Planning Our Family Meet Up Was Rather Easy

Wanting to let all my family members have a good time when they came to visit me, I planned a fun weekend that was packed with good things that everyone in the family would enjoy. For the first night that we would be together, I had gotten a Toronto Party Bus rental so that we could have a good time. I thought that this would be nice because so many of us feel we are too old to go to a club in our 30s and forties. And we would not have to be at home partying around the kids. It was a really nice compromise. I also needed to come up with some other things for all of us to do as well.

We are big sports fans, so I wanted to incorporate a night of sports into our plans, but I really did not have much room to work with since most of my family would be coming in for only 4 days. So, on the first night that everyone came, I realized that one of our favorite teams would be playing. I asked the party bus company if they have satellite TV in the busses and they do. Continue reading →

Different Ways You Can Use a Party Bus Limousine

You do not have to settle for just any transportation for your wedding day. You have probably been to a lot of weddings that use a limo ride to and from the church. It is a nice touch, but limos can still be cramped because they are basically big cars. Don’t get me wrong. Regular limos are still wildly popular. It is just that more customers are discovering the fun of riding in a party bus. You can view our Diamond Party Bus fleet to see what is available. We have them to suit any size of wedding party from small to insanely large.

The attractive points about a party bus is that you just walk right up the stairs and into one. You can also walk upright all the way to your seat. Even more, when the music starts, you can get up and dance on the dance floor in a party bus. The dance floors in party buses vary in size from model to model. You can pick the one you want from our fleet of modern party buses. Custom LED lighting gives you the party atmosphere. Continue reading →

Venice by Vaporetto

One of the unique aspects of Venice, Italy is that it is a city without cars, buses or cycles – you must get around either by foot or by boat!

The unique form of public transportation employed in Venice is known as the vaporetto (“little steamer” in Italian), a water bus that provides passage all throughout Venice and the islands of the Venetian lagoon. If you are visiting Venice on vacation, then it is worthwhile getting familiar with using the vaporetto water buses in advance as it will save you time, money and lots of potential confusion.

The vaporetto buses are easy to use once you understand how they work – and that’s what this page is all about! Find out where you can go on the vaporetto, where to get tickets and how much they cost, as well as learn basic vaporetto “etiquette” so that you can share these boats happily with the local Venetians.

The vaporetto water buses are operated by Azienda Consorzio Trasporti Veneziano (ACTV), the Venetian public transportation system. You will see the “Actv” logo on all vaporatti and each boat is also clearly labelled with its route number.
Vaporatto water buses have set bus stops throughout Venice, Giudecca, the Lido, Murano, Burano, and the other lagoon islands. It even seasonally travels to Chiogga and reaches the mainland at Treporti and Punta Sabbioni.
Vaporetto stops are easy to spot – just look for the yellow-and-white floating docks with stop names clearly labelled.
There are a number of different kinds of vaporetto boats used depending on the routes served. These boats have capacities for 160 to 1,200 passengers each, with the largest serving popular “commuter” routes such as S. Zaccaria Pieta to the Lido. There is also a car ferry from the Tronchetto parking island, on the edge of Venice, to the Lido – the only island in the lagoon with roads for cars.

This great laminated map of Venice is well worth recommending for its detailed vaporetto route map alone. It clearly illustrates which lines stop where all around the Venetian lagoon – including which lines are seasonal only. Besides that it is an excellent street (and waterway) map of Venice, Murano, and Guidecca. It holds up far better than any simple paper map and is easy to read with major landmarks and attractions indicated.

