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europe camping review 22 aug - 6 oct

9 Oct 2009 Explorer1121072 said

Explorer1121072
Some advice for anyone also doing the 46 day camping tour. 22 aug - 6 oct

-Travel diaries are a good way to kill time on the bus and help to remember the trip.
-You will spend AGES on the bus so bring either a diary, an ipod, cards or something to do
-Make playlists on your ipod for the bus, they always ask for playlists as they run out of music pretty fast. Stick to stuff everyone will like, had some young guys trying to put dance/trance stuff on, didnt go down well.
-90% of peole are on their own so dont feel you need to come with a friend.
-You cant exchange coins so countries with different currencies (Turkey, Montenegro, Croatia, Switzerland, Czech, Slovakia etc) spend all your coins.
-Once you hit Greece I think you can no longer drink tap water, so refill your bottles from the tap while you can.
-Dont bother buying any drugs you are offered in clubs or streets, they always rip you off, give you fake stuff etc. they pick the tourists every time. Save it for Amsterdam where you can get it in shops and you know its legitamite.
-Always offer to help out the cook, driver etc, having them on your side is always a good thing.
-When the cook is working in their cook tent go have a drink with them and keep them company, they are there for hours sometimes and they can get quite lonely.
-Most camps are public transport accessible and quite close to cities, if they are not I dont remember a cab ride ever being above 40 euro.
-**** happens, we broke down twice in Macedonia and Albania, just go with it, funny stories.

SECURITY
-You can padlock your tents or suitcases but the group before us had their tents and bags slashed if they were locked before having their stuff stolen. I recommend leaving it unlocked but just leave no valuables, always take your passport, camera, wallet and phone with you. Its alot harder to be pickpocketed when your backpack is padlocked. I also got one of those chains that go's from wallet to belt loop, dead handy.
-Have your passport in waterproof bag, you dont need easy access to it since you barely use it (first border you do is probably Turkey)
-Money belts are not impervious, had a girl wearing one and they still somehow got it off her with her not noticing, bye bye 1,700 euro's.
-Guys look after the girls, the guys overseas are so much sleazier then any blokes back home (Im from melbourne). Just when the group is dancing make sure to edge out any strangers who try and worm their way into group.
-Girls dont go around alone on overnight ferry, that was the dodgiest place on the whole tour, the guys there are scum. Get the guys to escort you down to bar.

FOOD
-Always stock up at supermarkets, fill your d bags with chips, biscuits, water etc. Water at the shops might be as low as 20 euro cents for 2 litres and on the street a 600 ml bottle will be 3 euro. It adds up if you keep buying on the street, always take water with you.
-Buying a roll from a deli for lunch is alot cheaper, most places have nice parks you can explore or sit down at while you eat and a roll even in expensive areas would only ever be 4 euro max. If you have a proper sit down lunch you will spend at least 10 euro every time. In a years time your not going to remember having a sit down lunch or dinner so dont bother, buy cheap and save money for the important things.
ALCHOHOL
-Beer you can get for under 1 euro a litre even in expensive countries in supermarkets, wine you can get for 2.50 euro.
-Before you buy always check percentage in shops, some are very low or non-alchoholic.
-Anywhere that does free pour is worth it (instead of putting a shot of vodka or whatever they do half to two thirds), you get very drunk very fast.
-You will get fliers for pub crawls in alot of cities, do them. They ARE as good as they sound eg. 15 euro for hour of free drinks then free shots for 5 clubs and there are no queues for drinks. In Prague especialy they have a great one with free absenthe, had people passing out in the first hour bit if you last the final club in the Prague crawl is the BEST club in Europe, definetly worth going to.
-Take it easy for the first couple of weeks financialy. Remember you start off in the most expensive countries, France and Italy are rip offs, it gets dirt cheap from Turkey onwards. Eg. A pint in a Paris cafe 8 euro, Barcelona 5 euro, Rome 6 euro, Istanbul 1 euro. Alot of people spent big at the start because of the excitement of travelling then regretted when they blew their budgets fast.
-Buy in bulk at supermarkets, you dont see many of them. Wine is dirt cheap at supermarkets but mega expensive to buy out, no idea why but thats the way it is in Europe. So dont bother getting it in bars.
-Camp bars are always expensive, drink your own grog and just go once your drunk.
-If you are a big beer drinker buy a crate when you see one (it holds 24 long necks). Europe VERY rarely sells by the slab, most places long necks are the cheapest but they are hard to carry around. Buy a massive crate of them amd just keep toppping it up when you see cheap beer, easiest way to carry so much beer around. Plus it gives you alot of drinking time before you need to refill crate in between expensive stops.

