European Discovery (Winter) » Review by Brian Trotta
What you need to know (Review of tour)
Background of myself – Single, Travelling alone, Not on a budget, knew what I was getting into – If they had a tour where you could pay more for better included meals, better and city center hotels, and a train I would have done it. Overall, the tour was what I expected and I got what I wanted out of it. I wanted to see a lot of Europe to see where I wanted to go back with friends/girl.
Best places (Venice, Florence, Rome, Paris). Worst Places (Generally the small towns – St. Goar, Innsbruck, Lucerne – generally not much to see) – Surprising Places (Amsterdam – Nicer than I thought) – Needed more time (Munich, London).
General Europe Info – Lunch stops are best in Italy (cleanest, most and best food available), public bathrooms charge money, bottled water is expensive. Have an idea of what you want to see and where you want to eat in advance (mark it on a map).
Pros – Good for travelling alone, a lot of places in little time, walking tours and some expeditions are good. Our tour manager was a good guy who made the trip more enjoyable (Chris Tabone). The driver (Chris Peck) was also very personable.
Cons – A tour generally meant for younger people. There were some couples, but I would rather explore on my own if I was a part of a couple. Bus needed wifi and could only use bathroom for #1. A general budget trip with longer bus rides, ok at best food, non modern or city center hotels. For a budget trip I thought it was very unusual to include places such as Swarovksy (Innsbruck), Perfumery (France), Leather Shop (Florence), Watch Store (Switzerland). Included meals were not good and expedition meals I heard were ok. Lack of independence for tour members – a younger college type mentality. I thought that prior to the trip some information could have been given out (Tentative Schedule with times, Attraction closing times (there was a huge mess up with the closing time at the Coliseum in Rome, Maps), so that you can help plan your free time accordingly knowing some stuff is subject to change. Sleep and free time are limited on this type of tour. Early mornings every morning.
Overall – I was expecting what came of the tour. I would only do a contiki tour again if I didn’t have someone else to travel with.
Sat Nov 26th - England
Hotel - Royal National - small, only soap, tv has few channels ok at best - very hostel like
Sights seen - Buckingham palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Parliament building
Food - London pub At hotel - southern fried chicken burger - ok
Notes - not enough time in city. Would have liked another day there as well as a walking tour.
Sunday Nov 27th
Travel from London to Amsterdam
Up early. 2 hr bus ride to ferry. Food on ferry was decent English breakfast – 10.0 Euro. Another 4 hr drive from ferry to Amsterdam. Will see the white cliffs at Dover at ferry - ok
Hotel - Hotel Slotania - paid for a single room and got a room by myself with 2 bunk beds. soap only, no tv, no alarm clock or wake up
Food - Hotel Slotania - Dinner - awful - had chicken cutlets, broccoli, pasta and beef stroganoff - just wanted to eat.
Canal cruise - 20 euro - free beer or wine - cool way to see the city but they didn't point out enough stuff
Sex show/red light district - 29 euro - not worth it - just like watching live porn
Monday Nov 28th - Amsterdam
Breakfast at hotel - ok and serves its purpose - bread with meats and cheese
Sights to see
Anne frank museum - 8.50 euro - worth it - very interesting
Historic museum - 10.00 and 1.00 euro for locker - ok but nothing great - not enough audio
Kalverstraat - retail shopping
Dam square - just a public square - used to be the exchange center
Food - lunch in caffe espirit - got a salmon/mozzarella ciabatta - good - located near museum on Spui
Notes - overall a very interesting city in general. The architecture was much nicer than expected. Red light district was good to see, but show unnecessary.
Travel from Amsterdam to St. Goar - 2 hrs on bus, lunch break, then 3 hrs on bus
Hotel - Hotel Montag - small hotel again but a decent room but uncomfortable bed. Very old hotel. Has free wifi. Family run. Soap included.
Dinner - chicken rice soup ( probably Lipton brand) - pot roast (surprisingly pretty good) - peas and carrots (frozen – not good)
Wine tasting - 8 euros - 4 white wines - all very sweet with sweetest being small taste of a 5th wine called ice wine - free shot glass included - ok for price
Tuesday Nov 29th
Breakfast - at hotel - meats and cheese sandwich - does the job
Stein show – Skipped it
Travel from St. Goar to Munich - 500k 7 hrs with a lunch break in middle
took a 1.5 hr walking tour of area – saw a lot – tour guide was good
Dinner - Hofbrauhaus - Sausage sampler (good) - Pork knuckle - (good) - potatoes (not good) - 32.0 euro
Tollwoods - at site of Octoberfest - ok night - beer - 3 euro - vodka drinks - 6.50 euro
Hotel - Holiday Inn Munich South - best hotel so far - has tv, soap and hairdryer. Has a clean and big bed along with a pull out couch. An americanized hotel.
Wednesday Nov 30th
Breakfast - at hotel - I skipped it
Travel to Dachau - 45 mins
Dachau concentration camp - very interesting. It is only concentration camp to operate throughout Nazi Germany time period. Has crematory and gas chambers.
Travel to Innsbruck - 2 hrs 20 mins
Innsbruck is a pretty town but we stayed in the town during the day for 4 hours. We stayed in town too long in my opinion. I got a great photo up on the hill from a church.
Lunch - Gasthaus - Roast pork and cabbage with dumpling potatoes. (good).
Hotel - Hotel Dolinger - better hotel than I thought. Has soap, hair dryer, tv with 1 English channel. The hotel was not too far from city. The hotel has clothes washing available.
