldn't believe it, and Spiros also steered us to a great restaurant in the Plaka. We did the Acropolis, Byzantine Church, changing of the guard, Olympic Stadiums, temple of Zeus, Roman Forum, Greek Forum, and Archaeological Museum, all in one day. And the price of 200 Euros was the cheapest service we could find. I liked Spiros a lot and would definitely use him again.
We did not use private guides on Mykonos, Rhodes, Dubrovnik, or Taormina, but instead took the ship's tours. I did not see much value to the ship's tours on Dubrovnik or Taormina. Our guides on Mykonos and Rhodes was good and were probably worth the time and money. From what I could tell, a private guide would not have enabled us to see materially more. Thanks to everyone who helped us find and use these guides.
  #2  
Old July 28th, 2004, 05:18 PM
Cothou Cothou is offline
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We also used Anna and Nikos. We gave her the information she requested and everything went very smoothly. I cannot praise Nikos highly enough. He hiked up to the top of Ancient Thera with us and took some stunning photographs of us. At the end of the tour he gave us the CD with our pictures on it. Anna and Nikos are great. Make sure you get an archaeological guide too if you want to do Akrotiri (and it is open

  #3  
Old July 30th, 2004, 02:27 AM
Tony C Tony C is offline
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Default the BEST tourguide in Santorini

I am sitting in my wonderful cabin on Brilliance of the Seas and just had the best tour ever in Santorini. Our whole family agrees that Nikos at http://www.santorini-private-tours.com  Nikos was warm, knowledgable, and treated us like family. Oh yeah, and the big bonus was that he was taking pictures of us all day long and gave us a disk of the entire day, and did not expect us to pay for it! We were disappointed with a couple of other tours we took in Florence and Rome, but Nikos more than made up for it. Also, he does not charge outrageous prices. Anyway, he gets five stars. Gotta go; tomorrow is Athens. If you contact Nikos tell him that Jeff from Las Vegas says hi.
  #4  
Old July 30th, 2004, 10:51 AM
Hixson1 Hixson1 is offline
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Default RE: Naples

We used Salvatore in Naples (Pompeii and Amalfi coast) and I can't say enough good about the experience. We also had a wonderful view in a restaurant in Ravello with great food and great prices. We loved the private service and the fact on those narrow step roads I can't imagine being in a tour bus. In addition, if anyone gets car sick definitely do the private tour because you have a little more control and can see where you are going. Salvatore's address is driveamalft@hotmail.com I can't remember the price but he coordinates if others join and we had four others and the cost was less than 100 euros a piece.
  #5  
Old July 30th, 2004, 01:14 PM
Cothou Cothou is offline
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As I understand it, the board rules provide that we are not supposed to post the website addresses for these companies. because too many commercial firms are trying to do that as free advertising, but you can get in touch with all of the people I described at their websites which any good search engine will produce (e.g., Spiros has an Athens Taxi website and Gennaro has a SorrentoLimo website). The prices are in the process of changing so you would need to get current quotes from all of these people but a day of touring will range from a low of about 200 Euros (for Spiros in Athens) to a high of around 400 Euros (for a full day of touring around Rome with Max Leotta or his drivers). The prices sounded high to me until I started calculating what we would pay for the ship's tours as a family of 3 and then also took into account the fact that in places like Athens we ended up doing the equivalent of 2-3x what the ship's tours were doing. Also, on Santorini we came home with more than 60 photographs of our family courtesy of Nikos, and they were far superior to the photos we were routinely buying on board the ship for $20 a piece. So, in touring as in everything else, you get what you pay for and I felt the money was well worth it for each of the guides we used.
  #6  
Old July 30th, 2004, 03:23 PM
Tony C Tony C is offline
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Default Private Guides-Rome, Naples, Santorini and Athens

Thanks for the tip on finding them. I will spend some time online and am sure I will be able to come up with the contact info. I agree with you about the price. Also, another advantage would be not having to be on a bus and being on your own schedule rather than someone elses. Thanks again.
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  #7  
Old July 30th, 2004, 04:34 PM
daycruiser daycruiser is offline
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Default Salvatore

We had Salvatore for our tour of Amalfi, we had a splendid day despite the weather !
L.
  #8  
Old August 4th, 2004, 01:55 PM
lbenson lbenson is offline
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Default Naples Guide

