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Old 9 Nov 23, 08:31 AM  
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SparklySal
Surfing at Typhoon Lagoon
 
Join Date: Aug 23
Location: Staffordshire
California and The Golden West – fully escorted tour with Riviera Travel – Trip overview

I will be going in to a lot of specific detail as I know some of you where interested in the specifics of a trip like this. I’m going to give as much detail as possible, so you can form your own opinion about whether this is something for you. Although we did a USA tour I’ve tried to give information that would probably apply to most of the Riviera trips around the world.

My initial thoughts:
So here goes. This tour was truly amazing: grin:. The sights we have seen and the places we have been were truly spectacular (but more to follow later about this).

The tour with Riviera was very well organised- like a well oiled machine. The tour guide was friendly and very knowledgeable; the driver was friendly, chatty and was very good at his job. It was lovely to be able to not have to worry about getting from place to place, we could just sit and watch the landscape changes glide by whilst chatting to other travellers.

The coach was extremely comfortable, the seats had extra ‘padding’ bottom and back, were adjustable, had footrests and cup/bottle holders, and plenty of leg room (my DH is 6ft and had no issues). There was a toilet at the back (we were asked to only use for ‘whispers’ not ‘shouts’ which was absolutely fair enough). Riviera do operate a seat rotate system (well we did on this trip) so this gives everyone the chance to sit in the front seats at some point but this is chance as to where you will be on the trip to where you will be sitting. However, it also means that as everyone is moving up one side of the coach and down the other, you get to chat to everyone, which makes it more friendly. You also get plenty of breaks, all the days are different but you get a break every 1.5 to 2hr approximately- these are anything from a quick bathroom stop, stretch legs and grab a coffee/snack from a shop, to a full blown lunch stop; to your sightseeing stops where you might get 3-4 hrs before moving on to somewhere else. Was this OK- absolutely. Did it feel too much time on the coach- no not at all.

The hotels Riviera used were all of the standard you would expect in the USA and were all clean and comfortable, but there were a couple of stand outs for us: The Pines Resort on Bass Lake (Yosemite area)– lovely rustic 2 storey log cabins, on the edge of Bass Lake- the resort had an amazing on site shop- fully stocked with everything you could need and lots of souvenirs. There’s also a bar which the locals also use, everyone was very welcoming and chatty when one evening half a coachload of Brits invaded the bar for drinks, this was towards the end of our trip so most people were happy to spent time chatting after arriving back at the hotel. The other was the Hotel Caza (Fisherman’s Wharf) San Francisco, one block back from front and one block over from cable car turnaround point- this was the most comfortable bed we had and the hotel was immaculate.

There was porterage included in the tour cost so basically we didn’t really have to worry about our bags. This was also like a well oiled machine. Once you arrived at the airport, collected your bags, and met everyone at your designated meeting point, you followed the Rep to the coach handed the driver your bags and he sorted them. Each day on arrival at the hotel, the Rep went in to collect the room keys, which are already in envelopes with your name on it and as she hands them out, the porters arrive, they then put a label on your luggage tag with your room number and away the bags go and appear in your room usually not long after you arrive there. Some days this bit happened whilst we were out sightseeing, so when we arrived at the hotel the driver had already taken our bags to the hotel for room allocation then he came and picked us back up and gave the Rep our room keys ready for handing out- so we arrived at the hotel able to head straight to our rooms, which was absolutely great and felt extremely efficient: grin:.

I also need to say that on this particular trip everyone had excellent timekeeping skills – no-one was late arriving for any of our departure times – whether that be leaving our hotel each morning, to every stop we made on route or at our destination excursions. This was extremely helpful in order to keep everything flowing and on schedule, so we all benefitted from each others timeliness.

On this trip everywhere we visited was amazing, a holiday of a lifetime and I would do it again in a heartbeat, especially the organised tour. So, I can say, for us this trip was perfect, it did what we wanted. We crammed a lot into 14 days as you will see from my upcoming posts.

Is this trip for everyone – possibly not, and I’ll be realistic here. You get a ‘snap shot’ of a particular place – for us this was great, we travelled 2519 miles from the time the driver picked us up until the time he dropped us at the airport, we would not have even contemplated driving this ourselves. But I know some of you do this and love it. The other thought is because you are getting a ‘snap shot’ of certain places and then you have to move on towards that evenings hotel etc, you can’t have the possibility of saying – we’ll stay here longer today and have an extra night and not go there tomorrow etc.. You have to be able to accept that it’s all done for you, and go with the flow until you have your scheduled days off. You will know about these in advance of travelling so you are able, as we did, to plan your own excursions or just add on any of the extra trips that Riviera have on offer to book before you leave home.

Anyway that’s my thoughts, and we would certainly do another escorted trip, we are in fact already looking.. possibly a different USA one or there’s a South American one that looks quite fab.

If anyone has any specific questions that I may be able to answer or help with, feel free to ask.

I will to more posts from each day of our trip in the coming weeks. However, as I’ve posted previously I feel that I was a ‘bad dibber’, I was not able to keep up during the trip with taking photos of food (we simple just forgot), or keeping notes as we went along (I was too busy taking in the wonderful scenery and watching the world go by), so I’m going to do the posts from memory and add some photos so you can see some of the places we went.

Sorry, just thought I'd also add, to confirm these are just my thoughts of the trip we've done.. others might have other experiences of escorted tours and that's absolutely fine we all have different ideas/opinions
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Old 9 Nov 23, 10:52 AM  
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anji
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Looking forward to hearing all about it and glad you had such a great time
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Old 9 Nov 23, 11:55 AM  
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kateh134
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Glad you had a great time and I look forward to reading about it. We did our first escorted coach tour last year (Canadian Rockies with APT) and had a similar experience. We’ve always been happy to do our own road trips and aren’t particularly sociable, but we decided an escorted coach trip was going to be a good way to see everything we wanted to see whilst letting both of us enjoy the sights without having to keep an eye on the road or navigating. We stayed in hotels we’d never have booked as they were out of our price range and did things not usually available to individual travellers, and had a fabulous time. There were 38 of us in total, with 32 Brits, 4 Kiwis and 2 Aussies which apparently was unusual as it would normally be far less Brits. We were all from different walks and stages of life which made for some interesting conversations. There was a good balance between group activities and free time and some shared mealtimes which worked really well. One of our peeves in life is tardiness and there was only one instance over the 2 weeks which wasn’t bad. It wasn’t a cheap trip, but we’d definitely consider another one in the future.
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Old 9 Nov 23, 03:51 PM  
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SparklySal
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Surfing at Typhoon Lagoon
 
Join Date: Aug 23
Location: Staffordshire
Hi KateH134

Yes we had a good mix of people too, but all Brits. Our tour was actually a lot of people - 47, the biggest the rep had ever had. We think it was because the same trip due to go out in November would have clashed in Las Vegas with the Formula 1 race weekend which obviously wouldn't have been great for sightseeing. But, it somehow worked though - like I say everyone was extremely punctual.

We are also not that social really but it worked for us to. You can sit and be quiet if you wanted to be or you could join in with the chats that were going on around you. Likewise, sometimes we joined others for a drink or chat in the evenings other times we didn't; same as most people; it was usually a different mix of people each time.

It was also good at the photo stops or on the organised excursions because we were all taking photos for each other so everyone got pics of themselves together rather than one person having to take the shot or trying to get selfies.

At the end of the trip people have swapped tel numbers and we've been exchanging photos and videos with each other so that's good.
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