I took the RS 17 day tour September 11, 2016. There are enough reports out there that have the day to day information so this is more of summary of an out of shape, slightly physically challenged solo female traveler. First, I want to thank Yosemite1 for all the great and detailed information he provided to me before I left on my trip. He was such a great resource and had some awesome suggestions as he and his wife had taken the same trip a year before. Thank you Yosemite1! Also, to all the wonderful people on the forum whose ideas I used, followed, and modified to work for my trip, I thank you.
I was in Europe for 68 days. I started on my own in London, Paris, and Milan before joining the RS tour in Varenna. After the tour I stayed in Italy and then went to Greece. I took the RS rolling convertible backpack. My packing list was light on the clothes: 4 tops, 1 sweater, down vest (for return trip), rain shell, 2 pants, pjs, 2 pair of shoes, 8 undies, 3 sport type bras, 3 socks (this includes my plane clothes). The usual small sizes of personal care items such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, Febreeze, toothpaste, etc, med kit (too many things in it), spare glasses, hearing aid batteries and cleaning cloth and Forever New soap. My comfort items were a duel voltage immersion heater, titanium coffee mug, Starbucks Via packets, tea, and a spiky roller ball for my feet. I used a very small sling bag for my Sprint phone, Kindle, wallet, Kleenex, paperwork etc. I also had the DTR bag in my suitcase for day trips and laundry. My bag at departure was 18.4 pounds. On return it was 17 pounds. I only bought a few small keychains while traveling and dumped any remaining personal care items and most of the med kit before I flew home. The ability to have coffee and tea in the room was the best thing I had in my suitcase. I used everything I took except for the over-packed med kit. Next time I’ll reduce it to a few band aids.
In London I stayed at the LSE Bankside House. The room was adequate for my needs and close to the Tube. I don’t know that I’d stay there again. It was cheap, but without any amenities. I did all the usual touristy stuff in London. I did several London Walks programs and was pleased with them overall. On one, there were only two of us, and the guide walked so fast that he often had to wait several minutes for the two of us to join him at the next stop. It was off putting to be several blocks behind him. The other woman was in decent shape and she had trouble keeping up with him as well. Minor inconvenience, but frustrating.
Eurostar to Paris was uneventful. I met several off duty French police officers on the train and we had a good discussion about immigration and politics. I ended up at one of their houses for dinner and met the family. Was a wonderful Paris home life experience. I stayed at the Hotel Jeanne d’Arc in the Marais area. Perfect little gem of a hotel. I did all the usual tourist stuff in Paris, including several Paris Walks programs and a day trip to the Palace of Versailles. The Private Kings Apartment tour was well worth the cost. I also did the behind the scenes Eiffel Tower tour. Was very interesting to see the elevator rooms.
Upon leaving Paris I did the overnight train to Milan. I paid for a solo sleeper compartment and had an enjoyable time. No issues with noise or other common complaints about the overnight train, but I am sure that the private sleeping quarters was a big part of that. Expensive, but worth it and I felt very safe.
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