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Globus tour to Germany (German Highlights)

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Hi, I'm thinking about taking a Globus tour to Germany (German Highlights) in the summer of 2011. Has anyone taken this tour with Globus? If yes, when? How was your experience?

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    Greywolf - you won't find a lot of hard line Fodorites to be very experiences with package tours.

    I hope you do get some feedback, but don't be discouraged if you don't - it just means that most of us haven't done planned tours.

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    Greywolf, Aramis is right. You will not find many folks on this board who do tours or approve of those who do. I understand that. I have traveled to Europe many times both independently and on tours. For several reasons in recent years, I have taken tours alone, including German Highlights. I enjoy meeting new people while having my own privacy. Like those who plan their own itineraries, I read extensively before the trip. Mostly, I am focused on the destinations and like keeping to schedule. I am not interested in shopping or fine dining. Also, I am an early riser which helps on a tour.

    Re: German Highlights. First, I should ask, have you ever taken a group tour in Europe with a big provider like Globus? You may not like it. This particular trip covers a great deal of territory. If I recall, about 11 nights and 8 hotels! The distance some days was considerable. But I got what I wanted – a brief overview of Germany. Being a WWII history buff, one highlight was our stop at the Rally Grounds outside of Munich (now falling into decay) where Hitler outlined his fanatical aims that led to WWII and the Holocaust. Enjoyed seeing Potsdam where the peace treaty was signed. Loved the excursion to Zugspitze, highest mountain in the German Alps where you an “step into” Austria from the peak. The latter two destinations were optionals which I would advise you to take.
    Greywolf (like that name!), I am sure that others would encourage you to do the trip independently, but in my present circumstances taking a tour works. It may or may not work for you. Good luck!

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    I am not a tour person but Globus is a good company and has a solid reputation. They have a division called Monograms tnat offers semi independent tours and might be worth checking out.

    I dislike buses and group tours in general. I also find Germany to be one of the easiest countries in Europe for independent travel. Nut I know it it not for everyone and bus tours have their fans.

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    I have done a Globus Eurotour some years ago ok for euroewbie

    thought it fine for a cost-effective whirlwind

    experience... the upside was I saw a tonne of stuff

    in a very short time... the down side was early AM

    bus calls stale hotel rooms food long rides crammed in

    with many other folks I did not know.

    These days I prefer to do my own research and self guide

    but thought my tour to be good value Globus one of the best.

    www.affordabletours.com for deep discounts up to 40%...

    Happy Hunting,

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    Thanks for all the replies. I have done more research and have decided to go with the Globus tour. Most of the spots were reserved, so I decided to book way in advance as well (booked in Feb for trip in late September). Now, I was told that even if I pay all the money, I won't get any package information until about 4 weeks before the trip. They are also booking my plane ticket for me because there's a discount. I also won't get my plane ticket until 4 weeks prior to trip. Is that normal? For those who have taken Globus tours, have you had any issues with change of service after payment?

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    4 weeks is sort of par for the cours. Some of the changes that companies have to make are unforseen, such as when on a river cruise the water level is too high or too low for the ships to move.

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    Greywolf - the four week deal is typical with Globus. I've done tours with Gloubus and Trafalgar and as others have said they are whirlwind tours. You will see a lot in a very short time. It's OK because they do all the planning and they make the reservations. If they are arranging the air, they even pick you up at the airport. The bad parts are there are usually lots of bus rides, you don't get to do things when you want to and there are usually lots of others on your bus you won't know. You will get a taste of Germany and will definitely want to go back. Next time do an independent trip. You'll be educated enough to know what you want to see. Have a great trip!

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    Yes, it is common for the package info and tickets to arrive 2-4 weeks before your trip.

