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Winter Wanderer 1st November 2013

3 Apr 2013 walshienz said

walshienz

Hi All,

Just wondering if anyone else is booked on the Winter Wanderer tour departing 1st November 2013.

I am booked on this one, and will be travelling solo, so would love to hear from people also doing this tour, or anyone that has done this tour that has any tips :)

  • 6 Apr 2013 PinkJam said

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    Hi!

    I just did this tour, returned home on Wednesday! This is probably gonna be super long, so get ready!! haha

    I can honestly say, it was the best 24 days of my life!!! My tour group consisted of 48 other people plus a manager and a driver.

    One tip I have is really prepare for the cold weather! I underestimated how cold it would be, thinking i’d be fine going at the end of winter/start of spring. Wrong!!! It was so cold, I ended up getting sick. Which is another thing to be prepared for. You will most likely get sick. On the very first day our tour manager said she guarantees 90% of us will at some point get sick. Oh and that we did. Many people got bronchitis!!

    The optional extras have to be paid for early on in the trip. It was about 500 euro to do everything (not including what had already been done in Paris and Lucerne) I did it all, I don’t regret doing it all, but there are some things I could have skipped, like the Mozart concert in Vienna.

    Now, when it comes to partying, boy do Europe know how to show you a good time! Our tour manager planned it so we basically had one night off and one night on, but sometimes it was two nights back to back or two nights with no plan. The night life in Europe is crazy! We went to this bar in Barcelona, where I had by far the best night of my life. Drinks are cheap, 4.50 euro for a cocktail, and the atmosphere is so good! Other notable nights out, are space disco in florence, it was st paddys day and there was another contiki group there, so we went all out that night! Pratter Dome in Vienna is also a wicked place, we were lucky enough to experience it cause we were there on a weekend. We did a pub crawl in Lucerne, and one in Prague, lots of fun, but you get over walking to the next location in 0 degrees. The worst thing about the clubs in europe, is that you can smoke inside! So you go home wreaking of smoke, and your eyes are dry and they burn like crazy! Amsterdam is also a good time, you get the option of going to a live sex show, for 32 euro, its an optional extra but they don’t tell you until the night you go.

    One thing I was dreading going into this experience was the bus rides. But to be honest they weren’t bad! Yes they are long – departing at 8 and arriving at 6 most days, but there are rest stops every 2/3 hours, our manager even did a special 2 hour stop in Geneva, Switzerland for us, which isn’t on the itinerary! But generally you don’t feel like you’ve been on the bus all day, you can sleep, or just talk to your mates, time flies!! My biggest let down on the trip was the food – not the included meals like breakfast, cause breakfast all bar maybe 2 places were fantastic! Generally an all you can eat buffet! But the food you buy is not what I expected at all! Not a lot of flavour! In Rome I ordered pizza and it had no cheese on it!!!! The pasta is cooked differently, its harder over there, and its bland! Another thing is you have to pay to use the toilets everywhere!!! There’s no such thing as a free public toilet!!

    Ooh, I should mention the accommodation. I was expecting really dodgy, barely 2 star, 40 minutes out of town types of places. But I was pleasantly surprised, the hotels were generally quite nice and modern, and relatively close to town. Never had a taxi fare more than 20 euros after a night out. All hotels have wifi, some where in the lobby only, and some you had to pay for, (say 5 euro for 24 hours) and when you eat out, most places have free wifi too!

    One last tip I have is really really live each moment. 24 days seems like a long time, but its over before you know it. take each day as it comes and dont let any opportunities pass you by. You’ll make lots of new friends, and its sad to think that you will never experience any of that with all of them ever again! So you really need to take advantage of everything while you can! I loved my time on the trip, I cant believe its over!

    Anyways, thats a novel on my experience! I hope you find that information somewhat useful!! Any questions I’d be happy to answer!!