Where Can You Go On The Vaporetto?
Why it’s worth taking a ride…

Take a cheap tour of the Grand Canal. Hop on the 1 or 2 vaporetto and see the entire length of the Grand Canal – for much cheaper than a gondola ride! The 1 is the City Center “local” line which stops at twenty stations along both sides of the Grand Canal. It then continues on to the beach resort island of the Lido. The 2 is the City Center “express” line which only seasonally goes to the Lido.
Tour the perimeter of Venice. Take a long, grand tour all around the perimeter of Venice on the 4.1 or 4.2 lines. These run clockwise and counter clockwise and also stop on Giudecca, Lido, Murano and San Michele (the cemetery island)
Explore the Northern lagoon. The 13 will take you from Venice to Murano, Vignole, Sant’Erasmo and even all the way to Treporti, if you wish. It also stops on Lazzaretto Nuove on request. The 12 from Fondamente Nove is your fast trip to Mazzorbo and Burano, from where you can catch the 9 to Torcello and back.
Explore the Southern lagoon. The islands of San Servolo and San Lazzaro degli Armeni are available on the route 20 vaporetto.

What You Can See On The Vaporetto
Tour the Grand Canal at night and see Venice at its finest
Travel to the Giudecca, where one can enjoy the best views of Venice and a lovely evening meal as the sun sets over the City of Water.
Visit the Lido, where beach lovers flock in the summer months, and local residents enjoy the bustling nightlife year round.
Ride to colorful Burano, where lace makers sell their wares and excellent seafood can be enjoyed at many quaint trattorias.
Enter the Northern lagoon and pass the ruins of old, abandoned monasteries, homes and colonies.
Visit one of the former “plague islands” of the lagoon, Lazzaretto Nuovo, one of the spookiest places in all of Venice.

How Much Does The Vaporetto Cost?

The base fare to take a vaporetto was, as of my last visit in November 2012, 7 Euro. This ticket is valid for 60 minutes from the time you activate it. There are also extended time travelcards available for the following prices:

12 hours: 18 Euros

24 hours: 20 Euros

36 hours: 25 Euros

48 hours: 30 Euros

72 hours: 35 Euros

7 days: 50 Euros

See a complete listing of current vaporetto fares at Hellovenezia.

As you can see, riding the vaporetto as a tourist is not necessarily cheap (a base fair of 7 Euros is equivalent to about $9 at the current exchange rate). Some visitors who stick to the main island of Venice may find they do not need to use the vaporetto more than perhaps once or twice to visit specific sites or outlying islands (such as making a day on Murano, Burano and Torcello). In such a case, buying the single 60 minute or 12 hour tickets as you need them might be your best bet.

However, if you are someone who enjoys the freedom of being able to travel wherever and whenever you want on the vaporetto, I recommend buying a travelcard for as good as the length of your stay. In retrospect after our most recent trip, I regret not having bought a 7-day pass as we surely spent more than the 50 Euros a piece they would have cost in buying multiple single and 12-hour tickets as need be. Buying an extended travelcard will allow you to explore all of the Venetian lagoon as you wish without worry – as well as speed your journeys throughout Venice as often it can be faster to get from point A to point B in the city by hopping one of the grand canal routes, versus trying to navigate Venice’s winding, confusing streets.

Where To Buy Vaporetto Tickets
Another aspect of the vaporetto system which can be confusing to visitors is figuring out exactly WHERE you can buy your tickets. Major vaporetto stops, such as Ferrovia (the train station), Rialto, San Marco, Accademia, Fondamente Nove and Lido SME have ticket offices where you can purchase them directly from agents (who generally speak English as well as Italian well enough to communicate your request). Some of these stops also have automated ticket machines.

You can also buy vaporetto tickets at any “Tabacchi”/convenience shop in Venice. They are easy to spot by their signs with a large “T” on it. Simply go to the counter and request the kind of card you want – it won’t be activated until you tap it at a vaporetto stop.

It is worth noting that most ticket offices – and tabacchi shops – are not open past early evening hours. So before you venture too far on a vaporetto for the evening, it is wise to make sure you have either a travelcard which will be good for your return trip, or you buy and keep on hand a pass you can activate for your ride home.

The Vaporetto Honor System
Don’t be caught without a ticket!
Like much of the public and mass transportation in Italy, the vaporetto water buses operate on an “honor” system. When you buy a ticket, you “activate” it before your first boarding on one of the card reading machines at every vaporetto stop. (These machines will also tell you how much time you have left on a previously activated ticket.) Tickets are not collected or checked upon boarding, although some high traffic vaporetto stops now have gates which will only open if you “tap” an active card for entry.

