Tours in Review

My husband, Jerry, and I, and our friends Barbara and Harvey Hellering wanted to visit Toulouse, Carcassonne and the Dordogne region of France. Since none of us wanted to drive, we decided to hire someone to arrange the trip and do the driving. Through ITN, we found Connie Wilson, an American living in France and proprietor of France à la Carte (La Chaîne Soulière, 37240 Manthelan, France; phone +33 [0] 247 921 640,

From the first e-mail, we knew that we would be pleased with Connie’s services. She listened to requests and was flexible and resourceful....


I took a trip to Egypt with Explore, booked through Adventure Center (1311 63rd St., Ste. 200, Emeryville, CA 94608; 800/227-8747), in December ’06-January ’07. Adventure Center is a broker listing hundreds of trips run by other operators. Explore is a British company specializing in low-cost small-group tours.

I wasn’t aware of it in advance, but our 17 days on the ground comprised two tours, one from Cairo to Sinai and the other a Nile River cruise, with much of the group leaving and being replaced with another group in Luxor before the cruise. The starting tour group was 13...


Costa Rica is a nature lover’s paradise, as my husband, Gerald, and I, found while traveling Jan. 24-Feb. 2, 2007, with Caravan Tours (401 North Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611; 800/227-2826, Our tour cost $995 plus $99 for insurance (land only).

Our group of 43 toured in an air-conditioned bus with reclining seats and a toilet on board. We rotated seats daily and there was extra space as well. Most meals were buffet, with a big variety of fresh fruit, juices, vegetables, meat and fish.

Highlights included riding the aerial tram through the heart of...


My husband, Marty, and I took a delightful trip with China Plus, Inc. (320 Decker Dr., Ste. 100, Irving, TX 75062; 888/868-8811, www.china Our 14-day tour, Sept. 18-Oct. 3, 2007, included Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai and Lhasa and cost us $7,400 for two, not including international airfare.

We were part of a small group of 19 people. Our tour leader was terrific, we had competent local guides and drivers and we experienced excellent timing going through the airports. We had wonderful deluxe accommodations everywhere we stayed.

Best of all was the flexibility...


My wife, Jeanne, and I enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime customized travel adventure to all of Greece’s great historic mainland and island sites plus Istanbul (Turkey), Lake Ohrid and the capital of Macedonia, thanks to the effort of Kutrubes Travel (Boston, MA; 800/878-8566,, a terrific small travel firm we found through an ad in ITN.

Our personalized October ’07 itinerary, crafted by the company’s owner, saved us time and money, with hotels carefully chosen for their locations and competitive prices. For two, the cost of our 27-day tour totaled $5,500, including...


My friend Pat Powers and I would like to bring to your attention what we believe to be a great bargain.

We took the 11-day “South of Spain” tour with Gate 1 Travel (101 Limekiln Pike, Glenside, PA 19038; 800/682-3333, www.gate1, Nov. 11-21, 2006. The price, $1,211 each, included round-trip air on Air France from Washington, D.C., as well as tours of Málaga and the white town of Mijas, where we ate a great barbecue lunch at the lovely restaurant La Reja. Additional tours of Ronda, Seville, Córdoba and Granada cost a total of $296 for each of us.

We stayed in La...


Varini de Silva of Ceylon Express International (9542 Dumbreck Dr., Huntington Beach, CA 92646; 800/423-9566, created an independent month-long trip to Asia for my wife, Barbara, and me. Land and internal air for the Feb. 19-March 19, 2007, trip cost $13,500.

Ceylon Express, using ground operators Rainbow Travel (Thimphu, Bhutan) in Bhutan and Indochina Services (San Francisco, CA) for the rest of the tour, went out of their way to give us a great itinerary that included all of the highlights.

The guides were there when they were supposed to be, the...


We really enjoyed the 29-day “Bora’s Grand Tour of Turkey” from Cultural Folk Tours International (5631 Lincoln Ave., Ste. B, Cypress, CA 90630; 800/935-8875,

The tour, May 11-June 8, 2008, was led by Cultural Folk Tours’ owner, Bora Özkök, and covered many varied and beautiful areas of Turkey.

This tour was ideal for those of us who love adventure and who enjoy amazing historical and archaeological sites in an unspoiled and nontouristy environment. The scenery was gorgeous, and the Turkish people were warm and welcoming.

Our tour bus was luxurious...