Eastern Road

Tour Length
13 days
From
US$2069
Overview Reviews

Eastern Road
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

The best way to see Eastern Europe

07 Sep 2014 - 19 Sep 2014

This tour was great. I didn't take this tour to party, I took this tour to learn and experience the culture. We had some wonderful local guides and our driver and tour manager were great. I would recommend this because you learn about recent history and its amazing how people living today still remember the effects of world war II and communism. I think this part of the country is so beautiful and everyone should visit at some point in their life. I plan to go back to these places in the future because I loved it so much. The accommodations were great, my only complaint is the food. The breakfast was fine but when it came to lunches and dinner you feel obligated to go because you want to hang with the group, but the food was horrible. You are much better off finding a restaurant and spending a bit more on a good meal. Contiki needs to find better restaurants because these were pathetic. If you are a vegan, vegetarian, or do not eat pork you are out of luck and do not waste your time you will be starving. The alternative meals were extremely bad (fried cheese & french fries). There is good food out there but don't expect it with the Contiki inclusive meals. I did go out a few times and the nightlife was ok but be aware in Prague because the tour manager took people to a strip club and if that isn't your thing ensure you know your way back to the hotel.

Review written Apr 2015

event 0.3
Eastern Road
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

The best way to see Eastern Europe

07 Sep 2014 - 19 Sep 2014

This tour was great. I didn't take this tour to party, I took this tour to learn and experience the culture. We had some wonderful local guides and our driver and tour manager were great. I would recommend this because you learn about recent history and its amazing how people living today still remember the effects of world war II and communism. I think this part of the country is so beautiful and everyone should visit at some point in their life. I plan to go back to these places in the future because I loved it so much. The accommodations were great, my only complaint is the food. The breakfast was fine but when it came to lunches and dinner you feel obligated to go because you want to hang with the group, but the food was horrible. You are much better off finding a restaurant and spending a bit more on a good meal. Contiki needs to find better restaurants because these were pathetic. If you are a vegan, vegetarian, or do not eat pork you are out of luck and do not waste your time you will be starving. The alternative meals were extremely bad (fried cheese & french fries). There is good food out there but don't expect it with the Contiki inclusive meals. I did go out a few times and the nightlife was ok but be aware in Prague because the tour manager took people to a strip club and if that isn't your thing ensure you know your way back to the hotel.

Review written Apr 2015

event 0.3
  • Vanessa
  • Vanessa
  • Level 1 Traveler
  • 1 Contiki
  • 5 Countries
Eastern Road
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Amazing tour through beautiful and dark places

21 Sep 2014 - 03 Oct 2014

This regional tour was my second with Contiki, and it was an intense journey through a beautifully complex part of the world. This tour is great for anyone, especially people interested in WWII and Cold War history. In this review I'll capture some of the highlights and provide tips that we found helpful during the trip.

IN GENERAL
Expect adequate, but not excessive rooms at the hotels. Expect continental breakfasts that feature cold cuts, cheese, and some muffins/croissants, often supplemented with dodgy scrambled eggs and hot dogs masquerading as sausages. Expect free wi-fi at all of the hotels, which are usually outside of the city centers but close to public transit.
Expect 12 variations on a theme of meat & potatoes. Whether it's bratwurst in Berlin, goulash in Hungary, pierogi in Poland, or dumplings in Slovakia, you will eat very basic (but delicious!) foods these two weeks.
2 weeks traveling by coach is going to put a strain on your immune system, no matter how healthy you start out. Take your multivitamins, listen to your body when you need rest, and don't go big right off the bat. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Aspirin is remarkably difficult to find in this part of Europe, so pack accordingly.
If you don't already know, figure out how to read a metro/bus timetable. All of these cities have great public transit systems that will take you anywhere worth going until at least 11:30pm (24 hours in Budapest).
As of 2014, you'll use four different types of currency on this trip, so research and plan accordingly so you don't lose a bunch of money paying fees at the exchanges.
There will be no opportunities to do your laundry that you do not make yourself. The hotels will charge you an arm & a leg for their service, so I recommend Vienna as a midpoint to find yourself a laundromat.

THE TOUR GROUP
This was the second Conitki and with a group of about 50, there were a lot of people to get to know. Of course the natural sub-group divisions came into play before long, usually along the lines of age, interest, and relationship status. The best thing about these Contikis is that you will usually find like-minded travelers that you connect easily with. It won't be everyone, but you'll still leave with some gems to keep in touch with.

THE TOUR MANAGER
Included in the cost of your trip is the service of a tour manager. In my mind, they are there to help get you from A to B, and to help direct you to the scenes that interest you. Our tour manager, Danny Steenkamp, went above and beyond this by:
- Giving a (sometimes quite detailed!) introduction to the history of the place we were visiting
- Providing us with an array of options for every traveler type - the historian, the foodie, the partygoer, the alcoholic, the culture vulture, the shopper. At no point did we ever feel like there was enough time spent in any one place, but that's the point.
- Providing suggestions for cheap eats for those on a budget
- Giving us a 'cheat sheet' with tips on local food and drink, taxis and metro service, basic translations (greetings, please/thank you), popular sights to see and cost/hours, including some off-the-beaten path for those who didn't want to stick to the 'touristy stuff.'
- Above all, being a generally well-informed and respectable human being that you'd want to hang out with, even if you weren't paying for his guidance

BERLIN
The first night is a brief introduction to your tour manager, a drive around the city, and an included dinner featuring traditional German cuisine. This "group first date" was a great way to get introduced to some of your fellow travelers.
The second day in Berlin offers two optionals, both of which we did:
- Berlin Walking Tour. We loved this stroll that covered several landmarks, primarily because our local guide (Alex) did such a great job putting everything in context, prompting us to think about different ways to interpret the things we were seeing.
- Eye Spy Tour. Essentially a shortened walking tour that focuses on the Berlin Wall, and ends up at two different bars where the group can participate in a fun mystery-solving activity. This was a hit for us because the same guide from the morning did a similarly excellent job with this.

Our stopover on the way to Prague was Dresden, which was very picturesque.

PRAGUE
The first evening in Prague features an included walking tour that takes you to the St. Vitus Cathedral, and the famous "Golden Lane" that features Franz Kafka's house. This is the first breathtaking view of a city that you'll see on this tour. Our guide Sara was wonderfully cheerful even when describing the darker moments of the Soviet occupation of then-Czechoslovakia. The Czech Republic is the least-religious country on the tour, but you'll be amazed to hear about some of the superstitions and odd traditions of these people! We did one of the two Prague optionals:
- Traditional Czech evening. This is a dinner that features local Czech cuisine accompanied by traditional Czech song and dance performed live. Very enjoyable, lots of food, and the wine & beer flows pretty freely this night.

Our stopover on the way to Vienna was Kutna Hora, which was my favorite stopover because of the Sedlec Ossuary (so many bones!!).

VIENNA
Vienna is the most upscale, classy-feeling stop that shows the least of the damage resulting from WWII, despite being bombed over 50 times and briefly occupied by the Soviets immediately after the war. A walking tour of the city is included the first morning in Vienna, which centered around the legacy of the powerful Habsburg family that held its seat of power here for over 600 years. We spent most of our free time in the museums, especially the Natural History Museum, which is massive! Also, our best meal of the trip (planned outside of the tour) was at a Hungarian restaurant called MINI. We did one optional:
- Schnaps Museum. This is a visit to one of Vienna's finest Schnaps-producing facilities, with an introduction to the Fischer family who has been distilling the local fruits into this very tasty beverage. This was one of the best bang-for-the-buck optionals as a tasting is included at the end (which includes absinthe with an alcohol content as high as 80%!).

Our stopover on the way to Budapest was Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia. More meat and dumplings!

BUDAPEST
The first order of business was a brief tour of the Buda side of the city (our local guide was Natasha), which took us up to Matthias Church and the Fisherman's Bastion, and then to the Citadel where the Liberty Statue marks the highest point of the city. This is the second time you'll encounter a breathtaking view of the city, which was my favorite on the tour. During our free time the next day we made a stop at the Terror House to get a glimpse of Hungary's dark history under the Communist regime, and while we didn't make it to the Turkish baths, that is our reason to come back. We did one optional:
- Budapest River Cruise. Easily the best optional on the entire trip - lots of good food, wine, and by this time you've likely connected with the travelers that you'll become close to, making for some great conversations.

Our stopover on the way to Krakow was Banská Bystrica, a picturesque little town that you really only need an hour or so to see.

KRAKOW
The first stop in Krakow was dinner in the Jewish Quarter Krakow kicks off with another walking tour that took us to Wawel Castle, which is one of Poland's most culturally important sites -- as a former home to Polish kings and a symbol of Polish statehood. With our free time we attempted to visit the museum where Oskar Schindler's factory once was, but it was closed. We spent the day wandering around the city center looking for polish food to eat and cheap souvenirs to buy. Our final optionals:
- The Salt Mines tour. This is a great underground exploration of 700-year-old salt mines, an impressive part of Krakow's industry. It's a lot of walking, but you see these amazing caverns that were carved out without the help of explosives or industrial drilling equipment.
- Pierogi Dinner. Pierogi was my favorite version of potato dumplings on this tour, and so I really enjoyed this hearty meal. The "piergi making" is really optional, if you'd prefer to simply watch and eat.

The first "stopover" on the way to Warsaw is a longer visit at Auschwitz. There is nothing I can say that will prepare you for walking on this ground. Soak it in, feel the feels, and pay your respects to this troubling place.

Our second stopover between Krakow and Warsaw was Częstochowa, whose claim to fame is the Icon of the Black Madonna housed at the Jasna Góra Monastery.

WARSAW
We were introduced to Warsaw on the final full day of our trip via a walking tour with another local guide who took us to some of Warsaw's landmarks, including a Chopin statue, the memorial to the Jewish Ghetto, and the memorial to the Warsaw Uprising during WWII. In our free time we visited the Museum of the Polish underground movement, as well as the Chopin Museum - which is a must for anyone remotely familiar with his work. The final included dinner this night is a great way to finish off the tour.

ENDING THE TOUR
We took the coach back to Berlin from Warsaw. Note that this is basically a 9:00 to 5:00 drive. We'd likely depart out of Warsaw if we did it over again.