However, tickets are subject to random inspection and checking on board the vaporettos. If a ticket inspector asks for your ticket and you don’t have one, or your ticket is expired, you could be subject to a hefty fine – think around 50 Euros. If you board a boat and are without a valid ticket, you can still ride IF you inform one of the Actv agents on board and buy a ticket from them right away. Do not wait until you see them walking around checking for tickets, nor just try to game the system by riding without a ticket. While they might rarely check them on very busy routes, you just never know. And you also can’t count on running into a lenient on board agent who will buy your “dumb tourist” act and be willing to let you buy a travelcard instead of paying a fine…

General Vaporetto Usage Tips
Etiquette and important info

The boarding dock photographed above is at Fondamente Nove. It shows that the 4.1, 4.2, 13 and N boats stop here. There is also a route map to consult, and above it a digital display indicating the next arriving buses. Not visible to the side is a timetable to consult to see the next available vaporettos. Note the small machine to the left of the route map – that is where you tap your vaporetto ticket to activate it or check its expiration time.

All vaporetto stops will typically have a schedule posted, showing when and how late various boat lines run. Do consult these timetables if traveling to “distant” points before you begin wandering – so you know how late the boats will run and how frequently!
Vaporetto docks typically have an entry point indicated for boarding and for disembarking. Please be courteous and follow these directions, and allow passengers to disembark the boat before jumping on.
Some popular routes can be very busy and crowded. If you must make a certain connection, be sure to stand right at the front of the boarding dock while you wait for the vaporetto boat – Italians don’t tend to pay much attention to queuing and will just push ahead of you to get on board if need be. The bus conductors will stop allowing on passengers when a boat is full. Additionally, be courteous and file through to the back of the boat on crowded routes. Give everyone plenty of room to board and get off as needed.
Be sure you’re waiting at the proper dock. Some of the most popular stops, such as San Marco and Fondamente Nove, have multiple docks for the different lines (and directions). Be sure to check you are in the right spot to get on the boat you want – they won’t wait for you while you go running for your connection!
Don’t confuse vaporetto boats (with the Actv logo) with Alilaguna ferry boats. The Alilaguna line has its own separate ticketing and is primarily for transportation to and from the airport. The vaporetto will take you to Piazzale Roma, but from there you need to take a connecting bus service to Marco Polo Airport.
For lines that go in multiple directions (clockwise/counterclockwise), check the signs posted on the boat or the digital displays to confirm the boat is going in the direction you want.
In the evenings, some vaporetto lines may only stop at major stations or end their route early. Be sure to check on-boat displays or ask before you board. The “N” line offers overnight service to major vaporetto stops, but on a limited schedule – be sure to check it before waiting for a boat!

Useful Venice Links for the Vaporetto
1.Actv
The official website for Actv, which operates the vaporetto lines in Venice. Look up schedules between different departure points, get notices on any service disruptions or delays, and find out what else you need to know about the vaporetto services.
2.Map of vaporetto stops
Excellent large map showing all of the vaporetto stops around Venice and the lagoon, in scale.
3.Vaporetto route map
Standard route map provided by Actv.it. Illustrates which buses stop where. Not in scale.
4.Vaporetto Water Buses
Detailed articles from Europe for Visitors.

10 Travel Tips for Enjoying a Vacation in Rome

Italy’s beautiful city Rome is known as the Eternal City, an apt moniker given its incredible history and importance to the modern and classical world. Rome is a wonderful city to visit on holiday, whether you are a lover of the arts, history, architecture, or incredible shopping and dining. However, Rome’s immense size and the wide array of sights to take in can make it intimidating or frustrating, or even financially dangerous to an unprepared tourist.

I am not going to attempt a comprehensive tourist guide to Rome in this article, as there are already many terrific, detailed travel books which do so (and some are linked below). What I will focus on here are basic personal tips from my own experiences visiting Rome. Keep these tips in mind while planning your trip and visiting this amazing city in Italy, and I guarantee you will enjoy a much more pleasurable experience.

All photographs on this page are by the author, sockii, unless provided by Amazon.

