Review of the European Spirit...AMAZEBALLS!
26 Oct 2012 MichelleNZ said
So when I was looking into different trips I really wanted a review of the European spirit and was disappointed I couldn’t find a complete one. I am sooo stoked I went on it anyway as it was absolutely awesome and I enjoyed every minute! So now I am doing my own review for anyone else now looking into this highly recommended tour.
(P.S. don't read if you prefer to be surprised)
The tour starts in Paris and I recommend getting there a day or two earlier as there is so much to see in Paris. As the tour starts in the afternoon you can use that day to sightsee beforehand and I was able to meet up with some of the other tour member which was great as I was travelling on my own. We were shown how to get to the metro which was best way to get into the main part of town. The first night involves a quick debrief with your guide and driver, dinner at the restaurant next door , city of lights tour (kewl way to briefly see all the main sites in Paris though you don’t stop except momentarily at a good view of the Eiffel tower though for a quick camera sesh), and you finish with a stop at this bar for a taste of escargot. One of those things you gotta do in Paris! You have the option after this of being dropped at the Eiffel tower and making your own way back or returning to the hotel with the coach.
Our driver dropped us off in the main part of Paris at 9am and we had until 4pm to explore as we liked. We went into the Lourve and then walked to Notre Dame but didn’t go in as we were running out of time by this point and there was a long line. I had done the champ elysees and arc de triomphe the previous day (highly recommend the street is awesome) and was happy with how the day went. That night were our first optional, both of which I did. The Parisian dinner was really nice. The food was delicious, wine average but plentiful, had a neat atmosphere and was a great way to start getting to know the larger group. Afterwards we went to the cabaret. This was pretty kewl, dancing was good but I really enjoyed the comedic acts they had on as well. Again there was plentiful of champagne included and everyone went on to a local bar afterwards to continue.
First bus day; Paris to Amsterdam. Your guide will go over a few things with you and they will probably do some kind of get to know the group type activity. There is the infamous sex show optional this night. I didn’t go so can’t comment but most of the group who went seemed to enjoy it. I went with a few others and wandered the streets a little and found a coffee shop to try another of Amsterdam’s infamous experiences. Little tip don’t go for the usual tourist places if you really want to try this properly as their products are very weak and you most likely won’t feel much. We taxied back this night and it was pretty affordable.
You start the day with a trip to Edam; hear about how cheese is made (pretty lame) and in same building visit the clog maker who is much more interesting and pretty funny. You do get to try some cheeses afterwards and they are pretty yummy Also Included is the bike tour which we really enjoyed. Nothing quite like biking through an idyllic dutch village.
The afternoon you are dropped back off in Amsterdam main town and have free time. Most of the girls went and checked out Anne Frank’s House while the guys went to the Heineken factory. Anne Frank’s house was an amazing experience particularly if you know the book and is pretty touching. We just wandered around after this before getting the tram back to the hotel so we could get ready for the night. The next optional are the Sea Palace restaurant and Canal Cruise. I read a lot of bad reviews on the meal but we loved it. The food was awesome and there was a ridiculous amount of it, you get a few glasses of wine or beer included and it’s quite a kewl vibe as you are sitting out on the water. You can’t go to Amsterdam and not do a canal cruise, it’s is the best way to see the city and free drinks on board make for a merry ride. Our guide took us out for a club crawl after and it was a pretty big night involving an awesome specialty shots bar and numerous other clubs. One of the best nights out we had.
One of the longest bus days you will have. The Berlin hostel is friggin awesome though and the nicest place we stayed in. Our rooms were massive and it’s all really modern with some good social spaces. You get a bus tour through the city on the way to the hotel where you see most of the main sights. The hotel is right around the corner from the East Berlin Gallery (wall remains with graffiti art) so we strolled the length of the gallery and then stopped for a laid back drink at the local bar.
Definitely do the historical tour in the morning. I think everyone in our group did it and didn’t hear any complaints. It is really good, informative while not being boring and you see a lot of the main sites and can really get your bearings. Berlin is all about history so embrace it for this day. Brandenburg gate, the Jewish war memorial and checkpoint Charlie are included in the tour. Afterwards it’s a free-time afternoon. We had lunch and then checked out the national history museum which was recommended by our guide. The Eye spy optional was okay. It shows an interesting insight into the fall of the berlin wall, but the bars are seedy and not ones you would go into on your own accord. You finish at the club across from the hotel which is pumping and a great way to finish your time in Berlin. (It cranks any night of the week as there are numerous tour groups always at the hotel).
