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European Magic (June 2013) - Photo Blog Posts

1 Nov 2013 nkicroft said

nkicroft

Hey guys!

I went on the June 2013 tour of European Magic this past summer and it was AWESOME. Such a good time and such a great group of people!!

I posted some pics I took on the trip on my photography blog (the first half went up today, the second half with go up Monday)... mostly scenery pics but in case anyone wanted to take a look at the places we hit on the tour, I thought I should post it here!

Blog: www.flurrsprite.net

First Blog Post: http://www.flurrsprite.net/?p=2901

If you have any questions about the tour, I'd be happy to answer them!

~Maiko

  • 3 Nov 2013 KimberlyP said

    KimberlyP

    Hi maiko doing this trip June 2014. Any tips or comments? Thanks!

  • 3 Nov 2013 nkicroft said

    nkicroft

    Hi Kim!

    In general? Hmm… Things will go wrong but things will also go amazingly… You should try to keep an open mind and just go with the flow, don’t take things personally and keep up the good spirit! Just being out there is a blast and the tour is great at giving you some structure but then also giving you the chance to have lots of freedom (at least for a fast-paced tour like this). We did most of the optionals but not all… Some of them were great but don’t feel pressured if you don’t wanna spend the money. There’s nothing really to do when you wait for everyone to bobsled if you don’t do that one, but I got some nice pictures of the mountains so hey :)

    A practical tip could be… Try to keep your luggage light, I carried my luggage up stairs in a couple of the hotels we stayed at and it was a bit heavy! ;) and eat at the “trattoria alla Madonna” in Venice… Best pasta I’ve ever had!

    Let me know if you have any specific questions!

    ~Maiko

  • 3 Nov 2013 Karenth said

    Karenth

    Hi Maiko! How are you?
    Im doing this tour on december, any special tips on where to go? I might be of the oldest of the group, but im interested in visiting around the cities, museums, turistic places to take lots of pics, making lots of friends, and not just hopping bars evry night (as thats one of the things ive read people do in their trip). Did u stay longer time in london? Im there just half a day and wondering what to do? From the optionals, any you do or dont recommend me to do? Did u go to moulin rouge? Im staying 2 more days in paris after the tour so might have time to explore the city. Oh, how much money do you recommend me to take… food, transportation….? Sorry for somany questions, but its my firts contiki, first time to europe, and i want it to be great! Thanks in advance! :)

  • 3 Nov 2013 nkicroft said

    nkicroft

    Hi Karenth!

    There was definitely bar hopping going on, but even as a non-drinker just being out with everyone was fun :) There were a couple of people on my tour who didn’t go out which didn’t seem quite as fun but there’s no problem if you want to go off on your own. If you’re out in the city then you just have to make sure you can get back to the hotel on your own (on that note… it was REALLY useful having my iPhone activated for international travel in Europe, if nothing else but for the GPS when we navigated back to the hotel on our own. The map for the Paris hotel was not particularly useful)! We did stay in London for a bit longer, which was awesome. Some highlights:

    Harry Potter Tour at WB Studios (YAY HP! not gonna lie… spent 5 hours here)
    Afternoon tea at Kensington Palace (felt all fancy, even if it did rain on us on the way to the palace!)
    Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour (it was nice and relaxing just to sit down and see the city go by)
    Spamalot (I’d seen it before on Broadway, so it was fun to note the differences… plus they broke at one point and cracked up, it was funny!)
    Windsor Castle, Bath, Stonehenge Tour (we practically ran through Windsor Castle, Bath was super cute —get a Sally Lunn bun!, and Stonehenge was good to check off my bucket list)

    In Amsterdam… well, if you happen to eat anything special… DON’T EAT THE WHOLE THING. Do eat poffertjes though, we went to “Pancakes! Amsterdam” and it was cute.

