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Tips On Optionals& Trip Review-European Experience

16 Nov 2011 Explorer1307236 asked


I did the European Experience in September 2011 and had the time of my life! I went with my sister and there were 30 people on our tour. It was a small tour but it was great cos alot of us got a whole seat to ourselves on the bus! We all got along and partied every night. Most of us (Even those who didn't drink) didn't get to sleep till 3 - 4am. We all still did all the site seeing and optionals. Most of us just slept on the bus! Here are a few tips on the optionals and others i have added:

DAY ONE is usually just driving to the destination and stopping for Optional activites. DAY TWO is your free day site seeing & shopping. My tour manager gave us a map and marked all the major attractions. Usually we would get dropped off round 9am and the bus would be back at 4pm. You could stay Shorter or Longer you just had to catch a cab back to site. Our tour manager also gave us a lesson in French, Italian & German. We learnt to say Hello, Goodbye, Please, Thank You & cheers which was really help ful. the places we stayed in were mostly contiki Villiages Cabins, A few hotels and the Chateau. They were all clean but small. At the end of the day you are only there to sleep. no one on my tour got bed bugs but i would suggest taking ointment just in case. I also reccommend you take insect repellent. You will need it in Venice. Food supplied at the sites was hit & miss. It wasn't the best but it would be hard ifyou were a Vegetarian or Vegan. Make sure you do tell Contiki if you have a special diet when you book the tour. Also tell the tour manager on the first day! All Up i probably spent approx $175 AUD per day. I didn't drink much on tour but i did alot of shopping - Florence is where you will spend most of your money!

- The parisian dinner was amazing. probably up there with the best food in the whole tour. My reccommendation is the Duck! The waiters are fantastic and they do try to keep topping up your glasses with wine!

- Nouvelle Eve In Paris was amazing. It was such a laugh but they were all great dancers! this is a must do optional.

- You MUST have a nutella crepe! It's the most amazing thing i have ever eaten!

- make sure you ask your tour manager about the "Secret" way in to the Louvre (If you don't you can be waiting for an hour or more and then you still have to wait inside

- Monte Carlos Casino is really expensive for drinks. It cost us 30 Eurofor a cocktail! My suggestion if you don't like the gambling scene is to go up to the rooftop bar. There is an amazing view and drinks are a little cheaper.

- Our 2 party nights in Florence were the most fun on tour. Karaoke at the Red Garter and Space Disco. The Tuscan meal was pretty good - not the best but the amount of food you get is unbelievable. You even get a shot of Lemon Cello at the end!

- If you are chasing some leather my suggestion is Leonardo's. It's where the leather craft demo is held but be warned you will spend LOTS! I went over my budget because of Florence!

- Rome was really Humid and hot. The vatican was beautiful but there were far too many people inside to enjoy it.

- Make sure you purchase your tickets to the Collosseum at the Forum. Don't pre order your ticket because some days you get in for free. Once you have the tickets you can skip the line and go straight through.

- Venice was amazing - Food was fantastic. Shopping is really expensive - unless you have alot of money venice isn't really the place for shopping. We all got a different plate of food and shared our meals. That way we got to try everything.

- White water rafting - Was the most fun of all the optionals. The Guides are great fun! I wish i could have done it twice.

- Mountain Bike tour - The hardest ride ever but the scenery was worth it. Austria is the most beautiful place.

- Zorbing & Paragliding - Zorbing wasn't really worth it. You were only in there for 30 - 40 seconds and that was it. Paragliding was amazing. I'm scared of heights but forced myself to do it & the scenery is fantastic!

- Swarovski Crystal World & Beer Hall - The crystal world was pretty amazing. We didn't go to the Beer Hall as we went to Oktoberfest instead. We had an amazing time. I would go back again just for the Pork Knuckle & you have to try the fruit covered in toffee! YUM

- Jungfrau - This was spectacular. I have never seen snow before this so i was really excited. It is really beautiful. The ice palace is also great but not for those who are chlostrophobic.

- It's your last day in Amsterdam so do all the optionals one last time with your group. For those people who go to the Ann Franks House i suggest pre purchasing your tickets. We waited for an hour!

- Our last nights Amsterdam were the most fun! We all went out and had the greatest time. There was lots of laughter and everyone was sharing their memories on tour.

- Hand sanitizer and tissues are a MUST for everyone. The toilets are terrible and most times you have to pay to use them.

- Our trip back to London was the saddest because we knew we were all going to be saying our goodbyes. Everyone had a few tears. You will miss your tour mates. Most of us were from Australia so i guess it will be a bit easier to catch up. We are even planning our next trip together.
Here are my favorites & not so favourites:

Favourite Country: Austria & Switzerland
Favourite City: Rome, Paris
Most Beautiful: Austria, Swiss Alps / Lucerene - I can't decide out of these places!
Best Optional: White Water Rafting & Paragliding
Worst Optional: Vatican City Tour - ROME, i was looking forward to this but it was too crowded and was way too hot!
Favourite Food: Pizza in Rome & Venice, Pasta in Bolonga, NUTELLA CREPE, Stroopwafels in Amsterdam!
Least favourite Meal: Rhine Valley - Our tour manager pre warned us that this meal was not great and we were glad we listened and had a big lunch! We don't know what meat it was but it was some roast- Apparently Pork, Peas & Pasta & Gravy.

Hope this helps and if there is anything else you want to know i will be happy to give some advise!

