"We have used TSA type locks for several years on our domestic and international trips. To date, they have never been opened. Even though they are a USA thing, our suitcases have passed through many foreign airports with no issues. We also have…"
"That is a tough call. We were in the Heartland for two weeks a couple years ago and will be in the Oberland for two weeks this fall. From one area you can certainly go to the other and we did. My opinion is that there is plenty to do in each to…"
"Get the app CityMaps2go. You can download maps to your iPhone so no need to have wifi connection to use the map. The app integrates the gps capability of the iPhone into the map display. I have used it in Italy, Austria, Germany, South Africa and it…"
That has been our practice also for over ten years now. When we come home from a trip we do make it a point to bring 50-60 Euro with us that we keep on hand for the next trip. This is just in case we land somewhere, have to purchase a bus…"
"Last fall we stayed in what is now called Rocca #14. It was named Residenzia Motta then. Not sure why the name change. I just looked at the details and it is the same owners though. We loved our stay there! If you want a place that is in the center…"
"A program that we have found fits our learning style is BYKI. (http://www.byki.com/). It is actually a flash card approach, which we have found useful for learning just words and simple phrases. We realize we aren't going to get proper grammar,…"
"We are considering taking our children and grandchildren to Europe. Right now, a Switzerland Untour is our favored area under consideration, mainly because of the children staying free. My wife and I have been to the Oberland area a couple of times…"
"Second Henry's Zueghauskeller recommendation. If you get the daily "tagesteller" it can be quite reasonable, and very good. This past may we had outstanding New Zealand lamb, scalloped potatoes and fresh veggies! We were hankering for…"
Italy, although France and Switzerland are close. I really love Paris although it has been 10 years since we were there.
Where would you most like to go next?
Sicily is next on our list with a Rick Steves tour. Croatia is on the horizon.
Tell us about one of your favorite places to stay on an Untour. Do you have a favorite host? Apartment? Village?
We have loved the places we have stayed. They were quite different so I would have difficult time choosing between them. I think our Austria apartment is one of the favorites though.
Do you have any special interests or hobbies that you follow when you travel?
We tried valiantly to find some bad wine in France and Italy, but alas, a total failure. Similarly, no bad beer in Belgium, Germany and the UK.
We love mixing with the locals, staying and eating at very small family run places.
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Not really on an Untour but funny anyway.
On a trip to Costa Rica with another couple, we were waiting for a taxi in San Jose. A red car, just like all of the taxis, stopped at the taxi area where we were standing. The four of us opened the doors, jumped in and told the man to take us to a particular bus station. He seemed a bit uncertain at first, we asked him if he knew that station and he replied affirmatively. This is all in our very limited Spanish and his non existent English. Part way to the station, we noticed that there was no meter in the vehicle. We had just commandeered some poor guy on his way to work! We knew about how much the fare should be so upon arriving at the bus station, we offered him the money, asked if that was ok. He just nodded affirmatively and drove off. We still laugh about this poor sole telling his family how four big gringos jumped in his car and ordered him to drive them to the bus station.
Which Untours have you already done?
Umbria, Ticino, Austria (Salzburg)
What advice would you give others considering an Untour?
They are great. However, they are not for everyone. consider seriously your tolerance for being on your own to plan what to do. Many people find that very trying and want (need?) the structure of a tour. If you like traveling on your own and mixing with the locals, you will probably love an Untour.
I saw in another message that you are planning a trip to China with OAT. We've done two trips with them and they are incredible at helping you feel you have experienced a country from an inside perspective. We first went to Peru - Macchu Pichu is awe inspiring but the other places were wonderful too. We also did their Morocco trip and we have such great memories of that very different culture. Spent three nights sleeping under the stars in the Sahara - unforgettable. Pretty sure you'll enjoy your trip to China with them!!!
OAT is an incredible travel company but their tipping policy needs some serious tweaking. Peru was fine but there were so many people we were supposed to tip on the Morocco trip that a number of us became a little frustrated with it all. Ultimately, I think we each need to decide what we think is appropriate and tip accordingly, rather than blindly following OAT's guidelines. Be sure to comment on the tipping policy in your trip follow-up review. Maybe if enough people do so, they may make some needed changes...
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