11 Sep 2015 - 28 Sep 2015
The European Whirl was one of the most amazing and life changing experiences of my life. In just 18 days, I made life long friends and so many unforgettable memories that will stay with me forever.
The tour started in London and took us to Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Munich, Austrian Tyrol, Venice, Rome, Vatican City, Florence, Switzerland (including Swiss Alps) and Paris. It was the perfect mix of activities which ranged from cultural and historical activities such as clog making in the Netherlands and bunker tours in Prague to adrenaline pumping activities like white water rafting and paragliding over Austria where the Sound of Music was set. We were able to explore cities by day and enjoy the night life whilst getting to know the rest of the group. All the places we visited were amazing but it was the people we were with that really made the experience.
Our tour manager Ed was very knowledgable and one of the best guides ever. When we arrived at each city, he gave us such a comprehensive and interesting introduction that left us all so comfortable to explore the city on our own. Quite a few of us enjoyed his walking tours more than the ones provided by the local guides! He was very organised and professional but also approachable and fun, and became more like a friend as the trip progressed.
Our tour driver Bento was amazing! He navigated through the cities with such ease and seemed to know each place like the back of his hand. Even driving the coach through the tight streets of Amsterdam and the busy and crazy traffic in Paris was never an issue for Bento. He was so friendly and approachable and always gave us the best tips for each city. Throughout the trip, he not only amazed us with his awesome driving skills and excellent taste in music, but also became a great friend.
Ed and Bento were a dream team. Even though we had 46 people on our tour, they still managed to take the time to get to know each and every one of us. They had a great dynamic, worked so well together and made sure that the tour ran flawlessly.
In my previous travel, I had never really stayed in hostels so I was a little unsure at first, but after experiencing this trip, I wouldn't have done it any other way. The hostels we stayed at had such great facilities and were a great way to get to know others on your trip, especially for solo travellers.
If you are thinking about travelling to Europe, I would highly recommend this tour - it is action packed and high energy and gives you a great introduction to Europe. Make sure you do all the Me Time Optionals - definitely worth every cent! 18 days flies by so quickly so make sure you make the most of it! #noregrets
Review written Nov 2015event 0.3
06 Aug 2015 - 23 Aug 2015
I was very nervous at first, but after a day, I need not be. By the time I really got involved with the friends I made to the day I left, I had the best time I could wish for. Some days were better than others, other activities were better than others, but the people you associate with, the laughs you have, the memories you share together, makes the trip so worthwhile. I would defiantly recommend Contiki as a company to travel with as you really all do become a family and see parts of the world in a really different way than I would have expected to do. You won't make friends with everyone, but the ones you do, your never really apart from them and you become friends for life!
I had the experience of a lifetime and would like to thank Brooke, our tour manager and Sandro, our bus driver, and all the friends I made, for such an awesome time!!!
Thanks so much!!
Review written Aug 2015event 0.3
19 Jul 2015 - 05 Aug 2015
I went on Contiki with a friend of mine from work to see what all the fuss was about. We both lived in a regional town and were keen to have a holiday.
Let me tell you, it was literally everything I thought it would be times a hundred. Contiki was unreal. Everyday felt like a dream! The accommodation was good and even though some countries (particularly Prague and Venice) were extremely hot in the rooms, we overlooked it and didn't hang out there much anyway.
I found our tour manager knew a huge amount about the countries which made it much more interesting on the bus. She also was helpful with restaurants to go to and the best shopping areas. Ask the manager as many questions as you can! The food was good and I couldn't complain about any meals. The European Whirlwind trip was the best way to see Europe and gave you a taste of the culture there. Some countries I would have liked to see for more than 3 days but you can always go back yourself and explore later on. Although I got really sick with the Contiki cough and then bronchitis later on, I made the most of it. Everybody got sick and you just battle through it because you are in Europe of course! The best part about Contiki for me was meeting a bunch of random people who ended up sharing the same interests and humour as me. I would push people to get out there and introduce yourself to as many people as you can early on, especially if you are travelling solo. Don't stay in cliques and go and float between groups of people, that way you can say you made 50 friends! I would highly recommend going on this particular tour which is 18 days. Also, sign up to ALL the Me Time activities, they are brilliant and not that expensive. Say YES to everything and don't come back with regrets. Go for it!! :)
Review written Aug 2015event 0.3
09 Jun 2015 - 06 Jun 2015
I had a really great time and everything lived up to expectations.
