Tour Review: Contiki Western Europe

Name:Rachel Monk

Rachel outside the Grand Casino in Monaco

Age: 34

What tour company did you travel with?: Contiki

Where did you go?:  All over Western Europe – Paris, Lucerne, Nice, Florence, Rome, Venice, Muich, Vienna, Prague, Amsterdam and a couple of other random places.

Who was your tour leader?: Tour Leader was Jenn, an early thirties American who has been living and working in London and Europe for several years. She was friendly, knowledgeable and nearly always had plenty of energy to keep us going during the three weeks.

What was the highlight of the trip?: For me it was Rome. The city was just amazing with so much history, and the food was fantastic too.

And the lowlight?: A weird little town called Hopfgarten in Austria. Apparently during winter it is a popular ski resort area, and they do have lots of adventure activities during summer, but I just found the town itself pretty dull. We ended up catching the train to another nearby town and went to an amazing indoor swimming centre that had waterslides with loops in them. That was fun.

How was the food?: Hit and miss. The food in Italy was generally pretty good, France was disappointing and since I’m not a schnitzel fan, Austria and Germany weren’t that great either. I made sure I tried different national delicacies though such as frog’s legs and snails in France, you have to do it for the experience (they were pretty nice).

And the accommodation:? Only OK. Europeans don’t understand the concept of twin beds it seems. My room mate and I were virtually sleeping together on more than one occasion and this is a bit weird when the person is a complete stranger. If you’re travelling with friends or a partner, it’s OK. Some of the ‘hotels’ were barely a half-step up from a hostel, and the pillows were often very very thin and toilets in Europe are just generally weird.

What modes of transport did you experience?: Bus mostly, and ferry across the English channel. We also used various forms of public transport in some cities eg bus, train/metro, and trams.

What was your group like?: Contiki is 18-35 and that is what we had. Well 18 to 34 (I was the oldest). Most people were probably in their mid to late 20s. We had a relatively small group of only 25 people, 95% were Australian, with one each from America, Canada and Japan, plus a Chinese-Australian, and Kiwi who lives in Japan.

Who would this tour suit?: People who want to see the highlights of Western Europe and have the stamina to last three weeks on a bus changing cities every other day and dancing/drinking almost every night.

And who should avoid it?: People who don’t know how to have fun and who only want to see the ‘cultural’ aspects of Europe. This is not the tour for you if you are the shy, retiring type.

What was your overall impression of the tour and group?: Generally I had a lot of fun and saw some amazing things. Three weeks is probably a little bit too long on a bus for me. After 15 days I was starting to get sick of the sight of the bus and tired of some of the people on it but it gave me a great introduction to some places that I’d never been, and now I know where I would happily visit again should I get the opportunity.

3 comments on “Tour Review: Contiki Western Europe

  1. Three weeks, wow… that’s a pretty long time to spend with a group of strangers! It sounded like it went well though, luckily 🙂

  2. Three weeks was a long time on a bus, but it was a lot of fun. Having done another Contiki in the US several years ago, they are a great introduction to somewhere, but I am definitely getting too old for them.

  3. I am debating doing Contiki versus solo backpacking in Spain (July 2012). I am 31. I still have the energy to go out every night but I hope it’s not all 18 year old idiots. What do you think Rachel?

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