Best of Europe (start Paris) » Review by ocelotzgurl
This tour is fantastic if you have a lot you want to see and do, but not a lot of holiday time to do it in. I chose it because I get homesick very easily and I don't like to be away for long periods of time. We got to see all the best sights of each city, but also had plenty of free time to do anything else that wasn't included as part of the official itinerary. It was also really fun doing it in a big group of people from all around the world and we made lots of new friends :) Highly recommended if you don't like travelling alone but can't get any of your friends back home to come with you. It's also pretty nice not to have to organise transportation, accommodation etc, Contiki takes care of all that for you. And it was great having a tour manager to give us tips on things like how to avoid long queues, what to do with our free time, and which stop to get off at to get to certain attractions.
A couple of downsides - none of the hotels seemed to be very well located, they were all a fair way out of the city centre and it would've been nice not to have to travel so far from the hotel to where all the action is. Also, because we were such a big group in a confined space (on the bus), more than half our group ended up getting sick, some just with a cold but others with pretty nasty stomach bugs. So that puts a bit of a damper on your holiday :-P
We did do all the optionals except for one, because we wanted just one day to sleep in and recover - you don't really get much of a chance to relax and do nothing, because they pack so much into the tour and if you don't want to miss out on anything you'll be super-busy and super-exhausted. My recommendation is that if you want to actually see Europe, then you shouldn't have too many late nights out getting drunk and then miss whatever activity is happening the next morning because you're too hungover to get out of bed. People say Contiki is renowned for being a big booze-up, but it's YOUR holiday so if you don't want to make it that way then don't. We had three late nights over the two weeks but we timed them well - like the night before we left Amsterdam for Berlin, which was a 9-hour drive so we just slept on the bus the next day. Getting drunk in Europe really is just like getting drunk anywhere else, so don't miss out on all the things you would never see back home.
Also if you're wondering what they mean by "later starts in the morning" for the Easy Pace tours (like this one), usually we left the hotel at about 8 or 9am rather than 6 or 7am.
About the weather - even though we did our tour in July it was actually pretty chilly from Paris through to Prague, but when we got to Rome we were begging to go back because it was ridiculously hot! So I recommend packing for both hot and cold weather. It also rained a fair bit, so don't forget your umbrella!
For me the highlight of the trip was seeing the Moulin Rouge in Paris - it costs quite a lot, but it's so worth it! Definitely the most amazing show I've ever seen in my life. Make sure you save enough money to do all the optionals, because you don't want to regret not doing them later.
Review written Jan 2013event 0.3