24 Day Cosmos Grand European Tour

Jan 24th, 2013, 11:44 AM
  #41  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I will accept some of the nasty comments for what they were...I did simply point out pros and cons and sort of agreed a 24 day Cosmos tour as described might end up being hell on wheels. I did suggest looking for alternatives.

As far as the McDonald's comment, take it for what it is worth. We were in Krakow (on a tour) with an excellent guide and after the included morning tour as described she was describing possible lunch stops (we were in the main square of Krawkow) getting ready for the optional tour. She described all the "wonderful" lunch stops and the "delicacies" available. All turned my stomach. So sarcastically I said, yeah yeah yeah. Where is McDonald's. She ssaid right around the corner but you don't want to eat there. I said why not. She said how do you know what you're going to get. I said I know darn well what I was gong to get.

So people went off to the local restaurants and many complained about the service and the quality of the food or lack thereof. I went to Mickey D and it was jammed with locals. I walked up and bvravely said I wanted a chessburger royal (which tasted surprisingly like a quarter pounder with cheese and even included the pickle, mustard and ketchup), and fried and a coke. Handed over myu 500 zlotys, got my change and you know something. It was one of the best and most efficiently served lunches on the whole trip.

You can all be snobs of how wonderful the restaurants are everywhere in Europe. Locals find their best lunches are served at McDonald's. Knock it and mock it all you want. You're simply wrong.
xyz123 is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 11:46 AM
  #42  
 
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Oh by the way. Something learns quickly about being on holiday in many European towns. The cleanest facilities, you know when nature calls, is generally found at McDonald's (and Starbucks) and rarely hve I run into this garbage at McDonald's of toilet facilities are for customers only. When nature calls, you'll be glad to see the Golden Arches!
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Jan 24th, 2013, 12:14 PM
  #43  
 
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If you do get to Venice, there are passes for the water taxis. These passes can be bought and used for several days. Much easier and cheaper than individual rides. Just getting on a water taxi and going across the canal costs the full price. With the pass, you swipe it on the reader, and it notes you have checked in. The water taxis are patrolled, and the ticket is expensive if on the taxis without paying.
SanCrz is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 12:20 PM
  #44  
 
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Actually, the cleanest toilets are usually in the poshest hotel. Just walk across the lobby.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 12:31 PM
  #45  
 
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True Thursday...but I've been thrown out trying to use a hotel rest room (usually in large cities). I have never been thrown out of a Mickey D or a Starbucks. (and there are so many that charge you too unfortunately).
xyz123 is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 01:00 PM
  #46  
 
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I did a Cosmos tour about 25 years ago. It was not all bad; actually, I enjoyed it. There are some advantages to a tour - you do get to see many major sights in a very short space of time. For me, it just gave me a taste of what there was to see and experience, and find out what I wanted to return to. (And I did return, although I haven't made it back everywhere yet.) You don't have to worry if you don't speak the language, all that's taken care of for you. You get appropriate cultural information at appropriate times. And you get to meet other like-minded people. You don't have to worry about all the things independent travellers have to, like transportation, accommodation, meals - mostly it's all done for you. There is no dishonour in wanting someone else to do the work for you.

You do have to know what you're getting in to, though. As someone above already mentioned, many parts of the trip are extras you have to pay for, and even though they're optional, you would want to take part, because that's the whole reason you went on the trip in the first place. In some cases, if you decline an activity, your hotel might be in a quiet area where there is no other activity or means of leaving. (In my case, this was the case. Hotels are often out the back of nowhere to get a better price for accommodation.) That may or may not bother you. And all the extras add up to a not-so-budget trip. If you are going on a tour, consider if you might not want to splurge on a slightly better company to eradicate some of these issues.

Lavandula
lavandula is online now  
Jan 24th, 2013, 01:29 PM
  #47  
 
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<>

HAHAHAHAHAHA. Too true.

This is actually true for local chains too (yes, Europeans DO have chain restaurants, it's not all mom-and-pop or single restauranteur operations!). Don't recall the particular pseudo-Subway place in Spain, but it came in handy with a four-year old.
BigRuss is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 01:57 PM
  #48  
 
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xyz123; Made some good points of using a tour. I would only say on the six tours we have been on it has always been luggage out at 7am, breakfast at about 7:30am, but never leaving the hotel before 8:30 or 9am. We have enjoyed the tours we have been on.

Every tour is different, so that is our experience.

When you are on a bus with perhaps 40 plus people, it is no different than every day life. Most will be very friendly and then there will be a few 'laid back' or not as cooperative as one should be on a tour.

If you are a people person, you will have no problem, as you will gravite to friendly people.

I wish you the best in making your decision. But if one partner is not sure of independent travel, [your wife] do the tour.

