European Explorer plus Greek Island Cruising » Review by Alexandra
This trip was amazing, incredible, spectacular and so much more. I went on the one in September 2011 for my gap year. I was travelling alone, but I knew that I would meet some friends on the tour... and that I did. I met some really wonderful people who I know that I will be friends with forever (in fact, we are all meeting up in Sydney in 2 weeks for the weekend and I'm doing another Contiki soon with a girl I met on this one!). I became really close with 5 other girls on the tour and we started a band - not really, but that's what we called ourselves instead of a gang or team or group or whatever. It's kind of an inside joke... but that's the whole point!!!
Our tour manager Filippo and our driver Katya were so good at everything. They were so helpful. Filippo has 'Filippo's Tips' for every place we went, which was a double sided page with hints and tips of all the good places to go while we were there. As he explained it, the tour is like a cheese platter - you are just getting a taste for each place, so you can see which ones you really want to go back to. Which is the perfect way to describe it.
The hotels we stayed at were nice. Some of them were a little out of the way (the one in Amsterdam for example, and Paris a bit too) so if you went into town for the day you had to say there. There was no coming back to get things you forgot, or to have a nap, or whatever you wanted to do - unless you were willing to pay the taxi fare. Which probably wasn't much in the grand scheme of things, but still, the brochure made it sound like the hotels were right in the thick of things. Although, to be fair, a lot of the hotels were in pretty good locations - London, Nice, Rome the main ones I can think of. It was probably a 50/50 split.
I did all the optional extras. They were all really good. Some of them were good, and I enjoyed them, but I probably could have survived without doing it. The Opera in Austria for example. One thing I would recommend you try is parasailing in Nice. It isn't an optional extra with Contiki, but if you go down to the beach you can book it there. I did it with 2 other girls and it was so much fun! They take you up and then dunk you in the water!!!!!!
The weather was perfect the whole time I was there. I think it rained once (and when I say it rained, it was more like a drizzle) on the last day in Amsterdam. Other than that it was blue skies and sunshine everyday.
The bus that we got was a tester bus that Mercedes was trying out with Contiki. It was really spacious and comfortable. The only down sides were that it didn't have power plugs, so we couldn't change things during the long drives, and there was a toilet too (sounds like it may be a positive... but it wasn't). The rule was 'NO POO IN THE LOO!'. One chick didn't understand this rule though - a couple of times!!! - so when that happened the whole bus reeked until it could be cleaned out at the next service stop!
The food was alright. I am a pretty fussy eater though so I'm not the best person when it comes to explaining how the food was (I know! I need to quit it!). A running joke of the food came about pretty soon though. We seemed to get chicken and potatoes every night - What's for dinner? Chicken and potatoes for a change! By the end of the tour I was definitely craving a decent steak that's for sure.
On Contiki, I have learned, that a theme song for the tour is chosen and is the first song played every time you get on the bus. Last Summer by the Lostprophets was the theme song.
Overall, the tour was amazing. I would highly recommend it!!!! If you get the chance, this is a really excellent tour and should consider going on it. I have so many incredible memories. We had so many laughs. We all made so many wonderful new friends. It was my first time in Europe and I can't wait to get back!
I will leave you with Filippo's favourite quote that he told us on the first day:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
- Mark Twain
Review written Jun 2012event 0.3