24 Day Cosmos Grand European Tour

Jan 23rd, 2013, 01:46 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,899
"I see in London and Paris they have 2 and 4 day passes"

I know you are just starting to reconsider things -but whatever you decide DO NOT buy the London Pass. You may not realize this but almost all of the museums and galleries are free and there are much cheaper ways to get discounts for the 'for pay' sites. The London Pass is a real rip off.

(You also don't need a pass in Paris)

>>London, Paris, Venice and Rome.<< would make a very nice 3 week trip.
janisj is online now  
Jan 23rd, 2013, 01:55 PM
  #22  
 
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I think tours like that are probably the reason there are actually people out there who come back and say how much they hated Europe.

Don't buy the Paris Visite Pass, either!
StCirq is online now  
Jan 23rd, 2013, 01:56 PM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
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I had a few free minutes so looked up the websites.

www.vikingrivercruises.com

The new name for Elder Hostel is Roadscholars.

www.roadscholar.org

BTW, selecting several cities such as London, Paris, Venice and Rome would be an excellent plan. As for your wife's desire for a guided tour, these can be easily arranged in any city, and there'll be a variety of options from just a general get acquainted tour to more specific tours. Plus you'll have the opportunity to stay in the city, close to the sights and with a variety of restaurants and lodging options.

If you are considering such an itinerary,it'd would be best to fly open jaw. I'd fly into London, train to Paris and then train from Paris to Venice and on to Rome. This will be a long train trip, but they do have sleeping compartments, or you could break it up with an overnight stay enroute. You'll be able to at least view from the train windows some of the places you will miss. Much better than flying IMO. And,very much better than the Cosmos tour.
historytraveler is online now  
Jan 23rd, 2013, 02:56 PM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 10,302
A typical day on the type of tour you are considering will be like this.....

Day 1
Shower, dress and pack and be at breakfast by 7am with bags outside your room.
8 am on the bus (8.30 if you are really lucky)
Drive to first destination.
Drive to lunch destination.
Fall asleep on the bus
Stop at designated shopping point. NB the guide will keep you all there until hell freezes over if there is a remote chance of a purchase so that he/she gets their %.
Maybe another stop at a site.
Drive to very ordinary hotel on outskirts of town. Attempt to eat almost inedible dinner. Go to room, discover pillows are dreadful and that housekeeping left hours ago.

Day 2 - repeat day 1.

Admittedly on a 24 day tour you will have some stops that are for more than just overnight.

That was my experience of a 4 day tour of the Greek countryside. We met some great people and had some laughs but we wouldn't do it again.
cathies is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2013, 03:33 PM
  #25  
 
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Back in the dark ages, I did this type of tour for my first trip to Europe and for the same reason that you gave. The problem with that was that I loved it all, so I'm still going back to see places in more depth. That would work better for me if I didn't love London so much that I spend my time and money making repeated trips there.

Good luck with whatever you do. It's all good, just some is better than others.
carolyn is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2013, 04:17 PM
  #26  
 
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Agree with carolyn. For a first trip to Europe, a tour will be very busy, but you can do it and enjoy.

We have only done 32 tripe to Europe, 26 driving and 6 tours. Spain in August will be driving.

On the tours, up early, bags outside the door by 7am and perhape leave for the next destination by 9AM.

You are asking people who do not enjoy tours, but millions of people do and have a great time.

For a first time to Europe, a tour is not a bad idea.

For our 50th we took a tour of Scandinavia, even after all our driving trips.

So step back, read all the negitives about tours and then decide what YOU are more comfortable doing.

For tours, you can get a discount as we did in Scandinavia. www.cheapertravel.com
iris1745 is online now  
Jan 23rd, 2013, 04:57 PM
  #27  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 943
Here are a couple of threads on Cosmos tours that you may find helpful:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...s-410343-2.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...s-392001-2.cfm

You can find more info by simply typing "Cosmos Tours" in the search box above. (Note the dates of the threads because some are pretty old).
walkabout is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2013, 05:11 PM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,632
You may get a taste for each country, but the itinerary sounds to me like all you'll taste is vanilla. Even the French vanilla will taste like ordinary vanilla.

