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Who's booked on the first 2015 - 21 day RS BOE tour 19 Apr- 9 May???

Let's see if we can get a list going of who will be on this tour!

I'll start. Hubby (Steve) and I (Kathy) are looking forward to our very first trip to Europe.

We are recent empty nesters....I'm 52 and hubby is 48 and we live in the Midwest. We aren't retired yet so it was a real feat to get off work for so long. We're staying in Amsterdam 2 nights prior to the tour and 2 nights afterwards in Paris.

I'm a huge photography buff so my camera will be attached to my hip the entire time.

Posted by
61 posts

Kathy, we are excited to be joining you !
This will be our fourth RS tour and the trip is to celebrate my retirement.
My husband, Stuart and I will start the celebration with a Rhine river cruise plus a week in Amsterdam prior to joining the 21 BOE tour. Look forward to meeting you and the other tour members. Teressa

Posted by
177 posts

Kathy as you know we are on this trip also. We are both retired in our late 50's and early 60's. This is our first trip overseas and are looking forward to it. We will be staying in Haarlem for a few nights before the tour starts but definitely checking out Amsterdam. We are planning on staying four nights after the tour to visit Bayeux and more of Paris. Very excited to be meeting you and others on this trip. Since you are a photography buff I will definitely be asking you for help because I love taking pictures but no idea what I am doing.

Posted by
724 posts

So nice to see another group in the mix on our tour, Teressa!

Retired.....sigh......I wonder if I will ever see that day! It sure makes it difficult to have lots of fun. Of course, my idea of having fun costs $$ so I suppose I'll have to work that out!

Posted by
724 posts

We leave for our European trip in 15 weeks and 4 days!

Anyone else joining us on the RS BOE 21 day tour?

Posted by
6 posts

My husband and I (Bradley, 57 & Darlene, 52) will be on this tour. 😃. It's our first RS tour and we are super excited. Empty nesters but not retired. I've traveled to Italy but not the other countries and this will be my husbands first trip to Europe.

Posted by
724 posts

Darlene,
It's our first trip also.....never been to Europe.

Posted by
177 posts

It is looking like there are a lot of first timers on this trip. I believe there is one other poster that is on this tour but has not replied on this thread. Darlene welcome and so excited for this trip. You know it is only 104 days away but who is counting. Going to be doing a practice packing so I can take my bag to the airport this Sunday. My younger son will be going back to CA after being home for the holidays. I figured it would be a good idea to make sure that my bag fits the carry on for Delta before I leave.

Posted by
177 posts

Also I should add that my husband was stationed in Germany (1972-74) but admittedly says he wishes he had seen the country more while he was there. So looking forward to really see the area.

Posted by
724 posts

I practiced packed on our trip to NY/Ohio.....I did ok. We flew SW, though. I'm hoping the carry on fits Delta's sizers.

Carole, just for fun can you roughly measure the under seat dimensions? I have a Vera weekender I was going to try to pass off as my "personal item". I won't pack it full at all and it's soft sided so it'll squeeze, I think.

Posted by
177 posts

I will not be on the plane do they have something by the ticket counter?

Posted by
724 posts

I'm not sure! Frankly, I've never paid attention to any suitcase sizers!

Posted by
9538 posts

You know, I've been trying to hold myself back from posting on your thread Kathy because I'm NOT on your tour date, but I think about my tour every.single.day!!

Kathy, I was able to fit a LeSportSac Medium Tote under seat with no problem. I had my purse (LeSportSac Everyday purse) in there along with my jacket, kindle, snacks, water etc. You might compare sizes and see if your Vera is similar in size.

There would be sizers at your airline ticket counters so after the holidays you might consider making a trek to the airport to see if it will fit. All in the name of research, of course. This is not being too detail oriented. Being too detail oriented would be me volunteering to go by my local airport (easy drive up and free parking) and measure things for you in the Delta sizers, lol!

Posted by
724 posts

Oh, Pam....that made me giggle. I'm pretty sure Delta is the normal carry-on limits of 22x14x9". My RS convertible carry-on will meet those dimensions IF I do not put anything in the outside pockets and utilize my compression bags.......

I looked up the dimensions of your LeSport Med Tote and it is just about the same as my Vera weekender with the exception of the width......mine is close to 8" so I just won't pack mine full ;) I'll throw my ugly Travelon anti-theft cross-body bag inside that (it's anti-theft because it is ugly and no one would want to steal it). And my camera stuff inside of it too. And my jacket. And some snacks. Probably my hanging toiletry bag as well.

Posted by
9538 posts

Oh yes, the RS convertible carryon fits with no problem on the regular sized planes! I have the tiny CRJs out of my local airport and have to gate check it because the bins are so narrow. The thing I do to cinch it in a bit is to use a luggage strap around it. I got mine at KMart, I think, and it was maybe $10. It's bright pink so it was easy to ID my bag especially when the bus driver pulled them all out from under the bus. There were lots of bags that were similar on the tour.

Laughing about the ugly anti-theft bag. A couple of women picked up really cute bags in Florence at the San Lorenzo leather market so keep that in mind if you decide it's too ugly to carry, lol!

Posted by
177 posts

Well I did the packing practice with the carry on baggage check at the airport. Glad I did. I thought I was good and had to remove something small to make it fit. I will try again and pack it a little differently so it will not be so bulky (that is what made it barely fit). The length was fine. At least I know now and not when I get to the airport to leave.

Posted by
177 posts

I see that this tour date (April 19-May 9, 2015) is now Join Waitlist. So we have a full house. So excited.

Posted by
724 posts

A full tour! I think about this trip all the time!

Posted by
177 posts

I do nothing but think about this tour and the planning.