It's a smart idea to take a sleeping bag, a few people didn't and they froze some nights. I also recommend taking cold and flu tablets and antibiotics with you just incase you catch the wretched cough/flu that goes around the bus. It's bound to happen!
The Volendam dinner was so so, the rest of the dinners and canal cruises were good choices. As was paragliding, that is a must!
The driver was amazing and as was the tour manager.
The only problem I had was trying to get in touch with the tour manager to find out what time to meet and where, as I was joining on the second day in Amsterdam. I was disappointed when Contiki told me I wasn't needed at the hotel until 6pm that night. If I hadn't turned up early I would of missed the canal cruise. That was the only problem I had the whole tour.
Time flies on this tour. Make it count!
Review written Jul 2015event 0.3
13 Jun 2015 - 30 Jun 2015
I booked this trip on a complete whim and was so nervous about going out alone but there was no need. From the first moment I met my tour mates, I had the time of my life and didn't experience a single moment of regret or doubt.
18 days is probably the perfect length for the tour and it'll fly by like you won't believe - I was nowhere near ready to leave all the amazing friends I'd made and tears were flowing on the last day.
High energy is definitely a good way to describe the tour and I'm totally not a party animal back home so I was scared that I wouldn't fit in here. If you're the same, don't worry. You're with such fantastic people that you want to spend each and every night partying with them. Be prepared for early morning while hungover to be tough for the first few days but by halfway through, we all just caught up on sleep on the coach. #noregrets
I was concerned that long days on the coach would be boring and take away from seeing the cities but for me, the journeys flew by. Everyone would doze off until the first service station stop, then chat or watch a movie for the rest of the time. Take a neck pillow!! Also, you'll get sick - almost everyone on my tour did. Take cough medicine and cold and flu stuff but a few shots did the trick as a quick fix for a night out too ;)
Everywhere we stayed was decent enough - some obviously nicer than others - but you spend so little time in the hostels that it doesn't matter. Breakfasts were a bit lackluster but did the job, and included dinners were nice except for the hostel in Berlin. There's a great pizza place nearby though! Staying at the campsites and Contiki run places was fun too and the party nights they held were some of my favourite nights of the trip - especially in Austria.
My favourite optional extras were the Amsterdam river cruise and dinner, Berlin walking tour, white water rafting and the gondola ride in Venice. The walking tours in Italy weren't great in my opinion but it's probably the easiest way to see the Vatican City and Colosseum.
Tony and Darius, our tour manager and driver, were absolutely incredible and I can't count the number of times I nearly cried laughing on the trip. Both went out of their way to make sure everybody was happy and the talks Tony gave about each country were really interesting. We made several stops along the way that weren't in our itinerary - an amazing scenic spot in Switzerland for photos and Dachau concentration camp were my favourites - and their commitment to doing this for us made the trip just that little bit more special.
It was honestly the best three weeks of my life and I'd encourage anybody to do it - I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat if I could!
"Go big or go home"
Review written Jul 2015event 0.3
12 Jun 2015 - 30 Jun 2015
If anyone is worried about the length of the trip, 18 days goes by in a flash. The bonds you make with people on the trip is incredible in such a short amount of time. Everyone got along and interacted with everyone. Tears were definitely shed when the last day came around, but you make friends for life.
It also helped that our tour manager Tony, and our driver Darius were outstanding. Both hilarious, kind, and knew so much about each place we visited. They tried so hard to make this trip worthwhile.
Every place we visited had something special about it, whether it was the view, the history or the night life, you will find something amazing.
I must admit some of the me time options or walking tours did seem to drag on at times, but the majority of the optionals were loads of fun. Definitely try and do most of the me-times, worth the money.
The places we stayed in were really great for the most part, the usual hotel Contiki stays at in Paris seemed very sketchy but our amazing tour manager and driver managed to get us transferred so we had no issues. Just a tip, don't expected the breakfasts to be anything special. Some places had really nice ones, but the first half of the trip were mostly some toast and a bit of fruit or yoghurt. The dinners in general were really good, with the exception of the hostel in Berlin.
