This is part of a series of interviews with inspiring travelers. Today’s interview comes from Gillian Duffy about her bike and boat tour. All photos provided by Gillian. See more about tours and traveling with purpose here.
Tell us about yourself and your travel experience.
My name is Gillian and, along with my partner Jason, I have travelled to 32 countries since 2009. We have visited much of SE Asia and Japan (a fave!), India, Nepal, Central and South America and, last summer, we cycle toured through Europe!
Where did you go on your tour and how long was it?
While we most often travel independently, I actually am a fan of tours. We often take walking or bus tours of cities and food tours (because is there a better way to see a place other than through it’s food?). At the end of our European cycle tour we opted for a week long ‘Bike and Cruise’ tour to finish out our time in the saddle. It started in Passau, Germany and wheeled, and floated, along the Danube to Vienna, Austria.
What tour company did you use and why?
We were guests of Rad&Reisen – a company that provides great service and reliable equipment for a reasonable price. There are plenty of cruise and tour companies in that part of the world; I liked Rad&Reisen (and a bike/boat tour in general) because the age of participants was lower and because it was an active cruise.
Why did you choose a tour instead of traveling independently?
Some times we just get tired of making ALL of the decisions! We had been cycle touring independently for 2 and a ½ months by then and were happy to have someone else take over the planning and logistics for a little while!!
What did you like about the bike and boat tour? What was your favorite part?
Every evening the cruise director would map out the next day’s cycling route (typically we biked along the shoreline while the boat floated down to meet us at the next stop); during this session he would point out all the interesting points to stop at along the way. He suggested places to stop for lunch, the best place to stop for a beer (we took ALL of these suggestions!), the local specialties in an area, and the most interesting sightseeing vantages. This is what made the tour so valuable to us. We didn’t have to spend hours (we didn’t have) to research all the ‘stuff’ – he did it all for us.
What was the most memorable or eventful part of your trip?
I loved the people we met. We ended up in our own ‘cycle gang’ and literally wended our way from pub to pub down the river. We were a motley crew from all over the world, ranging from 30 years old to 72 years old! The refrain ‘is it time for a pint?’ was never very far from anyone’s lips. We had a blast!
Was there anything you didn’t like about the tour?
My expectations had led me to believe it would be a bit more luxurious than it was. Don’t get me wrong, it was more than comfortable, but it was not a high-end luxury cruise. This would have been easily avoided had I done more research so it’s my fault but a good lesson for those considering a cruise – make sure that the one you choose will meet your expectations.
Did you eat anything amazing on your trip?
Always!! My favorite stop on this tour was the grilled fish and beer station at 10AM one morning. A local specialty that we could smell from far down the trail: the owners of the small place were lovely, the fish was moist and tasty, and the beer – oh, the beer!!
What inspired you to take a bike and boat tour or travel to this destination?
I liked the idea of cycling along the Danube. We had cycled in the Rhine Valley earlier in the summer and I had heard that the Danube was also fabulous. I would agree and might even say I enjoyed it more; there was more nature, more small villages, and more of a relaxed feeling on the Danube.
Would you take this tour again? Would you change anything about it?
Yes, I would. We had a lovely time and no, I wouldn’t change anything.
Do you think this tour would be good for a new traveler?
Absolutely!! With Rad&Reisen taking care of everything for you it’s so easy! You can cycle as much or as little as you like (some people opted to stay on the boat the whole time), the route is easy with no hills (unless you want to climb up to some of the castles), it’s easy to meet people and make new friends, and it is a beautiful part of the world.
Bio: Gillian suffers from terrible wanderlust and an incurable travel bug. After traveling to over 30 countries, she and Jason have returned home to Canada to plan their next adventure together. She writes about her travels, and personal journey, at One-Giant-Step.com.
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