Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
I wrote this review 2011 shortly after going on this Eastern Road tour, so it is possible some of this information is outdated. I still wanted to post it, since none of the current reviews are this thorough. I will start with an overview of the trip and then detail each optional trip. The only optional trips I would absolutely skip are the Eye Spy Berlin and the Vienna Concert. All others are worthwhile.
Accommodations: The hotels were all decent. About half of them had air conditioning. Most were within 20 minutes via public transportation or walking of the city center. If you are a couple, the guide works hard to get you a double bed. My biggest complaint about the rooms, were the uncomfortable beds, but that’s just my opinion.
Transportation: You should expect to do a lot of walking when in each city. The public transportation is easy to use in most cities. Stick with a group if you are unsure about using the public transportation alone. The coach rides between cities are about 4 to 6 hours with a few stops for food. The coaches are very modern with air conditioning, a bathroom, reclining seats, and curtains. The roads are all very good with the exception of a few roads in Poland. Do not take the coach from Warsaw to Berlin if you can help it.
Food: The provided meals and optional meals are all very good. On your trip you will experience a lot of salty meat and potatoes. The food is good and there is variety if you look for it. Vegetarian meals are available. Try the local specialties in each city to get a truly cultured experience. None of the food I had on the trip was bad. Be adventurous.
Berlin historical walking tour: This is a long and thorough walking tour of Berlin’s many sites. It lasted about 4 hours for us. The guide was good and kept it interesting. It is well worth the 9 Euros. I would recommend this to everyone who hasn’t spent a lot of time in Berlin.
Eye spy Berlin: This was not worth the 16 Euros. It was with the same guide, but it involved much less. It was about 45 minutes of history. We then got a free drink at two lousy bars. You can see more and get more by skipping this optional. It is just disappointingly little for the amount of money it costs.
Traditional Czech evening: This was a fun dinner that is worth doing. The food was very good. The singing and dancing felt a little cheesy, but that didn’t stop it from being enjoyable. Sit with a group of newly made friends and enjoy good conversations over good food.
Vienna classical concert & dinner: This was disappointing for the price. The food was very good, but concert did not feel very grand. It was in a far off corner of the palace in a small side room. The seating was removable stackable chairs, and the orchestra was only about 10 people. The music was of average quality. The whole thing felt overpriced. With only one night in Vienna, you can find much better things to do than this.
River cruise with dinner: This was a lot of fun and worth the money. Dinner is an all-you-can-eat buffet, which provides the variety that most people need at this point in the trip. The city is beautiful from the water, and the boat has an open air upper deck. This is a fun night that I can definitely recommend.
Group photo: I didn’t get a copy of this. With digital cameras, I don’t know why you would pay for a professional picture. You can easily get pictures with your own camera of the people you want to remember. It is a beautiful place for a picture though. In either case, you’ll enjoy the area.
Parliament tour: I didn’t do this tour. I just didn’t feel like it was worth the time and money. The people who did it seemed to enjoy it. It’s up to you.
Salt mines tour: This was very interesting. It is currently the top attraction in Krakow for a reason. It is not very dark or cramped, so most people should be okay with it. It is worth the money, so I recommend it. They aren’t too strict on taking pictures either.
Schindler’s factory visit: This is a large interactive museum. It’s well worth the 6 Euros it costs. The tour guide went too slow and covered too little in my opinion, so I would try to break off of the group if you can. There’s a lot of history to see while you’re there, so don’t get too absorbed with the Schindler’s List movie information.
Air Travel: (This is based on my experiences.) British Airways is a terrible airline. Avoid them if at all possible. They are responsible for all of the worst parts of my trip. No seat reservations, lost luggage, large surprise fees, rude and unhelpful staff, ect. I flew 4 flights with them on my European journey and there were issues with every flight.
Had a great time. Everything was fun. Had a great group and our tour manager was fantastic. She organised heaps of little extra activities which made it extra special!
