Rick Steves Tour Experience: Roomy Buses and Expert Drivers

On our tours, the smoothest
and most efficient way to get from one destination to the next
is, generally, by bus. Robbie Kyle: I actually
was more anxious about the bus part than any
other part of this tour. I thought, you know, I don’t want to
be on a bus the whole time. And it was nothing like that. Amanda: I was very
hesitant about the bus. When I saw the amount of
bus time on this tour, I was like,
“That’s not going to be good.” But, y’know, first stepped on that
leather seated, well-lit coach, like I was thinking,
“This is going to be okay.” Sarah: We get off the bus and
I’m thinking, “Was that really four hours?” because it felt
like an hour-and-a-half. Bob: I hate to say this,
but you almost look forward to the bus rides because
it is so relaxing. Cecilia: The bus, especially in
this part of the world, are fabulous because you travel 20, 30,
40 miles and the landscape changed. You have views that you could
never enjoy being on a plane. You have views you
could never enjoy being on a car because the
car is not high enough. Trina: On a Rick Steves’
tour, the buses are really, I think,
probably different than other tours, because we use
a full-size bus but we only have a maximum
of 28 people on it. Ben: There’s always plenty
of room to move around and feel comfortable,
and if you feel like sitting next to somebody you can,
but if you feel like having a seat to yourself,
that’s usually a possibility. The buses are all comfortable. They’re air conditioned. Margaret: We’ve all
got plenty of room. We can stretch out in
two seats ourselves. The bus is big enough
that we all have our own little aisle to
sit in if we want to. Tom: You can stretch out. You can ask questions,
have long conversations with people around you
and get to know them. Margaret: You can go to sleep. You can watch the sights.
You can read. You can chat with those around you. We’ve shared food up
and down the aisles. Somebody will pick
up chocolate at one stop and it goes up
and down the bus. Kiel Hynek: I really liked
having that free time to catch up on sleep or study up on the
next place where we’re going. Bill: We’ve all taken some pretty
good naps I think, along the way. The trips really well coordinated
with frequent rest stops and nothing’s felt
like it was an all-day trip. Ben: Usually,
we’d try to stop fairly frequently. We try to stop every two hours or
so, either find a little town to stop in or just use a
regular rest stop along the way. Chris: That gave us plenty of time
to get a snack if we wanted to. Some people even used it as an
opportunity to buy little souvenirs. Linda: And coffee. Chris: And coffee. Linda: They broke it up beautifully. There was no big
stretches, and all us women had time to go to the
bathroom when needed to. Ben: Bitte. All: Bitte. Robbie: Before you get
to a destination, you already know what to
expect, you’ve already got a lesson in the language of the
town, or culture, or country,
wherever you’re pulling into. Ben: I like to give
a mix of quiet time and also take advantage of the fact that we’re together,
we have a microphone, to talk about what’s coming up next. Bill: Almost every
day, Ben comes in on the bus for us and
talks about what’s going to happen that day, where we’re
going to go, where stops will be. He usually goes through
the history or background of where the location
is we’re headed for. It’s always really interesting
to get that information up front. Ben: There’s a hike that you
can do from Kleine Scheidegg called the North Face Trail that walks directly under the
north face of the Eiger. Margaret: He always gives
us tips about places to go and things we
might want to think about doing,
and places we might want to eat where we might get the
most authentic food. Ben: The great thing too,
is it’s easy to answer questions, to go
around, to move through the bus and to see if
anybody has more specific, personal questions that
they need answered. Robbie: It’s been
informative, it’s been fun, and it hasn’t
really been intrusive. Ben: We know the drivers,
they know us, and we have a good working
relationship with them. Margaret: Our driver, oh my
gosh, he’s been great fun, Joe. He’s wonderful. Amanda: Our bus driver, Joe, was
such a charming man, a lot of fun. He’s an amazing driver, got us
through some tight squeezes in Italy and some really steep alps in
Switzerland, so he knows his stuff. He was a great addition to our tour. Ben: He is always fun to work with. He’s professional.
He knows the route. He’s always full of
suggestions, different options. For example, we had a situation on this tour where a detour came
up, they were doing some road work, and he suggested that we
take the scenic route. I think that, for a lot of
people going up and over the Swiss Alps and just
seeing the side of Switzerland that we, in a normal situation
would have completely missed, I think was a
highlight for a lot of people. Robbie: It’s amazing
how he can get this coach through these
little narrow passes. Katie is terrified of like heights
and being on the mountains. She was watching as he took these
sharp turns up in the Alps but- Kate: I wasn’t watching. Robbie: -he let us
up on this path that took us pass the tree
line in the alps. It was amazing.
It added so much to the trip. We got out and we
got to see something we wouldn’t have regularly seen. Ben: That’s the nice thing
is that we’re flexible. Having our own buses
allow us that flexibility, and having drivers that are willing to go above and
beyond what’s expected from them is a huge
advantage for us.

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