My experience with Spirit of Europe tour


I just did the Spirit of Europe which was 26 days. I used this tour to see the sites around Europe safely and I did achieve that successfully. I also met some great people and made some new friends. I ended up choosing a tour after my partner was unable to come with me to Europe like we had planned (it was a great sampler, as we are now engaged and plan to go back to some of these places on our honeymoon in 2011!). [br][br]I hope my review does not get taken down as I have heard these forums do not allow people to post anything but glowing reports of their trips, however I was hoping to give my honest and accurate description of my expeirence with Top Deck. Overall I had a great time however there were also negatives, and I wanted to prepare people for the fact that it’s not all rosy. [br][br]I saw so many amazing sites and my favourite country was Poland. Our bus driver was brilliant and really professional. Our trip leader on the other hand was incredibly irresponsible, immature and unprofessional. Examples of her unprofessionalism include trying to hook up with the guys, trying to create issues between people on the tour by btching and spreading rumours and repeating confidential information about people (relating to their medical conditions, medication etc). so wrong. I believe she no longer works for the company which is a relief for you guys. I think it was her last tour for Top Deck which may help explain why she didn?t give a sht. [br][br]Accommodation[br]The accommodation was what I expected for a budget tour. You mainly share in quads so sometimes when showering you did not have hot water. Some beds were together, so you had to sleep next to someone.! this is all cool for 3 weeks but you would not want to do it for any longer. Make sure you pick nice, normal roommates ? I was lucky we found 4 of us that wanted to room together and it worked out nicely. The 4 of us are still friends. There was one girl on our tour who refused to shower or wash her clothing and no one wanted to share with her. By the end of the tour it was quite foul. Oh and If you can possibly manage it do not get a roommate that snores!! Or take earplugs. [br][br]Bus[br]The bus is not that comfortable. People buy so much stuff that the bus gets really full and you have no leg room. You are crammed in like sardines. I also felt sorry for the bus driver who had to lift gigantic 30kg + cases that some people had bought despite the limit being (I think) 20kg. The songs on the bus get repeated over and over again. The Top Deck song gets played every day several times. You stop for a 45min break every approx 3hrs. There is a toilet on the bus filled up and we were told not to use it - only for emergencies till it could be emptied. Which is fair enough, I mean most people can wait that long however some people in our group spewed and sht in there even after being told not to, which meant a putrid smell filled the bus for a couple of days until it could be emptied?gross. xx([br][br]Time in cities [br]Nowhere near enough time in the cities to see the sites. You just get a taste of what?s really there. You get given a map which wasn’t very descriptive and off you go for the day. Luckily most people had Lonely Planets which had far better maps which thankfully assisted…I think from memory the Krakow and Prague maps were particularly crp. It was no surprise that the time in cities was minimal - this is well advertised and I expected it, but I am just pointing it out, you won?t really get a full taste of a city, but it?s good for giving you an idea of what to go back to. They are good in dropping you off in the city and then picking you up at the end of the day when you do have a full day. However we were always waiting for people, when I took another tour with a similar company years ago the best thing was if you were not there the bus went without you. Not the case on this tour, it seemed as though we were always waiting for latecomers (coincidentally, they were always the people the trip leader was trying to suck up to and become friends with). We were always waiting at rest stops too seemingly for the bunch of immature peeps who didn?t seem to appreciate that this meant less time in the beautiful cities. [br][br]The optional excursions[br]I would definitely recommend people try to get to the catacombs in Paris if you?ve already seen the other sights. I had been to Paris before, so had already done the Eiffiel tower, Louvre and Notra Dame, so another 2 girls and I did the catacombs and it was amazing. Others who had been to Paris also went to the Palace of Versailles for a day and spoke really highly of this! Definitely try and go up the Eiffel tower at night. I did not do the Nouvelle Eve cabaret as I had previously done the Moulin Rouge, and it was quite expensive but everyone I spoke to seemed to enjoy it. The Fat Tyre bike tour of Paris was great, and almost the whole group did this and had a fun time and saw heaps of Paris even though it rained. . [br]Try and make the trip to Cannnes in the French Riviera, there is not heaps to do in Nice but the lookout over Nice is a good walk and pretty view. [br]In Lauterbrunnen about 6 of us went skydiving, I did and loved it and from my opinion it was well worth the $A600. Everyone else who went up the Jungfrau loved that and it was a great day out. [br]Everything in Venice is worth doing, but if you are a couple I?d recommend bartering with a gondolier and taking a private gondola ride, as doing it with 6 other people I would suggest it would be not that romantic. [br]The Vatican and St Peters Basillica in Rome was incredible, unfortunately we had several bogans in our tour group who decided it was appropriate to talk through the guided tour and then lay on the floor of the Sistine Chapel (what the??).[br]Vienna was amazing, unfortunately we were there on a Sunday and not much was open, but the royal palace was beautiful (I forget what its called sorry!). [br]The Vienesse concert dinner was an absolute rip off. The concert was good but not really my thing. [br]The Auchwitz concentration camp in Poland was a highlight of the trip for me and most others I think. Many people also went to the Salt Mines in Krakow and loved this and the walking tour of Krakow was amazing. [br]They are the ones that stood out, If you have any questions about other optional please let me know, they all sort of blur into one now I am back! [br][br]Partying[br]The partying and drinking that went on was ridiculous. Our tour stayed in cabins at caravan parks which all had Top Deck affiliated bars. You were pressured to drink and spend your money at these bars so they make a profit. The drinks were not cheap. If you weren’t at these parties you were outcast as being unsociable and weird by your tourmates and even by the trip leader. It was such a childish mentality. People drank very irresponsibly and I was surprised that no one went to hospital with alcohol poisoning. One girl was found by tourmates with practically hypothermia after being left passed out on the ground outside her cabin for several hours at a campsite in Venice (I believe her ?friend? ditched her as she was off hooking up with some guy…nice!). The tour leader then made the decision to leave the girl and her friend at the campsite instructing them to catch the train to meet up with the tour later. If that were me, I would have put myself in her parents shoes and insisted this girl go to hospital as a precaution because she was only 19 and who knows what could have happened had she actually gone into hypothermic shock. [br][br]Food[br]The food on our tour was pretty good, especially at the campsites. The fondue in Lauterbrunnen was great and the meals in Italy were amazing. Pizza at trattorias and cafes in Italy is the best as is the gelati. Optional dinners were a rip off, you are better grabbing a couple of tour mates and going somewhere else for a meal its usually cheaper and better food. However the optionals can be fun when the whole group gets together if you have a good group, unfortunately this was not the case with our tour and most of the dinners turned into rabbles of drunken stupidity. [br][br]Illness [br]Everyone gets sick?once one person gets it that?s it. The key is trying to make sure you are healthy before the tour and taking antibiotics and vitamins with you. On our trip a girl got sick on the first day the infection then spread through the entire bus. The virus lived in the bus and kept on infecting people through the whole 3.5 weeks. The virus kept on mutating so you kept on getting infected. So make sure you drink lots of water and just be prepared to be a bit sick the entire time… I was mildly sick with the tail end of my cold for about 3 weeks after I got home. [br][br]People [br]I think you experience with Top Deck (or any tour for that matter) really depends on your group. My tour was full of (mostly Aussie) young people in their late teens and early 20’s, so there was a lot of winging and catfighting and hooking up (including our tour leader trying it on with all the guys and becoming involved with the bitc*ing?despite her being 31 years old? - odd). The things I heard people say about others was terrible and cruel and the sort of bullying that goes on in high school. They did not have an open mind and were not considerate nor respectful to others on the tour. I witnessed a lot of verbal abuse between people which upset me. There were high school groups where particular groups would not speak to other groups, eg. the cool group and the uncool group. I think they actually called themselves ?the A team? Pathetic. However having said this there was a lot of fantastic people on my tour as well, probably a 40/60 normal people/d head ratio. However like I said I met some lovely girls and some nice couples around my age (I am 25, Aussie). I don?t know how to advise people to avoid this but I think if you don?t want to be on a tour with these kind of people try to pick one that goes during Australian uni semester or even during the year, rather than at the end? Or maybe even try to find out from your travel agent the average age of people on your tour, OR travel with a friend or partner so at least you have someone to go off with when the group gets too much. [br][br]So that?s it in a nutshell. The tour is like a budget high school camp with copious amounts of drinking. However you do get to see and experience the amazing sites of Europe. Just be prepared it is the luck of the draw with the group you get can largely influence what sort of tour you will have.[br]


