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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.
  • 6 Feb 2012 Explorer1253758 said

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    Hey, I also just got back from a Winter Wanderer and it was worth every cent! I had the time of my life and I am missing it already. I found that the food was always pretty good, if not always to my taste, but of course the food is going to be different to what I expect, and it won’t all be 5 star meals. Overall though I think I liked pretty much every dinner, definitely wouldn’t call it disgusting in the slightest. In fact, most of the food was awesome!

    Going out drinking is entirely up to you, so there is no need to sit in a pub of your tour managers choice if you don’t want to. I found that there was plenty of free time, as if you don’t want to do the optional extras, or even the included walking tours, you could just let the manager know.
    There was a fair bit of coach time, but that was expected as it is a coach tour, and probably the best way to get around Europe – airports suck and we would have wasted so much time getting in and out of airports , through customs etc etc and would have missed out on the spectacular views that we got while driving around. Our coach was really comfortable, and it was really easy getting up in the morning, getting on the coach and being driven to the next amazing destination.

    I myself didn’t go to the Moulin Rouge, but I wish i did because everyone said it was awesome. I did most of the rest of the optionals and they were all great.

    I’m already planning my next contiki! I met awesome people and our tour manager and driver were really awesome as well.

    I think Contiki is definitely what you make of it, and if you’ve got an open mind and get involved and make friends, you’ll have the time of your life.

    I loved doing Winter – being from Australia, I’ve never seen snow. The coldest places were Berlin & Prague, and it was great to see snow. Gloves are a must!!! We conveniently got our contiki jumpers before berlin and prague so I was able to start wearing that under my jacket. Didn’t really rain while we were there, so we were lucky. Beanie, gloves, scarf, jacket and a few layers – thermal pants as well, not just layers on your top. Bring as close to 24 pairs of underwear as you can! There is a washing service in Nice, but apart from that you’re on your own and there isn’t much time to waste washing clothes in the bathrooms, but when you get overseas, there are H &M’s everywhere, so its easy to pick up cheap underwear and socks there :)

    Prague and Berlin – Awesome and not to be missed! Prague is beautiful, Berlin is really different from everywhere else we went and the nightlife in both is insane.

    The acccommodation was always clean and comfortable, and despite not being in the centre of town very often, it was never a problem as they would either drive us in on the bus or show us how to get the metro in. No dramas!

    It was great to see so many places for such a great price, to have so much included food and our TM and driver really went the extra mile to show us extra bits and pieces, and were really knowledgeable. Everyone on our trip had an awesome time. Have fun! I’m jealous of anyone yet to go on one

  • 15 Feb 2012 DylanCatterall said

    DylanCatterall

    Do you get to do any skiing?? whats the night life like??!!

  • 15 Feb 2012 Jen_au said

    Jen_au

    Clearly you didn’t look at all at the itenerary before you left. If you knew the distances that are travelled you would know that you’ll spend a fair bit of time on the bus getting to them but it’s only one day of driving (and sometimes less than a full day) to one day in a city!!! You can’t expect to visit so many places and not have to do a bit of travelling to get there! You don’t have to do what Contiki organise in the cities, you can go do what you want, you are an adult after all!!! Also you do not have to spend any specific time drinking, again you are an adult and can make decisions for yourself!! Go out and explore if you want to do that!!
    I also had the exact opposite reaction to the OP, I absolutely LOVED the Winter Wanderer!! Was awesome and I didn’t notice the long bus days so much mainly because I went out most nights so used bus days as catch up on sleep days!! :P The food was mostly great!!! there were a few included meals that were pretty standard but for what you pay per day for this tour, it’s not the end of the world and you can’t expect to get 5 star food every day!! In saying that some of the included meals were fantastic and all the optional dinners were great in my opinion!!!!
    Before you crack the sads at Contiki for providing the experiance that they advertise, how about you look at your own obvious lack of research and understanding of how Contiki tours run resulting in you booking a tour that was inappropriate for you as the reason you may have had a bad time?? Personal responsibility doesn’t seem to exist anymore :(

  • 22 Feb 2012 Bianca said

    Bianca

    I went on the Inspiration tour in December/January and had the absolute time of my life and loved everything, i have another one booked for the end of this year. Maybe it’s not for everyone but i wouldnt let this put you off going!

