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Looking for future travel buddies - GAS, Spain, Scandinavia? May 29 - July 16

Well, last year, with my five back to backs, worked out so very well I decided to jump in this year with three back to backs, all two week tours with a week in Bratislava thrown in to boot. Last year I had wonderful travel buddies on each of the five tours and it was enjoyable connecting early with some of them. I thought I'd throw this out there once more. I'll be on GAS May 29 - June 11, then a week in Bratislava, then on to Best of Spain June 18 - July 1 and then Best of Scandinavia July 3 - 16. I've already started getting my tickets for classical concerts and operas to take in along the way. If any of you will be on any of these tours, reach out and say Hey!

Posted by
815 posts

Not on your tours but Loved your notes last year. I look forward to seeing more again this year.

I am doing two back to back in about nine weeks.

Have fun and happy travels

Posted by
1928 posts

I dislike answering this way but....I'm not going to be on your tours (Scotland in the Fall this year), but I did want to post a request for you to post the story of your travels again. It was so much fun and very educational to read of your adventures with your 5 back-to-backs last year. Good for you, Brad!

Posted by
8203 posts

^ ^ ^ Yes, what Andi said! Pleeease?

Not on any of your tours either but loved the GAS tour a couple of years ago.

Posted by
1173 posts

How wonderful you are going back to Europe this year! Look forward to hearing about your travels this year. No, I will not be on your tours but I am sure they will be wonderful. I went on the GAS tour and I know you went on the 8 day Munich, Salzburg, Vienna tour so you know what a treat you will be in for. You will enjoy Trier, Baden-Baden and Switzerland which is a highlight of the tour!

Love to know what hotel you are staying in, in Vienna last year and this year. I loved the GAS tour so much and I stayed in Vienna after that tour for 4 extra days that I am going on the 8 day Munich, Salzburg, Vienna tour and staying again an extra 4 full days in Vienna, this year. I am also headed back to London and looking forward to that.

I loved the hotel we stayed in, in Hallstatt and believe and hope it will be the same hotel. Last time I did the hike up to the waterfalls with other tourmates and it was breathtaking. This year I want to see a little more of the town and the lake and walk around. What did you do in Hallstatt and what do you think you want to do this time?

I have been to Norway and stayed at a friend's family home for two weeks. You will find Norway to be breathtaking!

Wonderful tours for sure. Are you on facebook or instagram to see any of your photos?

Have stafe travels!

Posted by
66 posts

Sorry, I am not on your tours either but wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your notes last year! Our first RS tour was last year-Best of Prague/Budapest and you are so right about the tour guides, the surprises along the way and the great tour buddies! This year we are going on the Best of Sicily tour. Look forward to reading about your travel adventures!

Posted by
60 posts

How can I find/access Brad's notes from last year's back to back tours? We greatly enjoyed GAS in 2015 and have Scandinavia and Spain on our short list. We have taken 6 trips and 7th will be Village Italy in May 2018. We want to repeat every single tour!

Posted by
4574 posts

Sally, just click on Brad's highlighted name. It'll take you to a page where you can read his profile and find a link to his previous posts. You can even send him a PM - Private Message.

Posted by
69 posts

Wow!!! I really wasn't expecting much of a reply, nor anyone to really remember my posts from nearly a year ago.

Kim- What tours are you taking? You probably know Europe as well as Rick from what I've read.

Andi - Scotland in Autumn sounds wonderful. Since I returned from my Spring 17 trip I had the opportunity to return to my classroom so now my travels are limited by school breaks, hence the Summer travels.

Ann- So happy to hear you're doing MSV again. I've always been a mountain boy and those Alps are beyond spectacular. Last year, in Vienna, we stayed at Hotel Am Stephansplatz and this year we will be at Hotel Savoy Wein. For me, the hotels have always been so comfortable. So excited to be returning to Hallstatt, I could spend months there just hiking. Such views. Yes I hiked the falls and that is top of my list again. I joined FB in August but other than checking in occassionally I'm not that active. But then once I get over there that may easily change. Like you I am spending extra time in Vienna just so I can wander in the day and take in a few operas at night. Since Bratislava is only an hour from Vienna, I thought I'd pop over there for a few days to see something new.

TexasGirl- Keep me posted on Sicily, that is definitely on my must do list, I just don't want to do it in the Summer.

Sally - Which other tours have you taken? I keep on adding to and revising my short list. I think the secret will be in a couple of years simply going to Europe and spending a year, dividing the Continent into 12 sections and spending a month in each section. If I can learn how to save money I might be able to make it happen.