Dinner - at hotel - Pork cutlet (good) - mashed potatoes (good) - string beans (good) - broccoli soupy (good) - chocolate mousse (good). Overall, it was the best hotel meal.
Breakfast - at hotel - meats, cheeses, bread, jams, nutella, yogurt and cereal available.
Thursday December 1
Travel to Venice - 2.5 hr ride to ferry, 30 min ferry ride, 1.5 hr ride to Venice.
Skipped excursions of gondola ride and dinner. Heard dinner was ok, a family style dinner.
Sights - bridge of sighs, scuola di San Rocco, San Marco square, academia, pionte de Rialto, teatro la fenice
Dinner - went to a random trattoria - ok, nothing great. Forgot name.
Hotel - Base hotel Venice - best hotel so far. 4 stars. Modern and trendy theme. Flat screen tv but no English channels. Nice room. Hair dryer, soaps and shampoo provided.
Friday December 2nd
Breakfast - at hotel - meats, cheeses, cereal, rolls
Travel from Venice to Rome - 3hrs in bus, 45 min break to eat, 3 hrs in bus
Sights to see - Coliseum, Vatican city, Spanish steps, Trevi fountain. We took 1.5 hr walking tour by our tour manager to see most of above.
Dinner - included – forgot name - pizza only (not good) - wine was not included. I would recommend skipping this if you can and know of a good restaurant.
Hotel - Park Rome Cassia Hotel - TV included, has CNN, soaps and shampoo included, hair dryer.
Saturday December 3rd
Breakfast - at hotel - typical breakfast of meats, cheeses, bread, cereal.
Optional Vatican city tour was well worth it. 2hrs with an audio tour.
Free time after.
Lunch - il convivial near piazza navona. It was closed for lunch. So we ate at a random place. Food was ok.
Went to coliseum. It closed at 330pm. KNOW THIS. We got in finally after I paid someone at the exit.
Dinner - Tony's in South Rome was closed. We ate a place that was not good.
Sunday December 4th
Breakfast - at hotel - typical breakfast with meat, cheese, cereal and bread
Travel from Rome to Florence - 3 hrs
Florence - stopped at a leather shop (waste of time, but you have to wait for walking tour to start). took a walking tour with a guide, then went to academia
Sights to see - David, Ponte vecchio, il duomo
Dinner - Acqua el Due - maccheroni il gorgonzola (good), cannelloni with mushrooms (fantastic), blueberry filet (good but order 1 temp up, they cook it raw), tried salad sampler (good), house chianti (good). 28.0 euro - overall fantastic meal and cheaper than excepted. BEST MEAL on Trip
Space discoteque - only contiki tour members from 2 total groups.
Hotel - Select Hotel (best western) - soap and shampoo included, hair dryer, free wifi but service not great
Monday December 5th
Breakfast - at hotel - typical breakfast with meat, cheese, cereal and bread
Travel from Florence to Lucerne - 3.5hrs, food break, 2.5 hrs. This is a gorgeous drive if you can stay awake. Saw Lake Como during the drive and many other pretty spots.
Lucerne - very small and pretty city
Sights to see – The Lion Monument, The Chapel Bridge, Church of St. Leodegar
Dinner – Fondue House – Reiclet – Good but pricey. 40.0 Euro without wine
Hotel – Lowengraben Jail Hotel – Worst hotel on the tour – Soap only – Free wifi in Lobby
Tuesday December 6th
Breakfast – at hotel – worst breakfast on tour – Plain bread and butter or jam – No meats or cheeses
Travel from Lucerne to Paris – 3.5 hours on the bus – 45 min Lunch break – 3 hours on the bus
Paris – Overall the nicest city to visit on the tour
Arrived in city at around 7 or so – Took a bus tour with contiki to see many sights at night
9:30 – Trip up the Eiffel Tower – 10 minute line – Gorgeous at night
11 – Bar – Coolins – Irish Pub
Hotel – Ibis Hotel Berthier Porte de Clichy – Soap, Shampoo, Free Wifi, Hair Dryer, Flat Screen TV with some American Channels – Top 3 hotel on tour
Wednesday December 7th
Breakfast – Best breakfast on tour – Quiche, Meats, Cheeses, Breads, Juices, Croissants
Perfumery – Skipped it
Sights to see -Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower), Palais Garnier (Paris National Opera), Galeries Lafayette, terrace at Galeries Lafayette, Basilica Sacre-Cœur, The Musée du Louvre, Grand and Petit Palais, Arc de Triomphe, Avenue des Champs-Élysees, Hotel del Invalides National, Notre Dame Cathedral (Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris)
Lunch – Grabbed a ham, cheese, egg crepe at the Christmas Market and ate on run to see more of the city. (Good)
Train system is very easy to figure out if you are used to subways.
Moulin Rouge – 137.0 Euro – Great Show but terrible food – Had duck liver patte and Filet Mignon – Terrible
Went to the bar right next door – fun bar and a good night
Thursday December 8th – No Breakfast – Slept in
Saw Notre Dame
Lunch – La Bouteille d’Or – Right near Notre Dam – 9, Quai de Montebello – Had Escargot with garlic wine sauce (Good), Saute de veau a la Pietra, polenta au basilica (Veal – Good, Polenta – Ok) – 40.0 Euro
Trains to Airport – Take RER B to Charles De Gaulle – DO NOT TAKE TOWARDS MITRY - American Airlines was Terminal #2 (last stop)
Review written Dec 2011event 0.3