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European Encounter: Questions, Answers & Tips

7 Jun 2011 KC said


This is a group for people, like me, who are always asking questions but never seem to find quite the answer they're looking for :)
You've looked through stacks of discussions and read every blog, but still want to know more :)

... what are the hotels really like?
... how much money should you take?
... how much free time do you have?
... do you get a detailed itinery?
... should you plan your free days or just go with the flow?
... how long do you travel per day? etc.

If these questions appeal to you, please ask & comment :)
At the moment I'm still an asker ;) but in a month's time I'll be an answerer ... so watch this space!

  • Read the responses 45 responses so far
  • 3 Aug 2011 Mikayla said


    Haha, oh crap I meant to say October, I leave in september, haha. Haven’t received the hotel list yet, but thanks for letting me know :) I go on October 15, can’t wait!

  • 3 Aug 2011 JL said


    Hi Allison. My tour departs from London 16 September

  • 3 Aug 2011 KC said


    Hey M – yes JL is right you go to Nice after Florence. You go to Monte carlo casino in monaco on the 1st of the 2 days in Nice + the nxt day is completely free. Def visit the private beach + the modern art gallery – if you’re into that. The old town is lovely. V chilled here – not a lot to do.

  • 4 Aug 2011 adparker22 said


    That’s great, JL. I’m leaving Canada on the 14th, but yes the tour leaves London on the 16th, so we are on the same one!

  • 5 Aug 2011 KC said


    Yip JL is right .. Nice is your third last town and you spend two days there. There isn’t much to do there other than walking around the old town which is lovely, visiting monaco & monte carlo casino (which you do on the first night) or visiting the famous pebble beaches (they were a bit of a let down for me – but then again we Capetonians have gorgeous beaches) so it’s a chilled day for most – you’ll need it after Italy! :)

  • 6 Aug 2011 PJ said


    This probably doesn’t answer anyone’s questions but I just got back from the Encounter last week and I kept track of everything I was doing for my family and friends. It starts here and reads from bottom to top. Meaning you have to hit Newer Post to move to the next day.

  • 10 Aug 2011 Elliott said


    KC… your advice is so helpful though I haven’t asked any questions to you. Thank you very much… You’re so kind!

  • 10 Aug 2011 KC said


    Thanks Elliot! My pleasure!
    Wow Patrick – I’m impressed! I’m still typing up mine! Should be up in a week or so, guys so hang in there! :) sink your teeth into Patrick’s blog while you wait for mine ;)

  • 10 Aug 2011 PJ said


    HA! Thanks! I wrote on the bus a lot. Hopefully people got some ideas of what to expect and how much fun they will have. :)

  • 12 Aug 2011 Natasha said


    Hi KC, I am going at the end of November. It is the first time that my friends and I have been away from home and we were a bit panicked about what we need. Your posts have provided us such useful information that we feel much more at ease. Thank you very much!

  • 13 Sep 2011 ShazB said


    Hi KC me again. Please can you tell me about the VISA app for UK, with regards to the photo can you remember if they are fussy about he background? Most sites day grey/cream but i got photo’s with white background.
    Also did you get a international sim for your cell when you were there?


  • 21 Sep 2011 JL said


    Hi ShazB: I submitted my pics with a white background and had no problems :)

  • 21 Sep 2011 ShazB said


    Thanks J.L

    The worst thing that could happen is not getting Visa’s when everything else is booked.

    Stuff submitted already now I wait :-)

  • 30 Sep 2011 KC said


    hi – sorry been a bit snowed under with work. Glad JL could help you.
    Make sure you give yourself plenty of time for both the UK & Schengen visas.
    Sim card: I’m with vodacom so just used the roaming sms option (it only allows you to send smss (so someone can’t call you – it goes straight to voice mail) when overseas as it chows up money) so when you leave SA it’s “roam on 123” and when you come back it’s “roam off 123” (don’t forget when you come back though!)

    Am on a short week’s holiday so aim to get my blog finished! Holding thumbs!

  • 5 Oct 2011 ShazB said


    Thanks KC
    Got my UK VISA not to get the French 1 :-)

    I do have Vodacom but on Pay as u go – I have a contract with MTN

  • 6 Oct 2011 Nana said


    I am doing this tour next May and these posts have been so helpful! Thanks!

