My Summerish European Experience


By Liso Donaldson    08-May-2013 09:10 UTC+02:00

busGo, see, write:

“[It] didn’t make sense not to live for fun, your brain gets smart but your head gets dumb. So much to do, so much to see, so what’s wrong with taking the back streets? You’ll never know if you don’t go”- Smashmouth

The travelling bug bit me about 3 years ago when I went to visit my best friend who relocated to Johannesburg – in case you didn’t know I’m a home grown Durban girl. The following year the bug striked again when I went to visit my other best friend who relocated to Cape Town. Since then the bug strikes every year and I have no choice but to comply.

Those of you who have had the privilege of being bitten know that once the bug bites there’s no going back. Since as far back as I can remember I’ve always wanted to travel aboard, I’m what one would call a ‘big city girl’ so visions of me hailing a cab in my Louboutins in New York or drinking cappuccino on The Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris have always been a goal of mine and my go to day dreams when work is draining the marrow from my tired bones. It took me 2 jobs, 2 years of serious saving and one big birthday – I cannot divulge the exact figure but somewhere in the 20 range and I was finally ready for my 23 day Contiki tour of Europe.

Contiki Tours is a travel corporation operated coach tour company operating in Europe, Russia, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, North America and Asia. It was formed in 1962 by New Zealander John Anderson specifically to create coach trips for 18-35 year-olds to include a mix of sightseeing, free time, culture, socializing, and adventure. Contiki claims to be the most popular youth travel company in the world, carrying over 150,000 18-35 year olds worldwide in 2007. The name Contiki comes from ‘Con’ from the word ‘Continent’ and ‘Tiki’; derived from the native New Zealand Maori good luck charm.

There are three types of tours that travelers can choose to take; camping Tours, budget Tours, and Superior Tours. Each style has a mix of sightseeing and free time with the main difference between the styles being the accommodations used. The Budget Tours, also known as Concept Tours, are a less expensive way to see the destination without camping. Travelers who choose this tour stay in backpacker style accommodations, hostels or specialized Contiki Villages. Contiki Villages, also known as Contiki Special Stopovers, are specifically manned by Contiki personnel.

With an exchange rate of R12 to the Euro and an accumulation of unpaid leave of up to 19 working days I of course chose a Concept Tour by the name of European Experience. Travelling from the 29th of March – 23rd of April 2013 from London to Paris to the Beaujolais wine region in France to the French Riviera of Florence to Rome to Venice to Austria to Munich to Switzerland to the Rhine Valley to last but not least, Amsterdam and finally back to London through Belgium.

Join me as I tell all of my European escapades including but not limited to my run ins with language barriers, bathroom confusion, lack of wifi and BIS, first time in snow, heavy pour drinks and of course what really happened in Amsterdam!

This is my post travel recollections in written form of my crazy Number 2 Song, You’re a rock star, Wonderwall whirlwind experience that was my first time overseas.  In the words of someone relatively famous; [I don’t even know what that means] “No one knows what it means, but its provocative, it gets the people going!!”


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  1. Diamante :) says:

    I’ve also been a victim or beneficiary of the travel bug and YES, when it bites you can’t go back! I admire the amount of work you did that enabled you to travel and I’m sure that it was worth it. I can’t wait to read more about your European escapades! 🙂

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