Rome Travel Tip #1: Plan ahead
Before you go to Rome, make a list prioritizing the sites you don’t want to miss during your visit. Then check the hours and days for those sites. With so much to see, you really need a game plan so as not to be disappointed to find out too late that the Vatican museum is closed most Sundays, or that the Musei Capitolini is closed on Mondays. Other attractions, like the Colonna Palace, have even more limited visiting hours: try one day a week in the mornings only! Try not to plan too many activities into each day, but focus on specific areas of the city in a logical fashion, so you’re not constantly rushing back and forth.

Many churches worth visiting for their artwork, architecture and historical importance can have odd hours for public visits, so be sure to check on those in advance as well. Most churches are only be open in mornings, 9am-noon, and then later afternoon into early evening (4-7pm). Some may also disallow tourist visitation during service hours, often around 6pm. So if you want to visit particular churches, keep these restrictions in mind when planning your daily excursions. Also remember that most churches adhere to modest dress codes: bare shoulders and short shorts would be considered inappropriate. Also turn off your cell phone ringer, and respect that these are holy places of worship for many, not just tourist attractions.

In addition, Rome has many sites and museums that you absolutely must make reservations at in advance you wish to visit, such as the Galleria Borghese and the DeChirico Foundation Museum. I lucked into getting access to the latter without reservation, but at the former I have seen angry people being turned away because they didn’t buy their tickets ahead of time. Many such sites allow you to easily buy your tickets in advance through the internet, so just make sure to print out and bring with you any confirmation receipts or emails.

Rome Travel Tip #2: Respect photography rules
Many churches and museums in Rome restrict or completely forbid photography. Be respectful and honor these rules. You can often purchase much better, professional photos and postcards of works of art than you can shoot yourself with your amateur camera. Visitors gawking over and holding up traffic flow around sites and in rooms of museums by taking photographs can be disruptive to other visitors. Flash photography can also be damaging to fragile works of art, so if photography is allowed in a museum in Rome, be sure to turn your flash off and rely solely on natural lighting.
Churches in Italy: 5 Tips for Visiting
The churches of Italy are some of the most beautiful artistic and architectural treasures in the country. But be mindful of proper etiquette and decorum!

Rome Travel Tip #3: Invest in a Roma Pass
A Roma Pass is an absolute must if you want to visit certain historical sites and museums in Rome without waiting in endless lines. A Roma Pass can also save you money, and you can buy one in any Tabacchi shop in the city. The Roma Pass is good for three days from your first use, and for a flat price you will get access to two sites or museums inclusive, plus a 30% discount at other sites. Bus and rail usage is also included for those three days. Trust me, you will be very glad to be able to bypass the ticket lines at the Colosseum and Roman Forum (which count as one combined admission on the Pass).

If you are a museum junkie staying for a week, you might even find it worth purchasing two Roma Passes to cover the length of your trip, but wait and see if you really need it. Not all sites in Rome are covered by the Pass.

Rome Travel Tip #4: Use Taxis – With Some Caution
Taxis are not a bad choice for transportation in Rome, as they are fast (traffic permitting) and will get you to and from most attractions you want to see for under or around 10 Euros. However, you will need to be cautious of some taxi drivers who will try to con you when they think they’ve spotted a clueless tourist. Have small change and bills handy before getting in a cab as many may not be able to break a 20 Euro bill, or even a 10. Learn at least a few necessary phrases in Italian to help you point out to your driver where you want to go and stop, if he is confused about an address (“is here”/”is there”/”to the left”/”to the right”). Drivers may try to intimidate people they think do not know better, so point out your specific destination on a map or hand the driver a card with the address/number printed clearly if you don’t think you can state it in Italian.

Also be wary of unlicensed taxi drivers who may try to approach you in the airport. Avoid them. Step outside the terminal where the licensed cabs will be cued up. You should be charged a fixed rate from the airport into the center of Rome and not pay a meter rate – confirm this with your driver before entering the cab.
Do You Need to Speak Italian to Visit Italy?
Is speaking English in Italy acceptable? Or do you need to be proficient in Italian before planning a vacation to the country? Advice & personal experience from a regular visitor.

