Justin & Eileen 2014
Last year while at San Diego's Town and Country Resort Hotel for the Jazz Fest, I picked up a flier announcing a two-week tour of selected German and Austrian cities, villages, and other cultural and scenic locations during the last two weeks of September 2014, under the auspices of Crisp Tours. My Constant Companion, Eileen Merten, and I had never heard of this tour group, but had enjoyed the music of Coronet Chop Suey at the festival; and they were to be the featured musical group during the tour, with the musicians and aficionados of traditional jazz all residing for two weeks in a charming family run hotel in Grassau, Bavaria.
Having earlier planned a professional business meeting in Potsdam, which subsequently included a "Friendship Tour" of other cities in Germany the first two weeks of September 2014, ending in Munich, where the Crisp Tour was to begin, Eileen and I thought it made sense to combine the two. Spending a more relaxed two weeks in one hotel location, moreover, with side trips to the many attractions scheduled in the flier, was especially appealing. So we took a "flier" and signed on. That decision was fortuitous, for Crisp Tours did not disappoint. Allow me to elaborate.
Tom and his wife, Gina, were our tour leaders, ably assisted by their son, Curtis. As you probably know, Tom met Gina, a native of Deutschland, while he was serving our country in the US Air Force. Both now retired, they remain motivated to conduct travel tours from the sheer enjoyment of showcasing the country each knows so well, and pleasing American jazz and square dance lovers. The tour price was extremely affordable, the experience with this wonderful family priceless. One is hard pressed these days of unbridled misrepresentation and outright avarice in the entertainment industry, which perforce includes touring, to find such reliable and dedicated individuals who seek only to please their touring participants at every turn. Not a day went by during the two week tour when one or another of the "Family Crisp" members failed to attend to our every need, as they journeyed with us on their beautifully planned itinerary.
I'm told that this year Tom and Gina will be assisted by their sister, Vicky, on the tour. The featured musical group will be the always favorite, one might say, sensational, Draga-Coots musical aggregation. Participants should expect not only great music along with travel to fantastic castles, cathedrals and other memorable locations, but breathtaking scenery, congenial encounters with native Germans and, of course, the myriad unexpected events which only Tom and Gina know how to inspire with their many local connections in Germany and Austria. I most highly recommend this Great Bavarian Tour.
Cordially, Justin Rockwell, California Administrative Law Judge (retired)
San Diego, CA
Marilyn & Dick 2014
Dear Tom and Gina,
Thank you for sending all the pictures. We didn't take any, so I am so happy to have yours. And thank you for more than that. It was such a wonderful trip -- better than I even imagined. It was a very pleasant and agreeable group, and you two set the stage for this with your caring, friendliness and good humor. The schedule moved like clockwork, and yet there was an easy, relaxed atmosphere. That's a difficult balance to maintain, and you did it!
I will certainly recommend the trip whenever the occasion arises. Thank you for a wonderful two weeks of great sites, new friends, and music!
PS. I'll never forget the concert with our band and the Grassau music teachers -- and the dancers! What a night!
Los Angeles, CA
Dear Tom, Gina and Curtis,
This is to thank you for an unforgettable and wonderful trip. The three of you made our trip soooo special. The whole time you were taking care of us and taking us to many interesting places. To do this requires a lot of work! It was a pleasure meeting you and I wish you" The Best", always.
Overton & Gertie 2014
We had a great time! Here is a picture you should of put on also of a Tour Director that has wore himself out making sure everyone has a great time, and we did. Thanks a lot to you Gina and Curtis for making it a great and unforgettable trip. You guys took care of everything that anybody could come up with and all the additional stuff you did such as taking different routes back to the Hotel and your knowledge of all the towns and countryside.
Thanks for A great trip,
St. Louis, MO
Gene & Donna 2014
Many thanks Crisps...the tour was wonderful! We are telling everyone what a great time we had and how much we enjoyed meeting everyone and sharing a glorious jazz experience plus such a beautiful country! Hope all are well and that we meet again soon!
Chuck & Barbara 2014
Hello Tom & Gina,
Want to say Thank You. You and Gina made the tour 1st Class!
El Cajon, CA
Jack & Laura 2014
Great timing - Jack and I were just talking about you last night (over his birthday dinner) - remembering how much fun we had and how well we all "clicked". Grassau is a perfect town - and we LOVED the family that ran the hotel. Your activities were varied and the Band was perfect - as usual. We love having time to spend with them and have them with us on all the side trips. Thank you for sharing your personal stories with us. We feel connected in such a nice way. Sometimes the fates converge to make magic happen - this was one of those times. I had had some communication with Tom - before we left and I just knew we were going to get along. Blessings to you all - and once again - thank you. Take care,
Don & Marg 2014
Don & Marg McFarlane
You're not the only ones who had a great time. We certainly did too. Best tour to date!!! And the flights you arranged for us worked out great also. Plus, the group were all friendly and compatible as well, but we believe that to be normal for Dixieland jazz lovers. Many thanks for the tour and all the extras you did for us. So sorry about the news of JB. We enjoyed their company and they were so positive with their outlook for the future.
Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Margoth & Lothar 2014
Hallo Gina und Tom,
Wir hoffen, daß ihr wieder gut zuhaus angekommen seid. Für die Einladung nochmals vielen Dank! Es war ein sehr schöner und unterhaltsamer Abend. Mit den verbliebenen Tagen bis zu Euerer Abreise, war das Wetter auch noch gut. Für die Stimmung der Reisegruppe besonders wichtig!
Herzliche Grüße und alles Gute,
Hi Gina and Tom,
We hope that you arrived home well. Many thanks again for the invitation! It was a very enjoyable and entertaining evening. The weather is still good with the remaining days before your departure and that is especially important for the disposition of guests!
Kind regards and best wishes,
Wally & Elaine 2014
Hello Tom and Gina,
Just a short note to tell you how much we enjoyed the experience and all of your efforts to make sure we did. Not an easy task but Elaine and I appreciate what you did in arranging and supervising all of the events, good work.
We had an uneventful trip home, that is the best kind, the group from CCS had a tight connection at ORD but I did hear from Jerry that they all made it and were resting at home as were we.
Thank you, it was great.
Auriel & Don 2014
Dear Tom and Gina,
Don and I would like to thank you for the wonderful Bavarian adventure we have recently returned from. From start to finish it was a delight. Well, maybe not the flying part. We felt so bad that everyone had to wait for our delayed Air Canada flight.
We travel a lot and this trip was definitely the best organized one I ever remember. You both work non stop to make sure everyone else is happy. And, of course, having Curtis along was a big bonus.(tell him I do still love him)
I see you have Bob Draga and Danny on next year's adventure. Wow! I want to go again! There are so many places to visit in this world, but returning to Bavaria is high on my wish list.
Looking forward to seeing you at Suncoast Jazz Festival. Maybe you will get to relax there.
Our jazz friends are all very envious, and when I return from Suncoast I hope to be able to brings some fliers back for next year's event.
Hugs to you both (and Curtis),
Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Art & Jackie 2014
Hi Tom, Gina and Curtis,
Just a short note to tell you how much we enjoyed the tour to Germany and Austria and to thank you for one of the best tours we have ever taken, and believe me we have taken a lot.
I know you have done this tour for a number of years and it is evident in the manner in which you planned, organized and executed the entire trip so smoothly and trouble free. It's very difficult to put up with the requests and sometimes demands of over sixty people and do it with the grace you all demonstrated.
Tom, your overall management was excellent. Gina, my thanks to you for loaning me 45 Euros so that we could have a good dinner on our last night. Curtis, you captured the heart and affection of all the white haired ladies and for good reason. You responded so well to all requests for information and never tired of us.
Since our return, we have told all of our music loving friends about Crisp Tours and have highly recommended your tour to beautiful Bavaria and the charming village of Grassau.
Thanks again for all you did for us.
Justin & Eileen 2014
At my longevity in the time-life cycle, Tom, I tend to think of a gift (physical or emotional) as a blessing beyond expectations; and that, my friend, is what Eileen and I experienced, thanks to your "Family Crisp," which is what I suggest you rename your tour group, since each of You, Gina, and Curtis, made our two weeks so memorable.
You know the territory, you know the locals, you sense the desires of your clients so well, it us no wonder that the total experience is so satisfying. Even the tête-à-tête, as you and your loved ones journeyed us through what are normally boring bus trips, was refreshing. I can't think of another holiday so enriching in the spirit of discovery -- not of castles and cathedrals so much as indigenous everyday activities and people-encounters.
As to the timing of what are traditionally considered "must see" events, your management was impeccable. Despite a few of the touristy attractions, which presumably you have to provide, when left to your own preferences, the opportunities were there to be individually relished. Eileen and I did so.
Thank you, thank you, Tom. Believe me, I'll be the first in line to favorably recommend your next trip to Grassau. En Agape,
San Diego, CA
Hi Gina and Tom,
My eyes are never dry when I realize I am not able to go with you again this year. I remember so well that trip and had always planned to make it back one more time. Well, perhaps next year! I loved visiting all those fascinating places and meeting the wonderful village folks. Remember, I took some walks off on my own and spoke to some of the farmers and shopkeepers along the way. Every now and then I take out the photos and just marvel at the amazing landscape of the Alps, especially Eagle’s Nest! Also, the trip on Lake Chiemsee to see the castle and estate on the island was a once in a lifetime (for me) to see. And gosh! Where does it end? Salzburg was sooooo amazing!!! Oh! and that castle we saw in Munich surrounded by acres of flowers. I could imagine sitting outside listening to a modern smooth jazz concert–there are so many wonderful emerging smooth jazz German artists now. I still love the German style of airbrush painting on the houses and how every house had big healthy-looking geraniums in the planters hanging below every window! Gives such a sense of permanence! AND gee, how about going to Oktoberfest, the REAL THING! OF COURSE!!!—all the magnificent concerts every night!!!!! WOW! what a trip indeed! I really do hope I can go one more time before you stop taking the tours.
