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The "Ultimate Rick Steves" tour

I wish Rick Steves would do a trip that traces the path of the "Orient Express"!! Think about it, you could start in London and use the Eurostar to travel to Paris, then Paris to Zurich, then Zurich to Salsburg, then Salsburg to Vienna and Vienna to Budapest, and Budapest to Istanbul. If you spent 2-3 days in ea. place you could do this in under 21 days. It would be fun to follow the course of the Orient Express and even have a murder mystery dinner along the way. I have thought of doing this by myself with my wife but it would be even more fun with a group. We would fly into London and back home from Instanbul. (Rick Steves are you listening??)

Posted by
16866 posts

Well, if it's a minimum 14-hour drive from Budapest to Istanbul, per Google Maps, and we have to break that into two still very long driving days plus a couple of days in Sofia, we'll need more than 21 days. Train schedules on this route are not an attractive alternative these days and I wonder that they ever were.

Posted by
1187 posts

I think a Christmas market tour would also be good. We are doing our own Christmas market tour this year but think other RS tour enthusiasts would enjoy this if a tour were offered. Just a suggestion.

Posted by
213 posts

Yes, yes yes to the Christmas markets tour! We would love that! :0)

Posted by
8400 posts

Both sound great but the Christmas Markets sounds actually doable. Guess we can't do it for this year?? lol

Posted by
14404 posts

Christmas markets would work well as a My Ways tour. The problem is there's a small window. I don't know if it would be worth it for a large company to put together a tour when they can only offer 3 or 4 tours a year, and since it's high season, they wouldn't have much bargaining clout with hotels.

Posted by
927 posts

Christmas markets start around the 19th of November (using this year's dates for example). Some continue through Christmas. I wonder if it would be possible to have more than one itinerary? Maybe switch out from year to year? For instance, I am interested in visiting Paris this year with an extension to the Alsatian and Black Forest Christmas markets. Could dip down to Basel, too. There is so much in this region to choose from.

Another example would be just Swiss markets. Or, the area including Munich, Salzburg, St. Wolfgang would be interesting. Could include Innsbruck, Dolomites, even other southern Germany markets. So many options. Back Roads Touring Company (UK) has had a Swiss Christmas market tour using trains.

What fun possibilities.

PS, I would like the My Way format for these tours.

Posted by
6745 posts

Given how narrow-focused a Christmas market tour sounds, I am just not sure it is the best use of the highest and best resource of a tour - that is, the tour guide. I think a top-notch tour guide would be very underutilized in this context, which is the core value of a tour. Christmas markets are essentially places to shop and eat and wouldn't take advantage of what a knowledgeable guide (like RS guides) has to offer. I'm not sure people need to be "guided" in that context anyway; rather just dropped off on a bus. Given how crowded these markets are, tour groups would really make them impossible to navigate (and it's hard to herd a group of people at night). It seems like folks here would like easy transport between markets, but that's not the same as a tour. A tour on holiday cultural traditions that may include some markets (as a side benefit) may be a better representation of each country, but just going to markets doesn't seem to fit RS' shopping philosophy on tours. Sorry to be a grinch :-(

Posted by
6353 posts

You're not being a grinch Agnes and you and Chani have the right idea about a Christmas market tour. It's too seasonal and wouldn't be worth the effort to set up for such a short window of time. If someone wants a tour rather than doing it 'on your own' there are many companies that do offer such tours, including the riverboat tours which I think would be the best way of doing that type of tour. The whole idea of concentrating on the markets and maybe just including a few other sights to see as a group really does not fit the RS style of touring.

As to the OP's suggestion of a tour following the path of the Orient Express, I agree that what he suggests would be more fun with a group than alone but I don't think that type of tour would garner much interest among RS followers. It would just be too much 'on the road' time and it seems to be more about the travel than about staying in and touring the individual stops. Those are pretty far flung destinations. I wouldn't hold my breath.

Posted by
14404 posts

Someone else just proposed a "Europe by train" tour. I'll say here what I said there. If I take a tour I want to the door-to-door bus service. I don't want to have to schlep my luggage on and off trains and then through the city to/from the hotel, and Zurich-Salzburg requires a train change.

There's not much train time so there's no "special experience," just getting from point A to point B. My guess is that traveling on the Orient Express wasn't that great if you weren't paying for first class. And you didn't see Europe except through a train window.