I just came back from the European Discovery tour last week, and it was AMAZING! I would highly recommend the tour to anyone who wants to see the highlights of Europe and has limited time. Having hotels, some meals, and excursions planned out for me in countries where I didn't speak the language was very nice, and I could never imagine seeing all the sights I saw on my own without a tour manager coordinating along the way. Rome was definitely my favorite, and the optional excursion in Amsterdam night one really united our tour group and I highly recommend. Plan on taking lots of pictures, not getting much sleep, and having an amazing adventure!
NOTE: As this is 7 countries in 14 days, it is very fast paced and not for the faint of heart or those looking for a relaxing vacation.
This tour was so much more then what I through it would be. The Tour Guide Luke was OUTSTANDING, he was friendly,helpful and so nice that he made the trip fun, he really knows his stuff and you can see that he wants everyone on the trip to get the best of China.
The people on the tour where a GREAT GROUP and everyone got on and enjoyed the trip, we where like one big happy family, couldnt have asked for a better Group.
The Local Guides on all the stops where also OUTSTANDING and really showed us the Best that China has to offer and where helpful if you had questions they could answer.
Accommodation on this trip is out of the World, every Hotel is well cleaned and in Great Locations of the Cities and sights. (If you have done Contiki before then the Hotels are no way a normal Contiki Hotel) if you havent done a Contiki before and do this trip then don't think that ever Contiki puts you up in the Best Hotels in the City casue they don't, this tour doesn't even feel like a Contiki.
Every Day was full on, yet you couldnt have asked for less, you saw everything and nothing was left out (you wont be leaving the tour going I wish we had seen this, as ever base is covered).
Meals where good and very nice (don't think its just Asian Food all the time you get a mix of Western and Local food).
The Optionals for this tour are Great and it is worth doing all of them, really couldn't say what the best one was cause I enjoyed them all and was good to do them.
Best Moemnt cant reaslly say as I enjoyed the whole trip and wish it was Longer cause I loved China and can't wait to go back again.
I def say it worth doing as you see so much and learn so much on the tour that it really is worth every cent you pay.
This tour was absolutely incredible from start to finish. A perfect way to see a large part of Europe in such a short time. We kicked off the tour with a night in Paris, some of the group watched the Eiffel Tour light show with a bottle of Moet and got to know each other and that's when we knew we were going to have an amazing trip. Our tour guide and bus driver were extremely knowledgeable and entertaining - what I loved most was the introduction to each country with a history and run down of a city map as we were entering each day. We were given helpful tips for getting around, where to find the best local food and other interesting facts and tips which made being in an unknown city less daunting. Make sure you do all of the optionals..some of them seem very different to what we may be used to but it's all part of immersing yourself in the culture of that country and with a big group, it's hard not to appreciate it. The bus trip can get tedious but we made our own fun, get to know the group, play games and eat ridiculous amounts of food (the service station stops are classic - so much food and it would be rude not to try everything). Basically just be open to everything - Europe is an amazing place and the European Vista will give you a real taste of the culture without having to do too much research. Loved our tour guide Garai - he seemed to know anything and everything about every country so it was extremely beneficial and we loved picking his brain - he was also hilarious and knew how to perk us up even when we were tired and feeling a bit worse for wear.
Definitely a value for money tour and I highly recommend it!
This trip was AMAZING!! I still can't believe how much we fitted in to such a short time, great taster trip for someone (like me) who wants to go everywhere. Everything about the trip managed to exceed my high expectations; including the accommodation, tours, people etc. I was nervous about travelling due to requiring a Gluten Free diet, however contiki really do a great job catering for people with food allergies and my tour manager was a great help when it came to organising this for me.
Loved it so much I have already booked another Contiki, only a few months after getting home! :P
Gives you a decent location to set yourself up for all that London offers. If you love The Beatles then take the short tube ride out to Abbey Road and get yourself a photo on the crossing! The included day tour to Windsor Castle, Bath and Stonehenge is a must do. Go and have a pint of Carlsberg (my beer of choice) in The London Pub and meet up with travellers from all around the world! Very handy that the Contiki Basement is also located in the hotel complex. The tube pass is very convenient- take advantage of it. London is an amazing city and this tour does it's best to compress it all into 5 days for you!
