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Topic # 128998 31-Aug-2013 09:07
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Planning a European Tour next May with Trafalgar Tours based in London.
1 x 8 day tour through the 5 Home Countries of the UK   http://www.trafalgar.com/nz/britain-and-ireland-highlights-2013
Then 18 days through rest of Europe  http://www.trafalgar.com/nz/traditional-europe-2013

Any other geekzone members been on any of these ??




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  Reply # 887571 31-Aug-2013 21:15
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No. But I lived there for 37 years if you have any questions...!





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  Reply # 887657 1-Sep-2013 00:41
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You should check out topdeck. My partner and I are considering doing some of these within the next year and from what I can see it's exactly the same as the trafalgar except half the price...

https://www.topdeck.travel/tours/european-treasures/prices 




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  Reply # 887690 1-Sep-2013 08:22
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I did Trafalgar when I was 12 with my parents and loved it. I did Topdeck 2 years ago and also loved it. IMO, if you've never been to Europe a tour like that is by far the best way to do it initially. (I've used cars, trains etc since and just gone back to where I liked) I guess a downside is that you could have annoying people on your bus but I have two sets of life long friends now from Topdeck whom I wouldn't have met otherwise. Also, it's early mornings and go go go but I like that.



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  Reply # 887699 1-Sep-2013 08:58
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Kingy: You should check out topdeck. My partner and I are considering doing some of these within the next year and from what I can see it's exactly the same as the trafalgar except half the price...

https://www.topdeck.travel/tours/european-treasures/prices 


we past the age limit for these tours many moons ago !!




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  Reply # 887729 1-Sep-2013 10:43
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My Wife, teenage daughter and myself went on a nine day "whistlestop" tour through Holland, Germany, Switzerland and France at Christmas time, their winter.
We went on a Trafalgar bus tour. It was I would guess a slightly upper mid grade tour, staying in three and half to four star hotels. The bus was very comfortable with ample leg room.  The bus driver could speak limited English but the tour guide was English and could speak five languages. Everything was well organised. If we went on a gondola say, all we had to do was get off the bus and walk straight onto it with no waiting in lines etc as all the tickets had been pre booked and paid for. The guide did a good commentary and had things well organised. If you are into bus tours there was nothing wrong with the way Trafalgar did it.

However !!    We in NewZealand are not used to tipping. I can cope ok  with leaving a small tip for a waitress etc but the tour guide continually ear bashed us with his expectations of what he and the driver wanted from us in the way of a large thankyou at the end of the trip. They even gave us envelops to put it in and marked us off the list as it was handed in. We got primed for this every single day which caused some resentment amung the passengers.

I like and have always done independent travel so we used this bus trip to get a taste for future travel to those countries maybe getting round next time by car and train.

We just did two weeks in the States by rental car and had great fun. Age on the bus was from say about 14 to eighty. I'm 65,wife 56 and daughter 20.Overall we had a good mix of age and interesting fellow passengers. If you are a keen photographer like I am, the photo opertunities are not as great as you would like and it is not easy taking photos out of a bus window with the dark tint of the glass and things getting in the way etc.

About getting there. We went by Emerites airline, cattle class. ChCh, Sydney, Dubai, London, Back from Paris, Dubai,Sydney ChCh. Sydney back to Sydney on the Airbus 380. Nice and quite, plenty of leg room, slightly wider seats, power for lap tops and USB etc. Good food and exelent service. Could not fault them. Had a stop over for two nights in Dubai on way back and went desert dune four wheel driving at night.That was not to be missed,great fun.

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  Reply # 887733 1-Sep-2013 11:06
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I haven't done any of those tours but have been to all of the countries multiple times.

Trafalgar is a tour company for "older" people whereas Top Deck is aimed at the 18-35 market and competes with Contiki (who are actually run by the same company as Trafalgar)



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  Reply # 889279 3-Sep-2013 21:38
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as a matter of interest whats the best way to manage your finances on such tours.
I have a AirNZ Airpoints card where I can load up to 5 currencies. I assume UK Pounds and Euros be the most used whilst away??




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Reply # 889661 4-Sep-2013 13:43
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We used a combo of Credit card, Multi-currency Cash passport and cash.

Take some cash with you in the denomination of the country you first arrive at to pay for train, bus or taxis from the airport etc.

Got my Cash Passport card from BNZ,(All banks have them except Westpac) think the fee was $10.00 and loaded it up with Sterling and Euros. One advantage with these cards are no more fees like they slap on your credit card and you can convert back any money left on them to NZ dollars and then load it up again for future trips.

We got caught out in Germany with no Euro cash on us as a lot of places like coffee shops and sandwich bars don't take cards of any description. Also we did not have any Swiss Franks on us so had to go to an ATM machine to get a small amount of notes for bus and taxis fares etc.

