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Anyone ever flunk out of a Grand Circle tour?

Anyone ever flunk out of a Grand Circle tour?

Old Aug 10th, 2014, 05:54 PM
  #281  
 
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IMDone . . . You need to get w/ the program . . .
The first tour was Italy -- the second tour was supposed to be to Germany • Poland • Czech Republic • Hungary

twoteachers: That's great they refunded the second tour.
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Old Aug 10th, 2014, 06:10 PM
  #282  
 
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I must admit, I did not read all 280 entries, including mine.
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Old Aug 11th, 2014, 06:08 AM
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I am happy for you that they refunded the second tour. Good luck with getting something back for the first one.
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Old Aug 11th, 2014, 10:09 AM
  #284  
 
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We're cheering here. You were a hero in this household.

I thought of you as I was struggling up and down Venice bridges...kept muttering to myself, "Just MAKE IT WORK like 'twoteachers' you wimp."

Great job!
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Old Aug 11th, 2014, 10:11 AM
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Glad to hear about the refund, well done!
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Old Aug 11th, 2014, 10:14 AM
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I would love to hear more about your travel after the tour, if you have time!
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Old Aug 12th, 2014, 04:44 AM
  #287  
 
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Great news! Your determination paid off in BOTH ways!
Kudos to you
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Old Aug 12th, 2014, 04:23 PM
  #288  
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CATHINJOETOWN, your interest has motivated me to tell a little more. I have to admit, and I guess I will again be maligned, I have been surprised by the freedom some people feel to assume deception, psychotic interludes, stupidity, and any number of other disorders or maladjustments in a simple request for advice in a difficult situation.... (Ah, perhaps it is projection on their part.)
That makes me hesitate to make myself vulnerable again. For ex, I was very moved by my visit to Auschwitz, as I knew I would be. I wrote a reflection about it, but dare I share it here? Some might appreciate it, but do I want to be attacked for something so personal? Who needs that?
Anyway, I went to Berlin, Krakow, Prague and Budapest, only missing Warsaw of the cities in the GCT tour. I would've preferred Warsaw to Berlin , but that was my air and I couldn't get GCT to change it. What I thought was rather absurd was even though my 2nd tour was canceled, no one at GCT bothered to tell those tour people, so someone met my plane in Berlin. I told them I had canceled, but somehow I did end up with a free night in a hotel while they scrambled to figure out what was going on. I found lovely hostels in Krakow and Budapest, Words and Swords and Traveler's Hostel, each with exceptional owners. The hostel in Prague was fine, though not located as well, but is closing in a month. I met so many great people traveling on my own that I would never have met on a tour. A chemist in Paris who gave me a place to stay when my couch surfing host canceled, a young professional violinist on the train, a senior Jewish lady whom I sat next to on a bench in Prague and we discussed how it felt for her to visit Berlin , a young man all night on the train whose grandfather had survived a concentration camp, and he had just visited Auschwitz also, plus the village where his family had lived, a great family from Sicily as we marveled that they completely close the rest rooms at the Eiffel tower from 5-6, and here it was 5 ( or 1700). I loved the Eastern European cities and am at home wishing I had had more time or had been young and agile enough to cover a lot more territory each day, but I am so glad I went there.
In Switzerland, I took 3 lovely cable car rides to the summit of Mt Titlis, hoping to walk across the highest suspension bridge in Europe. ( I can hear the naysayers now.) I was with my couch surfing host, and it was a lot further from the last cable car to the bridge than had been reported in the ads, and this across ice and snow which would have been ok except there were slippery hills. We were right there, but, alas, we were informed that the last cable car leaves in 25 minutes, and we knew we would be hard pressed to make it in time, so we had to forego the bridge. My consolation was that there was a virtual whiteout and visibility was nil. It was remarkable to go from a warm summer day to a whiteout in 45 minutes, so it was still good. I had one of my best days in Switzerland with a man I had tutored in the US and lives in Zurich. He took me to a charming medieval town, Stein am Rhein, which I had never heard of but became a clear favorite.
Paris and I did not do so well. Lots of logistical problems, rain at the worst times, too much time on the internet trying to problem solve, my cane broke so that I fell, awful day at Charles de Gaulle, so I am ashamed how little I actually accomplished there, but I did meet some lovely people and finally got to St Chapelle, the Cluny museum, and some other great places. C'est la vie.
On this trip, I dared to ask some of the people who helped me if I could take their pictures, and their faces would light up every time. Those people and faces are some of my best memories and such an affirmation of goodness all over the world. "The world is so full of a number of things, I think we should all be as happy as kings."
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Old Aug 12th, 2014, 05:27 PM
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Bravo!
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Old Aug 12th, 2014, 05:41 PM
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Thank you for sharing your experiences. It looks like you had a wonderful time. I would not worry about missing Warsaw as it was not a favorite for me.