Review written Oct 2014

My Contiki was: Beautiful, Educational, Intense

event 0.3
  • Vanessa
  • Vanessa
  • Level 1 Traveler
  • 1 Contiki
  • 5 Countries
Eastern Road
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Amazing tour through beautiful and dark places

21 Sep 2014 - 03 Oct 2014

This regional tour was my second with Contiki, and it was an intense journey through a beautifully complex part of the world. This tour is great for anyone, especially people interested in WWII and Cold War history. In this review I'll capture some of the highlights and provide tips that we found helpful during the trip.

IN GENERAL
Expect adequate, but not excessive rooms at the hotels. Expect continental breakfasts that feature cold cuts, cheese, and some muffins/croissants, often supplemented with dodgy scrambled eggs and hot dogs masquerading as sausages. Expect free wi-fi at all of the hotels, which are usually outside of the city centers but close to public transit.
Expect 12 variations on a theme of meat & potatoes. Whether it's bratwurst in Berlin, goulash in Hungary, pierogi in Poland, or dumplings in Slovakia, you will eat very basic (but delicious!) foods these two weeks.
2 weeks traveling by coach is going to put a strain on your immune system, no matter how healthy you start out. Take your multivitamins, listen to your body when you need rest, and don't go big right off the bat. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Aspirin is remarkably difficult to find in this part of Europe, so pack accordingly.
If you don't already know, figure out how to read a metro/bus timetable. All of these cities have great public transit systems that will take you anywhere worth going until at least 11:30pm (24 hours in Budapest).
As of 2014, you'll use four different types of currency on this trip, so research and plan accordingly so you don't lose a bunch of money paying fees at the exchanges.
There will be no opportunities to do your laundry that you do not make yourself. The hotels will charge you an arm & a leg for their service, so I recommend Vienna as a midpoint to find yourself a laundromat.

THE TOUR GROUP
This was the second Conitki and with a group of about 50, there were a lot of people to get to know. Of course the natural sub-group divisions came into play before long, usually along the lines of age, interest, and relationship status. The best thing about these Contikis is that you will usually find like-minded travelers that you connect easily with. It won't be everyone, but you'll still leave with some gems to keep in touch with.

THE TOUR MANAGER
Included in the cost of your trip is the service of a tour manager. In my mind, they are there to help get you from A to B, and to help direct you to the scenes that interest you. Our tour manager, Danny Steenkamp, went above and beyond this by:
- Giving a (sometimes quite detailed!) introduction to the history of the place we were visiting
- Providing us with an array of options for every traveler type - the historian, the foodie, the partygoer, the alcoholic, the culture vulture, the shopper. At no point did we ever feel like there was enough time spent in any one place, but that's the point.
- Providing suggestions for cheap eats for those on a budget
- Giving us a 'cheat sheet' with tips on local food and drink, taxis and metro service, basic translations (greetings, please/thank you), popular sights to see and cost/hours, including some off-the-beaten path for those who didn't want to stick to the 'touristy stuff.'
- Above all, being a generally well-informed and respectable human being that you'd want to hang out with, even if you weren't paying for his guidance

BERLIN
The first night is a brief introduction to your tour manager, a drive around the city, and an included dinner featuring traditional German cuisine. This "group first date" was a great way to get introduced to some of your fellow travelers.
The second day in Berlin offers two optionals, both of which we did:
- Berlin Walking Tour. We loved this stroll that covered several landmarks, primarily because our local guide (Alex) did such a great job putting everything in context, prompting us to think about different ways to interpret the things we were seeing.
- Eye Spy Tour. Essentially a shortened walking tour that focuses on the Berlin Wall, and ends up at two different bars where the group can participate in a fun mystery-solving activity. This was a hit for us because the same guide from the morning did a similarly excellent job with this.

Our stopover on the way to Prague was Dresden, which was very picturesque.

PRAGUE
The first evening in Prague features an included walking tour that takes you to the St. Vitus Cathedral, and the famous "Golden Lane" that features Franz Kafka's house. This is the first breathtaking view of a city that you'll see on this tour. Our guide Sara was wonderfully cheerful even when describing the darker moments of the Soviet occupation of then-Czechoslovakia. The Czech Republic is the least-religious country on the tour, but you'll be amazed to hear about some of the superstitions and odd traditions of these people! We did one of the two Prague optionals:
- Traditional Czech evening. This is a dinner that features local Czech cuisine accompanied by traditional Czech song and dance performed live. Very enjoyable, lots of food, and the wine & beer flows pretty freely this night.

Our stopover on the way to Vienna was Kutna Hora, which was my favorite stopover because of the Sedlec Ossuary (so many bones!!).

VIENNA
Vienna is the most upscale, classy-feeling stop that shows the least of the damage resulting from WWII, despite being bombed over 50 times and briefly occupied by the Soviets immediately after the war. A walking tour of the city is included the first morning in Vienna, which centered around the legacy of the powerful Habsburg family that held its seat of power here for over 600 years. We spent most of our free time in the museums, especially the Natural History Museum, which is massive! Also, our best meal of the trip (planned outside of the tour) was at a Hungarian restaurant called MINI. We did one optional:
- Schnaps Museum. This is a visit to one of Vienna's finest Schnaps-producing facilities, with an introduction to the Fischer family who has been distilling the local fruits into this very tasty beverage. This was one of the best bang-for-the-buck optionals as a tasting is included at the end (which includes absinthe with an alcohol content as high as 80%!).

Our stopover on the way to Budapest was Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia. More meat and dumplings!

BUDAPEST
The first order of business was a brief tour of the Buda side of the city (our local guide was Natasha), which took us up to Matthias Church and the Fisherman's Bastion, and then to the Citadel where the Liberty Statue marks the highest point of the city. This is the second time you'll encounter a breathtaking view of the city, which was my favorite on the tour. During our free time the next day we made a stop at the Terror House to get a glimpse of Hungary's dark history under the Communist regime, and while we didn't make it to the Turkish baths, that is our reason to come back. We did one optional:
- Budapest River Cruise. Easily the best optional on the entire trip - lots of good food, wine, and by this time you've likely connected with the travelers that you'll become close to, making for some great conversations.

Our stopover on the way to Krakow was Banská Bystrica, a picturesque little town that you really only need an hour or so to see.

KRAKOW
The first stop in Krakow was dinner in the Jewish Quarter Krakow kicks off with another walking tour that took us to Wawel Castle, which is one of Poland's most culturally important sites -- as a former home to Polish kings and a symbol of Polish statehood. With our free time we attempted to visit the museum where Oskar Schindler's factory once was, but it was closed. We spent the day wandering around the city center looking for polish food to eat and cheap souvenirs to buy. Our final optionals:
- The Salt Mines tour. This is a great underground exploration of 700-year-old salt mines, an impressive part of Krakow's industry. It's a lot of walking, but you see these amazing caverns that were carved out without the help of explosives or industrial drilling equipment.
- Pierogi Dinner. Pierogi was my favorite version of potato dumplings on this tour, and so I really enjoyed this hearty meal. The "piergi making" is really optional, if you'd prefer to simply watch and eat.

The first "stopover" on the way to Warsaw is a longer visit at Auschwitz. There is nothing I can say that will prepare you for walking on this ground. Soak it in, feel the feels, and pay your respects to this troubling place.

Our second stopover between Krakow and Warsaw was Częstochowa, whose claim to fame is the Icon of the Black Madonna housed at the Jasna Góra Monastery.

WARSAW
We were introduced to Warsaw on the final full day of our trip via a walking tour with another local guide who took us to some of Warsaw's landmarks, including a Chopin statue, the memorial to the Jewish Ghetto, and the memorial to the Warsaw Uprising during WWII. In our free time we visited the Museum of the Polish underground movement, as well as the Chopin Museum - which is a must for anyone remotely familiar with his work. The final included dinner this night is a great way to finish off the tour.

ENDING THE TOUR
We took the coach back to Berlin from Warsaw. Note that this is basically a 9:00 to 5:00 drive. We'd likely depart out of Warsaw if we did it over again.

Review written Oct 2014

My Contiki was: Beautiful, Educational, Intense

event 0.3
  • Sydney
  • Sydney
  • Level 1 Traveler
  • 1 Contiki
  • 5 Countries
Eastern Road
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Time of my life

07 Sep 2014 - 19 Sep 2014

Contiki's Eastern Road was far above and beyond everything I expected! So many amazing cities: Berlin, Dresden, Prague, Kutna Hora, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Banska Bystricia, Krakow, Auschwitz and Warsaw. It was the most magnificent setting to make some truly incredible friends with whom I experienced the greatest two weeks of my life. I went on the trip alone, and while there were several couples on the trip I found it easy to click with the group as a lone traveller. For me, the two highlights of the trip were the bike tour around Prague, and the dinner cruise in Budapest. Prague is the most gorgeous place I've ever been, and Budapest lit up at night from the Danube is the kind of view you get once or twice in a lifetime. I was also so lucky to have an awesome tour manager and driver who joked around with us and had tons of suggestions of extra things we could do in our free time. The bus rides always seemed to speed by, so it certainly didn't feel like most of the trip was spent travelling. The only downside to the trip was that I'm a vegetarian and the meat-heavy diet of Eastern Europe wasn't my friend; however, there was always some sort of vegetarian option available. The nightlife was always a plus on the trip too, with the Budapest sparty an occasion I'd absolutely recommend checking out if you have the chance. And the day in Auschwitz was not something to take on lightly, but it was absolutely necessary to see. I think it's rare that such a short trip with a group of strangers could stick with me as much as this has, and will. I made great friends I know I'll keep in touch with and have seen some of the most amazing (physically and historically) places in the world. I'd recommend this trip to anyone who loves history and wants an adventure!