Posted by
724 posts

Are you guys planning out your free time for our tour days? I'm still trying to figure out our pre and post tour days!

3 months tomorrow, we will be starting our journey!

Posted by
177 posts

Kathy we have done our free time in Paris only at this point. When we get our pre- and post tour down we will be looking at our free time for the other cities but will not be so solid on those because would like to know what the guides suggest and I know there are other excursions the guides can arrange. I saw where you posted on another thread that you are considering taking the #69 Bus during the free time in Paris. Is that the afternoon before the final dinner? If we do the Louvre that morning we are going to walk down to the Arc de Triomphe before the dinner. Maybe when we return to Paris (after a three day excursion to Bayeux) we can do the #69 Bus on our last day.

Posted by
724 posts

I was actually thinking of doing that after the Arc walk......after our last tour breakfast. The walk from the Arc to to Obelisk takes you close to the Orangerie (sp)? and I wanted to do both the Orangerie and the Orsay after that walk (I don't need to see the entirity of both of those museums). We're thinking of a two day museum pass so I'll want to do those on our last two days in Paris. We will probably just chill out on our tour days and people watch. I guess that's why we haven't really planned too much on our "off" hours during the tour....we'll definitely heed our guide's suggestions. I'm resisting my tendencies towards over planning :)

Posted by
724 posts

How are everyone's plans going? I made a "vacation countdown" with an app on my phone. I look at it every once in a while and I imagine the last 30 days will seem like an eternity.

Are you practice washing some of your clothes in the sink at home? This may help you decide what clothes to pack and which ones to leave at home!

Have you looked lately at the conversion from Euro to dollar? Our American dollar is $1.12 to the Euro. I'm hoping this trend stays around for a bit.....it would be nice to save some money!

When, if at all, are you all planning on going up the Eiffel Tower? I'd like to get reservations for that ahead of time.

Posted by
9538 posts

Kathy, funny that you posted about laundry. I was just thinking about you all this morning as I made myself a new sink-wash bag. I reinforce the side and bottom seams of one of the 2.5 gallon slide lock zip bags (I think they are Glad brand) using mailing tape. The zip top had failed on my old one the last time I traveled so I needed to do a new one. I find this easier than washing directly in the sink as you can fill with water and your soap, put in your clothes, zip the top as you squeeze out the air, and sloosh them around a bit. You can also leave them to soak if needed but still have the sink available for other things.

The answer to your question about the obelisk being near Orangerie is yes. If you keep walking thru the square where the obelisk is, you enter the Tuileries and the Orangerie will be on your right slightly upslope from the entrance gate.

Posted by
177 posts

Kathy we have been doing some planning on the pre and post tour. As for our free time (during the tour) we are just going to make a small list of things to do and see what the guide suggests and hopefully it will match. We love to sit and watch people so that could be what we do during some of our free time (to relax). We are planning on doing the Eiffel Tower on the 12th the day before we go home. Since we are not sure of the time during the tour this way we have control over that. I have seen from other posts that there is an opportunity to do the Seine River cruise with the tour group which I think would be a great idea. Have a nice final fling with the group. As for Amsterdam, we are going to try to fit in some sights in Haarlem on that Friday morning then go to Amsterdam to get in the Dutch Resistance Museum and Van Gogh. We are going to do the morning Zaanse Schans tour then roam around Amsterdam that Saturday. Sunday morning will just relax before the tour starts. We are going to make some things concrete but leave a lot of "change if needed" in our schedule. We want to be flexible and go with the flow.

Pam we have not done a full laundry tryout but I did do some minor and I was a little disappointed on how it went. I will be trying again in hopes of better outcome. I like your idea of reinforcing the ziplock bag. I was already planning on bringing a big ziplock bag to use a "washing machine".

Getting close. Glad the Euro is going down some hope it continues or at least stays here.

Posted by
15 posts

Hi All:

I just discovered this thread, so I'm belatedly joining in. ( I may be talking to an empty room, though, if everyone else has already moved on!)

My husband (Sam) and I (Pat) will be on the April 19th BOE tour. Not only is this our first Rick Steves' Tour, it's our first group tour, period. Our 30th anniversary was in December and this trip is our way of celebrating. Sam is 62 (recently retired) and I'm 58. We're empty-nesters with two daughters, one who's in grad school in Oregon, and the other an undergrad in Savannah. We live in Tennessee. Kathy --- Sam is huge photography buff as well, so you two can talk cameras.

The trip's coming up fast and I've been gathering "supplies." Thanks again, Pam, for all the great tips. Come on, sign up and come along!

We're looking forward to meeting everyone.

Pat

Posted by
724 posts

Welcome, Pat! Is your husband bringing a dSLR? I must say I'm almost as excited to get great pictures as I am to be in Europe!

Pam, my husband found this wash bag apparatus on Amazon and it was $54! I think I'll construct my own :)

Posted by
15 posts

Hi Kathy:

Sam's bringing a Sony NEX7 on the trip. It's a lightweight digital. He normally shoots with a Canon 5D Mark3, but decided it was too heavy for this trip. Plus, if he brought the 5D he'd want his tripod, extra lenses, etc. Since I often help carry his gear, I'm really glad he's leaving it at home this time. :)

Posted by
177 posts

Pat this group is still following this thread. Hopefully someone else on this tour will see it and add their information. You and your husband are just like me and my husband. He is 63 and I am 58. We are both retired and semi empty nesters. Older son living at home for a short period after graduating from college. My husband and I will be celebrating 40 years together in April (met on a blind date). This too is our first trip to Europe and a tour anywhere. So excited hope the next few months go fast.

