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Ultimate European - Advice?
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.
- 82 responses so far
I’m doing this tour on the 18th of August 2013, but I am going to be doing the Greek ISlands option… Do the Ultimate European tours go together but split up for the time that they go to either Egypt ot Greek Islands?
Yes they do. You stay touring with the same group the entire tour except when your group splits up for Egypt and the Greek Islands. Your tour manager goes to Egypt with the Egypt-option people and your tour driver goes to the Greek Islands with the Greek Island people.
Any more questions, feel free to ask.
Whats better Egypt or Greek Islands?
I wouldn’t really say one’s better than the other. It depends on the type of experience you want to have. If you do the Greek Islands you’ll get to relax all day and party all night for about a week with a few optional activities chucked in here and there. Alternatively, if you do Egypt you’ll get to see the pyramids, the Sphinx, Abu Simbel, various other ancient Egyptian temples and experience an entirely different culture. I chose to do Egypt because I’d always wanted to see the pyramids and figured I might never get the chance to go to Egypt ever again and I wanted to add another country to the list of countries I’d been to. Besides, I had the rest of the tour to party every night if I wanted to. Some chose the Greek Islands because ancient temples didn’t interest them and they preferred to hard-core party every night on the Greek Islands, or because they felt Egypt wasn’t safe, or because they felt they might need some recovery time.
If you really want the best of both worlds (and if you can afford it) you can do the 8 day Egyptian contiki tour before the Ultimate European tour starts then do the Greek Island option on the UE tour, or do a Greek Islands tour then do the Egypt option on the UE tour. That’s what a couple of people from my tour did.
I am considering doing this tour, August this year (2013). I just have some questions in regards to bags you took out sightseeing during the day.
1) What size and type bag did you choose to take? (As pathetic as it sounds, I am not a backpack girl haha but thinking a big handbag will get annoying/heavy depending).
2) Is this the same bag that you use on the coach? (I.E. You have to carry the coach bag around all day as both sightseeing and coach bag).
3) If it is not the same bag as the coach bag, what type and size bag can you put on the coach? (I.E. Are one of those mini suitcase bags you use on airlines ok?).
Hope that all made sense!!! xo
You’re only meant to start the tour with two bags, these being your main bag and your carry-on bag. I had a 75 litre main bag (that had both straps and wheels although I only wheeled it along most of the time) and a carry-on bag that was pretty much like a school backpack. I actually had another smaller backpack at the start of the tour that had nothing in it so I just hid it away in my other bags until after the tour had started. I used that small backpack as my day bag when exploring cities. A big day handbag should be okay, just take your main bag and a carry-on bag then use a separate lighter handbag as your day bag.
I think there is a weight limit for your carry-on bag of 6kg but they don’t check it, they only check the weight of your main bag at the start of the tour (has to weigh under 20kg). I think a mini suitcase bag would be ok as a carry-on bag.
However, you can buy more bags after the tour has started haha. I had to buy an extra sausage bag when I was in Egypt, in fact so did a lot of people. I also took a couple of plastic bags on the coach too.
Yeah I was thinking of putting a day bag away in my suitcase for exploring. I just wasn’t sure if there were times when we get straight off the coach into sight seeing, so the small coach bag had to be a heavy sightseeing bag full of (probably) crap haha
So further in the trip they allow you to have an additional bag? Thats good to know.
Oh and since you did the Egypt part (I plan to as well). What bag did you use to travel there as apparently you don’t take your actual suitcase. Or is this the sausage bag you are talking of?
Hey there… Im doing this tour plus greek islands on the 23rd, my first ever Contiki and going solo I cant wait!! Anyone else doing this trip?
Yah, I stuffed my “carry-on” bag full of crap too so I was glad I had another smaller lighter bag I could take for sight seeing and yes, there will be occasions where you jump straight off the coach into sight seeing.
Our tour manager allowed us to buy another bag or two during the tour but I think they stay quiet about this because they don’t want people getting so much stuff that it puts too much weight on the coach and/or slows it down too much or takes up too much room on the coach. Fair enough I guess, haha. But doesn’t mean you should buy lots of extra bags during the tour because when you fly back home your airline could charge you hefty excess baggage fees.
When you go to Egypt you are supposed to leave your main bag on the Contiki coach which stays parked in Athens and you are only meant to take your carry-on bag. I ended up taking my carry-on bag and two plastic bags filled with other crap. Then while we were waiting at Cairo train station for the overnight train, a lot of our Egypt group bought extra sausage bags from a little shop at the train station. That was handy because I was having a lot of trouble squeezing all my stuff into my carry-on bag and plastic bags.. you’re gonna find you have an abundance of stuff/crap fill your luggage during your tour ;)
Ok excellent. Thanks so much for the info!!
