Days spent travelling/in Europe: 28
Nations visited: 7 (Italy, Vatican City, France, Monaco, Spain, Greece, Turkey)
Greek Islands visited: 5 (Crete, Rhodes, Patmos, Mykonos, Santorini)
Digital pictures taken: 1,236
Rolls of film taken: 10.5
People on the Med Highlights Reverse tour: 34 (not inc. me)
People on the Golden Fleece tour: 21 (not inc. me)
Bars & Dance Clubs visited: 18
Drinks consumed on-board the Perla (6/30 – 7/06): 42 (inc. non-alocholic)
Motorbike burns: 1
European men kissed: 0
European men who tried to get me to kiss them: 3
Men in elephant g-strings: 1
Turkish Baths: 1
Donkey Rides: 1
Times my suitcase got lost: 1
Times someone’s wallet was stolen: 3
Times I wanted to stay in Europe longer: still counting…
When I was planning this trip, a lot of people insisted to me that I should backpack instead of go on a tour. Normally, my rambling, loves to be in control, independant self would have taken that advice. However, the lack of time to plan combined with the desire to have (almost) everything planned before I got to Europe, added with the good reviews my friends gave Contiki made it seem like the best way to go. Now that I’m back, I have to say that I am glad that I made that decision.
Contiki was a great way to get a feeling for each city we stopped in. Sure, there wasn’t nearly enough time in any of the cities, but the thing is, there’s no amount of vacation time that’s ever enough for me when it comes to Europe. Not once have I been in Europe and said to myself, “I’m ready to go home.” Now I know which cities I’ll want to return to and see more of, and which I’ll want to skip over. Most of the touristy highlights were included in the prices, and there were optionals for those that weren’t, which was also nice, because it meant that if you wanted some time to do some exploring on your own, you had plenty of time to do so. Since I had been to Barcelona and Nice before, I explored those cities with my own agenda, and had a full day in each. On the second tour, I would say most of the people explored on their own at each stop. The Tour Managers I had were also really wonderful — they knew a lot about each place we visited, and knew great places where we could go out as a group. They were also just all-around nice and interesting people to talk to (mad props to Libby & Scuba Steve!).
Going through Contiki was also a really wonderful way to meet people. I have to say, you can learn a lot about a person when you’re sharing an experience such as this. You can also discover a lot about yourself when you’re thrown into a group or two of random strangers and travel around with them. There are at least 5-10 people that I really do think I will be able to successfully keep in touch with. And I didn’t only meet people on the tours — I met several locals, as well (mostly in Greece, since I had the most time there, and because the Greeks are just so damn friendly).
It’s definitely not for everyone, and I’m not saying that I’m going to use Contiki for every trip I go on (the next two I’m loosely planning will probably be me doing my own thing) — but I am saying that it is worth a shot.
Jul 20, 2006
I do so love reading your writing! One thing: in countries visited you listed Italy twice and forgot Turkey.
Have now seen all of your pictures and they are really, really great! Can’t wait to see the others.