    I have never taken the Germany tour, but I have taken other Globus tours. I only had a problem once, and that was several years ago with a tour to Israel and Egypt, with a Nile cruise. I,too, booked my airline tickets with them. About 3 weeks before departure I got a call saying that they had overbooked and wondered if I would mind flying in a day early. I had flexibility at work, and getting in a day early was fine with me. Then she told me that I would have to pay for the extra hotel night's stay, which was $200. I told her I felt Globus should pick up that tab because I had booked with them on good faith, and the overbooking was not my error.

    We went back and forth, but she refused to budge. I told her to cancel the trip because I wasn't paying another dime. I wasn't bluffing--I meant it. The trip was somewhat expensive to begin with, plus I had paid over $900 for single supplement, plus visa, insurance etc. The extra hotel fee pushed me beyond the point where I thought the trip was worth it, even though I could afford the extra $200. I guess it was my psychological breakeven point or something.

    When I contacted my travel agent,he elevated it up the chain of command, and I ended up not having to pay for the extra night. Went on the trip and had a great time.

    Overall, I think Globus is a good company, and I think my problem was the exception. I travel solo now, but if I were to take another tour I would have no reservations about booking with Globus.

    It sounds as if you have done your research and know the pros and cons of group travel. I think you will find Globus to be a good company. Have a wonderful trip!

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    Greywolf, checking back in. Another feature that I enjoyed on the Globus “German Highlights” tour was the ICE train ride from Cologne to Berlin which takes about 4 ½ hours. We traveled first class, - very comfortable and fast moving. It is interesting to observe the countryside when moving into the former East Germany (a bit more tattered) from West Germany. The Lehrter Banhnof terminal in Berlin was phenomenal. It was opened in 2006 just in time for the World Cup. It is the largest terminal in Europe costing some $892 million. If I recall correctly, the facility has some 48 escalators.

    Practical matters – we left our hotel in Cologne in the morning, sauntered in and out of the nearby Cathedral, bought lunch at the train station for the ride (although food and beverages are available on the train), and then took our journey. No hassle because our bus driver drove to Berlin with our luggage. When we arrived in Berlin, we took an interesting tour of the city and then checked in to our hotel where our bags were waiting for us.

    You should enjoy the trip.

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    You need to understand that everything on a tour is subject to change - from hotels to exact itinerary - due to "causes beyond their control" and you have no recourse unless they don;t provide the tour at all. It is perfectly possible when you get your tickets and final itinerary that hotels have changed, times have changed and itineraries rearranged doe to weather, something being closed or whatever.

    I have only take one tour (to Russia when that was the only way to go) and o ne package (London, Amsterdam, Paris for 16 days (with flights, hotel and 1/2 day city tour in each - then on your own) because it was free.

    Based on those experiences (several hotel changes, lots of time wasted waiting for late tour members, really poor food) I will never do a tour again. My vacation time is too valuable to spend doing anything except exactly what I want when - and that doesn;t include a lot of 7 am starts and long days sitting on a bus.

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    I guess my question is if I pay the full amount now (February), and then get my package in August, that's a good six months away...would I have problems getting my plane ticket or tour package? Has anyone done this? Paying far in advance?

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    Another question about going around Berlin itself...I'm interested in visiting the Altes and Pergamon museums. Does the subway get you directly there? How easy is it to navigate the subway system? I looked it up on its website and it looks complicated. Was your hotel in Berlin located close to downtown (or where most of the attractions are)?

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    As I and a few others have stated, Globus is a respectable well-established company. They have been in business over 80 years, and they are not going to take your money and run.

    Please read Globus' Terms and Conditions page; I think it answers most of your questions.http://www.globusjourneys.com/Tour-Globus/Travel-Terms-Conditions/
    For example, they explicitly state:

    "Globus reserves the right to cancel or reschedule any vacation departure for any reason, including insufficient demand. If a vacation is canceled prior to departure, Globus' only responsibility will be to refund the amount received for the reservation."

    And further down:

    "Once Globus has received your full deposit for any vacation departing in 2011 that land vacation price is guaranteed and you are protected against any land price increase due to currency surcharge. Any subsequent cost increases are at Globus’ expense, not including energy cost increases and/or any government tax increases."

