We have recently returned from a guided coach tour in Europe. This is the second such tour we have done in Europe but with an interval of almost 18 years in between. I recall before the first tour having some doubts about the whole concept of guided tours in general, as opposed to “Eurorailing” or being totally independent in a hire car. Yes, you are not fancy free to linger longer than allowed in any given area and you do have to get up and leave at a set time on travel days, but these minor inconveniences are more than offset we feel, by the advantages afforded in a guided coach tour.
The itinerary chosen will encompass areas of special interest to tourists, all you have to do is make an appearance, at the appointed place, at the appointed time, and settle back in the comfort of a modern air-conditioned coach to be driven around your chosen destinations, accompanied by educated commentary on the history and features on any given location. No frenzied map reading or worries about driving on the opposite side of the road to which one has been accustomed for a lifetime. Eating stops, overnight accommodation and tipping all looked after by someone else and in the case of the destinations of primary interest, ample free time is usually allowed for.
There are a number of companies to choose from and a dizzying array of tours offered by each company. We began with an idea of the general area we wanted to cover and the length of time we could afford to devote to it. After lengthy consideration, we settled on a Trafalgar tour beginning and terminating in Munich, called “Imperial Europe” which took in Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Austria over 10 days.
We arrived in Munich some 24 hours ahead of the tour and spent the time doing a hop on/hop off open top bus trip around Munich C.B.D. and fitted in also a visit to the Deutches Museum which with its theme of Aeronautics and Technology was of more interest to me than my wife. I would highly recommend it.
The Hotel accommodation provided in Munich was of good quality and centrally located, as indeed was all but one venue in the overall tour.
After an initial look around Munich with the tour group and coach including a viewing of the ill fated Munich Olympics venue, we set off for our first day lunch stop in Regensburg Germany. Not being a dauntingly large town, each individual party from the tour did their own thing independently about town, to reassemble on the coach at an appointed time. On across the border into the Czech Rep. via a fleeting look at the beer drinker’s town of Pilsen, to Prague we went. Some evening meals were included as part of the package and the first night in Prague was one of them.
Usually the selected restaurant offers a choice of local delicacies intended to heighten the foreign experience. A nice touch we thought and most dishes were of good or adequate quality. A night tour with a local guide, mostly on foot or in chartered tram was a highlight, even including a few free drinks with a piano- accordionist to entertain us in a local “watering hole”.