European Getaway 20 Aug - 08 Sep 2016


#1

Hey, I’ve just booked this trip and will be arriving in London on the 19th. Was just keen on finding out who else will be going. I’m staying at the Wombat the night prior so maybe we can meet before the tour starts!

Alex


#2

Hey, I’m thinking of booking this tour, I’m travelling solo and can’t decide between this or a slightly shorter one


#4

Hey!

Just wondering if you made a decision yet and which tour you’ll be joining?


#5

Hey Alex
I just signed up for this tour yesterday. You still doing this tour?

Mario


#6

Hey Mario,

Yeah, I’m still doing this tour! Do you know how many total people have signed up now and will you be staying at the Wombat the night prior?

Alex


#7

Hey Alex

Not sure how many people signed up but sure we can ask? I still need to book my overnight stay the night before the tour but that I can only do in the coming week once I finalised my payment.

M


#8

I’ll be booking this trip this week! Technically I’ll be on the Trail to Berlin tour (I’ll finish up in Berlin while the tour continues to Amsterdam - I’ve been before!) and I’m pretty excited about it. First time doing Topdeck.

According to Tour Radar there are only 8 spots left on this trip so I don’t know what that means for numbers.


#9

Hey! Looking forward to meeting you guys on the trip. This is my first top deck as well. I think the trips are for upwards of 40-45 people so 8 seats left means we’re almost full.


#10

yeah well…im paid up and ready for this tour now to start.


#11

Any of you know how these “free days” work? I see from the itinerary that there’s 4 free days in Paris, Swiss, Rome and Prague. If i wanted to do the optional activities, how will i know what time they begin/end so i can plan around those activities? Example - in Paris, there is a bike tour, boat cruise and a picnic. How can i plan around those activities since there is no time table on the trip notes or should i assume doing these will take the whole day?


#12

Not sure but suppose it will be during the day sometime and as a extra activity we can choose. If you wanna do all 3 activities then you might have a problem with time…but then again I suggest you ask Topdeck. What optional activities are you interested in doing by the way, then I can see for my self if I can join you? I will be interested in the below:
Paris - Bike Tour
Swiss Alps - Skydiving(if not too expensive)
Rome - Vatican City tour


