A tour I recently went on was a Western Europe trip with Contiki Tours. It was about 7 days long and we visited 4 different countries: France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Germany. I chose this adventure because I’d never travelled with Contiki before and hadn’t been to these countries. Friends that I have who went on a Contiki trip 20 years ago that are now in their 40’s still talk about it today. Friends who recently did it who are in their mid twenties currently, keep booking their trips with them. Contiki is a tour company that services only those from ages 18-35.
With Contiki in Europe, they have their very own private motor coaches. I was very pleased with the transportation as the seats are comfy, air conditioned, wifi, and ports to charge electronic devices. When you are driving from country to country, there’s so much scenery to see in Western Europe especially from France to Switzerland where I saw lots of villages, mountains, and waterfalls. It was much better to take a motor coach around Europe than flying as all the countries we visited are next to each other. Think about the flying process: driving to the airport, going through security, the flight duration, departing from the airport, then getting on another bus, and then finally back on route. With a motor coach, get on the bus then get off again. Simple!
My tour Manager Cameron from New Zealand was phenomenal. He’s been a tour Manager with Contiki for a few years now and had celebrated his 30th birthday with our group while on the tour. The little things that he did for us really showed that he loved his job. He made little drawings and outlined on a piece of paper about the destination that’s coming up and highlighted key areas on maps with a highlighter. He passed these down to us while on the motor coach so we could take pics with our mobile phones. His history lessons were incredible. We’d get history lessons while on the bus a couple of hours before heading into our next stop. Our driver Sam from Australia was great too. On most evenings the group, Cameron and Sam would have drinks and dinner together. We were essentially one big happy family.
The best food I stumbled on was in Paris and Munich. One thing I noticed about Paris is that Parisians like to face the world, not away from it as they like to observe the world go by. When I walked by restaurants all over the city, couples would have both their chairs facing the street. In Paris duck is a very popular dish. You can get it at any restaurant along with french onion soup and escargot. The escargot reminded me of the taste of mushrooms.
In Munich you can get pretzels anywhere and it’s common to dip your pretzel in a stein of beer. Bavarian cuisine is delicious. We ate at Hofbrauhaus in Munich our first night where I has the largest mug of beer ever, Bavarian chicken, potato salad, and a pretzel for dessert. I now wish I could have a pretzel instead of cake for dessert. The potato salad is very different from what a Canadian potato salad tastes like. In Bavaria, they make their salad sour like a vinaigrette taste.
My favourite excursions were Mike’s Bike Tours in Munich and the Cabaret show in Paris. Both of these excursions were included within my Contiki package. With Mike’s Bike Tours, we were able to see the entire city in Munich in a couple of hours and get some historical facts from our tour guide Kevin. The tour was a lot of fun and it was a very hot day so being on a bike took away the heat and created a nice breeze. We also went to where the famous gate to where Charlie and the Chocolate factory was filmed.
Out of all the places we visited I would say the Lucerne was my favourite. Contiki travellers stay at a very quaint lodge on top of the mountain with a complete view of the town. There’s a terrace where you can have some drinks and food. One of us had a guitar so we played and sang songs for hours on the terrace. In Lucerne with Contiki a trip is included up to Mt. Pilatus where we took a Gondola ride up and a cogwheel ride down. When we got to the top, there were Capricorn Mountain sheep at the very top of the mountain point. We watched them climb up and down the mountain. I don’t know how they didn’t fall – it’s the steepest mountain I’ve ever seen.
Something I brought back with me was some chocolate from Switzerland. The chocolate here is world famous. You can get some specialty chocolates that are made at the pastry shops or pre packaged chocolates to take home such as Toblerone or Lindt.
We got the chance after Switzerland to make a day stop into the small country of Liechtenstein. We stopped into Vaduz for lunch. If I wasn’t travelling with Contiki, I would have never had the opportunity to visit here. There’s also a very unique 19th century castle on a cliff you can check out – Lichtenstein Castle.
From this experience I would 100% recommend Contiki to young adults as their young adult tour choice. As a young adult myself, I’m always looking for a trip that fits my budget – Contiki is extremely budget friendly and includes so much within their tours. I want to experience travel with travellers my own age so going in you always know it will be 18-35 year olds. All my breakfasts were included along with some lunches and dinners, excursions in every city, transport, and hotels. After the trip I continued to keep in touch with the majority of the travellers I met. Later this year, I’m meeting up with a friend from California who was on this Contiki trip with me. We will be heading to Iceland together and we both have some of our friends joining us. Contiki is all about living with no regrets – so do just that!