Review written Oct 2014

My Contiki was: Eye-opening, Historic, Spectacular

event 0.3
  • Sydney
  • Sydney
  • Level 1 Traveler
  • 1 Contiki
  • 5 Countries
Eastern Road
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Time of my life

07 Sep 2014 - 19 Sep 2014

Contiki's Eastern Road was far above and beyond everything I expected! So many amazing cities: Berlin, Dresden, Prague, Kutna Hora, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Banska Bystricia, Krakow, Auschwitz and Warsaw. It was the most magnificent setting to make some truly incredible friends with whom I experienced the greatest two weeks of my life. I went on the trip alone, and while there were several couples on the trip I found it easy to click with the group as a lone traveller. For me, the two highlights of the trip were the bike tour around Prague, and the dinner cruise in Budapest. Prague is the most gorgeous place I've ever been, and Budapest lit up at night from the Danube is the kind of view you get once or twice in a lifetime. I was also so lucky to have an awesome tour manager and driver who joked around with us and had tons of suggestions of extra things we could do in our free time. The bus rides always seemed to speed by, so it certainly didn't feel like most of the trip was spent travelling. The only downside to the trip was that I'm a vegetarian and the meat-heavy diet of Eastern Europe wasn't my friend; however, there was always some sort of vegetarian option available. The nightlife was always a plus on the trip too, with the Budapest sparty an occasion I'd absolutely recommend checking out if you have the chance. And the day in Auschwitz was not something to take on lightly, but it was absolutely necessary to see. I think it's rare that such a short trip with a group of strangers could stick with me as much as this has, and will. I made great friends I know I'll keep in touch with and have seen some of the most amazing (physically and historically) places in the world. I'd recommend this trip to anyone who loves history and wants an adventure!

Review written Oct 2014

My Contiki was: Eye-opening, Historic, Spectacular

event 0.3
  • Shaina
  • Shaina
  • Level 3 Traveler
  • 3 Contikis
  • 10 Countries
Eastern Road
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Eastern Europe in a nutshell

08 Jun 2014 - 20 Jun 2014

This tour is the first European Contiki I have done, so having said that it definitely was on par with the tour I did in the US and Canada. You get to see a lot of cities a little more in-depth with this tour than with other Contikis since it is two nights per destination. For the optional extras I did all of them except for the concert in Vienna, which according to everyone in our group who went was well worth it. The only optional extra I would not have done looking back is the nuclear bunker tour, you can rather spend that extra time exploring Prague. I spent two extra nights in Berlin and got to go to The Carnival of Cultures which was extremely fun, the hotel in Berlin that we stayed at wasn't great, no air-conditioning and the hotel faces East which means you either get a lot of sun first thing in the morning or in the afternoon which literally bakes the room so it was not ideal for mid-summer. Other than that the rest of the hotels on the tour have air-conditioning, the best hotel we stayed in was in Vienna which had spacious rooms. But all the hotels are worth the money you will be paying.
My favourite parts of this tour were definitely having lunch in Bratislava, such a cool city actually, and then I absolutely loved Budapest and Krakow. I would say for shopping your best options are Prague and Budapest, I got some really nice items for good prices. A note for vegetarians, the pierogie dinner in Krakow did not make a very good vegetarian meal so maybe check with your Tour Manager before booking that one. Otherwise this tour will pretty much consist of a ton of amazing sites and activities, and is definitely one for the foodies. Our Tour Manager, Dani was fantastic and so was our bus driver Pete who took us to Prater Park and even went on the rides with us. Contiki always provides the best service and gets the most out of the time you have to see your destinations, this tour definitely upheld those standards and it was money and time well spent.

Review written Sep 2014

My Contiki was: History, Food, Sight-seeing

event 0.3
  • Shaina
  • Shaina
  • Level 3 Traveler
  • 3 Contikis
  • 10 Countries
Eastern Road
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Eastern Europe in a nutshell

08 Jun 2014 - 20 Jun 2014

This tour is the first European Contiki I have done, so having said that it definitely was on par with the tour I did in the US and Canada. You get to see a lot of cities a little more in-depth with this tour than with other Contikis since it is two nights per destination. For the optional extras I did all of them except for the concert in Vienna, which according to everyone in our group who went was well worth it. The only optional extra I would not have done looking back is the nuclear bunker tour, you can rather spend that extra time exploring Prague. I spent two extra nights in Berlin and got to go to The Carnival of Cultures which was extremely fun, the hotel in Berlin that we stayed at wasn't great, no air-conditioning and the hotel faces East which means you either get a lot of sun first thing in the morning or in the afternoon which literally bakes the room so it was not ideal for mid-summer. Other than that the rest of the hotels on the tour have air-conditioning, the best hotel we stayed in was in Vienna which had spacious rooms. But all the hotels are worth the money you will be paying.
My favourite parts of this tour were definitely having lunch in Bratislava, such a cool city actually, and then I absolutely loved Budapest and Krakow. I would say for shopping your best options are Prague and Budapest, I got some really nice items for good prices. A note for vegetarians, the pierogie dinner in Krakow did not make a very good vegetarian meal so maybe check with your Tour Manager before booking that one. Otherwise this tour will pretty much consist of a ton of amazing sites and activities, and is definitely one for the foodies. Our Tour Manager, Dani was fantastic and so was our bus driver Pete who took us to Prater Park and even went on the rides with us. Contiki always provides the best service and gets the most out of the time you have to see your destinations, this tour definitely upheld those standards and it was money and time well spent.

Review written Sep 2014

My Contiki was: History, Food, Sight-seeing

event 0.3
  • Suzy
  • Suzy
  • Level 3 Traveler
  • 3 Contikis
  • 13 Countries
Eastern Road
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Second European Adventure

29 Jun 2014 - 11 Jul 2014

Eastern Road was the second Contiki tour for my husband and I. We loved the European Discovery trip a bit more than Eastern Road, but have no regrets and had a fabulous time.
One major difference is that with Eastern Road, many of the cities aren't as well known as say Rome or Paris and doesn't have major attractions like the Colosseum or Eiffel Tower, but this trip we felt was best enjoyed through taking in the culture of the city, the food & drinks, & the history (more so pertaining to WWI & WWII). We also really enjoyed having 2 nights in each city with more of a relaxed itinerary. I'd have to say that Prague was most beautiful, especially at night. Budapest is a great city, easy to get around, lots to see, & great food. Krakow was a wonderful surprise. Easy to walk everywhere & great atmosphere. All of the included meals on this trip were great and at decent restaurants, some with traditional music. All of the hotels were nice & clean and close enough to the city center to either walk, take a tram/train, or a cheap taxi. They all had decent to great wifi.

ME TIME OPTIONALS:
Berlin Walking Tour: skipped because we walked around the day before and saw most of the sights and wanted to check out other things (the Jewish Museum in Berlin is incredible and worth going out of your way to visit)
EyeSpy Tour: also skipped, heard mixed reviews from the group.
Traditional Czech Evening: Live music & dancing. Fun atmosphere. A plate full of duck, sauerkraut, dumplings, cranberries, ambiguous meat patty... basically a pile of meat with a few sides. Very filling.
Nuclear Bunker Tour: Could have been uninteresting and boring, but the guides were entertaining and interesting and we also had a Communist dress-up photo-shoot.
Schnapps museum: skipped to have more time walking around the city.
Viennese Classical Concert & Dinner: skipped to see a different concert in St. Stephen's. Less than half of the group attended, mixed reviews.
Budapest Dinner Cruise: Great buffet. Gorgeous view of Budapest at night. The lights are stunning. Good time socializing with the group. A must.
Parliament Tour: The architecture and interior of the building is stunning. The tour is boring. I tend to take in everything visually and not retain much historical information, but I found the building worth seeing. You might only be there once.
Salt Mines Tour: Be prepared to walk 100 + meters underground for 2-3 hours. Aside from that, it's super interesting, unlike anything I've ever seen. Lick the wall.
Polish Pierogi Night: Excellent food. Demonstration of pierogi making was fun. Overall great dinner.

Other extras:
Bike tour in Prague: My husband enjoyed this way more than I did. Prague is crowded. The streets are cobbled. I couldn't enjoy the city on a bike because I was too concerned with not hitting a pothole in the cobblestone, not hitting a pedestrian or the bike in front of me or other random bikers, not getting hit by a tram, getting thru the 6 second tram lights, and your face will jiggle the entire ride also. Wasn't my fav.

Auschwitz/ Birkenau: Moving. Eye-opening. Sad. A place you will never forget with history that should never be forgotten.

Walking/bus tours: The best walking/bus tour was in Prague, mostly because we had a fantastic tour guide that was interesting and engaging. The guides in Budapest, Krakow, & Warsaw were a little dry. We did a bit of them then would cut off on our own.

Our Tour Manager, Tasha, was fantastic. Very easy-going and organized. She created great handouts called "Tasha in Your Pocket" which we used many of her recommendations for museums, restaurants, & sights. Super helpful. Pete, our bus driver, was very friendly also.

After doing two European tours, personally nothing has yet to compare to Paris, but these cities were very enjoyable and beautiful. Berlin and Warsaw were my least favorite. Berlin doesn't have quite the grandeur and beauty of other European cities and much of the architecture is very blocky and rigid, but the history is compelling and there are many monuments & wonderful museums (Pergamon & Jewish Museum were excellent). The public transportation was the worst in Warsaw, couldn't find any tram or bus maps. The city is quite spread out and we spend the majority of our time in the Old Square. Did eat twice at Zapiecek's, a fantastic traditional polish restaurant, worthwhile!

Being married and a bit older than most of our tour mates, we tended to split off on our own more so than most of the group. Nonetheless, I would highly recommend this trip. And most of all, to travel without expectation. Then everything will be a surprise and a new experience. My biggest pet peeve was to hear people whine about how something wasn't as they thought, 'why they didn't have free wifi at a cafe in Slovakia or that the caesar salad they ordered wasn't the correct caesar salad...' Traveling is an adventure. So why leave home, travel hundreds of miles, spend lots of money, and have the same expectations as you do at home? Contiki's motto is all about NO REGRETS. We experienced amazing cities, visited 7 countries, ate delicious food, met 50+ new people, and thoroughly enjoyed our time in eastern Europe!