Best thing that I have done in my life to date! So much sight seeing and it's all organised and ready to go for you. I've met life long friends and created memories that are unforgettable. Accommodation is great value, the food on the Contiki sites are just like a home cooked meal and I 100% recommend doing all the optionals- they're great value! You'll give your liver a good workout too ;) Awesome tour manager (Lucy) and the best coach driver you could have (Marcin). What are you waiting for?! Go and book this tour NOW.
Awesome trip and meet some amazing new people! Tour manager was awesome and took us to the best spots around. In krabi best pizza ever, I know pizza right but defiantly give it a try! Really good deals to be found in koh phi phi ...
Vietnam is an amazing place to visit and doing it through Contiki made it a lot better. Halong Bay was definitely a highlight, but really every place visited was great.
This is a great tour as an introduction to western Europe, as you'll visit all the major cities with a few interesting stops and Contiki special locations along the way. At least two nights in each place means you're not in a rush and can enjoy your time.
Paris is a big, beautiful city with so much to see and do - I'd recommend you plan ahead and check museum opening times, as many are closed on certain days. The Parisian dinner was the best of the optional meals, amazing food and atmosphere. The regular Cabaret show was closed when we were there, so our tour manager organised us tickets to the Moulin Rouge instead, which was an incredible show and worth the extra cost (note you can't take photos inside though). Whilst the excursion to Versailles is very interesting it is very busy, so be prepared to queue and you may not get to see everything.
After busy Paris the days at Contiki's Chateau are very relaxing. Apart from the included picnic lunch in the hills (study the map - easy to end up on the wrong path!) most people just chilled out by the pool or in the bar.
In Barcelona the hotel is far out from the city centre, so make the most of your time. Must visits are Gaudi's Sagrada Familia and Park Guell - you won't see anything else like them. The optional Flamenco show is fun and you will be invited to participate!
The French Riviera is a mix of charming small towns to the opulence of Monaco and Monte Carlo. Nice was great for shopping with markets and little local stores, and I was surprised at how comfortable the Contiki campsite was.
Venice is everything you would expect, picture perfect and beautiful. Spend the day just walking the streets and do the optional Gondola ride - yes, it's expensive and touristy but who knows how long the sinking city will be around for, so take the opportunity.
Pisa is all about the Leaning Tower, and there's not much else to see but it's fun to take the typical "holding up the tower" photo. Florence is another great walking city and the local guide on the walking tour was really knowledgable, especially about art. The optional dinner was just ok and I skipped the Space Disco but for most people this is the BIG night out on tour.
In Rome again the campsite is far out from the city centre but if you plan you can still see all the major sights in your days here. The optional tour of The Vatican is fascinating, you will see the famous Sistene Chapel and St Peter's Basilica. A few of us opted to do a guided tour of the Colosseum simply so we could jump the queues.
Unfortunately due to traffic we were running late so our tour of Pompeii was really rushed and disappointing. Luckily I'd been there before; I'd highly recommend it if you have the time, it's an amazing place.
Corfu was the best. The Contiki resort has everything and you can do as much or as little as you want whilst you're here. By far everyone's favourite was George's Boat - so much fun! It's a day filled with food, music, swimming and water sports, the best optional of the whole tour. Another day a few of us hired a car (cheap!) and drove around to different swimming spots.
Athens isn't the prettiest city but it has the Parthenon and the Acropolis, plus there are some great markets. The optional dinner is like a farewell meal as it's your last night on tour. And then you're done!
Overall this was a great tour, I had so much fun. Our tour manager was so knowledgeable and made everything really easy, as did the Contiki crew members at the accommodation sights. As for things like laundry, wifi, etc. they are all readily available at various places. You do spend a lot of time on the bus but it's clean and comfortable, and the scenery is beautiful (also a good time to catch up on sleep!). If I was to do it again, I'd definitely spend more time in London before the tour and go on after the tour to visit the Greek Islands.
