Archive for Planned Tours

Walk Where Your Ancestors Walked

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Genealogy is the fastest growing hobby in the world. Millions of people want to see the places where their ancestors lived before emigrating. We have been leaders in this field since 1989, starting the world’s first professional photography service exclusively for family historians. That photography business mushroomed to include photography and tours combined. Now we spend up to eight months each year touring in Europe with our clients, who may or may not have a strong interest in family history. They just want to GO. We make it all possible. Start planning your Trip of a Lifetime today.

Ken and Gloria took a break from ancestral discoveries to enjoy sausages in a kitchen dating back to the late 15th century in Nurnberg, Germany in September of 2013.

Ken and Gloria took a break from ancestral discoveries to enjoy sausages in a kitchen dating back to the late 15th century in Nurnberg, Germany in September of 2013.

Plan Your Perfect Trip to Europe

Friday, December 13th, 2013

With expert help from the seasoned guides of European Focus Private Tours. We work with singles, couples, families and groups of friends who have common interests. Best of all, your tour is led by the designer! No fumbling around, no getting lost, no wondering what hotel to use or where to eat or what to do with your precious vacation time. We take all of the unknowns out of travel and eliminate the thousands of details which go into a fun, stress-free vacation. All you have to do is get onto the airplane and let us take care of the rest. Booking now for 2014 and beyond.

A busy father and his two sons enjoyed a stress-free vacation in Germany and France in July, leaving the planning to us while they carried on busy lives and careers back home in Oklahoma.

A busy father and his two sons enjoyed a stress-free vacation in Germany and France in July, leaving the planning to us while they carried on busy lives and careers back home in Oklahoma.

This idea presented as one way to experience Germany and a bit of Austria. We custom design most trips for our clients. This trip can be molded to fit your individual tastes and interests. Available now for September, 2014

The Hoher Goll mountain in the afternoon at Berchtesgaden

The Hoher Goll mountain in the afternoon at Berchtesgaden

Enjoy this tour of some of Germany’s known and unknown places. The ‘unknown’ places are familiar to us, because we have been living and working in Germany and Europe for a quarter century.

Limited size of just four. Because this tour is conducted during high season, couples are necessary due to some restrictions at a couple of the hotels where we will be staying (they don’t rent out single rooms during high season)

Tour guide: James Derheim, who has been living and working in Germany and Europe since 1989

Day 1:
Hirschhorn, Germany and area (2 nights)

You are picked up by your guide and driver, James Derheim, at the Frankfurt International Airport.

We will be traveling in the European Focus tour vehicle, a full-sized van, and so you will have plenty of room for luggage.

We leave Frankfurt and drive south, with our destination being the castle hotel, “Schloss Hirschhorn,” perched high above the hamlet by the same name.

You stay your first two nights of your private tour in Europe in a castle. This 16th century residence, with battlements and towers much older, was restored and turned into a hotel and restaurant decades ago. It was recently fully modernized and is now under new ownership. The castle has been a favorite of our guests since 2000.

The castle is not overly fancy, just comfortable, with large rooms looking down on the Neckar River and a lock, where you can watch barges pass through.

We’ll have dinner tonight together in the hotel’s excellent restaurant.
The next night, James recommends a little hole in the wall down in the village.

Dinner tonight included

The view from our castle hotel over the Neckar River

The view from our castle hotel over the Neckar River

Day 2:
A Crazy Count’s Castle

Definitely not on the American tourist’s agenda, this castle (now a museum owned by the state) was the collection point for an eccentric count’s collections of Roman and Green antiquities. The armory is one of the largest in private hands in Germany. And, you have to see the antlers collection to believe it. All in all, a very unique experience and the town where the castle stands, Erbach, is one of the prettiest off the beaten track places in the heart of Germany that we know.

Days 3 and 4:
Meersburg and Lake Konstanz (2)

One of our favorite historic hotels, “The Bear” was built as a coaching inn back in 1605 but the foundations go back even further.
A long list of innkeepers dating back to the early 17th century is in the entryway. A set of stairs leads to the rooms (As in the case with the inn located in Gleiszellen, there is no elevator) and rooms are large and many have splendid views down into the heart of the town and to the castle beyond.

James doesn’t intend to drag you through castle after castle, but it’s worth noting that the oldest castle in Germany is in Meersburg. It was prominently featured on the old 20 Deutschmark bill, before Germany retired that currency to join the Euro. One of our guests’ favorites, the castle allows visitors to go through the many rooms at their own pace, without a guide.

Things to do in this area include wine tasting at a small vineyard,
exploring nearby Friedrichshafen and its interesting Zeppelin Museum and an excursion to Mainau Island.

