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Contiki Italian Espresso Review June-July 2011!

5 Jul 2011 Elena said

Elena

Guys, I just got back from my Italian Espresso tour and it was really fun! Both the people and workers were great to be around and the sights we saw were amazing! I still do wish we'd have a little more time in Rome, but it was definitely a good mix of things to see! It really is an Italian Espresso, where you get the best of Italy in such a short time! You get a good half a day of free time in Florence, so I'd suggest reserving a ticket before, since some people tried reserving it on the same day and as you can understand, the number of tickets were limited. Definitely pack light, but I'm sure most things you don't even need sometimes! I only had 12kg going there with 15 kg going back and even I thought it was heavy!

Our tour manager (named Giuseppe, I hope you're lucky enough to get him as your guide!) was so great that even if you didn't have anything planned for free time, he'd give you advice on how to use your time in the most efficient time! :) Once, I was the only one who wanted to look at the church and even though he had to get back to his office, he went with me so I wouldn't get lost on my way there. I was surprised at how he really helped each and every person! One thing I'd like to suggest to everyone is be on time! We were always all on time except two girls who were always quite rude, so we actually had to leave them in Rome and leave to Florence. We waited and waited, but we literally can't ruin everyone else's vacation for those two.

The hotels we stayed at, yes, they were smaller than hotels here. I expected that already and I researched them before going to have more realistic expectations. The beds were quite comfy the first two hotels (especially the one in Florence), but was slightly hard for the Venice one. It didn't really bother me though. The rooms were clean and the breakfast had quite a good selection of food (here, the Venice one was really good with all of its' food options). Me, the only problem I had is that some of our rooms in the Florence and Rome hotels didn't have a shower curtain, so it felt a little weird. The one in Venice had sliding shower doors though, so it was nice! Also, it's true that you stay outside of Venice, since the prices are realllly realllyyy high to stay on that island. Luckily, I had a good roommate so I hope you'll all do too!

The optional excursions were DEFINITELY all worth it. They were much better than the included ones at times (I'm talking about the meals, not the tours). The tour guide in Rome was really funny, so I hope you get him as your guide. "Contikiii, Contikiiii, follow the guide!". You'll laugh when he says that!

Before, I didn't want to see the leather demonstration or the glass-making demo, but they turned out to be really interesting! I do recommend you to see them then! I mostly walked with either my group of new friends or the whole tour group, because it was really fun with them. Just be prepared to walk a lot and not sleep too much. The meals in the evenings are yummy, but I couldn't finish my plates because they had so much food! I pretty much survived on only breakfasts and dinners most of the time. Don't forget putting sunscreen on EVERY part of your body that's exposed. I thought that my big hat would protect my neck (it did a noon though, but only then) and I forgot to put some sunscreen on. I got a really bad burn, but some high quality cream from Florence helped me get through it! :)

I can answer any questions you guys have for your tours!

  • 5 Jul 2011 Monja said

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    Thank you so much for this!!! This is such a help!!!! i am glad you had a great time!!! t the moment i cant think of anything to ask :-) but I am sure closer to time I will ask away!!!! HAHAHHA

  • 5 Jul 2011 Elena said

    Elena

    Sure, I’ll be keeping an eye out to answer questions as fast as possible. :) I’m actually feeling a little sad that it was such a short tour and we didn’t have an option of adding a few days with the same group.

  • 5 Jul 2011 Monja said

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    Shame man! I also thought it will be a bit short! Hopefully you can go and do another tour?
    I have thought of things to ask…
    1. How much spending money would you recommend?
    2. Do you perhaps have a packing list of things you took with?
    3. What did you wish you took with you and not?

    I hope I am not bothering you with all these questions, but feel free to answer what you want to!

    Thanks again for all info!!!!

  • 5 Jul 2011 Aprilrenee said

    Aprilrenee

    I’m going on this tour in September. What ticket did you suggest reserving ahead of time in Florence?

  • 6 Jul 2011 AlexaD said

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    Hi Elena! I am going on this tour in two weeks, I’m really excited. The weather should be about the same so I was wondering what type of clothes you packed and what to wear at night (does it get cold?).
    Also, what hotel did you stay at in Rome? Contiki just switched the hotel that my tour is staying in like 3 days ago so I was curious to see if you stayed in either of the ones that we had booked. Thanks!!

  • 6 Jul 2011 Elena said

    Elena

    Woah, so many questions! :) I’ll try to answer them as understandably as possible.

    @ Monja:

    1. I brought about 250 in the beginning, most of which paid for the optional tours/excursions. I tried using my cards, but for souvenirs and small places, cash was needed. Also, you have the option to give a tip to both the driver and tour manager if you think they deserved it, so you need even more cash. I ended up getting another 60 euros from a bank machine to cover the taxi back to the airport and a few more purchases. I always say that more money is better than less to save you any withdrawal fees, so maybe take around 400 euros and try to use credit cards? The food there, especially the nice lunch and sandwich places, doesn’t cost too much, so maybe about 10$ for lunch which includes a drink. In Rome, they had a –lot of free and fresh fountains, so you can save a lot of money carrying an empty bottle or two with you.

    2. I have a list, but it was just a list that I printed off this canadian website:
    http://www.catsa-acsta.gc.ca/page.aspx?id=56&pname=PrepFly_OutilPrtPartez&lang=en
    It’s a list that you can select and print out in a pdf. It’s very helpful and I didn’t forget anything with it!

    3. I took more than I needed, like my raincoat, because it was only a little drizzly once in Venice. I forgot to take some extra cream, because I wanted to save some space in my luggage. Some after-sun cream is a must! I had forgot to put some sunscreen on my neck because of my big hat and the cream I bought in Florence helped. I also brought some toilet paper, thinking it would be useful, but I never used it. All bathrooms had it, even though some toilets (mostly the public ones) were really uncomfortable.

