Monday, 5 March 2012

Cosmos European Masterpiece tour

I have had a number of people email me asking questions about the particular tour we did, so I'm answering the FAQ that I am getting on this tour and hope it helps! If you have any other questions, post a comment below and I will try to answer it.

1. What sight seeing is included on the tour?

Our travel agent said the golden rule when looking at brochures is the terms 'see, view and visit'. See means you will drive past it, view means you will stop and have a look and visit means its included as sight seeing and will be prepaid. On this particular tour this includes the likes of the Colosseum and Pompeii.

2. How much free time do we get in each city?

Depends on the day. Most cities you will get a couple of free hours. Also if you don't do the optional tours then you will get a lot more free time. The balance is pretty good and we never felt like we were missing out, we saw all the major sights that each city had to offer.

3. What are the hotels like? Are they far out of the cities?

Most hotels are standard chain 3 star hotels, clean and tidy and functional, but not luxury. You may get the occasional one which is not so flash, but this is due to Cosmos having long contracts with hotels, its a cost thing. However there are some which are amazing, San Marino and Montecatinni are stunning.

The hotels are often quite far out of the city, especially in the major cities, this is what makes the tour so much cheaper than its counterparts in other companies. There are always plenty of trains and public transport to get you places and you will generally find you don't need to go out anyway. The tour bus will take you into the city every day and will either leave you there if your not doing optional's or take you to the optional trip. The bus will then come back and pick you up.

4. Do I need to prebook the optional tours? When do I pay for them?

No you dont prebook the optionals. They are booked on tour, the tour guide will tell you more about them and recommend ones to do. If paying by credit card you wont actually pay for the optional's till after your trip.

5. What optional tours are worth doing?

The only optionals that you really must do to see extra attractions are the day in Capri (there isn't much to do in Sorrento and Capri is wonderful), The dutch dinner and drive (you dont have a choice with this one), Montecarlo by night (amazing place, not a lot around the hotel in Nice), The vienna palace one (especially if your in Vienna on a sunday, nothing opens on a sunday), Treasures of rome by night (to see some more famous sites otherwise you wont see them the next day), Welcome dinner at montemarte (will see the church and the moulin rouge), A taste of athens (not much around the hotel and its all in greek!)

There are also some optionals that I would definitely reccommend, the paris caberet, venetian night out (not much around the hotel), Sorrento flavours (most amazing dinner and restaurant ever), the greek Aegean cruise unless you would rather go shopping, you can also get to one of the island by ferry and spend the whole day there instead of island hopping.

6. What should I pack?

Not a lot! Clothes that are easy to wash as there isn't a lot of washing facilities around you will end up doing hand washing the most. As an example, we travelled in June/July and it was pretty warm in the southern areas, but a bit colder north, This is what we took or found useful.

1 warm polar fleece jumper and a pair of jeans and it was fine. Most of the time we wore shorts and t-shirts. 3/4 pants would also be good. 3 or 4 t shirts would be fine and 2 to 3 pairs of shorts or 3/4 pants.
A rain coat and and umbrella are necessary items. If its hot when you go to pompeii, take an umbrella! There is no shade there!
Take comfortable walking shoes and a pair of nice flats, don't worry to much about heels as you will be walking to much to wear them out.
2 nice outfits, casual but slightly dresser to wear to dinner, such as nice pants and a top.
Also bring and wear a watch. You day is dictated by being places on time or you will be left behind.

Something to do on the bus to like an ipod or an e-reader (I took my kindle, it was great). If you bring a neck pillow take a good quality comfortable one. Dont bother with cheap blow up ones.
Take a camera and several SD cards and back up your photos often! We had one couple that lost their camera and hadn't backed up anything, stupid! We took a netbook which was really hand for doing that.
You wont need a towel unless you plan to go swimming, the hotels have them.

7. What are the ages of the other people on the bus?

Generally the age range is 30-60, but mostly made up of retired couples. Mostly from Australia to!