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Wonderful Opportunity!Visiting Germany & Austria in December was beautiful and life changing for my students! My students were able to "touch Europe" after years of learning and dreaming.
All of our hotels were close enough to the city center without being IN the city center--this allowed me to sleep at night because I knew the students weren't going to sneak out and get lost!
Munich was beautiful, though we wished we had a little more time there--we opted to do the Neuschwanstein tour, which was beautiful, but made our exploring time in Munich minimal.
We went to Dachau in the early morning, right as it opened-it was foggy and frigid and the perfect ominous weather to explore a Concentration Camp. Students were overwhelmed by the impact of the grounds. Make sure you go in the morning before crowds appear!
Salzburg was the epitome of every student's dreams. Beautiful city, you have to go up to the Burg! Shopping was great, food was great. We all enjoyed ordering from Imbisse and conversing with locals.
The salt mines at Hallein were SO FUN! The students loved the slides and the boat & train rides--the videos were cheesy but entertaining.
Vienna was a gorgeous place to spend New Years Eve--an experience students aren't likely to forget. We sipped Kinderpunsch while watching fireworks explode over the Rathaus. Amazing! Exploring Schönbrunn, and the Christkindlmarkt, were great--so happy the markets were still open!
The food was great--one student exclaimed after his first bite of every meal "this is the best food I've EVER had!"
Franziska is a perfect tour guide--she uses the right amount of seriousness, sarcasm and humor every day and kept students moving and learning, plus taught them many phrases and words. We especially liked being able to be flexible and to adjust the schedule as the days unfolded based on our needs and the time constraints around a holiday.
Germany is Awesome!My experience was great! Everything was great - from the planning, to the flight, to meeting our tour guide, to the hotels, and the super cool sights!!! This was my first trip to Europe and I was a so excited to explore. My favorite part was seeing all the sights and trying new food. I liked that we had some scheduled tours, but we also had some free time to wander in the markets. I had a great experience!
Didn't want to leaveWhile not my first trip abroad, it was my first trip without my parents. I just got home from the trip on the 14th, and while there were things that could've been better, it's hard to complain when I was fortunate to even be able to go. As someone who wants to travel a lot when they're older, it was a great start.
My trip consisted of 23 other students and 4 teachers. Some of the kids I knew, but I only knew one of the teachers (the group leader). By the end of the trip, I was friends with most of the kids and all of the teachers. We were lucky that we were able to get a private tour, for we found out last minute that we would have to either pay more for a private tour or change the tour date only a few months before the trip (after planning it for almost a year and a half). So my group leader argued with our coordinator, who agreed to let us have a private tour for no additional cost.
We had an 8-day trip, in which two of those days were spent on an aeroplane. It was a shame, because it made it feel like we still had a few more days of the trip. We had a great tour director who was personable and funny. Morning wake-up calls were between 6:45 and 7:15, with breakfast about 30-45 minutes later and then leaving the hotel usually between 7:45 and 8:30. We spent about 2 days in each city. When we travelled from city to city, we always had a break at a rest stop half way there. Public bathrooms were extremely clean, especially for a boys’ bathroom. I can’t speak for the girls’, but I’m assuming the same quality. I guess that’s why you have to pay to use most bathrooms.
Hotels were outside of the city, and usually pretty small. They had elevators, but they were unlike elevators in the US (only about 2 people + luggage could fit), so most people carried their suitcases up the stairs. The hotel in Salzburg was the best. Even though it was over an hour from the city, it was worth it because it was 3000 feet up in the Alps. The view was amazing. It was also the largest and nicest of the 3 hotels we stayed in. Our hotel in Vienna was the smallest, but it also seemed to have the most furniture. We ended up having to shove one of the chairs into the wardrobe and dealing with the second one right in the middle of the walkway so that we could have enough space.
Free time was the best, since we got to experience the city at our own pace, and see what we wanted to see. Lunch was almost always during free time, so we had to the chance to go to little cafes and try new foods.
Our group leader always wanted us in groups of 4 or more (makes sense), and the group I often hung out with ended up getting a lot of ice cream/gelato. If you have the chance, get some. It was really good and usually fairly cheap. Food in general was AMAZING. It is heavy on meat (pork and chicken especially) and potatoes. I didn’t find anything I didn’t like (and I’m a REALLY picky eater!). Even sauerkraut wasn’t horrible; it was just really sour/bitter.
