I am home from my trip to Greece!
I know this post is a tad late. When I got back home I had some computer issues and my trusty lap top has been in the hands of the Geek Squad for the past several days. Hopefully, I can now get back to my Monday morning post schedule.
What an amazing time I had. Those of you who are regular readers of my blog know that traveling has been a life long dream of mine. To be able to begin seeing the world, it’s history, and it’s people, fills me with awe and gratitude. I am beginning to experience first hand that people are people. We have so much more in common with each other than we have differences. I have always known this intellectually, but to experience it first hand touches my heart.
A brief synopsis of my journey includes several days in Athens exploring the history of the city and a day at the Acropolis; Followed by explorations of mainland ruins such as Delphi; Cape Sounion and a Temple of Poseidon on the edge of the Aegean; Mycenae,fabled home of Agamemnon and thriving archaeological site; Epidaurus, a center for ancient medicine with an amazing amphitheater.The ancients believed in holistic healing so music and theater was part of medical treatment; and finally to wrap up the mainland portion of my trip was a quick visit to Nafplion, a picturesque seaside town which was also the original capital of modern Greece.
The second half of my trip was a cruise in the Agean with stops at Mykonos, Kusadasi Turkey, Crete and the Minoan ruins, Patmos, where St. John wrote the book of Revelation, and Santorini.
My trip wasn’t all smooth sailing (pun intended) and I did get a good case of jet lag combined motion sickness the second day of the cruise that almost kept me from seeing Crete. With the care of my tour guide and support of friends I made on the tour, I was able to get off the boat in time to see the ruins. No need to go into all the details but I now have a very profound respect for a good tour guide. I will never take one for granted again. I also know I will not be spending extended time on cruise ships when I retire!
My experience on the cruise ship is a convenient segue to share my insights into traveling with a tour group. I know some people wonder if this method of travel is right for them. Even a couple of friends of mine that travel on their own have asked me about it. I will say there are definite advantages to traveling with a group as well as at least one obvious disadvantage.
A group tour is not for you if you like to do things solely on your own terms or if you like to spend hours or days getting a real in depth feel for a city, museum, or whatever catches your fancy. It is also not for you if you like being spontaneous.
Tours are on a tight schedule and odds are it may not be your schedule. You are often given free time to explore on your own but it may not be enough for what is on your agenda. An escorted group tour wants to give you as many experiences as possible and a general feel for a place or culture. By their nature, these tours have pretty limiting time constraints.
On the other hand an escorted group tour may be right for you if you have other considerations to take in mind.
An escorted group tour takes the hassle out of making reservations at hotels, booking the best flights, and booking tours at special tourist sites. This is nice if you are not sure what the best and safest options are for you or you are pressed for time. I will never forget when I was in Rome seeing the line to the Vatican extend for blocks on end while we just walked in. That day it was well worth being in a group for my personal travel preferences.
Tour groups offer local expertise that you may or may not get by your own efforts. At the Acropolis I overheard several conversations by people who were not entirely sure what they were looking at. Meanwhile, I was getting a very helpful mini history lesson. Several of my day guides on the trip had degrees in Archaeology. They really knew there stuff. Even if you read up on things before you go, if you are like me, it may be overwhelming or confusing when you get to a site or you may just want more information.
Tour groups often lead to meeting interesting people. I have never felt alone on a tour. I can not promise that everyone will have my experience but I have met many wonderful people by traveling with them. It may sound corny but the groups I have traveled with become like a temporary family. I have come to notice that one of the reasons my fellow travelers enjoy group tours is their interactions with other people. This is true for me as well. Finding out where people are from, what careers they have held, what inspired them to take this particular trip etc. adds to my overall travel experience.
Tour groups offer a greater sense of safety. No trip is without risk. However, if you choose to go with an escorted tour group, someone is responsible for making sure you have a safe and fun trip. If you are not where you are supposed to be someone will be looking for you and notifying family if necessary. If you lose your passport or have some other type of problem, it is the tour guide’s job to help you sort things out the best they can. Being a single woman, this is a strong motivation for me to travel with a group.
Ultimately, it is a personal travel preference. For now I will continue to find group tours that peak my interest.
How about you? Have you ever done a group tour vacation? Would you ever consider it?
As always, I would love to hear from you!
Until next time,