I just finished this tour and it was absolutely amazing. I got to see, do, experience and learn more than I could have ever imagined. If you're thinking about doing this tour- do it! This tour lets you see so much on the 12 days you have. Then again, it's only 12 days so it is extremely face paced- be prepared for some long days!
I was lucky enough to get the BEST contiki crew- Emmo and Sandro. If you get either of them, consider yourself lucky!
I can't wait to book another tour- done 2 so far and was blown out of the water both times!
This tour is for anyone who wants to experience the best Europe has to offer in a very quick paced tour. Although the tour is short and packed to the rafters, there is soo much to see and do!
From the Red Light District of Amsterdam, to the stunning canals and hidden alley ways of Venice, there is simply something for everyone on this tour!
A great tour full of a great bunch of people, who made it all that more enjoyable and memorable, Not to mention our tour manager and driver who did a superb job in leading the way around Europe. On a side note, a must for any tour going to Innsbruck, visit the Schnapps shop and try the hundreds of schnapps flavours!
Amazing holiday. Met some amazing people who I will be friends with for the rest of my life! Highly recommend this tour. I'm already planning my next tour. :)
I was a bit scared about going to Mexico because I've heard of the violence that happens there, but do not worry! We are far south and cops/soldiers are everywhere so you feel safe. As for the trip...it was AWESOME! Everything included and everywhere they brought you, you could not have done it on your own. Its fast paced but now I know the places I would like to revisit. Some places could have had better food, but you dont have to go where the meal is included. My boyfriend and I would try to find the little shops and they had the best food. The best part is Chichen Itza. You get a lot of free time and they crammed a lot of tours and sightseeing. If you are going to do Mexico, just get it all done in 2 weeks. I'd say stay for a little bit if you can after its over and your in Cancun. There was always something to look forward to everyday, even if its a 5 hour drive to the next destination (still sightseeing the country!) Many optional too, but we only did the underwater river/coba ruins in Cancun. When your in Morilla...got to Shokolate! amazing gourmet chocolate store a block from the hotel.
The Big Walkabout is one way to describe it. Coming from Sydney and never seeing Australia I thought this was a great way to explore my country. We started in Sydney, saw Manly Beach (which I live two mins away from) and climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge – which has the most amazing views. Then on our way to Cairns we saw the Big Banana and had a surf lesson at Coffs Harbour, went kayaking in the ocean hoping to see dolphins at Bryon bay but no such luck, held a koala at Currumbin, spent a day in Surfers relaxing, Had Australia Day at Noosa while our whole bus dressed up in Aussie stuff, it was pouring down with rain. Next we attempted to drive to Fraser Island, but being the wet season the roads were close, so back to Noosa we went. Despite missing Fraser Island, our tour manager and Bus driver managed to get us all back to Brisbane safely and onto a flight to beautiful Hamilton Island within a day or so notice. We then caught a ferry to Day Dream Island to continue our journey. Day Dream Island is beautiful, a nice place to relax. We went to Whitehaven beach and it looked like a postcard, so magnificent. Next was a long drive up to Cairns where we would spend our final days on the East Coast. As our last night together we went to the Wool Shed which can be one of the highlights of the trip!! Some of the optional for Cairns were White Water Rafting and The Great Barrier Reef Cruise which I would highly recommend to everyone.
Next part of our adventure was flying to Alice Springs. In which we saw the Contiki bus coming to get us as we were landing! First afternoon in Alice Springs we went to a reptile park, where we could all hold a snake, blue tongue lizard and a frill neck lizard. Next night we slept under the stars in an Aussie swag, which was surprising comfy. We tried bush tucker which included Kangaroo’s tail. Next day we headed to Uluru. First we went through Kata-Tjuta (the Olgas). Uluru day – which included waking up at 4am to see the sunrise, then we had the option to walk around Uluru, next was an optional helicopter ride over Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Finally we spent the afternoon at Uluru where our tour manager and Bus driver put on a Champagne Dinner! It was a beautiful afternoon. Next day we headed back to Alice Springs where we went to an optional dinner at the Overlanders Steakhouse which we tried Crocodile, Emu, Kangaroo and Camel, which were all very yummy.