    Also:

    "After departure, if the services included in the vacation cannot be supplied or there are changes in an itinerary for reasons beyond the control of the Company, the Company will arrange for the provision of comparable services. Any resulting additional expense will be the responsibility of vacation participants, and any resulting savings will be refunded by the Company to vacation participants."

    If you still are feeling uneasy, or think they may go out of business, purchase trip cancellation insurance separately, not from Globus. You may even want to buy a "Cancel for any Reason" policy. Try http://www.insuremytrip.com/ or http://www.travelex.com/

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    <<Another question about going around Berlin itself...I'm interested in visiting the Altes and Pergamon museums. Does the subway get you directly there? How easy is it to navigate the subway system? I looked it up on its website and it looks complicated. Was your hotel in Berlin located close to downtown (or where most of the attractions are)?>>

    It is very easy to use public transport to get around Berlin. IMO, it is one of the easiest cities to get around for those who do not speak the language as English is widely used, both for signage and transportation. And we have found the residents to be quite helpful.

    We stayed in Mitte close to Museum Island and walked most everywhere. It was very convenient and I have stayed in this area the 4 times I have been to Berlin.

    I have sold Globus for years to clients who prefer traveling on a tour. This past December I had clients traveling with them during the awful snow storms in Europe and they went above and beyond to deal with the issues the weather caused: transportation delays, rising rivers, etc. Because of their size and presence in Europe, they have a great network of hotels and transport companies and this can really be an asset in times of travel challenges.

    I would encourage you to purchase your insurance through Globus as the cost of their cancel for any reason policy is much less than comparable coverage from a third party company IME.

    <would I have problems getting my plane ticket or tour package? Has anyone done this? Paying far in advance?>

    This is not at all uncommon in my experience and I am not sure what kind of problem you are referring to. Work with a professional travel agent if booking a tour. It will not cost you any more to do so and you will have a go to person to help with your questions and concerns.

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    I did my tour in Germany with Globus and I loved it! It's true that there was quite a bit of travelling on the bus, but that's to be expected with all the different places we stopped at along the way. My tour guide was Mike and he seemed quite knowledgeable about the history of the areas we visited and he had a lot of interesting and funny anecdotes.

    I really enjoyed visiting the Museum Island in Berlin. The view at the top of the Neuschwanstein Castle was spectacular. I find that outside of the big cities (Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich), the local people didn't seem to speak a lot of English. Some hotels outside of these cities only have German signs in the rooms and lobbies. The train stations also did not have any English signs that I could see. I took a train from Cologne to Berlin and the train conductor did not seem to speak English.

    I have to say overall, the people I met in Germany are friendly, except the staff at restaurants. Restaurants always seemed to be understaffed and the employees were not too friendly. They didn't seem to care to do much to earn tips. I just wonder if it's common for the local people not to tip much, so the staff don't bother to improve their service.

    I think Germany is a great country to visit and I would recommend it to everyone!

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    They're fine no matter what the nay sayers here say. I did a tour of Germany with Trafalgar. Trafalgar and Globus are very very similar and on a comparable level. They are considered first class tours and use firstr class hotels but their definition of first class might be slightly less than yours, although it really isn't a problem in Germany. Some times, as noted especially during high tourist seasons, some changes in hotel are necessary but usually the new hotel is coparable to the scheduled one. Some times there's a down grade which is something you learn to ber with (not often but some times)..usually if the hotel is significantly lower grade than first class (never a dive btw), they may throw in as "compensation" a free drink at dinner or something like that.