Posted by
724 posts

Good for you, Pat, in getting out of having to lug the gear! I have a Canon 70d so it isn't as heavy as the 5d but heavy enough. I'm bringing one lens in addition to 17-50mm lens and leaving the heavier 24-105mm lens at home. Hope I don't regret that decision, we can't afford a "do-over" trip right away, lol! I am bringing my smaller point and shoot Canon for telephoto purposes.

So that's 10 folks on our tour right here (Steve/Kathy, Carole/her hubby, Bradley/Darlene, Stuart/Teresa, and Sam/Pat) .....I'm horrible with names but good with faces. Is everyone trying to stick with the one carryon plus 1 personal item rule or are any of you checking your bags at the gates? I'm sure we'll check on the way home since I'm sure my souvenirs will fill a bag!

Posted by
15 posts

Sounds like our families match, Carole. I expect when our youngest graduates this fall that she'll return for a time, given the job market.

Kathy --- sounds like you're striking a good balance between weight and the ability to shoot a wide range of subjects. I'm afraid Sam may have equipment withdrawal about halfway through the trip. But he's already talking about getting "just one more lens" for the NEX7, so who knows what will happen by April.

As for the one bag limit --- I'm not as far along in the planning and packing as the rest of you seem to be. I feel woefully unprepared by comparison. However, I did spend several decades on the road as a travel writer so tight packing isn't foreign to me; I just need to shake off the rust.

Posted by
177 posts

Kathy I was thinking about doing the count last night. By the way my husband's name is Bill. Also there is a single person that has posted (not on this thread but another one) her name is Sheila. So that makes 11 so far out of 24 or 28. Hopefully some other people on this tour will see this and add their names to the list. Need to add we are trying to stick with the one carry on with a personal item. I think we can make it. Bringing an additional folding bag that will be used for souvenirs I know that I will have. Planning on mailing back big items though.

Posted by
6 posts

We are getting excited and starting to plan/prepare. We haven't made pre or post trip decisons but I'm going to start researching that this week. We are planning to bring carry on bags as well as a day pack and tote. We will plan to not check on the way over but may decide we would rather check than carry.

I noticed the tour shows the Keukenhof Gardens. We were planning to do this but it appears we are going as a group. I love tulips and am excited that we are going to be there when the gardens are in full bloom!

The idea to try out washing in the sink is a great idea. As well as the reinforced zip lock. I've ordered and returned MANY pairs of shoes from Zappos. Still working on that, trying to find comfort and style. : )

So glad to see more on this thread, this will be such a fun trip!!

Posted by
724 posts

Darlene,
There is a very large thread on this website that talks about shoes. I'm still trying to figure that one out!

Regarding Keukenhof, we were in the same boat. I was planning on going there the day before our tour starts but since it's included now, we'll plan on seeing other sites. I'm very excited for Keukenhof. I'm also very excited for just about everything and am certain I will have happy tears on many days!

My youngest son graduated college last May and is working full time so now both of my kids are in their own places. I didn't think I would like it at first but it turns out we're having a ball!

I tried the 2 gallon baggie as a "washing machine" and it was acceptable. I have 2 inflatable hangers that my husband had to blow up. Apparently I'm really NOT full of hot air. I think it'll work fine for the interim. We'll take advantage of the laundry service when it is available.....you just can't put a price on clean clothes!

Posted by
9538 posts

You know I can't resist posting here, I hope you don't mind! I am re-living vicariously thru you all!

I thought of something today when I was writing a review on Trip Advisor of the Dutch Open Air museum in Arnhem. I think you all are getting to see Keukenhof instead, right? So, what I wished I had done at Arnhem was to have taken along a sack lunch or some snacks so I didn't use time eating lunch instead of seeing the area. The Arnhem stop included a traditional Dutch pancake lunch which I knew I would not eat because I'm vegan and it's not. Anyway, I would have liked to have spent that time roaming around the open air museum instead of eating a very nice salad. If Keukenhof is your lunch stop (group vs individual??), you might want to consider taking some snacks and using your time in the gardens. I would probably pick up some food/snacks at a grocery in Haarlem or Amsterdam the day before, then ask your guide at the first meeting about the schedule for the day. You won't have time after your group meet-up or the morning before you leave.

You will undoubtedly have a huge dinner that night in Bacharach. Plus a snack along the way. Plus some beer or wine before dinner depending on where you are staying, lol.

Darn it, I'm jealous! You all are going to have so much fun!

Posted by
724 posts

Oh, Pam....you post away! Pam went on this tour last season and she's been a wealth of knowledge for me and has been very patient answering all of my questions!

Good hint about having a snack on hand. I plan to always have some almonds in my bag.....

Keukenhof is part of our group stop in lieu of Arnhem. I'm glad everyone will be able to see the tulips since I'm sure it will be a once in a lifetime event. I've ordered bulbs from Dutch Gardens many times in the past. I like to pretend they came from a field by Keukenhof!

Posted by
724 posts

Here's something to get you excited. Webcams...ok, maybe it's just me, lol. I find myself looking at the ones in Rome and Tuscany ( there's one of Florence there). If you search the Schiltorn there is a live Webcam at the restaurant on top and of the walkway. It looks like often the one in Switzerland is foggy or maybe it's just often white with snow! I will be hopeful that we will be able to enjoy some good views when we are there.

Skyline Webcam dot com

Posted by
9538 posts

Definitely watch that Piz Gloria one! It is so cool when you get back home and can see exactly where you stood!

I like the Trevi Fountain one as well, even though it is in scaffold.

http://www.skylinewebcams.com/en/webcam/italia/lazio/roma/fontana-di-trevi.html

Here is a link to the webcam at Villa Steno in Monterosso al Mare. It does not look like the cam is working right now though.

http://www.villasteno.com/en/view-from-the-rooms.php

Posted by
724 posts

Well folks, we are getting closer! And really close to the deadline to finalize our payments! Mine will be in the mail next friday (it's payday). We are leaving the states on the thursday before our tour starts so from my Vacation Countdown it looks like 68 days away!