As an aside, if you are arriving into Heathrow, we took the train into London Paddington station ( about a 20 min ride) and walked for about 12 mins to our hotel at Hyde Park. I printed off a map of that area before we left and it all fell into place. 

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  Reply # 889691 4-Sep-2013 14:34
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Camden: We used a combo of Credit card, Multi-currency Cash passport and cash.

Take some cash with you in the denomination of the country you first arrive at to pay for train, bus or taxis from the airport etc.

Got my Cash Passport card from BNZ,(All banks have them except Westpac) think the fee was $10.00 and loaded it up with Sterling and Euros. One advantage with these cards are no more fees like they slap on your credit card and you can convert back any money left on them to NZ dollars and then load it up again for future trips.

We got caught out in Germany with no Euro cash on us as a lot of places like coffee shops and sandwich bars don't take cards of any description. Also we did not have any Swiss Franks on us so had to go to an ATM machine to get a small amount of notes for bus and taxis fares etc.

As an aside, if you are arriving into Heathrow, we took the train into London Paddington station ( about a 20 min ride) and walked for about 12 mins to our hotel at Hyde Park. I printed off a map of that area before we left and it all fell into place. 

The AirNZ card sounds the same as the cash passport, no fees and up to 5 currencies. I've used one in AU and the Islands no problems.

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  Reply # 889757 4-Sep-2013 15:51
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psychrn: Planning a European Tour next May with Trafalgar Tours based in London.
1 x 8 day tour through the 5 Home Countries of the UK   http://www.trafalgar.com/nz/britain-and-ireland-highlights-2013
Then 18 days through rest of Europe  http://www.trafalgar.com/nz/traditional-europe-2013

Any other geekzone members been on any of these ??


Went on pretty much the exact same 18 day tour, tho back in 2006. We had been going to go on a slightly shorter Topdeck tour but it got canned for lack of numbers, and got offered that Trafalgar tour via our agent at a better rate than would have been otherwise. We had a fantastic time.

Main bit of advice is you have to allow for the 'extra's' in the tour - look at the brochure and you will see what I mean - all the excursions from the various cities you stop at cost _extra_, and it adds up to quite a bit (unless you just want to hang out in the bus or in your hotel the whole time) The flip side is that all these guided tours you get to go via the 'tour' queues which are about 1/100th the size of the general public ones and have priority to getting into things, so its money well spent. Also, while each city may have a number of optional excursions, the reality is your tour guide will only be offering a couple of them so as to keep the group together. Usually they have an idea which is the better one to go on for that time of year, or they may give it up to a vote, majority wins.
Don't be like the oldies and sleep the whole time on the bus - the countryside is so varied and different than NZ. Going through Austria/Switzerland blew my mind, it was amazing.

Yes the Tour Guide / Driver will expect a sizable tip at the end of the tour. Ours only mentioned it a couple times during the tour but then was quite insistent on it the last day. We coughed up about 250 euros between them I think from memory, but our guide was really awesome and looked after us well. We couldn't afford more in any case.

GET A MONEY BELT! One that goes under your shirt or similar. Never have more than a few euro's in your pocket. Don't give money to beggars no matter how pathetically miserable they look. Move your money around whilst still in the bus wherever possible if you know you are about to spend some (ie lunch somewhere) Dont let your wife hand her handbag over the back of her chair anywhere ever - if she has to put it down at an eatery have it between you or with the strap wrapped round her leg so can't be snatched. Not trying to scare you, but we had a couple lose 2 bags because they didnt listen to the tour guides advice on this.

Personal highlights for me - Innsbruck and Venice - but overall was amazing. Have fun!

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  Reply # 889786 4-Sep-2013 16:34
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We did a Trafalgar European Wonderland family tour in June. 11 days from Rome through to London. It was really excellent.

I second what Wolfman said about the excursions, they call them optional, but you'd be a mug not to do one or two at each destination. We had a brilliant time, a great guide, a skilled driver, and lovely families on the tour.

We too felt a bit weird about tipping the director and driver, especially as tipping isn't widespread in Europe. Our guide wasn't insistent and we didn't feel overly pressured, but it was obvious that the tip was considered part of their salary for the job - so why don't Trafalagar include it in the price and make everyone's life easier!

Definitely listen to your guide regarding personal safety and security - we would likely have been taken in by some of the gypsy pickpockets at the Eiffel Tower if we hadn't been pre-warned.

Pounds (in UK) and Euros (everywhere but Switzerland) are all you'll need. You can pre-load currencies, or rely on normal credit card rates. Its generally cheaper to use the visa than exchange currencies. We didn't bother getting Swiss francs, just used credit cards in Switzerland (its hard to make a small purchase there - its fairly expensive).

Work out how much spending money you think you will need, then double it :-)
We ended up spending less than we expected on food - most destinations have an excursion that takes care of dinner. Just try not to buy food anywhere near a tourist attraction - a small snack by the colosseum costs more than a decent lunch somewhere else.

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