I just posted a trip report about the week my son and I spent in Paris on our own, and thought I would report here that RS's "Paris and the Heart of France" prepared me for it. Before that tour, I had never been to Europe. We were encouraged by the guide to move outside our tour bubble, and those experiences enabled me to feel competent--almost comfortable--on our subsequent trip to Paris. So, thanks Rebecca, and Rick Steves!
Oh gosh, I had Rebecca for Paris and the Heart of France as well!! Yes, I completely agree - she was such fun and so encouraging.
I do love the education component on the RS tours!
We had Rebecca for our Paris tour and I agree she was excellent as a guide! Her knowledge of history really made even simple walks around Paris interesting.
Thanks for reporting back Michele. Its hard to get across the added value of the educational aspect of the tours, when people are just looking at the cost.
Michele, that's just what we were trying to explain to someone the other day; the greatest value of a Rick Steves tour is what we learned - not only the art, history, and economy of an area, but also how to get around, use public transportation, and behave appropriately in shops and restaurants. Valuable information!
I had a similar experience. I had spent a week or so alone before my 21 day Best of Europe tour but did not really use the public transit and had a not great idea of what to watch for and basically just went to a couple places a day and then back to my hotel. I had Jesse (this was in 2016) and since then I have been back to Europe twice. Both times by myself for the most part but navigated local transit (even in Greece!) and felt comfortable just roaming the city until it got dark and finding little hole in the walls to eat at. I am way more confident now traveling out of the country.
Stan and Jane-you are absolutely right-the learning aspect of taking a Rick Steves tour is the best reason for taking one. Although I would like to add here that I would like to think we all do behave appropriately in public no matter where we are! Over the years, through taking tours and using his tour books when on independent travel, RS & Co. have taught me, my children, grandchildren and assorted friends, all at various times over the past several years, just how to maneuver the intricacies and pitfalls of what could be for us travel neophytes, daunting European travel. As a former/now retired teacher, I love the way the guides "teach" with patience, kindness and lots of knowledge. Most of the guides I have had for my tours are natives of Europe or the UK, an unexpected and most welcome perk of a tour.
Andi, I was thinking along the lines of: always sing out "Bonjour, Madame," when entering a shop in Paris; not picking over the fruit at a market stall; knowing not to sit at a table with a tablecloth unless you're planning to order a meal; and knowing that if you order a coffee while standing at the bar in Italy, don't sit at a table. Those are not intuitive, but learning them makes our journeys so much fun and so rewarding.
There's a lot to learn really and it was great. RS helps me be on a right etiquette on each different countries I visit and it's a "must-learn-to". ;)