HELP: Cantonese tours through Europe

Old Mar 12th, 2012, 08:47 PM
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HELP: Cantonese tours through Europe

Hi - my parents are taking their first (and probably last/only) tour through Europe. I have gone many times and have begged them to let me treat them to a trip to the continent I love so much. They have finally agreed, but now during the planning process, I am having frustrations trying to find a suitable tour for them.

They are 55 and 60 years' old, and I worry about them dealing with long hours on a bus. While they are fine with hours of bus, I would like to average less than 5 hours per day. The 7-day tour they found has 3 days of 7 hours of bus and 2 days of 6 hours... and that's assuming no traffic! I'm 30 and don't think I can handle that!

They would like to see Italy and France (Paris mostly), and are open to other countries along the way as well. They prefer architectural sights as opposed to museums and countryside. They would like a Cantonese-speaking tour guide. Adding Spain or London would be nice, but the tour should be no longer than 9 days, leaving the middle/end of May 2012.

I'm more than happy to fly them places, but it seems all the Chinese tours are by bus only and cover at least 3 cities a day. I can't afford to pay for a private tour for the whole trip but wish I could!

Please let me know if any suggestions - I need to book their flights and tours soon!

Thanks!
jenchen223 is offline  
Old Mar 12th, 2012, 09:30 PM
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First of all--unless there are unstated health issues . . . 55 and 60 are not old/decrepit.

Hopefully someone will have ideas for you, but my guess is what you want doesn't exist.

Most any tour of 7 to 9 days by definition is going to be VERY fast paced w/ hours on the coach each day. Throw in the Cantonese guide and you are almost guaranteeing it will be a tour geared to mainland Chinese who are interested in seeing 10 cities/all inc. in 2 weeks.

Have you considered going with them and not taking a tour at all??
janisj is online now  
Old Mar 12th, 2012, 09:40 PM
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I think Italy, France, Spain, and London in 9 days is over the top. How could anyone see anything with a trip like that. Your parents will come home hating Europe because all they will see is looking out of the bus window.

How about limiting the trip to 2 places in 9 days such as London and Paris. Or London and a few days outside the city. That's much more reasonable. Do your parents speak any English? Where will they be coming from?
adrienne is offline  
Old Mar 12th, 2012, 11:38 PM
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Can't help directly, but here's a thought:

The ONLY market for Cantonese-speaking inbound tours of Europe is among mainland Chinese, who have severe visa problems visiting the UK and Schengen on the same trip. Part of the service these tour organisers offer (and the costs they incur) is handling the visa complications. Those tours inevitably are aimed at a target audience very different from most North Americans. Shopping for fashion brands, believe it or not, is a major part of the experience, and "if this is 9 am it must be Belgium, because we're doing Germany over lunch" pretty much summarises the non-shopping component.

If your parents hold US, HK, Canadian or UK passports, this need disappears. There is a quite different industry, based in London's Chinatown, that helps UK-resident southern Chinese with limited English travel round Europe. I'd have thought there'd be similar operations in Vancouver and Hong Kong.

Self-evidently, that industry markets itself in Chinese. Ads seem to abound in London's Chinese-language press (almost all of whose readers speak Cantonese, which is virtually the only Chinese dialect used in London). I can't imagine they're not on the web as well. But finding the agencies requires the ability to google in Chinese - which you're far more likely to have access to than anyone here.

You desperately need to trim the places covered: London and Paris really is as much as makes any kind of sense. You might then easily google yourself to businesses able to provide the help your parents need.
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Old Mar 13th, 2012, 07:00 PM
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I agree that 55/60 is not decrepit! But my parents have lived hard lives, and I think that has contributed to them being an old 55/60 (much older than my fiance's 60/65 parents). It hurts my father to sit for too long.

My parents do speak English - my mom is better, but her English still isn't the best and has an accent. They both do hold American passports now, though. I can't go with them b/c I only have 2 weeks of vacation and am getting married this year as well (reason for the trip is, a couple days before the tour, my parents will be meeting my fiance's family for the first time in Mallorca).