  • Read the responses 23 responses so far
  • 22 Nov 2011 Maezinha said


    Hi Explorer1307236, I will be doing the European Experience next year September as well so I am looking forward to it and I am not a drinker and from what you say I can still have a good regardless, so I would like to thank you for the great advice it helps a lot

  • 2 Dec 2011 TriniExplorer said


    Thanks for this! I’ve been wondering about which optionals are worth it. This is super helpful!

  • 3 Dec 2011 Jen_au said


    Definitely second having a nutella crepe in Paris!!! I got one that had banana on it too…am-a-zing!! Does this trip go to Switzerland?? The cheese fondue there is pretty special as well!! I’d highly recommend that to anyone also!!! :D

  • 4 Dec 2011 TriniExplorer said


    Hi Explorer1307236, I was wondering. Is there enough time in at the French Riviera to go to the beach for a quick dip? I can’t tell from t he itinerary how long we have there.

    And Jen_au it does go to Switzerland. Where do you recommend to get the best cheese fondue?
    I’m doing this try next August so I’d love as much info as I can get before I go!

  • 4 Dec 2011 Explorer1307236 said


    This tour did go to Switzerland / Lucerene – We only had aboyt 1 hour in the City then we went to the Swiss Alps for 2 nights. It was the most beautiful place we went to. The Swiss Alps is quite expensive – Especially at Jungfrau Mountain. In the swiss Alps they had cheese fondue before dinner at the contiki site. I didn’t like it much alot of other people thought it was great.

    We didn’t get enough time to go to the beach in the French Riviera but that was partly because we got held up alot in Traffic. We didn’t arrive until about 5pm and only had an hour to get ready to go out. Don’t get the cocktails at the Monte Carlos casino – They are expensive and not really that great. there is a building next door – take the elevator to the top level and have a cocktail at the Roof top bar.. They are still expensive – 20-25 Euro but the view is amazing! the food is great in Monaco. I actually thought the pasta was better there than in Italy!

    Hope this helps.. If there is anything else you need to know i would be happy to help

  • 5 Dec 2011 Jen_au said


    Oh the contiki I did had an optional for a cheese fondue lunch in a little place in Lucerne and that was great!! Can’t speak for the fondue at the contiki place as I didn’t try it there :S

  • 5 Dec 2011 Marian said



    Thank you so much for posting this up as I’m going on the European Experience in July 2012! Quite excited.
    I’d like to know how much spending money to bring? Like, say, how much roughly did you spend per day and for shopping.

  • 5 Dec 2011 Explorer1307236 said


    All up i probably spent $3500 AU which included 3 days in London. I only really budgeted the 130 AU (Approx 100 Euro a day) so i did go over my budget but that was due to me spending too much in Florence! I couldn’t go to Florence and not buy a leather jacket and flags of the world bracelet! If your not a shopper i would still reccommend the 100 Euro a day as alcohol and food can be quite expensive and you are not going to feel like Burger King on every service stop!

  • 20 Jan 2012 Cat said


    WOW thanks! this is just the kind of advice i’m looking for :) Thanks for the help!!

  • 31 Jan 2012 LW00DScontiki said


    This may be a silly question, but will I need any type of jacket for the Swiss Alps in June?

  • 1 Feb 2012 Suzie-K said


    Hey, what type of bag would you recommend? PS- not sure if you are a girl or a guy… but if you are a girl! Any extra advice for the ladies?

  • 2 Feb 2012 Explorer1307236 said

    I went to the Swiss Alps in September so I’m not sure what jacket you will need in June! I took a windproof jacket though and I used it for most of the tour! For a bag I suggest a back pack with wheels! At the contiki sites there were lots of stairs and no elevators and it was difficult carrying 20kgs luggage up stairs!
  • 2 Feb 2012 lydajenning said


    I hear so many stories about Eastern European women and how attractive they are and such.
    Derma Veratrol

  • 31 May 2012 TriniExplorer said


    Hi guys,
    Can Anyone who’s been no this tour tell me whether it’s a good idea to pre-book tickets for the Eiffel tower? I’ve been hearing that online tickets are pretty booked up and it may be difficult to get up to the top without a pre-booked ticket?

  • 31 May 2012 Adri said


    Thanks for the great tips!!! Would you say that Jungfrau Mountain is definitely a must? It’s quite pricey I just wasn’t sure if it was something I shouldn’t miss.

  • 31 May 2012 Nicky said


    TriniExplorer, if you want to take the elevator, you might want to do it, but if you take te stairs, it isn’t that bad. But I was there in April. I don’t know when you’re going.

    Adri, I didn’t do it. If you never touched snow you will like it. I’m glad I didn’t go, cause there was a blizzard when my group was there. So they couldn’t see anything. But mot of them hadn’t touched snow, so they were happy :P Hope this helped you.

  • 1 Jun 2012 Adri said


    It was helpful thanks. I actually have seen snow so if it’s just for snow I’m not interested in spending that much money for a few hours. I just didn’t want it to be spectacular views that I was missing. I’m going end of June so I don’t know if there will be blizzards or not.

  • 1 Jun 2012 Nicky said


    I don’t know about the blizzards then. But there are lovely waterfalls and the scenery in the valley is beautiful too. I just walked around all day.

  • 7 Jun 2012 Oppi89 said


    hey when paying for the optionals did you have to pay in cash or could you pay with card also did you pay for all of them up front or when you got to each place? thanks in advance..!

  • 18 Dec 2012 Madeleine said


    ah thats amazing thank you!!!

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