Hot Springs, AR
Tom & Gina,
Thanks for your efforts in making this trip a “big hit”. You did a magnificent bit of organization – lots of variety & experiences. Tom, I started to write down “my highlights of the trip.” When I finished, I had written down nearly “every day’s trips.” Therefore, the ENTIRE TRIP was a highlight. Hats off to you and Gina. Blessings to you and family in the coming Holiday Season.
A very “satisfied tourist!”
Jan & Bill
Dear Tom & Gina,Our recent trip to Germany with you was truly outstanding. We thoroughly enjoyed virtually every minute of every day. There were so many highlights. Clearly, the knowledge that you two have of the area and taking us to all the great tourist attractions was a key to a truly wonderful trip.
Your selection of the Night Blooming Jazzmen was also a major contribution to the great success of the trip. They are an exceptional group that is fun to be with and listen to. We are currently reviewing fond memories of the trip as we listen to tapes and CDs that we bought in Sacramento and Germany.
You two did a superb job of organizing and conducting a great trip. We hope our paths cross again. Meanwhile, we hope that all is well with you. Many thanks for a wonderful trip.
Melba & Stan
Thanks again for putting together a fantastic trip. It was one of the best trips Melba and I have ever taken.
George & Cindy
Thank You Tom & Gina for a wonderful tour!It could not have been more perfect. We consider it a real privilege to have been lucky enough to be able to travel with you. You don’t call yourselves professional tour guides, but let me tell you when we compare the first part of our trip i.e. your tour with the “professional” tour we went on in Switzerland. There is no question which arrangers did the best job.
We did so many things and seen so many things we find it difficult to share our many experiences with our friends who can’t begin to understand the awesomeness of our trip.
And now thank you again for sharing your pictures, they are different from any of ours, and I took lots of pictures. Our hats are off to both of YOU!!!
Rita & Harold
Thank you very much for the wonderful trip to Germany. You both did a great job. It was a life time experience! Thanks again! Love,
Costa Mesa, CA
Mike & Karen
We had a wonderful time in Bavaria, and ya’ll had a lot to do with our enjoyment!
Thank you soooooooo much. Wishing you good health and much love,
Darold & Loraine
Hi Tom and Gina,
We loved our two weeks in Bavaria, and we want to thank you two for being great tour guides. We loved that beautiful country. We fell in love with the village of Grassau–took lots of walks and enjoyed the pastry places and the meat market. The people were very friendly. We really enjoyed all the wonderful places you showed us. Thanks again and again—-we hope to see you again some time. Thanks,
Ed & Shirley
Thanks again for a wonderful vacation!! Your generosity saved the day when it came to room accommodations. Thank you,
Port Angeles, WA
Pat & Al 2008
Hello to the Crisp tour organizers. Thank you very much for the pictures which I have just taken a few minutes to enjoy and will save them so we can enjoy looking at them again.Got home safe and sound with a cold that started on the flight home. Just couldn’t talk for a few days. Luggage arrived with us but Al’s had a handle that was torn off and mine had a zipper tag that was broken. Our local shoe repair shop did a great job fixing them.
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip. Scenery, places visited, place stayed – everything was enjoyable. Pat yourselves on your backs for a job well done.
Woodland Hills, CA
Fern & Clyde 2008
Hello to Gina and Tom:
Clyde and I want to thank you for such a great vacation. We certainly enjoyed all the people on the trip and you put together a beautiful itinerary. What a beautiful part of the world. Weren't we lucky with the beautiful weather? Both of us hope to see you again someday, when you come to Grass Valley. Thank you for all of the pictures.
Grass Valley, CA
Vicky & Peter
Hi Tom & Gina,We are going through our photos today, deciding which ones to have printed from the DVD we loaded them onto. We have 681 to narrow down to 500, that’s what the photo album will hold!
We have thought of you, the group and the wonderful tour trips each day. We want to thank you for giving us such a great trip and so many memories as we celebrated my 50th. We met so many nice people; of course the music was outstanding. We only knew Bob, Jeff and Danny. Fun to meet the others. We think they should form their own group…
The Hotel Sperrer was very nice – the staff the best. We just loved the smiles of the twp sisters who served the breakfast and would not want the job of the evening waitress Uschihas! She was just amazing how she managed so many people with a smile.