Since I have the pleasure of hearing from so many knowledgeable globetrotters, one of the things I enjoy most is during our free time finding cultural events. Last year I took in fourteen concerts, three operas, two ballets and three musicals while on tour. I've started shopping for same for this year. The difficulty is Spain and Scandinavia. GAS is no problem but what I'm looking for is something where the language barrier is minimized; plays, for example would be out. Opera is great because I can't understand it regardless of what language it is sung in; I simply love the whole experience. Summer is typically off season I assume. I'm sure in Spain I can find ample Flamenco productions. Does anyone have suggestions that could help? Throughout most of my tours last years there were lots of street musicians playing everything from Smetana to Rachmaninov. It was delightful to wander aimlessly until I found a musician who moved me, then finding the nearest café to dine at while being entertained by a world class cellist. I digress. To get back to my original question: any suggestions on what I can do in Spain and Scandinavia? Anything from classical to basement Jazz/Blues bars. I'm not much on contemporary; prefer music prior to 1950.

Posted by
815 posts

Hi Brad - Jane and I were just talking about your amazing back to back tours last year and doing it again this year at our monthly RS group yesterday.

Husband and I are off in about 8 weeks to do the 8 day Ireland tour and then hopping over to the 10 day Scotland tour. I have been on the 14day Ireland in 2014 and loved it. Been to Scotland and Shetland Islands in 2010 with my sister and cousin on our own.

Husband has not been to those two countries, so we are going. They are calling me back.

I have my trips for 2019, 2020 and 2021 selected already.... so many to do and put on my bucket list.

I like the tours but also a little mix on doing our own things before or after the tours. I think we are getting better at this each year we go to Europe.

We did the Barcelona and Madrid tour last June.... while in Madrid on a free night, a few in our group went to hear jazz at the Central. It was three guys, awesome music. Called ahead for a table reservation. Cover charge was 13 euros. We had a great time.

Let me know how you like the Scandinavia tour. We are doing that one in 2020 with two other couples we met on our Holland/Belgium tour.

Happy Travels

Posted by
69 posts

Wow Kim, a RS group that meets monthly; I'd love that but down here in the mountains of AZ I'm lucky to find those who know who RS is and have yet to find anyone who has taken a RS tour. Have a great time on you journeys.

Posted by
815 posts

Brad - somebody just posted wanting to start a group near Scottsdale AZ. Not sure how far you live from there.

Posted by
4574 posts

Brad there may be more RS fans there than you know. And as we keep telling folks here, you don't have to have been on a RS tour to come enjoy our meetings.

I've actually been to Pinetop (no, Kim, not near Scottsdale;) it's a beautiful area. We camped near there one year, and had breakfast at a tiny place in Pinetop.

Posted by
42 posts

Hi Brad! It's Alice, your opera/music buddy from the first of your back-to-back tours, Venice-Florence-Rome. Impressive that you're back on the RS train - extended version, once again! It is too bad that we can't be music buddies again - we will miss each other by 2.5 months, as I will be taking in the GAS tour later in the summer, Aug. 11-24. Any tips/advice for attending concerts, etc. will be greatly appreciated!

Years ago, while travelling in Spain with friends, in June, we attended an amazing flamenco version of Bizet's Carmen in Madrid, as well as small intimate flamenco shows in small restaurants/bars in Seville, which are quite prevalent, you only need ask around. (There was also a rock concert in a basement club venue in Madrid - I was younger then.) In Granada, I hear you can attend a gypsy flamenco performance in a cave (but be wary, as some are scams). I had really wanted to see this, but we ran out of time during our 3 week trip which also encompassed Morocco and Portugal and had to shave places off our over-ambitious itinerary as we were travelling, including choosing only ONE place to visit in Portugal. This was particularly tough and almost came to blows, as one friend really wanted Lisbon (the obvious choice), but I insisted on the Algarve Coast as it was so highly recommended by Rick in his show and book. (My friends often get annoyed with me always saying "Rick says...", but by the end of these trips I always manage to convert them into "Rick-ites" [or is it "Rick-ians"?].) In the end, I/Rick won out, and we had a marvelous time in the Algarve.

I am so looking forward to reading about your upcoming adventures, including your musical encounters. Happy travels!

Posted by
69 posts

Hello Alice my friend. What a pleasure to hear from you. You need to know that I was so full of trepidation for having the audacity to purchase two tickets to every performance with the hope of finding someone to share the music with. The way you jumped on those tickets let me know I had done the right thing. Thank you for adding your charm, wit, intelligence, knowledge and beauty to make those evenings so much more enjoyable.