You stop at Dresden on the way down to Prague and it is well worth the stop. Prague itself is absolutely beautiful and you start with a walking tour through the city including Prague castle and Charles bridge. Our guide and driver organised an additional optional for us this night which was an organised pub crawl. It’s pretty massive and there is like 80 people shifting between 4 places including the first bar which is an hour of unlimited drink and the last which is a 5 story club. Great night out and you get a T-shirt as well as numerous bad drunk photos to remember it by.
Morning is the bike tour which we initially weren’t looking forward to after such a big night out but it was the best thing for us as it really freshens you up and biking through beautiful Prague is an unforgettable experience; you see a few of the main sights including the Lenin wall and makes for a nice chilled morning. Afterwards is another canal cruise with lunch. This was okay though I think I would have preferred to just wander the streets which we went on to do afterwards finishing our day with dinner in one the beer gardens (p.s. the meal are humongous).
Bus day to Vienna. Our tour guide and driver felt you shouldn’t come to Europe and not see a concentration camp and as we all were interested they organised for us to stop at Mauthausen Concentration camp on the way. Words cannot describe this experience and all I can say is do whatever you can to convince your own guide and driver to also do this. This first night in Vienna is the Mozart and Strauss concert. It was in an amazing old armory building and you get a great mix of orchestral music with opera singing and ballet. A must-do in musical Vienna.
You get a morning bus and walking tour which cover most of the main sights in Vienna and you have a short while afterwards to wander on your own. We opted to do a horse and cart ride, which was one of the best decisions we made on the tour; such a good way to see the city. The next optional is the Schnapps museum which was really interesting and you get to try some very yummy drinks at the end. At Schronbronn palace afterwards you don’t have time to go inside but the visit is worth the walk around the gardens which are phenomenal especially if you have the beautiful weather we had. There was supposed to be another optional that night of a diner but as we were a smaller group and not everyone wanted to do it, it was cancelled and we ended up going to Prater funfair instead. This is a wicked amusement park that was so much fun. You pay per ride and there’s some insane stomach curdling ones well worth a try. We also got a good hearty Viennese dinner here with ridiculously large beers.
This is a bus day and your only night is Zagreb. It’s pretty much a stop-over on your way to Dubrovnik the highlight of this tour! In Zagreb you have the evening in the centre where you can scope out a place for dinner.
Your first sight of Croatian coast-line and it is totally amazing and reason enough to pick this tour. The hostel in Dubrovnik is one of the worst but as your are in my favorite place in Europe there is not a lot of call to hang out in it and it is within walking distance to old town so can’t complain. We had a good night out the first night with our guide and driver taking us to a lethal bucket bar.
The morning is a walking tour; a little hard in the intense heat but a good way to get a feel for the town. The afternoon is the boat cruise which was a huge highlight. The boat takes you out around a couple islands and at one you can jump off into the crystal clear water and another you get off the boat and grab a lunch at one of the many seaside restaurants before going for another swim. Our driver had been to Dubrovnik a couple times and took a few of us who were keen to this amazing seafood restaurant back on the mainland which was exceptional. It’s called Moby Dick and is quite expensive but well worth it if you are a seafood fan (there platters are ridiculous and will make your mouth water). This was another big night out with us all returning to the bucket bar and another local club. Old town is very beautiful at night and a casual stroll is also really kewl.
An entire free day! We went for a walk around the old town walls in the morning (wish we had gone earlier as the heat was sooo hot!). You get amazing views and I highly recommend it. We spent the rest of the afternoon at a little cove just down from our hotel where the water is amazing and there are little cliffs you can climb and jump off into the cool water (warning the beaches are more pebbly then sandy so make sure you bring some good jandels). Myself and a few others went on a kayak tour late afternoon which we had booked the previous night and I am sooooo glad we did this. I will never forget coming around one of the islands and seeing the beautiful Croatian sun setting on the water, so serene.
Good-bye to Dubrovnik as we made our way back up the coast to Zadar via the town of Split. Split has really good markets and is a great place to get rid of the rest of your Kuna before heading back into Euro territory. You have a short time to wander Zadar, check out the sea organ and some of the stores. My big regret here was not wearing my togs as I would have loved to jump in the water here. You stay at a nice seaside hostel and we just had a chilled night.
Bus day into Ljubljana. Love this little town, it has a very funky feel to it. You have a short walking tour taking you into the centre where you can find a nice place to have dinner. We went to this bizarre skeleton bar where you had two for one cocktails which made for a bit of a messy night :p
Bus day into Italy with a stop first at Lake Bled. This lake is awesome and totaly unexpected. We ended up having a group picnic there and it was so idyllic. Myself and a couple others snuck away and then returned to the group on the water in a little paddle boat we hired. Such a funny experience and so good to just sit out on the water. Loved this day! You drive into the campsite that evening but don’t actually go into Venice until tomorrow.
