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My thoughts on the UE tour

24 Sep 2007 Ed_E said

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This summer I did a UE tour, and had the best 45 days ever! If you are planning to take this tour then stop planning and do it. If you have already taken this tour, then you know what I mean. This tour had the best combination of people possible, and TM Dave was amazing.

UE008 continues to rock on!
  • 11 Jan 2008 KiWiAnA said

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    Hi ED_E,

    Your the perfect person to get advice from then since you have just done it. I’m off on the UE Tour departing March 28th and taking the Egypt option. I’m also celbrating my birthday in Egypt! It’s so special because when I was a lil kid I’d always been facinated with the Pyramids and mummies and how so many researches have tried to figure out how it was built etc. It’s going to be one of mt top ten most “memorable moments”

    I’ve read davechallenger.com and found it to be very valuable. Do you have any advice on the UE tour that you think I might need to know? I would love to hear another person’s perspective.

    and for some really “dumb” questions. (I have to ask because this is my first time travelling with Contiki and second time in England. I’ve only been to London and Nottingham so I’m really looking forward to exploring more.

    How much money did you take?
    Was it hard to withdraw money from ATM
    Did you use a money bag?
    How was your tour group?
    Dave sounds like a winner – I hope to have a TM who rocks like him
    Do you have to tip? I’m from NZ and we don’t tip here. GST is included in everything we buy.
    When you tip the TM and driver – does this happen at the end or during?
    Were the extra optionals great? Which ones do you reccommend. My plan is to do the extras in Egypt.
    Is it true about what people say about Egypt being quite scary?
    What was the ratio of boys and girls?
    I’m really hoping there is a mix and I’m really nervous there will be more of ONE culture on the bus. E.g. Aussies. I’m not saying anything bad about ONE culture I would really love to meet a variety. Is there any way we can find this out?
    I was thinking of taking money in the currency of each country/city we visit. That means I’ll have the money on me without having to withdraw it – Is that a good idea? I guess the only prob would mean I have to keep it safe eh?

    I can’t think of anymore questions but there is so many going through my head it’s all mixed up now.

    Hope you can help

  • 12 Jan 2008 Ed_E said

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    Wow, that’s alot of questions, but it is great that you are trying to get the information now, rather than later. I did the same thing and tried to find out as much as I could.

    -How much money you take really depends on what you want to do. All the extra options will have to be paid in Cash around the start of the tour, so you will have to take that into account too. I decided that it was best to have too much money rather than too little, so I calculated how much I would spend per day, with a little extra as a safety margin, plus the cost of the extras I wanted to take. I recommend taking as many extras as you can. Unless most of your tour is taking the canal bikes in Amsterdam, I don’t recomend them, they kinda suck. You can change your mind on options as long as you still have a few days before them. When it came to getting my money, I brought all the different currencys with me (I was the only one who did this and the only one who knew that we would be dealing with seven currencys). I had no problem keeping it sefe, I just put it in an empty zip up CD wallet and kept it in my bag. I always had a few hundred euros with me, but had no trouble getting more. Cash machines are everywhere, and opperate in many languages, so are currency exchange places if you don’t want to carry it around. I put piles of money onto my credit card before I left and just used it to withdraw cash when I needed it. Be sure to let the CC company know that you are going to europe so that they don’t freez your account when they detect unusual activity. Also, make sure that your withdrawl limit is high enough to let you take out several hundred (~600) euro at a time.
    -I used a money belt. They are a good way to guard against pick pockets, but they also look kinda dorkey and touristy. Mine broke in Barcelona, and couldn’t find another one anywhere, so I had to tie it around my waste. You just have to keep your money in a safe place. Also, keep your camera (bring lots of memory) safe, one guy on my tour had his stolen by someone sitting next to him, and didn’t notice until later.
    -Tipping is customary in most of europe. Most places we stopped at, you would have to tip someone or put money into a machine just to use the bathroom, even at MacDonalds (Mackers as the auzzies called it). On the up side of that, these bathrooms were really clean. These tips/fees often made up the salary of the person who sits outside the bathrooms and keeps them spotless. Durring the tour, you will have some tour guides in parts of eastern Europe (my tour didn’t include Serbia, we went to Romania), they are hired by Contiki, but you will have to tip them afterwards. You will also have to tip your tour manager and driver. This should work out to about 2 euro a day, but all that will be explained as you head back to England.
    -My tour group was awsome. There were a few problems with people, but these resolved themselves. One guy was bipolar but didn’t tell anyone, and when he stopped taking his meds…well, he had to be sent home. Another guy was a total dick, but he took himself off the tour after Mykonos. Other than that, the people were great. I keep in touch with them on Facebook now, we have our own group.
    -The people on tour consisted mainley of Aus and NZ, but included Canada USA and Korea (in order of biggest to smallest).
    -I didn’t go to Egypt, but I heard it was crazy. I don’t want to scare you, but those that did go to Egypt (about 1/8 of the tour) had armed escorts for their bus, and guards at their hotel doors. Apparently there are alot of people that want your money, and will try to sell you things for alot more than they are worth, and will expect a tip for just about everything (helping you off the bus, etc…). And the trafic there sounds crazy. I wish I went there, but thought that some relaxation on a Greek Island would be nice too.
    -As for the boy girl split, it was close to even, but I have hears of tours with only a few guys, and others where most of the people are there with their boy/girl friend. There was only one couple on my tour.
    -Some extra advise is just to bring or get lots of Vitamin C. You probably haven’t heard of this, but there is a “Contiki Cough” that the longer tours get. If you take vitamins, you will be able to fight it off better. It’s just a cold, but I got it and got over it three times in the seven weeks.

