In case anyone is interested, here are some observations from my just-completed BOE 14-day tour…
The tour started in Paris on a Sunday, but my wife and I flew to Amsterdam two days before that to see the sights and get acclimated. Amsterdam was wonderful and we did all of the “standard” things. We took the high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris the morning our tour started.
I’ll let others here tell you about the all of the sights and meals. What I’d like to tell you about are what my expectations were, what actually happened, and a few other tidbits.
I am not a group person. I was concerned that either I would be the problem or someone else would be. I was so wrong. Everyone was completely wonderful and I am so thrilled we all had such a great time together. The tour was better because it was a group tour.
The tour guide knew exactly when and where we should go to the restrooms pretty much the whole time.
I did not spend even one cent of US currency anywhere (even though I brought some).
I was used to the money belt after about 15 minutes and never noticed it after that. It was a non-issue.
I did not lock anything in any hotel safe the whole tour.
I was approached by a pickpocket at the train station in Paris, but another concerned Parisian shooed her away and warned me. I had nothing in my pockets to pick except things that were in zippered pockets.
Make sure you have a few Swiss Francs (coins!) for the pay toilets for the journey from Switzerland to Germany.
I was worried about the bus rides being too long. The scenery for almost the whole tour was great so the bus rides were perfect. They were also a great chance to recover physically. We stopped almost every two hours and every rest area had either a good or great restaurant. Most had free bathrooms (except Switzerland!).
When RS indicates the tours are active, he isn’t joking. I am not an “active” person per se, but I did walk several times a week to prepare for the tour. I walked over 110 miles during the tour. I walked over 14 miles in Lauterbrunnen alone. You could certainly walk less than I did, but I decided before the tour started, I was going to do as much as I could. And I did.
The weather was spectacular the whole trip. My wife and prayed for good weather and it was perfect. The ONLY rain was the morning of the first day of the tour in Paris. I brought an umbrella and used it once. I brought a poncho (from the dollar store) and did not use it. The only real heat was in Rome. It was 95° + massive humidity. It was really the only time it was uncomfortably hot.
I think the three best places to do laundry were Paris, Lauterbrunnen, and Florence.
There are apparently some folks on planet earth who squat when they go potty, and rather than lift the seat up and stand on the rim of the toilet, they rip the seat off and stand on the rim of the toilet. Most of the public restrooms we used had this issue.
Every hotel had a bidet. It took up a lot of room in the bathroom.
All of the hotels had enough soap/shampoo in the showers.
Most of the hotels had no shelf in the shower.
Most of the hotels had very few flat surfaces to put stuff on.
Every hotel that needed air conditioning had it except for Munich. Apparently, a few weeks before our tour, Rick was there himself in Munich during the heat wave, and ended up buying fans for everyone on the tour. We used one of them and needed to.
There was no ice to be had anywhere. I actually went to a McDonald’s just so I could have a Coke with ice in it. I had extra ice in every drink I was served on the flights home.
Every hotel had a grocery store and a pharmacy close by it.
I was not mentally prepared to learn as much about European history as I did. Our guide was very knowledgeable and I feel like I learned a ton. He made me want to learn more about Europe and the Roman Empire.
End of Part 1