On our way north to Darwin, we stopped at Tennant Creek, Wycliffe Well – to see UFO’s, Devils marbles, Daly Waters Pub – oldest pub in the NT and Mataranka Thermal pools. Katherine Gorge optional cruise was very nice to see the gorge and to see how high the water comes up. In Kakadu National Park we went on a Billabong cruise, we saw crocodiles in the wild. Darwin was our last stop our last few days together as a group, in which some of us had became very close! First thing we did in Darwin was an optional Cage of Death, which involved getting in a cage with a crocodile, now you see why it is optional! I’ve never screamed so loud in my life but I would do it again! Last night out was spent at Monsoons where we had a great night out. Last day involved looking at termite mounds and tall as houses and the beautiful Florence falls, which as just majestic.
Overall the optionals were great, the accommodation was fantastic, and food was always yummy. The bus rides were some of the best times. Tour mates were wonderful and we still talk everyday! I would highly recommend this tour and Contiki to everyone, it was such a great experience and so organised, I would do it again in a heartbeat!
This review will cut out half way through, if you want the rest, msg me.
I thought writing an extensive review would be helpful for people going solo and are somewhat apprehensive about it (and maybe their parents, too). This tour absolutely changed my life; I could not have asked for a better experience! If you want to see as much as you can in only a months time, I could not recommend any other trip. I felt safe and taken care of at all times -- you will always find some good travel buddies, and the contiki staff are so amazing, whether it is your tour leader, bus driver, or the contiki reps at each stop.
First off, budgeting. This trip cost me around $8 000 Canadian when including the contiki price, air fare, the ME time optional activities, food and spending money. FYI, you should sign up for all the optionals, as your tour group will be going to them regardless. Some people tried to save money by not doing activities like the white water rafting tour, but the bus will go to it anyway, so you're stuck. I'll let you know which optionals you can skip out on through this review.
From Canada, mind you:
ME optionals: 700-800
Tipping Guide/Driver: 100 at the end (2 euro per day is what they recommend)
Museums, Food, Shopping, Ticket Fees for whatever: 75-100 per day.
Extra Hotels: 150
Came to around 8000 for me, and I was pretty thrifty. I ate street meat whenever possible, and bought about 500 in gifts for family.
I traveled solo for the first time in my life (I was incredibly anxious at first), but the tour is structured in such a way that allows you to meet people right off the bat. You can meet all your fellow contiki travelers the first night after your group meeting and have a beer to get to know one another, so when the tour starts you have some familiarity. I took one of those cab/vans from Heathrow. It cost about 30 pounds as opposed to a 90 pound cab ride, and got me there pretty quick. They have counters for em all over the place. I booked the hotel for the day before (it took me a while to get adjusted to the time difference, so I slept quite a bit the first day). The next day I took an on-and-off bus tour of the city, which has a stop right in front of the hotel. Then by 6 PM, I met up with my group and had a beer. They pair you up with randoms in the hotel which is kind of sketchy, and they are not necessarily on your tour, so lock your luggage.
You are given a piece of paper with the list of every stop/number/address etc. on your trip, so if you get lost, simply find a cab and they'll take you to where you need to go. I never had to use it, but I know some people who drank a little too much during nights out on the town found it easy to get back to where they were supposed to be. My rule of thumb was to always travel around with people. You will quickly find out who you are compatible with. I found that at every city people would talk about what they wanted to see, and then you just break off into different groups. Some people want to shop, some want to see historic sites, it depends on the city. I went off by myself once to see some historic buildings in Munich, couldn't understand the subway system, got a little lost, but fortunately a cab driver got me back to where I was supposed to go. I generally stick in groups, especially if you're worried about safety, it's not a bad idea.