Rome Travel Tip #5: Pack good walking shoes
Even if you use taxis or public transportation to get around different areas of Rome, plan on doing a lot of walking as well. The Roman Forum in particular is worthy of a lengthy visit exploring and walking through the breathtaking ruins. Foot pain and fatigue can ruin a day of sightseeing, so skip the high-heels and instead pack a comfortable pair of sneakers.
Useful Rome Travel Guides
More information you’ll want to read before you go

Rick Steves Rome 2016
View on Amazon
Rick Steves’ Pocket Rome
View on Amazon
ROME – 2016 (The Food Enthusiast’s Co…
View on Amazon

Rome Travel Tip #6: Be prepared for crowds
Unless you are visiting Rome in the bleakest months of winter, be prepared for crowds. Lots of crowds, everywhere, at least in the historic parts of the city. Streets are narrow and pedestrian traffic will be heavy, especially along main roads such as Via del Corso and near Vatican City. If the crowds get to be too much for you, plan a day’s respite visiting one of the more residential areas of the city such as Aventino or Trastevere, or get out of the city entirely to explore the Appian Way. There are buses which will take you there and back. Another great place to spend a peaceful afternoon is the Protestant Cemetary, filled with beautiful monuments, lush vegetation, and a colony of rescue cats.

Rome Travel Tip #7: Avoid the con artists
Any city which draws a large number of tourists is going to also draw a huge number of con artists and thieves. Rome is notorious for pick-pockets, so keep your belongings close to you (in your front pockets or in a small, zippered shut purse). Don’t travel around with more on you than you’ll need for any one day. Keep your passport, travel documents, additional credit cards and cash secured in your hotel room or room safe. If someone offers to take your picture in front of a photogenic site such as the Spanish Steps or the Trevi Fountain, be wary – nothing might stop them from dashing off with your camera, or at least demanding payment for their services. And if a strange man tries to hand you a rose, it’s not a gift because he thinks you’re especially lovely – it’s because he expects you to pay him for it.

Gypsy beggars are present near many tourist attractions. Again, be wary as that poor, crippled old lady begging for coins may be a perfectly healthy young woman in crafty make-up and a wig. Save your donations for charitable contribution boxes in the churches, if you feel the urge to help the less fortunate.

Also be cautious of any “tourist guides” who come up to you on the street, offering their services at bargain prices. If you plan on participating in any organized tours, book them through a reputable organization or service. Fake tour guides are especially rampant around the Colosseum, promising you they can get you inside while avoiding the lines, give you more information about the history of the Colosseum and even then take you to the Forum, if you only give them 8 or 10 Euros and wait for a few minutes with a group they have ready to go. They’ll take your money and then, very likely, disappear.

Rome Travel Tip #8: Visiting The Sistine Chapel (and the Vatican Museums)
If there is one sight in Rome that no visitor should miss, it is the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo’s frescoes are some of the most recognizable works of art in the modern world, and must be seen in person to truly be appreciated. However, the immense crowds shuffling through the chapel during the height of visiting hours can make the experience uncomfortable and disappointing.

In my opinion, unless you are able to arrange a private visit through an organization such as The Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican, here is my advice: arrive early. Very early. If the museum is scheduled to open at 9am, be in line to enter by 7 or 8 in the morning. You want to be one of the first people inside. But beyond getting in first, know that the Sistine is located at the very end of the Vatican Museum, as compared to where you will enter. Once you are inside, do not dawdle or linger over the rest of the collection, for you can return to them later. Walk or run as fast as you can, using your map as a guide, to the Sistine. The rest of the crowds will take at least 15-20 minutes to being to trickle in and catch up with you. To be able to experience the Sistine Chapel in near solitude even for just a few minutes is worth all efforts to accomplish.

Rome Travel Tip #9: Shop Around Before You Buy
Rome is a shoppers’ and collectors’ paradise, its streets lined with designer clothing stores, leather goods outlets, art galleries and antique markets. And don’t forget the gourmet cheese, meat and wine shops! But sometimes it can be difficult to tell a good deal apart from a scam.

