Our Flightie Maria Ines shares her experience touring through Europe on her very first Contiki Tour. From the sights and sounds, to the best local brews, she shares her tips with us:
Have you done it?
Finally I can say I have! Let me tell you about my very 1st Contiki experience in my 30+ years of life.
First things first. I have never done a organised group tour before. So I certainly had my doubts as to whether or not I would actually like the whole format of my trip. I’m not usually one for the structure and regiment of coach tours but I must say, looking back, I don’t think I would have done it any other way!
There’s was so many amazing things about my trip to Europe, so I’ve put together a list of my Top 3 things you must do or see in each country we visited in the order of the tour itinerary. Plus, some secret finds thrown in there:
Day 1-2 Paris, France
1. Ascend the Eiffel Tower: The views of the whole of Paris are unreal. Yes, a little cliché and tourist trappy, but if you don’t do it, you’ll will wish you had as soon as you get back.
2. Have a coffee or a cocktail on the Champs Elysees: After shopping (which I did A LOT of in Paris, stopping for a latte to sit at a side walk cafe under a stripped umbrella in the Paris sun was PERFECT. Mind you, I was somewhat shell shocked by the price of a latte and a club sandwich, but whatever, you’re in PARIS!
3. The Louvre: 1000’s of pieces of priceless art all housed under one roof. If only to see the Mona Lisa. Just do it!
Extra Tips: Eat as many macarons as you possiblely can. Try the almond meringues sandwiched with ganache or jam; they are heavenly delicious pillows of goodness. Lastly, try Laduree, Richard’s, or any local patisserie you can find them in. Truly Parisian!!
Chateau de Cruix – Contiki special stopover:
This is a beautiful chateau in the Beaujolais region of France. You can only be a guest here if you are on a Contiki tour. Very special place.
DAY 4-5 Geneva and Switzerland
1. Buy a Swiss Made Watch: and some Swiss Army Knives oh and Swiss chocolate!!! Buy lots!!!
2. Ascent to Mt Pilatus: A mountain in the middle of downtown Lucerne. The best views of the city.
3. Eat at a Local Fondue House: and be prepared to blow a days worth of calories in one meal (but sooo worth it). Cheese, potatoes, bread, veggies and meat (lots of it). To top it off, end with a final course of fruit and the best milk chocolate you’ll ever have.
Extra Tip: Looking for a great story to tell when you return home? Spend a night in one of the old Jail Houses turned boutique hotel where you will sleep in the old cells where the prisoners slept. The bars are still on all the windows and the prison feel is definitely still there. Kinda creepy, but very cool!
Day 6 and 7 Austria
Hopfgarten – Contiki special stopover
MUST DO: Rent a bicycle and take a ride through the trails. Breathtaking views everywhere you look.
Day 8 and 9 Munich, Germany
1. Hofbrahaus or any bier haus for that matter: You must go have a Pork Knuckle at one of the many local brew houses. Hof is the most popular but there are many to choose from. Trust me on the pork knuckle though… sounds strange, but its great. Not so adventurous? Try the schnitzel and rosti.
2. Kultfabrik: Munich’s biggest and baddest nightlife entertainment complex. Think of the biggest night club you know and now, multiply that by 20. That will give you an idea of what this place has to offer! You will certainly get into some trouble in this place… I know I did 🙂
Well, that’s my tour in a nutshell. If you’re thinking of visiting some of these places, feel free to drop me a line!
Maria Inis is a Travel Consultant at our Kingsway location in Toronto and can be reached by e-mail or calling 1-866-765-0266.