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Winter Wanderer- don't bother!

20 Nov 2009 Explorer1157784 said

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I wasted a lot of money on my Winter Wanderer trip and feel obliged to inform others of this disappointing experience.

Basically, you will spend a vast majority of your time on an over-heated bus. Spare-time is minimum and it really is a shame to have travelled all that way to only see so little.

The meals organised by Contiki are DISGUSTING. Europe is renown for its cuisine- you won't experience this on the contiki itinerary...my first meal, after just arriving in Paris, was a slice of cold ham and MacDonald-type fries. Typically, most meals were an undercooked, slushy stew..

BTW, don't be pressured into the extras- the Moulin Rouge is the biggest waste of money ever...it's basically $300 to watch a bunch of uncoordinated strippers...the girls could not dance, at all- it was just all saggy breasts and wobbly butts...I'm sure this sounds great to a fair few perverts, but for $300, their breasts weren't that good!

Furthermore, having to keep to someone else's schedule is exhausting and robs you of exploring a city further...

I don't feel as if I've been to Europe at all- it felt like I was on a boring school excursion! Here I was, in Europe, having dreamed of such a trip for a looooong time, and I just wished the time away-it was so insanely boring.

You honestly spend 70% of your time on a bus...the rest of the time is spent drinking. Not exploring, not having fun, but sitting on your backside in a boring little pub of the tour guide's choice, drinking alcohol and talking to a bunch of other Australians (a majority of members on my trip and others were Australians)- no local interaction.

Don't waste your money. Even if you have to limit the number of countries you see, you will see more than if you had gone on the winter wanderer.
  • 27 Jul 2011 CarlyMc said

    CarlyMc

    Contrasting- i had a blast!
    I went over dec/jan 2010/11
    I had an absolute blast- did all of the optionals
    Some of the dinners were a bit pricey but it was good to go out with the group
    As NYE was in Paris- moulin rouge was not an optional for us
    Prague cruise was cancelled because the river levels were too high
    Barcelona dinner- fantastic, loved the show!!!!
    Space electronic disco was cheesy but fun
    Vatican tour- a must, i loved it so much!
    Venice walking tour was ok, not much else to do in venice so something to orient you and give you some background
    Gondola ride- a must coz….its what you do. Our gondalier was rude but we had fun
    Motzart dinner- really beautiful setting for both dinner and the show, and a bit of culture
    schnaps- the owner is brilliant and great value
    Berlin walking tour- long but fantastic, learnt so much and had a great time
    Amsterdam- dinner and cruise a great way to finish the tour
    there is also the unofficial optional in amsterdam….you have to do it

    I recommend lots of layers
    Flox- great tights that feel like tracksuit pants, good for under any pants and for wearing with dresses on nice nights out
    Singlets are great coz in a lot of places you will need to take layers off, and singlets just really help
    get a good pair of water proof- preferably lined boots for walking around in

    Any questions and id be happy to answer!

  • 3 Aug 2011 ShazB said

    ShazB

    Hi Carly I am going on the European Encounter Dec / Jan and am scared of freezing to death. I’ve heard about layering – how many layers are we talking about?
    I was very reluctant to go in Winter but friends are going so I decided to go with.

    are the rooms heated?

    thanks :-)

  • 4 Aug 2011 CarlyMc said

    CarlyMc

    I wore single, long sleeve (sometimes thermal) tshirt, short sleeve tshirt, jumper and jacket
    as well as scarf beanie and gloves
    leggings/flox and jeans
    thick socks and lined boots
    if it was a travel day i.e on the bus i just wore trackies
    rooms were all heated!!!!!

  • 4 Aug 2011 CarlyMc said

    CarlyMc

    I wore single, long sleeve (sometimes thermal) tshirt, short sleeve tshirt, jumper and jacket
    as well as scarf beanie and gloves
    leggings/flox and jeans
    thick socks and lined boots
    if it was a travel day i.e on the bus i just wore trackies
    rooms were all heated!!!!!

  • 6 Aug 2011 ShazB said

    ShazB

    Awesome I feel much better now! Thanks Carly :-)

  • 11 Aug 2011 Explorer1084121 said

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    If you are going to spend big bucks on a trip to Europe then make it something to remember for a lifetime.I would consider Insight for the food being of higher quality than what any youth operator will give you and the extra standard excursions INCLUDED.It will be about a couple more years before I go back but I am thinking Greece or Austria/Hungary/Czech Republic tours and take it one stage at a time Maybe when I have the time and Money I will do the continent properly with Insight or Trafalgar given I no longer qualify for this youth company as of December 2012.My Aunt and her kids did such a trip as your winter wanderer but independently using a Eurail Pass way back in 1987 when the kids were 15 and 17 respectively(now 41 and 39)and got a lot more out of their trip than anyone on Contiki ever will.

  • 11 Aug 2011 ShazB said

    ShazB

    valid points. I just think it depends on the individual. Im looking forward to a younger group. I dont mind the food not being the best im going for the experience, as long as the accom is clean im happy. Ive wanted 2do a contiki 4as long as i can remember. And im going 2make the best of it & hav a blast :)

  • 12 Sep 2011 Melanie Weaver said

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    Hi Carly. What did you think of the other optional excursions and also the included meals? Were there any sites you saw not on the Contiki list that you would recommend to people??

