Cosmos Europe Highlights – 3-18 Oct 2010

Joe and Jill Kenderes – Olmsted Falls, OH

Kenderes' at Eiffel TowerWe had the trip of our lives, it was amazing.  It wasn't perfect of course, but overall we were very happy.  The first day we got to London, we landed and found the Cosmos representative easily.  Unfortunately that day was a subway strike, so our driver was probably about an hour to an hour and a half late to pick us up.  They kept apologizing over and over, and it was no big deal since that was out of their control.  However, I felt they were always prepared, like everywhere we went was expecting us.  In London when we were on our own, they had a Cosmos desk in the lobby that we could have gone to if needed.  When we finally joined up with the tour group and got on the bus, I thought our tour director did a great job.  He has a hard job being with a group of people 12 hours a day.  Our tour bus driver was great as well, he didn't speak a lot of English, but he was a great driver especially on those mountain roads.  He kept the bus very clean, even leaving us candy every once in awhile.


Overall we liked the agenda.  I mean with such a tight schedule, it was hard to see everything we wanted to.  We thought that the first day of travel from Calais after we got off the ferry to Amsterdam was one of the harder ones.  It was 6 hours and nothing really to stop at.  If they could have found some scenic place to stop at just to break it up for a little bit would have been good, but I don’t' know if that's possible.  In Germany, the Rhine river was beautiful, but we would have liked if we could have spent more time in Germany near a bigger city.  Those were little complaints though.


The hotel quality varied.  We were warned at the start of the tour about that by our director and even before we went, we read ahead that a European 4 star is very different from what we have.  You have to expect smaller rooms, and their idea of a double bed is 2 twins pushed together.  We filled out a survey at the end about which hotels weren't as nice.


We did quite a few of the excursions with our favorite being the cable car to the top of the mountain in Switzerland.  We would have liked more time there, but it was a tight schedule.


What I really guess I would say to people interested in doing a tour is that they have to be open minded.  We had 2 people in our group in particular who by the end of the tour we kind of avoided because they were being so negative.  They did not like being told what time they had to be places and complained about our tour director constantly.  They were always late, and in the end they didn't even tip the director which Joe and I thought was so rude.  The hotel rooms are not all top quality, some of the included dinners were not that great.  Yes we had to get up early.  But I would easily do it again because Joe and I don’t' know if we'll ever get to Europe again, and we wanted to see as much as possible.  It's a great trip if you want an introduction to Europe.  Then if you like somewhere, you can go back and explore more in depth later.  Italy is the one country where we spent the most time, and I feel that I wouldn't go back to Italy because I experienced it already.  It is great though to have a schedule, and they take care of your transportation, accommodations.  I liked the included tours, and on the excursions if you booked with them, you saved so much time.  We didn't have to wait to go into the Vatican, Eiffel Tower, etc.


We also met some great people on this trip.  We met an Australian couple around our age and spent a lot of time with them.  We learned just as much about their culture as we did the European culture.  There was only one other American couple, and then there were people from Canada, Australia, The Philippines and India so you got to meet people from all over the world.  They made the trip even better, and we made friends for life from that.  I can say that I would do another tour with Cosmos.  It isn't for everyone.  Like I told my mom, she would do better with a cruise because of the rooms, but we really only slept in our rooms for one night then would move on to a new hotel, so it didn't bother us.


We were happy with Air Canada until the end.  We loved that there were no baggage fees, they gave plenty of snacks, meals, beverages, etc while on the plane.  There were pillows and blankets waiting in the seat for us.  They gave out complimentary headphones and each seat had their own personal tv.  So Joe and I watched 3 movies each on the way home which really passed the time.  The few complaints was that in the Paris airport, they really took their time opening the ticket center in the morning.  They had a self check in, but we needed to check our baggage, and we figured they would open at 8.  But then it was probably another 15 minutes after that before they decided to open up the lines when other airlines were operating.  That might be a cultural thing though.  Customer service was another big difference over there.  Tipping is such a foreign idea, and so because of that, they don't give the same level as we're used to here.  Most weren't rude, but it's something that has to be considered.


Then we were delayed in Toronto because the co-pilot and the flight attendant were late.  Then we finally got on the plane, and we had to wait because the ground crew had left, and we needed a new one.  Joe and I were so tired at that point that it was a little frustrating, but I don't think that would cause me not to use them in the future.

Kenderes' at top of The AlpsHere's Joe and I when were on top of the Alps.  The peaks of the mountain were just above the clouds, so it looks like snow.  It was so beautiful.


Thanks so much for all of your help Terri. We had a great time.