My parents want to see France and Italy, and I only mentioned the other countries b/c I didn't want to rule them out in case the perfect tour went there. I don't expect them to visit all those countries in 7 days, but it seems like these Chinese tours certainly try to cram them in! (E.g. I saw one ad for "A Perfect Ten: 10 Countries in 13 Days!")

My parents are also difficult b/c they want me to plan the trip and don't want to deal with it. Which is particularly difficult b/c my Cantonese is OK, but I certainly can't read or google in Chinese!

Thanks for your suggestions, and please let me know if there are any others. But I think I will have to come to terms with the Crazy & Crammed Chinese Coach tours if I want to give them a Chinese-speaking tour that doesn't break my budget!
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Old Mar 13th, 2012, 07:17 PM
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If your father can't sit for very long how will he survive a bus tour with long days?

How are they getting from France/Italy to Mallorca? Won't that be a problem?
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Old Mar 13th, 2012, 11:44 PM
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That jumped out at me too . . . I agree w/ adrienne. If your father has back or leg problems that make it difficult to sit for long periods, a coach tour would be pure torture. On the bus directly after an early breakfast, off the bus for a short lunch and the odd shopping break - but basically sitting all day long. He won't be able to get off the bus and flex/walk except at the tour's scheduled stops.

Since you can't go w/ them, I'd either put it off an year so you and your new husband can travel w/ them -- OR -- Send them to a city and hire a local Cantonese speaking driver/guide for a few days. This would probably be easiest in London, but Paris might work too.
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Old Mar 14th, 2012, 10:52 AM
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Jen, are you close to any local travel agent that specializes in trips for the Chinese community? There are usually some in any city with a decent sized Chinese population. I'd suggest you go to one of those and sit down talk it through. Plus they can take care of all the logistics including plane fare. This doesn't sound like something you should do on your own.
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Old Mar 14th, 2012, 07:07 PM
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Based on your dad's problems they should be traveling by train - not bus. So he can get up and walk around whenever he wants. Have you looked at using Gate 1 or similar to set up a package for them - with train between cities - and then perhaps a Chinese language day tour in the cities. (I have seen brochures from the major day tours companies - and they seem to do them in a lot of languages. And this would mean shorter times on the buses - and some days with buses - that they can do walking tours or just check things out themselves.

(I do sympathize with people who are old for their age - the first time I visited Russia I was amazed at how old mature adults looks - I was always thinking they were 20 years older than they were - in comparison with my parents - and I think it was just that they had very hard lives for many years. And, perhaps understandably, people tended to underestimate our ages my almost 20 years. When I showed pic of my early 70s parents - people thought they were about 50.
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Old Mar 14th, 2012, 08:01 PM
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STOP,, first of all, the your parents will do better on a bus tour, not by train. Bus tour drivers in EU are required by law to stop every three hours,, for a rest stop. This is for them, not for you, but of course is a huge advantage. They time stops for very nice rest stops, with restaurants and shops. Your father will never sit longer then that, and many bus tours stop every 2.5 hours. The rest stops are in France and Italy are way nicer then what we have here too.
Also, is it really important that the tour be in Cantonese? It makes it alot easier if they can go on an tour geared towards english speakers , the trips for asians are as a rule really jam packed from dawn to dusk with activities.

Look at at Rick Steves tour.. The use the big buses, but only take 24-26 people, so lots of room to spread out. not luxury though , but very nice. Also look at Tauck tours, more exspensive but well reviewed.

Finally ,, I don't care how hard your parents life was ,, 55 is frigging young, I am closer to that then farther and I feel like whooping your a** just for insinuating that is old. Unless they are very fat and out of shape, then 55-60 is not elderly. They may have some limitations,but they are young!
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Old Mar 14th, 2012, 08:38 PM
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I re-read the OP's initial post several times and can't see where she said her parents are "old." What she said was: "55 and 60 years' old." That's just an expression meaning age. You say someone is 12 years old - that doesn't make the person old.
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