  • 18 Oct 2011 KC said


    @ ShazB .. lol that’s complicated – have you got 2 phones? Well take the vodacom one & then do “roam on” and roam off" but you can only send texts (no calls or internet) .. up to you .. it’s just that I’ve heard that if you use your phone a lot it costs thousands so be careful :)

    @ Nana – pleasure! Still trying to get this blog done :( it will definitely be up after my long dec hols – luckily I took notes or I would’ve forgotten it by now!

  • 14 Nov 2011 Explorer1307236 said

    I did a Concept tour. We stayed in mostly cabins at the Contiki sites. Some rooms were small but they were always clean. Most beds were comfortable. At the end of the day you are only there to sleep. If your group is anything like mine you will all spend more time sleeping on the bus than in the hotel rooms. One thing i didn’t like was sometimes the rooms got a bit stuffy. There were no fans or Aircon. Some windows didn’t have screens so we didn’t leave the windows open.

    I spent around $175 AUD a day. It is alot but i did all the optionals, site seeing, bought lots of souveniers for friends and family and done lots of shopping! I would allow at least $15 AUD a day at least for food.

    Free time depends on what tour you do. We stayed most places for 2 nights. The first day we didn’t get to the hotel till 6-7pm then all the next day was your free day.

    You do get travel documents that tell you where and what hotels you will be at. There are also day sheets the tour manager does up at every stop. I would suggest taking a photo so you remember the times.

    I didn’t pre book any tours, tickets before the tour. Alot of people on my tour stayed together during the free days which was really fun. I would say just go with the flow! make sure your tour manager tells you of the “secret” way to get to the Louvre without waiting. Also in Rome get your tickets to the colosseum via the forum. You get to skip the huge line! DONT get the tickets to the colosseum before the tour as on certain days you can get in for free. You still need a ticket from the ticket stall to enter though!

    Sometimes we were on the bus for 8 hours to get to a certain place but there are regular stops and breaks.

    Some other tips –
    ~ Make sure you keep some 50 & 20 cent Euro coins for when you need to pay to use the toilets
    ~ You do need to take hand sanitizer. some toilets are disgusting. The worst was Bolonga.
    ~ Warm clothes are a must when you climb the Eiffel Tower. It is freexing up the top
    ~ You will need a towel. I used a micro fibre one and it dried really quickly.
    ~ The Swiss Alps has a different style Euro adaptor. No one on our tour had the right adaptor so we were without phones, hair straighteners etc for 2 days! we wern’t too hapy!!! Especially not having a hair straightener
    ~ We had a theme night at the Chateau, Swiss Alps, Rome & Austria. They are the most random themes and we had alot of difficulty trying to find some cheap outfits!

    Hope this help you all!

  • 7 Jan 2012 A*T said


    hi kc, and thank you for the info :)
    Very useful stuff.

  • 7 Jan 2012 OSUNatti said


    Hey explorer, I went on this trip in August. I listed my answers below. I know each group will be different but based on my experience here they are..
    1. Our group had ages ranging from 18-35. Most of us and my tour was full so out of 50 people about 40 of us were between the ages of 24-28.
    2. We had an English girl on tour with us, she actually lived just 30 minutes out of London so you MAY not be the only Brit on tour :) I am American and there was two other Americans on tour and then two couples from Canada. The rest were all from Australia and a few from S.Africa. and one from Japan.
    3. Our group did our fair share of partying and going out. Some of the hotels like for example the one that our group stayed at in Rome was outside of the city but there was a bar just up the road that we hit up so not all the time were we in the main city but we found places to go and sometime like in Amsterdam,Paris,Florence,Lucerne we went out in the city and all decided to just share cabs back or take the train back. In Nice your hotel should be right in the center of everything so easy to just walk to the bar.
    We had a couple just chill nights too in St.Goar, Innsbruck and at the French Chatue we literally sat down in the hotel bar and just kicked back. I think the only night we really didn’t do anything was in Venice and that’s because we were exhausted from being out in the Italian heat.

    I hope you have an absolute blast its an AMAZING trip!!!

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