    In Munich, the bike tour was a lot of fun, especially riding through the massive park! So many people and it was so pretty. The Hofbrauhaus was entertaining… I don’t know how you can eat an entire pork knuckle, it was as big as your head! Also, if you don’t drink, you can get apple cider instead which was tasty :)

    In Venice, we actually went and stayed one night with a friend and wandered into Venice on our own. The gondola ride was great and then we went off on our own to eat lunch and such. Didn’t do the tours because we kind of just wanted to enjoy walking around and being in Venice… but we were there all day so in hindsight maybe climbing the tower or something could’ve been fun, plus it was disgustingly hot so I ended up eating like 5 cups of gelato haha! I mean, not that there’s a problem with that..!

    In Switzerland, go up the mountain. It’s pretty. Note: something they didn’t tell us before the tour, which I definitely left feedback about, but they pretty much tell you not to bring your suitcase to the hotel in Lucerne. Of course, if you had known that before you flew to Europe, you might have packed a day bag instead of using a crappy plastic bag to shove your clothes in..! At least bring a tote bag or something you can shove in your suitcase so that for this hotel, you’ll only bring what you can. I think one person decided to bring her suitcase anyway and it was a huge hassle getting it out of the bus and then trundling along the cobblestones next to the river to get to the hotel… just something to think about.

    In Paris, yep we did Moulin Rouge. It was fun! Didn’t really know what to expect but it was good. I hear there’s a different place some of the tours go to instead which has a more quality show, but I did like that we went to THE Moulin Rouge :) The food was pretty good too. But I’d been to Paris before so we kind of did random things while we were there. Went to the Sacre Couer and then ate at the Amelie restaurant for lunch, put a lock on the Pont des Arts… that kind of thing!

    We tried to relax about our money and treat ourselves. We brought 500 pounds and 500 euros and pretty much spent all of it by the time we left. Europe is not cheap! We also used our credit cards for bigger purchases in legit places, like when we went to eat at Rules in London. I’ve tried not to think about how much total we spent haha! But that’s for two people so keep that in mind, although we were able to split some things too, so… if you’re not really going to be in London then you won’t need to worry about the pounds at least. It really all depends on the type of food you eat, or how much shopping you plan on doing (my stint on the Champs-Elysees only resulted in a couple of boxes of macarons, whereas others bought all sorts of clothes and such).

    Hope that helps! Let me know if you think of anything else.

  • 6 Nov 2013 Sonja P said

    Sonja P

    Wow… your photography is great! What kind of camera do you have?

  • 7 Nov 2013 Cassy said

    Default_avatar

    Oh my gosh I’m SO EXCITED!!! I’m doing this tour in March 2014! Thank you so much for sharing these!!! Do you have any advice on how much money to bring and stuff? I would LOVE to know!!!

  • 7 Nov 2013 nkicroft said

    nkicroft

    Aww thanks Sonja!! I used a Canon Rebel G film SLR on my trip, but I also use a Canon Mk III DSLR or Yashica Mat 124 twin lens reflex film camera :)

    No prob Cassie! Glad to help! Whereabouts are you from? I’m from the States, so to figure out how much money to bring, I tried to calculate how much money I’d spend normally on a vacation and then multiplied that by two hahaha. Most of my money went towards the optionals and food. Didn’t do too much shopping. I just checked and it looks like the optionals we did totaled ~$700. We didn’t do all of them, but if it’s just you then figure around $300-400 for optionals? We did the London extension to start so we had 500 euros and 500 pounds for food and shopping too.

  • 8 Nov 2013 Cassy said

    Default_avatar

    I’m from Canada! So roughly the same exchange rate I suppose! :) I’m doing an additional 3 days in London myself as well after the trip but only 3 nights so 2 full days! :) I think I’m totally over budgeting this LOL. Did you guys happen to stop at any ATMs along the way to withdraw some extra cash if needed?

  • 9 Nov 2013 nkicroft said

    nkicroft

    Hi cassy! Haha over budgeting is always safer anyway! We did stop by an ATM at one point because I was paranoid we’d run out of money haha… It was in Paris :) I had printed out the names of all of my bank’s partner banks in each country we were visiting and then I looked up ATM locations once I figured out where we were going to go in Paris and navigated us from there. There are ATMs around if you need them, but I was trying to avoid as many charges as possible. That’s why we converted cash before we left home and paid big purchases on our capital one credit card because they don’t charge international fees. We divvied up the cash between our persons and luggage. I stored most in our luggage and then we carried enough for a day on us. Totally bought us those under your clothes money holder things, I wore mine but I think truly we probably didn’t have to. Made me feel better though :) carried bigger bills in there and smaller change in my day bag.

