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This is the big one. Well, it was my big one. The O.E. Contiki that just has to be done, it is a right of passage.
Be prepared to be awed, nervous, surprised, and totally overwhelmed. This is a massive trip, and there is a lot cram in. Days will begin to blur as you lose track of where you are, where you're coming from, and where you're heading. Thank god for your fantastic tour manager and bus driver who will make things flow and work, even when you are driving them crazy. The things you will see, the experiences you will have, with 50 of your newest and closest friends will be something you wont ever forget and seems impossible to explain. 37 days of continuous travel, yet by the end we would have gotten right back on that bus and done it all again.
The word on everyone's lips: Money. The answer is: a lot. I didn't take nearly enough in cash and maxed out my credit card. Whatever your budget, you will blow it. Take your budget and double it.
Girls, I spent a lot of time fretting about what shoes to take. I think I wore heels maybe three times. Dinner and a show in Paris, Monte Carlo Casino, night clubbing in Florence. You don't need heels. If you really want them, bring one pair or better yet buy a pair in Paris! Anything more than that is a waste of space and you're going to be lugging that suitcase all over the place.
Money belt. I took one. Never used it. Just be aware and don't invite people to take your things by leaving bags unzipped etc.
Optionals: I did most of them, and they definitely add to the experience.
I learnt: Don't get too wrecked the night before visiting a city etc. I did this in Venice ("Amnesia" they call the drink... and foolishly this didn't concern me at the time) and subsequently I hated Venice because I was hungover and wanted to die. Fail.
Highlights: Soooo many awesome times, but I'll try name a few of my favourite spots. Mykonos - lazy warm days drinking frozen mojitos by the pool from breakfast, jet skiing in the afternoon, partying in the evenings. Dubrovnik, Croatia - a beautiful paradise with the old town looking like something out of fairy tales and the gorgeous ocean (also, bucket cocktails). The afternoon boat cruise is a MUST! Both Austria and Switzerland are beautiful and the excursions recommended (mountain biking, paragliding, train to "the top of Europe" to play in the snow). French Chateau picnic is a great way to spend time getting to know tour mates and the walk is worth is for the view and yummy lunch. Barcelona and Florence were also fabulous stops.
I have toured with Contiki again since this tour and I would, and hope to, travel with them again. Enough said.
Review written Nov 2011Read more reviews » Write a review