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Ultimate European - Advice?

12 Jan 2012 Jasmine247 asked

Jasmine247

Hi,

I'm doing the Ultimate European & Egypt on the 19th of August this year and I would love to get some advice from people who've already done the tour - what you enjoyed, what you didn't, what sights you saw and whether they were worth it, what you packed etc etc.

Would also love to hear from people who're going on an Ultimate European this year, whether it be the Greek Islands option of Egypt.

Thanks,

Jasmine

  • 17 Feb 2012 Sam_Iam said

    Sam_Iam

    Hey,

    I did this tour 5 almost 6 years ago. I think Kristy has covered everything. Definitely be prepared for the contiki cough. i didn’t get it til i got back from egypt, which was nice in a way. I brought cough mixture while i was over there and it really didn’t do too much. I think the chilli schnapps that i had in Austria really cleared it out of me.
    I loved Barcelona staying right near the beach, not sure if they still have the same place but it was nice to go have a party on the beach.

    Optional Extras – do as many as you want/can. I had planned to do all but the whitewater rafting but i ended up doing it, which i am so glad i did. If your going to egypt and they still offer hot air ballooning do it, its amazing!!

    Packing – i took enough underware to last 2 weeks just incase i had no time to wash. Best method i have used when travelling is pack, unpack and halve it, re pack leave it for a day then try and halve again then you will still have too much.
    Shoes i lived in my thongs, had a pair on sneakers and a pair for going out.

    A double adaptor or power board is a must especially these days with phones, camera, ipods etc all needing to be charged most days.

    If you have any questions feel free to ask. It was my first ever contiki trip i loved it and have recommended it to everyone. I’m heading back over thre this year and plan on doing the russia scandanavia trip.

  • 17 Feb 2012 kristy said

    kristy

    To add a bit more no they dont weigh ur carry on but it has to fit in a small overhead compartment. So go for a soft backpack or overnight bag.
    As far as suitcase n back packs went we had more suitcases and alot of the ppl with backpacks hated theirs and wanted a suitcase. If that gives you an idea.
    You will need a sleeping bag because some places dont have anything but a pillow and mattress

    I also brang my favorite clothes i wear at home. I didnt bring crappy ones coz wats the point if you have to keep buying more. And i love variety. As far as the suitcase and clothes go…. My clothes were rolled up and on yhe side where the weels are. This way if you stand your suitcase up the clothes arnt going all over the place. It took up 1/4 of space and i had a lot of clothes.. About another 2/4 with shoes n toiletrys plus towel and yet i still had plenty of room for buying things :)

    And sam they dont do the hot air balloon ride anymore.
    They also dont go to romania. Its now belgrade or serbia insted.

    Its a good idea like sam said to bring a double adaptor. I brang a 4 plug power board and it was always full with. Computer/ fone/ camera and something else.

    I also took with me a mini laptop and transferd fotos every night. This came in handy coz i tookover 10,000 fotos

  • 18 Feb 2012 Shay said

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    Hey Guys,

    Im doing the Ultimate European + Greek islands in August…From reading your post you have answered so many of my questions :) Im doing the tour on my own an im a litlle nervous, is every one really freindly??

    Egypt sounds amazing!! Has any one done the greek island tour at all?? Also how did you take your money? did you use travellers check or a travelex card?

    Thanks
    Shay :D

  • 18 Feb 2012 kristy said

    kristy

    NEVER use travelers cheks!!! They are a waste of time and not all banks are open all the time. I used a travel card but u can also use a cash passport . Same same but different. As far as a money belt u dont need one. I took 500euros out at a time and had 100 on me and left the reat in my suitcase locked up. To be honest ive herd so much about things being stolen or ppl being scamed but i Never saw any of that. Only in paris near the louvre was there the black guys scamming ppl. Just be street smart n use common sence like carry your bags infront or on the side of u.

    The greek islands from wat my tour mates said was great! Its a time to relax and full on party. Egypt was go go go and no relaxing. It was full on but the greek islands ppl had a minni holiday inside a holiday.

  • 19 Feb 2012 Jasmine247 said

    Jasmine247

    Shay, what date is your tour? I’m on the 19th :)

  • 19 Feb 2012 Shay said

    Default_avatar

    Hey Jasmine, Im not on till the 26th :)

  • 19 Feb 2012 Jasmine247 said

    Jasmine247

    Damn! That’s cool – almost at the 6 month mark for you – it’s so exciting!

