Discover Europe - Awesome time!


#1

Hey Everyone,[br][br]I just returned from an amazing 2 months of travelling overseas. I did the 26 day Discover Europe tour and it was fantastic. We had an unreal trip leader called Tim and each day we saw new things and had new adventures.[br][br]I was really helped to prepare for this tour by these forums, so if I can help anyone…please ask away and let me know.[br][br]Just some key information that I thought would be helpful - [br][br] - I read this on another post but be prepared with cold/flu medication. Nearly everyone on the bus got sick on some stage. So take cold/flu, antibiotics etc to fight those dreaded bus sars!!![br][br] - I did not realise this when I booked it but on this tour, people get off and on at Barcelona, Rome and Prague. They combine the smaller tours with the big tour, so just be aware that the group will change. We started off with about 40 and ended with about 20.[br][br] - Grab fruit at every fruit stall you see as fruit is pretty rare - breakfast is usually bread, cheese, ham, boiled eggs and cereal. Just don’t touch the fruit at the fruit stalls, Europeans don’t like that!![br][br]Anyway if you have any questions let me know as I would love to help.[br][br]Raina


#2

Hi Raina,[br]I am doing the European Emperor which is the first part of the Discover Europe Trip. We will be finishing our tour in Rome on the 11th day.[br][br]Can you tell me what the hotels are like from Paris to Rome, and whether they are close to the city - main centres, Paris, Barcelona, and Rome. We have free days in these cities and am just trying to plan on the best means of transport to getting to the attractions.[br][br]Are the optional activities worth doing? or is it better to do your own thing?[br][br]When you are in Rome doing the Ancient Rome tour, do you go into the main sites ie Colloseum etc, or just walk around it? [br][br]Recommendations for packing, especially for me being a lady? How many pairs of shoes do I need hehe[br]Monaco Casino - dress code? what did everyone wear, especially the girls? [br][br]on the buses, are there plugs to recharge your cameras, phones, laptops?[br]Security on baggage, do I need to bring a lock to keep my gear safe in the hotels recommended?[br][br]Just a few questions for now, minds abit blank at the moment, but will probably ask you more.[br][br]Wow Discover Europe tour would have been my ultimate tour to do, but we are not in Europe that long to do this.[br]Hope you had a fab time though.[br][br]Regards,[br]Emma[br][br][br]


#3

Hi Emma,[br][br]This tour was great and the 26 days flew by! Wish I was back there now![br][br]In regards to the hotels, most of them aren’t central but they are all near public transport. Your trip leader will be able to tell you the best ways to get anywhere and the hotels are helpful too.[br][br]In Paris, at the Hotel Campanile Pantin the rooms were pretty small at the hotel but we were just half a block from the metro station. On the free day the tour bus leaves the hotel at 9 and drops you off at the Eiffel Tower at about 10 or a bit after, as it takes this long to get through the traffic! I would recommend starting early and catching the metro (underground train) as I felt I wasted so much time catching the tour bus.[br][br]In Barcelona, we stayed at the Confertel and it was beautiful, so I hope that you are staying there.It was very modern and they had computers with free internet!! It was about a 10 min walk from the beach and about 10 minute walk to the metro. [br][br]In Rome, we stayed at Hotel Beethoven and we were miles away from anywhere really but the bus was right outside the door and this takes you to the metro station. We caught the metro all around Rome and it was great and really easy to use.[br][br]Optional Extras - In Paris, I did the Fat Bike tour and that was great fun! Everyone who did it, really enjoyed it! I also did the Caberet and it was just ok. It’s something very French but I wouldn’t say I loved it. People who did the Seine cruise said they really enjoyed it, so I guess it depends on what you really want to do. The Bordeaux wine tour was pretty interesting and everyone in the group ended up doing it. You are on your way to Carcassonne, so if you don’t do the tour I am not sure what you would do.[br][br]In Barcelona, everyone who went to the Flamenco Show really regretted it. It was very badly run and really not worth it. So I would recommend not to do it unless they are doing to a different place.[br][br]When we got to Rome, we had a walking tour of all the major sights Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and ended up at the Colesseum but we didn’t go in, just sat outside it and took pics. Most people went into it the next day, our free day.[br][br]Packing - it was very hot when I was there, so I would recommend shorts, singlets etc, a pair of good walking shoes that are really comfy, thongs, say 2 pairs of nice going out shoes, would probably recommend flats because there are a lot of cobblestone streets that would be hard to walk on in heels. In Monaco, everyone made the effort to look nice. Most of the girls wore nice dresses. Take things that you can mix and match. Few nice tops and skirt or pants, a couple of dresses. Most people were casual during the day but made effort to look nice at night.[br][br]On the bus, you could charge your ipod and your phone if it was a nokia, well on our bus he only had nokia chargers but might be different on your bus.[br][br]I would recommend having locks on your suitcase just for safetys sake. Always carry your passport on you and have a bag that you can wear over your body and keep that in front of you. Just be really sensible. Don’t ever put your bag on the ground. No one had anything stolen and the trip leader will always talk to you about what to look out for in each country. [br][br]Ah I think I have answered everything…;D and I hope that has been helpful. Please ask me anything else or to clarify anything that I have said if it doesn’t make sense :-[[br][br]I am very excited for you!! You are going to have a great time!![br][br]Take care,[br][br]Raina


