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This was a really good way to see the south-west of England. It was quick and quite a few kilometres travelled but we saw all the key areas - Stonehenge, Bath, Dartmoor and Exeter. Spent a bit of time in each place to get a flavour of the region. Andy, our bus driver and guide, was great. Friendly, informative, helpful, funny and very easy to get on with. The bus itself was comfortable and warm. We went in December so the weather was cold so the warm bus after our walking around was something to look forward to. We stayed two nights in Exeter in a very comfortable and convenient hotel. on top of all that it was very affordable. In summary, an excellent trip.
This tour was a complete mess. A disaster. Our driver/guide? Hugh was not very good at his job. He was not really knowledgeable about the areas we were visiting or the areas we were passing through. When asked a question, he usually responded with I'll Google that. He did not have to know everything there was to know about the areas, but at least know something.
Another downside was the fact that we spent more time driving than we did at any one place. They should have had each night in a different town so that it could be placed closer to some of the sites and reduce driving times. There seemed to be a limit on how long we were out for the day as Hugh was determined to make sure we got back to our hotels and London by a set time which cut into the time we had at different sites. The most time we spent in any one place was approximately 1hr 15mins. For most of these places eg. Bath, Glastonbury, that was not nearly enough time to do anything. In Bath, I only had time to see the Roman Baths and I had to almost run through it, missing lots, visit the Bath Abbey store and get a quick bite to eat. Nothing else. I did not get to see the river, park, town, shopping areas, etc. I am still angry over Glastonbury and not having time to see the Tor or even to visit the town.
Our time in Dartmoor was only a blur, it was not leisurely or slow enough that you could appreciate the views. There were very few stops 4 and these were very hurried not even 20 mins.
My biggest peeve was that Hugh did not know his way around Exeter where we stayed two nights. On both the day we got in and the day we left, he REPEATEDLY got lost while dropping off/picking up everyone who were all staying in different hotels/B and Bs - why couldn't we all stay in the same place? One hotel, one B and B. This caused major delays, 2hrs in leaving Exeter causing us to lose time in Glastonbury a place I wanted to go to for many years, only had time to see the Abbey, no Tor or town. Not worth it.
We enjoyed the places that we visited. However, our tour leader was new to the job and this was very clear from the start. He didn't know much about the places we were driving through or visiting and we spent long periods driving with the radio blaring and just looking out the window. Eventually people on the bus pointed our places that they knew about.
Here are the notes I took at the time:
Kevin, our driver, is not good at this. He has a bad back, so when we stop somewhere, he sits in the bus and talks on his phone. We are just left to wonder around and discover what we can. It would be good if he would find something out about the places we are visiting. He doesnt have anything to say about the history or geography of thse places. We drove for long periods with the radio on and knowing nothing about the places we were driving through. Or he would make a cynical comment like, when we got back to the bus after seeing Stonehenge, "well it's just a circle of stones" When he dropped us off at our B and B, he just dropped us off on the pavement and drove away. We were left with no way to know how to contact him. We werent quite sure which house to go into and then when we did find it and go in, the owner was confused about who we were. We were confused because we thought she had been contacted ahead of time. Then she asked us, are you from the Rabbies tour and we said yes, and then she said "Oh" they ususally come in. We were left to drag our suitcase up the steps and just figure things out. Fortunatley it was a very good B and B. Generally, he would try to talk us into staying for shorter periods at places " because of the traffic" but we began to wonder if he just wanted to get back and end the day as fast as he could. If the tour leader is just a driver and not a guide, how about having handouts about each place you go that drivers can hand out. It would have been good to have got something and not buy our own materials at each place.
Our tour was with Rabbies. Our tour guide, Pete, was very knowledgeable and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. There were only 4 of us on the tour so we never felt pressed for time. Despite the shorter days, we were able to see all of the major attractions during daylight hours. The B and B we were assigned was very comfortable and close to eating establishments in Exeter. We took a couple of other day trips during the week, but this was by far the best.
Our tourguide Peter, was good. More history and tales of myths and legends would have been great. The few hours in Glastonbury were too short, would have liked half a day at least. Also would have appreciated a little more music. The hotel at Exeter was lovely - a real treat! The best breakfast in England! Very friendly town as well - great locals!!
Ouen our tour driver was fantastic and made the tour with his very informed explainations and Welsh humour. Touring in the smaller bus allowed us to travel down and into smaller areas where the bigger buses couldn't access. Beautiful scenery throughout and Bath was a highlight for us. We were well cared for and will travel with Rabbies again.