  • 22 Feb 2012 CourtneyM said

    CourtneyM

    Explorer1351504, I’m from Canada as well, and my travel agent said to just get the Visas for Egypt and Turkey when you enter the country. She’s been to both places and said the best thing to do for Egypt is have US dollars on you, and for Turkey to have Canadian dollars and US dollars since they sometimes want you to pay in the currency of your citizenship.

  • 9 Apr 2012 Jasmine247 said

    Jasmine247

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/208134889249009/ for those who want to join our page on fb who are doing this tour :)

  • 29 May 2012 Nicky said

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    Now I’m back.
    It was SUPER AWESOME!

    I packed way to much clothes. You can wash your clothes almost everywhere untill you get to Corfu and if you realy need to wash, you can always do it in the shower or sink.
    That’s what I did in Egypt. I wore the same clothes every day, but I washed them every evening and in the morning it was dry.
    For my Egypt was the best part of the tour.
    You will meet some awesome people and not so awesome people, but in the end your one big happy family. Saying goodbye was so hard.

    - Do every optional! They’re not all worth it, but it’s just fun and you just make the best of it with everyone.
    - Don’t expect to much from the food. Most of it just sucks… It’s the best on the contiki campsides.

    I don’t know what you want to know, but you can ask me whatever you want.

    I’can assure you, you’ll have a great time!

  • 30 May 2012 Jasmine247 said

    Jasmine247

    Hey Nicky!

    Can’t believe you’re back already, April was so long ago now :P I would LOVE to see some photos!

    Here come the questions;

    How much did you pack exactly? Was it just having to get visa’s for Egypt and Turkey? How many photos did you take? Did you take your phone with you? What was your favourite and least favourite place? Were you good and stuck with the ‘authentic food’ or did you try their fast food places to compare to ours? Did you have to pay taxes over there (heard something about that, but I may be making it up)? What was the most expensive thing you bought?

    Okay, that’s it for now, thank-you in advance!

    I’m so glad you had a great time. I’m so looking forward to Egypt!

  • 31 May 2012 Nicky said

    Default_avatar

    Hi Jasmine,

    I packed 1 jeans, 1 light comfi pants for the bus and egypt, 2 shorts, 2 skirts, 3 pairs of tights, and way to much shirts, about 20 I guess. And I bought 2 dresses. I packed a light shirt with long sleeves for egypt. I liked to cover up, otherwise I would burn. But you can easyly walk in shorts and a top. They might look at you, but who cares, it’s hot :P
    Oh one tip, try on your clothes first, before you bring them with you. Cause I came out of winter and I brought mostly summerclothes, but I didn’t try them and some didn’t fit. So that was a waste of space in my suitcase.
    If your doing the jungfrau mountain option in Switserland, bring warm clothes too.
    Take a rainjacket and an umbrella, just in case. You’re going this summer, right? It might rain in Europe.

    The visa for Egypt is US$15, you can buy it at the border at the same time when you get Egyptien pounds.
    In Turkey it takes a little longer, cause the whole bus needs a visa. And the weird thing is, everyone pays another amount of money. For New Zealanders it’s free. For Australians and Dutch it’s 15 euro. For Canada it’s 45 euro! It think it was 15 euro for Americans too.
    Oh, when we wanted to enter Hungry, a customofficier came in the bus and asked if we had something to declare. We all said no, but 2 guys had too many sigarets and had to pay a 100 euro fine! So declare it or just don’t take too much sigarets or alcohol.

    I took my phone. Everyone did. You can buy an international simcard at the contiki basement if you want.

    My favorite places were Paris, Budapest, Switzerland, Austria, Florence and Istanbul. Oh and Egypt off course. I didn’t like Belgrade. It was raining and we didn’t realy know what to do. Oh and I didn’t like Kavala. They told us you could eat realy nice fish, but we couldn’t find any restaurant… Oh and I didn’t like Amsterdam very much, but that’s because I’m Dutch. Prostitutes and weed is kinda normal for me. But the other liked it :P

    Just try the authentic food. It’s pretty good. Do try gyros in Greece! Yum! Oh and pizza in Italy, the best pizza you’ll ever get ;) We did eat McDonalds, but that was when we were desprite or when we wanted to try local burgers. Every country has its own burgers! In Egypt we ate McDonalds for lunch twice, because it is ‘save’ to eat.

