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Trip Report: Britain with Grand European Tours

Trip Report: Britain with Grand European Tours

Jan 7th, 2009, 03:14 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 9
Trip Report: Britain with Grand European Tours

I took a tour to England and Scotland this past fall with Grand European Tours and I truly loved it! My husband and I had never taken a tour before but it was really well planned out and saved us from having to drive on the 'wrong' side of the road.

We flew into Edinburgh, Scotland to start our tour. We had a wonderful guided tour(by a guide in a kilt!) of Edinburgh Castle and the town. Time to explore the royal mile and the Scottish Parliament building and princes street and high street. We loved Edinburgh!

We visited York and had a great tour of the minster and then time to explore the walled city. There was even a little bazaar in a park I got to go to and pick up a few souvenirs. We loved just walking up and down the streets and exploring the little shops.

The next day we went to Chester, which is a beautiful medieval city that has a bunch of half-timbered houses and buildings and was so cute to look at. We took a tour of a cathedral here and then explored a bit on our own and found ourselves walking on/in the wall of the city and had a great view from there!

We also went to Castle Howard for a tour of the castle and grounds - it is gorgeous and then afterward we had an afternoon tea with a guide from the castle!

The next day we drove through Wales and visited an old abbey that was mostly in ruins, but quite beautiful in the mist that we had that day.

My husband and I loved Bath. You are able to walk to all the sights you want to see. The next day we did a tour of the roman baths which were really interesting. Bath was just such a charming little town we just fell in love with it!

We also visited Warwick Castle - which was fascinating! We toured through many of the castle rooms displayed with characters and furnishings from the period.

The next day we left Bath and visited Stonehenge In London we had a tour of the city sights, and then a tour of St. Paul's Cathedral and area. We had free time so my husband and I also visited the Tower of London and toured that for a while.

Overall, we enjoyed the experience of traveling with a tour group. There were 34 people on our tour, mostly seniors - we were definitely the youngest in our group ( at 29 & 30) but we didn't mind all and the group all seemed comfortable with socializing with each other. Meals were open seating so we met different people each evening. Some meals were on our own which we enjoyed because then we could explore on our own.

Also, we felt there was good mix between scheduled tours and free time.

The bus was comfortable & had panoramic windows so we had great views, the hotels were all nice and had good rooms and meals, the flights were ok too.

All in all I would definitely recommend Grand European Tours to my family and friends and I hope to be able to travel with them again soon.
Travelin_Liz is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 03:31 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 2,399
First post for you, huh Liz?

Interesting that you're really touting this tour group, especially for your first post on a forum full of people who generally eschew such things.
taggie is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 03:34 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Our first trip to Europe back in 1977 was a tour. We visited London, Amsterdam and Paris. It was a blast. Lots of nice people on our tour with a mix of really good and just so-so hotels. Of course, we were really young too so we didn't care too much as long as we had our own bathroom!

Then we took another tour in 1981 to parts of Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. Again, we really enjoyed the tour and our fellow travelers.

We were lucky both times to have a great tour guide with us.

After these two tours, we felt comfortable enough to travel on our own which we have been doing now for many years.
bettyk is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 03:54 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
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>>>Some meals were on our own which we enjoyed because then we could explore on our own<<<

Would you mind sharing the names of the restaurants and giving them a short review? People are always looking for new recommendations and also appreciate the names of places to avoid.
Apres_Londee is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 04:51 PM
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Gee, Travelin - You sound just like an ad. Nothing wrong at all in the entire tour? (Can't believe that!)
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 04:56 PM
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Is that a mygenie in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?
Apres_Londee is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 09:58 AM
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I have no idea what a mygenie is so I am not sure what you are talking about there.

I just had a great time on the tour and there isn't a whole lot of info on tours online at all and most people dis them so I wanted to let people know that I did have a great experience with them and wouldn't hesitate to take another.

As far as restaurants go, I wasn't paying a lot of attention to remembering the names at the time as I wasn't expecting to have any close friends or family going there soon so I didn't think it would apply. And I hadn't taken into consideration that people in the online community might be interested. The ones I can remember are the Prince of Wales pub in London in the Kensington area - I had a great fish & chips there. And in Edinburgh, I cannot remember the name of the pub but it is located directly across the street from the Holiday Inn and Zoo on the outskirts of town and had a great cozy atmosphere and good food too.

You know, a lot of people get stressed over the details of having to drive around other countries and check in to hotels and attractions....they worry about language barriers and different rules/customs, etc and this can cause anxiety to really make the trip not as good and relaxing and worth it, so for us going on a tour where all the major details were taken care of and all we had to do was figure out how to spend our free time was a really good thing and allowed us to sit back and enjoy the tour.

I am not trying to sound like an ad or anything I just had a great experience and wanted to put it out there for others that might be considering a tour.
Travelin_Liz is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 10:18 AM
Join Date: May 2004
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Language barriers? On a trip to the UK?

So you stayed at a Holiday Inn on the outskirts of Edinburgh? (I'm drawing that conclusion based on the fact that you went to a pub there).

It's just interesting that this is your very first post on here, it raves about a tour but gives no real details, and you seem to have found a lot of the sights "little" and "cute". And generally this forum is used by people who plan their own trips.

