We did our first RS tour last year, Loire to the South of France-check out my scrapbook if you're interested, it's #35 in this year's submissions. But to those of you who are RS tour veterans, which tour is your favourite? On our tour, the general consensus from the vets was Spain and Sicily.
As we do more and more it gets harder to pick a single favorite. But Greece is still up there. Looking back so much makes up for the enjoyment of a tour and Greece hit it all-great country, fabulous sites, terrific people, great food. But on this tour we also had our best group, best guide, best driver ever. There were a handful of younger people on the tour including our daughter. They would go out at night and the driver would accompany (chaperone) them. Our daughter was always very tired in the morning and the reports were brief. What happens in Greece stays in Greece!
Hi Allan, great minds think alike. I started to post a similar topic last night but had cataract surgery yesterday and first day sight was a bit iffy. I'm getting used to readers today and that's a bit iffy too. Glad you posted the topic but it's not just for travel veterans.
Your trip report on Loire to South of France was an inspiration. I really want to go. But I'm also looking at a couple different options. Feedback is welcome for my tentative plans. Goal is to travel early Fall 2021, coronavirus willing.
Idea #1 -- solo: Paris either on own or RS Paris tour; then Loire Valley tour; end in Venice.
Idea #2 -- with SIL, on our own, no tour: London (her cousin lives there), Paris, Munich (cousin's partner lives there), Vienna via Innsbruck and Salzburg.
Idea #3 -- with "horsey" person on our own, retracing lost Trail of Lippizaners tour: Venice, Lipica/Trieste, Ljubljana, Graz/Piper, end in Vienna
I need my enthusiasm, anticipation and excitement back. I've had enough of the Coronavirus blahs.
Edit to add: seems like everyone is talking about the tours they have been on, not planning to do. Guess I misread the OP’s post. Only RS tour I’ve done was South of Italy. Highly recommend it since part is off the tourist path—Vieste and Matera.
Walking into and about the impressive Hagia Sophia remains a travel Wow!
The warmth of the people, the food, wandering solo and finding a small hidden away cafe up some stairs in the Grand Bazaar where I had the best freshly baked bread and bowl of delicious lentil soup, being immersed in the city’s history, Mert Tanner our guide, and my fellow tour members all contributed to this being my favorite.
I have already taken the MyWay Alpine, in 2013. I think I could easily and happily revisit for some Alpine Dreamin'. One of my favorite of the structured tours is Eastern France for the sheer scope of locations. However, if someone were going to gift me a tour (pure fantasy!), any would do.
Thanks for evoking our collective dreaming!
Allan, we agreed that Sicily was the best of our four great tours (VFR, Paris&HOF, GAS). I'm looking ahead to the Poland tour in 2021, and maybe one other - possibly Best of Ireland. I feel like we should go to Italy as a show of support, if things recover and tourists welcome. I am kind of wondering, assuming there isn't another outbreak next year, if the pent-up demand for travel will explode and there wont be many travel bargains on flights, etc.
Idea #1 -- solo: Paris either on own or RS Paris tour; then Loire
Valley tour; end in Venice.
Horsewoofie, I'm going to comment on the solo tour of Paris part. We didn't enjoy Paris that much, but to be honest we only spent 1 day before and 1 day after our RS tour, but between it, London and Rome, it is a distant 3rd. Now I'm sure every poster on this site who says they love Paris can't be wrong so we will be giving it another try in the future, but we have decided we will probably do it via an RS tour or maybe with multiple day tours. We have discovered we enjoy the educational value of tours and I think that will be especially important in Paris because I have discovered that I have an appreciation for the history of art, but not the actual art and so I need to hear stories of the stories behind the art. I've been searching in vain so far in finding a tour of the Louvre that talks about the building and less about the art.
I agree that the more you take the harder it is to decide which was the favorite!
I think the 21 day Best of Europe will remain my very favorite of the 11 I've done. The couple that weren't my favorites was probably more related to not connecting with the guide or the group more than the location.
As to Paris....I visited in 1973 and hated it. I visited in 1976 and hated it (but to be honest looking back I was traveling with a "grump", lol). Time passes. In 2014 I decided to do a huge retirement trip (had retired several years earlier but had parent care then had to sell their house, etc) in the Fall and decided I would give Paris another try. I did the 21 day Best of Europe which ends in Paris. Well, I thought, this is the time to see if I can like Paris so I signed up for the Best of Paris tour back to back with the 21 day BOE. Then a friend was going to be in Paris so I stayed on another week to spend time with her. Well....unfortunately...spending 2 weeks in Paris made me fall in love. I felt SO comfortable there after the Best of Paris and then spending time with my travel bestie sealed it! I think this is a place you have to settle in to to figure out how it works. I DO realize not everyone has 2 weeks to spend in Paris but the Best of Paris is a good place to start. I can still hear my Best of Paris guide, Rolinka, whispering in the earpiece when I walk around Paris! What a great memory!
Allan, I've not done a tour of the Louvre that focused on the building but you might consider contacting Paris Walks to see if they can arrange a tour with that focus. My Paris friend and I did a private walk with them last Fall that was wonderful. It was one of their regular walking tours that they only run occasionally but it was wonderful to have one-on-one with the guide. They might have one of their guides who could provide you with what you want. It was fairly expensive but to be honest if you have something specific you want this might be worth it. You also might consider contacting Vero who is a RS guide (for Paris and HOF) via her FB page (French Girl in Seattle Takes Paris) and see if she has a recommendation. You traveled with Virginie on your South of France tour, right? If you have her email you might also ask her if she knows of anyone specializing in architecture. My other thought is to contact Corey Frye, A French Frye in Paris, who does wonderful video walks as well as in person tours.