    Breakfast is always included at the hotel and almost all breakfasts in Germany are humongeous with all sorts of breads, cheeses, cold cuts (roast beef, ham, shrimp, herrings), cold and hot cereals, eggs (sometimes omlettes!). Yes the departures are usually very early. There are stops every 2 to 2.5 hours. If it's a travelling day, you usually are on an autobahn and stop at an autobahn service area for the toilet (you will get used to the German phenomenom of a dragon lady although at many of the autobahn stops there are turnstiles to insert the fee for the toilet; at many of the autobahn stops it costs 0,50€ for the toilet but they give yo a discount coupon of 0,50€ to spend on whatever you want. (They're very similar to the autogrills in Italy but much more orderly, after all you're in Germany).

    There will be a lunch stop sometimes in a small town or even a large town where lunch is on your own. You can eat at a sausage stand if you want or do as I do which is look for the nearest McDonald's. The food at McDonald's in Germany tastes and looks exactly the same a the food at McDonald's throughout the world except they usually sell beer as a beverage. Up to you. Also McDonald's in Germany cdan be counted on to have clean facilities although they have ways to restrict use of the facilities to customers only not always but usually or else they too might have a dragon lady (don't yell at me, this is the way the locals refer to these women who sit at the entrance to the toilet and collect your payments but also clean the toiles regularly.)

    Afternoon, back on the coach. A rest stop 2.5 hours down the line...could be again an autobahn service area or some small town depending on the itinerary. Arrive at the hotel between 1600 and 1700. Tour director gets the keys, tells you your room and off you go. They deliver the baggage to your room but some peole prefer to cart their own. The TD will also tell yo the itinerary for the evening.

    If you're in transit from town A to town B, dinner at the hotel will be included. Rarely fancy but again since you're in Germany is it rarey disgustingly bad as I've run into in soe hotels in other countries. Sometimes a buffet with an appetizer (salad), main dishes (pork, chicken, fish) and a dessert. Other times it's a sit down meal sometimes with a hcoice of entrees although sometimes everybody gets the same thing. Drinks are almost always extra at hotel high prices. Water and coffee are included. After dinner, usually you do whatever you want. Take a walk, go to your room and watch television, go to the bar and drink away the night.

    If you're in a big city, there is usually no meal included. But you are provided with optionals which might be, say in Munich, a trip to the Hofbrauhaus and dinner afterwards in a neearby restaurant. They are kind of standard. Are they rip offs? Depends. Can you say get on pubic transport in Munich, go off to the Hofbrauhaus yourself and save money over the optional tour. Probably. Is it worth it? Well if you take the optional, yo get transport to and fro, you stay with the group in a foreign land. I've had good times on most of these optionals in the large cities but it's a matter of personal preference. You might just want to get away from the group. Yet bonding does occur and often it crosses nationality lines. You may team up with couples of peopel your age from all over the world. It's not unheard of, as a matter of fact happens all the time, that say an American family travellng n a tour with two children find an Australian family and the kids bond very well as do the adults. It's amazing how some life long friendships are developed. It's all a matter of the kind of person you are.

    If you are staying for 2 days in a big city (as most of the big city stops are) the next morning you don't have a baggage call. After breakfast you hop on the coach for an included city sightseeing tour, v;ery perfunctory but pretty standard. For example if you're in Berlin, the city sightseeing tour included will usually show you a section of the wall that remains, a visit to what was the East German television tower (watch for the Pope's rvenge if it's a sunny day), maybe or maybe not a trip to the top depending on itinerary, a drive through museum island win what was East Berlin, the Brandenberg gate, a stop opposite the new Reichstag building and a visit to the Checkpoint Chalrey museum. You finish around noon time, the td then gives you a choice. The choice may be an afternoon optional to Potsdam, you do your own thing and go shopping or go back and visit something you might have wanted to see on the morning tour. The TD might suggest places to eat but all over Germany there's almost always a McDonald's. You are told where the coach will pick you up at 1600 or so or you are welcome to go back to the hotel on your own (sometimes you lose orientation; when I did my Germany tour we stayed at the Hildon hotel which is only thrfee or four short blocks away from Checkpoint Charley in what was once East Berlin You wold never know it and until I saw the u-bahn station I didn't know it either). The evening may have dinner on your own (you're in a big city) or another optional. And the next day is baggage out front of your room by 0700, breakfast and an 8 AM departure for the next thing.

