Mioso21 KyraFollow Mioso21
23-year-old Female living in Manitoba Canada
Passion for travelling, university student. I had a blast on the Spotlight on Greece Contiki tour in 2011, had the time of my life on my European Whirl last May 2012, fell in love with Thailand on my Thai Island Hopper West in Dec. 2013/Jan 2014, and now I'm keen to explore Turkey and the Greek Islands on my latest booked tour, Turkey and Greek Island Odyessy in May 2014!
Level 5 Traveler
Trips I've Done
Turkey part is awesome, Greece part needs some work
Turkey & Greek Island Odyssey 2 countries \ 10 days
14 May 2014 - 23 May 2014 \ This trip had its highlights and its downfalls! It’s hard to review this particular tour because this is not your typical Contiki experience compared to a tour in Europe for example, and each time your Tour Manager will be a different person than mine, so please keep that in mind with this review. For example, we had two Tour Managers: one for the Turkey part and one for the Greek Island cruise part (3 days). Our group was 90% women, lots of Canadians, Americans, a few Aussies and 2 Kiwi’s. I was travelling solo and found it easy to make new friends and meet some awesome people from around the world. For the Turkey part of this tour we had a freelance tour guide from Turkey, a local, who handled this part of the tour. His name is Ahmet and he was a 46 year old Turkish man. I liked him, I thought he organized the tour well even though at times it was last minute planning it seemed to work out. Ahmet was an expert in the history of Turkey and was passionate about his country, which showed. At times Ahmet re-organized the pre-planned Contiki itinerary, which proved to be to our advantage. He knew the places we were visiting well and suggested to rearrange things to create a better experience for us all. For example one pre-planned day had us getting up super early sightseeing Istanbul and going for a Turkish bath and then sightseeing again right after. Ahmet rearranged the Turkish Bath to another location because he knew after the bath we’d be in a relaxed mood and wouldn’t want to be going on another excursion straight afterwards. He was right, we ended up postponing the bath to another location and the people who did the bath were happy, because as he predicted, after the bath most people wanted to relax and take it easy, which is what we were able to do thanks to Ahmet’s re-arranging. This tour is very fast paced, we cram a lot of sights into the short amount of time we had in Turkey. The days start early, around 7 am each day and end late. If you do a lot or all of the optionals it can get exhausting but you have a great time though so I thought it was worth it. I had a blast in Turkey! The included meals were not very good to be honest, most of them are buffets and significantly lack in flavor, or worse, have been sitting for awhile and are served cold. When we had free time to pick our own places to eat, the food didn’t disappoint (I had THE best chicken curry rice dish in Taksim Square area at this amazing rooftop restaurant overlooking Istanbul!) The sights in Turkey are beautiful. Istanbul is an interesting bustling city where men dominate the streets. At times as a woman I felt uncomfortable in certain areas, especially at night, without a guy as an escort. The population is dominantly Muslim and especially with the way you dress, you could get harassed (I was tisked at verbally a lot). I went on the optional boat cruise in Istanbul which I enjoyed a lot, but beware of the crew selling drinks. We had an incident where they came up with orange juice and made it seem like they were free the way they were handing them out and insisting we take one…until they came back a few minutes later informing us that our small plastic cups of orange juice cost 3 Euro (9 Lira) each and that we needed to pay up now. Yikes!! I’ll just say that there was a lot of pissed off people…The Blue Mosque was pretty, however it held little to no resonance with me so it wasn’t a highlight for me. The Grand Bazaar is pretty cool, worth it to check it out and Taksim Square is the heart of Istanbul, with plenty of adventures to get yourself involved in. The countryside and the coast of Turkey are picturesque. Pamukkale was a highlight for me, along with Anzac cove and Ephesus. The ancient ruins of Troy were a letdown, the reconstruction and site pales in comparison to Ephesus and Ancient Pergamum. Unexpected visits turned out to be good highlights, like a visit to a carpet maker family property and a lamb leather fashion show! After a whirlwind of a time in Turkey, we said goodbye to Ahmet and embarked on our cruise ship to the Greek Islands. My expectations for this cruise were we would see a lot of the islands. In reality you see more of the cruise ship that the islands as you have to be on the ship at night and miss out on the true Greek Island experience. If you really want to experience a Greek Island adventure I recommend after this tour, hop on the Greek island hopping tour which is slow paced and gives you a true visit to the islands. On the cruise you only had a couple of hours sometimes to visit the place. Then there was the Oia fiasco. Santorini is a highlight for most people, unfortunately for our tour we only saw 1 very rushed hour of it when we were promised 