I debated about whether to post in Trip Reports or here and opted for here based on the info inviting tour members to share their candid tour experiences. I've got several parts to this report, so will post the remainder as comments.
Best of Europe 8/26/14
Overall: This was a wonderful, wonderful tour. I loved every day. An RS tour guide for another country said he went on this tour as an assistant one time and that it was his favorite tour as you saw blockbuster sights every day. He was so right! I had such a terrific time on this tour! The itinerary was varied with both cities and countryside, Dimitri the guide was just awesome, informative and entertaining, the group was interesting and fun to be with and the sights were amazing. I loved every minute.
Group: I guess RS tour members kind of self-select themselves when they sign up for Rick’s tours. Most know what his philosophy is and it seems like everyone has watched his PBS show. This group was so varied and interesting and FUN! I enjoyed talking with everyone, touring with everyone and sharing experiences with everyone. I am pretty much a height chicken but I was determined to go up to the Schilthorn. I made it with the help from Dimitri AND the group. They were all so supportive even when I was a baby and had my eyes shut on the way up. Meals were very entertaining as were the bus rides.
Activity level: I’ve done 5 RS tours and this one is very strenuous. Travel over 20 days by bus is hard but you have to keep moving to see everything. The hardest touring days were Amsterdam and Rome. In Amsterdam, we took the train from Haarlem in to Amsterdam, tram to Anne Frank’s house, did a walking tour led by Dimitri thru town to the Begijnhof, lunch in the Flower Market area, then walked on to the Rijks Museum, toured the museum with local guides (divided in to 2 groups), walked to a canal boat dock, canal cruise, de-boated (??) and walked to the Niewmarkt area, the Red Light district and back to near the Central Station. At that point it was around 6PM and we had the evening free. Some opted to stay in AMS for dinner and to continue to sightsee, many of us returned to Haarlem for dinner and an early night. The long day in Rome was bus from Florence to Rome arriving at around noon. Checked into hotel, had a quick lunch on our own and then a Rome metro lesson (yes one of our group found a hand in his pocket first thing!) going to Vatican Museum. Tour thru the Museum and Sistine, short time in St Peter’s as there was a service and it was closing for the day, then walk to bus stop, bus to Campo de Fiori for a short break, walking tour to near the Pantheon for dinner, continued walking tour after dinner back to our hotel near Piazza della Repubblica with a gelato stop. Both very long days but really to see everything you have to put some time in on the pavement.