    I did a 16 day europe contiki in january 2006 and am going back in october this year to do the winter wanderer. Half the cities will be new to me and the half i have been to well i can just do different things. It seems as though the optional excursions haven’t changed at all!! I have done a couple of america tours in the last few years and i know some of the included meals weren’t that great. I’m used to the early coach starts by now!!

  • 13 Sep 2011 Belinda88 said

    Belinda88

    Hi Carly,
    Just have to say thanks for the Flox idea, never heard of it til now. Im the biggest whimp for the cold so def think im going to invest in a pair of those! :)

  • 13 Sep 2011 CarlyMc said

    CarlyMc

    I did all the optionals and would be happy to give more info on any you are unsure of
    the meals werent always the best…..but sayign that you get a lift there and back and you are with a group
    In amsterdam you def need to go to the heineken experience…..it was awesome
    where abouts are you going?
    where do you want advice for?

  • 3 Oct 2011 Melanie Weaver said

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    Hi Carly,
    I was wondering roughly how much euros did you need? I’ve had a look at all the optionals so i know about how much they will cost. I’ll probably do most of them except for the vatican tour because i did that last time i went and i might not do 1 or 2 of the optional meals. I’m not sure how much i’ll need for meals that aren’t included as well as other things (e.g. transport and souvenires). I’m not planning on doing a lot of shopping in europe as i’m going to new york after my tour and will be there for the big sales.

    I know that i’ll need Swiss Francs in Switzerland and that Czech Republic has their own currency. I wish these places took Euros!!

  • 3 Oct 2011 CarlyMc said

    CarlyMc

    I took 100 euro per day, it was heaps. every second day you dont need too much coz its a travel day. I wouldnt be too stressed at getting swiss francs, everywhere i went took euros at normal exchange rates, you did get change in francs sometimes which was enough to get by. Czech i didnt spend too much, my advice is wait til you get to prague to exchange….i got a shitty rate before hand.

    I would say conservativly 60-70 per day was ample for me, but im not a terribly big drinker

  • 3 Oct 2011 Melanie Weaver said

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    Thankyou Carly for replying so quickly! This is great advice. I think i’ll get a little more euros out so i have about 60-70 a day. As a backup i’m taking a credit card that has no overseas transaction fees and i’ll have my atm card as well.
    :-)

  • 3 Oct 2011 CarlyMc said

    CarlyMc

    Melanie its better to have too much than not enough- you dont want to regret not buying/doing something when you get back

  • 18 Oct 2011 Evan said

    Evan

    Is the weather that bad ie cold and raining for Winter Wanderer?
    I am tossing up choosing this tour or European Escapade which is basically the same tour but Summer equivalent.
    I actually am favoring the Wanderer tour as I rather see Prague and Berlin over Tyrol and Rhine Valley but will definitely take into consideration if the weather is really poor which will hamper my sightseeing/spare time. Any comments will be greatly appreciated.

  • 18 Oct 2011 Melanie Weaver said

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    Hi Evan,
    The weather depends how far into winter your going. The weather in October/November isn’t as bad as the weather in January/February. The later you go i think the more likely it is that there will be rain and snow.

  • 19 Oct 2011 CarlyMc said

    CarlyMc

    I went dec/jan had beautiful weather- only drizzzled in nice. however the group before me….they got locked out of france because of snow. its all up to the weather gods

  • 19 Oct 2011 Evan said

    Evan

    Thanks Mel & Carly. One last question, can you please post a hotel list for Winter Wanderer. Keen to see the location of these hotel in the city centres

  • 19 Oct 2011 Melanie Weaver said

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    Evan if you send me your email address through a Contiki message i’ll scan and send you the hotel list. I’m going on the tour October 29th so i just got it a few weeks ago. Contiki do change hotels now and then so they may not stay the same. Most of the hotels aren’t in the city centre but aren’t to far out and are close to public transportation. I think the Nice hotel is in the middle of things though and maybe a couple of others.

  • 17 Jan 2012 ShazB said

    ShazB

     Hey guys I just got back from European Encounter and as much as I was doubting whether winter would be a good time to go it was awesome. The atmosphere, lights, Christmas decorations and festive mood was well worth it. The Christmas markets are a must see. Most cities had funfairs and the street were decorated with lights. They had many street performers and after Christmas sales. There were hardly any queues.
    Your experience is heavily based on your Contiki crew and we had an awesome TM & Driver – Dane & Firio. But it also depends on your attitude. Yes I didn’t like 2 of the places we stayed at but the rest were pretty good. The food was not always the best but lots of meals made up for the few that weren’t good. Yes you spend alot of time on the coach but you are traveling between countries and the view is amazing.
    Contiki is great value for money and if your TM & driver know they stuff they can give you valuable insight that you wouldn’t get traveling on your own.
    the cold was bearable because I went prepared – thermals, layers, waterproof jacket & shoes. Most days I didn’t feel the cold and it definitely didn’t stop me from enjoying myself.
    I’m addicted and will definitely be doing more Contiki’s in my lifetime. yes the time spent in each place is not enough but like my TM said its just to get a taste of places so you know where you want to go back and spend more time

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