This tour is high energy, and everyone is ready to party, so be prepared for every night to be a Saturday night and every morning to be a Monday. The amount of alcohol consumed on this trip is incredible. But even if you stay in for a few nights, you'll have great company and still have a fantastic time. For our trip, majority of us got very little sleep at night but we caught up on sleep on the coach so you'll be fine.
Contiki has honestly changed my life for the better, opened my eyes to the world and allowed me to make amazing friends. No one was ready to come home but take advantage of your time in Europe and stay extra days in Paris or continue your travels.
#noregrets #contikitony #gobigorgohome #getin
Review written Jul 2015event 0.3
07 Aug 2014 - 24 Aug 2014
The European Whirl was the perfect trip. My sister when she was younger did a 12 day contiki tour and the one thing she said she regretted was that she didn't go longer. 18 days was perfect - a little over two weeks, great price and even then I probably could have stayed longer! I felt this trip went to all the places in Europe that needed ticked off and the rest could be done later. My favourite places were Berlin (the history), the Swiss and Austrian Alps (jaw-droppingly beautiful) and Italy as a whole. I never used to drink a lot or party much which was a running joke by the end of the tour because well... These guys turned me into a short-term alcoholic. It's hard not too when your basically with your best friends every day and night having the time of your life. Must do optionals is the paragliding in Austria and water rafting in Austria. In fact most of the optionals are fabulous... Some of the tours are a bit boring but it's nice to mix the partying with the culture really. Our tour guide was Lilly and she was amazing. She deserves a raise for dealing with us and by us I mean we did have one douche bag on our trip but she handled him as well as she could given the circumstances. Bart our bus driver, the polish sexy silent assassin, was brilliant too. This tour = 10/10
Review written Feb 2015event 0.3
18 Aug 2014 - 04 Sep 2014
First of all there is no perfect amount of time for a contiki tour I come to realise. A lot of people told me not to do a long one as it tends to drag on. I can tell you now it solely depends on the people in your group and I/we could have done this trip for the rest of our lives! 18 days was so fast and everybody grew so close to each other in such a short space. It will be an experience I'll never forget. Also Jake our tour manager with his laid back but knowledgeable personality made quite the difference. They probably say it to everyone but I truly felt this was the best group his ever had, it certainly felt that way anyway to the point where the whole bus was crying saying goodbye to one another at the end. Tiago our bus driver also made this your great, his bus tunes and funny quirky personality just added to it all. The wake up song and the arrival song I really enjoyed, to the point where I've made it my ringtone just because I never want to forget this amazing experience. Pay for the extras, you won't be disappointed! Money shouldn't be an issue, live it up! That's what you're there for! Only thing I could recommend is bring a neck pillow. Came very much in handy! Will be booking another contiki in the near future! Thanks jake and tiago, thanks contiki and thanks all my new friends :)
Review written Sep 2014event 0.3
30 Jul 2014 - 16 Aug 2014
This tour was more than I could have ever expected! When you read these reviews before going on a Contiki you try to imagine yourself on it, but there is no way you can be ready for what is about to come your way. From the moment we stepped onto the bus as strangers and used "speed dating" to get to know each other, after two days everyone felt like family, including our manager and bus driver. We were so lucky that our group bonded so well and were so friendly.
The whole trip was a whirlwind you were constantly on the move but it was great as there was no time to be bored! A highlight would have to be staying in Hopftgarten with all the conitiki staff and dancing the night away covered in fluro paint. Also Paragliding off the Austrian Alps with bright blue skies, green grass and breathtaking views there was no way to pass this up as an optional.
If you are going on this tour GET A FLU SHOT OR TAKE MEDICINE, you will get sick. We could have easily made a song of coughs due to everyone having the Contiki Plague, but that didn't stop us from partying every night and still getting up at 7 am to go for a day filled of sightseeing. Huge thank you to Peps (tour manager) and Erno (bus driver) for putting up with our crazy group and joining in on our nights out. If you only have a short time to travel do not go past this tour there is no way you can be disappointed.
The memories and friends made on this tour will never be forgotten!!!
Review written Aug 2014event 0.3
09 Jul 2014 - 27 Jul 2014
My best friend and I booked this trip and I couldn't have been happier!