  • 23 Feb 2012 Emz said

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    Hi Guys,
    I’m sorry you had such a bad experience.
    I did a winter wanderer tour in 2005 and had a blast, so much so I’ve just booked to do a northern trecker tour in July.
    Yes europe is expensive, but that’s travelling for you.
    Totally agree with ShazB that the group you are with totally makes or breaks the experience.
    I thought the places we stayed were pretty good and thought it was a great snap shot of western europe, I certainly got a good idea of where I would go back to again and where I’ve seen enough of.
    If your not prepared for the travel time then maybe it would come as a bit of a shock, but unfortunately there aren’t many other options to travel such large distances. I loved the bus time, gave me some time for sleep and recovery before then next jam packed day and night.
    I hope you give contiki another go, maybe go in summer next time.
    anyways, just wanted to defend the winter wanderer tour!

  • 23 Feb 2012 Explorer1253758 said

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    Dylan you don’t get to do any skiing, but there are shorter winter ski vacations you could do after the trip through contiki? i think there is a discount if you book 2 in a row, a few people from our tour did that afterwards.

    The nightlife is INSANE!!!!!! SO. MUCH.FUN!

  • 23 Feb 2012 DylanCatterall said

    DylanCatterall

    Thanks heaps!

  • 8 Jan 2013 Darren said

    Darren

    Hi, first I’d like to say that while #Explorer1157784 does have a point regarding having too little time in each destination for the Winter Wanderer. This tour is set up to cover lots of ground. It’s designed to give you a taste of different places so you can decide what places you like best for further exploring. Seeing 11-12 countries in less than a month isn’t easy. Then again, how often in our lives will we get to take a month off traveling outside of retirement. As a recent college grad, I’m looking forward to seeing as much as I can before my time becomes tied to a job. I have friends who are so busy with either jobs or families, that they don’t know when they’ll have the time.

  • 8 Jan 2013 Chandre A said

    Chandre A

    Hi,

    I read through all the chats and Carly totally rocked it with all the answers so thanks, you actually answered half my questions. Does anyone of you think that the Moulin Rouge extra is worth it? a few reviews agreed with Explorer1157784 that its a total waste of money, i want to do it but don’t want to end up wasting such a lot of money of a show that i wont even like, i would prefer to use that money to go shop lol

    My husband and i will be doing London and Paris for our 2nd anniversary!! We still young and surely will enjoy it especially because we like to explore and have fun! We extending our stay in Paris for 2 extra days and returning to family in London for another 2 days before we head back to South Africa.

  • 8 Jan 2013 Megan said

    Megan

    I feel the complete opposite about Moulin Rogue – I absolutely LOVED it! It was by far the best night on tour (I did London & Paris plus Rome). It was sooo fun to get all dressed up and a bunch of us had pre-drinks beforehand and then there’s tons of wine to go around, plus you get a 3 course meal. Not to mention the dancers are seriously incredible. It was totally worth the money for me and I always recommend it because I would have hated to miss out on such a fun experience!

  • 9 Jan 2013 Chandre A said

    Chandre A

    Thanks Megan! I am absolutely all up for the dress up part!! you just convinced me to do it :-)

  • 12 Jan 2013 Stephaniea said

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    Just wondering how you ladies went with picking nice clothes to go out in during winter? I am worried about a dress as it will be very cold in Jan/Feb 2014 when my partner and i are doing the Winter wanderer tour. Im from Australia and am used to the heat so am unsure what to pack… Any suggestions would be much appreciated. :)

  • 12 Jan 2013 Megan said

    Megan

    I went in May so it was pretty warm, but if I was going in winter, I’d wear a dress with tights, boots, and a jacket. It gets really cold where I live and that’s what I wear in the winter when I want to dress up. Also, you’re hardly outside at all on that night, and the building is heated. Plus the wine will help keep you warm! ;)

  • 14 Jan 2013 Chandre A said

    Chandre A

    Hi Megan, im from South Africa and our tour depart 8 June, i have no clue what to pack because our summer is nothing compared to Europe’s i am also a very cold person and can get really grumpy if i am cold, what did you take a long, one 3/4 sleeve tops instead of short sleeve? any suggestions? Also how did you pack cause i heard shopping in London is the best and that i should rather buy me clothes there. Any other suggestions you can give me?