Review written Jul 2014

My Contiki was: easy pace, great food, good memories

event 0.3
  • Suzy
  • Suzy
  • Level 3 Traveler
  • 3 Contikis
  • 13 Countries
Eastern Road
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Second European Adventure

29 Jun 2014 - 11 Jul 2014

Eastern Road was the second Contiki tour for my husband and I. We loved the European Discovery trip a bit more than Eastern Road, but have no regrets and had a fabulous time.
One major difference is that with Eastern Road, many of the cities aren't as well known as say Rome or Paris and doesn't have major attractions like the Colosseum or Eiffel Tower, but this trip we felt was best enjoyed through taking in the culture of the city, the food & drinks, & the history (more so pertaining to WWI & WWII). We also really enjoyed having 2 nights in each city with more of a relaxed itinerary. I'd have to say that Prague was most beautiful, especially at night. Budapest is a great city, easy to get around, lots to see, & great food. Krakow was a wonderful surprise. Easy to walk everywhere & great atmosphere. All of the included meals on this trip were great and at decent restaurants, some with traditional music. All of the hotels were nice & clean and close enough to the city center to either walk, take a tram/train, or a cheap taxi. They all had decent to great wifi.

ME TIME OPTIONALS:
Berlin Walking Tour: skipped because we walked around the day before and saw most of the sights and wanted to check out other things (the Jewish Museum in Berlin is incredible and worth going out of your way to visit)
EyeSpy Tour: also skipped, heard mixed reviews from the group.
Traditional Czech Evening: Live music & dancing. Fun atmosphere. A plate full of duck, sauerkraut, dumplings, cranberries, ambiguous meat patty... basically a pile of meat with a few sides. Very filling.
Nuclear Bunker Tour: Could have been uninteresting and boring, but the guides were entertaining and interesting and we also had a Communist dress-up photo-shoot.
Schnapps museum: skipped to have more time walking around the city.
Viennese Classical Concert & Dinner: skipped to see a different concert in St. Stephen's. Less than half of the group attended, mixed reviews.
Budapest Dinner Cruise: Great buffet. Gorgeous view of Budapest at night. The lights are stunning. Good time socializing with the group. A must.
Parliament Tour: The architecture and interior of the building is stunning. The tour is boring. I tend to take in everything visually and not retain much historical information, but I found the building worth seeing. You might only be there once.
Salt Mines Tour: Be prepared to walk 100 + meters underground for 2-3 hours. Aside from that, it's super interesting, unlike anything I've ever seen. Lick the wall.
Polish Pierogi Night: Excellent food. Demonstration of pierogi making was fun. Overall great dinner.

Other extras:
Bike tour in Prague: My husband enjoyed this way more than I did. Prague is crowded. The streets are cobbled. I couldn't enjoy the city on a bike because I was too concerned with not hitting a pothole in the cobblestone, not hitting a pedestrian or the bike in front of me or other random bikers, not getting hit by a tram, getting thru the 6 second tram lights, and your face will jiggle the entire ride also. Wasn't my fav.

Auschwitz/ Birkenau: Moving. Eye-opening. Sad. A place you will never forget with history that should never be forgotten.

Walking/bus tours: The best walking/bus tour was in Prague, mostly because we had a fantastic tour guide that was interesting and engaging. The guides in Budapest, Krakow, & Warsaw were a little dry. We did a bit of them then would cut off on our own.

Our Tour Manager, Tasha, was fantastic. Very easy-going and organized. She created great handouts called "Tasha in Your Pocket" which we used many of her recommendations for museums, restaurants, & sights. Super helpful. Pete, our bus driver, was very friendly also.

After doing two European tours, personally nothing has yet to compare to Paris, but these cities were very enjoyable and beautiful. Berlin and Warsaw were my least favorite. Berlin doesn't have quite the grandeur and beauty of other European cities and much of the architecture is very blocky and rigid, but the history is compelling and there are many monuments & wonderful museums (Pergamon & Jewish Museum were excellent). The public transportation was the worst in Warsaw, couldn't find any tram or bus maps. The city is quite spread out and we spend the majority of our time in the Old Square. Did eat twice at Zapiecek's, a fantastic traditional polish restaurant, worthwhile!

Being married and a bit older than most of our tour mates, we tended to split off on our own more so than most of the group. Nonetheless, I would highly recommend this trip. And most of all, to travel without expectation. Then everything will be a surprise and a new experience. My biggest pet peeve was to hear people whine about how something wasn't as they thought, 'why they didn't have free wifi at a cafe in Slovakia or that the caesar salad they ordered wasn't the correct caesar salad...' Traveling is an adventure. So why leave home, travel hundreds of miles, spend lots of money, and have the same expectations as you do at home? Contiki's motto is all about NO REGRETS. We experienced amazing cities, visited 7 countries, ate delicious food, met 50+ new people, and thoroughly enjoyed our time in eastern Europe!

Review written Jul 2014

My Contiki was: easy pace, great food, good memories

event 0.3
  • Ricky S.
  • Ricky S.
  • Level 3 Traveler
  • 3 Contikis
  • 12 Countries
Eastern Road
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Willkommen! Kocham!

29 Jun 2014 - 11 Jul 2014

I had a fantastic time on this tour and would highly recommend it to anyone! I had a great group and the most amazing tour manager, Tasha, who knew exactly how to serve everyone (culture vultures, foodies, partiers, shoppers - Tasha had all the answers to make every traveller happy). Pete the driver was courteous & transported us everywhere safely, helping with translation in every city.

5/6 hotels you'll stay in are great - the only "mediocre" one is the one in Berlin (no AC, bad Wifi, not particularly easy to access from public transport). As this was my first impression I was worried that the rest of the accommodations would be similar to that of Berlin but fortunately it only went uphill from there. The hotel in Vienna was my personal favourite (even if the Wifi wasn't good) and the breakfast I enjoyed there was the best breakfast I've ever eaten.

My group was incredible - I called ourselves "sophisticated by day, wild by night" and each member of the group seemed to embrace the diverse range of interests and backgrounds of those on tour.

All 6 cities are magnificent - everything in Prague is spellbinding, Prater in Vienna was a welcome surprise, Budapest was beautiful (if not very warm - bring summer attire!), everywhere was stupendous.

Bring an umbrella as it will rain but it never rained for longer than 15 or so minutes at a time.

One of the most important aspects of the trip is the pilgrimage to Auschwitz. This alone was worth the entire trip.

You'll eat lots of meat, sausage... some of the meals are better than others, but you'll never go hungry as there are McDonalds, KFC, and kebab stands everywhere.

DO THIS TRIP, you'll be happy you did! :)

Review written Jul 2014

My Contiki was: eye-opening, incredible, perfect

event 0.3
  • Ricky S.
  • Ricky S.
  • Level 3 Traveler
  • 3 Contikis
  • 12 Countries
Eastern Road
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Willkommen! Kocham!

29 Jun 2014 - 11 Jul 2014

I had a fantastic time on this tour and would highly recommend it to anyone! I had a great group and the most amazing tour manager, Tasha, who knew exactly how to serve everyone (culture vultures, foodies, partiers, shoppers - Tasha had all the answers to make every traveller happy). Pete the driver was courteous & transported us everywhere safely, helping with translation in every city.

5/6 hotels you'll stay in are great - the only "mediocre" one is the one in Berlin (no AC, bad Wifi, not particularly easy to access from public transport). As this was my first impression I was worried that the rest of the accommodations would be similar to that of Berlin but fortunately it only went uphill from there. The hotel in Vienna was my personal favourite (even if the Wifi wasn't good) and the breakfast I enjoyed there was the best breakfast I've ever eaten.

My group was incredible - I called ourselves "sophisticated by day, wild by night" and each member of the group seemed to embrace the diverse range of interests and backgrounds of those on tour.

All 6 cities are magnificent - everything in Prague is spellbinding, Prater in Vienna was a welcome surprise, Budapest was beautiful (if not very warm - bring summer attire!), everywhere was stupendous.

Bring an umbrella as it will rain but it never rained for longer than 15 or so minutes at a time.

One of the most important aspects of the trip is the pilgrimage to Auschwitz. This alone was worth the entire trip.

You'll eat lots of meat, sausage... some of the meals are better than others, but you'll never go hungry as there are McDonalds, KFC, and kebab stands everywhere.

DO THIS TRIP, you'll be happy you did! :)

Review written Jul 2014

My Contiki was: eye-opening, incredible, perfect

event 0.3
  • Cristin
  • Cristin
  • Level 2 Traveler
  • 2 Contikis
  • 7 Countries
Eastern Road
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Fantastisch!!

25 May 2014 - 06 Jun 2014

As my first time traveling alone as well as my first Contiki trip, I was thoroughly impressed with how well the trip was organized and had a truly incredible experience. I always felt safe and comfortable while on the journey. The tour manager, Nick Papadatos was phenomenal. He was knowledgeable, fun, outgoing, personable and truly enhanced every part of the trip for me. Fortunately the group that I went with was a great group of people who all enjoyed going out at night, but also appreciated the historical significance of everything we did.

I signed up for every additional activity and regardless of what other reviews said the Classical Concert in Vienna and Parliament Tour in Budapest were absolutely worth it. If you have any sort of appreciation for classical music you will definitely enjoy the evening. As for the Parliament Tour, it wasn't the most exciting tour seeing as the tour guides are older but the building itself is exquisite and the architecture is magnificent.

If I had to choose one thing that I was disappointed with I would say that I would've liked to go into every cathedral and castle that we saw, but there simply was not enough time.

Here's a brief summary of each city:

Berlin
Pros: Walking tour was good and full of historical facts; food was great.
Cons: Hotel was awful - no air conditioning and small rooms. Also, all of the museums were closed on Mondays so we did not get to go to any museums on Museum Island. Eye Spy Berlin tour - definitely not worth the money. Not as cool as they make it seem in the brochure.

Prague
Pros: Bike tour (which we did after it down poured and it was still one of my favorite memories from the trip), traditional Czech dinner (the food itself wasn't my favorite, but the evening itself was great!)
Cons: The Nuclear Bunker tour was great- but not as authentic as I would've liked it to be. It has been used for video games and things like that so there are XBOX stickers on the floor and took away from the historical significance of it - but I am still very happy that I did it.