CITY ADVICE
-If in Barcelona a good cheap drinkng spot is the Irish Cafe (Or Horney Leprechaun, has 2 names), they had 1 euro beer or sangria, very close to main square.
-In Barcelona hawkers will offer you free drinks to go into their clubs, do it. You can go in have your free drink and leave guilt free, they wont care. Can go all night with free drinks, similiar in Istanbul.
-Camp bar in Lyon will let you bring your own drinks in, just ask, hes a nice guy who works there, buy a couple of shots as thanks off him, hes cheap anyway.
-Venice bar, tuttii fruities are hyped up too much, cant taste the alchohol and they are 10 euro each, dont bother.
-Italy restaurants have service charge (10-20%) on top of price, be sure to read the fine print in their menu's.
-Dont drink too much in Italy, its got some of the best statues and buildings, you will need your energy during the day. Lots of walking to do.
-The east is dodgy, funny but dodgy, keep hands in pockets.
-Terror museum in Budapest is a must do for history buffs.
-There is a beer bar in Prague where the beer taps are on the tables not the bar, so you pour your own and pay at the end. A computer on your table records how many litres you have poured, it can also be used to play drinking games against other tables (the games are built in). At around 2 euro a pint it is twice as expensive as normal Prague beer but a great novelty and cheap in the overall context.
-You only get 1 night at oktoberfest and you wont arrive till 5-6 pm. Some options if you are keen, overnight train or bus at around 35 euro, depends what day of the week. 9 of us hired a minivan at 40 euro each and did a road trip so we arrived early enough to see Munich and still arrive at start of Oktoberfest (noon). 1 litre steins are 8.60 every tent, tip generously first time and a little more every next time to make sure the waitress comes back.
-Beer steins in Heidelburg are amazing, spalsh out they are probably the best souvenier, most people got one. The official contiki one is 88 euro but very cool.
-Dont smoke or eat space cake on last night in Amsterdam, it will zone you out and you want to party of your last night.
-Maps are not provided for every city you see, so you may have to either bring your own or buy one
-Everywhere is walkable, best way to see everything
-Best views, the back end of the Palace of Versai (I know I spelt that wrong...) in Paris, all of Switzerland, castle in Prague, some church (cant remember name) with painted ceiling in Florence, Eiffel tower at night, even if you see in day go back at night, roof of hotel you stay at Istanbul.

THINGS TO BRING
-Optional but handy, I brought a bottle opener on my necklace, everyone is always looking for a bottle opener.
-Bring a watch, your phone WILL die and you always need to know time for pick ups etc
-Bring summer clothes, only Austria on is cold and thats only a few days of it.
-Condoms are expensive, bring your own.
-Bring a backup credit card or something. Alot of people had issues with getting money from ATM's, alot of them will deny you, no idea why.
-Bring a power board, you will need to charge multiple things at once (camera, phone, ipod etc). Its easier to them all at once since you are going to have to sit there and watch them to make sure nobody steals them (we call these 'charger parties', we sit around in the toilets drinking and charging)
-Bring a swiss army knife, they are very handy, bottle openers, cork screws, knife, scissors all handly travel things, or you can wait till switzerland and buy a genuine one.
-Bring a roll of toilet paper, alot of campsites dont provide it.
-Bring washing detergent, they always charge alot if you dont provide your own.
-Bring garbage bags to store your dirty laundry or it will stink out your bag.
-Bring a ball of string to make washing lines out of, they are not provided in most camp sites.
-Cold and flu tablets are a must, take them before your sick, everyone gets sick, every time. We had the contiki cough, conjunctivitus, the runs, everything went around the bus, so stay healthy.
-If you are over 6 foot (im 6'4) DO NOT GET A NECK PILLOW). The chairs on the bus are too short and instead of your head being on the head rest your neck will be and your neck pillow will just slide off. It might seem bulky but bring a big proper pillow, you will need it to sleep on the bus and if you dont sleep on the bus you will be permanently tired.