#13

I recently came back from the European Getaway back in June. It was one of the best experiences in my life! When it comes to “free days” it is basically a day where your tour leader (in general) sets you loose and you do whatever you want. In most cases, you will break up into smaller groups based on interest ie. what people want to do or where to go, you’ll work that out amongst yourselves. Your tour leader will provide you with the optional activities, the cost, the time frame, whether it’s possible to do multiple in a single day or not, etc. All these details were provided to us during the driving days so we can plan ahead. I will give a short breakdown of some of the things that we did during our tour based on the listed cities, there are more than 4 free days - at least for us.
Paris - The night before, we had a driving tour which covered the major monuments, this helped with setting up our free day. Most of the day was spent revisiting these monuments up close where possible. Visiting the Louvre was something that many of us did for example (some even got lost in there for a few hours haha). Roaming the streets, indulging in the local cuisine and culture was a common thing as you go from monument to monument. We had a group dinner in the evening in front of Napolean’s Tomb, apparently a really nice dinner (I was the only one that didn’t make it, long story). Following that an optional - going to a Cabaret, our entire group did this - I recommend doing this. I do not recommend the bike tour as all the information covered done during the driving tour the day before free day - our tour leader Matt Evans was incredible. This is not to say that riding around on a bike wasn’t fun, it really was, probably the best part of the biking tour! Boat cruise, I can’t attest to that, didn’t do it, no one did it on our tour - but doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile.
Swiss Alps - The problem here is that you had one of two options, skydiving or going to the Top of Europe at Jungfrau Mountain. I personally love the Swiss Alps, mountains, waterfalls, nature, my personal favourite! Skydiving, if you are going to do it anywhere in the world, do it here. Period. If you never skydived before and are afraid of heights like me, you do it here - thank me later :slight_smile: The cost is going to sound overwhelming, but after you complete the jump, it is totally worth it! Oh, you should also get the video, you can’t jump and not get the video - extract the photos from the video rather than purchasing the photos in addition to the video. Alternatively, you can skydive in Austria (significantly cheaper, but it just isn’t in the Swiss Alps). We had people do it in both locations. RISKY ITEM: If the weather looks bad, you are taking a massive risk as you can be waiting all day and not be able to jump. You go up and jump in pairs, our group had 8 people in Swiss jumping, only 6 of us got to jump. We waited nearly 6 hours - hoping for the rain to subside and clouds to clear - safety things have to be considered when jumping. All that waiting gave us only a half hour window to jump before it started raining again, thus, only 6 of us got to jump. Conditions weren’t safe for the other two and they had to call it. In short, be weary of the weather it is a risk! Kudos to one of the tandem skydivers from Skydive XDream - Kris, during the long wait, he took us on a private tour of a couple places, it was really awesome of him to do that - purely out the kindness of his heart to make our time better. As for taking the train to the top of Europe, if you’re a fan of Lindt chocolate, you can indulge yourself here along with going through ice tunnels and seeing ice sculptures, and if you never seen snow like one of the people on our tour - this was epic for her!
Rome - So much to do and see here, culture is amazing. Mainly monuments and sightseeing things like the Colosseum, Pantheon, and Trevi Fountain. You can spend your entire day roaming Rome :wink: and even then you’ll feel like there isn’t enough time! I recommend going in at least 1 monument, it’ll be worth it. Please don’t forget food and gelato… there is a 150 flavour gelato shop, find it and be amazed - didn’t even know some flavours were actually flavours! Vatican City, Sistine Chapel tour, it was nice, for myself, it was not worth it because of the enormous crowds, how rushed the tour was, and just no time to take it all in and appreciate where it is that you are. This is not to say you won’t have a good experience, but for me, time and money could have been spent elsewhere.
Prague - This is probably the cheapest place visited, want to get the most of your money, go nuts here when it comes to food and drinks. One of the things that we did was go up the Old Town Hall Tower in the Old Town Square, I recommend doing this for an incredible view of the city. Food, look up the local delicacies and dive in!
I recommend doing as many optionals as you can, just make sure you have enough money - budget!, especially if your skydiving in Swiss Alps. Ask your tour leader, they have all the information for you. Of course, personal research is part of the travelling process, but leverage your tour leader as they know what’s good based on their experiences. That’s the short gist of it, hope the information helps. If you want to hear more or have questions I can certainly fill you in based on my personal experinece of this tour!


#14

Wow, thanks for this write up! This was exactly the information i was looking for. A few quick questions

  1. Did you research ahead of time what you wanted to do on the off days? or just went with the tour leaders recommendation?

  2. I’m traveling on this trip solo. Would you say people were receptive to having someone join their groups?

  3. This is my first time with TopDeck or this kind of travel in general. What are the key pieces of advice you would give to another traveler on these tours?

  4. Were all the optional activities requiring cash upfront to the trip leader to book? or can credit cards be used?

  5. What did you do for cell service? I’d like to have mobile data through the whole trip so i can at least use maps/chat to meet up or find my way.

  6. What travel insurance did you use and where did you start your trip from?


#15

My pleasure :slight_smile:

  1. I personally did not research ahead of time what I wanted to do on the off days. Our tour guide, Matt, was on point for this and providing recommendations as well as details with the optionals. Given his past experience, he was able to give us more of the culture and popular as well as no so popular places to go or things to see. However, this is not to say that some people did not do research on their own. My thoughts, go with the flow, have a simple game plan in mind such as go to x, y, and z, but if you find something neat along the way you have room in your schedule to take a more spontaneous detour.