4 hours. Most of us paid quite a lot of Euro (55 Euro) to get off the cruise ship, take a boat, then a bus ride to Oia. But because the cruise ship arrived in Santorini an hour late, our excursion was cut down significantly because the ship was still leaving at 8:15 pm. A lot of people on our tour were upset. I wasn’t too gutted as I was getting off the tour in Santorini anyway, what I was really pissed off about was getting to the island and disembarking the cruise ship early. I believe one person on our tour was going to file a formal complaint about her experience. There were four of us from the tour who were disembarking the cruise in Santorini (the best decision we ever made) AND going on the excursion to Oia. 2 other girls were also disembarking the cruise but not going on the excursion. For us four, it was a nightmare experience. Our tour manager Stacey was very unorganized during this time, and the experience for the four who were also going on the tour and disembarking was awful to say the least. Stacey was not very helpful and all of us were super stressed during this process. We were left to check out on our own, standing in hour long line ups on the cruise ship to pay our drinks bill and check out early. What should have happened is Stacey could have gathered us four together and explained as a group or at least notified to the staff what was happening with us as the reception clerk who handled me didn’t know what was going on and was refusing to give me my passport early (I almost missed getting on the tour because of this major miscommunication). All of us four were not pleased with the way this unfolded, the famous question amongst alot of our tour that evening was ‘What is going on?’ And the common answer was ‘I don’t know’. Our tour manager was nowhere to be found to answer people’s questions during this time which led to more confusion and frustration among several people on our tour. I’ve been on other Contiki tours where our tour manager went above and beyond to ensure our holiday was stress free and relaxed, so to experience this was a shock from Contiki. What was really annoying was we completed our evaluations for the tour manager that morning, and this fiasco happened in the evening, leaving no room to write comments on the tour manager’s performance within this situation (hence this long-winded part on this review). The situation had miscommunication problems all over, especially between Louis Cruises and Contiki and definitely has a lot of room to be improved for future tours. All in all I had a great time in Turkey, but not as stellar a time in Greece. Luckily I got off the tour a day early to stay in Santorini so I got to experience my Greek Island adventures sans-Contiki and had a blast. One great thing about this tour? The friends I made from the group. We hung out pre-tour and post-tour for days after, it was great. The friends I’ve made outshone the downfalls of this tour and for that I’m still going to give Contiki another shot.
This trip had its highlights and its downfalls! It’s hard to review this particular tour because this is not your typical Contik... read more
Uploaded by Mioso21
SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT!
Thai Island Hopper West 1 country \ 9 days
25 Dec 2013 - 02 Jan 2014 \ Let's start out by saying this tour is awesome! Wanna see this tour in action? Check out my Contiki Thai Island Hopper West travel vlog here! Thailand Contiki Vlog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJxChEKJWXQ The activities that you have the opportunity to go on as optional are awesome and didn't disappoint. The length of the tour was good, but I would have been happy if it was even a few days longer! Was sad to have it end. The snorkeling boat tours were the best, Thailand is just so picture perfect. The atmosphere in Thailand is somewhat touristy now, but it is what it is. Patong Beach in Phuket, Thailand is something you just have to experience at some point in your life (Ping pong show, anyone? No? Didn't think so...). Southeast Asia is amazingly beautiful. Thai people are generally kind and polite and that's what makes this trip even better, is the locals who make it special. Most of my tour mates where either South African or Canadian, some Kiwis and a few Aussies. The tour dates I went on included New Years Eve which was an incredible experience. The parties, especially the beach party in Koh Phi Phi didn't disappoint...fluro body painting happened, people jumped through hoops of fire, crazy drunken adventures took place. It didn't disappoint. One suggestion would be to shorten the time in Patong and lengthen the time spent in Koh Phi Phi...that island is just surreal and amazing. Our tour manager was great, she took care of the fine details and ensured our holiday was smooth, but she also came out with us and partied which was great. Nobody was injured (even with jumping through hoops of fire) and nobody was lost (another tour running the same time as ours actually lost a person for a few hours before he showed up at Lucky Chengs). The weather was amazing, sun shining every day, the friends we made on the tour were great. Overall a really awesome tour that gave me memories to last a lifetime. Great for relaxing, sitting back on the beach and being out in the ocean and sun.