Vienna
Pros: ALL OF THE OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES - Schnapps tour was great! Classical concert was wonderful. Prater was fun and the Praterdome was easily the best nightclub I have ever been to.
Cons: The city itself wasn't impressive - if it weren't for the optional activities I could've done without this city

Budapest
Pros: MOST BEAUTIFUL CITY I HAVE EVER SEEN. If you've heard a lot about the beauty of Prague - just wait till you get to Budapest. Dinner cruise was amazing and so picturesque. Sparty - if you don't know what it is - look it up. (Crazy but definitely worth while just to say you've done it!). Also, before you go check to see if they have any festivals when you are traveling - my group was lucky and I got to both the summer festival on Margaret Island which was stunningly beautiful AND I also experienced the Hungarian food festival which was fun and the locals are great. The Fisherman's Bastion was beautiful and made me fall in love with the city. Definitely do the Museum of Terror - it's a great precursor to visiting the Concentration Camps in Poland. Also, visit Margaret Island - it's a great little spot to hangout for an easygoing afternoon.
Cons: There are none.

Krakow
Pros: Salt Mines Tour - Just do it. You won't regret it. Pierogi. Pierogi. Pierogi!!! Definitely try the traditional Polish drink at the bars - it's similar to Apple Pie and it's amazing.
Cons: Hotel breakfast wasn't as great as the previous cities but it was still good.

Warsaw
Pros: Good nightlife. Pierogi!!!!! The final night was wonderful and it was nice that it was included on the trip.
Cons: Not much to do in the city other than walk around and soak in the sites

*Auschwitz and Birkenau were truly sobering and completely numbing. I have been interested in the Holocaust and WWII for quite some time and have studied it, therefore visiting the camps is one of the main reasons I chose to do this specific trip. It's good that it falls towards the end of the trip because at that point you feel comfortable leaning on your Contiki family when the emotions set in.

Fun things about the trip:
The day song that your tour manager picks - after you get home, when you hear it on the radio you will always remember your Contiki travels and the amazing people you met while on the tour.
Nightlife - even if you're not a big drinker, there is something for everyone. Go out with the group to form some great memories that will last a lifetime.

Worst hotel - Berlin
Worst food - Prague
Worst optional - Eye Spy Berlin
Best food - Poland.
Best set of "Me Time" activities - Vienna & Budapest
Most historical - Berlin and Auschwitz/Birkenau
Most beautiful - Budapest & Prague
Best nightlife - Vienna & Budapest
Best hotel - Vienna

Review written Jun 2014

My Contiki was: Phenomenal, Rich in history, culture, food and good times , Best time of my life!

event 0.3
  • Cristin
  • Cristin
  • Level 2 Traveler
  • 2 Contikis
  • 7 Countries
Eastern Road
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Fantastisch!!

25 May 2014 - 06 Jun 2014

As my first time traveling alone as well as my first Contiki trip, I was thoroughly impressed with how well the trip was organized and had a truly incredible experience. I always felt safe and comfortable while on the journey. The tour manager, Nick Papadatos was phenomenal. He was knowledgeable, fun, outgoing, personable and truly enhanced every part of the trip for me. Fortunately the group that I went with was a great group of people who all enjoyed going out at night, but also appreciated the historical significance of everything we did.

I signed up for every additional activity and regardless of what other reviews said the Classical Concert in Vienna and Parliament Tour in Budapest were absolutely worth it. If you have any sort of appreciation for classical music you will definitely enjoy the evening. As for the Parliament Tour, it wasn't the most exciting tour seeing as the tour guides are older but the building itself is exquisite and the architecture is magnificent.

If I had to choose one thing that I was disappointed with I would say that I would've liked to go into every cathedral and castle that we saw, but there simply was not enough time.

Here's a brief summary of each city:

Berlin
Pros: Walking tour was good and full of historical facts; food was great.
Cons: Hotel was awful - no air conditioning and small rooms. Also, all of the museums were closed on Mondays so we did not get to go to any museums on Museum Island. Eye Spy Berlin tour - definitely not worth the money. Not as cool as they make it seem in the brochure.

Prague
Pros: Bike tour (which we did after it down poured and it was still one of my favorite memories from the trip), traditional Czech dinner (the food itself wasn't my favorite, but the evening itself was great!)
Cons: The Nuclear Bunker tour was great- but not as authentic as I would've liked it to be. It has been used for video games and things like that so there are XBOX stickers on the floor and took away from the historical significance of it - but I am still very happy that I did it.

Vienna
Pros: ALL OF THE OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES - Schnapps tour was great! Classical concert was wonderful. Prater was fun and the Praterdome was easily the best nightclub I have ever been to.
Cons: The city itself wasn't impressive - if it weren't for the optional activities I could've done without this city

Budapest
Pros: MOST BEAUTIFUL CITY I HAVE EVER SEEN. If you've heard a lot about the beauty of Prague - just wait till you get to Budapest. Dinner cruise was amazing and so picturesque. Sparty - if you don't know what it is - look it up. (Crazy but definitely worth while just to say you've done it!). Also, before you go check to see if they have any festivals when you are traveling - my group was lucky and I got to both the summer festival on Margaret Island which was stunningly beautiful AND I also experienced the Hungarian food festival which was fun and the locals are great. The Fisherman's Bastion was beautiful and made me fall in love with the city. Definitely do the Museum of Terror - it's a great precursor to visiting the Concentration Camps in Poland. Also, visit Margaret Island - it's a great little spot to hangout for an easygoing afternoon.
Cons: There are none.

Krakow
Pros: Salt Mines Tour - Just do it. You won't regret it. Pierogi. Pierogi. Pierogi!!! Definitely try the traditional Polish drink at the bars - it's similar to Apple Pie and it's amazing.
Cons: Hotel breakfast wasn't as great as the previous cities but it was still good.

Warsaw
Pros: Good nightlife. Pierogi!!!!! The final night was wonderful and it was nice that it was included on the trip.
Cons: Not much to do in the city other than walk around and soak in the sites

*Auschwitz and Birkenau were truly sobering and completely numbing. I have been interested in the Holocaust and WWII for quite some time and have studied it, therefore visiting the camps is one of the main reasons I chose to do this specific trip. It's good that it falls towards the end of the trip because at that point you feel comfortable leaning on your Contiki family when the emotions set in.

Fun things about the trip:
The day song that your tour manager picks - after you get home, when you hear it on the radio you will always remember your Contiki travels and the amazing people you met while on the tour.
Nightlife - even if you're not a big drinker, there is something for everyone. Go out with the group to form some great memories that will last a lifetime.

Worst hotel - Berlin
Worst food - Prague
Worst optional - Eye Spy Berlin
Best food - Poland.
Best set of "Me Time" activities - Vienna & Budapest
Most historical - Berlin and Auschwitz/Birkenau
Most beautiful - Budapest & Prague
Best nightlife - Vienna & Budapest
Best hotel - Vienna

Review written Jun 2014

My Contiki was: Phenomenal, Rich in history, culture, food and good times , Best time of my life!

event 0.3
  • mk0603
  • mk0603
  • Level 2 Traveler
  • 2 Contikis
  • 7 Countries
Eastern Road
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Great first impression with contiki

11 May 2012 - 24 May 2012

This was my first trip with contiki, I've never joined a youth trip like this one and I have to say it was a great first impression.

Yes people on this trip and my next ones are very young, however when you are travelling, the age gap doesn't really matter as everyone is just trying to have a good time and we are sharing the same experience with each other.

We had a great tour manager, she is extremely professional, helpful with a youthful spirit. She brings a lot of energy to us and she hung out with us on most night, same as the bus driver.

Food is just alright but that's the Eastern European Cuisine for you...meat and potatoe everyday...don't have high expectation on it if that's not your type of diet. Vegetarians beware as easter european don't believe in no meat meals so your dish will always be less impressive than the meat lovers...

Hotels are quite good for this trip, Ibis and Noveltels are the staples, they are much better than the old hotels in Italy though. Rooms in Europe are always small so don't try to compare them with the ones in North America.

Overall, amazing trip, great itinerary and met a lot of cool people. =}

Review written May 2014

My Contiki was: Fun, Youthful, Delightful

event 0.3
  • mk0603
  • mk0603
  • Level 2 Traveler
  • 2 Contikis
  • 7 Countries
Eastern Road
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Great first impression with contiki

11 May 2012 - 24 May 2012

This was my first trip with contiki, I've never joined a youth trip like this one and I have to say it was a great first impression.

Yes people on this trip and my next ones are very young, however when you are travelling, the age gap doesn't really matter as everyone is just trying to have a good time and we are sharing the same experience with each other.

We had a great tour manager, she is extremely professional, helpful with a youthful spirit. She brings a lot of energy to us and she hung out with us on most night, same as the bus driver.

Food is just alright but that's the Eastern European Cuisine for you...meat and potatoe everyday...don't have high expectation on it if that's not your type of diet. Vegetarians beware as easter european don't believe in no meat meals so your dish will always be less impressive than the meat lovers...

Hotels are quite good for this trip, Ibis and Noveltels are the staples, they are much better than the old hotels in Italy though. Rooms in Europe are always small so don't try to compare them with the ones in North America.

Overall, amazing trip, great itinerary and met a lot of cool people. =}

Review written May 2014

My Contiki was: Fun, Youthful, Delightful

event 0.3
  • Casey
  • Casey
  • Level 1 Traveler
  • 1 Contiki
  • 5 Countries
Eastern Road
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

A wonderful mix of Europe

26 May 2013 - 07 Jun 2013

From dancing on bars to sipping beers in ancient courtyards this tour is a mix of the old and the new. Plenty of opportunities to party and so much history to appreciate. This tour does go into more somber areas and history of Europe but it is history to be remembered. Going to Auschwitz and Birkenau was incredibly hard but so moving. All together the tour was amazing and our tour manager made the whole trip something to remember forever.

Review written Oct 2013

My Contiki was: Party, History, Memorable

event 0.3
  • Casey
  • Casey
  • Level 1 Traveler
  • 1 Contiki
  • 5 Countries
Eastern Road
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

A wonderful mix of Europe

26 May 2013 - 07 Jun 2013

From dancing on bars to sipping beers in ancient courtyards this tour is a mix of the old and the new. Plenty of opportunities to party and so much history to appreciate. This tour does go into more somber areas and history of Europe but it is history to be remembered. Going to Auschwitz and Birkenau was incredibly hard but so moving. All together the tour was amazing and our tour manager made the whole trip something to remember forever.

