#NoRegrets? Maybe just a few.
Contiki was a whirlwind to say in the least. I can’t believe how fast two weeks have flown by. The motto of Contiki is No Regrets – a good one, but I definitely regret not looking into the cost a bit more. The only thing that is actually included with Contiki, out of 14 days, was breakfast, accommodation, transportation to and from each city, and 4 dinners. The rest of the dinners, tours, boat tours, and other cool shit you saw me do, were not included and posed a high price. I opted in for most of the optionals the first week, and opted out of most the second week because I was already hundreds of dollars over budget because of dinner, alcohol, taxis back from clubs, and probably too much gelato to admit. That’s all my doing – but I definitely didn’t budget enough, especially because some of the prices of the optionals had gone up since I saw them first. The boat tour up the Almafi coast originally said 48EUR, and when it came time for it, it was 60EUR. That’s close to 70USD.
Wifi on board. More like, your first ten minutes of Wifi is free and then you have to pay for the rest, that burns out quick. I paid over $11USD for 288MB of data that seemingly disappeared after barely using it. I even kept my phone on airplane mode and suddenly it wouldn’t let me log back in.
7 countries, 14 days. More like, 4 countries with a few stop overs. We had literally 10 minutes at a bathroom station in Bosnia, 2 hours for lunch in Montenegro, and because there was an optional dinner in Split, we had about an hour in the town itself. No one forced me to do the dinner and go to the hotel right away… but I still did. For something called “Adriatic Unearthed” I felt a little jipped at the whole “unearthing” concept. Our hotels weren’t exactly central, so going out required a taxi. If you didn’t do the optionals, you were either stuck in town, or stuck at the hotel with not much to do. So in total, without the airfare flying into Europe, I spent over $2500 for two weeks. That amount of money would have stretched me a whole lot farther if I had done the two weeks on my own, but it wasn’t all that bad.
I met amazing people. I can honestly say I think I made friends I will stay in touch with for years to come. I made friends who really lived up to the #NoRegrets feeling that I was able to be completely myself with. I got drunk and wandered and yelled in the streets of Rome with two girls I had barely known at the time. I created inside jokes that I will look back at and laugh at. I did the traditional tourist thing in each city that I wouldn’t have spent money on otherwise. Everything was organized and I didn’t have to worry about getting anywhere for two entire weeks. It was a lovely break from organizing, despite spending more time than preferred on a bus. I fell in love with places I never, ever would have imagined. Ljubljana is one of my favorite cities I have been so far and Contiki brought me there. The tour manager organized a cheap little boat tour around the small town. I don’t want to discredit the tour manager here, either, I mean we are friends on Facebook, but he really did go above and beyond to make this trip more tolerable and easy for us guinea pigs. Another place I never would have imagined going was Albania. The second we crossed the boarder and our tour manager was giving us some insight into the corruption of this country, I was pulled towards it. Drawn to it. I know with all of my heart that I will go back to that bleeding, corrupt country to further explore it. So it wasn’t all bad. I found my “places” in this world and I fell in love with them. I don’t regret my experience with Contiki at all, but by the 3rd to last day, I was pretty done with it. I was ready to get back on my own. I was checked out mentally and done with spending money.
Would I do another Contiki? Probably not. I like the freedom of wandering on my own and being in control of my own travels. Some people need the organization – but I prefer to organize on my own. It wasn’t all bad, it just wasn’t for me, and it was just too damn fast paced. I need more time to let cities sink into my skin. I need more time to feel and enjoy. I need more time to fall in love and explore. 12 hours in foreign places just isn’t enough sometimes. I give myself two nights in every place while traveling alone, two nights at LEAST, never just 12 hours. I need more time than that.
#NoRegrets? Maybe just a few.