Shoes. Shoes are a huge topic and actually have their own thread on these boards. What shoes are you bringing? I'm wearing my Merrell hiking boots on the plane so they don't take up valuable suitcase space. They are, however, very lightweight. I had it all figured out that I would bring my black Clark's Hedge Tipi shoes since they were perfect for 3 days of 10+mile walks in NYC last November.....but they don't look so hot anymore so I'm looking to replace them. I have had a history of Plantar Fasciitis and like to have a wider toe box for comfort. I sure would like to find a cute pair of comfortable flats but with a good arch. Waterproof would be good too, eh? Also, are you bringing a pair of flip flops or something to wear to/from the bathrooms during our stay in Switzerland?

Posted by
177 posts

Question about the Schiltorn cable ride (Pam you probably are better prepared to answer). Is this something that we should purchase the tickets before going or can we get a cheaper fare waiting to see how many people on the tour want to make the trip? Where would the group be leaving from? Looking at the website to have an idea of cost there are different options and not sure which would apply to the group. Any information from RS group or former travelers would be appreciated.

Posted by
9538 posts

Wait on purchasing anything ahead in Switzerland. Your guide will probably have a plan, and I suggest you go with it. Ours got those of us that wanted to up and out to catch the cheaper early morning rides up the mountain. Our bus driver drove us the 5 minutes to the Stechelberg cable car station altho the initial plan was for us to walk to it. (I think he had to go refuel anyway, but he was wonderful!). This was after the guide checked to see what the weather was on top since it is an expensive ride if it is socked in. The bus was waiting (with those of the group who didn't want to do the trip up the Schilthorn) when we came back down and took us in to Lauterbrunnen to get the cog train up the other side of the valley to Mannlichen. All we needed to do was give our guide the money. He told us ahead what it would be and then stopped in Lauterbrunnen on the way in to Stechelberg for everyone to hit the ATMs. We gave him the cash, he purchased all the tickets. It worked perfectly.

My notes indicate it cost 120 Swiss Francs for transportation up both sides of the valley plus the admission to Truemmelbach Falls. I got out 150CF from the ATM and that covered the transportation, lunch up the mountain, snacks from the Coop grocery store in Lauterbrunnen (right by the ATMs) and some for snacks on the way out of Switzerland the next day. I ~think~ I had about 10CF left over which I gave to Peter the bus driver as he had one more trip back thru Switzerland after ours. I figured it would be useful for beer purchases! (after he was off duty of course!)

editing to add: I just looked at the cable car tariff site and we got the first car of the day which was 77CF, the rest was for the transportation up the other side which was later in the day so likely full price. It was the Stechelberg Station we left from. And yes, dogs do ride free.

Posted by
724 posts

Pam, do you recall what meals you needed to pay for in Switzerland? I suppose if I "accidently" took out too much money at the ATM I would be forced to spend the leftovers on chocolate. That would be a real shame.

Posted by
4370 posts

OK, I'm finishing up the eyes on some and a couple still need hair, but I've basically finished my voodoo dolls with ALL of your names on them. I'm taking them to my local fabric and notions store tomorrow to buy appropriate pointy pins.

Have any of you ever seen barbed straight pins? If so, please include an Internet link. Thanks.

(Putting my big girl panties on now...) Have a great time! I wish I was going with all of you! Some of us in our local Sacramento travel group are trying to get a group of local - and Travel Forum - people together for a RS Tour...maybe May 2016? Last I checked, Village Italy was the forerunner...

Now...how many of you wear eyegleasses? I'll need an accurate count so I can pick some up at my local doll/craft store... ;-)

Posted by
9538 posts

LOL Eileen, you just need to save for the BOE! You would have such fun! And you would be so much fun to travel with.

Kathy, both dinners were group meals in Stechelberg because, literally, it is at the end of the road and there is nothing else there. There was a meal at an Autogrille on the way to Switzerland from Cinque Terre but it was near the border and accepted both Euro and CFs. The day we left Switzerland heading for France we actually ate when we got in to France, so back to Euro. So...there was really only the lunch meal on the full day in Switzerland plus snacks and or drinks. Some people got hot chocolate at the Piz Gloria restaurant at the top of the Schilthorn. There is a cute bar in the hotel restaurant (if you wind up at Hotel Stechelberg) so many had beer/wine both days before dinner which would require CFs. Many had also picked up bottles of wine at the Autogrille so we had wine out on the balcony of the hotel annex. On the departure day we made a bathroom stop while we were still in Switzerland so many people used up their remaining CFs there. BTW, I found the food pretty expensive in Switzerland. I think I wound up paying 15CF for a bowl of soup for lunch up on the mountain at Kleine Scheidegg. The smart ones of the group thought ahead and got picnic stuff at the Coop and had a lunch along the trail. The views were jaw-dropping.

If you are buying chocolate and really, people bought chocolate (and wine) at ~every~ stop from beginning to end!...I suggest getting chocolate at the Coop grocery store in Lauterbrunnen. There will be a couple of times that you will have 1/2 hr or 45 minutes there, or you can take longer to shop and instead of riding the bus back, walk back to Stechelberg as there is a gorgeous path along the river. Anyway, the chocolate buyers felt like the prices there for chocolate bars was better than any other place we had come across. The Autogrille was the next least expensive.

Posted by
4370 posts

OK - maybe if all of you 'accidentally' got too much from the ATM in Switzerland and sent lots of chocolates...I could forget the whole thing. I'll hold off on the ouchy, pointy pins for now.

It would be a blast, but I've had - and still have - other family obligations, and have spent my BOE $$$ on that :-( That's life, though!