The trip is fast paced, many late nights and early mornings, but after a few days you get into the swing of things. While we had 53 people on our tour, nearly everyone was friendly and easy to get along with and I definitely made some friends for life. The downside with travelling with a big group is you will get sick, and everyone did. (Make sure to bring medicine!)
I didn't expect to do all the optional MeTimes but in the end it was definitely worth it. The only ones I opted out of were the Mountain Bike tour in Austria and visiting the top of Jungfrau mountain in Switzerland (and I'm OK with that!) Our tour manager was so organized and made the trip a total breeze. She also knew tons of history about each place we visited and could point out lesser-known attractions we could do.
The best thing with a budget tour like this is to have no expectations. That way, you aren't disappointed if the included food isn't that great, or if the accommodations aren't what you thought. Overall, I thought everything was great for the price - You get to see countless cities and countries in such a short time and hopefully have the time of your life!
Review written Aug 2014event 0.3
27 Jun 2014 - 14 Jul 2014
I went on the European Whirl June 27th- July 14th. i met my group in Amsterdam and the minute i met all 52 of them i instantly liked them. I got to know them all really well and made amazing friends. We started in Amsterdam and it was mad fun drinking and going out to these cool clubs, then we went to Berlin were we got to watch Berlin play in the world cup and that was the best thing to do :) then off to Prague and enjoyed the history and culture there, then we did a one day stop in Munich and i did the ME TIME activity Mikes Bike Tour and YOU HAVE TO DO IT this bike tour is the funniest and best bike ride i have ever been on you see so much of Munich in so little time with this great bike tour and you laugh the whole way. Then we went for another 1 night stop in the Austrian Tyrol and that was just BEAUTIFUL we also had our Tight, White & Bright Party at the place we were staying and that was a fun party with my contiki group and other contiki groups as well :) then we went to the beautiful country ITALY we stayed in campsites through out the whole time in Italy and they were alright (you will need your sleeping bag there and in Venice buy mozzie spray as they will bite you bad) Venice is a beautiful city i could live there, Rome didn't interest me that much but thats my personal opinion you may think different of Rome. We only had 1 day in Florence and from what i saw it is a beautiful city. We had our group photo and dinner in Florence which is a ME TIME OPTIONAL and i suggest you do it as its amazing and after dinner we went to a karaoke bar and drank and sang the night away ( hahahaha- Oh and eat lots of GELATI in Italy i did its so AMAZINGLY GOOD) we then headed up to Switzerland and it was cold but OMG such beautiful views and such a beautiful place we stayed in. another ME TIME OPTIONAL in Switzerland is going up to the top of Europe in the snow called JUNGFRAUJOCH and i enjoyed that heaps (but pack warm clothing as you will need it and Switzerland is expensive so if you are thinking you want to eat at the snow buy food at the place your staying and take it up there as its very expensive up the top of the mountain) then after that we headed to our last stop PARIS and just like the talk it is a BEAUTIFUL CITY we went as a group in free time on the first night we all bought wine and champagne and went to the Eiffel Tower at midnight and watched it light up it was so beautiful. Then the last night we had out goodbye dinner and cabaret show and those are both ME TIME OPTIONALS and you have to do them as its a fantastic night out with everyone for pretty much the last time :) then on the morning everyone left i was staying in Paris 1 extra night and i didn't think it would be that hard but saying goodbye to 52 people you have been with on and off a bus with and shared rooms with and toured around Europe with for the last 18days is so hard and sad to say goodbye to them i cried but i know i will have a friendship with them for life and will catch up with them soon :) This was my first ever CONTIKI TOUR and i LOVED IT i now have the travel bug and i will be booking to go on another Contiki December 2015 but on an American Tour - if you are hesitating about doing a contiki tour or hesitating about doing this tour - DONT HESITATE just do it as you will not regret it and you will have the best time ever and also don't be nervous going by yourself as i went by myself and i made the most amazing friends and had the most amazing time ever :)
Review written Jul 2014event 0.3
01 Jul 2013 - 18 Jul 2013
There's nothing more amazing than flying half way around the world and jumping on a coach with 50 like-minded strangers and travelling to some of the most beautiful, historic and unique places on earth.
