Can anyone recommend tour companies in Europe that are English speaking yet attract European travelers? As an American, it would be more interesting to dine with someone from Dussledorf than Detroit!
kat, That's a good question! Are you referring to tour companies like Rick Steves that offer one to three week tours, or did you mean tour companies that just offer day trips? While not from Dusseldorf, there were two couples from India on one of the RS tours that I took. Cheers!
I'm thinking of a 2-3 week tour.
I've taken one RS tour w/ an interesting group of folks. All were American.
That is a good question. We've traveled with a French group but we speak French and so did everyone in the group, which included French, Swiss, Belge, or even three from Luxembourg. My guess is that most people tour in their mother tongues. However, you could start with British websites.
Cox and Kings--based in the UK
Butterfield and Robinson--Canada
I am going to state the obvious. You will meet more foreigners if you do not take a tour but go on your own.. having done one RS tour you must now realize it may be easier then you thought to do on your own. Staying in hostels ( some are very nice, basic but nice , and have PRIVATE rooms) will have you sitting down to breakfast with many different ages and nationalities. If you need pampering not for you, but if you only need clean safe and basic, this is a good native. Also,look into Elderhostel.. I know nothing about it really but have heard its a well reviewed type of program for mature travellers who want to learn as they go.
Just to add to Pat's reference to Elderhostels, it is now called Roads Scholars. Clever name.
I was the only American on the walking tour that I took in Scotland a number of years ago. I think I would suggest looking for something like that. Look for tours run by a company in the UK. Pam
Just finished 2 Road Scholar tours and over both tours, 1 was Canadian and all the rest were American. BTW, if you are able to keep up with a Rick Steves tour, I would not recommend a Road Scholar tour as the pace was much slower. Both were rated Active on their rating system, altho comparing the tour to the ratings, I would rate it a bit higher as some on the program struggled. Altho I was not the youngest in either group, the lady from Canada and I wound up informally helping the tour leader look after some of the more senior and infirm people in one of the groups. If you select one of the very active hiking tours, it would hopefully select out those that enjoy a slower pace. I'm comparing the activity level of these tours to the Rick Steves Heart of Italy tour I did in May. I also realize you didn't ask about activity level, but thought I would throw it in!
You might consider a river cruise. I haven't done one, but perhaps those that have can weigh in on who takes them. The challenge for meeting people is that most people, though often friendly, stay within their own bubble. I've actually found that traveling solo can help break the ice with others as I'm not focused on my travel partners. But it can be hard to break through the shell with other people traveling in groups or couples. Staying at hotels/hostels with active common areas is a great way to people others. I've met many people just relaxing late in the evening and sharing travel tips, drinks and conversation.
Another way to make it more culturally relevant would be to opt for apartments instead of hotels. That way you live among the locals while you are there. And, don't do whirlwind tours. Go someplace and spend some time drilling down to the local level. Four days in a city, living and shopping among the locals while still seeing all the sights is a completely different exercise than if its Tuesday it must be Vienna.
Kat, Unless youre in a closed/private restaurant, ive had no issues finding non americans eating wherever i chose to eat. happy trails.
Consider a European cruise especially after Sept 1. It will have a large percentage if not a majority of non-Americans.
I have to disagree that renting an apartment is a good way to mingle with Europeans. Unless you own the place, so are there often, it's unlikely that you would meet your neighbors. I've rented apartments in various European countries and have never had a conversation with a neighbor.
Totally agree with Andrea,, locals are not going to bother getting to know you , or even talk to you , unless you are there repeatedly and for longer stays. First off in larger cities ,, folks just do not start mingling with strangers that easily,, even if you live there, and secondly, if only staying a week, they are far to busy to even pay you attention as they rush off to work or get their kids to school .. I think Kat if you really want to mingle you need to do a few things.. stay longer, perhaps avoid large cities, and perhaps look into some volunteering holidays.
Here is the deal: - most Europeans travelling on organized tours in Europe itself often use tour services in their own language. Notable exceptions include programs where organized tours are the most/only feasible way to travel, like a Fjörd cruise in Norway or certain technical guided multi-night hikes. - when travelling on tours/groups, most people kept to themselves in their own sub-group (family, friends going together etc). Exceptions include tours where lots of people go travelling solo, like those oriented toward sports or very specific activities like wine-tasting. - in Europe, presence of foreigners speaking different languages is more ubiquitous than in USA or Canada, if only for smaller size of each country and easy of access. Therefore, even nice and social Europeans don't have that prompt curiosity you find in many nice and social Americans when they see someone from abroad who doesn't speak their language travelling with/along them. Finally, a small note: people who are overly enthusiastic about meeting strangers and striking deep/long conversations are a minority anywhere. For the better or the worse, widespread telecom technologies also mean more and more people can plug themselves online when waiting a train, standing in a line etc., so there are increasingly less people out there just wanting to chat with strangers for absence of more interesting things to do.
I think if you join some local tours of cities, you will find many nationalities touring with you. My last time in Berlin, my walking tour had a multitude of nationalities. Indian, Swedish, Dutch, Australian, British, Irish, Scottish, American, South African, and French, all on an English language tour about the 3rd Reich. Many people fall into conversation with each other on walking tours and then go off to have a drink or lunch together. I also meet people at small festivals, when you sit at long fest tables. You can do this at Farmers markets too. Visiting a small local pub on a regular basis if you are in one location for a while, and then buying a round when appropriate, will always make quick friends. Other than that, you might want to check out some Australian or British tour companies to see what they offer.
I was on a Viking river cruise last year and a large percentage of the folk were from England, Australia and Canada which made it slightly more diverse.
I was on a Road Scholar (formerly ElderHostel) tour this year and we were all from US. Note: both of these tours had an older population of travelers (over 50) and Road Scholar requires one in the party be more than 50 or 55 (can't remember which.)
The essence of the answer is scattered among the responses. Other than polite conversation, you're not going to really get much unless you bring something to the table: fix a lawn mower, untangle a sheep from a fence, help castrate the camel, something.
All right-adding a new skill to Ed's repertoire! Camel castration. Adds a bit of a spin to Mr. Fix-It.
Karen, you mean you didn't know about the unique skills Ed possesses?
@Ed: Once I defleece the fence, I look forward to a hearty discussion extolling the virtues of Kierkegaard.
Are camel nippers approved for carry on luggage?
Many thanks for all your great suggestions!