I'll PM all of you with my mailing address. White chocolate isn't my favorite, but the rest is all good ;-)

Posted by
724 posts

I think Village Italy sounds like a great trip. Who knows what 2016 will bring! I surely hate planning another tour before we even go on this one (NOT).....of course, initially the Austria/Germany/Switzerland tour has caught our attention.....and right now I'm "knee deep" into season 4 of Downton Abbey and this has piqued my interest in England (and we haven't been there yet, either).

Regarding chocolate and wine, is the wine decent in Switzerland? I'm guessing we'll be picking up a souvenir cork screw somewhere in Europe. We have the picnic set from RS but I tried using the cork screw at home just to see how it did and it broke on first attempt. The good folks at RS sent a replacement but I'm not having high expectations ;)

Posted by
724 posts

We are closing in on ONE MONTH away! I believe we should be getting the passenger list and hotel list this friday.

Is everyone beyond excited? My stomach is doing flip-flops. Are your packing lists ready? Do you have enough memory cards for your cameras? Do you have your electronic needs taken care of (converters vs adapters)?

Posted by
177 posts

Oh Kathy you are too funny. Well I am getting my electronic stuff tomorrow and thought through are pre and post plans to make sure we have everything we can get early. All checked off. As for the packing I have the things I want to bring but changing my mind on some tops. Also did a spreadsheet for the historical temperature high/low for the cities we will be visiting. The weather looks like it should be great. A little cool at night but the days in the 60's to low 70's over the 4 weeks we are gone. I keep looking on my account to see if they post the additional information early. So excited it is getting really close.

Posted by
11 posts

I'm on the tour leaving on the 14th, and my information was posted on the 15th Australian time (due to be posted on the 15th US time), so based on that, yours might be a little early but not likely too much earlier than scheduled. My hotels all look really nice. The participant list doesn't really tell me much (I'd hoped to know a rough age range), though there are quite a few who have booked separately (some may be traveling together but booked separately?), and it doesn't look like there are any kids on my tour.

Good luck all with the countdown! :D

Posted by
557 posts

Ha! Kathy, at first I read that as "battery-operated" rather than electronic. That would be an entirely different thing to put in your luggage! 😉

Emsharp - you can call the RS office (although I realize that may be costly from Australia) and ask about the ages of tour members. They can give you some generalities. Due to privacy laws on the U.S., they can't really share particulars... :). Have fun on your tour. :)

Posted by
724 posts

Em, you got me a little excited so after numerous guesses at my log in credentials, I finally got in. .....no info yet!

Posted by
61 posts

Great news fellow tour members of BOE 19 Apr- 9 May...final docs posted with tour roster and complete list of hotels for our adventure. Look forward to seeing everyone very soon. Safe travels ! Teressa and Stuart

Posted by
177 posts

Saw the information this morning. I was a little disappointed with the itinerary because I thought it would be a little more specific to our actual tour. It is what you see on the website already. Oh well. Excited to meet everyone. 25 is nice size group.

Posted by
724 posts

Yes! I just printed my various documents to keep in my folder......I also put all the phone numbers/websites/addresses for all the hotels in my phone so I'll have them readily.

Question......if we have a global phone plan (originating in US) if we need to phone any of those hotels, we will dial the number as shown? So we will enter 011 plus the phone number? I've never dialed internationally before!

Teressa, your husband goes by Stuart, then......and not Harold, as shown on our tour participants list?

Posted by
9538 posts

OK, so are you going to share who your guide is?

Posted by
9538 posts

No but I think maybe I read some reviews in the old review system and she sounds like such fun!

Posted by
26 posts

My first tour was Paris & South of France in 15 days with two extra days. What worked for me with packing is to look over the itinerary real good and see what days certain clothes should be worn. For my tour it was still hot in Paris and as we worked our way south, a pair of shorts were the order of the day. I took three pairs of pants and one pair of shorts. I plan to do one of the Italy tours next year, and will bring two pairs of shorts and two of pants. I stuck with a color scheme (olive greens brown and tan) which made it easier to interchange my clothes. I wrote by each day of the itinerary what I would wear each day, seeing this on paper helped, just in case you forget what day your worn what. I remember one of the tour members found a laundry mat and did her laundry. Some of the hotels have good laundry services. I had some laundry done when we got to Arles by the hotel. Just remember you won't be the only one re-wearing your clothes. This note is for the clothes -- trust me, the undies were clean every day :)

Posted by
4 posts

Hello...I am Carolee and my husband is Dave and we are on the 4/19 BOE trip. It is my eighth trip to Europe and Dave's fifth...also our fifth trip together.....mainly to British Isles and added Norway last year.
It is our 1st RS trip....we wanted an overall look and I wanted a break from the complicated planning I'd done on previous trips. We will each carry a backpack as we always do and we're now trying to decide if we will also bring one roll-aboard. Our photography will be done by our iPhones.

I have two questions: 1) how do we know that the tulip gardens are now included in our tour? I don't see it on the itinerary. And 2), probably for PAM.....about the stop at Dachau. Dave may go, but I don't want to. Was there anyone else on your tour Pam like me? Was there anything else to do? If not I shall be happy napping on the bus.

I have a blog that has most of our past trips on it. It is: cleemae.wordpress.com
Click on Travel to see the trips.

Looking forward to our adventure together!

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Oh....and because I see a lot of discussion about packing....on my blog check out the Packing heading under the 2012 trip. I may go with the long raincoat again this coming trip...watching the weather.