I took a tour on my very first trip abroad - it was an OK way of orienting myself, I learned a lot and enjoyed myself enough, but on subsequent trips there was no way I wanted to be trapped on a coach with a bunch of lemmings who were pretty much at least one generation older than me.
taggie is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 10:40 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 542
C'mon Taggie, give Travelin_Liz the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes I travel on my own, a la Fodorites and sometimes I choose a tour - both have their advantages and disadvantages, neither to be dissed. Let's be a little generous here, huh? Seems some Fodorites are ready to jump at a poster on a moments notice. Not good karma.

I had a delightful 2 week tour with Collette Travel back in November of 2007 to Northern Europe with no major complaints. It was a great group of people.

I have debilitating arthritis in both knees and just wanted to be led everywhere without any stress or worry. My knee replacements are coming up in the Spring and then I'll feel confident enough to go again on my own - Paris, here I come!
travelchat is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 10:43 AM
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taggie, not a great welcome for a new poster!

It's one thing to be cynical; it's quite another to insult a poster just because it's their first post.

I agree that the poster should be given the benefit of the doubt.
bettyk is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 10:47 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 12,582
My name is Cholmondley Warner and I go on organised tours.

There's nowt wrong with it.
Cholmondley_Warner is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 11:49 AM
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At first I didn't think this was a advertisement. And it still might not be. Travelin_Liz did post the exact same report on a couple of other travel forums though.

Travelin_Liz: The reason some are just a wee bit skeptical is that very often when someone registers here for the first time and the post is to really praise a tour company or, hotel or, rental agency or whatever -- it turns out the poster works for the company and is trying to slip in an ad disguised as a "very satisfied customer".

I don't think that is where you are coming from - not quite sure why since I'm often in the "pretty darned skeptical" camp. But this explains why this got some of the reactions it did. It is just that usually someone has been around a while before they make a stab at a trip report. So if you are legit - more power to you for being gutsy.

Welcome to Fodors and hopefully you will join in some other threads and discussions. We really are a friendly/helpful group. honest. But we can be very protective of Fodors and defend it against all sorts of threats.

(as long as you are legit - there goes my skeptical side again)
janisj is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 12:37 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,422
It does seem to me that it has gotten a bit stodgy around here lately. There's been considerable critism about a variety of topics without any humour to make it more palatable. I've done a number of tours and some have been great, others not so much. I was really disappointed with a Tauck tour which everyone else seems to think are the absolute best. Thanks for posting and as janisj indicated, if you're legit, we appreciate your input.
historytraveler is online now  
Jan 8th, 2009, 01:04 PM
Original Poster
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Posts: 9
Thank you for welcoming me!

When I was researching our trip we were very apprehensive to traveling on our own (and yes I know they speak the same language in the UK, haha) and we decided to take a tour.

But it can be difficult to find information about different tour companies, especially current info from places other than their websites, the few things I did find were questions about the companies from a few years back. Also, I wasn't very familiar with message boards, blogs, and forums then and as I have gotten more into them lately I thought others might find my info helpful in case they are also considering a tour.

I tried to limit my review to things my friends and family have asked me about tours...such as, did we have free time, were we stuck with old people all day and meals too, were we on the bus the whole time or did we really get out to see and experience stuff, etc...so I tried to answer those types of questions.

In the future I will try to be more specific and not so general with my answers I guess.

Thanks for the words of wisdom though
Travelin_Liz is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 01:27 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 686
Still, I don't quite understand why a young couple would take an old geezers tour. Heck, I'm an old geezer and I wouldn't want to be around a bunch old folk on a tour.

Perhaps it would be different if they went on a youth tour.

I don't condemn tours, like when you do a day trip. We did one to Orkney, but again, only overnight and we were the only ones.
rogeruktm is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 01:36 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
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Hi Liz, glad to hear you enjoyed your trip.

We may be stodgy sometimes but it's only because one of the things that makes this forum so great is the lack of advertising on the boards. Advertisers get zapped around here pretty quick and they can be a very sneaky lot sometimes, pretending to be an actual traveller or "satified customer". For example, an owner/advertiser recently did a drive-by posting singing the praises of something called a mygenie in paris (we don't quite know what that is, either)

So stick around on the boards and next time you go on a trip, everyone will be here to help you get things sorted beforehand. To paraphrase Mrs Doyle, many of us like the misery of researching and planning our own trips
Apres_Londee is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 01:56 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,422
Welcome and you're right about the general lack of information on tour groups. That's because most of us here usually plan our own itineraries and prefer to travel independently. As already mentioned, we do get some who are only endorsing their private business. However, I've not been aware of a well-known travel company such as Grand European Tours to ever be involved in such a practice.
historytraveler is online now  
Jan 8th, 2009, 03:41 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 2,399
Liz, my sincere apologies for jumping on you - but as janis and others have pointed out, there have been some suspicious posts from advertisers and bloggers. Anyway, I hope I haven't put you off. Now that you've been on one trip, maybe you'll have caught the bug and want more, more, more! This is a great resource.

As I said, I took a tour my first trip to the UK and I do feel it was the best decision at the time. I took another on a subsequent trip and couldn't stand it - not the tour company, which was all right (even though the hotels weren't located conveniently to the centre of things and we had to rely on the bus to drop us off all the time), but most of the other people on the tour.

I can play nicely with others though - really!!
taggie is offline  

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