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England and Scotland May 14th 2010 review

21 Jun 2010 Sutho said

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I have just recently come home from this trip of England and Scotland which is part of the larger Great Britain and Ireland Tour.

Trip Overview:
To sum it up I loved it and it exceeded all my expectations. We had an excellent group which got on well, excellent weather, an excellent guide and driver, and it has really changed my opinion about Contiki.

About me:
Male 28 sinlge traveller. One previous contiki trip (European Discovery 2002). Several cruise holidays. Into travel and sightseeing. Quiet personality but open to others. Light social drinker that does not party hard.

The sights:
Day 1 is really action packed with stops at stonehenge, bath and finally Bristol. THe sights on the way are brilliant in particular for me the Roman Baths. Bristol was our first night together and we all went to the organised group dinner at the Riverstation Restaurant in Bristol.

Day 2 was a drive up to Liverpool for the Beatles experience. It was quite worthwhile and also included a drive through the city as well as time to go off shop and have lunch. After Liverpool it was the trip to York which has an amazing Cathederal called York Minster which is well worth a climb to the top for the stunning views. We all had the group dinner again that night as well as the York ghost walk.

Day 3 was to Lake district. We went to adventure activities at Newlands Adventure centre near Keswick. The adventure activities are quite worthwhile. Next was to Lake Windermere I found the lake cruise optional excursion to be interesting for sights but there wasnt much to it. I felt I would have had a better time hiring my own boat as you can do without a licence for that lake. Apart from that it was just a traditional English pub dinner that night. It was a Sunday night and I felt that we had too much free time as there was not much to do at all.

Day 4 was onwards to Gretna Green. It was a excellent stop for souveneir shopping. We had our group photo in the old blacksmiths cottage. After that it was back to England for a visit to the Roman fortress on Hadrian's Wall. The fort was called Vercovicium. As we entered Scotland again we stopped off at the Border for another group photo with our own cameras and stopped at a great place in Jedburgh for lunch which also has an excellent shopping complex for souveneirs. After that it was onwards to Edinburgh.

Day 5 was on our own in Edinburgh. Excellent city to visit and well worth the time on your own to excplore. You cant go wrong here whatever you decide to do.

Day 6 was a long and scenic drive up to Inverness. It is pretty much covered in the brochure, but it is scenic with some great stops along the way.

Day 7. The Loch Ness cruise, Drive to the Isle of Skye. Another long day on the coach but as above some great scenic stops along the way.

Day 8 was the day we drove to Glasgow. My last day as well as 10 or more others, the rest went on to Ireland the next day. Not much to see in Glasgow in comparisson to the other places, but we did have a great final night out. One small tip in Glasgow is to avoid any type of pants that look like tracksuit pants. They may be acceptable in business class flight lounges, 5 star hotels in London, but for some reason you cannot get into a night club in Glasgow wtih them on. Mind you this is only material that is not jeans. Very strange but obviously jeans is considered classy for the people of Glasgow and everything else is not.

Hotels:
Overall they were all different. They were very comfortable with decent facilities. They all had comfortable beds with hot water and excellent cooked breakdfasts. Some hotels dont have as high pressure shower water as others, and it should be worth noting that some hotels switch on the hot water at certain times (the Stewart hotel Appin) hot water goes on around 7am.

Weather:
We were lucky. We hardly had any rain. Most of the days were fine and sunny and warm enough for summer clothing. We did not need thermal gear once. Jackets were required some days like the Loch Ness cruise. Some days were a little overcast, but overall it was the best weather to go in.

Group:
Generally all people were well behaved and got on. I cant think of or remember any extreme behaviour by anyone. Not everyone got the chance to speak to each other and some may not have even come across each other at all. It was generally a good mix with plenty of people into the touring and sightseeing as well as a few quiet drinks of an evening before bed. During the trip there was really no late drunken nights at all.

