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Our Tour Packet is Ready!

Friend Kim from Oklahoma and I spent most of yesterday hovering over our email accounts, hoping for news about our upcoming RS tours; finally she figured out the information was on our RS portals. Thanks, Kim!

So I now have all the information (well, most of it) for our upcoming 21 Day Best of Europe. I'm delighted to see that our guide is Dimitri Rigas. We don't know him, but we've heard he's top notch.

I'm also pleased to see that we'll be staying at the Hotel Stechelberg in Switzerland. We loved that hotel, and were disappointed when it was posted on this Forum that RS was no longer going to use it. (Evidently some folks complained about having to (gasp!) share a bathroom for a couple of nights. I don't want to start the Bathroom Wars all over again, but when we were at this same hotel in 2011, DH and I shared a bathroom with 2 very quiet German men. The door had a lock, and everyone was considerate.)

But I digress. I was also glad to see that we'll be staying at different hotels in some of the cities. Florence and Rome for sure, and possibly one or two others; I'll have to check my notes. I know this contradicts what I said about being glad we're staying at the Stechelberg again, but I do like trying out new places.

They've changed to format of the tour roster; instead of listing first and last names of the participants, the new roster has first names only, but adds home towns. Privacy concerns, I suppose. It makes it harder to search for old tour mates ahead of time, though.

So having the tour packet now makes all this dreaming, wishing, and planning real! Now, where's my backpack....

Posted by
276 posts

When you said you shared a bathroom with two German men was it a jack and Jill styled bathroom?

Posted by
2266 posts

I really needed to read something full of happiness and anticipation about what will be a great trip to Europe. Thank you for sharing your joy with us!

Posted by
1925 posts

Oh, Jane- you are going to have such a terrific time with Dimitri. He was our guide for Family Europe way back in 2008-one of his very first forays into tour guiding as a lead guide with RS. He's quite an amazing man and the way he dealt with our family (grandparents, adult children and young grandchildren) was truly awesome. I agree with you on both trying out new hotels and revisiting old, familiar ones. I enjoy that, too, and that's one reason I never mind repeating a tour or return visits to the same cities. I always see and experience from a different perspective each time. Interesting about now revealing first names and home towns. Have a great trip and enjoy every minute. With your enthusiasm I don't see how your can miss!

Posted by
865 posts

Tour Packet Day is the best day of the year! (Well, second best: Tour Day 1 is the best!)

My BOE21 group stayed at the Stechelberg in 2010; my room was on the ground floor of the annex. We figured out that about half of us on that floor were nighttime shower people, and the other half were morning shower people. So the nighttime people figured out a schedule that worked for them, and the morning people figured out a schedule that worked for us. It all worked out just fine, except that one man in the morning group didn't pay a blind bit of attention when we organized the schedule, and just as I stepped out of my room to head to the shower, I saw him go in. That was a little annoying but, like I said, it all worked out. I found out later in the day that two ladies I'd become friendly with were staying on the top floor, and the guide was in the other room up there. They were all nighttime shower people, so the next morning I just dashed upstairs for my shower.

The whole bathroom-sharing thing wasn't anywhere near as stressful as I thought it would be.

Interesting about the tour roster format.

Posted by
600 posts

Yay! I love that day! How exciting. I'm hoping for my letter any day now, I'll need to check my tour portal, I didn't think to check there. Have an awesome trip!

Posted by
524 posts

I am eagerly awaiting ours. I have been checking my tour account almost daily!! I wish they could leave the tour roster as is, but privacy is always an issue. I hope you enjoy your redo of 21 Days as much as the first.

Posted by
4565 posts

Thanks, everyone, for your good wishes.

Hilanderct, I honestly don't remember. I think it was just a simple bathroom. The shower room was separate.

Tamara, definitely check the portal. I still haven't received a letter or email from RSE. If my friend hadn't emailed me, I'd still be waiting.

My two favorite memories of our 2011 BoE were the croissants at the Hotel des Remparts in Beaune, and the entire experience in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. The hotel was warm and welcoming, with great breakfasts. We spent our free day walking the valley, lunch in the nearby village, then taking the footpath back through the mist to the hotel. Beautiful. DH did take in the Trümmelbach Falls on the way; I sat that one out, but I'll probably go this time.