    All along the way, optionals will be offered. Some people are shocked to find out there are optionals contrary to what they might have been led to believe that everything is included. Again some people, who are not fans of coach tours such as this, complain about that and call them rip offs. The TD will explain what is included on the optional and you're free to take it or not depending on where you are in the itinerary and your own relationship with others in the group.

    Seats rotate daily on the coach which seems to cause some people difficulties at first. There are always the hogs who think they are better than everybody else and think it should be first come first served. Some TD's post a seating plan with the rotation on the door of the coach, others put slips of paper on the seat s with the client's name on it. Others just explain the rotation system the first day on the coach and expect people of average inteligence to be able to fgollow simple instructions. The most usual rotaton used is those on the left side fcing forward on the coach rotate two seats forward each morning, those on the right side two seats back and when you reach the front or rea of the coach you slide across. I usually assume that is the rotation when I choose my seat the first day and try to figure out where I'll be on specific days. If you are a group of two couples travelling together, on the first day you don't sit side by side but rather behind each other so that stays intact or if you want to meet new people each morning, you decide.

    The regulatios allow porterage of one large suit case per person but usually there is enough room in the boot so that once the luggage is oaded, you can put a smaller "carry on" in the boot. Times are tough, though, and the companies are making a greater effort to fill every seat on the bus. It's a matter of luck I suppose there.

    Most of the coaches are equipped with rest facilities in case of emergency but they're not always available for a plethora of reasons but as noted there are always stops every 2 to 2.5 hours for coffee, drinks and facilities.

    A coach tour in Germany is almost always gong to be fine and as noted includes a variety of highways, roads and sights. Be awayre of the jargon used in your tour documents and itineraries. If it says along the way view such and such a castle, that means as you whiz along the autobahn at 100 km/hour, your tour director will says look to your left and there's such and such a castle. There you viewed it.

    OTOH if it says visit such and such attraction, that means the attraction is already paid for in the money you paid for the tour the coach will stop there, the td will take yo inside buying the tickets and may or may not guide you or tunr you over to a local guide or whatever. If the itineary says why not visit such and such, then it could be an optional or you could do it on your own during a stop say for lunch.

    I think I've covered it. You will have a wonderful time no matter what the nay sayers here suggest. But then again as always it comes down to a matter of person preference.

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    Hi Greywolf,

    Just noticed your post -so glad you enjoyed your Globus trip to Germany. Did you take any of the "optional' excursions or did you explore independently when you arrived at your destinations?

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    xyz - the OP just got back. see the post above yours. he had a great time, apart from the following:

    I have to say overall, the people I met in Germany are friendly, except the staff at restaurants. Restaurants always seemed to be understaffed and the employees were not too friendly. They didn't seem to care to do much to earn tips. I just wonder if it's common for the local people not to tip much, so the staff don't bother to improve their service.>>

    greywolf - i wonder if that was because of the sorts of places that the tour groups stop in? Most German restaurants that I've been to have been fine, but we've been by ourselves, not with a group. i don't think that tipping [or lack of it] has got much to do with it.

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    I also went on the Globus tour of Germany last year with my wife and we enjoyed the trip and we took another Globus tour this year to France. We enjoyed it even more since the tour manager was more witty. As to the optional excursions, the choice is entirely up to the individual but it is usually more convenient though you can also do it cheaper on your own. On those optional food outings, the food itself was OK and nothing exeptional in my opinion since they are in restaurants that cater for tour groups but you pay more for the company and they usually take you on a bonus tour of the area while getting there. Such package tour is an easy way to see plenty of places within a limited time.

    Ronald
    http://germanyholiday.blogspot.com/
    http://my-tourdefrance.blogspot.com/

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