Review written Oct 2013

My Contiki was: Party, History, Memorable

event 0.3
  • Shaldon
  • Shaldon
  • Level 3 Traveler
  • 3 Contikis
  • 13 Countries
Eastern Road
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Eastern Road

21 Jul 2013 - 02 Aug 2013

I guess if you are reading this review then you want a few questions answered. Should I do this tour? Which optional extras should I do and which can I skip? What's hot and what's not? I'll try my best to help you with these most pertinent questions.

Should you do the tour? Hell yes! For me the tour was amazing and a real mind growing experience. But what makes the tour so amazing and warrants my high rating? I have a keen interest in World War II and I don't believe that another tour can offer so much in terms of experiencing this pivotal point in history. Even if you are not an avid WW2 follower the sights are amazing nonetheless. Other than the history, the shopping, arts-and-culture and the night life are all top notch. Every city has something to offer for whatever it is you may hope to experience. I also found that the crowd on this tour was older than on my previous tour. There were more people in the 26-27 age group than teens who were still wet behind the ears. While you have to love teenagers, the truth is they behave poorly and can be quite annoying. If you are reading this review and in are in your teens, don't be offended, rather make sure people don't say the same thing about you. So quite obviously, I really enjoyed my tour mates. So let me begin then:

BERLIN: Berlin is an extraordinary city, even more so when you consider that it was ruins after WW2. The historical sites here are aplenty and the people are super friendly. I had an extra day in Berlin and even that wasn't enough. There's so much to see and do so get there early or better still plan an extra couple of days in Berlin at the end of the tour.
The hotel in Berlin is probably the worst of the hotels on the tour. The biggest complaint that people had was the lack of an air-con. But are you going to Berlin to relax in your hotel? So for me it wasn't such a disaster. However if that type of thing bugs you then buy a fan or something. Anyway it's not supposed to get very hot in Berlin but it was over 30 degrees Celsius while I was there. By the way I did this trip in July; the middle of the European summer. The breakfast in the hotel is great; lots of fresh options and even a desert. There is a subway station near the hotel (Magdalenestrausse) but be prepared for a 2km uphill walk from there to the hotel. If you've just been traveling for 20 hours to get there, this can be a tough walk; made worse by the heat and the fact that you have to lug your suitcase all the way. Again, this is part of the fun of traveling.

The tour starts in the evening, so the first night is just admin and chilling. I needed some sleep on the first night so I just had a few beers at the bar down stares then had an early night (the only one on the tour). Both the activities on the 2 days in Berlin were optional extras. The first one is a guided tour through Berlin. For €10 I highly recommend it. It's quite a long walk through the city but well worth it. The guide will give you plenty of historical information and show you most of what you need to see. After that you have the afternoon off. I would recommend that you visit either the TV tower or the Museum of German History (not both). If you do go to the museum, start at the place that interests you most because the place is huge and by the time you get to the WW2 stuff the afternoon will be over. We had dinner at the Horfbrauhaus that evening. Now if you've been to the Horfbrauhaus in Munich then you might want to jump at the opportunity to visit the one in Berlin. Don't be! It’s no where nearly as good, it just doesn't have the same atmosphere. They don't sing any beer drinking songs, the crowd is minimal and the beer maidens or more like normal waitresses rather than the muscular German woman that can carry 6 huge beers in each hand and can probably knock you out if you disrespect them. The beer is still really good though. The best of us managed 2 liters of beer in the time we spent there. Let me know if you manage to do 3. The next optional extra is the Eye-Spy-Tour. This again consists of a walking tour but a much shorter one. However, after that, you end up in a bar followed by a night club called Matrix. The entrance to the club is included in the €16 that this optional extra costs. With all that you get for this extra, I also highly recommend it. The club was great, so you'll have a blast and have a great opportunity to party with the tour crowd, and get to know who all the bad dancers are. You depart from Berlin pretty early the next day, leaving no time to see more stuff, which is why I reckon you should plan a few extra days in Berlin. This is the case with most of the cities on the tour.
You will need extra time in every place.

PRAGUE: The journey to Prague is not too long as to give you an ass cramp or so short that you can’t even sleep. For me the journeys on the bus were all about sleep. There’s a lunch stop in the beautiful city of Dresden. I think that after even after such a brief visit I might want to go back there. Keep an eye out for all the restored (burned) buildings. The hotel in Prague is an improvement to the one in Berlin and is pretty much the standard that you can expect for the rest of the tour. The breakfasts are good too albeit not as good as Berlin. For me, Prague was the best city on the tour. It is by far the prettiest and the nightlife there is amazing. The architecture is particularly stunning and on those streets, you will certainly feel like you are walking through the middle ages.

There are 4 planned activities in Prague. First there is an included guided walk through some of the historical parts of Prague. This walk includes the castle complex and the Charles bridge. The problem is that you really have to keep close to your guide in quite crowded parts of the city. We lost our guide on a few occasions and for a significant part of the tour, couldn’t even hear her. I think you can maybe give this a skip and possibly spend more time at the castle or the bridge. There is an included meal at the end of this walk so make sure you catch up. I can’t really comment on the meal though, probably wasn’t great or too bad.
After that there was an included bike tour through Prague. I enjoyed this excursion, but a lot of people gave it a miss, more due to fear of falling off the bike though. It’s a great way to see the city as the bike gives your feet a bit of a rest while still affording you great views. Next, is the nuclear bunker tour. This tour is an optional extra that costs €18. I found this interesting, but the problem is that it is immediately after the bike tour and really doesn’t leave any chill time. I still suggest that you do it but for your health you may want to give it a skip especially if you did the bike tour. Finally, you end Prague off with the traditional Czech evening. This is really a lot of fun and is far more about the tradition and culture than the food. I remember that the beer and wine is included in the €28 so make sure you’re thirsty. Jump at the opportunity to try your hand (and mouth) at the weird drink dispensing contraption and hat tossing competition. I did and won a little drink as a prize. This extra is a must do.
Finally I cannot end the Prague section without commenting on the pub crawl. There were quite a few awesome nights on the tour but none as hot as this one. We did this on our first night in Prague and it costs in the region of €20. You crawl through 3 bar/clubs before ending up in the 5-story club. I had an absolute blast on this crawl. There are partiers from all over the world and it was simply amazing. It’s a mish-mash of people all interested and partying in a city renowned for its nightlife. Make sure you see the ice bar floor at the bottom of the 5-story club. Also don’t bother lining up for beer at the second bar, it takes way too long and you end up wasting your time. Rather stick with wine and shooters. Also you can take your drink with you through the streets so stock up just as you leave but make sure to finish before you get to the next bar. No wonder Prague is one the party capitals of the world. In closing I must say that the women in Prague are exceptionally beautiful. I envy the men there.

VIENNA: The Journey to Vienna is pretty much the same as the journey from Berlin to Prague. There is a short stop at Kutna Hora; an old church where the bones of dead monks decorate the interior. Quite freaky! You stop of at a weird fantasy-Excalibur world for lunch, where I must warn you against ordering the mega schnitzel. It really is MEGA. It doesn’t even fit on the plate. The hotel in Vienna is by far the best on the tour. It’s very spacious and comfortable, but more than that it is actually quite classy. Like Berlin the breakfasts here are also really good. I remember having lots of free time in Vienna so you can take it quite easy over the 2 days.
Your first evening is free so you have options of visiting various places. I ended up at the theme park, which in truth I kind of regretted. I’m not sure what alternative to suggest but I think one can do a lot better to experience a city than going to a theme park. There are only 2 planned activities in Vienna. The first one is the visit to the Schnapps museum for €8 and the second is the classical concert for €64. The Schnapps museum is well worth it. The visit is quick but informative. Please heed the advice of the guide and do not overdo it at the tasting session. The alcohol is strong and many people felt sick afterwards. You will get an opportunity to buy bottles at the end of the visit so rather get drunk on the stuff back home. I would recommend the flaming rocket and the Vienna gold.
Now the classical music concert is somewhat iffy. Firstly for €64 it really is pricy; almost ridiculously so. You get misled to believe that the concert is in the Habsburg palace, which it is, but is in some far away wing of the palace. The venue is more of a makeshift hall, rather than an actual theatre. The music is…Ummm…Ummm… Crap. I’m really not a fan of classical music but even those who were fans were not impressed. Some people fell asleep while others left after the break. On the bright side, there is an included dinner and it is the one opportunity that you have to dress up. Also it’s a Viennese thing so it is somewhat of a cultural experience. Nonetheless I do not recommend this extra. My suggestion is that you get dressed up, go out for a good dinner and meet up with everyone after the concert. There’s a really good club not too far from the palace, just opposite the parliament building. It’s a club with a huge outdoor area and great music. The queue is a bit hectic and you might have to fight your way in but it’s well worth the fight.

I also visited the Gustav Klimt exhibition at the Belvedere museum which was surprisingly enjoyable. Again start off with the stuff that interests you. If I remember correctly it costs in the region of €18.

BUDAPEST: The drive to Budapest is very short so sleep may be a problem in this journey. There is a lunch stop in Bratislava, it's not really long enough to explore the place but my initial impressions of the city were good. From there it’s a really short drive to Budapest. Budapest was probably the city I enjoyed the least, not because I hated it but more because of the other cities on tour that it had to live up to. It is the one city that you will visit where you can actually see the damage of WW2 and the lack of development through the communist era. Nonetheless it still has volumes to offer and the view from the top of the hill on the Pest side that is stunning. The hotel in Budapest is pretty much the same as the one in Prague but from here on the breakfasts get progressively worse.

There are 2 planned activities in Budapest, one is great and the other not so great. The river cruise is superb, the food is good (better than any of the other cities) and the views are stunning. There's also plenty of wine making the views all the more enticing. For €34 it is well worth every penny. The view of the Parliament building from the river is beautiful especially with it lit up at night. Having said that, the view is the best part of the Parliament building, because the tour through the inside of the building is just bland and uninteresting. For €18 you could do much better. I know that the history is the appeal but you could do much better spending your time on Google reading up on the building. This is the one extra that I would unequivocally suggest that you SKIP. Do not take my advice at your peril.