From this point on you are in the care of the contiki crew, and follow the itinerary. I have to say that it is exceptionally organized. Generally speaking, it is one day of travel with the night in the city which consists of a quick drive-through or a night event (sometimes optional stuff), and the next day you get to wander around, see museums, etc. Your leader gives you a map each time you go to a city so you don't get lost and suggests places to see (also shown on the map).
The food at each contiki stop was fine, it wasn't anything amazing, but it was usually themed for the country you were in. The travel days are where I found it to be the most expensive, as buying lunches and snacks add up quite quickly when you're on a bus for that long. I tried to eat cheaply to save money, so there's usually a sandwich option at the various stops that costs around 6 euro or so. I found this ate up more of my budget than I expected.
The actual sleeping quarters are kept quite clean by the staff. You are not experiencing anything luxurious on this trip. Most stops are cabins with 2 or 4 to a room, hostels with 4 to a room, and if you're lucky, you will get a hotel with 2 to a room (happened twice, and it was glorious). The cabins do not have air conditioning, in some cases they don't even have screens on the windows so you are trapped inside disgustingly hot, unsleepable conditions (Venice). For me, this was the biggest negative for the trip, as I need a good night's sleep. The partying in most of the campgrounds is quite loud, so bring ear plugs if you decide to stay in that night. The showers are hit-or-miss in terms of being warm, unless you are in a hostel or hotel. Most people compensated by sleeping on the bus, which is more than doable since you are on the road for hours on end some days. This is the only negative aspect of the tour from my standpoint, but it didn't seem to bother many other people, so I am somewhat finicky about it. You bring your contiki sleeping bag around so there's no worries about questionable sheets.
In terms of partying, it was almost every night. There were a fair number who chose to not go out drinking, but there were an equal number who went hard almost every night. Nobody holds it against you either way. I couldn't party like the 20 year olds every night, but they loved it when I came out. Some nights we played cards or watched a movie (some stops had optional "chill" activities for those who didn't want to drink). Just be aware that it happens, and it happens a lot.
Okay, enough rambling, on to the tour!
LONDON: The tour does not include London, so if you want to see anything, book a hotel the night before or after the tour.
PARIS: You will never have enough time to see everything. The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays (or it was when I was there). I saw the Arc de Triumph (better view than the Eiffel), the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and another church I can't remember the name of, before heading out to the optional activity dinner and the Nouvelle Eve show. Each optional dinner usually comes with half a bottle of wine per person. I actually consider this the best day of my life! We stopped at the Louvre for 2h the next day before heading off, which was because our tour leader slid it in to the itinerary for us. Expensive, but I would do both ME optionals. The metro was quite easy to use here as well, so use it to save time walking and get more in.
BEAUJOLAIS: This is more of a relaxing day. It wasn't particularly my favourite stop, but it was a nice time to meet your group after the crazy rush that was the first days. The area is AMAZINGLY beautiful. You are staying in an old cheateau on the hillside (lots of pictures on the site). Go for a hike, chill out at the pool, play some soccer, and relax. This is one of those places where you're not getting any sleep -- they have a club in the basement, the rooms are quad-share...just overall noisy. So I wouldn't make this a catch up on sleep night, especially since the bus to Barcelona is the longest ride of the trip coming up the next day.
BARCELONA: I got sick that day, that sucked. The hostel we stayed at was nice -- some people opted to go clubbing. Visited the markets in the city, saw the FC Barcelona stadium which was worth the cab ride out, and saw the Flamenco show at night. It was okay, but again your whole group goes, so you might as well, it wasn't that expensive.
FRENCH RIVIERA: One of my favourite places. Some additional expenses: we went to a private beach which costs around 10-15 euro. Some went to the public beach, but your stuff could get stolen, haha. Entrance into the Grand Casino is also some extra coin. Make sure you bring some nicer clothes, but don't worry about being super formal. This place is amazing. Nothing in terms of places you HAVE to see, just wander around a bit and hang out on the beach.