  • 8 Apr 2013 PaigeK said

    PaigeK

    Ohhh you have made me so excited for this trip! Thanks so much for your insight! :)

  • 8 Apr 2013 walshienz said

    walshienz

    Hello,

    Yeah thanks so much for sharing :) I am really looking forward to it !

    Wow 48 people, didn’t even think there was a bus big enough to fit that many people on hehe.

    Do you get much free time to do a bit of shopping? Do most people do all the optionals like you did?

    And good to hear about the partying side hehe don’t think I could handle every night, so glad to hear we do get a night off sometimes!

  • 8 Apr 2013 PinkJam said

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    No worries!!

    The bus can hold 50 people (not including the driver or the tour manager) so be prepared for lots of people! But it’s great, you become one big family by the end. I miss them all!! Hahah.

    Yes, there’s lots of free time, typically we get dropped in town after breakfast for a walking tour or something similar and then we have 5/6 hours free to roam the city and then we meet back at a certain spot for a lift back to the hotel to get ready if we’re heading out for dinner. But you can head back by tram or taxi whenever you want! And you don’t have to do anything you don’t want! If you’d rather skip the walking tour and do your own thing then you definitely can!

  • 10 Apr 2013 PaigeK said

    PaigeK

    Ooooh :)
    Hey I just have a couple of questions!
    So I’m stressing about the whole luggage bit cause really the dimensions and weight that you have to meet aren’t very much! Did you find 20kg and the dimensions that your bag can be were enough?
    How much do you suggest budgeting for each day, including meals and what not (obviously not shopping money)?
    Is there much time/facilities to do any clothes washing along the way?
    and lucky last, what was your main payment method whiel you were over there? Did you just use a normal debit or key card from aust? Did you get cash out? or yeah what did you do? haha
    Sorry for all the questions!

  • 13 Apr 2013 PinkJam said

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    It only has to be 20kgs or under on the very first day, they weigh your bag before you get on the bus, and then after that its never weighed again. You can also have a carry on that can be 5kgs, but the girl from the contiki basement who weighed our bags said that if its over 20, just to put stuff in our carry on cause she doesn’t weigh that. If you buy certain things that you dont need to take on and off the bus all the time you can store them under the bus.

    They don’t measure you bag, I wish I knew that cause I went out and purchased a suitcase with the right dimensions, but so many people had huge suitcases, and nothing was said about it. Luggage was something that I struggled with (Im not good at packing light) on the first day I had my suitcase, carry on and a handbag. By the end I had about 6 bags in total.

    I was hoping to budget 1000 euros a week, but I think I only spent between 30 and 70 euro each day. On driving days the only stuff you spend your money on is lunch and snacks at the service station, so you spend way less on those days. Some days I spent waaaay too much (600 in Nice!) in one day. But i’d say between 50 and 70 is a safe budget.

    I washed things like underwear, bras, socks, stockings and singlets in the sink every couple of nights, but our tour guide arranged washing in Nice and Prague, There was an option for it in Rome but no one needed anything washed.

    I went to my bank and got a travel card, which is just like a debit card. I always withdrew money from that at ATM’s and I used my normal debit card a couple times to withdraw cash as well. But the travel card is good because theres no extra fees as everything is already in that currency so you dont have to convert it – unless your withdrawing Francs or Czech crowns, cause the banks dont do that so you cant load your card in that currency. You can withdraw euros in paris and then take it to the travelex there and exchange them to francs. Or you can take it to a money exchange in Switzerland as well. Just remember to try and spend your coins as they dont exchange coins!

  • 14 Apr 2013 PaigeK said

    PaigeK

    Oh awesome! It’s so good speaking to someone who’s actually just done it :)
    Where did you stay in London prior/after your tour if at all? I need to find a nice little place to stay for a few nights!
    I was freaking out about the dimensions because I bought this Kathmandu backpack thing and then realised it was a bit out. But all good as long as I don’t give in to temptation of spending too often :)
    Do you have any other handy tips :)?

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