I take it, since you hadn't read the itinerary, and "all-inclusive" sounds good to you, and the "wife likes the idea of a tour", that neither of you wants to invest any time in researching what's of interest TO YOU in each of the cities on this or any other tour.

If I'm correct in my assumption, you're best taking a tour. Most of the posters on this forum would far rather travel on their own, but that necesitates looking into lodging, points of interest, dining, etc. Not a major task, but if it's not your cup of tea....

As a side thought: your proposed tour costs $6700 for two in 24 days, plus air (did you notice it's not included?). For the same cost, you could have a far more interesting self-tour.

Why? To me, Heidelberg is not interesting, and not typical of Bavaria. Lucerne...why there? so you can see what a mountain looks like? you probably know already. Avignon...highly overrated. Carcassone...nice big wall...the old city is VERY commercialized. An "orientation" of Bordeaux....does that mean, "That's Bordeaux out the left window"? And Poitiers...
....there are perhaps 400 Frenchier cities in France...who put it on the list, anyway?

Rather than tour versus self-tour, you could consider doing a tour for the Italian part for perhaps 10 days, and self-tour for 14 days. You could, for example spend more than 1 day on you own in London, then take the chunnel train to Paris on your own, then a few days in Paris on your own....you get the idea.

Some of the cities this tour visits never give me a "European" feel. Benelux countries and northern Germany are quite like US cities; only the sounds are different. Your Rhineland stay at Cologne, for example; except for the spoken German, you couldn't tell it from Cleveland.
tomboy is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 12:11 AM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 1
As everyone's said, it really depends on what style of travel you're comfortable with.

If you want to pack lots of sights into a short time, then an escorted tour probably is for you - going it alone is fine, but I would actually say that it's not always cheaper.

When you are going from place to place by train travel in Europe, the costs still mount up - hotels, perhaps taxis from the station to your hotel, etc.

Saying that, you can often have some of your most memorable experiences when you are going it alone - you have to get to know your way back to the hotel, because no-one will guide you there, which makes you pay attention to your surroundings!

If you are considering booking independently, don't forget that there's a Thello night train between Paris and Venice that can be very convenient - saves you a night's hotel stay and you can travel in comfort.

You just have to think about what suits you - would you be confident enough to navigate your way around a train station and get on the correct train? Or does the thought of that fill you with dread?

Good luck!
Hannahtraveller is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 12:56 AM
  #30  
 
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How about a shorter guided tour and then a week or two in other places you would like to see. You could manage London on your own fairly easily.
cathies is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 08:41 AM
  #31  
 
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I have taken 2 tours in my life. (well 3 if you count high school but that is best forgotten!) A 3 week tour of the capitals of Europe: London, Paris, Madrid, Rome and Geneva. We had 4-5 days in each and flew between them so it worked out pretty well - enough time to get the feel of the place. It usually included a half day siteseeing tour then we were on our own. The second was a tour of Ireland - 8 or 11 days I think. It was exhausting and I got sick. We did see a lot but I don't remember much - and I didn't get the 'feel' of Ireland because we really didnt' stay in one place long enough. Now I plan my own trips and enjoy the freedom of picking just the perfect hotel, a nice mix of a few key sites, some shopping, some cafes, etc. I did meet some fun people on the tours, but I wouldnt' do it again.
Vicky is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 09:15 AM
  #32  
 
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For a first time travler, which I was once, a guide is great. You don't need to figure out hotels or transport or whether to go to this end or that at a site to find the ticket line, or read a guidebook while trying to see what's in front of you, or know your way through a train station or even read a map. The trade-offs vs independent have been well expressed in this thread.

Perhaps the solution is a hybrid trip. Pick 3 targets: I would take London, Paris, and an escorted Itly tour of the big three: Venice, Florence, and Rome. Fly into London, have a hotel pre-booked, and then take any of the day escorted tours you can pick up from your hotel. There are a zillion restaurants, and restaurant guidebooks or aps are easy to find. Or do what you feel like on any given day. After all, they do speak English.

