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Any tips for European Experience?

23 Feb 2012 Stace1987 asked

Stace1987

Hey everyone!

I am doing the European Experience departing 9th July 2012 (can not wait!) and i was hoping i could get some tips off anyone who has done this tour? Which optionals are really worth doing? Any suggestions for good resturants/cafes/bars that have been discovered? Should i take a sleeping bag or would a sheet be enough for summer time? How much should i budget for the trip?And any other info anyone may have would be such a great help! :)

  • 9 Mar 2012 CaitCam2011 said

    CaitCam2011

    Hi Stace,
    I did the European experience last May and had an amazing time, I do have a quite a few tips, that I would have loved to know!
    - In big cities, get up and make your way in before the coach (Paris, Rome esp.) getting in early allows for great and less busy experiences at the Eiffel tower and the Coliseum if you get there super early!

    - Optionals can be hit or miss.
    -Paris dinner was great (beautiful location, good food) fun first big night out as a group! we skipped the Cabernet and went to an Irish pub (Ironic) nearby with others who weren’t going and met up with the group after the show. We all had a great time afterwards!
    - Tuscan dinner left something to be desired. But everyone was going, so again didn’t want to miss out.
    - Florence “Space” nightclub, we went because most people were going. In reality though it was a sunday night and the club was dead except for us. We would have spent less and had more fun at a smaller pub.
    - Wish I had gone paragliding, people had a tonne of fun who did that.
    - Jungfrau is completely weather dependent and you won’t know until that morning (Brutal). We went (it is a 2 hour cog train ride up and down, so it takes your whole day in the Alps). When we got up it was completely snowy and we couldn’t see anything but white :(. It was still a cool experience. We left early and went to Trummelbach falls which is down the road from the campsite and it was very enjoyable (Glacier carved waterfalls in the mountainside).
    - Gondola rides were awesome, short and sweet but a must I consider in Venice.
    - Vatican tour was very good, enjoyed that. (we had left early and already done the coliseum at this point, for others they only got to start touring rome at 12ish when the tour ended)
    - in short, the optionals are dependent on the person and what you can afford (they quickly add up). The one major downside, is if you do a whole bunch during the day (walking tours, boat rides etc.) they take up your time (which is already seriously limited) in the cities to tour. In more remote locations (Austria, Rhine Valley for example) do them, there isn’t much else to do there.

    The only restaurant I can remember is Gusta pizza in Florence (it was amazing) google it’s location, it’s across the ponte vecchio. On the road we always stopped at Autogrill off the highway which have pretty crummy food, not much to remedy that situation though.

    I had a sleeping bag (canadians get one with their tour purchase) it was nice to have, but it was earlier in the year and colder.

    Budget, is hard to tackle. I travelled with my boyfriend so we purchased a lot of things together, so I don’t have a super clear idea of what to budget per day. I can tell you will spend about twice as much as you want to, particularly if you are looking to party! I got sick and was on antibiotics that week we spent so much less money cause we weren’t drinking!

    Let me know if you have anymore questions!!
    Cait

  • 12 Mar 2012 TriniExplorer said

    TriniExplorer

    Hi Cait

    Thanks for the tips! What time did you get into Paris and Rome to start sightseeing on your own? I know you said early but I’m not sure what time places open for sightseeing. Thanks again!

  • 13 Mar 2012 Stace1987 said

    Stace1987

    Hi Cait,

    Thanks so much for all your tips! But yes i have the same questions as Trini what time do you get up to go early to explore and i’m assuming you just found your own way into the city?
    Yeah i have heard the optionals can be a major hit or miss.. i really don’t want to do everything because it will cost a fortune but i guess your only there once! I will have anohter read over your tips just beofre i go! Although i do like your idea of doing the optionals in more remote places and using the cities to explore at your own pace :)

    Thats one thing i am not looking forward too it the junk food/ crappy food on the road! What is the food like at the Contiki base sites? I’ve heard different opinions.

    So if i was to take just a sheet instead of a sleeping bag do you think that would be enough? And you say you see snow in the Swiss Alps does that mean i will have to take some warm clothing for this bit of the trip?

    The budgeting is a tough one! I know i’m going to spend more then i want too í do like to party but in saying that i’m going on Contiki to explore Europe and enjoy it not be hungover everyday and having to ride on a bus would be absolute torture!

    One more question.. I am heading to Greece after the tour and because the tour ends in Amsterdam do you think i would be best to fly direct to Greece from Amsterdam instead of back tracking back to London??

    Thanks so much for your help. :)

  • 7 Apr 2012 Renata said

    Renata

    Hey there Stace,

    Have just read through everyones replies and in response to your question about the direct flight to Greece,

    Yes, you are able to depart the tour from Amsterdam, they give you a choice to either stay in Amsterdam or head back to London,
    I am doing the European Experience 13th July, and have booked flights to Poland from Amsterdam after the tour ends, Just bear in mind the times, as i believe the tour ends in Amsterdam in the morning. I have booked my flight for the afternoon so that i have time to suss things out as well as make my way to the airport.

    Hope this helps :)

  • 7 Apr 2012 CaitCam2011 said

    CaitCam2011

    I would recommend departing from Amsterdam as well, our tour even did a drop at the airport around 10am then the coach just travelled straight back to London so it was essentially a wasted day of travelling if you could leave from Amsterdam.

    Rome was the further away so we left the campsite by 620 to make the 20 minute walk to train which was a bit over an hour. Went straight to the Colosseum for its opening at 8. You can buy tickets online for a lot of places too, we tried that but then didn’t have access to a printer so ended up paying twice…whoops.

    I think you’d be okay with a sheet, you can also buy sleeping bags at the contiki shop in London and they don’t count as part of you bag allowance….or ask people from another trip just coming back to the royal national when you get there. My boyfriend and I both left our sleeping bags for someone else to pick up since we didn’t need them any more.

    The food at the site is fine, plus it’s a nice break from eating out every meal. The staff at the sites make it so it’s relatively home cooked. You can also choose to have a veggie option from the start should you wish.

    When we went up Jungfrau I wore runners, jeans, a long sleeved, sweater and a rain jacket. I was cold, however we were actually in a snow storm. At the swiss campsite they have hats and mitts for sale for fairly cheap, and I will I had worn leggings or something under my jeans. Otherwise I was in spring clothes the rest of the trip. In Italy it was like summer even at the start of June.

    Hope you enjoy your trips!

  • 17 Apr 2012 Adam said

    Adam

    Hey all, I’m doing this tour from July 19th to August 10th this year. I’m heading to London on the 18th tough so have a Hotel booked in for an extra night before my tour starts and another night after it finishes before flying home. Quick question though, seeing as i’ll need to head back to London once the tour ends in Amsterdam, do we at least have some time to explore in Amsterdam? How were the cafe’s there, if you know what i mean? ;)

  • 31 May 2012 TriniExplorer said

    TriniExplorer

    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?

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