We got on a boat ride into Venice and began the first optional which is a walking tour. I wasn’t impressed with this, however I think I probably would have gotten very lost otherwise and might not have seen what I did. It finishes at the Rialto bridge. We wandered off some some proper Italian food, did some shopping at their amazing stores and markets and then head back to St Mark’s Square. We went into the Bascilica and also up the bell tower and both were really good. Next was the second optional the gondola ride and it was pretty kewl to glide through the canals drinking our bubbly and relaxing. You Head back to the campsite after this for an of evening of whatever you like.
Florence! Very short bus ride into Tuscany. My only issue with this tour is you only get the one night in Florence which is a shame but as the tour does finish in Rome I would recommend coming back up and checking out some more of the area. You get your group photo overlooking the town and then head into the centre. I would suggest flagging the leather demonstrating but do the included walking tour. It is free and with a local guide who is really good. He showed us the main statues, the Ponte Vecchio bridge, and the Duomo. You then go and drop off your stuff at the campsite before returning to town for the dinner optional. This was nice, not exceptional but still a good night. We headed into a karaoke bar to finish of the night (unfortunately the karaoke itself wasn’t running but they had an awesome 2man bad who we just sang along to instead).
Bus ride to Rome via Pisa. You get your chance to do the standard pushing up the leaning tower before driving into Rome. You get a walking tour through the city which is great as you guide will show you the Colosseum, forum, Trevi fountain, the Spanish steps, the Pantheon and the Plaza Navona. Our guide showed us a good restaurant where we grabbed a yummy Italian dinner before heading to the campsite.
Our guide took us on the metro system into town where we all went the Vatican tour. A real good but slightly fast paced tour where to see the amazing hall of maps, the Sistine Chapel , and St Peter’s Bascilica. After this we went our own way. We checked out the colosseum first (go in through the forum first as it saves you standing in the massive ticket line later) and then went and got a cool drink to freshen us up. That evening was our “I love Roma” party. We had all bought the t-shirts that day and then in the evening wrote messages on each other and partied the night away.
Day 22: Tour has finished and everyone heads off on their way.
Beware of the gypsies particularly in Paris. Don’t talk with random people trying to guide you particular cab or get you to sign a “petition”.
Don’t use the coach toilets as it sucks for everyone on board. The driver often has to wait a few days before emptying it and it can reek (I always sat towards the front of the bus which helped)
Pretty much every second day on this tour is a bus day, this is useful for catching up on sleep. On the bus you get a room sheet where you put down your name with whoever you are wanting to room with. If you are traveling on your own it’s good to try rooming with various different people at least at first as this allows you to meet a lot more of the group and find out who you really want to hang with.
When you get to your hotels generally there is a short spiel about what’s available and some tips with the city. You generally just off-load your stuff and settle in your room.
Most of all have fun and remember these tours are what you make of them. You are in Europe so enjoy it
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7 Mar 2013 Lara said
I was just wondering I have this tour booked in July and i’m travelling on my own like you were, did you have any problems getting to know people and having people to do stuff with? I’m a bit nervous because this is my first tour and i’m not sure how they work.
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9 Mar 2013 MichelleNZ said
Hey, it’s really easy getting to know people, especially if you do the optionals and there’s a lot of group organised stuff as well. You get to know people pretty quick as most of the accommodation is 4 people to a room (our guide would send around a room sheet and you just put your name down where-ever). One of the guys on our tour set up a facebook group beforehand and we organised through this to catch up before the tour which was great to meet a few people before it started and not feel like a random :) Plus there are always other solo travellors so your’re not alone. Feel free to ask any other questions you have on your mind
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29 Mar 2013 Ankit said
Hey Michelle! I’m planning on doing this tour as well this coming May! I just wanted to know when the tour ends, do they fly us back or drive us back to Paris? Or should I book a flight from Toronto to Paris and then from Rome to Toronto returning?
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2 Apr 2013 MichelleNZ said
Hey, the tour ends in Rome and it was up to us where we went from there :) If you have extra time I recommend going and seeing more of Italy before you head home, I went to Pompeii, Sorento and the Amalfi coast (absolutely beautiful). If not tho your best bet is doing flights to Paris and then you return flight leaving from Rome
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17 Jul 2014 Garousse said
hey I’m going on the ultimate european in August and to ensure i was able to go up the eiffel tower, i pre-purchased a ticket online. Thing is, the only time left was 3.30pm and now reading reviews it seems that the bus picks you up at 4pm so now I’m wondering if i should cut my losses and just try to do the eiffel tower earlier in the day or should i maybe take a change of clothes with me and just meet everyone at dinner?
i.e. my question is.. do you remember roughly what time the parisian dinner started? i.e. when the bus drove you back to the hotel, how long did you have to get ready?
Thanks heaps (:
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