Yeah the last thing I want is to pay for extra luggage coming home :-( but good to know the option is there in case!
Thanks! Can’t wait :-D
Us two are doing the same trip. We chose the greek island option :)
Sabel & Elanie, what date are you guys doing the trip??
There are a few stops where you have to carry your bag through streets and up stairs—not all hotels in Europe have elevators! I managed just fine with a roller bag, as did most of my tourmates. Realize that you will by tons of stuff on tour, so leave yourself some room in your bag! I packed 10 days worth of clothes. I am definitely a fan of the old stand-by: choose either black or brown and coordinate all of your outfits around that. Mixing and matching is a must on such a long trip with finite packing space. You spend a lot of time on the coach, so be ready for that! Shopping in Eastern Europe is cheap—Greece until you get to Vienna, Austria (back on the Euro). Be ready to haggle in Egypt and Turkey.
All of the optional excursions are great—Especially George’s Boat! Abu Simbel in Egypt is pricey, but totally worth it!
You go to a perfumery in France and one in Egypt. The French one is lovely, but Egypt is less expensive and has every scent you can think of. It is insane. The owner in Egypt explained that they provide the base for just about every major perfume you can think of, as well as some traditional Egyptian scents. They were great.
Packing for Egypt is a little different. They encourage you to bring a carry-on style bag to Egypt because you take an overnight train. I found this out midway through the tour, so I had to buy a duffle bag in Europe—way more expensive. I ended-up using my duffle as an overnight bag for short stops later on tour, keeping it in the overhead bins on the coach. Be sure to pack at least one set of long sleeves and full pants for the overnight train in Egypt (this also comes in handy for the Swiss Alps!).
That’s all off the top of my head. You’ll love it! Have fun!!!!!!
We will be doing the Aug 19th trip, althought we will will be arriving in London on the 10th to visit some friends and hang out a bit before the tour begins. Anyone else doing the same tour as us? It seems so far away, we are rediculously excited :)
Aug 19th Ultimate European that is… :)
I agree with Karen. George’s Boat is one of the best optionals, or arguably the BEST optional… It’s hard to say haha.
Everyone in my tour who went to Egypt also went to Abu Simbel except for one girl who thought it was too expensive so she opted to stay in her hotel room playing video games on her laptop instead. I mean, why pass up the opportunity to go to Abu Simbel if it’s rubbing you in the face, Sure, it costs an extra 250 euros (ish), but you’ve just spent $1000’s traveling halfway around the world you might as well see it and it could be a once in a lifetime chance.
19th? Theres an 18th and a 21st but maybe 19 is what it equates to from where you are?
Is this Melanie (plus Isabel) who joined the facebook group? If so, thats the same one as me :-) See you on the fb world and in Europe soon!!!!!! :-D
Hey! I booked this tour for June 2014. Just wondering if you guys who have just finished can offer any feedback or tips?
What you enjoyed & didn’t?
What you wish you had known before going?
Thanks heaps :)
Hi Emma. The best optional is George’s boat. But try to do all the optionals if you can because otherwise you might miss out on some interesting experiences.
In Paris there is a secret side entrance for the Louvre (around the Eastern side by some lion statues I think?) where you can buy tickets and so avoid the long queue at the main entrance of the Louvre. Also, if you want to go into the Muse d’Orsay, there is a street booth about 20 metres away from the main building where you can buy entry tickets instead of having to wait in the massively long queue at the main entrance to buy tickets; I managed to buy tickets at this street booth so I didn’t have to wait in the long queue which saved me precious time.
Also in Paris, DO NOT use the ATM machine around the corner from the hotel; there are a bunch of gypsies based under the over-bridge nearby and it seems they often fit a skimming device on that ATM machine. I would only use ATM machines that are attached to a bank that are in non-dodgy areas.
In Amsterdam there is a post shop near the hostel where you will be staying. This post shop is very handy because it’s at the end of the tour and you can easily post all your souvenirs back home to make more space in your luggage. It’s cheaper to post your souvenirs from Amsterdam than all the other places I know of on the tour.
My husband and I are doing on the Greek Island option in April 2014, just wanting to know if anyone else on the community page is going? Also are there any other couples going? Thanks chat soon.
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