Tuesday, June 16, 2009

June 16, 2009 Issue

We have just returned from a 17-day bus tour of the British Isles. Originally, we intended to rent a motorhome and explore England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. But for a variety of reasons, one of them being to avoid the stress of learning how to drive on the left side of the road, we decided to book a bus tour. It was an interesting, first-time experience.

We spent some time with Barbara Perry, a travel agent with the Automobile Club. We told her that leg room on both the plane and the bus was very important to us. She suggested business class on our 11-hour non-stop, flights and steered us to a tour company whose 49-passenger buses had their seats configured to give 40 people lots of leg room.

Round trip, business class airfare between London and Los Angeles cost more than the 17-day bus tour but it was worth it. The seats were bigger and more comfortable than economy seats and there was plenty of room to stretch our legs. Other perks like express check-in, express security check and a comfortable waiting lounge made the airport experience more tolerable.

We really lucked out with our fellow tour passengers. Not a stinker in the bunch. Everyone was friendly and considerate. Our group had 40 people. Most were either Australians or Canadians. There was only one other American couple.

The weather really cooperated. We were prepared for cool, wet weather. Instead, we had only three days of drizzle. The rest were sunny and warm.

Highlights of the tour included London, Windsor Castle, medieval York, Edinburgh Castle, the highlands and lakes of Scotland, Dublin, Ring of Kerry, Blarney Castle (yes, I kissed the Blarney Stone), the Roman Baths and of course, Stonehenge. Our bus traveled some 2,200 miles.

The good news … I didn’t have to drive; I was just a sight-seeing passenger. The bad news … we couldn’t linger in places where we would have liked to stay longer and we had to linger in a few places that just didn’t appeal to us. But, that’s group travel.

Living out of a suitcase, sleeping in strange beds and eating unusual food, while considered part of the adventure by some, did not particularly appeal to me. I still prefer traveling first class in the comfort and convenience of our RV.