London to Athens » Review by Jane
This is a great tour as an introduction to western Europe, as you'll visit all the major cities with a few interesting stops and Contiki special locations along the way. At least two nights in each place means you're not in a rush and can enjoy your time.
Paris is a big, beautiful city with so much to see and do - I'd recommend you plan ahead and check museum opening times, as many are closed on certain days. The Parisian dinner was the best of the optional meals, amazing food and atmosphere. The regular Cabaret show was closed when we were there, so our tour manager organised us tickets to the Moulin Rouge instead, which was an incredible show and worth the extra cost (note you can't take photos inside though). Whilst the excursion to Versailles is very interesting it is very busy, so be prepared to queue and you may not get to see everything.
After busy Paris the days at Contiki's Chateau are very relaxing. Apart from the included picnic lunch in the hills (study the map - easy to end up on the wrong path!) most people just chilled out by the pool or in the bar.
In Barcelona the hotel is far out from the city centre, so make the most of your time. Must visits are Gaudi's Sagrada Familia and Park Guell - you won't see anything else like them. The optional Flamenco show is fun and you will be invited to participate!
The French Riviera is a mix of charming small towns to the opulence of Monaco and Monte Carlo. Nice was great for shopping with markets and little local stores, and I was surprised at how comfortable the Contiki campsite was.
Venice is everything you would expect, picture perfect and beautiful. Spend the day just walking the streets and do the optional Gondola ride - yes, it's expensive and touristy but who knows how long the sinking city will be around for, so take the opportunity.
Pisa is all about the Leaning Tower, and there's not much else to see but it's fun to take the typical "holding up the tower" photo. Florence is another great walking city and the local guide on the walking tour was really knowledgable, especially about art. The optional dinner was just ok and I skipped the Space Disco but for most people this is the BIG night out on tour.
In Rome again the campsite is far out from the city centre but if you plan you can still see all the major sights in your days here. The optional tour of The Vatican is fascinating, you will see the famous Sistene Chapel and St Peter's Basilica. A few of us opted to do a guided tour of the Colosseum simply so we could jump the queues.
Unfortunately due to traffic we were running late so our tour of Pompeii was really rushed and disappointing. Luckily I'd been there before; I'd highly recommend it if you have the time, it's an amazing place.
Corfu was the best. The Contiki resort has everything and you can do as much or as little as you want whilst you're here. By far everyone's favourite was George's Boat - so much fun! It's a day filled with food, music, swimming and water sports, the best optional of the whole tour. Another day a few of us hired a car (cheap!) and drove around to different swimming spots.
Athens isn't the prettiest city but it has the Parthenon and the Acropolis, plus there are some great markets. The optional dinner is like a farewell meal as it's your last night on tour. And then you're done!
Overall this was a great tour, I had so much fun. Our tour manager was so knowledgeable and made everything really easy, as did the Contiki crew members at the accommodation sights. As for things like laundry, wifi, etc. they are all readily available at various places. You do spend a lot of time on the bus but it's clean and comfortable, and the scenery is beautiful (also a good time to catch up on sleep!). If I was to do it again, I'd definitely spend more time in London before the tour and go on after the tour to visit the Greek Islands.
Review written Apr 2013event 0.3