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Best of Europe overall review
I just finished doing the Best of Europe tour (Sept 24 to Oct 7, 2011), and I thought that since there wasn't much on the discussion boards about this trip, that I would add a review to help people make their decisions.
First of all, there might not be a lot of activity in the forums about this trip, but it is awesome, so that lack of posts should not deter you from going on this trip. Its great that when you've missed seeing things on your first day, its ok, because you have a whole other day to see more! Whereas most of the Contiki trips, you don't have that luxury. You really do get the chance to enjoy what you're seeing rather than just seeing it quickly and moving on. Especially if you have a wild night and need to sleep it off a bit in the morning, you'll still have time to go out in the afternoon. And even if you think it will be a much more relaxing trip, trust me, you'll still be busy as there is a lot to see and do.
I went with my husband and another couple, but there were a lot of single travelers on the trip too, so you'll have a good time whether you have a companion or not. And Contiki does a good job of spacing out the activities (on and off the books) so that you have something to do everyday (just in case you're looking for a little guidance).
Some tips by city:
- you might think that 3 days is a lot, but its a big city and there's lots to see. I would recommend going up to Sacre Coure on your first full day there. Its a long hike up the stairs and you might not have the energy to do it later. That area of Paris is beautiful (the Artist's Quarter), and well worth the energy of climbing up there (you can also pay for the outdoor elevator thing to get you up there, but there will be a line and it costs a few euro).
- have a quiet lunch in a park. Its a good chance to enjoy a more peaceful side of the city, as well as some great food. But look for a bakery or something outside of the most touristy areas, because they are hard to find in the city despite what people might say. Basically, plan ahead a bit.
- get the museum card as soon as you can. And most places have a special line for those who have already paid, so keep an eye out or ask before you step in line. It will save you a ton of time.
- If you are looking for a great place to eat one night, go to "Le Taxi Jaune". It's off the beaten track (close to a metro station though), but the best meal I had on the whole trip. My husband even ate horse, which was delicious. They are a little more fine dining (chalk board menu that changes every day), but your dress could be casual, and the price was decent -- for a couple, we got 2 entrees & 2 beers and it was less than 50 euros. Well worth it.
- Anne Frank Huis is worth it. It only takes an hour or two from start to finish.
- Brownies are great...
- It will feel a lot more like a North American city. Very large, and since most of the old buildings were destroyed in WWII, it has a more modern feel than any of the other cities you will visit.
- This is a very large city. Use city transport to save yourself some time and hassle.
- I actually found that there wasn't a ton to do or see that wasn't covered in the group walking tours, so maybe do a little reasearch and find some fun things on your own.
- If you want to buy some Birkenstocks, don't just expect one to be at every corner. Research some locations so that you'll know where to look. They are an amazing price, so well worth your time to look it up. (I actually found mine in Rome, but still great price)
- I found less to do in this city, but it was so beautiful that it was fun just to go for a walk and get lost in the city.
- Great chocolate place near the Jan Huis square -- ask your tour guide. Chocolate dipped strawberries, bananas, and belgium waffles were delicious.
- Lots to do and see, but the city is relatively small, so it is walkable, with some city transport (but its cheap, and half the time they don't check for a ticket when you get on the bus, so it could be free). Most of the sites are close together.
- Get gelato everyday and try new flavours. Actually, get gelato twice a day.
- There is a place by the Vatican with the best pizza.
- If there are a few of you looking for transport to the airport, there are a couple services that are $50 total for 4 people which is cheaper, easier, and more comfortable than the train. Look into it. And if you're travelling by yourself, suggest it to people when you get to Rome (as you should have some friends by then).
- Buy a ticket at the Forum, then use it to get into the Colosseum and by-pass the long line of suckers. Do not buy your ticket or wait in line at the Colosseum. As previously mentioned, that is for suckers.
- somewhere near the Trevi fountain (down one of the close alleys), there are a bunch of artists. We found a woman doing spray paint pictures that were amazing (and cheap too).
- bring at least one set of dress clothes for Moulin Rouge. Some people get a little more dressed up for group dinners, so just be aware of that
- check the weather right before you leave and adjust accordingly.
- check weight restrictions for your flight from Prague to Rome. It should be more than what Contiki allows, but less than your flight from Rome to home. So be warned.
- Most of the hotels have a hair dryer, so don't pack one. And you'll be fine with your straightener as long as you have an appropriate voltage converter. Just make sure you pick up the right one
- check other contiki lists for tips on what to pack.
- Most of the excursions are pretty good, so I would probably do them all.
If you have any other questions, I'm happy to help.
- 5 responses so far
Thanks Jen! My friend and I are planning to take this exact trip next year, and I’m really looking forward to it!! It will be my first trip to Europe, so your overview, tips and details are really appreciated! I might bug you for more details when we get closer to departure ;o)
Please feel free. This trip was amazing, and I’ll be glad to help anyone make even more so.
Thank you for this info. Our trip is only 3 months away. We can’t wait!!
Hi there. Thanks for the great review. Was wondering if you knew what sort of restrictions were on the air plane luggage from Prague to Rome? Thanks!
It was 4 lbs less than the flight to Paris, but you can check the Prague airline website. I know that’s what I did.
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