Avoid the urge to make impulse purchases or be pressured by into a sale you’re not certain about. Shop around and wait until close to your return trip home before committing to any expensive purchases. Also consider having any large or fragile items such as glass or artwork shipped home to you instead of attempting to carry it back. In my experience shipping is very swift and safe from Italy, sometimes with my purchases arriving home before I do!

Rome Travel Tip #10: Enjoy Your Trip!
Lastly, I urge you to remember this point as you visit Rome: you will not be able to see everything you want to see in one trip to this great city. Don’t be disappointed, for there is simply too much to Rome to be appreciated and experienced in a few short days or weeks. Don’t leave disappointed, but instead leave looking forward to planning your next trip to explore more of the Eternal City

Happy Traveling with the Best Bus Charter Services in the United State

Taking a journey sometimes can be an inconvenient experience, but it does not have to be worried because there are less taxing alternatives such as bus charter service. This form of transportation is more convenient than using the airport or train, especially when you have a large group of people to transport. In addition, they are usually less expensive than other transportation mode as well, especially today with all ticket prices for airline transport. Thus, there are many reasons to use a bus charter service such as they are more affordable and comfortable.

Best Bus Charter Services in the United State

The most important part of any trip is transportation to and from your destination. No matter what type of trip you are planning, a bus charter service offers convenient transport. Depending on the company, charter bus services usually charge a flat fee for the service or charge by the mile. There are several deciding factors that play into what charter bus service you will use.

Traveling using a bus service is also extremely enjoyable. The majority of these charter buses are customized with the long distance traveler in mind. They offer large semi reclining cushioned seats, and sometimes they are equipped with Wi-Fi, televisions, DVD recorders so you are able to watch some movies along the way. Another advantage with a charter bus is that they are typically equipped with a lavatory, so there is no need to worry about having to use the restroom while traveling. A charter bus is also equipped with large luggage compartments so there is also no need to worry about luggage storage as these buses were made for long journeys.

A bus charter service is also a popular choice if you are going on vacation. You can often get a really good deal, plus you get to leave the driving up to someone else. Many charter bus services have options for an all in one package, so you basically pay a flat fee for transportation and a tour of your destination. This is a great option if you are traveling alone, or just want to leave the details up to someone else. Plus, you can sleep while you travel so that you are fully rested for your vacation.

When you are considering having to transport a large group of people over a long distance you are going to be faced with making a decision on the best and most affordable way to do this. What it all boils down to is two very distinct possibilities. The first will be to buy individual plane tickets. While this mode of transportation will certainly be the quickest, with the rising cost of airfare, it won’t be the cheapest. The other option is using a bus charter service. This is one of the more affordable means of transportation; however, there are a few things that you will want to consider before you charter a service.

If you have a large group that is planning a trip then one of your options for transportation is with using a bus charter service. A bus charter service can easily take you and your group to any location with ease. There is also no need to worry about comfort as these charter buses are extremely comfortable for that long and anticipated journey. Using a bus charter service is also sometimes the more economical way to travel especially when trying to make the trip affordable for many travelers.

Bus charter service can take a very large group on a trip or vacation that is out of town. A good majority of these charter buses are able to accompany at least one hundred passengers at one time. A bus charter service is able to take you and your group of travelers to anywhere in the country that is accessible by a roadway. The price will vary based on the length and mileage of the entire trip. However, traveling by a bus charter service tends to be more affordable rather than any type of other transportation service. This will definitely make the trip less expensive for all of the travelers in the group as traveling can be quite costly especially if there are a large number of family members taking advantage of the group trip.

Some experienced bus companies not only provide transportation service. They also offer bus charter service and various tour packages which you can take up. If you are in the United States, I highly recommend you to review All Aboard America. Like some experienced bus companies, All Aboard America provides some of the newest, most luxurious motorcoaches in the United States. If you’re looking to experience a new way of traveling and want to see some of the country’s coolest landmarks, All Aboard America has the bus charters for you. Travel in luxury and safety with All Aboard America.