Posted by
2716 posts

Jane, Woo hoo! So excited for you. Always nice to know that the adventure is just around the corner. ;J

I have a class at RS tomorrow. Hmmm, I may inquire about the decision to delete the last name on the list. Like others have mentioned must be for privacy.

Posted by
8198 posts

Dimitri!!! LOVE!!!! Oh my word...you will have a terrific time. He is such a neat guy - of course multi lingual including Greek which is his heritage. One of the things I loved was that he was a previous bus driver. All the guides work well with the drivers but this was exceptional.

I am a Stechelberg complainer. We had 3 couples and 2 singles sharing the bathroom in the Annex ground floor. One men's toilet, one women's plus a separate single shower. There was also another single room on the ground floor which thankfully was not occupied. There were fewer rooms upstairs in the Annex so if I had known I would have gone upstairs when the bathrooms downstairs were busy. All rooms had sinks.

@highlanderct - By Jack and Jill do you mean a bathroom connecting between 2 bedrooms? If so, no that is not the case. They are separate in the hall.

I did however love the location and wished I had had time to hike out the back of the hotel. That looked gorgeous from the little I saw! I did enjoy walking back from Truemmelbach Falls to the hotel along the river. So beautiful. Got the cr*p scared out of me when one of the base jumpers landed in a field right behind me.

Posted by
935 posts

Jane - how exciting to get your tour rosters and to find that a beloved guide will be leading you through Europe! We also loved the Hotel Stechelberg even though we shared a bath with a father/son on the tour. That was where my extension cord came in handy for charging things as the outlet in our room was by the door with no place to set things.
As I recall, the restaurant had good breakfasts and excellent, hearty dinners! Did you ride up to Schilthorn last time? That was one of the most beautiful views on our tour. Like Pam, we also enjoyed the river walk to and back from Trummelbach Falls.

Have a marvelous time in Europe!

Pssst.... there's a private toilet downstairs below the Hotel Stechelberg restaurant too.

Posted by
8198 posts

"Pssst.... there's a private toilet downstairs below the Hotel Stechelberg restaurant too."

I'm not walking across the road in my jammies, hahaha!!

Posted by
4565 posts

Pam, when I saw that Dimitri was our guide, I immediately thought of you. I remember that you had raved about him on this Forum.

Nance, no, we stayed down in the valley and just spent the day walking.

Posted by
153 posts

Jane, how far in advance of your tour did you receive the roster and details about all hotels?

Posted by
73 posts

Yea! Mine should be showing up soon, too! We’re doing Holland/Belgium beginning 21 April. I read that the format for tour member list had changed. I guess I understand, but seems drastic.

I agree, though, that having all the info makes it real! Have a great tour Jane!

Priscilla

Posted by
4565 posts

Mnannie, one month eactly. They say three weeks in the handbook, but the last few years we've gotten the information at least a month in advance. Oh, and today I got the email notification that the tour packet was available, including a link to the portal. I will say that in the pieces I downloaded yesterday, one sheet - directions to the first hotel - was incomplete. But today, it's all there.

Posted by
697 posts

Yay! I've been stalking my email for ours......but we don't start our tour until 5 May, which is an eternity away!

I really enjoyed Hotel Stechelberg as well. We were on the top floor but shared a regular apartment type bathroom with one other couple. Of course at that point in the trip we were all sisters and brothers and had no problem whatsoever with personal space. I think sharing a bathroom with 2 couples and 2 singles is a bit much, though!

What other hotels, Jane?

Posted by
4565 posts

I will say that we stayed in the main building at Stechelberg, not the annex.

Kathy, on this tour we stay at the Ambassador City Centre in Haarlem, Hotel am Markt in Bacharach, Hotel Gerberhaus in Rothenburg, Alpenhotel Ernberg in Reutte, Hotel Serenissima in Venice, Hotel Palazzo dal Borgo in Florence, Hotel Sonya in Rome, the Punta Mesco in Monterosso, Hotel des Remparts in Beaune, and the Beaugency in Paris. And, of course, the Stechelberg in Stechelberg.