FLORENCE: Very nice city, lots of museums, but honestly, there is so many statues and such lining the streets I was fine just walking around. Space Electronic Disco is definitely optional, but I found it fun. It's just a club, but the majority of people there were other contikiers or young children (16 year olds can go to clubs there).
ROME: See the Vatican -- you have to. It was only like 30 euro for a cab ride back to the camp from there. Take both guided tours, as they will speed things up as you avoid lines. We also got over to some other landmarks, but honestly there is so much to do here (like Paris) you can't get it in in one day. Plan wisely. The metro is also a quite easy way to get around.
VENICE: Take the Gondola Ride and walking tour. Most of the day you walk around and take pictures -- very expensive city. Your guide should warn you of this. Your campsite is outside the city, so you don't have time to wander at night. Again, some church fees etc. I avoided purchasing the tour t-shirts and group photos whenever possible, they didn't seem necessary when I could spend that money on a nice lunch or stuff. I bought a beautiful lace tablecloth for my parents here (around 150 euro). Some good shopping.
VIENNA: I love classical music, but didn't particularly care for the concert. If you want to save some money, here is a good place to do so. It's right in the heart of everything and your tour will stop there, so you can take the time to wander. It wouldn't hurt you to see it, but just saying its a place to save money. The schnapps museum is a tour stop, so you might as well do it, there's nothing in that area to explore if I can remember. The Viennese Dinner was quite fun, and you are WAY out of the city in the forest somewhere if they go to the same place still. We went to a war museum outside of Vienna that was amazing and I can't remember the name, but if you like history then it's worth a trip -- public transit takes you right there.
MUNICH: Take a bike tour, I wish I had of done that instead of getting lost. Go to the market and sample some cheese and meats, that was really fun. The Bavarian Beer Hall was a must dinner as well, very fun.
TYROL: They changed things around here a bit since I went. White Water Rafting is a must -- I still tell people about how I rafted the Alps! This area is so beautiful. I never did the Tandem Paragliding, but those who did loved it. It was one place I decided to cut costs, as the bus goes off separately to this activity, and doesn't punish those who opt out. Our mountain biking was cancelled due to weather, so some people hung out and watched a movie, while others went to a trout farm down the road where you catch and cook the fish. I wish I did that! The bobsled option wasn't there for us, so no comment.
SWISS ALPS: This place is unbelievably gorgeous. I thought the Tyrol region was amazing, but Switzerland is ridiculous. The accommodations were pretty standard in terms of quad-share, but this one has a WATERFALL behind it. Some walked over and had a shower under it, but its several hundred feet tall...I decided against it. Take the Jungfrau -- ya it costs a lot but it was so crazy taking the train up into the clouds. There are also tons of activities once you get to the top. You need a coat, it's snow. The town is beautiful as well, it's worth a walk around.
RHINE VALLEY: Very tame compared to the other stops. I think this is where we finally got a hotel...I took like a 2 hour shower just embracing the hot water. If you still have some money, buy a cuckoo clock or beer stein (they cost a lot of money but are pretty sick souvenirs). Just a cute town you can wander around. You don't stay long in Heidelberg, it's one of those stop overs to break the long drive, there's a few of them on the trip like Arles, Pisa, etc. They are pretty awesome little stops, though. You can grab local cuisine, and in this case, find a pharmacy. I'll talk about that later.
AMSTERDAM: Some people love it, I found it a bit sketchy. Red light district is fun to walk around. Anne Frank's house was not worth the line, and I'm a history teacher. I bought some cheese in Edam which is a very nice stop, but it all melted in my suitcase. DO NOT BUY CHEESE AS A SOUVENIR. The canal cruise was expensive, but it was okay. The final dinner was the crappiest dinner by far in terms of ME optionals, but it was the farewell dinner. Some people went out to bars/bakeries that night, but I stayed back and played some cards. This was a pretty crappy hostel -- the other hostels were actually quite nice, I have to say. They stuffed like 4 single beds into a room that should only have 2. I also stepped in somebody's puke that night. BAH! Check out the Heineken brewery, that was pretty cool and only around 15 euro.
