I’ll admit it. Like every woman who has guiltily indulged in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books, I have wanted to visit Greece for years. While the cliche idea of the sunset over white-washed buildings continues to draw me in, the mythology, food, and tradition have fueled my desire to experience the Greek Islands even more. However, unlike exploring the mainland of Europe, the Greek Isles are daunting when it comes to logistics. Somehow, when crossing water becomes involved, everything gets more complicated. Especially when traveling solo.
I have always avoided organized tours, fearing that I would end up with travelers who favored an air-conditioned bus as opposed to exploring the winding European streets on foot, sampling exotic food, and getting to know the locals and fellow travelers. Contiki Tours, a tour company for adventurers between the ages of 18 and 35, may just be the perfect solution for myself, a young, solo, college student on a budget.
Contiki’s “Greek Island Hopping” tour provides an in-depth introduction to Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, and los, and offers plenty of time to relax, dip into Greek culture, and party — Greek style. They value independent free time as well as connecting with other like-minded travelers. As a result, they offer optional, heavily researched expeditions which include visiting a taverna in Mykonos, an island cruise on a traditional sailing boat, and a visit to a volcano on Santorini. It’s this dedication to spending an afternoon diving into the ocean and diving into the authentic Greek culture that offers a balance that guided tours rarely exhibit.
Since hopping the Greek Islands requires plenty of planning, this Contiki Tour is especially alluring to me, as they have carefully selected quality hotels and restaurants, arranged site-seeing, and most importantly, transportation. The logistics are left up to them. Good bye, heavy guidebooks!
Instead of me lugging around Rick Steves, Contiki tour guides know their destination like the back of their hand. They not only organize the particulars, but are fellow travelers who are dedicated to helping their tour explore with comfort and confidence. Two words I am very fond of. If you’re a seasoned Contiki Tour traveler, are they as grand as they sound?
It’s also a comforting statistic that more than half of Contiki travelers go in alone. As a young woman traveling solo, I need to be cautious, but still want to be connected with like-minded people. Perhaps Contiki is my ideal blend of people, location, pace, and freedom; my perfect paradox of adventure and relaxation.