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Review: Grand Imperial Cities (Europe)

Escorted Tour - Rail

Various grand cities in Europe

  • By SilverTraveller ZoshJosh

    38 reviews

    Ribbon Ribbon

  • April 2015
  • Husband

87 people found this review helpful

This tour began in St.Pancras and travelled by rail around Europe. Travel (mostly first class) and transfers are planned out for the group, accommodation, all breakfasts and 8 out of the 13 evening meals organised and included and tours in each city arranged with local guides. There was always a printed daily timetable. A full day or more was left free in each city for us to do our own thing.

The tour included Cologne, Vienna, Budapast, Prague and Berlin a good selection of different cities with their own unique histories, mostly Prussian, Nazi and Communist, amazing architecture and art and a different ‘vibe’ to each too.

Most journeys were around 4 hours in duration but a couple were longer but made up for by the comfortable seating, some lovely views, a great bunch of fellow travellers and an interesting and knowledgeable tour manager (not a “guide” as he reminded us). It’s a great way to travel.

The hotels got better and better (all very comfortable), as did the food. Again, their styles differed, one had odd-charm character, another was very modern with grand interiors, another with better in-room facilities but all were of a high standard and had good locations with easy access to transport services or within walking distance to the centre. The meals were also a good mix of buffet or served to you, in the hotel, in an outside restaurant or on a river cruise, in different styles such as traditional cuisine or fine dining.

The tour manager probably went ‘over and above’ his required remit and offered interested parties to accompany him on a tramabout or walkabout in the evening where he would impart his knowledge of transport routes, tickets and any concessions available or interesting places to visit on our free day.

Most fellow travellers were, I’d say, over 50 and ‘retired’, some having been on previous tours by GRJ elsewhere and every one made good companions at dinner or during travel and visits and we were happy to see them in our spare time too. I would say none had mobility issues – there is a lot of walking on the tours- and, although transfers are leisurely there was one time when we had to hurry to another platform, though that was due to last minute changes due to the German train drivers strike causing us to miss our final Eurostar connection. However, our unflappable guide arranged new onward travel for the whole group just an hour or so later with no loss of facilities.

My only criticism is the tour lacked consistent use of a personal digital hearing device which is so very useful in crowded, noisy places where you can miss a lot of, very interesting, things the guide may say and you desperately want to hear them. We were given them in 2 places we visited (the buses had their own microphones when travelling to tours and during transfers) which helped but that was just a fraction of the visits.

I would most definitely go again and want to, having my eye on two I would like to do very soon (one a Baltic states tour and another at Lake Garda) and after that, who knows … decisions, decisions.

87 people found this review helpful

This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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