Law student Renee Pappagallo tells us about her Contiki tour
She may be a wiz with the law but 26 year old paralegal and law student Renee Pappagallo knows how to have a good time too. Every now and then she likes to close the text books and set out on an adventure with her passport in hand. Her most recent trip saw her tour the West Cost of the USA with Contiki. Before she returned back to those killer exams, Renee took some time to tell us about the perks of travelling and partying with Contiki.
How many countries have you travelled to?
16 in total.
If you could narrow it down, what would be your top three?
Italy, Switzerland and ? It's WAY too hard! I did love how America was so different everywhere you went - but it's hard to fault the beautiful history and culture of the European countries!
You recently travelled to the US on a Contiki tour, what did the itinerary involve?
We did a short eight day tour from LA to Vegas. First stop was San Diego which was a lovely town with sun, water and lots of boats! We were lucky enough to hire speed boats and drive around the harbour, it was beautiful! Then it was on to Phoenix, Arizona where it was as hot as a desert (funny that!) and we enjoyed a jeep safari through Sedona, a cute little town that reminded me of roadrunner country.
Then it was onto the Grand Canyon - words cannot describe how grand it really is! A helicopter ride over it is a good way to get an idea though. And you absolutely must have a sunset picnic at the top of the canyon! It was also a great part of the tour to work off the rest of the food and drink with some hiking or bike riding, or just take the time to chill out and get some washing done.
Next it was off to The Strip aka Vegas. We hit up some nightclubs and even arrived in style after a limo ride down the strip - complete with champagne of course! This was the end of our tour but the longer tours continued. I was sad to leave our new Contiki family while the rest of them got to continue on their adventure.
What did you love most about the tour?
Having a group of like minded people. That way the party always follows you. There was never a dull moment and I loved making new friends. Friends that are now coming to visit me back home.
I don't know about crazy but it was definitely scary! On our second night in San Diego we were awoken by a friend we made on the first day asking us where we were. A quick glance at the clock revealed it was 8.15am - a whole 30 minutes from the dreaded 'bags to coach' time! Luckily, we had also made friends with the tour guide and driver early on, so we were given the chance to do the mad scramble to the bus, instead of being left behind! I almost wished they had left us behind though because our punishment for being late was to perform 'contikoke' on the bus - microphone and all! Moral of the story? Don’t be late! And make friends with the tour guide and driver and swap numbers with people as soon as possible so you don't get lost or left behind.
Would you recommend a Contiki tour to others? Who is it best suited to?
I LOVE Contiki tours! I did one a few years ago through Europe with a boyfriend. This time, I convinced my best friend to go. I would certainly go again. The only downside to my tour of America was that it was too short. I definitely recommend going on a longer one if you can.
For me, Contiki helps me get the most out of cities by having the exciting night life as well as optional activities during the day. Plus even when you have free time, the guides give you great tips on what to do. Otherwise, left to my own devices, I am not quite as motivated to go and see as much. So I would say Contiki is best for those people who really want to meet people while travelling and make new friends that could last a lifetime!
Where are you planning on travelling to next?
My next trip will definitely be centred around Oktoberfest. I have friends living in the UK so I want to see them while they are still there. I am thinking maybe a tour leaving from London that does a few days at Oktoberfest but it is all in the planning stages still at the moment. I have learnt that after these holidays, you need a holiday, so I am planning to spend a week or so in the Greek Islands to relax and get some sun before I have to come back to reality!