Grand Southern (Start New York City) » Review by Explorer1174904
The Grand Southern has it all: from the thriving cultural metropolises of New York and Washington D.C. to the Southern charm of the Deep South, the plains of Texas to the awe-inspiring Rockies, Monument Valley and Grand Canyon; finishing with a bang in Vegas! 26 fun filled days that ended with great mates and fantastic memories!
You will be travelling with plenty of likeminded people, who all have a desire to travel. Some of whom may never have travelled alone before at all, or never with Contiki. Some will be repeat offenders that may be on their fourth or fifth trip. Quite a lot of people travel alone and share a room with someone of the same sex. There are always some couples or friends travelling together. Whatever the mix, guaranteed you will find some friends! There are always people who are out late a crawl on the bus the next morning and those who go to bed early.
There are plenty of opportunities to party on this tour. From Georgetown in D.C. to Wet Willies frozen Daiquiri’s and karaoke in Savannah- try ‘attitude improvement’ or ‘call-a-cab’; Mojito’s & booze cruise in Miami; live Jazz & Hand grenades on Bourbon Street in New Orleans- earn some beads ladies! Hurricane’s & Beale St with live Blues bands in Memphis; Gator Haters, Margaritas and Beergarita in the Southwest not to be outdone by life size footballs, guitars and giant yard glasses that can be filled with anything and taken anywhere on the strip!
There are plenty of opportunities to try different types of local cuisine from New York hot dogs at a ball game; Latin American Churrasco Steak in Miami; Mango’s Tropical Café is a must! TexMex in the South West; Blue corn fajita’s in Santa Fe; Creole cooking in New Orleans not to be out done by Southern Fried Chicken and Rendezvous Ribs in Memphis, which are fantastic!!
Optionals: Miami party (booze) cruise all you can drink for 2 hours- plus the harbour is pretty. Mango’s Tropical Café in Miami is like no other, staff dance on the bar, live Latin music, great drinks and food, great atmosphere- a must! New Orleans Airboat Swamp tour is great, see Alligators, the swaps are quite pretty. Riverboat cruise with live Jazz band and Creole cooking was a nice way to spend the evening before heading out to Bourbon St. Orlando- Universal Studios- much better than it’s Hollywood counterpart- Harry Potter World is great! Albuquerque- hot air ballooning capital of the word, enough said. Durango jeep tour was fantastic, beautiful way to see the Rockies and snow. Highly recommend: Helicopter over Grand Canyon, save your money and do the 45min flight! Fantastic views, the shorter flight goes over the same route, the longer flight does a loop- far better. V Theater in Las Vegas is a lot of fun, a good, cheap, fun show.
The accommodation in general was great and central. Never more than a few blocks walk. Amarillo, TX with their quirky salon style rooms was great. Included meals were good, with a diverse range of meals. The staff were faultless. Our Tour Manager was always bright, enthusiastic and very knowledgeable; our driver polite. The Contiki Coaches are modern and nice, they tend to run on the cold side, so buy a pillow and blanket for the bus and you’re set! Bring an iPod and earplugs for the bus on your hangover mornings when you really need to catch up on sleep- they are a saving grace! There are plenty of rest stops and opportunities to stretch your legs.
I opted to do the Grand Southern in reverse starting from New York to Los Angles for a few reasons. Firstly, chose to go in October, autumn is a beautiful time of year in America, plus as the month went on the colder it got the further South, (warmer) it was. Florida was perfect, not too hot and humid, and there was snow on the Rockies. Also I wanted to finish the tour in Las Vegas for Halloween and stay there for an extra few days; half the bus stayed in Vegas!
I would recommend doing the New York Explorer before this tour. It gives you a great overview of the city in a short time. Many people on our tour that tried to do the sights of New York by themselves did not achieve half as much in twice the amount of time.
Review written Feb 2012event 0.3