    @ Aprilrenee:

    I would suggest that if you want to go see The Accademia museum or the Uffizi museum, you should reserve them in advance. Around 2pm would be perfect so that you won’t be late and have a small break for lunch after the walking tour. Both museums have huge lines and you have to pay extra to reserve it on the same day. So, to make the most of your time, reserve the tickets on the day that you have the walking tour of Florence and your free time.

    @ AlexaD:

    I packed shirts, light ones. Some girls brought dresses and I felt slightly bad that I didn’t bring mine. I wore really light pants, so it wasn’t much of a bother. I’d suggest bringing at least one or two shirts that breath well, but cover your shoulders and a dress or shorts that cover your knees. Many churches didn’t let girls go in when they were dressed too revealing and maybe them wear really hot scarfs on top. I didn’t have that problem as I had nice shirts and pants that I felt good in!

    For the hotel, we stayed in the Noto hotel. They switched ours too, so I was a bit worried at first, but it wasn’t bad. It was still close to Termini, so we were close to everything. The coach we took would usually wait for us from one to two streets away, so it was really nice.


    If you all want a more precise answer or have another question, don’t hold back! ;)

  • 6 Jul 2011 Monja said

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    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! So just to clear the money thing…. Did you use 400 euros the whole trip?

  • 6 Jul 2011 Monja said

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    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! So just to clear the money thing…. Did you use 400 euros the whole trip?

  • 6 Jul 2011 livestrong said

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    How heavy was your suitecase? I just can’t see it being 44 pounds for 10 days in Italy well 13 because I am doign an extension in Rome :/ Are they really strict with that?

  • 6 Jul 2011 Aprilrenee said

    Aprilrenee

    Thank you for responding! Are those two museums not included in the tour and something you did on your own? Sorry, I’ve only traveled on my own before and never with a tour group so I’m new to it! I appreiate you answering these questions for me :)

  • 7 Jul 2011 Elena said

    Elena

    @ Monja: Well, I actually used less than the 400 Euros, but I liked the feeling of being prepared. Remember to use any coins you have back in the airport or keep it as a memory, since only bills can be changed back into normal currency. :) Many small stores had cash-only options, so I couldn’t really use my credit card as many times as I thought I would. Haha…

    @ Livestrong: My suitcase was only 12 kg (around 26-27 pounds I think?) when heading there and 15 kg (around 33 pounds) when going back. I don’t know if your tour manager will be the same or not, but us, we didn’t get our suitcases weighed or measured. I think that somewhat around the right weight and size will be alright. But really, remember that the clothes you bring with yourself should be light anyway and you can always get some good clothes there. ;)

    @ Aprilrenee: The two Florence museums weren’t included, but our tour manager helped those who didn’t have tickets and told them how to reserve the tickets for the same or next day. We also traveled a little earlier just so that they won’t be late. :) I went around the time when we had free time there. I don’t know if you’ll get the same tour manager that we did (and I really hope you’ll get him, because he was so awesome!), but he also suggested us some good places to eat and we often all went out in groups even in our free time! If there’s a suggestion of a t-steak restaurant when in Florence, go for it! It was one of the prettiest and yummiest restaurants there! :)

    I’m glad to answer all of the questions you all have, because I sure wanted more people answering me before my trip! ;) I did have an awesome time either way. :)

  • 7 Jul 2011 Monja said

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    Thank you so much!!!!! I have saved up 200 euros a day for this trip!!! So I am sure I will have enough!!!!! Thank you for all your help!!!!!

  • 7 Jul 2011 Monja said

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    Thank you so much!!!!! I have saved up 200 euros a day for this trip!!! So I am sure I will have enough!!!!! Thank you for all your help!!!!!

  • 7 Jul 2011 Elena said

    Elena

    No problem, happy having helped! :)

  • 8 Jul 2011 Explorer1192655 said

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    Elena-

    I sent you a private message but you answered it here. Was the hotel Noto clean?? I read the tripadvisor reviews and it was NOT GOOD. But if I hear it from you I will feel relieved. Let me know!! Stressing out a tad after reading the reviews.

  • 8 Jul 2011 Elena said

    Elena

    The Noto hotel room we had was clean. :) I actually checked out the tripadvisor reviews too and was really scared until I got there. Really, don’t worry about it. I didn’t get any bed bug bites and no dirt. The rooms were actually cleaned everyday! I felt worried at first, but no one got anything stolen, haha.

  • 12 Jul 2011 Monja said

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    Just thought of another question…. What type of carry on did u have?

  • 13 Jul 2011 Elena said

    Elena

    Me, I had a backpack which I had left in the coach whenever we got off and kept my handbag(with the strap diagonally over the shoulder (for its safety ;) ) with me. Most of the time, the driver said that he’ll stay in the bus so our things will be safe, but sometimes he’d go out, so it wasn’t recommended to leave valuables if the bus would get broken into. Our bus never had that problem, but better safe than sorry! :)

  • 13 Jul 2011 Monja said

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    Tx! I was thinking in doing the same but was not sure if that would work!!!!

  • 19 Jul 2011 Alexander said

    Alexander

    After reading another persons review on the trip, i was curious on others view of it. Im going on Sept30th and even more excited after reading how much fun you had.

    You did say ~400 Euros was enough for the 9 days and you did only buy a few things (I’m assuming from the weight difference in luggage), do you suggest minimum 400 euros, more the better of coarse?

    Also, Jeans ill assume not a very smart idea as its hot and sunny most of the time? Shorts would be great?

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