Just putting my two cents worth in on this theme. I think organized bus tours are great to see a country/countries for the first time and when you really don't any idea what you want to do. On a bus tour everything is taken care of for you, city sightseeing tours, some meals, travel from A to B..... On the negative side, if you wish to stay longer in a place you can't. However, it gives you a great idea of what a lot of cities are like and where you would like to spend more time on future visits. On my first trip to Europe I had a Eurail pass and whizzed along from one place to another staying anywhere from a few hours if I wasn't too keen on the place to several days if I really liked it.

Touring vs. Independent travel also depends on your personality and whether you are prepared to go along (and get along) with the group for a week, 2 weeks or longer. If someone is obnoxious, a know-it-all, etc. you're stuck with them!

Personally I prefer to travel independently but have, over the years, taken a few bus tours. The last one was in 1997 and it was a Trafalgar Tour which was great. They don't have that itinerary anymore but the bus driver, tour director and people on the bus were a great bunch of people to spend 2 weeks with. On that trip, I mixed independent with touring spending an independent week in Marktredwitz and Ansbach then picking up the tour in Frankfurt.

The bottom line is that no one way is the ideal way to travel for everyone. It's your hard earned money you are spending so enjoy it in the way you feel is best for you.

Marty (in Toronto)