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BOE21 tour cuisine

Just wanted to ask about the food on the tours.
Is there a lot of heavy foods? Lots of meat? When you go to one of the tour restaurants do you get a choice or is everyone served the same thing? Also is there any foods you didn't feel comfortable with or wasn't to your preference?
I am a big foodie type person & I do enjoy a wide array of cultural cuisines. I ask because I don't eat alot of heavy foods everyday & a ton of meat, or bread @ every meal or even everyday. So I'd like to have a heads up on this

Thanks in Advance.

Posted by
11503 posts

Well, I have only done one RS tour and it was the BOE 14 day Family Europe Tour.

First.. you don't get all your dinners.. seemed like once every 3-4 nights was an included dinner. You do get every breakfast.

Breakfasts varied by the country.. ( for instance in Switzerland we got museli ) but usually breakfast included breads/pastries/toast and sliced cheeses, fruit and yogurts.. some places had hard or soft boiled eggs, cold sliced meats, and breakfast cereals and milk.

Dinners definately reflected the country you were in.. usually started with some sort of salad.. then in Rome for instance.. a pasta and perhaps a sliced meat, in Switzerland we had Cheese fondue.. soups were common offerings for starters,, Florence we had sliced roasted meat, some veggies, a pasta starter, .. and dessert is always included.

We were not offered choices.. but we had some folks with allergies and food sensitivities and they seemed to try and accomdate them.. ( in Florence the place had gluten free pasta for the celiacs in our group).

Posted by
89 posts

I've been on 6 tours (but not BOE21) and on 5 out of the 6, we had a choice among two (sometimes 3) different items for the included meals. Often the choice was between a meat or a fish entree. Many times we had choices for each separate course, too. On the one other tour, there were no choices and I thought that arrangement was MUCH inferior to having a choice. I have a feeling that this matter may be left up to the individual RS tour guide. At any rate, meals did generally reflect regional specialties and the food was generally good, sometimes very good, and always much above "average" tour food. Guides will try to arrange different foods for those with special needs (vegetarian, lactose intolerant, etc.) My impression is that in many European countries, vegetables are less common on menus than in the US.

Breakfasts are almost always buffets with a mix of cheese, meats, fruit, excellent pastries and breads, and often some local goodie such as pickled herring (in Scandinavia) or hot breakfast (in Britain & Ireland). Except for that one tour where we had no menu choices, I have always greatly enjoyed the food available on the RS tours.

Posted by
544 posts

On my tours there have sometimes been a choice of two entrees. Portions are also generally smaller over there, but there's plenty of food and some choice. At group dinners, servers multiple times were concerned that I didn't like the food and I had to explain that I'm just trying to cut back on my eating.

When they served trout at one of our stops, it was the whole fish. Our guide and the servers came around to the people who ordered the fish and taught us how to eat fish served that way without getting bites full of bones.

There's often a reason they select a particular restaurant and dishes based on historical and cultural ties to the region. It is highlight for me to be served items that I wouldn't necessarily choose myself.

Posted by
108 posts

Hi Tatiana,

I took this tour last spring.

I found that the portion size of most meals are much smaller than we are used to. At first I thought I was going to go hungry but quickly learned it was plenty. After a while I felt I was eating too much and started skipping some breakfasts & lunches and maybe going with a snack instead. Breakfast was always provided by the hotel and usually reflected the "local breakfast". A couple of hotels did try to provide an "American breakfast" with eggs & bacon. Breakfast usually included breads, sliced meat, and fruit.

Group dinners provided by the tour normally had a "local" flavor and had at least two selections. I only remember one dinner in Switzerland where everybody was served the same items.

There are 3 types of "food service" on this trip. Meals provided by the tour, meals you obtain on your own during your free time, and bus meals.

Bus meals are an adventure. Your bus will have to make a rest stop every couple of hours by law so there is always a bathroom break coming up. Many of the stops, especially around meal times, will be made at an "autoserve", known to us as a truck stop. A really, really, nice truck stop! Both truckers and travelers use these. Think of a rest stop in between the expressway that services both directions. You can get fuel and anything you want to eat. Think of the Royal Fork buffet with a lot more different types of food. Special local dishes (ever see a salami a foot in diameter?), gift items, general store items, nice cafeteria type seating, clean bathrooms (most requiring payment in advance ). Just about anything you might need.

There wasn't anything I couldn't eat but I did notice I was eating more bread, usually a sandwich for lunch which is very popular. The bread is usually fresh bread baked daily. I really enjoyed the cusine on this tour.

Posted by
1068 posts

I have not taken BOE21, but have been on 6 other RS tours (and several by other companies.) Most tours try to provide insight into local food. Usually there were choices but sometimes it was only one dish. In those circumstances I didn't eat what I didn't like and lived with that. That strategy has been fine for me so far.

Posted by
1171 posts

Hi. I have taken a number of RS tours, though not this one. I must say that I have at times found there is TOO MUCH food for me at the group dinners. I am not sure, but the input of the individual guides may be a work regarding the menus. There seems to be most always a choice, but I noticed when at Mont. St. Michel, we were eating the tourist menu. Disappointing. But then, that is the whole character of Mont St Michel at this period, right - tourist-centric.

When it comes to non-tourist-centric places, which I think many of the RS restaurants are, I sometimes feel guilty for not being able to consume everything they put in front of me. They are trying to showcase their cuisine and cooking, and sometimes I end up eating more than I would just to be compliant and not offensive to our hosts. Hooray if Le Doggie Bag becomes popular. Anyway, I am steeling myself in future to not feel badly if I cannot scarf down all the food given me.

