08/01/2013 11:54 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Scotland Tour: All Tours Must Pass

It is always a bit emotional at the end of a tour, when we say goodbye to our bus driver and guide. We have a tour culture where bus drivers eat meals with our groups and are part of the family. Farewells (even with Roddie's fake over-the-top emotions in this clip) are heartfelt. Our groups pack light, carry their own bags, and take care of the bus as if it's ours. Drivers appreciate that. And drivers add a wonderful bit of spice to the social and cultural mix.

Our tour guide, Liz Lister (now with three Rick Steves tours -- two assisting and one leading -- under her belt), has picked up and embraced our quirky style well and clearly enjoys the group.

The party Liz invited the group to is our annual tour reunion party in Seattle. We'll be flying Liz to Seattle in January (along with our other European guides) for our annual reunion festivities and tour guide summit. Our guides look forward as much as anyone to being reunited with their tour members.

As my Best of Scotland in 10 Days tour winds down, it strikes me how quickly it's all gone. Here are a few memorable photos from late in the tour.

I've seen a lot of things for my first time during this tour. One thing I didn't expect to see was a fogbow. In front of our B&B, a heavy bank of fog obliterated the dramatic island view. Then, suddenly, we all opened our eyes wide as a wonderful band of light arced across the sky. Someone declared, "A fogbow!"

Here, in front of Stirling Castle, we all gathered with Robert the Bruce for a group shot.

When I shoot a group shot, I don't want sky. I don't want trees. And I don't want feet. I want faces. These are the people with whom I shared a trip I'll never forget. Holding my camera high, I can maximize the density of happy faces.

As our tour disperses, I'll be heading for Glasgow, Berlin, and Prague before meeting Steve Smith in Alsace and then joining up with the crew for TV production in France. Stay tuned.