So where I cut costs: tandem paragliding, group photos, t-shirts. I would recommend doing the dinners as they get you socializing. Any shows are a must. I think at the end it cost me like 700-800 CAN to do them all, but it was worth it. And in most cases, you either do it or stand around waiting until the group is done. Just take that into account.
Bring medicine: I was sick for 2 weeks because illness circulates around the bus's air conditioning. You also don't have time to find clinics or pharmacies.
Bring ear plugs: If you suck at sleeping through noise like I do, you need em.
Travel Bags: I brought a knapsack and it was a pain lugging it around. You can buy smaller travel bags (I think Swiss Army sells good ones). You also want to wear them on your front, so look into that.
Clothes: I brought one pair of nice jeans that could double for walking around on chilly days or going out, and one pair of dress pants. The only time you need dress clothing is for the casino, and I'm pretty sure I could have worn jeans there. It is hot as balls in July for most of these countries, so bring comfortable walking clothes. It only gets colder in the mountains, and even then it was mostly short weather. You'll need something warm when going up Jungfrau. I had a sweater with no jacket and couldn't go outside for long.
Shoes: I wore comfortable running shoes and was set for walking around the cities. Some people wore sandals/thongs, and their feet were swollen like crazy at the end of the day. 1 pair of runners, 1 pair of sandals, 1 pair of nicer shoes, that's all you need.
Plastic Bags: Bring em, because your clothes won't dry, and they stink up all of your clean stuff. Believe me, it was a huge pain trying to keep my luggage away from getting that moldy smell. The dryers at most places suck, so make sure when doing laundry you give yourself time to hang stuff up outside to get dry. The humidity sometimes won't even let that happen.
AGE: I was 25 when I took this tour, and was like the 5th oldest on the trip. Our oldest was 28 or 29, but they fit right in with everyone. At the end of the day, everyone is there for the same reason, and I got along with some of the 19 year olds as much as the 29 year olds, age doesn't matter. I can see on certain trips where some people would not mesh and blame it on age, but at the end of the day thats the gamble you're taking when you go solo on a group tour. My group was fantastic, and 3 years later we still keep in touch. Some even became great friends and hang out with each other all the time. It is seriously a life changing journey.
Otherwise, look at the Contiki recommendations, they're spot on.
I hope this helps people who are anxious about traveling. The contiki staff were amazing from start to finish. The tour was planned down to the hour, the optionals were amazing, the accomodations were "okay". There's so much that isn't listed on the itinerary, but even if you know NOTHING about these cities, they will still give you suggestions. Doing the Great Britain tour this time, I'm 27 now, need hotels. :)
This tour was incredible! It was a great way to see so much in so little time! I met some great people and experienced some amazing cultures. I would definitely recommend this tour to anyone who wants a little taste of Europe.
I had the most amazing time on this tour. I made so many new friends and had many new experiences that I will never forget. The crew were amazing and I can't wait to go on my next trip!
The trip of a lifetime... I saw everything I wanted to see in Australia and better things I didn't even know about. The East Coast was all sun, sea and party then the Northern Territory was all rocks, relax and bond. Both completely different vibes but both AMAZING! Top bits... Sydney bridge climb, great barrier reef, white water rafting, sky-diving, tiger moth biplane, Uluru, crocodile cage of death. I did almost every optional I could and they were all worth it 100%. The accommodation was mostly brilliant, avoiding hostels helped actually getting a good nights sleep after very long days with early starts! The crew were brilliant.... so much knowledge, so helpful and friendly joining on on the action! The Contiki coach was one of the best parts... caught up on sleep, saw some sights, played games you name it, not one long journey was dull! I made friends for life and am already planning trips around the world to see them... I would recommend this trip to anyone as there was such different people on it and everyone had a good time, would especially recommend if you want to see a lot of Australia and your confined to a short amount of time! It's also brilliant for travelers staying on as after the tour you can go back to places you loved, knowing more about them and where to stay etc!