Of these, the Hotel am Markt, Alpenhotel Ernberg, Palazzo dal Borgo, and Sonya are different from the ones we stayed at on our 2011 tour. It's hard to tell from just looking at the websites, but it appears that the Bacharach and Florence hotels are a step up from the earlier selections. But we've had very few complaints about any of the hotels on a RS tour. I do believe, however, that I may have to agree with some other posters on the Forum that in general the quality of hotels on RS tours is improving. I'm not sure that's always a good thing; we have loved some of the decidedly quirky places we've stayed in.

Posted by
697 posts

Kathy, on this tour we stay at the Ambassador City Centre in Haarlem, Hotel am Markt in Bacharach, Hotel Gerberhaus in Rothenburg, Alpenhotel Ernberg in Reutte, Hotel Serenissima in Venice, Hotel Palazzo dal Borgo in Florence, Hotel Sonya in Rome, the Punta Mesco in Monterosso, Hotel des Remparts in Beaune, and the Beaugency in Paris. And, of course, the Stechelberg in Stechelberg

We stayed at the same hotels in Haarlem (which was maybe the most modern of all), Rothenburg, Reutte, Venice, Monterosso, Beaune, and Paris. The Paris hotel was really lovely.....and the heat option in the bathroom really aided in drying sink laundry! I really liked the hotels too! Florence, Rome, and Bacharach are new to us. Sad because we loved the hotel in Bacharach!

Posted by
4565 posts

Yes, the previous Bacharach hotel - the Kramenturm, I think - was definitely unique! Our guide had us all scramble all over the building so we could see each others' rooms. One was so tiny the bed touched the walls on three sides; all were colorfully and imaginatively decorated.

Posted by
8198 posts

"One was so tiny the bed touched the walls on three sides;"

That might have been my room - head was right up under the window facing the railroad tracks. I was surprised the trains didn't keep me awake but I think it was because I was dead tired, lolol!!

"all were colorfully and imaginatively decorated."

Oh gosh yes...Big Grin!!!

Posted by
37 posts

Dimitri Rigas! We traveled with him last September on our first RS Tour - 21 BOE. It was a trip of a lifetime. With Dimitri's dynamic personality and zest for life, he made each day fun and gave us new experiences to challenge us. It was obvious that he is passionate about European travel and loves sharing his knowledge with others. I never got tired of listening to him talk about each country and its customs as we traveled from place to place. We were like a family from day one, thanks to his positivity and guidance. No matter what time of day, he never appeared tired. How do you do that when 28 people are following you day after day and you are on call 24/7? Can you tell I love Dimitri? Enjoy!

Posted by
278 posts

i always enjoyed getting the list naming the tour mates. I would try to find them on Facebook and get in touch with them. I found one that was on my" Best of Paris tour". We had some great correspondence and were able to get together before the tour started. We have remained friends. I think it is ridiculous to be so concerned with privacy.. If all they list is the first name and city where they live, they might as well just send you a list that says your guides name and the number of people on the tour. I'm a little sick of the PC business.

I hope you have a wonderful tour. I know that you're counting down the days until you leave. Are you going early to do some sightseeing on you own before the tour starts. If so, what will you be doing? How many are on your tour?

Posted by
4565 posts

Janet, yes, we're planning to arrive in Haarlem the Thursday before the tour starts on Sunday. We have a reservation for the Corrie Ten Boom House; other than that, we're going to be flexible. We love the Frans Hals Museum and Teyler's Museum, so those will be on the list. Hals is my husband's favorite artist, and we're both general museum junkies. Teyler's is amazing, with lots of maps, charts, scientific instruments, and even art! We could spend hours in there. There's a nice little museum in the main square with archeological exhibits, as well.

At some point we want to see the temporary exhibit of Classical Dutch art at the Hermitage in Amsterdam, so that may take up the better part of a day.

And of course, walking, eating, testing the local beer, and resting up for what promises to be a great tour. I love how enthusiastic people are about Dimitri.

Posted by
8198 posts

My guess (and really it is a guess) is that someone complained about having their last name on a list distributed to folks they don't know. I have a friend who has been stalked and takes exceptional care not to have their full name out ~anywhere~.

I travel a lot with Road Scholar and they don't release a list of names at all. You generally get a list the first meet-up but on one tour in UK they wouldn't even distribute a list of first names. That made it fairy difficult to learn everyone's name altho I wrote a list during introductions.