Subject: Rick Steves Tour
Hi Barb!

How long have you got to hear me ramble!? :) I *loved* the tour. (I loved Europe!) I'll try and answer your specifics but I've also included the link to my travel diary web site where I put my travel diary so you can get specifics (it's not commerical - just to save bandwidth and me typing!)

Accommodation: well it's all twin share. I travelled as a single and was apprehensive having always travelled with a friend or paid the single supplement in the past. There were only two solo females so I shared with Corinne the whole time and was lucky - she was brilliant - a real find and a new friend! However, some of the guys didn't fare so well - 3 single guys plus the male guide rotating and 2 of the 3 were rowdy and snorers by all accounts. The actual accomm rooms - Haarlem: smallish, quaint, well-located, ensuite Bacharach: great character, I ADORED the room, ensuite, the trains didn't keep me awake :) Reutte: great country feel, ensuite, large room Venice: 2 bedrooms shared the shower, our room had its own toilet, small but fine, great location Florence: toilet/shower down the hall (bidet in room!), lots of stairs but heaps of room and great location to Ponte Vecchio Rome: ensuite, huge room, a tad out of the way but we weren't troubled Cinque Terre: single room! great character, lots of stairs, 5-6 women sharing the one room holding toilet+sink+shower was troublesome... Gimmelwald: a dozen sharing the toilet, a dozen sharing the shower, sink in room, HUGE room with view to mountains! water restrictions; that said - I was never troubled Beaune: first hotel-feeling room, did the job Paris: I preferred my left bank hotel but by all accounts the Marais district is a great location, big room, (small breakfast!)

Restaurants: most included dinners were *brilliant* - if not local dishes and tasty then at least filling. I love my food :) and was never disappointed except perhaps Reutte a bit. Bacharach was fantastic. No included dinners in Venice, Florence or Rome. One Venice recommendation was awful/ordinary, Florence recommendations both great (one Rick's the other the guide), Rome organised-but-not- included was *excellent*, Cinque Terre included was great, organised in Castle was great, Gimmelwald included was fine, Paris farewell perhaps disappointing.

Comparisons: I've been on a western USA tour with a friend (SanFran- LA in 7 days through Yosemite, Grand Canyon etc), and a one week Canada Rockies tour travelling solo, plus lots of day tours over the years. So from that experience:

Rick's Best of Europe: took me to all the hot spots I wanted. No other package tour did and I looked at them all - Insight, Globus, Cosmos, Contiki, ... I didn't want a booze-and-bus tour - I was there for the sights and that's what I got! The age content varies - we had a great mix. Having only 26 people on the bus was great - lots of room to move. Some parts were break neck speed though - particularly Rome. Value for money - I paid US dollars at a time when the Aussie hit a record low. All tours say x days when they start in the afternoon Day 1 and finish in the morning Day x so nothing new there. I got 2 nights in almost every stop. It was fast and furious but all up I think I got a hell of a deal!

I've gone on way too long already but if you have any more questions I'd love to help - I hope I answered your questions to date? :) Megan Brisbane, Australia