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In general, I am not a "tour type" personality, but I have been on some and would like to share what I have learned personally as a result:
Trafalgar Tours - Spain (Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, Granada, Torresmolinos, Sevilla and Gilbraltar) in 1997 - Bus tour in October. Mixed group of English speakers from the USA, Canada, the far East. Local tour leader was Spanish and was well informed and accommodating. He did not need to know any other languages other than English as we all spoke English. Even when it came to selling us the "extras", he was low-key, mentioned it, passed out the forms and that was it. No hard sell. We had plenty of time in each place and the tour took about ten days. He accompanied the group on the transfer back to Barajas Airport in Madrid.
American Express - Austria (Innsbruck, Salzburg), Germany (Neuschwanstein, Oberammergau) and Italy (Venice and a town near the Dolomites) in 1999
This tour originated in Harrisburg out of the local American Express office. What made this special is that the local Harrisburg travel agent came with our small group. Although she knew no German, the locals worked very well with her and we had a tour with very few glitches. The amazing thing was it was her very first tour accompanying trip, and she had never previously been in the countries prior to our tour. She gave us each an edelweiss pin as a parting gift. We were all from Central Pennsylvania, and although we didn't know each other, my belief as a result of this experience is that small groups are best in foreign travel.
The bad were actually non-tour tours that I took in the 1970's. The first was to London. It was with a teachers' group...we weren't really a group: we just were together on the flight over and back. The bad experience really had nothing to do with the "non-tour"...it had more to do with my ex-friend who only wanted to go to London to go pub-hopping. We were too different; but she stuck me with a bill from the room refrigerator...She checked out before I did, and told the hotel clerk that the bills she incurred from the eating and drinking stock from the in-room refrigerator were mine. Much more disgraceful incidents occurred. I still tell friends about that experience in London. Lesson learned: It is better to travel alone and pay the supplemental fee than have a cheap, slick and unkind roommate.
American Express/Eastern Airlines (now defunct):
My mother and I took a very popular tour (it turned out to be a non-tour full of tangles and deceit) in the 1970's to Mexico. The tour was for a week and included Mexico City, Taxco and Acapulco. The deceit began when the plane landed in Mexico City. The group was to be transferred by van to the hotel. There was no group; there was no van. None of the transfers occurred without a fight. Even for the flight out of Acapulco, I had to get unpleasant before we got service. We had vouchers that slick operators tried to take from us, while attempting to charge us fees for services we had already paid for. Thank goodness I could speak Spanish else this tour would have gone in the "Downright Ugly" file. It has been relegated to "Bad" because upon our return, we composed a letter to Eastern Airlines and American Express, and they refunded 50% of our money...mainly for the duress and unpleasantness and lies we had suffered.