2005 Contiki European Panorama

July 25 - August 21

~~ ~~ Panorama Optionals ~~ ~~

all prices in Euro

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My suggestion - sign up for everything unless you've done it before. Why? Well, do you think you'll ever go back? You're here, and you've travelled all the way from (...) so you might as well do it. Most people signed up for all the dinners though (except for the Can Can).

So if I signed up for EVERYTHING, how much would all this cost me?? Roughly 850 extra - and I am erring on the high side. Just need to add your spending money; lunches, non-included dinners (unless it's an optional), beverages, and souvenirs.

How/When do I pay for the optionals? Cash is king ... and in Europe that would be Euros. On the first day, everyone will receive an Optionals Sheet outlining all the optionals activities and their respective costs. You tick of the one you want to do and total up the cost. For a long tour such as this, maybe you might pay in 2 installments - it all depends on your TM (tour manager). Also, you can elect not to go on an optional even if you've already paid for it in advance - and obviously, you will be refunded. The only time you will not get refunded is if your TM indicates that reservation must be made in advance and states there is no refund - such as in parapenting. The only place where you pay the activity operators directly are for the water sports for George's boat in Corfu.

See Current Panorama Optionals from the Contiki website - subject to change [ie: Amsterdam :P ]

Paris Nouvelle Eve Dinner & Show Can Can. 105
A little pricey - I didn't go since I've seen it before. I think 2/3 of the group went to the show.

Museum Cards: 18 for a 1 day pass. Probably won't have enough time to put this to its full use. I didn't get one. I don't think anyone got a pass due to time constraints. But if you do go, here is a perspective from a person who did get Museum pass:    falkenGTS (30/6/06 3:36)
Barcelona                               Dinner and Flamenco show at El Patio Andaluz 48
I think most, if not all of us went and we had a good time. On the menu was Paella, which was a mish mash of stuff. Dancing and dinner was good and the performers randomly selected a few of us to dance with them towards the end of the performance. Don't bother hiding or they will be more inclined to drag you onstage. There are pics of this online in the photos section.

On a funny note, if you are staying at the NH Condor Hotel, you will be taking the coach to the restaurant. Goes down the block and hangs a right. Then one more block and hangs another right. Finally goes down another block and hangs another right. Can you guess where we are now?!!?!?!? If you guessed that we are around the corner form the hotel, you are indeed correct!!! WTF? Apparently, Contiki policy is that a coach must take you to all Contiki optionals. And here's the kicker, according to European driving laws, our own driver couldn't drive anymore since he had driven his "quota" for the day so we had to hire a local coach and driver - to drive us 150m from the hotel. Yeah weird.
Monaco                               Restaurant U'Cavagnetu 32
Excellent restaurant. Here is the Contiki menu selection. All items on the menu were superb. There are pics of this online in the photos section.

Note: Later on that evening, you will venture over to the casino area. Monte Carlo has 4 casinos. If you've been to Las Vegas, save yourself the 10 entrance to the Grand Casino and venture over to the free ones just across the street. There's nothing special inside the Grand Casino; quite small consisting of 316 slots and thirty-five table games. You have to check in your cell phone and you camera, as well as bring a passport. Drinks are not free. The real show is outside where all the Ferraris, Astons, Rolls, Bentleys, etc. are as common as Hyundias & Kias in a Walmart parking lot.
Florence Tuscan Dinner at La Certosa. 38
There is a pretty good opera singer here too!! You start of with a salad and cold cuts buffet. A word of warning, one of the options on the menu is fish. They do gut the fish, but everything else is intact. There seemed to be a billion bones. I don't like bones. There was veal as another option I think.

Space Electronic Disco 8 or 11?
By ths time, the dread Contiki Cough had beaten me down and I had to let others carry the torch. By all accounts, those who went had an amazing time.

Group Photo 11 . Ouch ... But I took a 10 MB scan of my group photo just in case others don't have a copy and would like a "backup". At your service :)
Rome Guided Tour of the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel. 24
Wow. Lotsa artwork here. Everyone did this. It's the vatican. What is not included is a guided tour of the St. Peter's Basilica. There was a free tour you could always join (See last item on this link).

Note 1: There are NO Vatican tours on Sundays. That is most unfortunate if this is your tour.

Note 2: Everything up to the knees and shoulders must be covered up (for BOTH guys & girls). Your TM will remind you of this.

Note 3: Not mentioned: Do the treasure hunt searching for items in Dan Brown's Angels & Demons.

Note 4: This optional is NO LONGER offered by Contiki: "The reason why the Vatican optional has been removed is because The Vatican has changed it's policies on groups entering the Vatican. They are asking for a hefty deposit (in the thousands range) for each group and must be booked almost 6 months in advance." -Contiki Corporate.
I would still highly recommend joining/researching online for a guided tour (or organising with others on your tour), otherwise get in line 1 hour BEFORE it opens.

Secret/Bonus: Some other ideas ... there's a lot to see in St. Peters ... or visit the Grottoes ... or even more limited/restricted of the Vatican excavations which only permits 200 visitors per day. Very exclusive and advanced reservations are mandatory.

Pompeii Guided Tour 16
Everyone did this. See the excavated ruins of a city that was buried and frozen in time when Mount Vesuvious erupted in 79 AD. If you have been on the Greek Island Hopping Tour and saw the Akrotiri Archaeological Site excavation, then Pompeii will not be as impressive - but the tour and facts are still informative nonetheless. Greek Island Hopping suggestions, odds & ends.

Corfu                               George's Boat (Caique Cruise includes lunch) 25
What a trip. This is not to be missed. George is one helluva character and his support crew is excellent.

