Everything You Need to Know About Contiki’s European Inspiration Tour

Humans are an extremely curious bunch. They LOVE to know as much information about a topic as they can manage, even when they are about to find out for themselves anyway. I say this because I find that I get asked quite a number of questions in regards to my travels with the tour company Contiki. I know that whenever I go on a tour myself I spend at least 3 weeks worth of time researching what I am about to experience – so don’t worry, I 100% understand and relate to your curiosity. That’s why today I am going to tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly of Contiki’s three-week European Inspiration tour. (I’ll even share with you some handy hints about how much money you’re going to need!)

Ethan and I decided that we wanted to go on our first big overseas trip together. We knew we wanted it to be in Europe but we didn’t know where, when, or how long for. I suggested that we travel with Contiki as I had previously been to Asia with them and loved every moment. I thought it would be a great way for us to get a taste of a few different European countries so that we could plan all future trips with firsthand experience.

We chose the European Inspiration tour from Contiki’s “Discoverer” range. Contiki offers seven different styles of travel including the Discoverer. This is awesome as it allows you to find the type of tour that suits you and your travel goals. They describe a Discoverer as:

“See it all, do it all – if you’ve been dreaming of exploring your entire life, you have to go Discoverer. Our most popular travel style, these trips are designed to cover lots of ground visiting many destinations on one trip, with a wide range of experiences included in the cost.”

We knew we didn’t want to be rushed and Discoverer tours are known to have an extra night in each main city. Ultimately, we chose this tour based on the number of countries we would visit (10), the length of the trip (just under 3 weeks), and the Discoverer style allowing for maximum adventure.

We decided to travel in the thick of winter and it was a perfect choice for us. We live in a very tropical climate and our winter doesn’t really exist. So leaving our boiling hot summer for a snow-covered winter in Europe was a dream come true.

Let’s get into it!

How much did we spend?
This is definitely the most popular question I am asked. (I am from Australia so please remember that all amounts listed will be in AUD!)

I am not a big fan of travel agents – at all – but Ethan had a guy he’d used in the past so we decided to see what he could do for us. I went and organised the tour through him with no worries as I knew that it wouldn’t have any mark up on it (considering I could see the regular Contiki prices on the website!). I also got 5% off my share of the tour as I was a past traveller with Contiki, so that was a win. We decided to split the cost down the middle though, so we each got 2.5% off.

In total, we each paid $3549 for the tour. This amount included accommodation for 18 nights (all hotels, no hostels), travel for 19 days (complete with a Contiki coach and expert driver), all breakfast while on tour, eight of the dinners, a knowledgable Contiki trip manager, and twenty-four included experiences – a wine tasting in Tuscany, for example.

If we divide the amount of the tour by the length of the trip, we get approximately $185 per day – this isn’t too bad when you consider the regular price of a hotel room per night and then build from there. All in all, I feel that the price of the base tour deserves a tick. It is definitely reasonable.

The flights were a different story. We decided to do a round trip – home to London, London to home. The travel agent argued with me that his quoted price of $1930 per person was the cheapest possible (it included TWO layovers on an already very long journey) and that the only other option was $2630 per person (WHAT!?) with a “great connection in Hong Kong of only one hour”…

I’m sorry, I’m pretty passionate about this as it gets me very fired up so we are going to take a small detour to allow for this rant. This agent has been in the industry for 14 years and he thinks a one hour international stopover is a GOOD idea!? I’ve been in airports where the journey from my arrival gate to my departure gate is 40 minutes itself! This, paired with a possible flight delay, is an absolutely BRILLIANT example of why a one hour stopover is the worst idea ever. I was shocked. Back to the point!

I wasn’t happy with the offer from the agent – as I’m sure you’ve guessed – so I went ahead and organised everything else myself. The flights we ended up booking came out at $1795 each ($135 cheaper per person than the agent’s cheapest offer) and we flew with Singapore Airlines. We had only one layover each way! They were both eight hours, but they were at the world renowned Singapore Changi Airport, so we were happy as we knew how much there would be to do while we were there. This worked out well.

So! All together we spent $5344 each on our flights and our Contiki tour. Not bad for the base amount of one month in Europe over the New Year period!

If you haven’t done a Contiki before, you might not know that there is always a list of extra experiences and adventures that are NOT included in your tour price. However, Contiki will organise these for you if you pay extra. My BIGGEST tip for this is to look up the experiences ahead of time – easy to do on the website – add together all of the costs and save that amount of money SEPARATELY to your spending money. This was something I did differently on this trip that I didn’t do on my first Contiki and it was so, so, so much better.

Everyone always says to do all of the add-ons… #noregrets. On my first Contiki I would have agreed! But on this one… not so much. But I’ll get to that (and a few other tips about add-ons) later on! I worked out early in the game that to do ALL of the add-ons it would cost us roughly $950 each. We knew this and we added it to our budget, and once we saved it we moved it away from the rest of our spending money. When the time came on the tour to choose and pay, it was simple. We already knew what we were signing up for and how much it was going to cost. Boom. Tick.

I’m not completely sure about Ethan, but I had $3900 in my account when we left Australia. I was paid an additional $2800 while we were away thanks to all of the annual leave that I had accrued. So technically, I had with me a grand total of $6700 for spending money.