I had the most amazing group of people; however we were all very different personality wise. Despite this, by day 4 we were all pretty much family!
All the places we visited were simply amazing, however the only criticisim I have of the trip is that the optionals were often a rip off (e.g. average food for crazy prices).
The Contiki staff and stop-over sites were awesome, definitely added to the trip a lot. I partiularly enjoyed the stop-overs where Contiki hosted themed parties and we got the chance to mix and mingle with other Contiki groups.
Loved my Contiki experience, will be back doing another trip as son as my bank account allows for it!
Thanks Contiki, keep up the good work!
Review written Sep 2013event 0.3
18 Jul 2013 - 04 Aug 2013
For those of you that may be interested, this is a quick run down of what we did on the first day.
We started our tour in London and quickly made our way via ferry to Amsterdam. Amsterdam is an amazing city. Full of bikes and quirky buildings. We explored the city on foot. We checked out the local shopping district and we had a Bratwurst (German Style sausage) for lunch. We saw the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam and chilled out in front of the iconic 'I Amsterdam' sign. For those doing the optional extras of the Sea Palace Lunch- I'd highly recommend it. It was tasty Indonesian cuisine and plenty of free drinks. The other optional was a river cruise, which turned out to be a party boat with beer, wine and champange! We then hit the town and toured the red light district checking out the prostitutes of Amsterdam (looking of course..). Some of the guys went to the local coffee shops for some 'grass'. Others stayed and saw a live sex show, which was a mixture of sexy and hilariousness. That was our first night in Amsterdam. Others went out and hit the town afterwards, while some of us crashed in our hostel.
I could describe the other 18 days but you'll have to experience it for yourself. The accommodation in general was quite good. There were a few hotel upgrades and all hostels and cabins had the essentials and more. Our tour guide and bus driver, Kate and Phillipe, were great. They were incredibly organised and work hard to make the trip memorable as possible. The ME time extras do cost more. I spent about 350 euro extra on ME extras but they were well worth it. Things such as paragliding, whitewater rafting, gondolas in Venice, pub crawls, river cruises all added to the experience. The experience was incredibly intense. Be prepared to be exhausted after the end of the trip. One of the best aspects of the trip was how we managed to get so much done (in terms of sightseeing, partying, making friends, and other experiences) in such as short period of time. Our group bonded really well together and everyone was incredibly friendly.
If you are after a intense and wild time and want to see Europe quickly at an incredibly good price, I'd definitely recommend this trip. Only downside is that there was limited time in each city. So if you are looking to spend a while (more than two days) in each city maybe look somewhere else. Otherwise- 5 STARS
Review written Aug 2013event 0.3
04 Jun 2010 - 23 Jun 2010
Three years later I'm still talking with many of my fellow travelers regularly on facebook. This was my first European trip and it was a great introduction to a lot of major European cities as well as some beautiful mountainsides in the Alps. The optional activities were all fun however the optional meals were AWFUL. The Indonesian meal in Amsterdam, Italian meal in Florence, and meal in Paris were all terrible and they weren't cheap so I would suggest avoiding them. The quality of the food made it clear that these restaurants did not care about our satisfaction. It was nice to at least to spend more quality time with my tour mates but if I did it again I would have gotten a group of friends together and dined somewhere else.
My only other complaint was the hotel in Amsterdam was pretty dumpy and in a dodgy area. Ironically, all of the other accommodations, which were campsites and hostels, were absolutely superb. Overall it was an excellent trip.
Review written May 2013event 0.3
22 May 2012 - 08 Jun 2012
Nearly a year ago now I experienced one of the most amazing adventures of my life, the contiki European whirl! Contiki is the best way to see just about everything in any country you've selected. The European whirl has most definitely given me the travel bug! The 18 day tour was one unforgettable experience, you make tones of friends, see all different places and experience loads of new foods/activities. The accomodation was good and the bus driver and tour manager were a blast.
Review written Feb 2013event 0.3
14 Jul 2009 - 31 Jul 2009
I HAD HEARD A LOT ABOUT CONTIKI TOURS BUT WAS NOT PREPARED FOR SUCH AN AWESOME TRAVEL EXPERIENCE!