OPTIONALS
-All dinners have bottle of red and white per 4 people but most people dont drink red, so if you're a red drinker feel free to ask other tables for their's otherwise their's will get thrown out while you buy more.
-French dinner, amazing food, order the snails and duck. If you ask nicely and throw in a wink they will give you free wine when you run out.
-French cabaret pricey at 71 euro but a good fun show.
-Our Barcelona flamenco evening was cancelled so dont know.
-Venice gondola ride, not overly thrilling but you have to do it for novelty sake, cant remember if you can get it cheaper on your own. Probably, they are everywhere just sitting around waiting for customers so you can haggle.
-Tuscan dinner, its ok but alot of money for normal food and no entertainment attached, just dinner and leave at an indoor restaurant.
-Space nightclub is good night out, mega strong drinks.
-Georges boat, everyone loved it, so much fun diving off boat. You can bring your own alchahol in your backpacks, not sure if its 'allowed' but nobody told us off and they could clearly see us. Just dont do it in their faces.
-Greek dinner is great food and the entertainment is well worth it, alot of dancing both by performers and they get the audience involved. Particularly fun is dance where you and your partner must keep a potato up between your foreheads while doing a variety of poses, a great night.
-Turkish dinner, only half went they said it was fun. We had a birthday that night so we went out for him instead. All i will say is Istanbul is one of the if not the cheapest place, so dont pay alot for the contiki dinner. We had 5 euro dinner, 1 euro beer's, free food/drinks for birthday boy and free shots for everyone. Turkish are very willing to negotiate for group bookings, especialy at hostels.
-Dubrovnik cruise, similiar to Georges boat but no cheap drinks.
-Budapest dinner cruise, food was ok and sightseeing was great but too short. Hour and half then as soon as tour guide stops pointing out the sites the cruise is over, no time to just chill out.
-Prague ride was I heard over-rated, same with the lunch cruise, with 3 days there you have plenty of time to explore on foot and its not that big a city.
-Jungfrou train tide, if you go on our dates the ski and snowboarding season is over but it is still a great experience. It will take all day just to explore the mountain and for the brave there is a LONG path through the snow, a 45min - hour totally uphill walk that kills you but at the end? You can get 4 euro beer at a bar at 3650 meter altitude, now thats a great photo and story, I think its the highest bar in the world. Plus you get to toboggan down the hill back.
-Prague bike ride, 5 euro who cares.
-Last dinner, rip off, its 26 euro for a normal dinner. They assume you will go because of the novelty of the last night, dont do it. We discussed it on the bus and decided as a group to arrange our own last dinner at a much cheaper place. Got 34 people and with such a big group you can negotiate with restaurants eg, free drinks, 10% off everything etc. After they only got 10 people for contiki dinner rather than join us tour guide laid the guilt trip on us for 'ruining the mood' and some of the girls felt bad and switched over so in the end was about 25 us, 15 them. Bit annoying that the tour guide did that but still enough of us to have fun.
-Group photo's, they end up on facebook anyway and you can print yourself cheaper and without the hassle of carrying it around.

any questions feel free to email you_want_muz@hotmail.com
cheers, Anthony
  • 9 Oct 2009 ptooma said

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    Time, thought and effort makes this a candidate for the travelogues section – rather than getting lost and buried in the reviews section.

    - Vic

  • 12 Oct 2009 AbeL said

    AbeL

    Thanks for the info on this one. Very helpful for planning.

  • 21 Oct 2009 Leigh said

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    Lots of helpful hints there, but I think you should mention a lot of it comes down to personal taste and preference and what the indiviudal wants from their experience.

    -Once you hit Greece I think you can no longer drink tap water, so refill your bottles from the tap while you can.