We used Giovanni Lerusce in Naples and had a wonderful day. He is a great driver, which is important when driving on those winding roads. He took us to places with such fantastic views, that it will be a day that my family will always remember. His e-mail is giovanni.lerusce@tin.it We went to Pompeii, Positano and Amalfi.
  #9  
Old August 4th, 2004, 06:03 PM
Cothou Cothou is offline
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I agree. Of all the places we toured in the Med I think the Amalfi coast was probably the most important place to have a good private tour guide. You can see a lot of things that way, like the Emerald Grotto, that you wouldn't get to see in a bus. Plus, some of the buses can't even stop in some of the most charming and interesting of the small towns. They can't even get up the roads into some of the neat places. So, if you are only going to go for one private guide on your Med trip I would definitely say that the Amalfi Coast drive is the place to do it. I was just looking at the pictures today and the scenery is just almost unbelievable. Makes me want to go again.
  #10  
Old August 4th, 2004, 08:39 PM
Tony C Tony C is offline
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We did the Amalfi Drive on our Med cruise in May. It definitely was some of the most breathtaking scenery I have ever experienced. I wasn't planning on doing it again on our 05 Cruise, but maybe I should put more thought into it if the driver can take us to places that we didn't get to see on the bus, such as the Emerald Grotto. I've not heard of that. What exactly is it? Also, we weren't able to stop in Amalfi because there was no where to park a bus. It looked like quite an interesting little town to spend a while in. Maybe the driver would be able to stop there too. Hmmmm.....more to ponder.
Shirley
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  #11  
Old August 5th, 2004, 11:43 AM
Cothou Cothou is offline
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Emerald Grotto is a cave. You go down an elevator from the main road and then go into the cave at sea level. You go around the cave in a small boat and it is pretty dark except for the beautiful glow coming up from a hole in the wall where the light comes up through the water and illuminates the cave. Really pretty. Just a brief stop. Takes about 30 minutes to see.
  #12  
Old August 5th, 2004, 11:45 AM
Cothou Cothou is offline
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Another thing that you can do with a private guide is go to Ravello, a beautiful hilltop town with some of the most fabulous views of the entire coast. You can take about a 15 minute walk to the Villa Cimbrone, which has some marvelous gardens and views. A photographeer's dream.
  #13  
Old August 5th, 2004, 10:30 PM
johnfas johnfas is offline
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Default private tour guide questions

We have a scheduled tour in Naples with Salvatore from driveamalphi and driverinrome for Rome and Florence. Will these drivers escort you into the church or museum and explain things as you walk or do they stay in the car the whole time. We are trying to find out if the ships tour would be more indepth because sometimes they send a guide into the place of interest.
If anyone has insight on this I would appreciate it. Thanks
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  #14  
Old August 6th, 2004, 10:42 AM
Cothou Cothou is offline
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The drivers do not go into the churches or sites with you. They generally tell you about them before you get there. Most churches don't allow guides to lecture inside anyway.
  #15  
Old August 7th, 2004, 02:00 PM
Mike Andrews Mike Andrews is offline
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Default I also recommend Salvatore of driveamalfi@hotmail.com

There are not many churches to visit on the Amalfi Coast (St Andrews Cathedral in Amalfi,the Cathedral in Ravello,the chuch of St Maria Assunta in Positano) it is more of a driving and scenic tour and is a where private tours come into their own with the narrow roads and lack of parking for limiting access for large tour buses.
  #16  
Old August 7th, 2004, 02:37 PM
TedC TedC is offline
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In Athens four of us used Paul at greektaxi.gr. He speaks excellent English and is probably the only adult male in Greece who doesn't smoke! (He said there was one other.) You travel comfortably in a new Mercedes.

He will offer suggestions or you can design your own day-long itinerary. He's very friendly and easy to get along with.

We spent the morning seeing the ancient sites in and around Athens. After a quick lunch, we headed to Cape Sounion. It was a wonderful day.

For our stop at Kusadasi we used Meander Travel. Excellent guide and driver in a new Audi. Since we'd been to Ephesus before, we went to the three ancient cities. Loved it!
  #17  
Old August 10th, 2004, 07:00 AM
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ggrizzy ggrizzy is offline
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we will be travelling as a group of around 40 in july/05 in the meds - does anybody know if i will be able to find nice and dependable private buses for private tours? should anything go wrong with any of these arrangements, i shall have 39 people on my back!

thanx

grand princess 13/7/05
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