By Ben Allison
Recently, my life has consisted of travelling around the world in what I like to call: “The Best Two Months of My Life”. A big part of that trip included travelling with Topdeck Tours for twelve days on their Essential Europe Tour. It was probably the best part of my trip, and quite possibly the top 12 days of my life.
The Essential Europe Tour is basically a 12-day express tour through Europe. Leaving from England, we stopped over in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, and Austria.
So why did I choose to tour with Topdeck as opposed to its notorious competitor Contiki?
Like most decisions in my life, Facebook played an integral part in my deliberation process. I posed the question to my many “friends”: should I side with Contiki or Topdeck? Overwhelmingly the response was to choose Topdeck.
My decision was also fuelled by the travel agent who explained to me (and this is a direct quote), “On Contiki you get fucked up, but on Topdeck you get fucked up and see a lot of stuff.”
Well, I’m not opposed to getting fucked up, but I also wanted to see stuff, so my decision was made.
I still had the expectation that this tour would be filled with a bunch of rambunctious, loud and obscene single-twenty-somethings with a particular penchant for alcohol. Alas my fears were quenched on the first day when I realised that out of the 40 passengers on this tour, only eight were travelling alone.
That was fine with me, although I did worry about the fact that a lot of couples have the annoying tendency to become an impenetrable bubble, only speaking with each other. However, everyone on my tour was a blast and mingled independently.
I was also unaware prior to departing that Topdeck is actually an Australian company. Before I left I had anticipated the opportunity to meet people from around the globe, only to find out upon arriving that the diversity of my group only stretched as far as New Zealand. Nevertheless, we were on our way around Europe and I figured I would just meet some foreigners there. (Not that New Zealanders aren’t foreign.)
To anyone who is considering travelling alone and is not sure whether to embark on a tour, I would definitely recommend it as long as you’re not afraid of some rather dodgy accommodation. But, come on, it’s all part of the fun! One hotel in Amsterdam springs to mind: the Botel. That’s right, it was a boat and a hotel (great pun). We also stayed in the “Jail Hotel” in Switzerland, which was exactly as it sounds: a jail that had been converted into a hotel (and I use the term “converted” very loosely).
Tours are seriously a great way to travel, especially for students. They take the stress and worry out of booking accommodation, transport, and tickets to typical tourist destinations. All you have to worry about is waking up early enough to shake off your hangover and get on the bus in the morning. Then the next thing you know you’re in a different country, city or town ready to explore at your own pace. It’s as simple as that.
If I had not done the tour I doubt I would have done or seen half the things I did over those twelve days: from canyon jumping in the Austrian Alps to being peer pressured into eating snails in Paris. Plus I had the opportunity to meet a bunch of new people from all over Australia. What more could you ask for?