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510 posts

Hi Carolee --I was on the BOE tour last summer. Everyone in our group chose to participate in the Dachau tour (our guide there was amazing...so respectful of the human beings who were prisoners at the camp) but if you did chose not to, the grounds surrounding the camp are lovely (I was a little taken aback by how lovely the surroundings were....until our guide pointed out that the site is -- first and foremost -- a memorial site) and there is also a café in the museum building. The tour itself is not gruesome or graphic (although the museum -- which is an optional place to visit after the guided tour ends -- can be both of those things). Several members of our group chose not to look into/walk through a couple of the buildings but participated in the rest of the tour. I suppose you could also talk to your guide a couple of days in advance to see whether there is a nearby town where you could be dropped off and picked up. I'm not sure whether that would be an option or not, but it wouldn't hurt to ask.

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724 posts

Welcome, Carole and Dave! It says somewhere "see Keukenof Gardens" if you go to the RS home page and look under tours, BOE21 day. It says this for all the spring 21 day tours. I also got email confirmation of this when I emailed the RS folks about a month ago (because I wanted to plan our pre-tour days). It should be a real treat to see the gardens!

Are you planning any pre or post tour days?
This is our first time in Europe but I hope all my reading and preparing will not give away our being novices!

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You're likely to get an email in a couple of days which will specify the change to Keukenhof. Amongst other things, mine said:
SPECIAL ITINERARY UPDATE: Your tour will visit Keukenhof Gardens instead of Arnhem Open Air Museum. This unique opportunity is only available on our early spring tours. Keukenhof offers over seven million flowers in bloom, fantastic garden displays and the largest sculpture park in the Netherlands.

(I am going on the BOE departing 14 April.)

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Carolee welcome to the group. We are leaving three weeks from today and very excited. This is our first trip to Europe.

EM when did you get your email about the changes? We got our other documents about 5 days after you got yours maybe the same with the e-mail. Thanks.

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I contacted RS and indeed, we are going to Keukenhof. It is in the 30-day letter which I had not yet received. Also we should look for another attachment about Beaune. It isn't covered in the Rick Steves guidebook, so we get this special info that we're supposed to print out and bring.

So Kathy, as to our free time: barring complications we will arrive to Haarlem two days early...different hotel than our tour one tho. The first day is arrival day, which I call zombie day....we will probably just wander aimlessly. The second full day before the tour starts......I was planning on renting bikes and going to Keukenhof. With the new info, I have to figure out something else. Maybe Waterland. Maybe Amsterdam.

And then at the end, we have booked four extra nights at our Paris hotel. Two things I'm considering are the bike tours in the Champagne region and at Versailles. Or going to London. We'll probably just end up hanging out....going back to the Louve, up the Eiffel, Seine trip, who knows.

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9538 posts

Carolee, my Dachau experience was like Ruth's. It was also pouring down rain the day we went, so the guide did take us thru the museum. If it is a pretty day, you can enjoy the area outside the actual camp or as Ruth said there is a bookshop and a cafe. You see Dachau on the way from Rothenburg to Austria so there is sort of no way to opt out of the travel part. Afterward, we went to a biergarten for a late lunch. If you don't want to go on the tour, just let your guide and your buddy know. Rick's tours does a buddy system where on the first night you pick a buddy (someone you are not traveling with) and when you meet up everyone is asked to do a buddy check. Easier than the guide having to continually count noses and it is a good way to get to know people! Anyway, just let your buddy know you are going to opt out so they don't look for you.

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11 posts

I contacted RS and indeed, we are going to Keukenhof. It is in the 30-day letter which I had not yet received. Also we should look for another attachment about Beaune. It isn't covered in the Rick Steves guidebook, so we get this special info that we're supposed to print out and bring.

Yes, that comes in the email too. I got mine yesterday, so your group's should be about 4 days away. Or if you can't wait, PM me your email address. ;)

Carolee, one of my post-tour plans that I'm really excited about is a day tour to the Loire Valley - we're seeing three castles, plus Clos Luce where Leonardo da Vinci spent his last few years. Plus, we get to go on the TGV to get there - my husband is particularly excited about that! He really wanted to go on it, and was disappointed when initially I said we didn't have anywhere to go!

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Thanks for responses on dacha Ruth and Pam. It will work out.
Em... Since you're on the same tour as us only a few days earlier, it would be great if you could post any outstanding things we should know....like, Wow, I wish I'd known that things. And only if time permits of course. Are you blogging your trip? Or facebooking? We really want to go on TGV too. Might do something nuts like ride to Barcelona and back!

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Hmm, the only 'wish I'd known' moment I've had so far was about how low my printer was on paper - have lined up all my confirmation details in the printing queue, only to find "Load Tray 1" and no printed documents! Everything else has pretty much been as I expected so far! I leave on the first of April, so not too much more time for anything unexpected, I hope!

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Hi fellow travelers:

Only two weeks of waiting left. Sam and I are looking forward to meeting everyone. (Pam --- sure wish you were going with us. You've been a tremendous help in getting us prepared. Thanks so much for all the practical advice.)

We're flying into Schiphol the morning of April 17th and will be staying at the Ambassador in Haarlem those two extra days while we get acclimated. Is anybody else arriving early? If not, I guess we'll be the (unofficial) welcoming committee.

I'm still vacillating about the ratio of long to short sleeve shirts. It's been so warm here in Tennessee these last weeks that it's hard for me to think in terms of 40 degree weather. Any last minute thoughts on wardrobe choices?

We can't wait!

Pat

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177 posts

Pat we are as excited as you are. In fact our flight from Tallahassee leaves 2 weeks from right now. We will be arriving at Amsterdam at 6 in the morning on the 17th. We have a full load for that day. We will be staying in Haarlem also but not at the same hotel as the tour. We are staying in a small B&B.

We are having the same issues with the wardrobe because it has been in the 80's here in FL. We continue to look at the weather channel for temperatures so it looks like it will be cool still. Therefore bringing long pants and one pair of shorts just in case.

