23 Days 12 Countries---- Help!!

Jan 26th, 2004, 10:10 AM
  #1  
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23 Days 12 Countries---- Help!!

I know it is rushed. Believe me, I know. My 21 year old is taking a Contiki tour in May-June. Please don't suggest she not take-she is set on it and it is already 1/2 paid for(by her best friends mom)-no going back.

On to the questions-she is going to see museums and churches in Paris/Rome/Florence/Vienna-by that point she will be burnt out on museums/churches. Any suggestions on what to see in Lyon/Munich/Hopfgarten/Lucerne???? Please keep in mind she will have only 1 full day in each city-not counting mealtimes.

They also goes to Nice and I have suggested from my reading that she see Vieux Nice but I haven't a clue what part of Nice that is in-can someone please tell me with map references (on coast/north/south...).

Has anyone been to Hopfagrten-what is there????

Any suggestions on inexpensive dining in the cities listed would also be appreciated. I am turining to all the board folk because you have a wealth of knowledge and she has no wealth-just a tight budget. We are planning on appx. $100/day (not counting the included daily breakfasts/ 7 dinners/transport/hotels). That leaves lunches for 21 days and dinner for 14 days plus any cheap souvenirs. Not counting museum entries in Paris, etc. Any help would be most appreciated as the trip was a gift and we are scrambling to make it the best we can. Is $100 a day realistic? Should we just have her come home midway if $100 isn't enough?

Do most budget hotels have safes so she isn't carrying a wad of euros in her money belt??

It seems highlights of Paris and Rome could (maybe, fingers crossed)be visited in one day with the use of a metro or bus-are these complicated? Is there an online site that explains how they work with maps?

Any ideas on the best routes to see as much as possible in Paris and Rome? (she doesn't want to go to top of Eiffel tower if that helps but really wants to see the Vatican)
Thanks for your help on this.

We are getting a Paris museum card and an international sytudent I.D. Is there a Rome museum/site card???

Any suggestions to make this dream trip better would be very much appreciated. Thank you again.
Denisegm is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 10:23 AM
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Just my first quick thought, make sure she has an ATM card so she doesn't have to carry lots of money on her. Hopefully most of the places she will be visiting use the Euro currency. You would hope that $100 a day would be a comfortable budget but the value of the dollar is so poor currently and if you read the article posted recently it is going to get worse, that is what will influence her spending ability and how much money she will need daily. You've come to the right place for advice and have enough time to plan. Great start. Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 10:48 AM
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If you go to the Frommers site, they have itineraries of the sort "If you have one day in City X, do this." I would suggest she print those out and adapt as necessary.
WillTravel is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 10:55 AM
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DeborahAnn- Thanks for the advice. ATM card-will do. She spends nights in Paris/Lyon/Nice/Florence/Rome/Venice/Vienna/Hopfgarten/Munich/Lucerne/St. Goar/Amsterdam.

Should we start buying Euros now in case of further decline??? I just read that MSNBC article. $3 cokes is way out for this trip.

I'd like her to eat a decent meal in say Paris and Rome, maybe a $25-30 dinner. I know she can get market foods (fruit/cheese/bread) for lunches or dinner usually but I would like her to eat a couple of decent lunches in say Nice/Vienna/Lucerne. I am thinking if we spread out where she eats a decent lunch or dinner she won't consistently eat from a market. Does that make sense? I am thinking if she can eat a normal meal once every day or every other day that would be best but I don't know if that is really doable. Thanks again for the ATM idea.
Denisegm is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 11:16 AM
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Hi WillTravel. Thanks for the suggestion-can you point to the tab or link on Frommers? Thanks again.
Denisegm is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 11:54 AM
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Never used Contiki Tours and don't know how flexible they are. I would bet that most of the time is already scheduled - with a little bit of time for seeing things "at leisure".

It sounds like a "whirlwind" tour a friend took a while back. His major complaint was that most of the hotels they stayed in were not centrally located and that it was difficult to strike out independently.

Make sure your daughter understands about using ATMs. They should be used to get currency, but not to be used like a credit card. You might want to look at a Smart Card that she could use for most purchases.

I'm sure she'll love the trip.
Bird is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 12:08 PM
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On the money issue, I think $100 a day is easily doable, given what's included in the tour.

Figure $50 a day for food if she eats in cafes/markets for lunch and inexpensive restaurants. This would include snacks and drinks (think bottled water, not soda!).

That leaves $50 a day for bus/metro tickets, museum/attraction entrance fees etc. And some souvenir money. Should be no problem. The first 4 cities you list all have cafes and other inexpensive-type restaurants all over the place.

Try http://www.paris.org/Metro/ for the Paris metro maps. Paris has an open bus tour that she can use to see all the main sites - I think it works the same as other cities - you buy a pass and can hop on and off wherever you want. Type "Paris tourist bus" into google to get more info.

