Turtle, Ecuador


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1 Review

  • Reviewed September 2019

    Patience Required

    The title of this trip “Highlights of Central Europe” would better described as “Historical Highlights of Central Europe”. Our guide Peter proved to be a very knowledgeable student of Central European history. This was clearly a passion and interest of his. However that was not true of every member of our group. The itinerary does not take account of this discrepancy. You get to see the capital cities of five countries in two weeks, so this is quite a busy schedule. If ticking those countries off is important to you, then this may be the trip for you. However the pace on many days can slow to a glacial crawl. There are endless stops on street corners, just as it looks like the pace was picking up, to recount historical facts, often seemingly at random. There are daily visits to restaurants for lunch - allowing you to sample the local food - which is inevitable 'heavy' and by the time people have paid takes two hours out of your schedule. (Baguette anyone?) Lunch is the main meal in these countries is seems... yet every evening a group meal at a restaurant would further expand your waistline. Taking an occasional trip on a country’s public transport system offers a great way to see the real lives of the people there. However, when the ‘occasional’ becomes ‘regular’ – where we are regularly dragging our luggage across cities, from buses to trams to trains, spending hours buying tickets, checking timetables, (dodging dog poo and dead pigeons everywhere in Budapest) – you start to feel that you are not on an Exodus trip, but a cheap student backpacking holiday. We were informed that this is a new approach by Exodus to use public transport where possible – to save the environment or some such?

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It seemed to me that the less historical, more social / fun items on this trip were the highlights. A new trip to a small winery was a blast, and really helped bond the group, who were a great bunch, and what made the trip less dry. A rafting trip down a river similarly adds fun and moisture. Sadly these don't happen often enough.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader, Peter is very knowledgeable, capable, and goes out of his way to help everyone, with even the smallest of details. However, he can get lost in the minutiae, almost molly-coddling the group - which meant you needed to go off and arrange your own activities if you wanted to do anything vaguely exciting. He has a 'broadcast' style of transmitting information - which works for some, but could quickly switch-off others. Many mornings he struggled to explain options to the group in a concise manner, leaving many confused as to the options available.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You can start to feel chateau-ed out as the umpteenth visit to the latest towns chateau looms - a genuine passion for this kind of history, or lots of patience is a necessary virtue on this trip.