Excited to meet everyone. All this planning and the trip is here. I agree I wish Pam was on this trip since she is very helpful on info.

See you in two weeks.

Carole

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9538 posts

Well, I would love to be on this trip with you all! As you all know, I loved it so much I could easily do it over again.

I wonder if you will really need shorts? The first RS tour I went on was Heart of Italy which was the last 2 weeks of May 2013. It was really not uncomfortable in Cinque Terre to be in long pants as it was cool and rainy. I did wear crop pants in Rome though.

My shirt travel wardrobe consists of Lands End cotton modal tee shirts. For this time of year I would probably take 4 short sleeves and 2 long sleeves with 2 cardies and a Marmot Precip/waterproof jacket. Depending on what the temp was supposed to be in Amsterdam on arrival day, I would wear 1 short sleeve with one of the cardies, or one of the long sleeves if it's supposed to be chilly. With the 2 long sleeve shirts you can alternate them and probably get 3 days out of each before you need to wash which will put you in Austria. (Please know I probably would not wear them 3X before washing at home, but on the road?? yes, I would. Now does this make it so you would not want to travel with me? lolol) I would do a hand wash the night I arrive including the pants I traveled in. That gives you 3 nights for it to dry.

I am excited for you all!

Editing to add: OK, just did a quick look thru weather.com. Looking at the 10 day forecast for Amsterdam, Bacharach, Rome and Lauterbrunnen I would revise my suggestion to 3 short sleeves and 3 long sleeves. At the end of the 10 days it looks like temps will be in the mid to upper 50s in the colder areas. I could manage with short sleeves, a cardie and the jacket, but I could not have done that if I were coming straight from Florida. Been there, done that! If you have a polarfleece vest, I might consider putting that in for Switzerland. If you have a compression bag you can squish that down so it doesn't take much room in the bottom of your suitcase or in a side pocket. If you have lightweight glove liners I would probably throw them in as well.

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724 posts

We are cautiously optimistic that this trip goes off without a hitch. We have some family issues (health) that are giving us some concern.....so we are welcoming prayers and happy thoughts!

It's so hard to plan on cool weather when we experiencing such warm temperatures at home! I walk outside and think there is no way i'll need long sleeves.....but of course, I'm planning on 2 or 3, 2 cardigans (they are travel weight), 3 or 4 short sleeve shirts, and 3 pairs of pants including the ones i'll be wearing. I also have a pair of travel pants that can be rolled up and buttoned to be crop pants. My jacket is a 3 in 1, so it can be attached....outer shell is waterproof, inner shell is that thinsulate. I will wear it on the plane so I don't have to pack it. I'm pretty sure I'm bringing my swimsuit. It doesn't take up THAT much space and if I don't need it, no biggie....but if it's warm enough, I'll want it to wade in the water in CT.

Going to be doing another packing run-thru this weekend. Also, need to see how the "personal item" packs.

In answer to your question, Pat, we are also arriving on friday, April 17th at 11am. We're staying in Amsterdam for those first two nights and have a big day planned on saturday. We'll head out to Haarlem early that sunday the tour starts and walk around, checking out the sites there before meeting 23 of our new best friends at 2pm!

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Hi all:
Wow --- you guys are rapid rapid responders. Thanks for all the wardrobe thoughts. I'm planning on making final packing decisions this weekend.

Carole --- I think we're going to just be lazy on Friday and get plenty of fresh air by walking around Haarlem and seeing a few sites. On Saturday we plan to go into Amsterdam to spend quality time at the Van Gogh Museum. I'm also interested in the Resistance Museum, so I hope to fit that in, too.

Pam --- I like your advice about wearing the shirts 3x --- and yes, I'd be delighted to travel with you even if you'd said 4x. If you'd said 5x, I'd still travel with you but I'd sit on the other side of the bus. ;)

Kathy --- I'm sending prayers and a planeload of happy thoughts your way. I hope the health scenario improves rapidly. We have caregiving responsibilities for Sam's elderly parents so we're keeping our fingers crossed for a crisis-free three weeks. Also, I managed to tweak my knee, so I'm hobbling a bit. Perfect timing, right? Life is rarely smooth, but it's always interesting.

Almost travel time!

Pat

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724 posts

I'm having foot surgery a month after we come home.......have a bone spur that's been causing some issues of late. Talk about bad timing! Of course, there is no way I was going to have surgery before we left......I'm going to suck it up and keep lots of Ibuprofen on hand :)

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9538 posts

Oh Kathy, ouch! Will it help to relieve pressure on the spur spot to use the Dr Scholls Callus Cushions (I think they are the ones with the bigger hole)? Take more Ibu than you think you will need.

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We are excited too! I've been narrowing clothing and plan to decide for sure this weekend. I just spent 5 days traveling with my daughter and I didn't pack light. I actually pulled a muscle in my back because my wheeled luggage was too heavy. 😃. It was incentive for me to take packing light seriously for this trip. We are arriving Friday, staying in Amsterdam until Sunday morning. Looking forward to meeting you all there at 2!

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724 posts

Where are you staying in Amsterdam, Darlene? We'll be fairly close to Amsterdam Central, on the Singel Canal.

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We have an apartment near Vondelpark Park. Bradley is a runner and we chose this location so he can run. We rented through Airbnd, hope it looks as awesome in person as it does online. 😃. We have tentative plans but are staying flexible.

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Kathy: So sorry to hear your foot is bothering you. If worse comes to worse, we may just have to hobble around together. It will still be fun!

Pat

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It doesn't hurt all the time and the proper shoes definitely help.

Doing a packing run tomorrow....

