Ultimate European plus Greek Islands » Review by Stephanie Moffat
This tour was absolutely fantastic. We had an amazing group, an awesome Tour Manager, and an awe inspiring bus driver (seriously, I don't know how she did it.). You see so many amazing things, the places you read about in history class and see on tv, and do some totally cool trips. Drink wine under the eiffel tower and climb it at night, eat escargot in a fancy french restaurant before going and partying it up, Paris style. Sip wine at the gorgeous French Chateau, Sangria and Flamenco in Barcelona, win a little money in Monte Carlo. Explore the canals of Venice on a gondola, party it up in Florence after seeing the gorgeous Italian city, and experience the history of Rome. Go on George's boat in Corfu, seriously, it's one of the best options, and one of the most fantastic days on tour (don't forget to bring a little cash for their hilarious shirts and watersports!). The Greek Islands are gorgeous! My tour was early in the year, so a warning for those who take the early tour for ANZAC day, a lot of Ios is closed until the next week, but we got around that by renting ourselves Quadbikes and exploring the Island that way (Must do, definitely the best way to get around and see the whole island. And they only cost about 20 euro for 24 hours). Riding donkeys in Santorini and shopping it up, the volcano tour and swimming in thermal pools (also, if you turn left out of the hotel and follow the road for 30 minutes, you get to a gorgeous black sand beach). ANZAC day was a truly incredible experience in Gallipoli, even for myself as a Canadian, and Istanbul is such a cool city. The trip through the East is a quick one, with a night in Bulgaria and Serbia before Hungary for 2 nights, and you get the fun of crossing borders, but it's neat seeing the countries that most tourists bypass, and going out at night is super fun. Austria is amazing, and I definitely recommend both the paragliding and the white water rafting, both were totally worth the money and the fun. And take 20 euro with you when you go paragliding, because the photos that the instructors take for you are definitely worth it. The beer halls in Munich were way fun, and I definitely recommend getting the pork knuckle. It's the size of a baby's head, and absolutely deliciousssss. The Chalet in Switzerland is in the prettiest landscape ever, and I also recommend going up Mount Jungfrau, especially if you've never seen snow before, it was socked in with cloud when we were up, and it was still magnificent. Rhine Valley was sweet, and Amsterdam was out of this world, both with the craziness that it is, as well as partying it up for the last couple nights of tour.
The whole tour was an absolute blast! My tour mates were definitely some of the best people I've ever met, and they became my extended family of 45 other people who I miss dearly. The food was delicious from the Contiki places, and the optional meals are always amazing. The Contiki houses are definitely the best places ever, with the best parties I've ever been to. The Contiki staff are awesome people, and our TM and Bus Driver were fantastic people. They went above and beyond all the time, from finding the best places to go out at night, solving problems, getting us around, and even organized a trip to a concentration camp that wasn't originally part of the tour after the majority of the tour asked her if it would be possible. They play games on long drives, and always make sure we're having fun, as well as party it up with us at night.
It was definitely worth the money, and the optionals are fantastic. I'd recommend it to anyone who loves adventure, new discoveries, meeting new people (and hanging out with them for 45 days), and seeing a lot of stuff in a short amount of time. You might only be in a city for a short period of time, but you do manage to cram a lot into that time. You get a taste of everything, eat a lot of delicious food, do lots of amazing activities, and even the time spent on the bus is fun, between the games and the people you're with (and the sleep you can catch up on). Doing this longer tour was a last minute decision on my part, and I'm so glad I chose it, because I never wanted this tour to end. The worst part of this whole tour is leaving your new family at the end, and going home to the reality of life not on tour. If you're on the fence, just do it. Go for it, and have an absolute blast. I'd do it again in a heartbeat (and trust me, we tried to convince our driver to just bypass London and go right back to Paris to start it all over again.)
Review written Jun 2012event 0.3