Turkey & Greek Island Odyssey » Review by Catherine
This trip was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. It was my first Contiki trip, first time traveling with a group of people I didn't know and first time traveling to Turkey and Greece and I have to say every expectation I had was surpassed on this trip.
First off the destinations were incredible. There is so much history and culture in Turkey and I did not expect to get such a in-depth grasp of it in such a short period of time. Our local tour guide, Ahmet was hands down the best tour guide we could have asked for. He was informative in both providing us with the information we needed to navigate the country and it culture and also provided in depth historical explanations of all the sites we visited. I have to admit it was hot while we were at the sites and I would have not had the patience to stand and read all the information boards at the sites so it was great that Ahmet was able to provide insight to the historical and cultural significance of every place we visited.
This tour is not a leisure tour. Every day was packed with things to do - we had places to go and things to see every day. In retrospect I think I was expecting a little more down time but then we wouldn't have gotten to see all the amazing sites and I would have regretted sitting at a beach instead of exploring this amazing country. We did have days where we finished early and were able to go to the hotel pool or beach which was nice, but overall it was a busy schedule. (if your looking for a laid back chill tour where you get to sleep in this is not the one for you)
For Greece - Don't do any of the optional tours through the cruise ship!!! They are super expensive and you can do them yourself Faster & Cheaper! For example in Patmos the "cruise excursion" is 55 euro per person! Me and my friends did the same thing (St. Johns Grotto and the Monastery) for 10 euro per person (included taxi to and from the port and admission to the sites) The only thing is you don't get an English speaking explanation of the site (which is fine we asked the tour guide our questions when we got back to the ship). The Tour in Athens is a "Contiki" tour and not a cruise excursion and I heard good things about that one from the people that went on it (again me and my friends did it a lot cheaper but without an English speaking guide to tell us about it ) Greece wasn't what I expected. It was beautiful but I thought this was going to be the time for hanging at the beaches when in reality the cruise stopped at "port locations" because new people boarded the ship each day and apparently these locations are not close to beaches. For example, Crete is supposed to have some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, however the cruise ship docked on the opposite end of the island - some of us looked into splitting a taxi to the beach but it would have been 1.5 hours each way and we only had 4 hours on the island before we had to board the ship again. Disappointing to say the least. Rhodes was pretty awesome but I wish I would have taken a charter boat to one of the smaller islands to go snorkeling in the caves instead of wasting so much time in old town. One of the other members of our group did this and it sounded awesome, by the time I was walking past the charters for snorkeling it was already too late and again, would have missed the boarding to the ship (Moral of the story - if you go to Rhodes defiantly take a charter to go snorkeling as soon as you get off the ship!)
We spent a lot of time in Turkey and I feel like I really got a sense of the history and culture there where as in Greece, because the time we spent there was so short, it was super "touristy". Greece is a beautiful country and the islands are gorgeous but I didn't get much (culturally or historically) out of being there.
The destinations of this trip were amazing and I did get a lot out of the places I visited but I have to say that the reason I had so much fun on this tour was because of the people (hence the quote and title of this review). I haven't been on any other Contiki's but I know without a doubt this was the best group that has ever been put together in Contiki History (I know this because someone that had been on 8 Contiki tours said so himself!!) The time traveling on the bus in Turkey really gives you a chance to get to know the people on your tour. I sat next to someone different every time I got on the bus and it helped me to get to know everyone and by the end trip I felt like I had 44 new friends for life. In Turkey we were together 24/7 because we were traveling by bus and usually all our rooms were on the same floor and we always had all our meals together because our schedule was so organized and when we got on the cruise - even though everyone was separated and there was no schedule what so ever to follow- we all made a point to be together as much as possible. Even when the tour was over most of us had one more night in Athens and we all made a point to get together for the "last super". I will cherish all the memories of this trip forever and I look forward to keeping in touch with all the new friends I made.
I would recommend this trip to someone who is looking to get a historical and cultural experience out of their travels.
Review written Aug 2014event 0.3