  • 9 Nov 2013 Sonja P said

    Sonja P

    nkicroft you are amazing! Thanks for all your tips. I’m am booked on the European Whirl on the 3 July 2014. It’s ages away! But I locked in a good price for a plane ticket and the contiki due to booking early. I have a couple of questions:

    1. You say you got 500GBP and 500EUR – in my currency that’s approx $2,000 (NZD). I am backpacking – so not doing a lot of shopping (clothes, souvenirs etc) as such, as I am planning at least 6-12 months holiday (with a bit of work here and there) so I will be travelling light, mainly spending money on food and activities. I’ve roughly worked out the costs of optionals, and have over budgeted for those as I know I will not be doing all of them. Do you think someone in my situation would be able to spend less $$ than what you took?

    2. Were most people on your contiki doing just the conitki, then going home? Or did others stay on in Europe/UK and work or continue backpacking? It would be cool to meet others who want to continue travelling. I have no plans after my contiki and will decide where to go when the time comes.

    3. Is an overnight bag essential on the contiki or does it cause problems? I have read differing views which I found puzzling – I hope I am wrong. I will be getting a 65-70ltr (18 gallons?) backpack and will be travelling with a day pack (maybe 25ltr) as well.

    Thanks :)

  • 9 Nov 2013 nkicroft said

    nkicroft

    Hi Sonja! You can definitely spend less than that, keep in mind the 500 pounds and 500 euros were covering both my husband and I :) so if it’s just you and you need to stretch out your cash a bit more, I think you can do that. Also there would have been less pounds spent if we hadn’t stayed in london for 5 days! I’m totally jealous you’ll be out for 6-12 months though :)

    I think mayyyybe like half stayed (or started on their own before the group tour) and half went home? It may have been more staying. We left after Paris so I believe we dropped a couple of people off at the airport there and then a handful of us trundled on to london. But others stayed in Paris on an extension or ran around on their own. I think the ones that ran around had a basic plan and then figured the logistics out while on tour. Still jealous you’re going to just be out there for so long! How’s the work visa situation out there? I remember wanting to do the 6 month work/play visa for nz when I got out of college, but things just didn’t go that way! Moved to l.a. and met my husband… No regrets? Bahaha.

    Hmmm…I think it depends on your tour. European magic is considered a basic superior tour, so no backpacking or anything like that (not sure about European whirl). You get your suitcase and then a day bag to carry on the bus. We mostly had to store our day bags under the seat in front which by the end made me force my husband to sit on the window side so I could stretch my legs out in the aisle hahaha but we used the overheads occasionally. For the suitcase, they weigh it and measure it when you first check in but the afterwards you’re good. I read on the contiki Facebook page that size is a little flexible but that the first weigh in must be under. Now, if you’re going to be bringing a backpack instead of a suitcase, I’m guessing similar size/weight rules apply? And it would have to be stored under the bus, but if you’ve got your day bag then it’s probably okay? Maybe give contiki a call or write to them on fb just to double check. I feel like I remember someone on the tour having a backpack. :)

  • 9 Nov 2013 Sonja P said

    Sonja P

    Oh I didn’t realise that amount was for you and your husband! I won’t need much then – I’m thinking half what you spent. I’m not a huge drinker so won’t spend much on alcohol – seems like a lot of people on tour do! I’ll be taking approx $10,000GBP with me, but need to ration it as much as possible!

    I’m applying for the 2 year visa – as a New Zealander it is quite easy for us! I also have a grandparent who was born in England, so I can actually apply for a 5 year visa – I should really apply for this one just because I can! You should definitely consider NZ as a holiday spot, it would be a good place to get a campervan and trip around!

