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Best European Tour Company for Two 56'ers

Best European Tour Company for Two 56'ers

May 29th, 2007, 05:03 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
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Best European Tour Company for Two 56'ers

My parents have never been to Europe and would love to - Italy or Ireland being thier top choices. They are not seasoned travelers, and the thought of using the Internet to plan or figuring train schedules frightens them. They really desire and would need a tour company to organize the trip, but also allow them pockets of free time to explore on thier own, relax, etc. Any suggestions of tour companies? Not the highest-end company, but one nice and reputable.
madamepetunia is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 05:08 PM
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Brian Moore does nice trips to Ireland..
I have done Air France Holidays to Italy.. both I have booked airfare and hotels or B & B's.. and have either driven ( Ireland ) or used the trains (easy to understand )..and I am 50 plus...
frugaltraveler is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 05:38 PM
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Why not take a minute to check out the Grand Circle web site? We have traveled several times with them and with their small-group organization, Overseas Adventure Travel. The web site will give you loads of information -- schedules, places your parents would see, free time (generous, we have found), costs, etc. In our trips with GC & OAT we have met many fine people who have developed into strong friendships.
USNR is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 05:39 PM
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Have just returned from a Grand European tour to Italy of 13 days.
Their website is:
Very enjoyable and informative visiting not only the main 3 of Rome, Florence and Venice,but also stops in Orvieto, San Gimignano, Isle of Capri, Lugano, Pompei, and 2 night near Sorrento.
I thought it good value.
maryanne1 is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 05:54 PM
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We have used Grand Circle Tours (www.gct.com) 4 times and are scheduled to go with them again in July on their "Great Rivers of Europe", which is a riverboat cruise from Amsterdam and to Vienna, stopping at towns and villages along the way. All meals are included (although I'm sure we'll try some local fare out while we are on our own sightseeing). They do have some 'included' tours, and several optional tours and you always have time to do things on your own. Check out their website.
mamajo is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 06:10 PM
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I, too, have used Grand Circle and they have excellent guides. One trip I thought would be nice is their Italy trip (Tuscany & Amalfi Coast) which spends several days in Sorrento and several in Montecatini plus Rome. The price really can't be beat. There seems to be time for GC sightseeing plus lots of leisure. The advantage with GC is that the tour guide is available throughout the trip for help/advice. At least that was the case when I spend 2 weeks in Malta with GC (which I hightly recommend).

There's only a couple of Ireland trips offered.
nancy is offline  
May 31st, 2007, 05:13 PM
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thank you all for your responses. i hope my parents can get to travel to europe and love it as much as i do.
madamepetunia is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 12:41 PM
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Globus gives good value for the money, too, and has excellent tour guides.
carolyn is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 02:05 PM
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We have used Globus for Italy and in May,2007 Trafalgar for Germany. Both did a good job. Our opinion is that Trafalgar has great hotels, but Globus is better planned--2nt. stays, inside visits, local tour guides. For Spain next year, we may return to Globus since the hotels (on the Web) appear to be good.
PLM is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 04:28 PM
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I can put in another plug for Overseas Adventure Travel. We've taken many tours with Globus and Trafalgar and been satisfied with both, but since we found OAT, we haven't traveled with anyone else. We like their small groups of 16 or less and guides have been excellent. The price is also right and you get good lodgings and good itineraries. We also enjoy the in-depth experiences with the people that they provide.
PIPERPAT is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 05:18 PM
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SandyBrit is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 05:28 PM
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Would just like to put in a plug for Rick Steves tours: if your folks are active and adventurous, he has an excellent "Best of Europe" itinerary. Small groups, big coaches (everyone gets two seats), and lots of free time if you want it.
azzure is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 05:34 PM
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Answering your question is not possible really without knowing your parents' budget. For top end tours, I recommend Maupintour and Tauck. I know some Tauck tour directors. Tauck really gives their TD's a lot of training and I have been very impressed. That does not mean that other tour companies do not do the same thing, but I am just speaking from what I know.
FauxSteMarie is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 10:21 PM
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I also prefer Grand Circle and Overseas Adventure Travel tours - great tour companies with very good value for the money. (We much prefer them to Globus, Trafalgar, Insight, or Pacific Delight - we've traveled with all of them.)

Also, the pre-travel information packets from GCT and OAT are very comprehensive.

I would suggest that you look for a tour that has long stays in each city. On our last tour with GCT, we had 4 days in Warsaw, 3 days in Krakow, 4 days in Budapest, and 4 days in Prague. By skipping many of the optionals, we had lots of time to explore those cities on our own.

My advice is to avoid tours with one or two night stops, since there is rarely time on those tours to do your own thing, and so much time is spent on the bus.
sandys is offline  
Jun 6th, 2007, 12:24 AM
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If they opt for Ireland, they won't have a language problem
How about getting a travel agent to sort out the flight and arrange an hotel in Dublin.
They could explore the city and if the company is anything like a British one, its local representative will have excursions on offer.
It would be the same if they travelled to Italy.
They could go to somewhere quiet like Stresa, explore the lake by boat and opt for excursions.
I go there often and there is at least one tourist office on the lake front that arranges trips.
MissPrism is offline  
Jun 6th, 2007, 01:52 AM
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Hi M,

>..the thought of using the Internet to plan or figuring train schedules frightens them.<

May I suggest that you have them register here, and let us help them plan their trip?

A. It's about time they moved into the 20th C.

B. Planning can be fun.

C. They are more likely to enjoy a trip that they have planned than a tour.

ira is offline  
Jun 6th, 2007, 08:02 AM
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I have enjoyed trips that I have planned myself just as much as package tours. It does depend on the package tour you select. I do agree with the comment of the person who suggested you look for one that does not move around too much. That becomes exhausting.

I have taken elderhostel packages in Sicily, Russia and Chile--all very good.
FauxSteMarie is offline  
Jun 13th, 2007, 02:22 PM
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Grand Circle Tours does a good job, but their clientele is quite elderly. They do specialize in senior citizens. Just returned from their Eastern Europe River Cruise, and the the average age was about 75. We're in our late fifties and felt like babies. Your parents would probably not be happy
cherikm is offline  
Jun 13th, 2007, 07:45 PM
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Elderly?? Not on my trips. Yes, there was a fellow who was close to 80 but I would say most were 50 to 70. Hey, 70 yr olds are only as old as they feel. The nice thing about these trips is that most want to be there (don't complain about everything) and can keep up with whatever the pace. Also, most of the "older" ones will outpace the "younger" ones
nancy is offline  
Jun 13th, 2007, 08:25 PM
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Several of our friends (ages mid 50s to early 60s) have loved their trips on OAT.

We are also looking at trips from www.roadscholar.com, the younger, active arm of Elder Hostel.

Not everyone gets pleasure from trip planning, and I think you're wise not to try to push them to do something that makes them uncomfortable. The responses they'd get from posting here to get information might be overhwelming to people who don't enjoy using the Internet for trip planning and who are intimidated by figuring out train schedules.

I admire your respect for their wishes and fears.
abram is offline  

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