    I hope this helps, and if you have any more questions, just look me up on Facebook, my name is Bryan Mosley.

  • 19 Jan 2008 Ali!!! said

    Ali!!!

    Hey Ed
    I was just reading your post and noticed you said u wished you went to Egypt. Do you wish you went to Egypt over the Greek islands or you just want to go to Egypt- just enquiring because I’m heading on the ultimate european and have booked the greek islands but can still change if egypt is known to be much better?

  • 19 Jan 2008 Ed_E said

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    Hey Ali.

    I wouldn’t say that it is better to go to Egypt than to go to the Islands, staying in Greece was nice too. There are lots of clubs and activities on the island, ot you can just sit and read all day. It is meant to be a break from the schedule and routine of traveling from place to place on a tour bus. There are also places near where you are staying where you can rent 4×4s and scooters, and you can explore the island if you want. If you go to the islands, you will have a great time. I only wish I went to egypt because of the storys and pictures that those who did go brought back. It just seemed like such a cool place. Keep in mind though that going to egypt will cost more, and the options are expensive. Someday I would like to go there, that’s for sure, but that will just have to wate for another trip.

    Hope this helps!

  • 19 Jan 2008 Ed_E said

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    When I was trying to figure out how much of the other currencys I was going to bring, I just used my estimated daily spending budget and converted that into the currencys. The countrys that didn’t use the Euro were: England, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Switzerland. If you’re going to take all the money with you, keep it in your main bag that you keep on the bus/in the hotel. Also, don’t talk about it too much, as it will likley be worth hundreds of dollers. I don’t think the UE goes to Romania any more, having replaced it with Serbia, so you might want to check out if they use Euros. Looking back, I didn’t have to take all the currencys with me, the TM will tell you where to change your money. I didn’t use the Travelex cash card, I just used my mastercard. As for the Canal bikes, part of the reason I found them so bad was because I had hurt my back tobogganing in Switzerland (turned out to be a compression fracture), and the seats wern’t very comfortable in the boats. Also, it was chilly, raining, and we got lost. In total out boat ride took about four hours. If things had been better, or at least less painful for me, then I would have enjoyed it more.

    I don’t know what other people used for accessing their money, they just went to a cash machine like I did. As for the guy who had his camera stolen, it was in an open place I think. He was with one of the other guys, and two guys approached them very casually and started chatting with them. He felt something hit where his camera was, but saw that the cord was still attached to his belt and leading into his pocket. Not until a while later did he realize that the camera was cut from the cord. Your TM should tell you what to watch out for. Basically, just be careful.

