Trail To Rome (Winter 2013/14)
Depart for Europe
Jet off to the trip of a lifetime awaiting you in Europe!
Check-in to your hotel after 2pm and the remainder of the day is free to relax before meeting your fellow travellers for your Kickstart meeting this evening. Afterwards why not grab some dinner at one of the local restaurants or take a short walk to explore nearby Covent Garden
London to Amsterdam
Meet up with your Contiki team before we hit the road and take a ferry past the White Cliffs of Dover. Next stop: the buzzing, free-wheeling city of Amsterdam. Check out Amsterdam’s eye-opening Red Light District, where the creative and wacky come together on narrow cobbled streets, 24/7. Get some pointers on the city’s hot spots from your Tour Manager and head into town for a fun night out.
Cruise out into the countryside and bike around like the laid back locals, past working windmills, in the world-famous cheese village of Edam (summer months only). In an intro into Dutch culture, see how clogs are made and try some of the famous Dutch Edam at a cheese farm. There’s free time this afternoon to experience Amsterdam’s coffee shops, museums and quirky, cool boutiques. Wander along the canals and past gabled houses or experience Amsterdam’s multi-ethnic cuisine. This cultural melting pot dishes up loads of affordable food. With an optional evening canal cruise, there’s a chance to get to know the group, unwind with a few drinks and uncover Amsterdam at water level as you drift past the city lights.
Amsterdam to Berlin
Motor down the autobahn and get ready for a dose of über-cool Berlin. With two nights in this historical hot spot, you’ve got time to find out what makes Germany’s capital one of the most cutting-edge cities in the world. It’s hard to believe that this funky town has had such a troubled past. On arrival your Tour Manager will peel back the layers of history and point out the lesser-known details of Berlin’s troubled past on an orientation tour of the city.
Today why not join a local guide for a tour? Learn about the East/West split at the Berlin Wall and check out the controversial Reichstag (German Parliament) as well as Tiergarten (one the world’s biggest parks). You'll also visit Checkpoint Charlie, where many East Berliners tried to escape to the West, and be reminded of Germany’s darker past at the Brandenburg Gate. With free time, get inspired by Berlin’s creative scene and check out its galleries and street art. As a world forerunner in contemporary art, Berlin’s walls are covered in cutouts and graffiti. Shopping-wise, this town has it all and is right up there defining style. Berlin is great for small boutiques, funky fashions and one-of-a-kind buys. Your Tour Manager knows Berlin’s ins and outs, so get some pointers before you splurge. Do as the Berliners do and grab a currywurst (a local favourite) and kick back at a Bierkeller (German beer house). Experience the world of espionage in an optional evening Eye Spy Berlin tour with our Local Guide, and enjoy a fascinating look into the Stasi (what was once the East German Secret Police). Then top off your time in Berlin with some of your new friends and explore the city’s legendary nightlife. With cool cocktail bars and some of the best techno clubs in the world, there are heaps of fun choices.
Berlin to Prague
Heading south, we roll on to the region of Dresden, often dubbed 'Florence of the North' because of its beauty. This town completely rebuilt itself after being flattened in World War II. Your Tour Manager will show you Dresden’s signature buildings, like the Opera house, the domed Frauenkirche, the Royal Residence – once home to the Saxon Kings – and the massive Zwinger Palace, where the royals went to party! Lunchtime! Go local and hang out in a river side beer garden, order some hearty German dishes with regional specialities like sour roast and potato soup. Then we head over the border and into the Czech Republic to Prague. Prague is a beautiful and atmospheric city. It’s also pretty compact, so it’s best explored on foot. Get straight into Prague’s historic heart with your Tour Manager. You’ll walk together over the landmark Charles Bridge, through Hrad?any Castle, the home of the original Bohemian Kings and to the gothic St. Vitus Cathedral along the way. With a night off, spend some time in the picturesque Old Town Square, where historic buildings and churches surround cafés that spill out onto the pavement. With some world-famous Czech pilsner in hand, park yourself at a table, people-watch and try out some of the traditional local dumplings.
More free time means you can get deeper into Prague’s Old Town in your own time. The city itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with a jumble of little lanes, alleys and courtyards. Slow the pace down and give yourself a chance to uncover its hidden treasures. This is also the spot to pick up some famous Bohemian glass, beads or garnet and amber jewellery. Choose a river cruise on the Vltava, which runs through the heart of Prague, and take in stunning views of the city from the water. The Czech capital has a really mixed past so look out for signs of the Holy Roman Empire, the Bohemian Empire, the Nazis and the Communists. By night, Prague is loaded with all types of music, from jazz bars and hip DJs to opera. There is something for everyone, so make the most of it with the group.