Regarding your travels this Autumn; you are going to go nuts in Vienna. The Vienna State Opera performs a different opera every night. It is intriguing watching the choreography of the moving vans lining up every morning as they strike the set from the opera the night before and put up the set for that evenings performance. You may want to boI do havbeok a couple or extra nights since you're only in Vienna two nights with the last night being the farewell dinner. Alas, I'll be missing Rigoletto because of that but can take in a ballet and Der Freischütz before I head over to Bratislava.

Additionally, I've scheduled a dinner and concert at the Hohensalzburg Castle, the castle perched high above Salzburg. I am very excited. The concert will be Mozart of course (Salzburg's native son although they did force him out).

I do have a concert scheduled in Munich but last time I wandered the square until I found a street musician I liked, then I'd find the closest café to dine at while being swept away with Smetana and Vivaldi wafting on the breeze.

I feel so much like a novice as I'm planning only my second trip to Europe. After last year I believe this will be an annual thing for the next several years anyway.

Stay in touch. I hope you survived the Canadian winter. Here in AZ we are in a severe drought with less than 10" of snow total. Fire season is already here with 9 fires last week alone. Oh well, if the house burns down, that will give me an excuse to stay in Europe that much longer.


Posted by
815 posts

Currently on best of Scotland Brad and we have four couples from AZ . None of them know each other. Two from Phoenix, Sedona and show low.

Posted by
14 posts

I'm also on the GAS May 29 - June 11 and just tonight logged into my account to see if they had the full hotel listings. (They did). They also had a roster that I downloaded and took a look at and saw the name Brad. Having lurked in these forums (i.e., reading but not much posting) for a while, the name sounded familiar and I wondered "could it be the guy who did all those trips back to back?" Sure sounds like it to me!

I've read some of your posts. Now I will be curious to hear of some of your trip adventures in person.

See you in Trier on 29 May!

Posted by
69 posts

Hi Kim,
Hope you’re enjoying Scotland; I know you are. Say hi to the folks from Show Low for me. I teach there. It’s just down the road from Pinetop.

Greetings efg_pgh,

I’m excited to make contact with someone from the GAS tour. (As disgusting as it sounds but then I’m sure is better than SAG or AGS ;) )

It won’t be long.

See you in. Trier!😄

Posted by
134 posts

Hi Brad,
I too, enjoyed reading of your travels and look forward to "going along" with you this year. We have taken 9 Tours, 6 back to back over a 3 year period and enjoyed all of them tremendously. We have scrapbooks linked to all 6 in 2012, 13 and 14 (Theresa and William Barr) in Rick's Scrapbook Archive section. Two of them are GAS and Best of Spain, which I see you will be taking this year, so you might find them interesting.
Believe it or not, we have been through your area several times. We lived in Tucson for 11 years and traveled to Canyon de Chelly on the Navajo reservation. It is one of our favorite places and if you have not been there, I would highly recommend it.
Happy Travels!

Posted by
86 posts

Brad, it looks like the Oslo Opera House will have a variety of operas, ballets, and other musical performances this summer. See the schedule in English here:
Don Giovanni, Swan Lake, etc. from May through August in the modernistic new opera house.

And the Royal Opera in Stockholm will also be active:
with Der Rosenkavalier, Eugene Onegin, and others.

One other evening activity in Stockholm, which had rave reviews from the folks on my RS Scandinavia tour, is the optional "Ice Bar" visit which our tour director arranged. I didn't go, but several others in our group named it as one of their tour highlights.

Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
377 posts

Brad, we were in Bratislava for the opera in February. It was at the historical state theater in old town near the castle. Highly recommended. Ambiance is abundant. Great deal too.

You probably know about this already

We stayed at Marrols Boutique Hotel, just around the corner front the opera house and symphony building.

Can not recommend this highly enough. Elegant room, free minibar, helpful staff. The included breakfast is like a fancy brunch. Superb in every way and a great, great value. If you have a refundable hotel reservation, consider switching it to Marrols.

There is a pizza place across the street from the hotel as well as a bank ATM. If you are craving a burger/ fries try BeAbout. It is between the hotel and the river promenade.

Posted by
69 posts

Traveling Mom,

So glad to hear of Marrols Boutique Hotel as I’m booked there. And thank you for the info. regarding opera. I’m very new to this world and need lots of guidance.

I’ll definitely try to do the Ice Bar if given the opportunity. So much to see and do and so little time. Thank you for th links and inside info.