Munich was a beautiful city with a stunning city hall right in the middle of the city centre. From the city centre, several roads split off, each leading to an array of new discoveries. An open market behind a church, a road with stores for shopping, others with smaller shops and cafes. There was too much to see with too little time. The bus tour we had on the first day was fairly boring, actually putting to sleep about half of the bus. The first night in the city was the World Cup Semifinals against Brazil, so we travelled from our hotel to a local bar to watch the game. The atmosphere of the bar every time Germany scored is something I’ll never forget. The second day we travelled about an hour away to Neuschwanstein Castle. This beautiful castle in the Alps towers over a small town. A 20-minute walk from this town through thick forest lands you at the base of this massive castle. Another 20-minute walk led you to a bridge, where many crowded to see the castle from afar. The inside was stunning. Though because of its incompleteness, the tour was fairly short. We also had an impromptu visit to Hofbräuhaus, the famous beer hall so that we could experience the nigh life. Even though most of us were 16, we were not allowed to drink (I was okay with that). But it made the hour and a half we had there very boring. Most of the kids walked around in boredom. My group eventually found our way back to the city centre (which was surprisingly close). Unfortunately, most shops closed around 8, so there was very little to do. We took the train back to our hotel.
On the way to Salzburg, we stopped at Dachau. This solemn place made all of us very quiet. While none of us could relate personally, we respectfully walked around, taking in everything. There was no formal tour, but that was all right. It allowed us to take things at our own pace.
After Dachau, we headed straight to Salzburg. Right off the bat, we started with a walk through parts New Town and then travelled across a bridge full of locks into Old Town. We ended at Mozart’s birthplace. Towering over Old Town was the Fortress. During free time, many of us took the short train ride up the mountain to see it. Most who went up argued with our teachers that it was better than Neuschwanstein. I was up there when the clock hit 12, and you could hear all churches in the city ringing their bells. The view from the Fortress was amazing. You could basically see the entire city. Like in Munich, the walking tour of Salzburg was very boring and long. Even the teachers were complaining by the end of it. The salt mines were another excursion we did in this city. For those who, like me, are claustrophobic, might find that there are too many people for such a small area. It was not as interesting as I thought it would be, but it was neat.
This was least favourite of the three cities. We started off with a walking tour, which was fortunately more interesting than the previous ones. We ended up in the city centre, where St. Stephens towered over us. We had our first wiener schnitzel that first night. It was one of the best things I’d had all trip. It reminded me of a gigantic chicken tender, except with pork instead of chicken. I don’t there was a single person on my trip who didn’t like it.
Overall, it was a fantastic trip. I didn’t want it to end. I found something enjoyable at every stop. Even during walking tours, where I just wanted them to be over, I was able to see a ton of cool architecture that I’d never seen in person before. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had so far.
While where we went and what we did really could make or break the experience, the people I was with made it feel complete. We had a ton of fun together, and the teachers who went were great. Even if you see spectacular things, if you have no one to share them with, it can make it not as good as it would have been. I wouldn’t have changed anything in a heartbeat. Even the “problems” we had had their bonuses.
The Good and The BadThe Good-
The tour offered a great overview of what to see in so short of time and what to see in the future. The group is well organized with times of locations and free time in each city. Hotel in Munich was good and clean with great continental breakfast. New Years fireworks in Vienna was well worth seeing with live music throughout town.
Hotels are too far away from main city centers where we focus most of the tour. Makes it harder to do short excursions. Hotel in Salzburg had poor bathroom condition which included mold. Also it had a not as great continental breakfast as the Munich hotel. Vienna hotel had 1 pillow for a Queen size bed. Included Dinners in most of the cities did not represent the ethnic culture in either quality (french fries and ketchup with weiner schnitzel) or type (no saurbraten or spaetzel).
Amazing ExperienceDefinitely the trip of a lifetime! I couldn't be happier with the outcome of the trip!
I want to go back!We went to Munich, Salzburg, and Vienna on our tour, and I don't think I could have had a better tour elsewhere. Everything was as planned and organized as possible, and the tour guides were funny, knowledgeable, and helpful no matter how silly our questions were. We got to see all the highlights, such as Schloss Neuschwanstein and the palace of the Hapsburgs. We had ample free time to explore the city, which was nice. I learned a lot and had a great time!
Ready for our next trip.It's been 4 days since we returned from our tour with EF Tours and we can't stop talking about it. We are already making plans for our next trip.
EF Tours was on top of everything from beginning to end. The entire tour ran as smoothly as possible. We had a large group so we had two guides, Lala and Alex, who were both very knowledgeable and professional.
The only "negative" is that I was not in better shape. If you tour with a bunch of high school aged kids, the guides keep the tour moving so that the kids do not get bored. The days were packed with lots to do and see so it was imperative that we stayed on schedule. For our next tour we may try traveling with a group more our age (and speed) that allows for a little more free time.
We would definitely recommend EF Tours for anyone or any group who is going on or planning on going on a trip over seas!
Highly Exceeded Expectations!!!All aspects of the tour were extremely well planned and executed. Our guides were highly knowledgeable and hilariously funny. They quickly became part of our "family." The immersion into German and Austrian history and culture was truly breathtaking. I came back from my trip extremely satisfied with the experience, but ... wanting to go back for more. Kudos to EF Tours and our tour guides Alex and Lala!!!!!
Awesome trip to EuropeHad an awesome time in Europe. Lala and Alex are amazing and fun.
AWESOME GERMANY & AUSTRIA TRIPTHE TRIP WAS AMAZING!