Most hotels will have either in-room safes or a safe behind the front desk. Make sure she always uses them!

Hope this helps a little.
Karen
kaudrey is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 12:51 PM
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When she is in Nice she might try to find a way to get to Saint Paul de Vence and/or Monaco. They are only a short distance away. I would think there would be buses or some other reasonable form of transportation. Monaco is really something to see as long as you don't have to pay there.
Randy is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 12:55 PM
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I suggest you look at the message boards on Contiki's website. You or your daughter can ask questions of people that have actually been on these tours. Contiki is known as somewhat of a party tour company for 18-35 year olds only. www.contiki.com
kybourbon is online now  
Jan 26th, 2004, 01:02 PM
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My single biggest suggestion is to have her do all of the research you are trying to do for her. I know you want to help, but if she isn't doing (and maybe she is) most of the research, she will not be as equipped to adjust and respond to the challenges of her travels.
Bitter is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 01:03 PM
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Hopefully I can shed some light here. I did a 14 day Contiki tour last year. I am going to warn you, I highly doubt that $100 a day is going to work. This is what i had planned, but believe me when she gets there and hears everyone else going on the optional excursions, she will want to do them as well. I did all but 3 and it was close to $350 us dollars and that was just the 14 day tour. Yes breakfast and some dinners are included, but the breakfasts leave a lot to be desired. What I did do was take breakfast bars and snacks that I could easily pack, otherwise I probably would have starved. Most of the time lunches are very limited choices, we would stop at the rest stops and those tended to be expensive. Contiki gives some free time, but not a whole lot. What they do is on the way to each city they give everyone a city map and go over all the important sites, etc. so then the travelers can decide what they want to do. There are hardly any tours that are actually included, the only ones were a diamond factory, glass blowing and leather demostration, which were all nothing but sales pitches to get you to buy products. I ended up running out of money by the end and had to call home to get more cash. I hardly bought any souvenirs, but eating and sightseeing added up really quick. I can tell you in Rome it will be hard to see everything. I did not go with the group that day and ended up seeing the coliseum and forum and just the outside of the Vatican, never went in because by the time I got there it was the end of the day. Rome has a lot of transportation strikes, which is what happened while I was there, so it was hard to get around, we had to walk everywhere. Contiki does an excellent job and your daughter is going to have the time of her life. Just keep in mind that she will need to be spending money, this is not like other tour companies. And one more piece of advice, pack VERY LIGHT. Each person has to carry their own stuff, I had bruises all over my wrists by the end of the trip from trying to struggle with luggage. And she will LOVE Hopfgarten, it is a quiet sleepy little Austrian town in the mountains, just gorgeous and more just relaxing with scenery than anything else.
harmony29 is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 02:12 PM
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Thank you all for the ideas/suggestions/web site data. You have all been really helpful. I especially appreciate that everyone wished/hoped/assured that she will have the time of her life.

She and I have both been doing a lot of research on how to stretch every euro until it squeals. Picking and choosing where and what. We both read the Contiki boards and some trip reports on web pages but frankly what we got were "It was great" or "I went drinking every night".

I apologize for not mentioning the Optionals that "harmony29" pointed out.We had already budgeted a seperate $350-400 for those outside of the $100 per day.

Can anyone help me with the question about maybe buying euros starting now for the May trip? Do you think that is a good idea? I can get them at my bank.


I willl make sure when she returns in June that there is a clear concise description so any future parents/students can come to Fodors and type contiki and get a city by city report on how to do it on a tight budget. Thanks again for your help. Denise
Denisegm is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 02:25 PM
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I don't understand what the problem is here. I don't spend $100 a day myself on meals and miscellaneous when I travel to Europe, and I'm an adult with a good income and don't even try to budget and have plenty of $3 coffees and drinks and I include breakfast. This doesn't make any sense to me at all. What on earth is she going to be spending so much money on?

As for the Contiki excursions, you've budgeted extra for it anyway, but there is no reason to pay expensive prices for those kinds of things. I can understand if it's more a thing to do with your friends, but it's not necessary to pay someone to see major tourist sites. If they are excursions outside the city into the country, etc., that makes more sense.

Vieux Nice is a good suggestion, it's right in the center of the city not that far from the sea. She needs a guidebook which should indicate these things and have suggestions on what to see and how to get there. Why don't you buy her a guidebook if she doesn't want to do any of this research herself, like Let's Go or something.
Christina is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 02:42 PM
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I dont think either you or she can micromanage her days on this tour. I think like was mentioned just get her a guide book and let her decide on the bus. She will be gettng alot of input and will have made alot of friends on the bus and they will have their own ideas what they want to do after they get to a town.
I think all of your planning will go out of the window when all the young people get together. Just go over a guide book like was mentioned, Lets Go and get a general idea of what is offered and then let her go by what feels right on the day of.

nocinonut is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 02:45 PM
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You asked:
Can anyone help me with the question about maybe buying euros starting now for the May trip? Do you think that is a good idea? I can get them at my bank.

