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Best of Scandinavia OR Best of Spain 2018????

Would love to get some input if you've been on both, or either trip. My husband and I are trying to decide if we want to go on the RS Best of Scandinavia 14-Day OR the Best of Spain 14-Day Tour, in May or June of next year. I've even gone to RS Store in Edmonds, WA and spoke to a rep and got their in-put about deciding on where to go. Of course, cost is a concern.

More importantly, my husband has a gluten allergy.

If we went to Scandinavia, one concern that my husband has is, going to a restaurant (with the tour group) and he cannot eat anything on the menu. Does that happen? We were thinking it just might be easier to eat a gluten-free/paleo meal while on the Best of Spain Tour.

I would love to hear all or any of your experiences. Thank you! Safe Travels!

Posted by
1910 posts

The only question I can knowledgeably address (haven't been on either tour) is the concern your husband has re tour dinners and eating gluten free. Every tour I have been on has had at least one member who needed a gluten free menu for our group dinners. Our guides have always gone above and beyond to see those needs were met. One my most recent tour, we had 2 members who were gluten free, two vegetarians, two with seafood allergies and one who couldn't eat any dairy. Everybody reported as more than pleased with their meals. Did you talk to the RS rep you saw about eating gluten free? I'd say your best source about the tour group meals and any special dietary requirements would be the RS tour department.

Posted by
2426 posts

We took the Spain tour year before last and loved it. Keep in mind it gets pretty hot as you go south, so you'd want to avoid late June if possible. I follow a Paleo diet. I'm not that strict but avoid carbs when I can. The bread in Spain is lousy so that was easy. Many tapas are fried and breading them prior to frying is common so you'd need to look out for that when you are on your own. I stuck with grilled fish, shrimp, meats and did fine. Good salads are rare in Spain. As the previous poster noted food intolerances are so common hubby can be accommodated. Communicate with the tour department and especially your guide. One thing I have noticed in 7 RS tours is that often those who required special meals were not thrilled with their meal. Memorably my nephew (on our Village Italy tour) a vegetarian, looked at one dish and said "this is nothing but a plate of cooked vegetables!" Duh. And, Spain is cheap! Food, wine, etc. The posts regarding Scandinavia emphasize how expensive it is there.

Posted by
16832 posts

Both regions like their sandwiches, but also their potatoes. I think it will be easy to find gluten-free options in Scandinavia as well as easy to communicate in English. In terms of hotel breakfast, Scandinavia has a natural affinity for buffets including lots of cold cuts, fruit, yogurt, and muesli, in addition to a variety of breads and crackers. Spain fell more traditionally in the coffee and a bun camp, or chocolate and churros, although most hotels serve more than that these days. I was on the Spain tour five years ago and frankly can't remember the breakfasts (while other meals do stand out).

Posted by
6554 posts

We have found that cruises are the easiest and most economical way to visit Scandinavia and St. Petersburg. Things in that region are just deathly edpensive--food, accommodations, etc.

Posted by
2525 posts

While Scandinavia is expensive, I found that public transportation was a good value and prices for accommodations OK all things considered. As for food, we stuff ourselves at breakfasts and often find remaining meals via grocery stores or modest restaurants. Seemingly many people connected to the Travel Forum visit Switzerland despite the high costs and whine that Scandinavia is beyond their budgets. I reluctantly accept they will not be convinced otherwise.

Posted by
5633 posts

Scandinavia's cost may be high(er) than southern Europe but the Scandinavians are happy people according to the UN World Happiness Report 2017: http://worldhappiness.report/ed/2017/

Norway is first in happiness.
Denmark slipped to second.
Iceland is third.
Switzerland slipped in as fourth.
Finland (a Nordic country) is fifth in happiness.
Sweden only made nineth, beaten out by Canada and New Zealand.
Australia rounded out the top ten happiest countries.
(The United States was 14th, Mexico 25th and Spain 34th.)

Do you want to go to happy places or cheap(er) places that are less happy?

And yes, if you can be a food camel at Scandinavian/Nordic breakfast buffets, you can last until the evening meal. That said, an afternoon Norwegian Vafler with cream and preserved fruit and coffee makes me happy. Your husband will just have you watch you enjoy the Vafler.

Posted by
2426 posts

And you should really read that World Happiness Report. It is one of the best illustrations of why the UN is a waste of your (my) money I have ever seen. It has nothing to do with travel or tourism. Where you go should be based on many factors-what you want to see, affordability, safety, etc. Not some ridiculous drivel such as this.

Posted by
2525 posts

Maybe the World Happiness Report needs to be filed in the trivia cabinet but it does offer some hints about traveling to various countries as the measures included, ..."income, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on in times of trouble, generosity, freedom and trust, with the latter measured by the absence of corruption in business and government."

Posted by
54 posts

Just got back a week ago from 3 weeks in Scandinavia. We did it on our own (with much help from the RS guidebook) and spent time in Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn, Copenhagen, Bergen, Oslo. Yes, it's expensive. I'm still working out totals, but it looks like we spent just over $8K on the trip for two, including airfare from the west coast of the U.S, though maybe that's not so bad since the RS tour for two would be $10K + air and it's a week shorter. We're planning to go to Spain next year, and do hope to spend less there, but I have to say Scandinavia was really worth the expense. It's a gorgeous part of the world with interesting history and friendly people. This was our 30th anniversary trip, and we wanted something really special, and we definitely got it.

If you do go to Scandinavia, your husband will not have a problem finding gluten free food at hotel breakfast buffets, or in restaurants where you can order off a menu. We are not GF, but I think everywhere we went had options for GF, Vegan, Vegetarian. I remember noticing that the culture seems to be very accommodating of special diets, and even small bakeries were making and selling GF bread.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you everyone for your input. I'm going over RS European Travel Skills Part 1-3, and I just ordered a few of his travel guide books. I think we're going to go to Scandinavia and we can do it on our own for a "little less". I'm so excited to start researching it and can't wait! Thank you!

Posted by
113 posts

This summer (2017) we took the villages of Italy tour with a friend who has a gluten allergy. Our tour guide took great care in letting all the planned meal location know of her food requirements. They did an fantastic job of helping provide great meals while working around her dietary needs and given this was Italy, the land of Pasta, it all worked out. In fact some of the meals she received were as good or better than the food we were being severed, which was all excellent. When eating out were learned the phase for asking for gluten free foods and all the restaurants worked very hard to help meet our needs.

We are signed up for the Scandinavia 14 day tour for July 1st and am looking forward to the seeing the Lands of the North next summer.

Posted by
6276 posts

For weather I would probably do Spain in May or early June. Scandinavia would be better in very late June or July or August. I've not been on either RS tours but I have been to Sweden in July and it was lovely, but they often have cool wet weather in June. Scandinavia is generally more expensive than Spain at any time.