Prague to Vienna
We hit the road this morning and travel to Vienna, via World Heritage-listed Kutná Hora. Maybe choose to visit the chilling Sedlec Ossuary – a small chapel containing the bones of over 40 000 people, arranged artistically to form the decorations and furnishings inside! See buildings from Kutná Hora’s former heyday as the financial powerhouse of Bohemia and discover its medieval centre, before continuing on to the cultural hub of Vienna. Tonight, there’s a chance to experience Vienna’s musical legacy with a Mozart and Strauss concert in one of the city’s imperial palaces.
Your Tour Manager starts the day by introducing the group to the city’s historical heritage. There’s the imperial grandeur of Schönbrunn Palace, the elegantly ornate State Opera House and St. Stephen’s Cathedral – a Gothic masterpiece. Cruise down Kärntner Strasse, Vienna’s main shopping spot and buy some traditional ceramics and materials for gifts back home. There’s free time to check out the magnificent squares and majestic palaces or the city’s art galleries. Take a break in a coffee house like the locals do or wander along the Danube River. Get schnaps savvy with a behind-the-scenes look into this local liqueuer’s production in an optional excursion to the Old Vienna Schnaps Museum.
Vienna to Krakow
We hit the road this morning and travel to Krakow. En route choose our fantastic ME Time optional to the famous Wieliczka salt mines, where you’ll head underground into a labyrinth of tunnels and learn about the oldest mine in the world. On arrival to the city, get in the know on Krakow. Founded in the 13th century, this was once the second most important town in Bohemia, famous for its silver mining heritage.
This morning we'll make a sobering visit to Auschwitz where you can learn all about the history & significance of this place steeped in history. After returning to Krakow your Tour Manager will spill all their insider knowledge on the area and take you further into the city’s history. You’ll visit the massive Market Square – the buzzing heart of Poland’s oldest university town. Learn about the medieval design of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed centre, which serves up a mix of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. You’ll also visit the Royal Castle on Wawel Hill, once the spiritual and political heart of the country, the site is now filled with tombs, chapels and a bizarre collection of prehistoric animal parts
Krakow to Budapest
Continue south, past traditional villages and stunning alpine scenery. We stop for lunch in the heart of Slovakia, in pretty Banská Bystrica. Try some regional specialties like mutton and sauerkraut or smoked meats in the city’s pedestrian-only centre. It's back on the coach for some time to re-charge your batteries. Pop in your iPod or chill with a book as we make our way towards our next destination, Budapest, then check out the city sites as we take a driving tour through the city where east literally meets west. Later, to get a another take on Budapest from the water, jump on board tonight’s optional cruise, and see the city aglow from the water as you feast on a buffet full of local specialties.
Free time today means a chance to get around Budapest at your own pace. If you’re after something different, treat yourself to a truly local experience: a spa. With outdoor thermal waters, Art Nouveau architecture and treatments, this is the perfect way to unwind. For more of Budapest’s outdoor lifestyle, visit St Margaret Island in the heart of the city, a favourite among the city’s residents with its gardens, fountains, pools and ruins.
Budapest to Ljubljana
Say your farwells to Hungary today, we're off to Slovenia's capital. On arrival your Tour Manager will get you in on the know on this town, known as the economic & social hub of Slovenia. After you've got your bearings there's time to explore your way. Find a cute little spot for some people watching, hit the shops or grab your camera & explore.
Ljubljana to Venice
Today we're onto what's known as the “floating city”, Venice, packed with character, crammed with hidden lanes and linked by a network of canals. Jump on our private boat and travel through the waters of the lagoon to visit the city’s historical heart. The limestone Bridge of Sighs, the gothic arches of Doge's Palace and the expanse of St. Mark’s Square (pigeons and all!) show Venice’s unique beauty and way of life. Take some time to explore the floating city and lose yourself in the backstreets. There’s an optional walking tour where you can discover the labyrinth of interweaving lanes, waterways, palaces, piazzi and markets with our Local Guide. You’ll see historic monuments, hidden treasures and the Rialto market - a local favourite for food shopping. Maybe grab a table on St. Mark’s Square and eat some delicious Italian food al fresco. Cap off the day with an optional gondola ride & share this amazing experience with your friends - seeing Venice from on the water is an unforgettable experience & a must-do.
Venice to Rome
Criss-cross the Apennine Mountains on the road to Rome. Stylish Rome oozes energy and overflows with relics from another age. Our special access coach tour gets you right into the thriving atmosphere of this living timeline as your Tour Manager shows you the Colosseum and Piazza Venezia. Continue on foot to check out the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. Honour tradition at the Trevi Fountain and throw a coin in the fountain’s waters (it’s meant to improve your chances of returning to Rome!) or maybe hang out with your new friends at the Spanish Steps, sit back with a few slices of pizza and people watch.
This morning, make the most of our Local Guide’s inside knowledge and uncover the remains of an ancient empire with a fantastic optional tour of the Roman Forum and Colosseum. Then it is time to say “arrivederci” to your friends as your tour finishes after lunch.