#4

Hi Raina,[br][br]Thanks for all the info, it is really helpful. I am going on the Discover Europe tour on the 1st October, very excited. I did the Red Star Special with topdeck earlier in the year and had an amazing time.[br][br]Just in regards to the optional extras, can you tell me about the ones after Rome and whether they are worth doing?[br][br]Thanks[br]Jen :slight_smile:


#5

Hi Jen,[br][br]My Partner and I are going on the Discover Europe 1st October too!! Yay… very excited…nervous…excited as I have never done any thing like this before…[br]These posts are great for ideas and tips.[br]Take care and see you soon[br]Em[br]


#6

Thanks Raina,[br][br]Love your post, you have answered all my questions and more ;D[br]I better look into booking a tour for the Colloseum for that day we are in Rome. [br][br]I’m going with my husband on this trip and we are going to have a blast. I know. He wasn’t really keen on the flamingo show in Barcelona and I wasn’t really keen on doing the Paridis Latin show in Paris, but I am keen on the seine river cruise. We are probably going to blend into the night life instead… haha[br][br]Hello to everyone else in this forum. See you on the 1st October. Its going to be great, I know it ;D


#7

Hi Jen,[br][br]I am very jealous…love to be doing it all again…you are going to love it!! I have been looking at what I am going to do next and the Red Star Special tour sounds great. Did you have a favourite part?[br][br]In regards to the optionals here are some thoughts…[br][br]Vatican City tour - we had a really handsome!! and interesting tour guide and he explained some really interesting things about the Sistine Chapel. I thought this was really worthwhile.[br][br]Venice - Gondola Ride - our Gondolier was very handsome again!!! but had no personality. He wouldn’t sing! I think that this really is a must even though it wasn’t quite what I expected. [br][br]Vienna - Vienna concert - was actually really nice and a bit of culture ;D We didn’t end up getting the chance to go to the Schnapps Museum, which I was a bit disappointed about.[br][br]Switzerland - Lucerne excursion - Switzerland was my favourite place so I am a bit biased here :sunglasses: but this was really worthwhile as you got a boat trip over to Lucerne, lots of time to look around and then you get to ride the cable car back to the hotel. Everyone did it, otherwise you are stuck up on the mountain.[br][br]Amsterdam - Canal cruise - everyone did this because it was our last night together. We had a ball. Beer and wine is included and some music and you get to see Amsterdam in a different light.[br][br]Oh and nearly forgot, we also went to the Postojnska Jama caves near Slovenia and that was pretty cool. Again, everyone tends to do it otherwise you just hang around waiting but it was actually really good.[br][br]I hope that is helpful. You haven’t got long to go now. You must be feeling really excited. Please feel free to ask me anything else! I hope that you have a totally awesome trip![br][br]Raina