FROM THE TIME I LEFT SOUTH AFRICA AND JOINED THE TOUR IN LONDON I HAD NO IDEA WHAT AN AMAZING 18 DAYS LAY AHEAD OF ME!
THE THOUGHT OF VISITING 10 COUNTRIES IN EUROPE IN 18 DAYS WAS VERY EXCITING. TRAVELLING SOLO WAS QUITE DAUNTING BUT I NEEDN’T HAVE WORRIED AS EVERYONE WAS VERY FRIENDLY AND WE INSTANTLY CONNECTED AND BECAME GREAT MATES! THE ORGANISATION AND STAFF FROM THE VERY BEGINING WERE OUTSTANDING AND NOTHING SEEMED TO BE TOO MUCH TROUBLE FOR THEM.
ALTHOUGH THE DISTANCES TRAVELLED ON THE BUS WERE LONG AND EXHAUSTING, THE COMFORT AND GREAT MUSIC HELPED TO GET EVERYONE INTO A PARTY MOOD AND SHORTENED THE TRIP CONSIDERABLY. THE SCENERY THAT WE PASSED THROUGH IN EUROPE WAS TRULY SPECACTACULAR AND OUR TOUR LEADER MADE SURE WE DID NOT MISS A THING WHEN WE REACHED THE COUNTRY OF OUR DESTINATION.
THE ACCOMMODATION WAS GENERALLY GOOD BUT THERE WERE A FEW PLACES THAT YOU HAD TO COME OUT OF YOUR OWN CUSHY COMFORT ZONE TO ADAPT TO - BUT, HEY, IT WAS ONLY A PLACE TO SLEEP AFTER ALL!
IT WAS GREAT TO TASTE THE TRADITIONAL DISHES OF EACH COUNTRY AND TO ENJOY GREAT RESTAURANTS WITH WONDERUL ATMOSPHERES. EVERY EVENING WAS A PARTY!
THE OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES OFFERED ON THIS TOUR WERE EXCEPTIONAL AND VERY WELL RESEARCHED. I PARTICULARLY ENJOYED THE WHITE WATER RAFTING & MOUNTAIN BIKING IN THE AUSTRIAN TYROL AND WOULD RECOMMEND TAKING THE OPPORTUNITY TO DO AS MANY OF THE ACITIVIES OFFERED AS POSSIBLE – WELL WORTH THE EXTRA EXPENSE.
MY CONTIKI TOUR WAS ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF MY LIFE AND ALTHOUGH IT WAS NOT A CHEAP HOLIDAY IT WAS WELL WORTH SPENDING MY HARD EARNED SAVINGS ON! IT WAS GREAT VALUE FOR MONEY AND A CHANCE TO MEET AND MAKE WONDERFUL FRIENDS FROM MANY DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE WORLD AND TO SHARE GREAT TIMES TOGETHER.
I WOULD RECOMMEND A CONTIKI TOUR TO ANYBODY WANTING TO EXPERIENCE A LIFE CHANGING HOLIDAY – I AM ALREADY SAVING FOR MY NEXT ONE!
GO CONTIKI I!!!
Review written Nov 2012event 0.3
30 Aug 2012 - 16 Sep 2012
Had such an amazing time meeting so many beautiful people and seeing so many amazing coutries..Contiki is defs the way to go if you want value for money.This was my second contiki and i was no dissapointed.Good work Contiki..Its hard to name your highlights when there were just so many but one ill never forget was paragliding in Austria,the view and moment was just perfect.Would defs recommend the Whirl for any peeps travelling to Europe.
Review written Oct 2012event 0.3
06 May 2012 - 25 May 2012
Previous to this tour I had gone on one other Contiki tour, Spotlight on Greece, but that tour was 4 nights, 5 days long, a very short tour and I felt like I wanted to have more of a Contiki experience. I decided to go ahead and book myself a spot on the European Whirl. I went on my tour at the beginning of May, and let me just say that I feel May was a pretty good time to go because the weather is starting to improve, but because it isn't technically summer yet, the main touristy cities aren't too packed (they're still crowded, just not as much as it would be in the main summer season).