Prebook a Eurostar train to Paris, and there maybe have prebooked one of the Paris city packages from an agency, where you get the hotel and tours with guides. Leave a free day for yourself, probably at the end of the stay, maybe by adding a hotel night to the package. Then get to Venice (fly or train). In Venice, pick up a pre-booked Italy tour that guides you to and through the three mentioned cities, including transit. Fly home from Rome, maybe after a free day that you have arranged.

This will get you a much better grand tour, but, with all these parts, you should use a travel agent. Then you will do a LOT better than the original plan, and probably for similar money when all is done and said. Or, with a little luck, your travel agent may come up with an even better plan.
AJPeabody is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 09:24 AM
  #33  
 
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No, they don't need a travel agent! They need some good guidebooks and a bit of help here.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 09:28 AM
  #34  
 
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I agree. A travel agent would probably mess this idea up even more, as most travel agents haven't even been most of these places.
StCirq is online now  
Jan 24th, 2013, 09:53 AM
  #35  
 
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A travel agent is worse than useless. Either they will sell you the few (expensive) things that pay commission - or they will charge you by the hour to develop a trip that may not meet your needs - since you don;t seem to have specific requirements.

If you don;t want to do research at all - then perhaps a tour is the way to go. Just understand up front what it will really cost. the cost quoted is NOT all - inclusive - and yuou could well end up paying 50% more for all of the extras - never mind additional meals/activities,. etc.
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 10:08 AM
  #36  
 
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The only thing I will add is that 24 days is a long time to be on a tour, especially if you have never toured before. I have done several tours, but 2 weeks is about my max. After that, people start getting on my nerves, and the stress of being on someone else's schedule starts wearing on me.

A good combo might be a couple of weeks on tour and a couple of weeks on your own afterward. (Sorry for the duplication if this has already been suggested--I just skimmed through the above responses). I always spent time on my own when I took a tour, and it provided a nice balance between the two.
walkabout is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 10:10 AM
  #37  
 
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Look, the anti tour brigade is out in force on this thread and for the most part, many of the cons are valid. But this particular board is geared towards independent travellers. Tours can work and can work ver well provided you do understand the cons but I'll try to give some pros. I've done a number of tours and for the most part they have delivered whjat I expected because I was forewarned and still had a great time.

You note you're in your 60's. This particular tour on Cosmos might be a bit too long and bear in mind Cosmos is a budget tour operator. I would look into something a tad shorter, perhaps leaving out Spain and would look at both Globus which is the same company or Trafalgar (but not their cost savers). Hotels will be somewhat better, somewhat more will be included, included meals will be marginally better. But Cosmos is very reputable, the hotels although in many cases especially in the big cities a bi out of the way but they will be clean with modern amenities.

As noted, baggage on a travel day goes out at 7 AM, you go down for breakfast. Breakfast varies depending on the country. In most countries of Southern Europe it usuall is very basic. Central and Northern European breakfasts are usually somewhat more substantial.

Onto the coach at 8 AM off you go. There will be a rest stop around 10 AM depdnding on the itinerary usually at what is akin to an interstate rest stop but could be in some small town. You use the facilities, have some coffee and are on the way again. Lunch stop again will be either at a rest stop on the motorway or again in some small town on the itinerary where the tour director (td) will suggest lunch places. (I usually went to McDonald's but that's me). Afternoon same thing. Rest stop about 3 PM and then onto the hotel.

Advantage of tour, you go right to the hotel...if you're doing it independently have to shlep baggage and find hotel. You get your room assigned, go to your room and your bagge is delivered. Score one for the tour.

On a travel day, if you're not in a big city, there will be an included dinner. Usualy very basic and very non Europeanized. If you're in a big city, there will be an optional. They're very standard. For example in Munich (don't now if your tour is going there) a stop at a beer hall (Hofbrauhaus) and then on to dinner. Are they more expensive than you can do yourself? Probably but transport is included with your tourmmates and many of them, at least for me, have been a lot of fun. They may throw in an illuminatin tour or something like that (a boat ride on the Seine if you're in Paris as an example).