#8

Hi Emma,[br][br]I am glad that I could help. ;D Still buzzing about this trip so its great to be able to share it with people! [br][br]The line was really long when we got to the Colesseum. We were approached by tour people who said if we paid 20 euro, we would skip the line, get a guided tour of the Colesseum and that also included a guided tour of Palantine Hill, where all the Roman things are. It was worth skipping the line, as it was so hot and the tours were really good. So I am not sure if you want to do that or maybe look into the website Viator, as you can pre-book things through that.[br][br]Anyway don’t want to spoil all the surprises for you!!! ;)[br][br]Take care and I hope that you and your husband have a great time![br][br]Raina


#9

Hi Raina,[br][br]I’m thinking of doing the Discover Europe trip in May 2010.[br][br]Did you bring a suitcase or a backpack? And which was the popular option in your group?[br][br]We’re planing of staying at the Umi Hotel before and after the tour. Did you stay there? If so, how close/far is it to central London?[br][br]Thanks![br]Hils


#10

Hi Hils,[br][br]The Umi is located in Bayswater close to Hyde Park, Oxford Circus etc. in zone 1.[br][br]Cheers,[br][br]Anita


#11

Hi Hils,[br][br]Great choice on thinking about doing the Discover Europe Tour. It really gives you a great taste of Europe and each day is a new adventure![br][br]I took a backpack, only because I was going to Greece afterwards and was doing the ferry thing and just wanted it for that part really, as it easier to carry it around on your back. [br][br]On the Discover Europe tour, the majority of people took suitcases. That seemed a good choice because often the bus parks a bit away from the hotel and its easier to wheel your bag then carry it. I also found the back pack quite limiting in terms of what I could take. Other girls had lots of lovely outfits to wear and I only had basically one nice outfit because it was all I could fit in the backpack. So if I was doing it again, I would take a suitcase.[br][br]I stayed at the Umi the night before the tour and then for a week afterwards and although the rooms are pretty small and its a basic hotel, I had a great stay there. The concierge Yogi was wonderful and so helpful. They have internet access there and it is in a great location, near laundry mats, supermarkets, restaurants and pubs. It is also really close to the Bayswater Tube Station and Hyde Park. The hotel is about an hour or so walk to all the sights in Central London or a 10 minute or so tube ride. I had a great week in London and would recommend this hotel. Just be prepared that it is not a luxury hotel but you will be comfy there.[br][br]I hope that helped and if I can help anymore, just let me know![br][br]Raina[br]


#12

Hi Raina, [br][br]Thx for your useful info.[br][br]So, I?m guessing the best way to get from Heathrow to Bayswater or Hyde Park is by taking the tube and it would just be a short walk to the Umi Hotel? Or is there a better way of getting to the hotel? [br][br]What about tipping Tour Guides/Managers and drivers? I?ve heard that on some other tours, like Contiki and Trafalgar, envelopes were passed around the bus for travellers to place their tips in. Is this the same with Topdeck?


#13

Hey Hils,[br][br]I am glad that I could help ;D. I had a transfer to the Umi with Dot to Dot transfers. Think that costs about 20 pounds. But yes, from Heathrow you can catch the train, which I think is about 17 pounds, get off at Baywater Station and it is about a 5 min walk to the Umi. Very easy and pretty flat…no big hills to drag your suitcase up! ;D Bayswater station is the closest station to the Umi and it is on the Circle and District Line.[br][br]Yes, I have been on a Contiki tour where they handed out envelopes expecting you to tip but this is not the case with Top Deck. No envelopes, no expectations to tip…unless you actually really want to. I don’t think any did on our trip.[br][br]Let me know if I can help anymore! [br][br]Raina