We have been on six RS tours (Paris, Barcelona-Madrid, Sicily, Villages of South England, Loire Valley/South of France, and Village Italy. Our next tour (hopefully) is Best of England in September 2020.
All the tours have been excellent, with the guides/tour group being the main factors as to which ones were outstanding. In that regard, the Sicily tour was the best.
We prefer the longer tours, and we also prefer the so-called Cultural Connection tours.
I'll jump in and say after 2 or 3, you won't be able to pick your favorite! I've done 7 so far. Every time, I think the most recent one has been my favorite, until the next one (although, the Eastern Europe one, which I did this past summer may actually be my favorite, but who knows, I change from day to day about this).
I started touring back in 2008 and I generally go every other year. I travel solo. When I started, the single supplement was not an option, so on my first trip, I rotated room[mates] with 3 other ladies. I also shared with people on the next two tours I took. Now that I'm getting a little older, I find it's worth it to me to pay for the single supplement, for a variety of reasons (not the least of which is the fact that I snore I would not want to ruin someone else's vacation).
So, to answer your question, my favorite tour is/was/has been:
1. Village Italy (a 'cozy' feeling with lots of interactions with locals and you see lots of what you imagine Italy to be, without quite as many tourists as in the big 3 cities)
2. Best of Scotland (lots of castles and scenery)
3. City Istanbul (the first night I arrived- before the tour started- I had dinner with a Turkish friend in a neighborhood where I felt like I was literally in another world - hard to get that feeling now as so many European places have an American feel in that everyone seems to speak English, etc. nowadays)
4. Loire and the South of France (the only reason I chose this was timing of my vacation, since I too have spent a little time in Paris and was underwhelmed) I was very surprised by this tour and loved it!
5. Belgium/Holland (another 'cozy' feeling which I loved, but a feeling of 'sameness' for most of the tour as there isn't a ton a variety between the parts of the countries we visited). That said, I can't wait to go back to both places!
6. G/A/S- I mean, what's not to like about the Alps?
7. Eastern Europe: I loved this tour and was somewhat surprised by it. I think people of a certain generation (I mean me and older - I'm 49) have a certain 'idea' of what formerly Communist countries are: lots of rectangle buildings, etc. But, it really wasn't that at all! Loved it!
So, to really answer your question, I think whatever works with your schedule and type of interests will be amazing! RS always has amazing guides and you really can't go wrong!
I look forward to seeing your decision.
Stay healthy and enjoy your day. Gretchen
I have been on 4 tours, 3 with RS :Ireland (CIE), Scandinavia, Best of Italy in 17 days and Turkey in 13 days.
Ireland turned me into a travel monster. Scandinavia gets a slight edge as my favorite. I connected with the culture and the scenery. The guide and the art in the Italy tour was fantastic, but Italy turned out not to be my favorite place. I think I need a more structured society? Turkey was a trip of a life time and is not far behind as a favorite.
I don't think anyone should use my experience to make a trip decision though, because I know most everyone else loves Italy.
I am scheduled for the Paris city tour in September and am keeping my fingers crossed that I will be able to go. I am spending a second week there as well. I wanted to try an immersion trip. Paris hasn't been calling my name (like Istanbul did), but I get more excited the more I prepare for it.
In spring of 2021, my son would like to take the GAS tour, with pre-tour time in the Ardenne forest and post tour time in Vienna.
I have 10 more tours on my short list.
After 6 tours, Best of Italy remains our very most favorite. That tour had greatest hit after greatest hit, it’s 17 days so you feel like you really visited Italy, and our tour guide Patricia was the best of the best. Tied for 2nd are the Greece tour and Eastern France. GAS was pretty wonderful too, it was our very first taste of Europe - and Europe had us at “hello!”
I’m not going to make it any easier for you. We have been on 8 RS tours now. I fell in love with Ireland and put that at the top of the list; the people, the food, the scenery, the history and, of course, the music. That’s not to say that the trips in England, Greece, Italy, France (3), Germany/Switzerland/Austria were anything but wonderful. And, of course, a big thank you to our tour guides who made it just that much more enjoyable.....Stacy, Virginie, Roberta, Declan, Hans, Danae, and last but not by any means least, the toffee loving David!
I'm eyeing various tours for various reasons. We don't mind traveling independently but loved the educational portion of the RS tour and would like to be able to repeat that. We are choosing to do Scotland independently because we had several bucket list items that the RS tour doesn't go to. We're eyeing the Sicily Tour because I have no desire to drive there but I really really really hate seafood so I'm wondering if I'll starve? Best of Eastern France is on the radar as is the Paris tour. Normally I would prefer a 1 city tour by ourselves but I wasn't impressed with the 2 half days I spent there before my Loire Valley tour and so thinking that maybe a guide can help me see it in a way that will open it up for me. St Peteresburg has always been a bucket list item and I think for convenience sake I'd be better off fitting it in as part of a tour. So many places, so little time.
I've been on 6 RS tours. My favorites have been Best of England and Best of Adriatic. I'm supposed to be on the Eastern Europe tour at the end of May but it's looking doubtful.
Yeah, well, I’m hoping the world comes to its senses by August and September so I can resume anticipation of the Europe 21 tour scheduled for October.
@Allan, you won't starve in Sicily, but I'll warn you that in lieu of seafood, you'll often get pasta Norma (eggplant) for dinner. That seems to be the regional dish.
We were booked for Paris & HOF at the end of April, it will be our second RS trip. Now we are going in October. Our first was Greece so far that is my favorite. However, I truly want to do them all!!!!!! Next year is our cruising year with 2 cruises scheduled ( one of them a Caribbean and one a European). I am still hoping and dreaming.