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Trip Report Insight coach tours of Italy & France

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We’ve been fans of escorted coach tours for quite some time having had some wonderful experiences in Switzerland, Italy and Iceland. I’d been ill earlier in the year and it was apparent that we would only have one more chance of a good holiday together so we decided to lash out on the best that we could find. We settled for Insight Vacations “Grand Tour of Italy and Sicily” together with “Country Roads of France”. The marketing from Insight suggests that they have more legroom and toilets in all their coaches, superior hotels, plenty of inclusions, English speaking tour guides and more leisure time.

They certainly lived up to their claim of more legroom, there was plenty of space on both coaches but the first thing that the tour guide explained was that the onboard toilets were for emergency use only and it was impossible for all the passengers to use them anyway because the coaches could not carry sufficient water. We seemed to spend most of our time travelling along motorways where we would stop for breaks, generally we had to pay at least 50 Eurocents to use filthy smelly toilets of third world standard. The tour guides worked very hard but honestly their English was not up to the standard that we expected, when you hear sentences where a hard A is added to every word it becomes rather tedious when you have to listen to it for two weeks, imagine “we-A will-A now-A go-A and-A have-A tour-A of-A the-A cathedral-A …”, the French tour was similar except that ER was added to each word. On both tours we seemed to spend a lot of time visiting churches and cathedrals, there was little of any value and to see anything interesting was a highly priced optional extra.

The hotels were rather disappointing, most were well on the outskirts of town and were mainly very tired and worn out older buildings. Every room had some problem such as lights not working, safes that would not lock or toilet roll holders hanging on by just one screw. Most had inadequate lighting, two or three low power tables lamps just bright enough to help us not bump into each other or the furniture. My own 24 x LED torch indicated that the décor was way past its refurbishing date and things like the carpets were quite filthy.

Breakfasts were very disappointing. Most of the time we were segregated from the other guests. The cereals were so disappointing, usually something like rice bubbles of some chocolate product more suitable for young children. We ended up buying our own from the supermarket and just using the bowls and milk in the hotels. We normally look forward to a cooked breakfast but most of them offered greasy croissants or stale Danish pastries, certainly not the vegetarian meals that we had expected. Only two hotels had heard of teapots, half a cup of lukewarm water and a poor quality teabag is not a good way to start the day.

In all this was a very disappointing holiday, we had paid a high price for what we though would be quality trips but instead experienced something that might put us off future coach touring.

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