#14

Hey Raina,[br][br]Wow, your info is sooo helpful. It?s good to chat to someone whose been there, done that and experienced it all. [br][br]No tips on Topdeck buses. Great to hear! Although, I might just go with the flow if circumstances do change?[br][br]In regards to medication, would Panadol and Cold & Flu Day & Night tablets be ok? Or maybe some vitamin C tablets perhaps? Some medication in Australia may be legal; however in some other countries they might be illegal. Don?t want to get myself caught in those sorts of sticky situations. [br][br]Thanks for your help.[br]Hils


#15

Hey Hils,[br][br]I am glad that I am able to help! Had such a great time, it is fun reliving it all and answering your questions![br][br]In regards to medication, the only thing that I heard can be a bit dodgy to take overseas is Codeine but I think then that it is only in Greece that it is a problem. I think if you check the Smart Travellers website it might have some more information on there.[br][br]Everyone had cold and flu tablets so you should be safe there as no-one had any problems. They really are a must as 90% of people got sick. Once someone is sick it spreads through the bus air-conditioning. I also took antibotics too and I needed them as I got a really sore throat and I knew it was turning into tonsilitis. A good multi-vitamin is also recommended. Just keeps your immune system up and running! They are also light and easy to carry.[br][br]Hopefully I haven’t waffled on too much and have answered your questions![br][br]Have you chosen a date for the tour or got close to booking? Wish I was there again. It’s funny how as soon as you get back its like 'What holiday??"[br][br]Take care and let me know if you have anymore questions![br][br]Raina


#16

Hi Raina,[br][br]No, you haven?t waffled on at all. I appreciate your comments/advice/stories. [br][br]If everything goes according to plan, we?ll be booking May 2010. We?re just waiting for the catalogue to be released. Hopefully the weather won?t be too chilli around that time. We want to go before all the madness of peak season, this way we can avoid the long queues at the Vatican, Colosseum, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, etc, etc?[br][br]I?m curious to know about the Duty Free shopping in Andorra. How long do we get to shop and do the shops have a variety of stuff? I?m more interested in handbags/wallets and cosmetics and not so much electronics. [br][br]Thanks for your help![br]Hils[br]


#17

Hi Hils,[br][br]How exciting that you are getting closer to booking a date for your trip! Catalogues should be out really soon!;D[br][br]We had exactley an hour in Andorra, in which we went to the toilet, had lunch and then got on the bus…no time for shopping…:frowning: We were a bit disappointed with that. Other people found time to shop buying sunglasses, dresses, perfume. There are a variety of different shops but don’t expect it to be huge…just skip lunch or you won’t have time to shop!! Hopefully you have more time then we did. [br][br]You will be amazed by the scenery in Andorra and leading up to it…was just beautiful…[br][br]Have a great time planning your trip! Let me know if I can help anymore! I wish I was coming with you! Would do it all again in a heartbeat![br][br]Raina[br]


#18

Hi Raina,

I know, itÂ’s been a while. Hope youÂ’re still reading this forum.

I’ve booked and paid for Discover Europe 11th May – 5th June 2010.

I have a few questions which I hope you can help me with.

Been reading the itinerary, Topdeck mentioned the Paris City Lights tour and a few driving tours of some magnificent places around Europe. Do they stop the bus and we get off to take some photos (for like, 5 mins) then hop back on bus and head off to the next place? Or is it simply a drive by with only 2 seconds view? (Not even enough time to say “Wow”)

Also, are you able to tell us how much the optional cost? (The ones you did, of course)

If anyone has also been on the Discover Europe trip before, please feel free to share some advice/experiences.

By the way, is anyone else doing this trip on this date???


#19

Hi Raina,
I am doing this tour this upcoming may. Do you have pictures from your trip? I would love to see what is in store!

Thank You!

Elise