  2. I basically travelled the trip solo - technically I went with my sister, but we really didn’t do much together, we pretty much did our own thing. Based on other traveller’s experiences groups tend to bound together as most are solo travellers or went in pairs. However, with our group specifically, we have bonded and connected despite all the differences we had at an unreal level. I cannot say it is something that happens with all groups, but our group size definitely played a role in it. For me, 2 days into the trip, I was able to have met and chat with everyone in our group, apparently this was quick. Either way, I would not worry about people not being receptive - though I suggest getting out there and introducing yourself early to get the pleasantries aside so you can worry more about having fun rather than getting to meet people or others being receptive to having someone join in on their groups. I’m more of a shy/timid individual, I personally found it easy.

  3. My key advice to someone on their first Topdeck tour/any kind of travel in general (given I was just in your situation before taking this tour myself) is to not worry. Don’t overthink things. Just do it. I know this is generally easier said than done given that you are asking such as question - I did the same so don’t worry. What you want to do is get out of your shell, otherwise you start collecting regrets and there is way too little time to deal with regrets. The trip will fly by, you will feel overwhelmed after the first little bit. However, you will adapt if you go with the flow. I do caution a couple of things based on what happened on our tour. First and foremost, protect your stuff, keep an eye on things like your passport, phone, money - I personally had a scare with almost losing my passport, a few others on the tour did as well. As for mobile/cell phones… I think all in 4 were lost, only 1 was recovered - for me, the ocean in Nice threw itself on mine - it doesn’t work anymore :slight_smile: This was ironically one of the best things that happened to me. Why? I am typically the one worrying about things, from navigation, where to go, and making sure things are in good standing. I felt naked without my phone, however, I understand that stuff happens (at least it really hit me then) and not to worry about it. I honestly can go on for days about this question. Let me know if you have more specifics I can help with! Did I also mention, Matthew Evans, our tour leader was awesome? Well, he was when it came to ensuring that we had everything we needed and made our trip something unforgettable - it’s the small things he did. The people you go with, your tour leader, and your personal attitude will shape the experience you receive, make the best of it.

  4. The optionals generally required a deposit for the activity in which your tour leader will need to collect from you, on average, it happens the day before. We were efficient with these things, optimized the time on the bus to take care of administrative things. The rest of the payment were sometimes paid directly to the dealer - ie. skydiving company. Other options that are cheaper, such as the cabaret was collected in full ahead of time, it was easier that way.The larger payments can be done with credit cards - DO NOT USE CREDIT CARDS! You will get destroyed with fees! Use a debit card and withdraw cash in semi-large sums - there’s a fee everytime it was done. Also exchange rates, your bank’s debit card will give you a better rate than the ATMs. There are plenty of ATMs throughout the trip so don’t worry about withdrawing too too much, but a sizeble sum. That’s what I did, it worked for me and worked for a lot of the other travelers. Some had a travel card of sorts, not too familiar with that, but worth the mention.

  5. Cell service… let’s say it’s one of the things I would do differently, not that it mattered after 4 days and my phone being non-operational though lol. You WANT to have the mobile data. A couple of options, start looking for providers that do that. You can also get the sim through Topdeck. Neither options I did. However, the mobile data is so helpful, especially with navigation - this is important! Or you can just sit back and relax, someone generally steps up for that kind of thing - just who they are (something I would have done had I got mobile data and not soak my phone).

  6. World Nomads, I did some scouting for insurance, it was a much better package and generally much cheaper plus it hit all the requirements advised by Topdeck. It’s really easy to do as well online. Follow the prompts :slight_smile: The tour started in London UK, Wombats hostel. Most people got there ahead of time. I didn’t I took a detour with my sister and visited Copahagen, Denmark - it was BEAUTIFUL. Those who got there early got acquainted early which was beneficial as well. Also, I did not really get a chance to explore London because of how packed my schedule was, give yourself a day to explore London. It comes down to what you want to do to be honest.

Let me know if there’s anything else I can help with!


#16

Hey Luc
I just wanna say thanks for the insight and advice on your experience of this tour, really appreciate it. I’m sure myself, Alex and the rest of the Topdeck group on our trip will take this “knowledge” and use it wisely.

regards
Mario