London, United Kingdom
We left Victoria Coach Station for Warwick Castle. This castle was bought by Madamn Tussaud Group and has costumed period actors and many old antiques, knights armor, and paintings of lords / kings of England. There were many medieval activities, but only 80 minutes to enjoy it. Next stop was Shakespeare's birth home in Stratford-on-Avon. Decent history on author and time for lunch. We then drove through Cotswold area enroute to Oxford. Our tour guide (Mel) was able to give us a detailed tour of the multiple campuses including many comments on architecture and history. The key to this tour was the quality of the guide. He has a history degree and 20 years as a guide. On the outbound trip, he gave significant information on English history as it relates to where we were visiting. That made the trip.
San Francisco, California
There were only 8 guests on tour and we could select vineyards in advance. We were picked up at hotel and were quickly enroute to Napa. We were the only one to select (V. Sattui). However, the other three sites concentrated on red or sparkling wine and didn't suit us. The more popular vineyards require advance reservations, so if one selects this tour do the research and make sure you recommend in advance quality vineyards. The larger tour groups attend briefings at each vineyard, so we could have had plenty of time to visit northern Napa sites such as La Crema or Gigrch if we had reservations.
Absolutely great tour of three Knights Templar castles outside of Lisbon due to the tour guide. He has a great linguistic, historical, and cultural background. These knights faught Muslim dominance in Iberian peninsula. After Templar's were disolved by King of France, they became Order of Christ in Portugal. Tour was vigorous, with seven passengers and took 10 hours including unexpected visit to Fatima.
Zaanse Scans was very interesting and educational. These windmills were the 17th century equivalent of the industrial revolution that created a powerful Dutch country. Volendam was a tourist trip but interesting. However, the tour guide was inferior and spent the entire tour recommending visitors buy items in Marken where the only place we visited was a large store with clog and cheese exhibits. Suspect the guide obtained a 20% fee on every purchase.
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