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Italian Espresso review
I thought I'd share my review considering I was never really one to be into group tours. Well, Contiki really changed my perception of that!
I went on the Italian Espresso. I would just like to say that the hotels are not the scum of the Earth as on previous discussion boards, but I would give you an honest tip: you'd probably be better off booking another hotel or hostel if you are planning to arrive earlier than the tour/stay after the tour, as you could find better value (I stayed in a 4.5 star hotel for only 90 euros a night...as this was in the Winter period...please ask around, there are some gem hotels in Europe with great deals in the off period...don't be scared to do the work!!)
Okay! Tip over. The tour was overall, perfect. I have absolutely no regrets about going on this tour. In fact, it was probably the best thing I have ever done.
One: our group meshed really well. Nobody ever got extremely drunk, nobody pashed on the tour (not even randoms), most of us were in relationships, and we were really just interested in seeing the sights and getting enough sleep to do so. I think the latest night out was a 2am finish. I found this amazing because all you hear about Contiki is just one drunken schoolies-esque root fest. It's not true. And it's good, because I had a boyfriend who was especially toey about me going on Contiki because of this presumption. lol.
We actually saw another tour group from a rival company (I won't name this company because this shit is incredibly embarrassing!) at a Karaoke bar in Florence. We just had a lovely dinner and we were all pretty tipsy, but not drunk. Suddenly this tour group storms in, loud as fuck, and starts grabbing the microphone. It was pretty lols to see these people so wasted. Anyway later on we were walking home. This girl on the rival tour vomited on the road. It was pretty rank. Then another girl PASSED OUT (????) onto the other girl's vomit!!! What!!!
Anyway that was probably the highlight of the tour as it came from another tour company's expense. Our contiki group could not get over how disgusting the end of the night was for them....seriously!! What the! We heard later on that group actually had to send those girls off for alcohol poisoning. I'm not surprised!
Two: Our tour guide, Amedeo, was probably the best guide I've ever met!! He is an Italian, and his language really paid off when we needed a table, or medicine, or bargaining with the street vendors. I speak some Italian and he was enthusiastic about me learning Italian and helped me with some of my phrases and pronunciation.
I can't say enough kind words about Amedeo to express how helpful and seamless he made our tour. He had an impressive amount of knowledge about Italy. His restaurant tips in the off-periods were really useful. When we had free time, most of our tour (in fact about 90% of us) went to the restaurants he suggested, or followed him to the restaurants he was going to! Amedeo didn't mind, in fact he helped us get tables together and made the chef speed up the service so we could get to the next activity on time!
Three: Friends! I went alone on this tour and met so many amazing people. We are all Facebook buddies now. I even caught up with two of the guys after the tour, in Paris, and we went on a Pub crawl!
Negative: The only really negative thing about this tour was the Film crew from the US who followed us around the entire tour. We received no prior knowledge from Contiki about this, and even our tourguide was unaware until a few days before. I know I can't speak on his behalf, but I wouldn't like to be put in that position by my employer unless I was briefed properly before, or at least given an option.
The film crew were extremely unprofessional (I majored in film in my Undergraduate degree, so I know my shit :P) and unethical. They were also very mean to people in the group and Amedeo, our tourguide. I have countless examples of the way they passively backchatted. They also didn't even say one word to me, or even made an effort to get to know me, or some of the others in the group. The only example I could find of them being "nice" was when they asked me to sign a release form authorising me to be on camera (I should never have signed it).
The irony of all this is that they were just filming a Youtube video!!
Next time I book a Contiki I will ask if a camera crew is going to be there.
Apart from that drama, I found it an amazing experience, probably one of the best things I have ever done in my life.
Another honest tip: I probably spent 1000 euros the entire Contiki (8 days). I could have probably spent less, but those optionals are really great and I did all beside the Colosseum as I already visited it before I got there. The optionals only added up to about 150 euros I think, so not too bad. Plus, shopping in Florence and Venice is great; definitely bring some cash.
Don't pack too much either, you'll buy so much on this tour you wonder why you have packed so much useless crap to begin with.
- 8 responses so far
Thanks for your review. Just a few questions. What time of year did you travel? I’m booked for Nov/Dec. What was the hotel you stayed at in Rome before and after your tour? How would you rate each optional extra and what was your favourite city?
I travelled in January this year. I stayed at a hotel I found on Trip Advisor before the tour, called “Hotel Villa San Pio” or something like that! I liked all the optional extras, they were all really good value…most of my highlights came from the Tuscan dinner because the whole group went on that one, and there was a really good singer we nicknamed “Meatloaf” (you just have to see him to understand). The space disco was pretty disappointing but I have a feeling that place won’t be in business for much longer. But definitely do all the extras if you can, by the end I just paid for all the extras because I really liked my tour group and would rather socialise with them instead of going alone.
I really liked Florence :)
Thanks for the review I was getting worried. Do alot of places take credit cards?
Thanks for your review. Please could you answer some of my questions?
The itinerary often refers to ‘see’ e.g. See the colosseum. What does this actually mean? I don’t just want to see a historical landmark from a distance. I want to have a full tour of the buildings or landmarks. You mention in your post that you did all the additionals…does this mean that all the detailed tours are at an additional cost?
I know every group would be different, but from your experience is contiki generally for people under 20 or people just out of school? I am 25, it would be nice to have people around that age and especially people who don’t just want to get drunk/party.
Hi, a lot of places take credit card! There is an optional full tour of the colosseum with a really good Italian guide. I didn’t do it because I had already visited the colosseum a few days before the tour.
There are a lot of optionals, but also a lot of included tours (like the tour of the Vatican city, which we did with the same Italian guide who did the colosseum tour). Budget for the optionals, they are great fun.
No way is Contiki for just people out of school! I’m 24, and most people were around my age. There were a few who were 28, 30 and 32! We were definitely not a party bunch, as you could see from my review.
Your review is really helpful. How was the weather during your tour? You were there in January right? Recommendations on what to pack for clothing?
Did they take you inside the Colosseum? Or did you guys just gaze at it from the outside? I’m booked for this trip next year in March. I wanna make sure I see as much as possible.
I’m taking the tour on May 11-18, 2013. Thank you for the trip report!!! Very helpful. cheers!
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