We would like to visit Grassau again one day. It is a charming village, loved just walking around and looking at the homes and shops. People were so helpful and we had several good laughs with various ones when we could not communicate well!
Trust you enjoyed the additional time in Germany with family and a safe trip home.
We appreciate you both very much. Sincerely,
Hi Tom and Gina,
Just a BIG thank you for arranging such an excellent tour in Bavaria. Thanks for all the good photos on your website. The whole trip was great and worth every cent. I loved it all. You are super tour guides.
San Diego, CA
Stacy & Naomi 2008
Guten Morgen Tom & Gina,
We want to thank you for our wonderful tour in Bavaria and Tyrol, Austria. Gina, I am wearing the pretty scarf holder that you gave me, in Bavarian Sun Valley, Idaho.
N. Redington Beach, FL
Ruby & Paul 2008
Hi Tom & Gina – Just a note to tell you how much I appreciated all your tiresome work to make our trip truly memorable. I have never seen a more beautiful county. Hope to see you again sometime. Fondly yours,
Mike & Anna 2008
Your kindness and thoughtfulness are simply overwhelming! Thanks so much for a wonderful tour. It really exceeded our dreams.
All our best,
Thank you again for the “Griesner Alm” CD. I enjoy listening to it whil I am working on the photos we took on our trip and how much we enjoyed our visit to Bavaria.
We appreciate all the work you and Tom put in to make our trip such a pleasure.
Bobby & Traci
Hey Tom- thank you again so very much! Traci and I really enjoyed the two weeks in Germany, and have lots of pictures to share, as soon as I find some time to get ‘em out.
Jack & Rada
Tom and Gina,
Thanks for the wonderful trip and for being so helpful all the way. We have already forwarded the photo gallery materials to many friends. Hope they respond in 2014.
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to sing with the band during two Jam sessions but did not get a photo to prove it. If anyone did get a photo of those events, I would love to have a copy. I just might save it for my obituary.
Mountain View, CA
Just reviewed the pictures - FABULOUS!!! I MISS YOU ALL – sitting here with tears—-!!!
Trip home went smooth - reclaimed my raincoat at SMF.
Love - Elinor
Pat & Larry
Tom and Gina,Thanks again so much for the wonderful and eye-opening trip. I am attaching my travelogue. I always do one for any long trip we take so I’ll be able to remember them in later years.
Your Draga-Coots All Stars trip to Bavaria and Austria exceeded our expectations. The tours out of Grassau were excellent and mind expanding, as was the Dixieland Jazz at night by the terrific group of musicians. Seeing the local talent–Schuhplattlers and Teachers Grove Band–was the icing on the cake! I can’t give enough praise to you, Gina and Tom, your son, Curtis, and your grandson, Kenny. Herding a group of seniors, set in their ways, forgetful, and so forth, can’t be an easy task but you all did it with good humor and an easy going manner.
Gene & Donna
Hi Tom: I just wanted to let you know Donna and I had a great time. We enjoy the great Jazz All Stars and the great tours that you had scheduled. It let us all get more acquainted with the performers and enjoyed there humor. Bavaria was just beautiful. It competed one of my bucket list and if possible I’m going to return. Donna and I are going to the Jazz Festival in Medford the 12th-14th next week. Bob Draga with be there as a roaming performer. Everything was great! The only thing we wished that we had more free time to explore on our own. Maybe next time.
Jim & Jean
Hello Tom & Gina! Just a quick note to thank you for planning such a wonderful trip to Germany and Austria. It was a very memorable experience combining outstanding jazz with interesting and varied excursions. Having the opportunity to stay in the same hotel in the charming town of Grassau gave us a feeling of “coming home” after our days exploring, plus visiting with other friendly people and musicians on the tour gave us a cohesive feeling of “extended family.”Thanks again to both of you and to your helpful son Curtis and grandson Kenny. Also, hats off to all the musicians, especially Bob Draga and Danny Coots who not only provided first class entertainment, but went the extra mile to help everyone on and off the bus and with heavy luggage. We’ll remember these past two weeks fondly. Cheers,
San Jose, CA
Carolyn and David
Dear Gina and Tom,
Just starting to get caught up after returning from our wonderful 2 week tour in Germany with you.
We could not have asked for more – plenty of great tours to go on, stunningly beautiful scenery to admire, and history to appreciate!! (especially enjoyed the Mozart concert and dinner in Salzburg).
Beautiful Hotel-Gasthof Sperrer was clean, dfriendly and plenty of good food. The all star Coots-Draga band was terrific and did not disappoint anyone! Each member an all star in their own right!
It was a wonderful opportunity to see old jazz friends and make many new ones. What more could anyone ask for!!
Both you and your family – Curtis and Kenny, did a wonderful job of making sure we all had the best time possible!!
Thanks again for all your hard work!
New Athens, IL