European Discovery (Winter) » Review by Amanda
Travel dates:End of Feb, beginning of March
Tour Manager: Steve
Overall review: A must do! This was my first Contiki trip and I wouldn't change a thing!
Day 1. Early morning start, heading over to the Royal National to weigh our bags and get a seat on the coach. We drove out of London and towards the White Cliffs of Dover where we boarded a ferry that would take us over to France, through Belgium and to Amsterdam. Theres lots to do on the ferry to keep you busy during your journey but if you get motion sickness I would definitely suggest that you bring something along with you. After the ferry ride we continued on to Amsterdam, arrived at the hotel, freshened up and went down for supper. Soon after that we headed back onto the bus to head into the heart of Amsterdam for optionals or free time.
*Canal Cruise- I would definitely suggest doing this cruise, almost everyone from my trip decided to do this optional and it was a great way to get to know each other and see Amsterdam from a different view point than just the street.
After the canal cruise my group split off- some heading back to the hotel, some heading out to see the red light district and some just going to see what they could. I would put a warning in here- if you plan on going out solo or with a friend make sure you know exactly where the tram stop is and what stop to get off on. The Dutch language isn’t exactly friendly when trying to guess where you are going- and it took me and a friend quite a while and asking a few people to find where we were supposed to go.
TRAMS- Once you get onto the tram- you head towards the middle of the train where you buy your ticket from a worker in a booth- don’t worry you cant miss it.
Day2. Started the morning off in Amsterdam- Went to the Anne Frank House which is something that I was really interested in going to see. The morning was considered free time and most of the group split off depending on what their interests were. Some places to consider are: Van Gough Museum, Heineken Experience, Sex Museum, and or the Hash Museum. We met back up with the group after lunch and headed out for St Goar. St. Goar is a very small, quiet and beautiful town- it ended up snowing while we were there, but not enough to change what you are packing in your suitcase. St. Goar was a place where we needed a overnight bag due to the fact that it is difficult to get the suitcases up the small staircases- remember to pack warm.
Day3. We traveled to Munich- the Holiday Inn that we stayed in was great and very nice. We headed into the city centre and had free time. I went to Peterskirche- aka Peters church- which provides some of the best views of Munich, although I must warn you that its a long walk to the top! So prepare yourself. I then headed over to some of the markets- which had lots of food that you could pick up and take with you (which is great for the bus ride the next day). Lastly we headed to the Hofbrauhaus- which was fantastic!! There is also an optional walking tour that you can take if you want.
Day4. City of Innsbruck, Austria. The city was very nice and had a small town feel- anyone that knows Banff Canada- it is very similar to that place. Fairly expensive to shop and eat.
Day5. Started our day off in Innsbruck and then made our way across the Italian border to the city of Venice. As we arrived, we learned that it was Carnival!! Venice was packed with people from all across the world, in many different costumes and masks. The Campanile is the main bell tower in Venice which provides panoramic views of the city- a must see. Its about 8 euro to take the elevator to the top- a must do in my opinion. Venice is known for is glass work, lace making and masks- so if your interested in that kind of thing, this the place to buy them. Great place to buy glass blown necklaces for gifts for people back home.
Optionals: many people went to the Venetian restaurant, which provides many different kinds of pasta and sauces. Myself, and a couple others decided to go and find our own place- we ended up sitting under the Rialto bridge and having dinner- we ended up spending less and having a better meal. (in my opinion)
Gondola ride- if you haven’t ever been on a Gondola before, you should do this optional- its worth it.
Day6/7. Left our hotel outside of Venice to head to Rome. Theres so much to see in this city- the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Emmanuelle Monument, Trevi Fountain and Pantheon are just a few. During our free time I used the subway to get around in order to cut down on time spent walking. The hotel that Contiki stays in is outside of the city limits which means that you have to take a train into the city. This was quite a memorable experience considering that because the train only comes every couple hours everybody piles on- to the point where everyone has to get off to let certain people out at stops and then get back on. Be very careful with this, pickpockets are around as well as you NEED to make sure that you get on the train- push, pull do whatever you have to. If not then you will be taking a very long cab ride back. ;p
Optionals: I did not do the Vatican Tour, but from what I heard from the others was that it was a very, very long tour and they would have preferred to go about the Vatican at their own speed, instead of being stuck in a group.
Day8. Headed towards Florence. This is the greatest place for shopping and seeing the beauty Italy has to offer. I love florence, it is one of my favorite places in the world.
Optional dinner and Disco- are a must! They are so much fun!!
Day9. Lucerne. Theres not too much to say about Lucerne, its fairly quite- beautiful but really expensive and it requires that you get new currency.
Day10. Paris. Beautiful city, but in my opinion- scary driving- be very careful when walking across the streets in this city. Lots to see and do here. It is my guess that the french are not known for their tipping after a service (compared to the way Canadian’s tip.) If you want to get a laugh- tip your taxi driver after you get back to the hotel- you wouldn’t believe how thankful they are. Moulin Rouge was our last optional of the tour and I think many people did it because we wanted to spend time together as a group. I was not overly impressed with M.R. but I think its something that you have to experience.
Budget- I budgeted about 100 Euros a day, spending money depending on if meals were included already or not. I set aside 10 euros to cover lunch and 20 to cover dinner, if we were in a city that I knew I would want to spend more on a nice meal then I put money aside for that. The rest of my money for the day went towards museums, transportation and spending money.
What to pack: The weather was great when I went towards the end of Feb and beginning of March. Depending on where you are from you should dress accordingly- a never used more than a hoodie (jumper) and a rain jacket. If you need something warmer you can always buy it while you are there.
Review written Oct 2011event 0.3