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Linda Sep 24th, 2002 04:20 PM

Last Time to Tell of Bad Experience
I've receive tons and tons of emails from people asking why I shut down my site detailing the problems we had on the Far&Wide (Grand European) trip to France and Italy last summer. My hosting service for the site expires at the end of the month and I don't wish to incur any further expense, so I promised I'd share one last time some of the details of the trip before closing it out completely. Here it is....for just a few more days. The sting of the problems have certainly worn off and the memories of the great cities we visited have remained. But, as the saying goes, "Live and learn." We did both.<BR>

Elena Sep 24th, 2002 04:40 PM

Although the seats on the bus look cramped, why did you not bother to opt for the seats in the very back of the bus so that you would have some space and comfort? Even with the daily seat rotation, I would guess that your fellow passengers would not have minded you sitting in the rear.<BR><BR>It also appears that nothing was going to make you happy and that you had developed a negative attitude at the very beginning of the tour. The reason I say this is that I have been on tours before, and never have I bothered to take the series of photos that you did. Also, except for mentioning the "no seating zone", you never mentioned anything at all during your trip that was good.<BR><BR>Lastly, you knew what the itinerary was before you purchased the tour. Why did you not check the mileage between each departure and arrival point? Only you can blame yourself for purchasing a trip such as the one that you went on. <BR><BR>You posted this information once before, including the URL, and I seem to recall that Fodors deleted the thread. So, why are you posting it again? Get over it already. I don't have any sympathy for people that dwell on the past, even if you had the misfortune of having such a bad time. Even in the worst of circumstances people try to make the best of things. <BR><BR>Lastly, your fellow passengers complained about you and your entourage -- doesn't that speak volumes about you?

James Sep 24th, 2002 04:59 PM

Damn, hon, what a bitchfest! Yeah, there is a little empathy for getting taken by a snake-oily tour firm, but there also is a fair share of disdain for your lack of research.<BR><BR>Move on, I say. Maybe next time plan and do an independent trip the way many of us do -- much more rewarding and educational.

a Sep 24th, 2002 05:55 PM

Linda, thanks for posting this. For people who might be considering this tour, this is very valuable information.<BR><BR>Elena, if I was having this much trouble on a tour, I certainly would have taken pics to help my argument for a refund! Their brochures talk about the spacious, comfortable busses...obviously not true!

xxx Sep 24th, 2002 05:56 PM

don't recall seeing anything about this before, but just read this report. I don't get it. sounds like you got a typical tour that was apparently just the way it was advertised (except they always make it sound wonderful). it was a tour, for Gawd's sake, what did you expect?

Linda Sep 24th, 2002 06:09 PM

We did research the distance between cities. No, we did not research the location of their "central" hotels. We have taken other tours in the past (CIE, Bennett, Tauck, Am. Express) and never had a problem or any complaints. Naturally, we assumed that this would be equally as comfortable and enjoyable. Needless to say, we didn't realize we booked a second-class tour. But, we learned a good lesson and are looking forward to our next trip.

Linda Sep 24th, 2002 06:13 PM

By the way, there were 16 people who left the tour on the outskirts of Florence with us rather than staying with the tour and there were many, many other very unhappy and complaining people (you should have heard the complaints when we arrived in Venice!!! We were the quiet ones.). We were certainly far from the only ones terribly dissatisfied! But, like you said, it is time to move on! Next stop, the Galapagos Islands!!

Jo Sep 24th, 2002 06:15 PM

Actually xxx, all tours aren't like a coach trip to hell - I've been on 1 with another company (I do also travel independently regularly if you are wondering) & it was an enjoyable AND comfortable way to travel - nothing like what Linda had to endure (plus the included food was better than I had expected. It was a trafalgar 1st class tour of France.

sstone Sep 24th, 2002 06:15 PM

Linda, I am sorry. I am sorry you had such a terrible experience. I am sorry that you have such bad memories of what should have been such fun.<BR>But I have to say that reading that web page of yours and reading it to my husband, made the two of us laugh so hard!<BR> The idea that you actually took pictures of the turkey and peas just cracked me up! And Yes! you are right, that is NOT Tiramisu! <BR>I kept thinking that this was a joke, it was so awful and funny at the same time. <BR>I hope this helps some people, those who rely completely on tour companies and guides for every little step of their vacation, we all need to be a little more self reliant I think, after reading of your experience.