    When you buy realy expensive stuff or at the places Contiki recommends you can fill in a form, so when you fly back home. You can declare it and then you can get your tax back. But I don’t realy know how that works.

    The most expensive things I bought are: my Egyptien bracelet US$110, 4x papyrus paintings total about 60 euro and the essential oils in Egypt about 70 euro. The perfume at the perfumery can be very expensive. I only bought 1 bottle, so it wasn’t too bad.
    All the contiki recommended places are kinda expensive, but you get discounts.

    Long story :P

    If you want to know more, you know where to find me ;)

  • 31 May 2012 Nicky said

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    Oh, take a normal backpack for Egypt, Cause your suitcase will stay on the bus in Athens. I had to share a bag with Explorer1351504 and we were in seperate rooms and we bought shit, so she ended up buying a small suitcase.
    The overnight train to Aswan sucks! It took us 14 hours. It’s dirty, espessialy the toilet.

    It doesn’t realy matter if you bring a suitcase or a backpack. Sometimes a backpack is easier, cause if there is only 1 elevator, you’ll be waiting a while with your suitcase. Sometimes there isn’t even an elevator. You will have to repack every other day :p At least I had to. I always wanted the clothes on the bottom.

    And I agree with Kristi ¿ about the optionals and favorites. Lucerne is realy lovely, but I was realy sick. I had been puking all day on the bus.

    brings me to somthing else. YOU WILL GET SICK!!! We all had a cold in Italy and it didn’t go away for most of the people. A familier sound will be the coughing and sniffing of your tourmates. You will recognise a lot of people by their cough :P

  • 17 Jun 2012 Jasmine247 said

    Jasmine247

    Thanks for all of this! Super helpful!

    DId you take one memory card or a few and then alternate?

  • 17 Jun 2012 Nicky said

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    Eventually I took one (4gb) and I had a hard drive thing so I could transfer my photo’s. But it didnt work anymore… So I bought two 8gb ones. I actually used up exactly 8gb. So one would have been enough, but I wanted to be sure :P I would take more. Cause some people like to take a lot of pictures.

  • 4 Jul 2012 Sam_123 said

    Sam_123

    I just got back about 4 days ago and just wanted to agree with everyone else that it is absolutely AMAAAZING and that I had the best time of my life and that I would do it all again and that I’m a bit jealous of everyone else who has yet to do it because you’re going to have such a great time!

    I took 5 memory cards with 4GB each. This turned out to be just enough. I only had room for 100 photos left by the end of it. I think I took about 3200 photos. It’s a good idea not to keep all your photos on one memory card because sometimes memory cards can fail and you can lose all your photos. Also, I’d strongly recommend backing up your photos on a laptop/notebook or something. When we got to the end of our tour one girl had her suitcase stolen with all her photos in it, right at the end of the tour :( That happened in the courtyard of the Royal National hotel. Be careful there, there are a lot of people around there who will seize an opportunity to steal your suitcase. At the start of our tour another girl had her suitcase with her passport stolen there. She had to wait two days to get a new passport and rejoin us later in Paris.

    Those were only two low points in a tour filled with high points. I already want to go on another overseas trip and I’m missing all my tour mates really badly. If it wasn’t for Facebook it would be really hard keeping in touch with them.

    Most expensive thing I bought was a 320 euro 18 carat gold cartouche from Egypt.

    The best optionals, in my opinion, were George’s Boat and Paragliding, and the food on the Budapest river cruise was the best on tour. The goulash was amazing.

    Nicky is right, the overnight train to Egypt does suck. The seats are filthy and you might find one or two homeless people sitting in your seat when you first hop on the train. Our tour guide, Mohammed, just shooed them away though because everyone else felt too guilty… I didn’t even want to look at the toilet XD

  • 5 Jul 2012 Jasmine247 said

    Jasmine247

    Hey Sam,

    specific question for you. In Paris, when were the optionals? I know the first night you drive around and look at everything then the next two days are free. When was the Versailles extra and the cabaret show? Just trying to figure out whether some of us want to go to Moulin Rouge instead and when we should book it for.