Thanks for taking the time to share your experience Caroline. I’m booked on my first Topdeck tour next March, so your insights are very useful and welcome, for example, I didn’t realise that we arranged our own roommates and just how the general arrangements for the rooms work (will definitely be packing the earplugs as I’m an incredibly ligth sleeper). Also really apprecaite your advice on the optional excursions and dinners - very good to know.[br][br]Cheers[br]Josh


Thats a fantastic insight Caroline, well done for taking the time.[br]I personally am in the 30 somethings so will be interesting how I find the tour. I have done Europe twice before so doing it with a tour is different for me. I will see how it goes. Plus im not a big drinker so if I dont ‘fit’ in due to that, then whatever really. :)[br][br]I hope that with any negative but constructive criticism you have given, that it is read and followed up by the Topdeck company, to try and improve the trips. Thats what I personally would do.[br][br]Anyway, thanks again Caroline. Take care.[br][br]Craig[br][br]Winter Spirit 10th Dec 2009 to 2nd Jan 2010


Hi caroline993,[br][br]We appreciate your feedback and are glad that overall you did have a great time.[br][br]We take your comments seriously as our ultimate goal is to ensure that you have the best travel experience possible and we are sorry to hear that in certain aspects this was not the case for your trip.[br][br]Could you please get in contact with us personally or please e-mail your full name and contact phone number to us at and we will be in touch. Our policy is to handle issues on an individual basis and it would be good to discuss some of your points at length so that we can make improvements that would benefit all of our future travellers.[br][br]Best regards,[br][br]Anita[br]