Thoughts on the RS Tour experience.September 1, 2018 in the Netherlands ⋅ ☀️ 64 °F
Saturday morning, on our way to PDX from Edinburgh airport via Amsterdam. No flight delays, but lots of time to catch up the journal for the past few days and post some wrap up thoughts.
When we decided to visit Scotland, Myj researched a number of tours, talked with friends who had "done it themselves" etc. Ultimately, the Rick Steves tours seemed to have a good combination of planned and free time, and an itinerary that covered most of what we wanted to see. We also liked his philosophy of trying to be as local to the culture as possible. Overall, our experience lived up to expectations.
There is adequate warning that some hotels are quaint and quirky, and some were, but most were very comfortable. They also advise that it is an active tour, which it is. While we saw other tour buses offloading groups at the top of the hill for Edinburgh Castle, we walked the steep winding medieval streets on what one fellow traveler called the "castle death march." But, along the way, we were learning about the history and noticing the hidden wynds (alleys) that the big bus groups missed. We walked between three and eight miles daily, but kept up well (even our oldest tour member, at 76 with some heart and balance concerns). Castle day was the hardest, as well as the stormiest, everything seemed easy after that. We didn't have any problems sleeping!
Our guide, Brian Haye, was wonderful, once you realized his droll and dry humor! He was a great source of information, as well as ideas and advice for exploring on our own. And our coach driver, Colin, was a master of the very quirky roads. He and Dennis quickly bonded over "driver stuff." Colin was a lot of fun as well. We did have an incident when an RV seemed to get worried about a narrow curve and came too far over, cracking the side mirror on our bus, and ripping the entire mirror off his RV. In addition to Brian and Colin, both Edinburgh natives, we sometimes had other local guides with even more expertise on the area or site we were visiting.
As already mentioned, our fellow tour members were great. There really is a "no grumps" policy that RS Tours ask you to sign (you are allowed to lodge legitimate concerns directly with Brian). Some of these folks were on their first RS tour, like us, and some were Rick Steves cult members, having done as many as nine of them.
The "pack light, carry your own bags" was a good thing too. We limited what we took and wore everything (did some sink laundry a few times, took a few things to an overnight launderette once). We even managed to fit all the stuff we bought into the suitcases without even expanding them! We really appreciated having less luggage to handle when we on our own and negotiating the trains, ferries and buses.
Would we do it again? Myj says "yes!" We'll give Dennis (Mr. Homebody) some time and then start whispering ideas in his ear. Ireland? Slovenia and the Adriatic coast? Such a big world!Read more