Since Meersburg is so tiny, it is easy to get to know the layout of the town and to easily fit in as a local. A day tripper’s town, once the sun starts to go down, those day trippers get back on their buses or their boats and the town feels like a village again.

Guests enjoy a slice of cake during a relaxed afternoon of travel

Guests from Texas enjoy a slice of cake during a relaxed afternoon of travel

Day 5:
Austrian Alps, Southern Tyrol (1)

We travel through the scenic Austrian Alps, heading for a stay in a pleasant, unassuming lodge in a tiny village above Innsbruck.

We split the drive with a stop to take in one of Austria’s most magnificent waterfalls. Located deep in a stunning alpine valley, this waterfall makes for an exhilarating way to burn off some calories before the next enjoyable meal.

Later, on to our inn. This place is famous for its restaurant. We’ve never seen a night where the place is not full of happy diners who drive up here from Innsbruck and surrounding towns just for the food and warm, authentic ambience. The owner runs a tight ship, and it shows in the sparkling clean rooms and the restaurant’s impeccable service and menu.

Awesome views and the time to enjoy them. Not a rushed bus tour!

Awesome views and the time to enjoy them. Not a rushed bus tour with crazy get up times and a “If it’s Tuesday this must be Belgium’ itinerary!

Days 6 and 7:
Berchtesgaden (2)

Luxury Stop

Hopefully you’re not tired of amazing mountain vistas, deep valleys and quaint villages, because today our drive to the far southeastern corner of Germany will be full of such sights. We’re heading for a vacation within your vacation, with two nights at one of the most beautiful alpine lodge hotels we know. This 4* Superior hotel is owned and operated by a family of hard-working Bavarians, who have with each generation expanded the place to its current dimensions. Nowadays, guests can enjoy heated indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, a chill-out room with heated “waterbeds,” plus a full-service spa with massage, facials, manicures and pedicures and so on. Rooms all have views and private balconies.

Dinners are four-course, relaxed affairs with Bavaria’s biggest salad bar plus a main course that you choose in advance from four possibilities.
And, in the morning, there’s another fantastic breakfast with omelets made the way you like them plus an extensive buffet.

Berchtesgaden and area

So much to see and do in this area. Depending on your activity level, there is:

• Biking
• Hiking both challenging and easy
• Walks in the woods or in the meadows surrounding the hotel
• Poking around charming Berchtesgaden
• Nearby Salzburg, Austria – one of the prettiest small cities in Austria and birthplace of Mozart.
• Or, last but not least – the pools, spa and saunas of the hotel – a key element of staying here and the reason why you are coming to this hotel. Those who are not into relaxation during vacation should let us know so that we can eliminate this stop and restructure your trip

European Focus founder and guide James Derheim at the Eagle's Nest, Berchtesgaden, Germany

European Focus founder and guide James Derheim at the Eagle’s Nest, Berchtesgaden, Germany

Day 8:
Regensburg (1)

We take the rural highways up through Bavaria, zigzagging our way to the former Roman military camp of “Castra Regina,” founded during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. A huge gate from the former Roman town has been integrated into our favorite hotel, another 4* Superior property with a lovely beer garden in a courtyard where the Bishop of Regensburg once held court. The massive Gothic cathedral, one of Germany’s finest, is right next door.

Regensburg is a wonderful example of what a large town would have looked like in the medieval period. Since the city was spared in WWII, it has retained its ancient character. Those narrow lanes are now filled with interesting shops. Best of all, down by the river there is a tiny kitchen which has been making sausages since (no kidding) the 1300s. The place was built to feed the workers constructing a stone bridge over the Donau (Danube) River. We can go there and munch of those delicious sausages and sample some of Germany’s best, sweetest sauerkraut while gazing at this 700-year-old bridge.

Also right around the corner from our hotel, possibly the best gelato north of the Italian border.

Regensburg is a wonderful place to wander, and plenty of time for that has been built into the plan.

Yum and Prosit! Sausages, kraut and beer riverside in Regensburg

Yum and Prosit! Sausages, kraut and beer riverside in Regensburg

Day 9:
Rothenburg ob der Tauber (1)

With a stop in Nurnberg , James shows you where the Nazis under Hitler had their huge rallies in the 1930s to drum up support for their takeover of the government. It can be a powerful experience to see these places now, crumbling and overgrown.

We then continue on for Germany’s best-preserved medieval town, Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

A trip to Germany doesn’t seem complete without a visit to Rothenburg. This has been our European home base since 2000 and we have an apartment in the old town center.