I was pleased with the amount of places this tour took us, we even got to check out Czech Republic and see the beautiful city of Prague (which was one of my top cities we saw on this tour). I will say that if you are interested in checking out what London has to offer, plan on staying in London a few days (1-2) before the actual tour starts. Although the tour begins in London, it doesn't include it. So if you want to check out the main sights in London like Big Ben and Tower Bridge, book your flights to arrive early. I arrived one day early and was able to spend a full day and a half before the tour started, sight-seeing and checking out London! I even booked my accommodation at the hotel recommended by Contiki, and shared a room with a girl who just so happened to be on the same tour I was on. It was great to meet another woman who was travelling alone, and it was a bonus that she happened to be on my same tour!
Our tour was full! 51 people including myself, mostly Canadian's and Australians but there were some New Zealanders and Americans too. Our tour guide was American and our bus driver was from Australia. It was a great mix of people, and by the end of the trip we were all referring to each other as our 'Contiki Family'. I feel like the length of the tour enabled us to properly get to know one another, and close bonds were definitely formed.
I felt the length of the tour was good. I did end up getting sick after 10 days into the tour. It was pretty awful, but I tried to make the best of it and still soak in everything we were seeing. My number one recommendation is bring cough medicine, even if you don't get sick you can share it with someone else on your tour that is. I suggest bringing a day pill, so you don't get drowsy and a night pill, so you can sleep. I ran out of my medicine I had brought from home and really had a hard time finding medicine in the cities I was in that actually helped me (not to mention it can get expensive trying to find proper medicine for your needs as well as the language barrier depending on what country you’re in when you do run out of medicine). Your body is used to the medicine you have at home, so I would stick to that and maybe double up on how much you bring, just in case. I also recommend nausea prevention pills, like ginger Gravol, cause it helps when you're feeling sick (nauseous) on the coach the next day after a long night of partying, or if you just get car sick. I mentioned ‘ginger’ Gravol specifically because that type of Gravol doesn’t make you drowsy like the normal kind does, so you’ll still be able to soak in the sights during the day without feeling like you want to fall over and sleep. Most people on my tour did get sick. Most of the time people get sick and don’t have a chance to get better because you get back on the bus for hours, where 10 other people are sick, and you eventually get sick again. The common symptoms were coughing, lots of mucous/phlegm (gross), sore throats and you lost your voice. Unfortunately for me, I lost my voice in Florence, the one night that we just so happened to have a karaoke party night. I think it’s helpful to tell you the symptoms so you can plan what type of medicine you want to bring before you leave home!
Now's the time to mention that Yes, you will be travelling on a coach/bus for most of this tour. Driving is how you get to each country. Your tour manager will plan some activities you can do to make the time pass by faster, but not all the time. Most people tried to sleep, as this tour has early mornings and long nights. If you can't sleep in a moving vehicle, make sure you bring something to keep you occupied while on the bus so you don’t die from boredom. I was so thankful I had brought my iPod with me, I listened to my own music and it helped pass the time. I was also VERY thankful I had brought one of those neck pillows you see people use on airplanes. Although the bus seats do recline back, it's limited how much you can recline without annoying the person sitting behind you. The seats can get uncomfortable after awhile, so if you plan to sleep on the long drives, that neck pillow will save you from discomfort and it helped me out more times than I can count. I would say that it’s a must to bring an outlet adapter. Depending on if you’re from North America (Canada and USA) or Australia, you need an adapter. The outlets on the coach/bus and in the hostels you’ll be staying at are standard European outlets, so you need an adapter to plug your chargers in so you can charge your phones/iPods/cameras.
The accommodations for this tour was good! Keep in mind that this tour is a budget tour. Don’t expect fancy hotels with room service. You get what you pay for. The hostels in Berlin and Prague were probably the best. The beds were comfy and yes, most of the time, if not always, the beds are bunk beds, so you will be sleeping top or bottom bunk. For the majority of the trip it’s four people to a room. Girls stay in separate rooms from the guys, except couples will get their own rooms. So it’ll be 4 girls to a room, 4 guys to a room. The rooms themselves aren’t bad, it’s just the location that kindof sucks. To keep the price down, you’ll notice that the hostels you’ll stay in aren’t near the main attractions. This makes total sense, because the closer you get to the touristy areas, the higher the costs for everything. Be open to catching public transportation to make your way to the touristy spots. Your tour manager will provide you with help and local maps so you have an idea of what/where to go. Face the fact that at one point, you will get lost. Try hang out in groups so you’re not lost alone. Getting lost with a group of people is much more fun than getting lost by yourself. This is a dominantly social tour, so being social and making friends is very important and is a major part of the experience. Getting lost isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I got lost so many times with people, and we saw more of the city that way and got ourselves into quite the fun adventures. Those are the times you’ll remember the most….I had quite the amazing adventure getting lost with friends in Prague….