  • 14 Jan 2013 Megan said

    Megan

    Europe’s temperatures are very diverse depending on where you are. In June, it will be quite hot in Spain, Italy, Greece, Croatia… basically the southern countries. But in London, Paris, Switzerland, Austria, etc it’ll get a little chilly, especially at night. Basically, make sure you pack clothes to wear when it’s hot – shorts, dresses, skirts, sandals, t-shirts, tank tops (+ sunscreen!). The great thing is that in the colder places, you can always layer your clothing. So definitely bring a thick sweater or jacket for nighttime along with maybe a cardigan and a long-sleeve or 3/4 sleeve top and a couple pairs of jeans. This way you’ll be prepared for any kind of weather. Also pack an umbrella or rain jacket. As for the shopping… it depends on whether you like to shop or not! But either way, pack light for sure. Try to make sure there’s room left over in your luggage for any souvenirs, new clothes you might buy, and whatever else. I was only in Europe for 2 weeks last time and I ended up buying 3 new shirts, 2 new dresses, and like 5 different souvenir items haha. So yeah just don’t bring too much with you. There are places to do laundry along the way and you can wash stuff like underwear in the sinks. The only other suggestion would be to pack medication because you WILL get sick! Bring cough drops, cold/flu pills, pain meds, nausea tablets, band-aids, things like that… just like a little first aid kit. You’ll be SO glad to have it with you, even if you don’t use everything, trust me!

  • 14 Jan 2013 Chandre A said

    Chandre A

    Thanks for the info, we doing the London and Paris tour for 7 days and will be staying with family in Brighton for another 4 days before we head back home, i am def taking your advice about the meds because you not the first one to recommend it and the layering will work for me, i just have to take it easy with the packing, i know myself i always end up buying everyone else souveniers, i want to shop a few things at H&M for our nights out i checked out their website and love their clothes! Thanks for all the help M

  • 14 Jan 2013 Megan said

    Megan

    Yeah since you aren’t there for very long, definitely pack light! I thought I packed light and I still had a few things at the end that I never wore. The layering trick is best because you can always add a coat or a scarf if it’s cold outside. But in June, the temperatures should be very mild and comfortable! H&M is amazing – you have to save room in your luggage for all the things you’ll want to buy there haha. You’re very welcome! If you have any other questions I’ll be glad to help. :) Also, I’m arriving in London in the morning of June 9th so we’ll be there around the same time!

  • 14 Jan 2013 Chandre A said

    Chandre A

    FAB!! Which tour are you doing? The other question i have is currency? Should i do a travel card with my bank and what do you think i should budget for spending money? Its all so new to me

  • 14 Jan 2013 Megan said

    Megan

    I’m doing London to Athens (23 days) starting on the 10th of June and then I’m doing Greek Island Hopping starting on 4th July! I’ll be over there for close to 6 weeks total, I can’t wait. Once I got back from my first tour I knew I had to book something longer because 11 days was not nearly enough. I fell in love with Europe… I’m sure you will too and then you’ll come home and want to book another tour immediately! That’s the magic of Contiki… haha it’s seriously addictive. Anyway – I just brought my bank card with me and withdrew cash from ATMs along the way, so I mostly paid for everything with cash. There were a few purchases I made using my card (it’s a MasterCard so it was accepted almost everywhere), that was all I needed. As for spending money, try to budget for 75-100 Euros per day. That should take care of it. Also, don’t forget to budget for the optional activities as well, such as Moulin Rogue! I kept my money for those things in a separate envelope so I didn’t accidentally spend it on something else (you have to pay for the optionals with cash).

  • 14 Jan 2013 Chandre A said

    Chandre A

    6 weeks!!! WOW i am sure you way excited! Good luck with the packing, here i am worried about packing for 7 days lol I already started looking at other Europe Tours i might be interested in and have found a few i def want to do! Besides the affordability i think Contiki is perfect if you want to meet people and go in a group so i am all up for it!! My budget for the optional extras have already been budgeted for and i def plan on doing majority of the extras just a pity the Roman Baths are still closed when we go i would have loved to do that. i was planning on 100 Euro’s a day yes so will stick to that then. I am really looking forward to our tour still 144 days to go!!

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