This is not really a comparison of The Best of Tuscany vis-a-vis The Cinque Terre tour, coz yes, its kinda obvious - they are both vastly different from one another! But we were kinda one of those few people who had done both tours and we encountered several fellow travelers who were short on time and wanted to figure out which tour entails what! So here's a review of both!
I LOVED CINQUE TERRE! Its kinda a ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME experience! Freddy, our guide, is MINDBLOWING! He's one of the funniest, warmest, happiest souls who keeps motivating you through the crazy hikes! (And its amazing how he remembers everyones name!) And believe me it does get crazy! There are times you just wanna give up - but stick through it and the feeling at the other end is MINDBLOWING! You cross through some incredible scenic locales! The Italian Riviera is gorgeous! It was an extremely hot day for hiking, but we were wonderfully paced! (Freddy was sweet enough even to fill up our water bottles when he saw us panting for breath!) Its a long long day... I kinda did wish we finish for the day after the hike gets done giving us ample amount of time to soak the beauty and magic of the Riviera! The last two pit-stops for me, even though it includes the boat ride seems like getting through everything in a rush (without time to stop and smell the roses!) But nevertheless, this was one of the highlights of my entire European holiday - and thats saying something!
The Best of Tuscany is the more "touristy" of the two tours! I mean Leaning Tower of Pisa - you have to see it, right?! Haha! Michelle, our guide, was funny, quirky and kept us entertained all through the journey! Siena and San Gimignano were picturesque and quaint. I really thought the whole Tuscan Wine tour was kinda pointless - the guides there speak at the speed of 1000 words a minute (and that too in a thick Italian accent - which gets very difficult to follow) They don't respond to any questions and it seemed more of a formality rather than anything else! I didn't really enjoy that bit of the tour! (And that's sad, coz I would have really liked to understand the process of wine-making better!) However, all in all, interesting, informative and well organized! The lunches included in both the tours were exquisite experiences in their own way!
However, If I had only one day and I had to choose between the two tours, I would most definitely do Cinque Terre!!! :-) It is the less-touristy option, but it just was one of those days that still remains etched in my memory! (We also did both the tours on back-to-back days, that too hotttt July days!!! Bad, bad idea! Coz both tours are long and you do get tired at the end of the day! So in case you're doing both, pace it out! Take a day break in between just chilling and resting your feet, before you get back on the Walkabout bus!)
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