    I’ve just found a link on the conitki website which goes into depth on the backpack/suitacase/daybag stuff. Thanks for your advice. Due to my further travels definitely better to have a backpack.

    Thanks for your help – appreciate it! :)

  • 9 Nov 2013 nkicroft said

    nkicroft

    Yep, a chunk did go towards alcohol for my husband, although I don’t drink so it wasn’t too bad :)

    Oh awesome! That’ll be great, getting to go around Europe like that. I remember researching work visas out there back in the day, looking at places where you can work as an English teacher haha! Good luck! And I definitely plan on visiting nz, hopefully soon! :)

  • 10 Nov 2013 Karenth said

    Karenth

    thanks a lot Maiko! all your comment have really helped! im so excited, just one month to go! im just worried about the clothing/shoes cuz is winter!
    btw, i loved your wesite, great pics :)

  • 10 Nov 2013 nkicroft said

    nkicroft

    thanks karenth! :) good luck with everything! in terms of clothes, even though it was summer when we went it was a bit chilly everywhere except venice so i wore my short black flat comfy boots, jeans, shirt, scarf and jacket pretty much the whole time. sometimes hats! i also brought my fuzzy gloves but then again i’m a wuss when it comes to cold haha. i just alternated between my black boots most of the time and then some sneakers plus a pair of flats for going out at night. oh and i brought an umbrella which turned out to be well worth its weight!

  • 27 Dec 2013 pattisondc said

    pattisondc

    Hi Maiko,
    Great blog! Thank you for all of your input about the trip. I am going on the European Magic tour in March and will be staying in England for 2 extra nights. Your pictures are fantastic :)
    So you really dont have to bring much spending money? Didnt sound like you used a lot for both you and ur husband, would you say $1400 canadian is enough for 12 days?

  • 27 Dec 2013 nkicroft said

    nkicroft

    hi pattisondc! we didn’t bring too much cash, but yeah i think it all really depends on what you’re planning on doing. if you’re going to go out partying every night, well then you may need a little more ;) we used our credit card for bigger purchases too, so special meals and trips and such. if you’re wanting to do the optionals (which, you should definitely do at least a few!) then that can go on your credit card. just make sure you check out your card’s policies… we have the capitalone venture card and so we didn’t get hit with any fees or anything. :)

    here’s what i figured.. i estimated we would spend roughly $100 usd per day on food and whatnot. for two weeks, that’s about $1,400 usd… i converted that into pounds and euros, figuring we’d be in london for a shorter time but we’d be on our own so we’d end up spending more, so i decided to split it in half with 500 pounds and 500 euros to work with. we did pull out like 200 euros from an atm later on just in case (i don’t think we ended up really needing it, i was just paranoid we’d run out in paris), and then we ended up exchanging our euros on the ferry back. not sure how the rates were, but it was convenient.

    we did also do some of the optionals on the tour, went to the harry potter wb studios tour, did high tea at kensington palace, etc.. so i guess for one person, it was roughly $1,300? sounds like your calculations are about right! :)

  • 27 Dec 2013 pattisondc said

    pattisondc

    thankyou :) yea i don’t plan on doing everything but most optionals and some that are not even on their list. I have a prepaid credit card so I don’t have to pay interest and spend more then what I have.
    Did you do the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam?
    I am quite excited about this trip, I have never been over seas. Do you know if you can put in a request to have a room with a specific person? Haha sorry I have many questions

  • 27 Dec 2013 nkicroft said

    nkicroft

    we skipped the anne frank house in amsterdam, we went with the group to the “amsterdam” sign and then meandered through town. we did eat poffertjes for lunch but just kind of enjoyed being in the city. :) everyone who went to the anne frank house said it was really good though.

    hmm my husband and i were always paired together in a room, but i’m guessing if you’re going with a friend or something you can request to room with them from your guide! :) most of our group were couples i think… and the ones who came by themselves actually paid to have single rooms instead so it all worked out!

  • 28 Dec 2013 pattisondc said

    pattisondc

    thank you for all of responses. any other tips you could give?
    iam quite excited :)

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