Guide:
She was excellent with lots of knowledge and commentary along the way. She knew all the places to go and even facilitated for others to do their own thing. One example in Liverpool she helped a handfull of people arrange a tour of Liverpool FC. whilst we did the Beatles experience. Well organised and she worked well with our driver who was also very efficient and kept the coach very clean.

The Rules:
To live by we had rules each day. No hot drinks, milk or dairy products on the coach, we had to swap seats every day, be on time and no spoiling anyone elses wow moment. All these rules enforced by our guide and driver helped contribute to a great trip.

The Room Mate from Hell:
Yes unfortunately I endured the above for the last portion of my tour. I was originally lucky to be on my own due to being odd numbers, but was asked if I would mind sharing with another guy who had made a complaint about his previous room mate when we got to Scotland. This was not a problem for me as the guy I was to share with seemed quiet, neat and a decent type of person. He reminded me allot of myself when I was 20. Whilst I did not have a problem with his personality, he was quiet and withdrawn and slow to make friends, I did however have a problem with his poor personal qualities. Whilst sharing with him he would often take his luggage into the bathroom with him whilst he showered and used ALL the bath towels to dry himself as well as shelter his luggage. This had the effect of leaving me without a towel. Other habbits included leaving used tissues on bathroom benchtops. Leaving both types of human waste physically on the toilet seat and not flushing. Turning all lights off when he was ready for bed despite the fact I was still in the bathroom or reading. After talking to his previous room mate I discovered that this has been the same pattern of behaviour from him since the beginning of the tour. I ended up telling the tour manager about him when I left in Scotland and suggested for the Ireland part of the tour he best be kept seperate as not to upset others. I had nothing against the guy. Unfortunatly he was just in inconsiderate grub that had incompatible personal qualities suitable for living with other people.

Final Thoughts:
I loved the tour and had a great time. I swore I would never do Contiki again back in 2002 after my first trrip, but after 8 years I reconsidered and am glad I did. They have really changed and are really running a good tour and I will more than likely be back with them asap. My next desired destination would be the Eastern Road from Berlin.
  • 18 Jul 2010 nichbri said

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    Thanks for taking the time to write this! I did an American Contiki Tour and it was a lot of late night partying, which I’m not all that into (I was lucky enough to be travelling with a friend that didn’t want to party either) so was a bit worried about my next 2 Europe trips being all partying, but judging by your review it sounds like a nice mix Smiler<!--graemlin::)-->

    Cheers!

  • 21 Sep 2010 Paul_MN83 said

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    Great to hear you had a great time on your tour. I’m actually booked for the England & Scotland tour in October and have a question. Did you do the optional dinner in Edinburgh? I was wondering what people from your group thought. Since I haven’t seen anything about it on the forums, I thought it would help to get some input.

  • 27 Sep 2010 Sutho said

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    Yes I did the optional meal in Edinburgh. It was well worth it. It was at a place called Murrayfield hotel and restaurant. It was like a bed and breakfast place. The restaurant was large with our group over 3 tables. We pretty much were the only ones in there as it was reserved for out group.

    The magority of people on my tour went. I found the meal was more like a meet and greet as well as you could sit down with the whole group rather than splitting up to different places.

    I liked the food. I dont usually review food as its pretty subjective – we all have different tasts.

  • 2 Nov 2010 cdm115 said

    cdm115

    I did that optional in September. I thought it was a good dinner. I think my group was broken up into 4 long tables. The food was good, the bagpipper was good – he was nice and explained a lot. I don’t know that I would say it’s a MUST do, but I thought it was good. Almost everyone on my tour did it.

    I will say that in terms of the tour I think my experience was quite similar – aside from the bad roommate and being in fall rather then spring.

  • 5 Jun 2011 travellingladybug said

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    Even though you did this trip a year ago now, I still found your review very useful. Will be going this July. Glad to hear accommodations and food are good on this particular tour (these being my biggest concerns each time I book a tour). Thanks for your input! :)

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