The highlight of Budapest for me was the Bath club. It's quite unique so let me explain. Budapest has a number of hot water springs throughout the city. These springs are used as normal spas during the day, however at night they turn the place into a club. You need to take a towel and swimwear with you. The entrance is approximately €20. You will receive an arm band and a smart card. You then need to load drinks-money onto your card. After that you can go to a locker room to dress and lock away your valuables. Your arm band serves as your locker key. Then you go and have a party in one of the hot pools, where an aqua DJ will entertain you. The concept is pretty cool and it is loads of fun. The hot water leaves with quite a weird hangover so take my advice and use the Parliament tour time to sleep in. It will all work out just perfectly.

I also visited the Terror building in Budapest during my free time. This museum centers around the oppression of the Hungarian people during WW2 and communist rule. The creators have done an amazing job to give you a full experience and you don't need too much of time to go through it. What's neat is that you can just collect all the information sheets and read them later at your leisure and spend the time in the museum on the visual stuff. It costs €16 and again, it was worth the spend. Finally, just remember: DON'T DO THE PARLIAMENT TOUR.

KRAKOW: This city was the most unexpected amazing experience for me. I knew very little about the place before the trip and so in a way I didn’t really expect much but it certainly surprised me. There is so much of history and beauty all around the city. The meals in Poland were the tastiest of all the countries both in Krakow and Warsaw. They also have a drink called an apple pie which you must try; in fact some people started drinking this as a standard from Krakow onwards. While the food in Poland was great the breakfasts in the hotels were terrible. The trip from Budapest to Krakow is very long, you may have a great opportunity to sleep but your ass will certainly protest. There is a short lunch stop in BanskaBystrica back in Slovakia where you must hurry. Here you order, you gulp down and you pay. You don’t have much time and the service is slow.

There is an included meal on the first night in Krakow. As I mentioned earlier, the food all over Poland is good and this place does not disappoint. There are only 2 planned activities in Krakow and they are both pretty short and easy going. The first is an included short guided walk through the city. The pace is slow so you can unwind a bit. The second activity is an optional extra tour at the salt mines for €20. It is worth the money and I would definitely recommend it. Other than that the rest of your time is free. I visited the Schindler museum which again for €12 is well worth the effort of getting there. Here too the creators did a great job of creating the right effect. Don't expect the whole museum to be about Oskar Schindler or his List though. The museum is dedicated to the Polish experience of WW2.

The night life in Krakow is great too. We ended up in some club close to the town square. The music was great and the crowd was cool too. Your time in Krakow is limited because of the long arrival Journey and the early departure. I would definitely plan to go back there some time and explore the place at my own leisure.

You depart from Krakow quite early for a visit to Auschwitz; about an hours’ drive out of Krakow. This was one of the most sobering experiences of my life. There are really no words to describe the place or the experience itself. All I can say is that you must do the visit and you should treat the experience with the respect it deserves. Don’t go on this tour with a hangover, take as few pictures as possible and immerse yourself in the moments. It may not change your way of life but you might complain a little less about the air-con in Berlin.

WARSAW: After visiting this city you will not be able to comprehend that 90% of this city was leveled in WW2. The city was completely rebuilt, but the city centre was rebuilt to look the same as it did before the war. You will still get the feel of an old European city centre. The movie “The Pianist” is set in Warsaw, if you’ve seen it recently; you may recognize some of the buildings (a certain archway in particular). There is a large restaurant at one end of the main square where the meals are exquisite. I highly recommend this place but cannot remember the name. All I remember is that the umbrellas on the outside deck are white with red print. I hope that helps. I also seem to remember that the restaurant is on the left of the mermaid in the centre of the square.

The trip from Krakow to Warsaw is also pretty long, more so in time rather than distance though. For some strange reason there are traffic lights on the highways in Poland. There is a lunch stopover at Czestochowa where you can also view the “Black Madonna”. Please do not shoot me, but it was kind of over-rated. The anecdotal story behind it is quite interesting though.

The best advice that I can give you about the hotel in Warsaw is not to eat their breakfast. It is horrible. Rather go out for breakfast, there are plenty of good places to eat in Poland. There is only one planned tour through Warsaw and it is mostly on the coach. You’ll have some free time on the last afternoon before the final big get together in the evening. To end the tour off there’s an included meal (with drinks) before you head out to a bar and club for the last big night out. This night is always bitter-sweet; you want to have a blast but you know that you may never see most of these people again. The next morning is even worse, not only do you have a terrible hangover but a grave feeling of finality also.
I guess that this feeling can only mean that you had a great time, for if you are happy to have the tour end that you could only have hated it. So do this tour, max all your credit cards and have a rocking time. It really is great. Five stars from me.

Review written Sep 2013

event 0.3
  • Shaldon
  • Shaldon
  • Level 3 Traveler
  • 3 Contikis
  • 13 Countries
Eastern Road
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Eastern Road

21 Jul 2013 - 02 Aug 2013

I guess if you are reading this review then you want a few questions answered. Should I do this tour? Which optional extras should I do and which can I skip? What's hot and what's not? I'll try my best to help you with these most pertinent questions.

Should you do the tour? Hell yes! For me the tour was amazing and a real mind growing experience. But what makes the tour so amazing and warrants my high rating? I have a keen interest in World War II and I don't believe that another tour can offer so much in terms of experiencing this pivotal point in history. Even if you are not an avid WW2 follower the sights are amazing nonetheless. Other than the history, the shopping, arts-and-culture and the night life are all top notch. Every city has something to offer for whatever it is you may hope to experience. I also found that the crowd on this tour was older than on my previous tour. There were more people in the 26-27 age group than teens who were still wet behind the ears. While you have to love teenagers, the truth is they behave poorly and can be quite annoying. If you are reading this review and in are in your teens, don't be offended, rather make sure people don't say the same thing about you. So quite obviously, I really enjoyed my tour mates. So let me begin then:

BERLIN: Berlin is an extraordinary city, even more so when you consider that it was ruins after WW2. The historical sites here are aplenty and the people are super friendly. I had an extra day in Berlin and even that wasn't enough. There's so much to see and do so get there early or better still plan an extra couple of days in Berlin at the end of the tour.
The hotel in Berlin is probably the worst of the hotels on the tour. The biggest complaint that people had was the lack of an air-con. But are you going to Berlin to relax in your hotel? So for me it wasn't such a disaster. However if that type of thing bugs you then buy a fan or something. Anyway it's not supposed to get very hot in Berlin but it was over 30 degrees Celsius while I was there. By the way I did this trip in July; the middle of the European summer. The breakfast in the hotel is great; lots of fresh options and even a desert. There is a subway station near the hotel (Magdalenestrausse) but be prepared for a 2km uphill walk from there to the hotel. If you've just been traveling for 20 hours to get there, this can be a tough walk; made worse by the heat and the fact that you have to lug your suitcase all the way. Again, this is part of the fun of traveling.

The tour starts in the evening, so the first night is just admin and chilling. I needed some sleep on the first night so I just had a few beers at the bar down stares then had an early night (the only one on the tour). Both the activities on the 2 days in Berlin were optional extras. The first one is a guided tour through Berlin. For €10 I highly recommend it. It's quite a long walk through the city but well worth it. The guide will give you plenty of historical information and show you most of what you need to see. After that you have the afternoon off. I would recommend that you visit either the TV tower or the Museum of German History (not both). If you do go to the museum, start at the place that interests you most because the place is huge and by the time you get to the WW2 stuff the afternoon will be over. We had dinner at the Horfbrauhaus that evening. Now if you've been to the Horfbrauhaus in Munich then you might want to jump at the opportunity to visit the one in Berlin. Don't be! It’s no where nearly as good, it just doesn't have the same atmosphere. They don't sing any beer drinking songs, the crowd is minimal and the beer maidens or more like normal waitresses rather than the muscular German woman that can carry 6 huge beers in each hand and can probably knock you out if you disrespect them. The beer is still really good though. The best of us managed 2 liters of beer in the time we spent there. Let me know if you manage to do 3. The next optional extra is the Eye-Spy-Tour. This again consists of a walking tour but a much shorter one. However, after that, you end up in a bar followed by a night club called Matrix. The entrance to the club is included in the €16 that this optional extra costs. With all that you get for this extra, I also highly recommend it. The club was great, so you'll have a blast and have a great opportunity to party with the tour crowd, and get to know who all the bad dancers are. You depart from Berlin pretty early the next day, leaving no time to see more stuff, which is why I reckon you should plan a few extra days in Berlin. This is the case with most of the cities on the tour.
You will need extra time in every place.

PRAGUE: The journey to Prague is not too long as to give you an ass cramp or so short that you can’t even sleep. For me the journeys on the bus were all about sleep. There’s a lunch stop in the beautiful city of Dresden. I think that after even after such a brief visit I might want to go back there. Keep an eye out for all the restored (burned) buildings. The hotel in Prague is an improvement to the one in Berlin and is pretty much the standard that you can expect for the rest of the tour. The breakfasts are good too albeit not as good as Berlin. For me, Prague was the best city on the tour. It is by far the prettiest and the nightlife there is amazing. The architecture is particularly stunning and on those streets, you will certainly feel like you are walking through the middle ages.

There are 4 planned activities in Prague. First there is an included guided walk through some of the historical parts of Prague. This walk includes the castle complex and the Charles bridge. The problem is that you really have to keep close to your guide in quite crowded parts of the city. We lost our guide on a few occasions and for a significant part of the tour, couldn’t even hear her. I think you can maybe give this a skip and possibly spend more time at the castle or the bridge. There is an included meal at the end of this walk so make sure you catch up. I can’t really comment on the meal though, probably wasn’t great or too bad.
After that there was an included bike tour through Prague. I enjoyed this excursion, but a lot of people gave it a miss, more due to fear of falling off the bike though. It’s a great way to see the city as the bike gives your feet a bit of a rest while still affording you great views. Next, is the nuclear bunker tour. This tour is an optional extra that costs €18. I found this interesting, but the problem is that it is immediately after the bike tour and really doesn’t leave any chill time. I still suggest that you do it but for your health you may want to give it a skip especially if you did the bike tour. Finally, you end Prague off with the traditional Czech evening. This is really a lot of fun and is far more about the tradition and culture than the food. I remember that the beer and wine is included in the €28 so make sure you’re thirsty. Jump at the opportunity to try your hand (and mouth) at the weird drink dispensing contraption and hat tossing competition. I did and won a little drink as a prize. This extra is a must do.
Finally I cannot end the Prague section without commenting on the pub crawl. There were quite a few awesome nights on the tour but none as hot as this one. We did this on our first night in Prague and it costs in the region of €20. You crawl through 3 bar/clubs before ending up in the 5-story club. I had an absolute blast on this crawl. There are partiers from all over the world and it was simply amazing. It’s a mish-mash of people all interested and partying in a city renowned for its nightlife. Make sure you see the ice bar floor at the bottom of the 5-story club. Also don’t bother lining up for beer at the second bar, it takes way too long and you end up wasting your time. Rather stick with wine and shooters. Also you can take your drink with you through the streets so stock up just as you leave but make sure to finish before you get to the next bar. No wonder Prague is one the party capitals of the world. In closing I must say that the women in Prague are exceptionally beautiful. I envy the men there.