    The more I think about it, the more I think I’ll be bringing a harddrive with me. I tend to take a lot of photos, better look into that!

    I will be guarding my things with my life, especially my passport!

    Thanks Sam for letting us (mainly me) know all this handy info! So glad to hear that you had such an amazing time!

  • 5 Jul 2012 Sam_123 said

    Sam_123

    No worries, you’re going to have such a great time. Be warned that when you get back home everything will feel dull and boring after your trip :) (it does for me)

    So you’d probably get to Paris around about 4 or 5pm before going on a quick ‘drive around’ city tour of the main sites and we also got to climb up the Arc d’Triomphe. Then we had dinner about 7pm at a Turkish restaurant that was conveniently next door to the hotel. This dinner was paid for as part of our Contiki food fund. After that the rest of the evening was free to do what we wanted. Some guys went to the pub, others went to bed or used the wi-fi. Probably not a good night to wake up with a hangover the next morning.

    The next day was a free day to explore Paris. Breakfast was at 8:15am and our coach departed the hotel at 9 am. We were all given the choice of three drop off points. We could get dropped off the coach at either the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, or the Arc d’Triomphe. I chose to get off at the Louvre with most of the other people. Since it’s a “free day” you can pick and choose which sites you want to see. Pick-up was about 5pm by the Musee d’Orsay. You then go back to the hotel to freshen up, we also had dinner again at the same Turkish restaurant next door to the hotel. The cabaret show started at around 9pm but we had some spare time before then so we were taken to have a look around the Sacred Coeur… I think I remember the Moulin Rouge and the cabaret show (which is at the Nouvelle Eve) are both within walking distance from the Sacred Coeur. Our tour manager, Emma, still walked us past the Moulin Rouge so we could take some photos even though none of us had booked the Moulin Rouge.

    The second free day in Paris is when we went to the Palace of Versailles which is about 40 minutes drive from the hotel and the city centre. After that you’re dropped off in the city centre again to do some more exploring. In the evening is when you get to try snails and do the French dinner optional. After dinner we also got to go up the Eiffel Tower and see a view of Paris at night. The next day we drove to Contiki’s Chateau de Cruix in the Beaujolais wine region :)

  • 5 Jul 2012 Nicky said

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    I agree with Sam, everything boring after your trip.

    But we went to Versaille the second day. The first day was driving to Paris and the next day we went to Versaille. The day after we had a free day and we went to the Moulin Rouge that night. We went to the Moulin Rouge with the whole group, because the Nouvelle Eve wasn’t playing for some reason. I personally thing it wasn’t worth the 100 euro’s, but I can say I’ve been there :P

  • 22 Jul 2012 Kiwikarly86 said

    Kiwikarly86

    Hey I have just come back from this tour!! Was totally worth it :)

    Trying to think of some tips…

    -Do all the optionals. I wasn’t going to but I enjoyed everything especially Paragliding and going to Abu Simbel in Egypt
    -Take a suitcase. It is easier to keep your things organised. Most places have lifts or if they don’t and you are only there for a night or 2 you can put a few things in a overnight bag to make it easier.
    -Try all the food. Go for the Duck option if you do the Paris dinner optional. It is to die for lol.
    - Get a travel pillow. You will need it for overnight ferry from italy to greece and it is great on the bus as well.
    - Take multi-vitamins before trip and during. EVERYONE gets contiki cough. I got so bad I think I had chest infection but I still did everything even took the ausies to the snow at Jungfrau. If you get sick try to take it easy and get a couple of early nights. It is a marathon trip after all.
    -If you get really sick with like tonsilitis, stock up on stuff in Greece. You don’t need prescriptions for Antibiotics etc.
    -Not all places have internet-access. Invest in a phone with wi-fi, or even better a laptop. My tour mates could save pics to it as they went as a back up and could instantly load to facebook.
    -Be careful for pick-pockets in Barcelona. It was CRAZY!!!
    -Best clubs were in Barcelona, Budapest, Belgrade (floating bar) and Amsterdam
    -Go to the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Most amazing thing I have seen.
    - Set up a group facebook page

    Im sure I have more but have a mind blank lol. Feel free to message me if you have any questions :)

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