James knows Rothenburg like a local, because he has been one for so long. You’ll fit right in with the friends of James. Enjoy delicious authentic recipes from the Franconian region of Germany.

Highlights are a walk on the ramparts, a visit to Rothenburg’s amazing museum of torture and enjoying the atmosphere of this town dropped right out of the middle ages.

Brilliant colors above the Rhein at Bacharach

Brilliant colors above the Rhein at Bacharach

Days 10 and 11:
Bacharach and the Rhein and Mosel River Valleys (2)

We continue our trip to the west, bypassing Frankfurt (hello airport, not time for you yet) arriving in the hamlet of Bacharach at lunchtime. We’ll wrap up your journey with two nights at a traditional, family-owned and operated hotel where we have stayed with guests of European Focus since 1998. Dennis, who just might be the one who brings your glass of beer or wine to your room, was just about two and a half feet tall when we first got to know him and his smiling face, serving coffee from a pot nearly as big as he was at breakfast time. Now he’s just over six feet, and we think, still growing. (But, still smiling)

You can watch the goings on in the center of town from your balcony.

All around, there are things to see and do including:
• Biking along the paved path which follows the river (Downhill, as it turns out) You can take the train back when you’re finished.
• Wine tasting at a private vineyard
• Hiking or walking in the vineyards
• Picnic high above the Rhein with a sweeping view. James knows a special place
• Germany’s best-preserved medieval castle
• The Mosel River Valley, with a different character than the Rhein, worth exploring with a highlight being a visit to Burg Eltz

Dinner included your final night in the hotel.

Having a glass of Riesling above the village of Bacharach

Having a glass of Riesling above the village of Bacharach

Day 12:
Day of Departure
Departure from Frankfurt International Airport.

Your Private Tour in Germany and Austria

Includes:

• Breakfast (at hotel) lunches and two of your dinners. We find that most people – after a buffet breakfast and a satisfying lunch, are really not that hungry for another “full meal” in the evening. Therefore, we don’t list “all dinners included” because then people feel compelled to eat those three squares per day. You will be fed well enough, guaranteed. When dinner tab is being picked up as part of your tour, you are welcome to have two alcoholic drinks per person. Beer or wine included up to two glasses per person per meal lunch or dinner. Bottles of wine are not included unless your guide purchases them.
• Spacious double occupancy room, all with private bath/shower.
• Transportation by full-sized van if with James, or other roomy, comfortable vehicle if with Jenean
• Incidentals, tolls, fuel, sightseeing entry fees for those attractions listed on your itinerary, tips or payments to local guides, etc.

Not included: Airfare

Total cost in Euro per person based on this itinerary: 3,975 Euro
Adults preferred. Four persons, couples only

Deposit amount: 500 Euro per person, paid in US dollars
One third of your remaining balance is due 60 days before the start of your trip
Balance is due 14 days before trip start

References gladly provided

To reserve this tour, contact us today by e-mailing [email protected] or by calling 800-401-7802

Paris, Provence and the Côte d’ Azur, France Offer for July

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

PARIS, PROVENCE & CÔTE D’AZUR
Micro Group Tour for July (Max 5 adults)

This trip starts off with two nights in one of the world’s most enchanting cities, with a guide who knows how to make the most of your time. We then move away from the cities to explore several distinct regions of Provence – from fragrant and visually stimulating markets in some of the most scenic villages in France to taking in the wonderful cuisine of the regions. Finally, we move on to the Côte d’Azur, staying right on the sparkling Mediterranean in a quaint but bustling old fishing village.

If there’s interest within the group there is much more to experience, including:
• Plenty of exposure to remnants of the Roman world in their Gaulish territories
• Experiencing unmatched and diverse natural beauty and landscapes (picque-nique anyone?)
• History from pre-Roman, Roman, Middle Ages to present
• This tour is relatively slow-paced

12 days starting from (depending upon number of people, price below is for a full group of five. Price is higher per person if we do not reach the full number)

EURO 4,899

Please consult www.x-rates.com for current rate in dollars.

Package Offer Includes:

• Breakfast, lunch and guidance on where to go for dinner. Dinner included on three nights during your trip.
• All lodging
• Transportation costs, fuel and tolls
• Tips
• Admission fees

Does not include airfare to and from France.