Can you tell me about Words and Swords. I looked at their web site and they show dorm rooms. Did you share a room or are there single rooms in this B&B?
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Old Aug 12th, 2014, 07:36 PM
  #291  
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Adrienne, it is small with one private room where I stayed. I had a large room with a double bed but a shared bathroom which isn't my first choice, but I did feel totally comfortable. It is newly opened by a brilliant host who makes everyone feel special--newly opened because her previous place the owner decided to sell. I did not feel self-conscious being 68, all ages felt welcome. The location is wonderful and the internet worked perfectly in my room. If you need fancy, this isn't it, but if you value feeling welcome and at home far from home, this is perfect.
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Old Aug 12th, 2014, 11:28 PM
  #292  
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You saw and experienced some wonderful things, and even in that brief summary, you reminded me of some favorite moments of my earlier trips to these locations. Thanks so much! I'm truly glad you stuck with it -- you are an inspiration!
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Old Aug 13th, 2014, 01:17 AM
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So glad things overall worked out well. Your solo tour sounds much richer than staying on with Grand Circle. Well done!
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Old Aug 13th, 2014, 04:25 AM
  #294  
 
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Thank you for sharing your story from beginning to end. I think I have always assumed that a tour would be best for people who are older or have limited mobility, but this has made me aware that it might be the other way around. Although I imagine that many people would not be able to take the independent route that you took here. In many ways your trip was more challenging than the tour and required a great independent spirit and sense of adventure, as well as a willingness to go outside your comfort zone. And it sounds like you reeaped great rewards for your efforts.
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Old Aug 13th, 2014, 04:28 AM
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Thanks for the information on the Krakow pension. The locations looks good and the price is right.
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Old Aug 13th, 2014, 06:16 AM
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Well, we enjoyed our Eastern Europe tour a couple of years ago with GCT with an excellent former Communist tour director full of much info. Thing is, when you travel on your own you may not really appreciate what you are seeing. We had many enlightening stories along with lectures. When a girl Agnes' parents did well in Communist Poland, father working in gov't but not a party member, mother in travel business and was. Come free Poland things much changed. One thing is now her retired parents are struggling...gone are the "good old days" and now we have "better new days." More personal freedom and better economy and tourism but also struggles for pensioners and farmers and more crime and drugs.
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ral-europe.cfm

Come October we will travel to Spain & Portugal...our ninth GCT. In our 80s we keep going as long as we can. This will be our 14th overseas trip.
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Old Aug 13th, 2014, 07:14 AM
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It is helpful to have guided tours and I think they enhance a trip. When I went to Poland I booked private guides (2 full days in Krakow and 3 hours in Wroclaw) since private guides there are very affordable.

Sometimes I want to book tours and leave everything to the tour company but I find I get more out of a trip when I do the planning myself as I'm forced to do more reading about the places I'm going.

Nikki - The people on GCT tours I took were very fit and active (they were mostly in their 70s and 80s) and I think the same is true of Road Scholar trips. Perhaps the idea of people taking tours because they are not so mobile is from a few decades ago.
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Old Aug 13th, 2014, 07:15 AM
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I'd like to know more about couch surfing as I'm a bit inhibited to try it. How did you find the places to stay and what type of people offer these accommodations.
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Old Aug 13th, 2014, 09:36 AM
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Added thought. We have indeed traveled on our own all over the US and sometimes overseas such as South Africa with son as a guide, also some earlier in Ireland & UK & Spain. What I want to add is the importance as you all know of studying up on what you are seeing before and after. And for me not worrying about where to rest my head.

I agree with comments about GCT and RS participants being older but mostly active, though some with canes and walkers. However, a trend for including younger ages...just such good bargains. Yes, it is more of how you choose to travel.
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Old Aug 13th, 2014, 11:35 AM
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Couchsurfing is a website, you can go and look, it is public. You do have to sign up, though, you can't just browse withotu signing up. It's mainly younger people, but it is a community, not just a place for people to freeload and get free places to stay. That means you are supposed to host others who come and stay with you, and they are very vocal and participatory. Kind of like some Fodors people or some Fodors boards. They even have meetups in some cities, it's a whole thing. And you rate each other (hosts rate guests and vice versa, that is public, I think). In short, because you are getting "free" places to stay (not sure if you are supposed to chip in or are asked or what, but they get around some legalities by claiming it is free), people will decide whether they think you are cool enough or not to stay with them, or interesting, or whatever. The local hosts may just be the kind of people who like meeting others and often spend some time showing them around. That is very time-consuming, obviously, which is why it tends to be a certain kind of people who can do that.

A friend of mine used to work there, it's a little disorganized in terms of mgt and has had a rocky last couple years internally/financially, but just go and check out the website to get a flavor. YOu just have to sign up on it, but aren't obligated to do anything.
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