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Good news: Packed suitcase weighs 18 pounds.
Bad news: It doesn't include my 3-1-1 bag or toiletry bag......Looks like hubby will be packing the hanging toiletry bag in his daypack.

Is anyone bringing a skirt? I have an Eddie Bauer skirt/dress (it's covertible).......can't decide if it is something I can live without.

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177 posts

Man you are good. I wish I could get mine to 18. I have 20 to 21. Going to try again tomorrow. I am not bringing a skirt because I am not a skirt person.

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Wow! Sounds like you will have a great trip! I almost wish I was on your tour, but I am going on Village Italy in 6 weeks!

I will chime in about the skirt issue. I always take at least one skirt. It is as cool as shorts, can be warmed up with tights or leggings (or bicycle type shorts), and I have one nice thing to wear out to dinner and into strict churches (Hello, St. Peter's).

I know you all will have a blast!

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724 posts

Oh, Deborah, i was just decided NOT to bring my skirt :)

Ten days until many of us leave for our tour!

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9538 posts

Wow, 18# is just great! So now without the skirt/dress is is 17# 10 oz? lol

You all are coming down to the wire and will have so much fun.

Village Italy is a fun trip as well. Lots of hand's on things like various tastings.

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80 posts

Kathy, I don't blame you! I am more of a skirt person than a shorts person. Not to mention that I think I look better in skirts :)
Thanks for starting this thread and keeping it going. My travel buddy is excited, but he is not bouncing off the walls like a 3 year old who just drank a venti mocha frappucino like I am!! You have kept me pumped up!

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Many thanks to everybody on this thread for all the advice, encouragement, and pre-trip schmoozing. This is our first Rick Steves tour, but if this forum is any indication of how friendly folks are, it certainly won't be our last.

Pat

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724 posts

It's our first trip/tour, too! To say we are looking forward to it is a gross understatement!

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My first practice pack was 17 lbs. However I didn't have any toiletries, makeup, etc. in there. So I removed a couple of items and plan to try again with everything this weekend. I've been looking at scrapbooks which has made me very excited and aware of the fact I should have prepared more physically!

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177 posts

I believe most of us are leaving the US on the 16th so we only have one week to go. WOOOOOOHOOOOO. I am beyond excited. After Kathy suggested the compression bags for my packing issue I tried those spacebags that I have had for awhile and it is taking care of my bulky luggage. We are only in need of these on the way over because we are already planning on checking the bag on the way back. Our bags can be expanded so we were planning on doing that when we arrive so my problem is solved. Now to do the full packing test (with all the extra items). It should go well. Excited to meet all of this group next week.

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Me too, Darlene :(

Carole, don't throw those bags out once you get to Europe....you may buy so many souvenirs you could need it for your checked bag!

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OK Gang, this is the week!! Woohoo! Thinking of you all as you do your final prep for your trip. Next Monday you will be walking your feet off in Amsterdam!

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Thanks for everything, Pam. We'll be sure to offer up a toast to you along the way!

Pat

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We are so excited about this trip. I have everything (at least I hope I do) if not, well something new to buy. Working on getting the house organized and bills paid before leaving. Thankfully my son lives here so the house will not be empty. We have received so much good information on this forum and definitely will be doing a tour review when we return. Here we come Europe.

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724 posts

Are any of you bringing a small travel blow-dryer?

As I'm packing my "personal item" I'm finding it to be heavier than I want. It's about 10 pounds. Of course, I won't be lugging this around everywhere.....my smaller cross-body bag is inside. songs said blow dryer, all electronic gizmos/adapters/camera batteries/small laptop.

Getting more anxious than excited, I think. I have no idea how I'm going to sleep between now and Thursday!

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Kathy --- I've decided to leave my hair dryer behind, even though it's pretty tiny. I may be sorry, but my bag is getting awfully full. I'm keeping fingers crossed that most rooms will have a hair dryer.

Pat

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I am bringing a travel blow dryer. When I was in Italy the ones available at the hotels were useless for my thick hair. It folds and is dual voltage. I'm still trying to get everything to fit in our carry on sized backpacks. We may end up with my husband having a duffel backpack which is a bit larger. We are checking our bags either way. We leave Thursday and I'm so excited!

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177 posts

No blow dryer for me bag is already to the max I wanted it to be. We will all look alike if we do not have blow dryers. See you all on Sunday.

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Y'all have a GREAT time!!!

Come back and report! If anyone is planning on blogging during the trip and doesn't mind a fellow traveler tagging along, send your blog address to me in a PM!

[Soooooo jealous... ;-) ]

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Hi, this is Carol. I was on the same BOE 21 day tour as the very informative Pam. She should be a travel writer! So, folks, how was it? :)

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Hi to my Carol! I'm ready to go back!

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Me too! I have my map on the wall right next to me that Dimitri highlighted with our route. I look at it longingly several times a day.

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The trip was a dream come true. We have only been back home less than a week and sometimes it seems like it was years ago. I am reminded of every detail as I look at my photos. Right now I am just going through them and deleting blurry pictures and ones where I look bad, lol! This is going to take a while :)

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177 posts

As Kathy stated this trip was fabulous. It exceeded our expectations beyond anything we could have thought of. As Kathy, I am still going through my pictures. I plan on doing a trip report soon. I know it will not be as well written as Pam's was but hope to have it done by this weekend.

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Oh, you are so sweet Carol! You know we will all want to read about your adventures and your report will be perfect. Every trip is different and we want all the details!

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Kathy, I still have your blog's tab on my iPad, eagerly awaiting your updates!

Unless, of course, you've blocked me ;-)

I'm amazed at all who manage to blog while in Europe, especially while on a tour! Even those of you who start, then succumb to lack of sleep, lack of wifi, etc. My hat's off to all of you!

Thanks for the free entertainment :-D