    Buying cold bottled water from shops is dirt cheap in Greece anyway and can be a lot easier then carting bottles of water from Italy.

    -Dont bother buying any drugs you are offered in clubs or streets, they always rip you off, give you fake stuff etc. they pick the tourists every time. Save it for Amsterdam where you can get it in shops and you know its legitamite.

    Not always the case. If you want to find legitimate drugs, you can, not all dealers are trying to stooge you, but you need to know what you’re looking for.

    -You will get fliers for pub crawls in alot of cities, do them. They ARE as good as they sound eg. 15 euro for hour of free drinks then free shots for 5 clubs and there are no queues for drinks. In Prague especialy they have a great one with free absenthe, had people passing out in the first hour bit if you last the final club in the Prague crawl is the BEST club in Europe, definetly worth going to.

    I did the same one in Prague, which was ok. Just be prepared that a lot of these pub crawls will take you to an empty bar and the only people there are 50 other tourists exactly the same as you, maybe good if you want a party with other tourists. But if you’re looking to experience what the city bars and local scene are like, I’d maybe reconsider the pub crawls.

    -Venice bar, tuttii fruities are hyped up too much, cant taste the alchohol and they are 10 euro each, dont bother.

    The price did seem a rip, but I saw a few girls have one and they were set for the night, haha.

    -Dont drink too much in Italy, its got some of the best statues and buildings, you will need your energy during the day. Lots of walking to do.

    I think that depends on the person, every city you have the chance to walk heaps far, it is really upto you. Public transport is always there for those not wanting to walk. I wouldn’t imagine Italy would be somewhere you need to walk anymore then any other city.

    -Dont smoke or eat space cake on last night in Amsterdam, it will zone you out and you want to party of your last night.

    Haha again I think that depends on the person. My opinion was it’s my last night in Amsterdam, let’s get stoned!! If you haven’t smoked weed before, just be prepared is all.

    -Maps are not provided for every city you see, so you may have to either bring your own or buy one

    Good advice, the contiki maps that they hand out are average and for a couple euro you can get real good maps in stores.

    -Bring a ball of string to make washing lines out of, they are not provided in most camp sites.

    I regret not bringing a washing line, but I managed to get the most out of the dryers. Main problem is not enough dryers to go around for the amount of people there and short time you get at each stop. If you use the laundry when most others wouldn’t then you’ll be fine. For example, some are 24/7 and you can do it before bed or something.

    -Venice gondola ride, not overly thrilling but you have to do it for novelty sake, cant remember if you can get it cheaper on your own. Probably, they are everywhere just sitting around waiting for customers so you can haggle.

    You can get it a little cheaper if you split in a group of 5 and buy it yourself. I did it separate just so I could plan my own day as the optional one was in the middle of the arvo for us, so take that into consideration as well.

    -Space nightclub is good night out, mega strong drinks.

    Again, this will vary for the individual. It is a good night out if you want to have a large party with 100+ other contiki travellers. If you want to experience a Florence bar or local nightlife, then maybe reconsider space.

    -Last dinner, rip off, its 26 euro for a normal dinner. They assume you will go because of the novelty of the last night, dont do it. We discussed it on the bus and decided as a group to arrange our own last dinner at a much cheaper place. Got 34 people and with such a big group you can negotiate with restaurants eg, free drinks, 10% off everything etc. After they only got 10 people for contiki dinner rather than join us tour guide laid the guilt trip on us for ‘ruining the mood’ and some of the girls felt bad and switched over so in the end was about 25 us, 15 them. Bit annoying that the tour guide did that but still enough of us to have fun.

    If you’re talking about Amsterdam, I personally thought it was really good meal, there was more food then we could eat, and it was good food as well. Pretty cool restaurant also, but again everyone has a different opinion.

  • 26 Mar 2012 scottrell88 said

    scottrell88

    Thanks for the tips guys this will really help me!

  • 21 Jun 2012 Sarah said

    Sarah

    Thankyou the most helpful review I have read yet. Going on easy rider in August & I’m sure this will help me. Thanks :)

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