    To get a good picture of this guy who is being a dick, imagin someone who has been spoiled their entire lives and believes that everything is owed to them. It was all about drama with this guy, as he would make a scene every time he didn’t get what he wanted. I tried to be his friend, and give him the benefit of the doubt, but I wound up getting burned in the end. Imagin a stereotype American, and then push that to the max, that’s what he was like. This guy has apparently been on other bus tours, and footage of him has turned up on youtube, from before my tour. To see this guy, just go to Youtube.com and search Brett Marcus.

  • 19 Jan 2008 msznumeroUNO said

    msznumeroUNO

    Hey Ed_E,

    Wow between Kiwana’s questions and your answers has really been an eye opener, ive deffinately heard more about the tour then i had heard before but never the less im still so excited about going on tour.

    I’m departing London on the 31st of August, doing the Egypt option.

    Thanks for your insight to everything, sounds like you had everything really organised!!

  • 19 Jan 2008 Ed_E said

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    Well this tour is deffinatly something to be excited about. At the beginning it will feel like seven weeks is such a long time, but at the end you will look back and say “wow, what just happened?”. It is so crammed full of things to see and do, it will just fly by.

  • 19 Jan 2008 Karlos said

    Karlos

    hey ed_e

    thanks for all the info mate, have booked the tour deparing 1 june 08 – 15 july 08.

    should be a blast! Your infor answered a few questions I had so thanks for that!

    Cheers mate
    Karl

  • 19 Jan 2008 Ed_E said

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    Hey no problem Karlos! I hope you have a great time on this mega tour. If you have any more questions, just ask!

  • 9 Feb 2008 Ed_E said

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    I should also mention that there are going to be a few options durring the tour that arn’t mentioned in the catalogue. In Turkey, your group might be taken to a Turkish Bath house. If you have never had one before then it is definatley worth the money, just to say you’ve done it. In Amsterdam…well…you’ll know the place I’m talking about when you get there, when they ask for male volunteers, be ready for something really really crazy.

  • 9 Feb 2008 Janie said

    Janie

    Thanks for the info Ed_E, i’m doing the may 11th this year and can’t wait. Like Kiwiana i’ve never been out of the country either. I’d read the davechallenger travelogue and thought it was great. But that was two years ago. I hope we don’t have an morons my tour.

    Kiwiana, i’m taking a cashpass port as well. I’m also doing the credit card thing but hadn’t thought about raising my limit of withdrawal. Mind you i had planned to use my cash passport to withdraw euro’s and the credit card to pay for most large purchases.

    Ed_E did you take travelers cheques. I was thinking of taking a couple of hundred in euro’s just in case something happens and i can’t get access to my money at an atm or something.

  • 10 Feb 2008 Ed_E said

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    I just used my credit card. There are cash machines everywhere, and your TM will have been trained to know where things like that are. If they are doing a UE tour, then this will not be their first time out, they will likley have been to that area before with other tours. The only money I took was the the cash for the non Euro countries (turns out that wasn’t necessary as travelex is everywhere) and my mastercard. If you raise your withdrawl limit, dump loads of money onto it before you leave and let them know that you are going to be in Europe from May to July, then you will have no problem.

    I can see how travelers cheques would be handy if you loose your card or something like that, so it might be a good idea. Just keep them seperate from your card so you don’t loose them both at the same time. Take your credit card’s contact info too; if it gets stolen or lost, you can call them and cancel it.

    One thing I forgot to mention in my other posts too is that you should make photocopies of things like Passport, plane tickets, insurance, ID, cards, things like that, and keep it seperate from the originals, and one more copy at home. That way if you loose the originals, you can still have something to back up your claims.

  • 10 Feb 2008 msznumeroUNO said

    msznumeroUNO

    hi Ed_e,

    Just one quick question.. when did u do ur tour? May – June?

  • 10 Feb 2008 Ed_E said

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    I left Canada on 15-June for the UE tour from 17-June to 31-July.

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