I like the camaraderie of the group meals, but the good news is, group members frequently meet up for non-tour meals, and then the opportunity to select is as wide open as the menu.

I don't know that I would characterize the food as heavy necessarily, but it has sometimes been too plentiful for me. I think if you have specific concerns, a conversation with your guide would be helpful.

PS, I have had some fantastic meals with the RS groups, too. Amsterdam comes to mind. I thought I was eating sushi grade tuna, but it turns out to have been beef. Wow. I hope to return to repeat that experience.

Posted by
11503 posts

Remember the bread is made with non gmo grains, much better for you. Europe is pretty much gmo free!

Posted by
13253 posts

As you know I did do the 21BOE. I don't remember 100% if there were always choices for the group dinners because I'm vegan and every restaurant was able to provide me with a vegan meal. I do remember by the time we were ready to leave after our days in Germany and Austria that people were discussing the number of pork meals on offer. This may differ from tour departure to tour departure depending on guides and the restaurants they choose.

If you don't eat much meat, you could talk with the guide about vegetarian meals (then you would be good with the fondue meal in Switzerland!), but I encourage you to be consistent with this to make it easier for your guide. Either vegetarian all the time or group choices all the time.

The vegan meals were very good and as some others mentioned, after the first few days I felt there was too much food. Sometimes on the non-group meal night I would just have salad or some kind of snack. Oh yeah. Plus gelato (actually sorbet which was vegan) in Italy. Every day.

The AutoGrills were great! Amazing choices for lunches so you can have as little or as much as you want.

Posted by
1059 posts

I really enjoyed the group meals and eating with new friends. However, there were at least 2 meals on the Best of Italy tour where we only had one choice of a main course. I think there should always be two choices. Both meals were at an Agriturismo and there was no opportunity go out and eat something else if you did not like what was served.

Posted by
495 posts

Hi Tatiana, I've been on a bunch of Rick Steves tours and appreciate the fact that the tour guide tries to arrange meals that are indicative of the local cuisine. There have been meals that I wouldn't have ordered off the menu, but I enjoyed the fact that I was eating food from the region and not food that I could eat at home. Like others have noted, feel free to share any food requirements with your guide-they are there for you. Yeah, there was a lot of pork on the Germany, Austria, Switzerland tour, but that's what they eat in that region. If there's something you don't like on your plate, you can just leave it, no one will be offended. I often didn't eat much of the included breakfast because I was full from the night before. You can always eat a light breakfast to be ready for lunch or a big breakfast and skip lunch to set yourself up for a big dinner. I definitely eat a lot more on these tours than at home, but that's a big part of the fun for me. I also start to drink a bit more wine before my trips so I get used to having wine at lunch and dinner. ha, ha, ha.

I'm sure you'll have a fantastic time on the BOE21 tour. It is awesome!

Posted by
13 posts

How awesome are all of you for the great replies..
I'm all about the regional/local cuisines, no problem.

Nordheim, not being able to finish what was served to me was a big concern for me, I didn't want to offend anyone. I LOVE food. I'm just such a light eater & I do lean towards a vegetarian preference but definitely not always! I just prefer lots of fruits & veggies, lighter foods. I'll try almost anything though, for the experience of it.
Pam, I think I'm going to request Vegetarian, just to make sure it stays as light as possible...but I still get the fondue. :-) yum.
Also, that way if I do want to try a wurst, etc, I can do it on my own time and moderate myself and not inconvenience or offend anyone.
Davey, these road stops sound very interesting. They should implement that here in the States.

I love to cook & bake so when @ home I cook all different sorts of ethnic foods and play around in the kitchen with vegetarian/vegan...and everything in between. & I always add my glass ;-) Actually, I drink A LOT of water, so I have a feeling I'll be scouting out a lot grocery stores everywhere. I usually carry water with me. I have to figure out how to conserve on bottles.

Thanks everyone for being so generous with your time,advice & tips!

Posted by
31568 posts

take one and refill it from the tap, the Swiss fountains and the Nasone.

Posted by
13253 posts

Your coach driver will undoubtedly have water, soft drinks and probably beer and wine for sale. Usually buying water from him/her will be cheaper. There is usually a list of everyone's name up by the driver and you just put a hash mark for whatever drink you take then settle up with the driver at the end of the tour.

Posted by
23 posts

Hi Tatiana,
I have been on 3 RS tours including BOE21 an have found the group meals delightful. I am a foodie and enjoy the local cuisines. On all tours with a few exceptions, we were offered 3-4 entree selections. On BOE21 on some days the guide took our entree orders during bus time so they could call ahead to the restaurant. As a solo traveler, the group meals were some of the best experiences. With all that said on BOE21, the Germany-Austria days were meat and vegetables for the most part, the portions are smaller than in the US which was great. In Italy, group meals were delicious, some with several courses and I was almost ready to burst, it was hard to cut back as everything I ordered was delicious. The Auto-grill stops where you can purchase a snack or lunch offered a variety selections and not fast food. If a meal has a too much food, offer a portion of it to your table mates before you dig in, you'll be surprised that some of the guys are more than happy to sample!

Posted by
416 posts

You can always eat a light lunch. My favorite lunches on the Best of Italy tour - Gelato! There are so many varieties to try and they will cool you off on a hot day. We also had good gelato on the Germany Austria Switzerland tour.

Posted by
740 posts

I recall trying the Riesling gelato in Bacharach, Germany. I can't say it was my favorite, but it was the most unique.