I went into this tour knowing that I was planning on doing most, if not all of the optional excursions. I pretty much did every optional, except the one for Switzerland, as I was so sick by then, I couldn't muster the energy to go. My top optional excursions that I'm so happy I did are: the bike ride in Edam, the Amsterdam and Berlin pub crawls, the mountain biking and paragliding in Austria, the walking tour in Venice and the ‘last-night’ activities in Paris (it’s your last night to party and celebrate with your new friends, soak it all in!). The optional excursions I would say you could skip include: the walking tour in Berlin, the canal cruise in Prague and the Chinese restaurant that floats on the water in Amsterdam. They were okay, but nothing amazing happened on them and I would have saved some money if I skipped them. I would say the worst was the walking tour in Berlin. The guide we had didn’t use a mic or anything, so if you weren’t always at the front of the group, you couldn’t hear what she was saying. Most people on that walking tour ditched after awhile and did their own thing. If you’re feeling nervous about paragliding, don’t! It’s amazing and it’s probably the most memorable thing I did on that tour. I loved it! Words can’t explain the feeling of flying in the air, with beautiful scenic Austria below your feet.
Planning a budget for this tour was difficult for me. I knew I liked to shop, and I knew I’d be out partying, and I knew that quite a bit of our meals we had to cover on our own. So what I did was set aside enough Euros’ to cover all the optional excursions. If when I was on the tour, I ended up not going on an excursion, I’d have that saved untouched money to spend on something else. If you’re a partier: I spent quite a bit of money on alcohol alone, so plan to have a budget set aside for drinking nights alone. Drinks average to about 7 Euros and up in most cities (Except Prague, Prague has a different currency and everything was cheap there!). If you’re a shopper: Save your shopping for Prague. The currency is super cheap and since that city is sustained on tourism pretty much, they’ll appreciate you for spending your money there. I also noticed that a lot of people bought loads of souvenirs in Venice. There’s just something magical about that awesome floating city that makes people want to open their wallets.
I think I covered most things! Just soak it all in, even if you do get sick, and make
connections with your tour mates as much as possible. The tour is over now, but I still keep in touch with my ‘Contiki Family’ through Facebook. When I make travel plans, I contact them to see if they want to join, and most often than not, some of them will! Contiki is filled with people who have a passion for travelling, which is exactly why I love it so much, because that’s just how I am. I would totally recommend this tour, especially if you’re new to Contiki and want a taste of what Europe has to offer!
Review written Oct 2012event 0.3
11 Aug 2012 - 30 Aug 2012
In 18 days we visited 10 countries. I have never been so exhausted and so broke, but it was worth every minute and penny spent. Both our tour manager and our driver were one of kind guys and were a bonus to the experience and the friends I made are friends for life. Not to mention, the sites, the food and the stories I've written have changed my perspective on life. I will never forget this trip and I highly recommend anyone wanting to experience the world and to have a little fun sign up for summer 2013! You won't regret it.
The optionals Contiki offers are wonderful and I suggest, to get the full (and best) experience, you sign up for all of them. Even tackle the ones you're scared of, like I did. Now, I cant wait to go paragliding again! In each country, try the quisine they're known for - you may not like it, but "tick the box" ;) Utilize your crew and dont be afraid to ask them so research something you're interested in seeing/doing that isnt on the itinerary; theyll do anything to make your trip the best you've ever had. The accomodation on the trip isnt always the nicest, but it's comfortable and who really cares? Trust me, you'll onlly be in the room to sleep.
Be prepared for long rides on the bus, but that's to be expected and the drives are always worth what you step into on the other end.
Take this trip!!! You will absolutely love and you'll come home with memories you wouldn't trade for the world.
Review written Sep 2012event 0.3