Speaking of tourmmates, one of the nice things about these tours is you travel with tourmmates from other English speaking countries, not just fellow North Americans assuming you're from North America. You will bond with some members of the tour who might be from New Zealand or Australia and can make friends for life.

If you're in a big city, the next day no baggage will include the standard quick siteseeing tour of the city (and they are very standard). The afteernoon is either free for shopping, doing your own thing or there will be an optional tour. For example, and again it just cmes to mind, if you're in Berlin, they'll take you to see the remanants of the wall, the East German television tower (and you see the wrath of God on it and it dates back to the Cold War), the Reichstag (outside but a picture stop) and checkpoint Charlie Museum, standard stuff. Is it enough? No, of course not. But then the afternoon will be free for you to decide. Either more walking around on your own, shopping or an optional tour say to Potsdam. The td will arrange a pick up back to the hotel and generally in a big city either dinner will be on your own or another dinner optional.

Just think for a second. If you're not going to do a tour, what are your alternatives. Renting a car? Sure much more flexibility, unquestionably. But as you arrive in each new burgh at rush hour you will curse the traffic and trying to find your hotel and shlepping your baggage from the car to the room and finding a place to store your care fo the night. Trains? A great way to travel but again shlepping baggage, finding the hotel.

Like I said, some of the people here are naysayers on tours and that is their perogative. But as I said, if you know what to expect (yes some long days on the coach, yes optional tours, yes quick pass by places you might wish to stop) but good times ith pleasant tourmmates, clean hotels, no need to worry about baggage. Well the choice is yours.

Like I said, if it were me (and I'm about your age), I'd look for similar tour with Globus or Trafalgar a bit shorter (18 to 21 days). But, as I said, it is not the worst way to go no matter how others think (not that I wish for one second to be critical).
xyz123 is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 11:14 AM
  #38  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
YOU reallt need to decide what you want - judging the pros and cons of each.

You know how you value the budget (figure it all out before you go), the desire to see specific sights, the comfort of having someone else deliver you to the hotel and have the bus waiting for you in the am.

For me, sleeping way later than 7 am is a key part of vacations. as is going to nice restaurants for dinner.

And the idea of sitting on a bus all day with a pack of "tourmates" would drive me mad. My two experiences of this were not good. One tour had a pair of honeymooners who were late - often 30 minutes or more for almost everything, as well as a noodlehead who managed to knock his wallet and passport into a canal in Amsterdam - and was outraged that the whole tour would not stay behind with him an extra day so he could have it replaced.

The other had 3 lone older ladies - who disliked one another - and who decided to cling to me - since they were afraid to do anything solo in their "free" time. It took me 5 days to finally get rid of all of them. And all they did was complain that everything cost too much - and not everyone spoke English.
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 11:15 AM
  #39  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
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I have taken a number of tours, so I am not anti-tour in all circumstances, but I would never take a tour like this. (Nor would I take advice on Europe from someone who eats at MacDonalds by choice in Europe!) I take tours when reaching the places I am interested in by public transport looks problematic, or when I want a break in the middle of a long trip - my last tour was Rick Steves to Bulgaria.

The alternatives to a tour include driving yourself, but are NOT limited to that. One of the great things about Europe is the excellent public transport system. For the cities in which the OP indicated interest - London, Paris, Venice, Florence, Rome - it would be foolish to rent a car.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 11:26 AM
  #40  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Vancouver
Posts: 3,569
The Cosmos tour sounds like Hell on wheels.

I took a Trafalgar tour w/my mother (at her insistance) and
it took me many years before I could control the shudder I
felt every time I saw a tour bus. As we careened along yet
another highway I was often the only one of the 50 or so
awake; even the guide slept.

Although obviously an independent traveller by choice, I have
taken two Rick Steves' tours and they were very worthwhile
and enjoyable.

IMHO, you get what you pay for and the extra money is well
spent for a tour doesn't turn into a trial.
immimi is offline  

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