I don't think it is a good idea. The conversion rate would be high, and you don't want to be carrying too much cash. Also, the Euro is very high right now and the chances that they go down are better than they going up. (My opinion only). It sounds like you might be spending dollars to manage dimes.
Bird is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 03:21 PM
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You've already gotten a lot of great advice; it sounds like Contiki may not provide her with a lot of opportunities to hunt out cheap places to eat.

But if she does have the chance, in Paris (and probably other places) there are many street stands or small takeout sorts of places that sell crepes. They are 3-5 Euros (depending on what's in them) and are a great French food - you don't see many (any?) of those kinds of places in the U.S.

In Italy, you can often find takeout pizza places. I think they're called "pizza rustica." You can buy pizza (REALLY tasty pizza) by the slice. All sorts of flavors, including zucchini and eggplant. Again, something you won't see in the U.S.

For drinks, she can take a water bottle and refill it from the tap.

She'll have a great time!
Lexma90 is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 03:42 PM
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Thanks to all the recent posters for the advice/suggestions. She does have a guidebook that she is pouring through along with all the other data we are collecting from forums like this and web sites. I guess we am just thinking that if we can stretch the euro as much as possible it would be better than just letting her on the bus with peers that may have twice the discretionary funds.

I appreciate the poster that noted she could get along fine on $100/day. We are just trying to get a clear picture on what meals,tips,bathrooms,souvenirs,water,fruits, meaqls, snacks, a glass of wine, etc could all add up to when it is all said and done.

We keep reading "half as many clothes and twice as much money" and that can be a scary sentence when it involves sending a 21 yr old off to another continent for 23 days. (She is pretty sensible and mature-BUT she is 21 with a busload of other 21 year olds).

Bottom line is: I want her to have the best time possible on this and do not want her to feel like the poorest kid on the bus. So, I am happy to be helping and frankly grateful that I was asked to help.

Just sign me a typical parent who wants the best for their kid.

Thanks again.
Denisegm is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 04:20 PM
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I notice people commenting on the price of drink, and it is totally true, the most expensive drink i had was a 10 euro diet coke, and the cheepest i found was a .90 euro can of diest coke. Why is soda, and drink in general so expensive? Even a tiny cup of coffe will set you back at least 3 euros, although i have paid as much as 5 euros. The water also seems more expensive, i ordered a picture of tap water in venice and rome, and they said they could not do that, and gave me a bottle of water. Also be sure to tell you waiter that you want water with out gas, if you want "regular" water.
illusion321 is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 07:12 PM
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She can take an insulated water bottle and fill it up at the many fountains all over Europe. I've known kids that took boxes of pop tarts in their luggage. If she takes any snacks put them in a tupperware container so they don't get crushed in the luggage. Small boxes of raisins, candy and peanut butter crackers travel well and come in handy if you are delayed somewhere or arrive late and everything is closed.
kybourbon is online now  
Jan 26th, 2004, 08:16 PM
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I agree with the advice not to "invest" in Euros now. For one thing, the exchange rate will be more favorable there via ATM withdrawals as needed than here.

While cokes may be $3 at a cafe in the touristy neighborhoods, there is nearly always a convenience store near the hotel or a soda machine within the hotel where the price is half that or less.

I also agree with the advice to leave her be. She is 21, not 16, and it is HER dream trip, not yours, not ours. With the fast pace of this itinerary, the optionals, hanging with fellow travelers, there won't be that much free time. I'm guessing the tour director will have recommendations and she and her fellow travelers will come up with plans on their own, or just go exploring. Also, she will likely be planning her next trip coming home on the plane.

Go to www.ratp.fr, then click on English for metro and bus maps of Paris. There is also L'Opentour (there's a link to that website from RATP), the hop on/hop off double decker that goes around to all the major tourist sights and attractions.

Would recommend that you NOT acquire a Paris museum pass ahead of time. The price is much lower in Paris and they can be purchased at any participating venue or most metro stations. The only place you really need the pass for is Musee d'Orsay and, perhaps, the Louvre (but they have so many entrances now this is hardly ever necessary) for skipping the ticket line. Kids could do both in one day on a one day pass, especially on a day either is open into the evening. They are opposite one another via a pedestrian bridge. In my opinion, a three or five day pass would not be worth it.

Note that at ATM card is a terrific idea, but NOT an ATM/debit card. If a debit card is lost or stolen, the entire balance can be wiped out without the PIN via purchases, and you do NOT have the same rights of recovery as with a credit card.
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