European Focus Private Tours
Private European Travel Specialists since 1996

Guide Jenean Derheim in Provence, 2011

Paris, Southwestern France and Barcelona Micro-Group Tour

Friday, December 7th, 2012

PARIS, SOUTHWESTERN FRANCE & BARCELONA
Dates TBD on interest and group

This trip starts off with three nights in one of the world’s most enchanting cities, with a guide who knows how to make the most of your time here. We then move away from the city to explore the environs o southwestern France. Carcassonne and the surrounding area is famous for many reasons. Carcassonne and the area also has a lot of mystery and history associated with the Knights Templar. We then make the drive to the one-and-only Barcelona, a city that has been at the crossroads of so much history – from Christopher Columbus connections , to the avant-garde Modernisme movement, with incredible architectural masterpieces by Gaudi (Sagrada Famiglia) and others. This city is really charming with much to see and do. We stay at a centrally-located, small boutique hotel. Trip price does not include airfare.

If there’s interest within the group there is much more to experience, including:
• Plenty of exposure to remnants from Gallo-Roman times
• Exploration of the area around Carcassonne, featuring more quaint and interesting villages, such as Mirepoix (unusual and pretty Middle Ages architecture with nice shops), as well as excursions to the countryside to see some of the castle and abbey ruins and other picturesque villages
• Possibility to enjoy an excursion of the Canal du Midi
• While in Barcelona, sightseeing, including Sagrada Famiglia and some other Gaudi buildings, monument of Christopher Columbus, and Las Ramblas

13 days starting from (depending upon number of people)
EURO 5,299

Package Offer includes:
• All meals and drinks (up to two glasses of wine per person or two beers with dinner)
• All lodging, transportation costs, fuel and tolls
• Tips and admission fees

Minimum number of guests required: Five
Maximum we are able to take: Ten
Tours offered in spring and in fall

Paris, Provence and Southern France Coast Micro-Group Tour

Friday, December 7th, 2012

PARIS, PROVENCE & CÔTE D’AZUR
Micro Group Tour for early July or early October (Max 5 adults)

This trip starts off with two nights in one of the world’s most enchanting cities, with a guide who knows how to make the most of your time here. We then move away from the cities and to explore several distinct regions of Provence – from fragrant and visually stimulating markets in some of the most scenic villages in France to taking in the wonderful cuisine of the regions. Finally, we move on to the Côte d’Azur, staying right on the sparkling Mediterranean in a quaint but bustling old fishing village.

If there’s interest within the group there is much more to experience, including:
• Plenty of exposure to remnants of the Roman world in their Gaulish territories
• Experiencing unmatched and diverse natural beauty and landscapes (picque-nique anyone?)
• Relatively slow-paced
• History from pre-Roman, Roman, Middle Ages to present

12 days starting from (depending upon number of people)
EURO 4,959

Package Offer includes:
• All meals and drinks (up to two glasses of wine or two beers per person at dinner)
• All lodging
• Transportation costs, fuel and tolls
• Tips
• Admission fees (except for special requests such as parasailing on a beach or bullfights for instance)

Northern Spain – Micro Group Tour

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Beautiful countryside in Portugal

NORTHERN SPAIN & PORTUGAL
Micro Group Tour for October (Max 5 adults)

We start with three nights in Segovia where we are positioned conveniently for several trips including Salamanca. The tour then moves up into the Léon y Castilla region, known for being part of the Camino de Compostela, as well as beautiful, rugged scenery and hilltop villages that show a connection to the Moorish past. We move on along to the famous pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela for a few nights to see what is considered one of Europe’s most beautiful city squares as well as the pilgrimage cathedral of St. James. Finally, we make the scenic drive down the coast into Portugal, where we’ll spend time in the northern part of the country, including Oporto and Braga. The trip ends with an overnight stay near Lisbon’s International Airport for your departure.

If there’s interest within the group there is much more to experience, including:
• Trying the Spanish and Portuguese specialty of “Leitdo Assado” or Roast Suckling Pig
• A visit to the palace of Felipe II’s, El Escorial (1563).
• Excursion to the Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen) and its huge Holy Cross monument built by General Franco as a memorial for the fallen in Spain’s civil war through the countryside
• Exploration of the impressive headlands of the Costa da Morta
• The spectacular landscape of Las Médulas resulted from the Ruina Montium, a Roman mining technique described by Pliny the Elder in 77 AD
• Port tasting and buying

13 days starting from (depending upon number of people)
EURO 4,999

Package Offer includes:
• All meals and drinks (up to two glasses of wine or beer per person
@ dinner)
• All lodging
• Transportation costs, fuel and tolls
• Tips
• Admission fees (excluding special requests such as bullfights)

European Focus Home Away from Home

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

The view from our living room window out onto the Tauber Valley

Our home base in Europe is the medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Have a live look here:
http://www.rothenburg.de/index.php?get=121
at the web cam view of the ancient marketplace.

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Guiding tours in European for over 20 years