VIENNA: The Journey to Vienna is pretty much the same as the journey from Berlin to Prague. There is a short stop at Kutna Hora; an old church where the bones of dead monks decorate the interior. Quite freaky! You stop of at a weird fantasy-Excalibur world for lunch, where I must warn you against ordering the mega schnitzel. It really is MEGA. It doesn’t even fit on the plate. The hotel in Vienna is by far the best on the tour. It’s very spacious and comfortable, but more than that it is actually quite classy. Like Berlin the breakfasts here are also really good. I remember having lots of free time in Vienna so you can take it quite easy over the 2 days.
Your first evening is free so you have options of visiting various places. I ended up at the theme park, which in truth I kind of regretted. I’m not sure what alternative to suggest but I think one can do a lot better to experience a city than going to a theme park. There are only 2 planned activities in Vienna. The first one is the visit to the Schnapps museum for €8 and the second is the classical concert for €64. The Schnapps museum is well worth it. The visit is quick but informative. Please heed the advice of the guide and do not overdo it at the tasting session. The alcohol is strong and many people felt sick afterwards. You will get an opportunity to buy bottles at the end of the visit so rather get drunk on the stuff back home. I would recommend the flaming rocket and the Vienna gold.
Now the classical music concert is somewhat iffy. Firstly for €64 it really is pricy; almost ridiculously so. You get misled to believe that the concert is in the Habsburg palace, which it is, but is in some far away wing of the palace. The venue is more of a makeshift hall, rather than an actual theatre. The music is…Ummm…Ummm… Crap. I’m really not a fan of classical music but even those who were fans were not impressed. Some people fell asleep while others left after the break. On the bright side, there is an included dinner and it is the one opportunity that you have to dress up. Also it’s a Viennese thing so it is somewhat of a cultural experience. Nonetheless I do not recommend this extra. My suggestion is that you get dressed up, go out for a good dinner and meet up with everyone after the concert. There’s a really good club not too far from the palace, just opposite the parliament building. It’s a club with a huge outdoor area and great music. The queue is a bit hectic and you might have to fight your way in but it’s well worth the fight.

I also visited the Gustav Klimt exhibition at the Belvedere museum which was surprisingly enjoyable. Again start off with the stuff that interests you. If I remember correctly it costs in the region of €18.

BUDAPEST: The drive to Budapest is very short so sleep may be a problem in this journey. There is a lunch stop in Bratislava, it's not really long enough to explore the place but my initial impressions of the city were good. From there it’s a really short drive to Budapest. Budapest was probably the city I enjoyed the least, not because I hated it but more because of the other cities on tour that it had to live up to. It is the one city that you will visit where you can actually see the damage of WW2 and the lack of development through the communist era. Nonetheless it still has volumes to offer and the view from the top of the hill on the Pest side that is stunning. The hotel in Budapest is pretty much the same as the one in Prague but from here on the breakfasts get progressively worse.

There are 2 planned activities in Budapest, one is great and the other not so great. The river cruise is superb, the food is good (better than any of the other cities) and the views are stunning. There's also plenty of wine making the views all the more enticing. For €34 it is well worth every penny. The view of the Parliament building from the river is beautiful especially with it lit up at night. Having said that, the view is the best part of the Parliament building, because the tour through the inside of the building is just bland and uninteresting. For €18 you could do much better. I know that the history is the appeal but you could do much better spending your time on Google reading up on the building. This is the one extra that I would unequivocally suggest that you SKIP. Do not take my advice at your peril.

The highlight of Budapest for me was the Bath club. It's quite unique so let me explain. Budapest has a number of hot water springs throughout the city. These springs are used as normal spas during the day, however at night they turn the place into a club. You need to take a towel and swimwear with you. The entrance is approximately €20. You will receive an arm band and a smart card. You then need to load drinks-money onto your card. After that you can go to a locker room to dress and lock away your valuables. Your arm band serves as your locker key. Then you go and have a party in one of the hot pools, where an aqua DJ will entertain you. The concept is pretty cool and it is loads of fun. The hot water leaves with quite a weird hangover so take my advice and use the Parliament tour time to sleep in. It will all work out just perfectly.

I also visited the Terror building in Budapest during my free time. This museum centers around the oppression of the Hungarian people during WW2 and communist rule. The creators have done an amazing job to give you a full experience and you don't need too much of time to go through it. What's neat is that you can just collect all the information sheets and read them later at your leisure and spend the time in the museum on the visual stuff. It costs €16 and again, it was worth the spend. Finally, just remember: DON'T DO THE PARLIAMENT TOUR.

KRAKOW: This city was the most unexpected amazing experience for me. I knew very little about the place before the trip and so in a way I didn’t really expect much but it certainly surprised me. There is so much of history and beauty all around the city. The meals in Poland were the tastiest of all the countries both in Krakow and Warsaw. They also have a drink called an apple pie which you must try; in fact some people started drinking this as a standard from Krakow onwards. While the food in Poland was great the breakfasts in the hotels were terrible. The trip from Budapest to Krakow is very long, you may have a great opportunity to sleep but your ass will certainly protest. There is a short lunch stop in BanskaBystrica back in Slovakia where you must hurry. Here you order, you gulp down and you pay. You don’t have much time and the service is slow.

There is an included meal on the first night in Krakow. As I mentioned earlier, the food all over Poland is good and this place does not disappoint. There are only 2 planned activities in Krakow and they are both pretty short and easy going. The first is an included short guided walk through the city. The pace is slow so you can unwind a bit. The second activity is an optional extra tour at the salt mines for €20. It is worth the money and I would definitely recommend it. Other than that the rest of your time is free. I visited the Schindler museum which again for €12 is well worth the effort of getting there. Here too the creators did a great job of creating the right effect. Don't expect the whole museum to be about Oskar Schindler or his List though. The museum is dedicated to the Polish experience of WW2.

The night life in Krakow is great too. We ended up in some club close to the town square. The music was great and the crowd was cool too. Your time in Krakow is limited because of the long arrival Journey and the early departure. I would definitely plan to go back there some time and explore the place at my own leisure.

You depart from Krakow quite early for a visit to Auschwitz; about an hours’ drive out of Krakow. This was one of the most sobering experiences of my life. There are really no words to describe the place or the experience itself. All I can say is that you must do the visit and you should treat the experience with the respect it deserves. Don’t go on this tour with a hangover, take as few pictures as possible and immerse yourself in the moments. It may not change your way of life but you might complain a little less about the air-con in Berlin.

WARSAW: After visiting this city you will not be able to comprehend that 90% of this city was leveled in WW2. The city was completely rebuilt, but the city centre was rebuilt to look the same as it did before the war. You will still get the feel of an old European city centre. The movie “The Pianist” is set in Warsaw, if you’ve seen it recently; you may recognize some of the buildings (a certain archway in particular). There is a large restaurant at one end of the main square where the meals are exquisite. I highly recommend this place but cannot remember the name. All I remember is that the umbrellas on the outside deck are white with red print. I hope that helps. I also seem to remember that the restaurant is on the left of the mermaid in the centre of the square.

The trip from Krakow to Warsaw is also pretty long, more so in time rather than distance though. For some strange reason there are traffic lights on the highways in Poland. There is a lunch stopover at Czestochowa where you can also view the “Black Madonna”. Please do not shoot me, but it was kind of over-rated. The anecdotal story behind it is quite interesting though.

The best advice that I can give you about the hotel in Warsaw is not to eat their breakfast. It is horrible. Rather go out for breakfast, there are plenty of good places to eat in Poland. There is only one planned tour through Warsaw and it is mostly on the coach. You’ll have some free time on the last afternoon before the final big get together in the evening. To end the tour off there’s an included meal (with drinks) before you head out to a bar and club for the last big night out. This night is always bitter-sweet; you want to have a blast but you know that you may never see most of these people again. The next morning is even worse, not only do you have a terrible hangover but a grave feeling of finality also.
I guess that this feeling can only mean that you had a great time, for if you are happy to have the tour end that you could only have hated it. So do this tour, max all your credit cards and have a rocking time. It really is great. Five stars from me.

Review written Sep 2013

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What's Included

All of this & more, included as standard on your trip.

Accommodation

  • 12 nights twin or triple-share hotel accommodation
  • Modern, air-conditioned coach with electrical outlets for charging
  • Hotel tips, local taxes & service charges

Team

  • An experienced & professional Trip Manager & Driver team
  • Sightseeing tours of all major cities plus orientations in all other destinations

Food

  • 12 continental breakfasts
  • 4 Regional Dinners: a traditional German dinner in West Berlin, dine at our favourite taverna in Prague, a delicious local meal in Krakow & a Polish feast in Warsaw

Inclusions

  • 9 World Heritage Sites visited
  • Enjoy traditional Berlin cuisine in a local restaurant
  • See the Tiergarten, Alexanderplatz, Russian War Memorial, Brandenburg Gate & historic Reichstag building
See More

Me Time

  • Berlin historical walking tour
  • Traditional Czech evening
See More

On a budget?

  • The average cost per day for this tour is US$159
  • You only need a US$200 deposit to book and pay in full 45 days before you travel.
  • Pay in installments, with Contiki Easy Pay

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