xxx Sep 24th, 2002 06:27 PM

I get brochures from Grand European and it doesn't take much intelligence to figure out that they are not deluxe. You mention Tauck. Wasn't this one a whole lot cheaper than Tauck? If not, then why wouldn't you have gone with a better company?<BR>I would never go on a tour without checking out the hotels, they are too important as far as I'm concerned. Did they tell you that the Holiday Inn was a Nice beachfront Hotel? Why would you assume it was? Did you look where the hotel was in Paris? Did you check out the hotel in Venice? Those are must do's when looking at any tour brochure.<BR>Why would you have assumed that the tour included a winery tour? Was that in the brochure? Had anyone else on the tour been to Paris before? If so, I bet they were glad that the tours were all optional so they wouldn't have to pay for something they had already done, as many people probably had. <BR>I agree with the other posters. You did a very poor job of researching this tour in advance. I'm sorry for you that it was so bad, but at least you must have had a lot of fun taking all those pictures of the seats that were comfortable enough for everyone else that they complained bitterly about you.

Empathy Sep 24th, 2002 06:34 PM

You have probably learned two lessons. !) Some tour companies are lousy. 2) People on the Fodors board are not sympathetic. They will mock you and treat you badly. <BR><BR>I am one person that agrees with you.

Linda Sep 24th, 2002 06:46 PM

xxx. You are right. We did not research the tour well at all. Obviously. And, yes, we paid more for the Tauck, but not the Bennett in Scandanavia or american Express in Italy. We also had a great trip through Scotland and Ireland with CIE 2 years ago. We took the Far & Wide tour because we liked the itinerary and did not realize it was a "budget" was not especially cheap. And, yes, we have learned a lesson and in the future I will research trips more thoroughly! Maybe my experience will teach others to research their trips carefully and also consider independent travel. Bon Voyage!

Linda Sep 24th, 2002 06:48 PM

Empathy,<BR><BR>Let them mock me all they like. I have a 15 year old daughter and a 16 year old son. I'm used to it! &lt;grin&gt;

zzzzzz Sep 24th, 2002 08:59 PM

My question is why do you take so many tours? By now you should be able to do it on your own. I can see someone taking a group tour cattle car, ONCE. But to take them over and over again would indicate you are the type of traveler who needs taking care of and really "never leaves home". Do you need someone to hold your hand every step of the way??????????????

xxx Sep 24th, 2002 09:14 PM

I don't really understand why people go on tours at all. We did once, under very special circumstances, but even though it was "nice" in most respects, we swore we'd never do it again. Too many very early morning departures, not enough control over how we spent our time. No option for staying an extra day somewhere unexpectedly fascinating.

Santa Chiara Sep 25th, 2002 12:46 AM

Thanks, Linda. This is the funniest thing I have read in ages. I don't know what you do for a living, but with your attention to detail and your ability to write humor (I especially enjoyed the section on the verbal abuse in and around Pisa and the Italian meal in Mestre) should make you qualified for unique positions.

xxx Sep 25th, 2002 01:18 AM

How awful! I've never been on a tour and now I know why! How much did you pay for that? I can't believe a hotel in ITALY would serve that awful meal and call it Italian food! (It was pretty funny, though.)

Linda Sep 25th, 2002 03:39 AM

ZZZZ: We have taken a lot of tours and cruises because of the number of people traveling in my family many times (6 to 8). Also, my mother (who is often the hostess) is now 80 and many companies in Europe will not rent cars to people over 75. She also does not like to handle her own luggage and likes us to be free from that task as well (she's a real old-fashioned traveler from the days of porters). We have also taken many cruises, which we love (especially last winter we went to Tahiti on the Paul Gaugin - what a fabulous trip and a very good $ deal - the RSSC is an incredible line - now THAT'S service!). My husband and I always travel on our own when it is just the two of us. The trip last summer was with my mother, my daughter and my daughter's friend, which put a pretty big responsibility on me. We did rent a car at the end of the tour in Milan and drove up to Como and Bellagio for a few days. Ah, Bellagio. How beautiful! Happy travels.

Hee Sep 25th, 2002 06:42 AM

Your complaints looks legitimate (although, granted, some of the problems could have been avoided with some research on your part, but not the bus itself). Nevertheless, one can't help to wonder why a number of other tour members found reason to criticize you (instead of Far and Wide). Surely they would address their anger at the tour company, rather than you. It sure would be interesting to hear their side of this.

xxx XX Sep 25th, 2002 06:43 AM

yikes! i would be dissapointed too. that turkey 'meal' sure looks terrible! linda, were you told that your hotel would be in venice? how much did you pay for each adult for this trip (if you don't mind me asking)?

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