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I havent been on a contiki tour yet, but it seems like even if you do take all the optionals there is still plenty of free time to do whatever you like. Of course, depending on your tour the amount of time at each location is different, but even at some of them that are quick it seems like there should be enough time even with excursions. I was really concerned about not having enough time in Rome to see everything + the Vatican with only having a day and a half and everyone seemed to assure me that it can be done easily. So I am sure that you wont have any problem finding free time to go shopping. A lot of travelogues I read mention shopping..a lot.
Yeah, if you don’t do an optional then you basically have free time until you meet up with the group again.
If you want real amounts of time for shopping, try a “Getaway Tour” because the whole point of those is to give you lots of free time to customize your experience.
Yes, you are totally free to do whatever you want during the entire tour as long as you are there on time when the coach leaves for the next city <!--graemlin::)--> You don’t even have to eat the provided meals if you don’t want to! If you want to stay out shopping longer and not take the coach back to the hotel, you can even do that (in many places there will be affordable public trans back to the hotel location – some places there won’t be and you will be much better off catching the coach at the designated pick up time).
Any how, some of the optional excursions occur while you are enroute to a new city. Sometimes there isn’t really much else to do in the area so if you choose to not do the optional, you will just have to hang out, take a nap and catch up on some much needed sleep or brush up on the native language at your next destination. For example, both of the optionals for Austrian Tyrol are like this – the Swarovski Crystal World and the White Water Rafting. There is nothing else to do in the area. Your TM will explain all of this to you when he/she hands out the optional excursion sign-up sheet.
Also, if you don’t sign up for anything, you can always decide later that you want to do it. If you become best buddies with someone on tour and they are going to see the Nouvelle Eve show in Paris and suddenly you HAVE to go too because it is your last night together, then you just tell your TM and he/she will sign you up. You can also cancel most optionals within 24 hours.
There is totally time to shop! FYI, all of the couture shops in Venice are just east of Piazza San Marco (opposite of the Basilica). And of course, in Paris they are on the Champs Elysees. <!--graemlin:;)-->
I hope that answers your question
I skipped a few optionals on my European Discovery a few years back … in particular I skipped the dinner in Venice and just had a great time with a few others wandering to find our own resturant for the evening.
But if you don’t want to do something, you can do whatever you want. The only exception is when you’re in the middle of nowhere, then you don’t really have a choice but to hang out with everyone else in the same place.
okae cool thanks! you guys have really helped a lot =D
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