Parasailing - single 38
Parasailing - double 34 per person
Waterskiing 22.5
Donut Ride 18
Wakeboard 25
Jetski - single 44
Jetski - double 30 per person
Flyfish single 32
Flyfish double 27 per person
Flyfish 3-7 ppl 32 per person
Molecule 20 ??

I don't think anyone did the water skiing - it seemed too boring. I didn't see any wakeboards either. Many signed up for parasailing. I did the donut ride and you are almost guaranteed to get tossed out. Up to 4 ppl are pulled and you bumped into each other like bumper boats. Quite fun! I also sampled the Molecule. It was probably around 20 I think. That ride was sheer hell in the sense that I was holding on for dear life and had a death grip on the handles for 12 minutes. Others seemed to share the same sentiments. If there are fewer than 3 on the Flyfish, you can get some serious air in that thing !!!! I did that.

The Jetski seemed kinda lame since you had to go far off somewhere else to do this activity. They had 2 jetskis and one was broken. So there was 6 ppl waiting to try a jetski as one person went for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Yeah, do a jetski for 10 minutes then watch others do the same thing for 50 minutes - not my cup of tea. Ask them if all the jetskis are working and can more than one jetski be cruising around at a time. I wasn't too sure on that point since I bailed out on the jetskis opting to stay at the main watersport site.

Dinner and dance at Taverna Gloupos 30
I think we had chicken here ... but it is all a big blurrr so don't quote me on that. Does chicken qualify as traditional Greek food? I do know that there is a potato here - and not necessarily for eating. Everyone attended and had a good time.
Venice Gondola 21
What can I say ... you have to do it. Akin to the Casinos in Vegas or the Eiffel Tower in Paris. 6 to a Gondola. Bring a bottle of wine, perhaps?

Venetian Restaurant 30
The restaurant was located in the back of the hotel Bruno. The wine flowed and I believe there were 2 musicians. Good food.
Vienna Mozart Concert and Dinner 60
This may seem steep in price, but it is not. You will attend a classical opera at the Auersperg Palace by the Residenz Orchestra. It is a small setting in an oval hall. I think the concert is split in two 30 minute halves with short intermission where a glass of wine is served. Later on that evening, we head over for dinner at a really old hall called Wiener Rathauskeller. It is a sit down affair and the food is very good.

Schnaps Museum 5
A 5 well spent !!! They show you the history of Schnaps and how it is made. Afterwards, you are allowed to sample 3 varieties, but seriously, it's more like all you can drink ... and you really can't drink that much since some of the stuff is potent!! Especially the Absinthe.

Hopfgarten/Tyrol Region White Water Rafting 37
If you've gone white water rafting in Canada during the spring and have seen a Class 4/5 rapid, I think this ride touched a 3 once ... but barely. I would pass if offered to do it again. So in summary, this was more like a freezing boat ride down a little stream. Furthermore, rumour has it that the raft guides are not allowed to tip the boat under contract for the safety of the customers (ie: it would suck to leave the tour due to accident/death). Also, Contiki doesn't wanna any more tragedies.

Swarovski Crystal Museum 6.50
Pretty cool - lotsa crystal ... and it's only 6.50 Euro.
(ahhh that's where that avatar in the Contiki message boards came from)

Parapenting 105 , 15 extra for a 12 exp film roll
Run like mad off a hill with an open parachute and catch a thermal. This is quite an expensive price for a 12 minute ride, but considering that I've never done this before ... what a helluva aride. No comparison between this and parasailing!!! Watch the video. A cheaper option, but we are not in the area is in France where it's 90 for a 1 hour ride. But YES, I would do it again!!! Windbreaker, sweatshirt (or many layers of t-shirts), pants and shoes are required. It's cold on the way down ...
Get the 12 roll exposure of film! Also, if you have a compact camera, bring it with you and take pics/movies on the way down.
Lucerne Boat Cruise on Lake Lucerne. 23 Swiss Francs
hummm ... another boat ride. It was OK. Actually it was more like YAWN ... Basically expensive transportation to get us from town to the Cog Rail Train base station for the ride back up to the hotel. Nice group photo setting though. Not offered was the 6 km toboggan ride (here's the rough Google translation) midway up Mount Pilatus. I forgot what the deal was. I think it for 12 , you could go go tobogganing all day long.
St Goar Wine Tasting at Weingut Schloss Rheinfels 8
Another excuse to drink and everyone went. Located in an cavernous old basement cellar dating back from the 12th Century. Seems like it could double for a bomb shelter. They serve wine (sweet, dry, red, and white ... I think) and cheese. You get to keep the shot glasses.
Amsterdam van den Hogen Restaurant 30
Final dinner - good food and you really have to go because everyone was there.

Canal Cruise 26.50
After the last group dinner (above), this cruise has an open bar offering one type of red wine & one type of white wine as well as beer. Everyone went. This is your final evening together.

Not mentioned, but TM will announce it: Live Sex show at Casa Rosso 25 (I think)
This was tasteful, funny and 2 drinks are also included. For obvious reasons, Contiki doesn't want to print this in their brochures but all the tours go there.

Not mentioned #2: On your own ... go see Ann Frank's House / Museum 7.50
Get there 20 minutes before it opens (9AM) to avoid the crowds.

Not mentioned #3: On your own ... go see Heineken Museum 10
Opening hours:
Tuesdays through Sundays, 10.00 - 18.00 hrs. [Editor's note ... closed on Monday ???]
Last ticket sales: 17.00 hrs.
Please note: CURRENTLY CLOSED TIL JUN 2008!!!

Peruse the photos, or download the movie to see what these optionals were like.
There's also the travelog.

If you have any questions or suggestions, email me - vic(at)talk21.com - or post a   .
Enjoy ...

- Vic

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