Let's start out by saying this tour is awesome!
Wanna see this tour in action?
Check out my Contiki Thai Island Hopper West travel vl... read more
Uploaded by Mioso21
Whirlwind of an adventure!
European Whirl 10 countries \ 19 days
06 May 2012 - 25 May 2012 \ Previous to this tour I had gone on one other Contiki tour, Spotlight on Greece, but that tour was 4 nights, 5 days long, a very short tour and I felt like I wanted to have more of a Contiki experience. I decided to go ahead and book myself a spot on the European Whirl. I went on my tour at the beginning of May, and let me just say that I feel May was a pretty good time to go because the weather is starting to improve, but because it isn't technically summer yet, the main touristy cities aren't too packed (they're still crowded, just not as much as it would be in the main summer season). I was pleased with the amount of places this tour took us, we even got to check out Czech Republic and see the beautiful city of Prague (which was one of my top cities we saw on this tour). I will say that if you are interested in checking out what London has to offer, plan on staying in London a few days (1-2) before the actual tour starts. Although the tour begins in London, it doesn't include it. So if you want to check out the main sights in London like Big Ben and Tower Bridge, book your flights to arrive early. I arrived one day early and was able to spend a full day and a half before the tour started, sight-seeing and checking out London! I even booked my accommodation at the hotel recommended by Contiki, and shared a room with a girl who just so happened to be on the same tour I was on. It was great to meet another woman who was travelling alone, and it was a bonus that she happened to be on my same tour! Our tour was full! 51 people including myself, mostly Canadian's and Australians but there were some New Zealanders and Americans too. Our tour guide was American and our bus driver was from Australia. It was a great mix of people, and by the end of the trip we were all referring to each other as our 'Contiki Family'. I feel like the length of the tour enabled us to properly get to know one another, and close bonds were definitely formed. I felt the length of the tour was good. I did end up getting sick after 10 days into the tour. It was pretty awful, but I tried to make the best of it and still soak in everything we were seeing. My number one recommendation is bring cough medicine, even if you don't get sick you can share it with someone else on your tour that is. I suggest bringing a day pill, so you don't get drowsy and a night pill, so you can sleep. I ran out of my medicine I had brought from home and really had a hard time finding medicine in the cities I was in that actually helped me (not to mention it can get expensive trying to find proper medicine for your needs as well as the language barrier depending on what country you’re in when you do run out of medicine). Your body is used to the medicine you have at home, so I would stick to that and maybe double up on how much you bring, just in case. I also recommend nausea prevention pills, like ginger Gravol, cause it helps when you're feeling sick (nauseous) on the coach the next day after a long night of partying, or if you just get car sick. I mentioned ‘ginger’ Gravol specifically because that type of Gravol doesn’t make you drowsy like the normal kind does, so you’ll still be able to soak in the sights during the day without feeling like you want to fall over and sleep. Most people on my tour did get sick. Most of the time people get sick and don’t have a chance to get better because you get back on the bus for hours, where 10 other people are sick, and you eventually get sick again. The common symptoms were coughing, lots of mucous/phlegm (gross), sore throats and you lost your voice. Unfortunately for me, I lost my voice in Florence, the one night that we just so happened to have a karaoke party night. I think it’s helpful to tell you the symptoms so you can plan what type of medicine you want to bring before you leave home! Now's the time to mention that Yes, you will be travelling on a coach/bus for most of this tour. Driving is how you get to each country. Your tour manager will plan some activities you can do to make the time pass by faster, but not all the time. Most people tried to sleep, as this tour has early mornings and long nights. If you can't sleep in a moving vehicle, make sure you bring something to keep you occupied while on the bus so you don’t die from boredom. I was so thankful I had brought my iPod with me, I listened to my own music and it helped pass the time. I was also VERY thankful I had brought one of those neck pillows you see people use on airplanes. Although the bus seats do recline back, it's limited how much you can recline without annoying the person sitting behind you. The seats can get uncomfortable after awhile, so if you plan to sleep on the long drives, that neck pillow will save you from discomfort and it helped me out more times than I can count. I would say that it’s a must to bring an outlet adapter. Depending on if you’re from North America (Canada and USA) or Australia, you need an adapter. The outlets on the coach/bus and in the hostels you’ll be staying at are standard European outlets, so you need an adapter to plug your chargers in so you can charge your phones/iPods/cameras. The accommodations for this tour was good! Keep in mind that this tour is a budget tour. Don’t expect fancy hotels with room service. You get what you pay for. The hostels in Berlin and Prague were probably the best. The beds were comfy and yes, most of the time, if not always, the beds are bunk beds, so you will be sleeping top or bottom bunk. For the majority of the trip it’s four people to a room. Girls stay in separate rooms from the guys, except couples will get their own rooms. So it’ll be 4 girls to a room, 4 guys to a room. The rooms themselves aren’t bad, it’s just the location that kindof sucks. To keep the price down, you’ll notice that the hostels you’ll stay in aren’t near the main attractions. This makes total sense, because the closer you get to the touristy areas, the higher the costs for everything. Be open to catching public transportation to make your way to the touristy spots. Your tour manager will provide you with help and local maps so you have an idea of what/where to go. Face the fact that at one point, you will get lost. Try hang out in groups so you’re not lost alone. Getting lost with a group of people is much more fun than getting lost by yourself. This is a dominantly social tour, so being social and making friends is very important and is a major part of the experience. Getting lost isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I got lost so many times with people, and we saw more of the city that way and got ourselves into quite the fun adventures. Those are the times you’ll remember the most….I had quite the amazing adventure getting lost with friends in Prague…. I went into this tour knowing that I was planning on doing most, if not all of the optional excursions. I pretty much did every optional, except the one for Switzerland, as I was so sick by then, I couldn't muster the energy to go. My top optional excursions that I'm so happy I did are: the bike ride in Edam, the Amsterdam and Berlin pub crawls, the mountain biking and paragliding in Austria, the walking tour in Venice and the ‘last-night’ activities in Paris (it’s your last night to party and celebrate with your new friends, soak it all in!). The optional excursions I would say you could skip include: the walking tour in Berlin, the canal cruise in Prague and the Chinese restaurant that floats on the water in Amsterdam. They were okay, but nothing amazing happened on them and I would have saved some money if I skipped them. I would say the worst was the walking tour in Berlin. The guide we had didn’t use a mic or anything, so if you weren’t always at the front of the group, you couldn’t hear what she was saying. Most people on that walking tour ditched after awhile and did their own thing. If you’re feeling nervous about paragliding, don’t! It’s amazing and it’s probably the most memorable thing I did on that tour. I loved it! Words can’t explain the feeling of flying in the air, with beautiful scenic Austria below your feet. Planning a budget for this tour was difficult for me. I knew I liked to shop, and I knew I’d be out partying, and I knew that quite a bit of our meals we had to cover on our own. So what I did was set aside enough Euros’ to cover all the optional excursions. If when I was on the tour, I ended up not going on an excursion, I’d have that saved untouched money to spend on something else. If you’re a partier: I spent quite a bit of money on alcohol alone, so plan to have a budget set aside for drinking nights alone. Drinks average to about 7 Euros and up in most cities (Except Prague, Prague has a different currency and everything was cheap there!). If you’re a shopper: Save your shopping for Prague. The currency is super cheap and since that city is sustained on tourism pretty much, they’ll appreciate you for spending your money there. I also noticed that a lot of people bought loads of souvenirs in Venice. There’s just something magical about that awesome floating city that makes people want to open their wallets. I think I covered most things! Just soak it all in, even if you do get sick, and make connections with your tour mates as much as possible. The tour is over now, but I still keep in touch with my ‘Contiki Family’ through Facebook. When I make travel plans, I contact them to see if they want to join, and most often than not, some of them will! Contiki is filled with people who have a passion for travelling, which is exactly why I love it so much, because that’s just how I am. I would totally recommend this tour, especially if you’re new to Contiki and want a taste of what Europe has to offer!
Previous to this tour I had gone on one other Contiki tour, Spotlight on Greece, but that tour was 4 nights, 5 days long, a very short tour a... read more
2 countries \ 4 days \ from US$835 per person
1 country \ 8 days \ from US$1275 per person
Places I've Been (?)
- Czech Republic
- Holy See (Vatican City State)
- United Kingdom