Bottom line, you have come to the wrong forum to ask about a tour. We are basically independent travelers and make every attempt to discourage tours. You have heard very few good ideas about tours.

But as I have previously suggested, millions of people use tours every year.
iris1745 is online now  
Jan 24th, 2013, 02:46 PM
  #49  
 
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The OP has no need for a pass in Venice. they are not staying in Venice - but on the mainland - and will have only a few hours there anyway.
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 25th, 2013, 06:38 PM
  #50  
 
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We did a 23 day tour in October, 2001 of the British Isles with Globus and the first three replies to your post summed it up to a T. The guide never stopped talking, couldn't understand why the Irish and Americans had flags flying from every home, and told any of us who were talking to be quiet while she was talking. All the negatives listed above are true and we said never again for a bus tour.

We did do a trip to Switzerland with Untours, but they would not be suitable for the coverage you are planning. It did teach me that I too could plan trips and we had very sucessful ones in the Netherlands and France.
ronkala is offline  
Jan 26th, 2013, 01:46 PM
  #51  
 
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We have done only 2 guided tours, both with Smartours. They were to Israel/Petra and Vietnam/Cambodia. We did this because logistically it was easier to navigate. While we did enjoy both tours, it does get tedius having to be on a regimented schedule during what should be a vacation. I am not sorry we took these tours because it made getting from pint A to point B easier, but prior to those and upcoming this spring (Barcelona, Seville and Madrid) we are going independently. We find that the major cities in most of Europe have very good public transportation. Once we get to a particular site, we can book tours, i.e., the Colloseum. As other have said, I would either do a better quality, shorter tour with more time in each destination, or do it independently. We are also "budget" minded travelers.
floridagal2 is offline  
Jan 26th, 2013, 02:58 PM
  #52  
 
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Ronkala, we had the exact opposite experience in September 2001 with a 28-day UK Globus tour. Our guide was Irish and a former history teacher who was absolutely wonderful. My husband didn't want to drive on the "other" side of the road and doesn't know a lot of British history, so this worked quite well for us.

We were in London on September 11 and the docent told us of the attacks when we finished our Westminster Abbey tour. That was a downer for sure, but everywhere we went people were so kind when they heard our American accents. The Mayflower Steps in Plymouth were knee deep in flowers.
carolyn is offline  
Jan 26th, 2013, 03:06 PM
  #53  
 
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I didn't read all replies so if someone already said this, sorry.

My husband and I went on a tour. Covered a lot of miles, didn't see much except for Rome and Pompeii.

Tour guides get spiffs from every place they stop off so you can shop and so you'll get to see a fair share of "factories."
Plus, you can eat a lot of food that in no way resembles what you'll actually eat.

Your plan to just do a couple of big cities is a good one.

FRIENDS DON'T LET FRIENDS TAKE TOURS. Around here, that extends to newbies

Welcome
LSky is offline  
Jan 26th, 2013, 03:17 PM
  #54  
 
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Again, everything is a trade off. Are tours perfect? No, of course not and many of the cons noted here are quite true. But in many cases, tours can be great. Some of the things are sometimes exagerated. Yes, there are stops at places where the td and the coach driver get a kick back. So it's simple. Don't buy there. Sit down, take the offer of a free cup of coffee and clean facilities. Is time limited in various places? Absotively. Are included dinner gourmet? Of course not. But then again, some people don't necessarily go on a tour to eat a gourmet dinner every night. Some people's digestive systems can't take strange foods. To others, it's a delight. Some people are very interested in the history of the places they are visiting. On one of my tours, I learned a great deal about the history of northern Italy and the relationship with the Austrian tyrol from the td, something I might have missed doing it iindependently. The same is true of the perpetual battles between Italy and France regarding the area around the French Riveria and how much it resembles Italy. Then there was the Irish tour and the political correctness of the Irish td referring to Northern Ireland as the part of Ireland still "illegally" controlled by the British, good naturedly for the most part but...

Others might not like that. I try not to be dogmatic about these things (there was a time in my life I was). Nothing is purely good, nothing is purely bad.

The tours I have been on , on the whole, have been great and useful. The first tour I did was very hurried but it taught me where various places were in some of the big cities. My td taught me how to ride the metro in Paris, how to ride the buses in London. Others might not like that.

I can recite A to Z things you miss out on tours and many here have nailed them. And I agree; the 24 day cosmos tour might not be everybody's cup of tea for all the various reasons noted. But for anybody to say dogmatically tours suck period, well that isn't true. They can be a very good way of meeting people, of getting an introduction to different cultures and the like. People should have a somewhat more open mind about these things.

JMHO for whatever little it may be worth.
xyz123 is offline  
Jan 26th, 2013, 04:24 PM
  #55  
 
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FRIENDS DON'T FORCE PEOPLE TO DO SOMETHING THEY MAY FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE DOING.

