I have an admittedly "vanilla " problem: I am having a hard time deciding between RS Best of Ireland, Sicily or Spain tours. Any alums of these tours have comments? I have been on RS's Best of Europe, Turkey and Prague tours so I DO know any of them will be great. Traveling solo but do know new friends happen quickly on these jaunts..
My husband and I have been on all three of those RS tours. My favorite was Spain. And we had been to Madrid, Barcelona and Seville on our own before but enjoyed the tour so much more. My second choice would be Sicily which we did just last fall.
I'd go to Ireland. It is gorgeous, the people will welcome you like family, and there is much to see and do.
Sally, I think you would be happy on any of these tours. I took the Sicily tour last September and it was great. I haven't taken the others although I did take the Berlin, Prague and Vienna tour. It is my opinion that all the RS tours are great.
I've been on the Ireland and Spain tours solo and loved both. Do you have specific interests that could help advise you? Ireland is not heavy on "big" attractions - the people and culture (and beer) are the focus. Other than Dublin, the bulk of the tour isn't not big city things (museums, etc.), but I enjoyed the small towns and little bars with music. Some of the most spectacular scenery is on the west coast. Lovely country I'd go back in a heartbeat. Not sure what the weather will be in fall, but it won't be warm (I was there in June and it was wet and chilly). The Spain tour will offer up more of the big art/architecture/church scene in Barcelona (one of my all time favorite cities), Madrid, and Seville. I still dream of churros and tapas and excellent inexpensive wine...the food was better than expected. I don't know anything about Sicily but I'm sure someone on this board will chime in. It looks like many of the fall tour dates are filling fast, so you may have to pick based on availability. Whatever you choose, have a wonderful time!
Having taken 12 RS tours covering most all of Europe I would recommend you head south if you are going in September or October.
Ireland was a fine tour in early-mid summer. You are so right about solos making new friends quickly on RS tours. Happy travels wherever you go.
I've been to all three, but not with RS. Since you know you're going to have a great tour, look at your reasons for going to each one and consider the timing.
Spain would still be too hot for me in September, but October sounds nice. I was in Ireland in August and had great weather, but I think it's a matter of luck in any month. I was in Sicily in spring (late April-early May) and think that must be the most beautiful time to be there, but the water's too cold for bathing. September should be great, October may be a bit late in the year.
Ireland - everyone in the country speaks English. Beautiful scenery (when the weather cooperates), great pubs (no matter what the weather). Sicily - Sicilian food is better than Italian food, awe-inspiring Greek temples, beautiful scenery. Spain - nowhere in Europe is like Andalusia or Barcelona either.
Oh dear, now I want to go back to all three.
Sally, I have only been on the RS Sicily Tour, in May 2014, and it was WONDERFUL! Only spent 10 minutes in Spain years ago, visiting the nearest gas station to where I was in Portugal. Never been to Ireland at all. But, I have heard great reports about all three.
I think your best solution is easy: take three small pieces of paper, and on each one write Ireland, Sicily or Spain. Fold each paper in half, then place them in a hat. Pull out one, and go there this fall. Then pull out a second one, and go there next spring. Then pull out the third, or maybe know what it says without even pulling it out, and go there in fall of 2016. There you go, problem solved in the easiest and most rational of ways. Travel well!
If you pick Ireland, choose September over October. I was there last year in October on the last RS tour of the year and the weather was starting to get a little raw for this Florida resident. However, the tour was cheaper in October than in September and then it was discounted further so it was all worth it. Great tour and a great group with the best guide, Stephen McPhilemy.
I've been on all three of those tours. A few thoughts.....
- If you decide on Ireland, it might be better to travel in September as October could be more cool and wet. Seeing the "40 shades" of green is always better in the sunshine (although one can always enjoy a pint indoors if it's raining)!
- If you choose Sicily, October might be a bit cooler. I was there in September and didn't find the weather unbearably hot, but it definitely required doing laundry more frequently and heading for the shower each day after touring. Be sure to pack some rain gear also, as our group experienced a storm of biblical proportions during our visit to Taormina.
- For touring Spain, I'd also suggest October so it's a bit cooler. I took that tour in the latter part of June and it was hot most days, especially in Granada and Sevilla.
Any of the three would be great. If your budget will allow, take all three in the next year or two.
Haven't been on any of the tours but I do love Ireland in Sept.
Thanks to all for the suggestions...Going to Ireland...
I would let weather be your guide. Check out the 'averages' for each place and see how the temp and precipitation compare. In September, I suspect this advice is not much help. But, if you must go in October, then I am guessing it may rule out at least one place.
One note, the food in Sicily is the best, Spain next, then Ireland. But.... in Ireland they do speak a form of English that is quite understandable (except when it isn't) and the pubs are absolutely great! I met some of the best natives ever while in Ireland.