I'd like to get back to Travelbug27 on the Aix trip. Just curious what cruise line you are on. We cruised on HAL in June (our first Med cruise) and also stopped in Marseille. The arrival was around 8AM and the departure late at 11PM. There was a shuttle to Vieux Port (in Marseille) but if you want to take the train you have to take a cab, bus or metro from there. The metro is nice, easy and 2 or 3 stops. But due to the shuttle schedule (make sure you check it) and the charge of $5 per person (there are three of us) we found a cab that was willing to take us from the port to the train station for about 20 US$ in Euros. On HAL the last shuttle back to the ship was 4:30 which I couldn't understand since our departure time wasn't until 11P, so another thing to watch. Have fun.
Yeah, my wife has decided in our old age that she's "only going to drink good wine". Of course, since she found a wine she likes, that limits the wines we "try". The Markham is $14.40 per bottle here. Our friends use Barefoot Merlot as their "house wine" at $4.99. I'll look for the Black Box Chard. I'm trusting my wife will be more adventuremsome in Spain, France and Italy!
It seems the guides want to charge the same for 1/2 day vs. a full day on the tour from Marseille. So, we'll keep checking; but, it may make sense to just start from the Ship.
A friend of ours said there is a statue of a Padre "in the water" at San Fruttoso that we must see. Hope to do it on the motorboat to Santa Margherita? I'll let you know as I find out more.
In re Herculaneum; if going on train from Sorrento, it may make more sense to go there first and then Pompei back to Sorrento? The train schedule I've looked at only shows Sorrento, Pompei, Napoli? There must be a stop at Herc.!?
Yes, there is a stop for Herculanium and its called Ercolano. The Circumvesuviania runs both express and local trains (on the same line) and I am not sure if the express stops at Ercolano so you need to check this out when you get to the station (or perhaps somebody will respond here). Doing Herculanium and Pompeii in a day is a physical effort (especially if its hot) and it does involve a lot of time on your feet. Although I would agree that logistically it makes sense to go to Herculanium first (cause its the furthest from your port) my concern would be you might get worn out before you even "got your feet wet" at Pompeii. Keep in mind that Pompeii is really an extensive area and you can easily walk a few miles if you want to knock yourselves out. We did both ruins in a day last year, but we had already been to Pompeii on previous visits and we did not have to be concerned about rushing back to a cruise ship. I just consulted with my boss (the wife) and she thinks that Pompeii is "The Place" although she also enjoyed Herculanium. So, if you have any doubts about your energy level you might want to go to Pompeii first and than see if you still have the strength to do Herculanium. As to the tickets, I believe its now 11 Euros for entrance to either ruin or 20 Euros for a combination ticket, so its really not a big deal to buy the single ticket if you are not sure you want to both in the day. As to the good wine, I have worked hard to train my wife to like cheap wine (with moderate success). The Black Box wines are pretty cheap (about $20 for the equivilent of 4 bottles) but the Chard, Cab, and Merlot are OK (not near the quality of Markham. However, we did not like the Black Box Shiraz at all!
I hope you are well.
sorry for the length of time it took to reply; but, we've been trying you suggestion of box wine in the fridge and, while decent, it's just too darn accessible! I think we'll drink less if wew have to open a bottle instead!? Interestingly enough we looked for the Black Box wine at Beverages and More. sure enough, they had many more box types than we ever knew and the spaces for Black Box chard. and merlot were empty. then we checked and the space for Markham merlot was empty also. The clerk said that's because Markham is excellent, so, Black Box being empty....it MUST be too!? We'll check again. It looks like the four of us are going to end up taking a private car tour of the Luberon for 625E. I know it's a lot; but, the ship tours are anywhere from $480 to $680 for buses for the day in Provence (and no winery stops!) and a car rental for a full size (which they say is a VW Passat and I'm 6'6" & 295lbs.!)4 dr. with ins., tax, gas, etc. looks like it'd be about $300 for the day and we'd be worrying about driving, getting lost, etc.
We'll take the train to Florence/Pisa and to Pompei/Herculaneum and save $ vs. tours there.
What do you think?
We'll be cruising on RCCL, leaving out of Barcelona on the Voyager on October 13th. Marseille is our last stop. The ship docks at 7am and leaves at 5pm, so we don't have too much time. To come clean, I'm a big Peter Mayle fan, and Iíve wanted to visit Provence since I read ĎA Year in Provenceí in high school French class. I figure this is my best chance to see Provence, so Iíd like to take it!
Can everyone agree that it might be better to go by bus since the trains can be unreliable? If so, should we just take a taxi from the port to the bus station, or take the shuttle to the old port, then a taxi? Does anyone have any tips for what to do once we get there?
Thanks to everyone for all of your help! I've enjoyed all the wine talk My husband and I are hosting a wine tasting party in a few weeks and planning a trip to Napa this fall, so I have wine on the brain even more than usual right now!
Your wine party sounds like fun. Are you going to be in Napa for the "crushing" in early October? My wife and I and another couple are going to Napa 11/8- 11/10. Please let us know if you find any good tasting spots!
In re Peter Mayle, we reaad A Year in Provence many years ago and then A Good Year f few years ago. Rick Steve's recommend the first one, as well as Tonjours Provence, which I'm reading now. We aren't going on our cruise until '08. Please let us know what you end up doing. We were going to take the train or bus to Aix; but, decided other than to walk around there for an hr. or so, there was too many other places we wanted to see. The ship's tour is also limiting. So, we're thinking of all splitting an 8 hr. tour from 9 to 5 (we're in port 8 to 6) hitting many villages in the Luberon, lunch and one ( or two?) vineyards. Not cheap; but,. we'll have to save $ elsewhere on the cruise, as we really want to SEE this area.
Regarding the French trains vs buses, based on our 35+ years of international travel I think the French railroad (called SNCF) is quite reliable. Yes, they do have ocassional strikes, but they are almost always announced in advance. Of course there is nothing wrong with buses, but generally one would do best in just using whatever works for your schedule. As for us, most of the time we are in Europe we simply rent a car, but I understand many have issues with driving their own car. I think I might have mentioned previously that they hate Peter Mayle in Provence because he made the place to darn famous. But, keep in mind that Provence is a large region and the best way to truly see the place is by using a car be it self drive or operated by a local tour guide.
Getting back to the really important topic (WINE), keep in mind that the Black Box wines are drinkable, but nothing real special but they sure are convenient when you just want a glass (or two or three). Mike, your plans sure look like good fun and you will have a great time. It costs a lot of money to get over to Europe, so it makes sense to spend a few extra dollars to make the most out of your trip. If you do go to both Pompeii and Herculanium on the same day you will certainly be "ruined."
Hank- We went to BevMo yesterday and they had one box of Black Box Chardonnay. Someone is buying it out as soon as it gets there!? It's pretty good. We like Kendall Jackson Chardonnay better; but, the price of Black Box is better!
Do you know if the train from Sorrento to Pompei Scavi will also stop at Hercalaneum?
We also like the Kendall Jackson wine. Its interesting to see it on the wine list of most RCI ships for around $40 (doing this from memory so my price might be a bit off) which is somewhat overpriced (guess that's an understatement). The trains that run from Sorrento to Pompeii and than continue on to Naples do also stop at Ercolono (the stop for Herculanium). I am not 100% postive if all those trains go through to Naples which is why I mentioned that qualification. If you are planning to do both Pompeii and Herculanium, keep in mind that you can buy a combination ticket at either site (includes both admissions) and save a few Euros.