Let them decide and not be FORCED into something they may regret.
iris1745 is online now  
Jan 26th, 2013, 07:01 PM
  #56  
 
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Xyz123 has a decent point: There are good tours and good aspects to ordinary tours. That's why I suggested doing the place to place independently and booking tours individually at the chosen destinations. That way there would be no lock in to what may turn out to be a single tour with no way out if it turns out less than satisfactory, while being sure that the hotels are your own choice of location and quality.
AJPeabody is online now  
Jan 26th, 2013, 08:40 PM
  #57  
 
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Has anyone noticed that the OP hasn't been back in 3 days?
adrienne is offline  
Jan 26th, 2013, 09:00 PM
  #58  
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We really appreciate all the info we have received. We are budget minded and like the simple life. We have stayed in just ok places and really nice ones too. We are usually not in the room very much. We have taken many cruises and here in the states road trips on occassion. We don't mind the ride and the countryside or cities are all interesting to us.
We know we would not see a whole lot in any one city. And maybe not a key place in some of them. As has been said it could just be a drive by. And we are ok with that also.
We are not big in to the night life scene. So being out at night a lot is not important. Some nice meals out of the hotel and back to get rest for the next day would be ok.
We are active to a point. I use a cane to help me get around and I do real good with it. And I can not lift a lot so having the luggage moved around would be great.
I do have a concern about the bus. Will they have a working toilet on the bus? And I see some companies advertise wi-fi. Do they all have it or just a few.
I took a look at Steves tours and they look great but too active for me. They rate the tours as to how strenuous which is very helpful for me. I can walk for a while and then need to rest. And I can do hills. We went to Japan for 6 weeks a couple years ago and stayed with a friend. If it was not for her, her car, her knowledge of how to navigate around the country and the fact we did not speak any language we would have had a horrible time. But it was great. Of course we had a couple places to stay to use as a base before going south to Hiroshima or north to Nikko.
And we know that there are optional tours and not much is included. And that they will cost whatever they charge. We have cruised a lot and have taken tours at the dock. We have pre-booked them before the cruise or gotten them wherever we stopped. And it was all good.

If my wife felt more comfotable with driving or even taking the train I would plan the trip. I agree with you all that it is not hard. But with the limitations I described it would be more of a challenge and take the fun out of it for both of us.
At least that is what my wife tells me. And all the time I usually drive so I don't get a chance to see as much as I would like to anyway.

The Cosmos tour is a 24 day tour that originates in London and ends in London. The Grand European with London 2013-June 12, 2012 departure.

http://www.tourvacationstogo.com/cos...cfm?npid=33899
Cost is $3472 plus air. We live in Ft Lauderdale. I saw that we can get non-stop flights to London so that would be great.
No layovers, less chance of getting luggage lost. I figure around $1400 each for air.

Another alternative would be a cruise. We would get a taste of Barcelona and then Venice staying in each for a few days plus the cruise. We would miss out on Paris and London but we could do that on another trip. Sure the excursions and all would cost extra but it would be the same if we did the bus tour. I would upgrade to a balcony or at least outside.

20 DAYS from $2699
APRIL 18 - MAY 7, 2013
MAY 12 - 31, 2013
FREE AIR*
Your journey begins with your overnight flight to Barcelona.
After arrival in Barcelona you are transferred to the quaint,
seaside village of Lloret de Mar for your included three night
stay. Next you are transferred to the pier to board the 85,700-
ton Carnival Legend. Your 13 day cruise takes you to Palma de
Mallorca, Marseille, Olbia, Livorno, Rome, Naples, Messina,
Dubrovnik and Venice. Upon debarking you collect your
luggage, clear customs and then transfer to your First Class
(3-star) Venice Lido hotel for your included three night stay.
Finally you are transferred to the airport, and return home with
wonderful memories of your Grand Mediterranean cruise tour.

I look forward to hearing from anyone who would like to give input on these ideas and again we do appreciate the input but don't wish to get people upset with our planning. Just looking for some others opinions!!
Thanks,
Stu and Susan
floridastu is offline  
Jan 26th, 2013, 09:31 PM
  #59  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,878
Floridastu: That helps. W/ the info you've given us about yourselves and your travel style - I still wouldn't recommend those land tours. Really fast paced and expensive for what you get.

But the Med cruise sounds just up your alley. Day tours in the different ports of call but a leisurely 'home' back on the ship. I don't usually recommend cruises to 'see' Europe, but you will get a taste of several areas along the Med plus a nice stay over in Venice. That would be a very good option for you IMO . . .
janisj is online now  
Jan 26th, 2013, 09:34 PM
  #60  
 
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Posts: 63,878
. . . And you wouldn't have to touch your luggage for days . . .

On the land tours you have to pack and put the bags in the hall almost every single morning . . .
janisj is online now  

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