(Apparently I'm blogging a lot today, because a) it's my Day of Recovery, and if I don't find something to do with myself, I'm going to end up working even more than I already have; b) I'm determined not to leave my house, because it's just so darned cold and I'm really tired of being cold; and c) one never knows when I'll have time again, this being the season that it is.)
I've always suspected that I am not a tour group traveler. Now I can actually say this with some experience to back it up.
I will clarify: I had a wonderful time in Ireland. It was beautiful. I met some great people, both those on the tour and those I encountered while wandering away from the tour. I heard a lot of terrific music. I wish I could describe it better, but what do you say about a trip like this to people who weren't there? Anyway, I am so, so glad I went, and the good far outweighed the bad. And yet...there are some things about the trip that irked me, and most of them had to do with it being a group tour organized by a travel agency. I am preparing to write a letter to the agency about some of them, but first I shall gripe here.
1) Anything that could have gone wrong with my reservations for this trip did. In an attempt to placate me at the height of the wrongness, the agent said, "We've been doing this for thirty years." Fabulous. One would think you would know what you're doing by now, then. The purpose of having someone else organize your trip is to make it simpler, but I have never had a more difficult and time-consuming travel arrangement process than this.
2) Is it too much to ask for an itinerary with some sense of times and options?
3) If I don't have such an itinerary, does it really seem reasonable to expect that I will know when and where I'm supposed to be? And must you shout at people when they ask if they'll have time to see something? How rude.
4) We were on tour with rock bands. Part of the tour involved spending half of the evenings at concerts that went late into the night, and were definitely not followed by going immediately to bed. 7am wake-up calls? Are you people insane? Vacation for me never involves being up at 7am. I don't even like it when my normal life involves being up at 7am.
5) Ditto to 7am flights, especially those that leave from airports an hour or more from the hotel.
6) My favorite thing about traveling is getting to meet local people and observe local life. Doing this with 200 other Americans roaming around is nearly impossible.
7) Letting someone else choose my hotels: not wise. They did pretty well in Dublin, and great in Killarney, but Galway was just....ew. Good thing we only stayed there one night (although we paid for two), because they had scheduled things so that we all got out of the final concert well after midnight and had to be on a bus to the airport at 3am. Who needs sleep?
I loved touring with the bands, but seriously, next time around, I'm scheduling my own underground tour, with reasonable flight times and no wake-up calls.