While we were away, we made the decision that if we saw something we wanted we would buy it no questions asked as that is what we had saved so hard for. Because of this we didn’t exactly travel on a “budget”, we just did what we did when we wanted to do it. And trust me, if you are able to do the same, I would highly recommend it. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with travelling on a budget, but it was so exciting to feel so free. We worked really hard and sacrificed a lot of other things while we were at home to be able to do this, but it was so unbelievably worth it.

I came home with $700, so I guess I spent around $6000 in a month. Keep in mind though, our bills were still coming out at home, so it didn’t all go towards the trip. This works out to around $220 spent per day we were away which was pretty close to what we thought we would spend when we were planning at home. (We went with a plan of 100 euro per day, and this works out to about 140 euro per day.)

We spent one night in London at the beginning of the tour, which is what most people have to do. There is a Kickstart meeting the night before which is one reason to be there a day early, but the main reason is that the tour starts at 6am on the first day so you’re going to want to be well rested (and definitely not running from the airport!).

Instead of staying at the recommended Royal National Hotel (this is where the Contiki Basement is situated), we stayed literally down the street and around the corner at the Tavistock. From the reviews we read online it sounded like the Tavistock was a better option for a quiet night’s sleep. This was confirmed by our new Contiki friends who said that the Royal National was a bit rough – so another tick for us. We spent $105 each on our one night at the Tavistock. We were happy to spend that little bit extra to have a slightly nicer hotel that still made it super easy to get to the coach at 6am the following morning.

We also decided to stay a week in London at the end of the trip – kind of like a holiday after our holiday. We were really glad that we did! This is another thing I wholeheartedly recommend doing as it gave us time to unwind after a whirlwind tour.

For this extra week, we wanted to go all out. We didn’t look for the most expensive but we definitely didn’t want the cheapest, so we booked 5 nights at the Park Grand Paddington Court Hotel for a grand total of $538 each… really not that bad, right!? It wasn’t a great hotel but I think that might just be London. Luckily we were a couple so we were used to living in each other’s pockets but for those who might not want to live on top of their travel buddy, definitely check room sizes when booking. Staff weren’t that friendly, laundry was a rip off, but the location was good. Half a tick for that one.

So in total I spent just under $12,000 to see 10 European countries in one month. 
This could definitely be done for either less OR more, but this was my specific experience and I felt it was really reasonable for the adventure I had.


Here we are going to go through all the other questions I get! If there is anything you would like to know that I don’t cover, please leave me a comment and I will be happy to help!

Suitcase or backpacking pack?
This is SUCH a personal thing. However, when I travelled to Italy in 2011 I took a brand new soft suitcase and the cobblestones destroyed two of the wheels. It made for a very difficult trip when I could no longer wheel my 20kg suitcase and had to drag it instead! Because of this experience, Ethan and I both decided to try packs this time around. I bought the Osprey Fairview 55 litre and Ethan bought the Osprey Farpoint 55 litre. They are essentially the same pack, but the Fairview is optimised for women so that it sits a lot more comfortably on our hips. These packs each came with a detachable daypack which was really handy. We used packing cubes inside the packs to keep everything organised and to compress it all, and we were really proud to get on the plane for a month of travel with only 8kg each. This style and size will not be suitable for you if you are a big shopper or if you really tend to overpack. Despite our packs being only 15kg each on the way home, we did have to buy an extra carry-on bag each so that we could fit everything. I would travel with a pack again though, I would just take even less with me in the beginning! (Backpack gets extra points because everyone we travelled with was so impressed that it was all we had with us and that made us feel warm inside.)

What did you pack?
Here’s another post that goes into full detail about everything we packed!

Is Contiki really strict on suitcase size and weight?
The short answer is yes. If your tour is starting from London your bag won’t be measured but it will be weighed. It won’t be measured simply because these people are so experienced that they will know just by looking whether or not your bag is within the specified dimensions.Now, we happened to depart on a day when TEN OTHER TRIPS were departing (which is so crazy that it’s nearly unheard of in Contiki world) so they didn’t have time to weigh ours but that is not a common occurrence. Besides, the weight limit is 20kg for a reason – your driver does ALL of the driving as well as loading and unloading of the bus. If you’re thinking about packing more than 20kg, think about your driver and then think about whether or not that is a decent thing to do to them. (Pro tip: it’s not.)

Should I do all of the add-ons?
We didn’t feel that the Prague bunker tour was worth doing. The guy who ran it was awesome, but unfortunately it just wasn’t exciting enough to enjoy so we wouldn’t waste our time doing it again. We also didn’t think that the Swiss fondue lunch was all that great – the fondue cheese was kind of gross and the chocolate fondue was only dark, so not to everyone’s taste. Space Electronic Disco is just a night club, so maybe wait to pay for it until you know whether or not you feel like going out that night as entry on the day isn’t too much different to purchasing it as an add-on. We paid for it in advance and then didn’t go because we were exhausted and wanted to sleep that night. DEFINITELY do the Swiss Lake cruise, it was beautiful. The Tuscan evening is also one of the best nights on tour in our opinion.

Is there anything I should book in advance?
THE ANNE FRANK HOUSE. Booking for the Anne Frank House opens exactly 2 months before and if you don’t book you will NOT get in, the line is just so long and you will waste your time. It was a highlight of our trip. We ended up missing the Cheese and Clogs inclusion as well as the Volendam Dinner add-on to do it but we have #noregrets. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. We also booked the Amsterdam Ice Bar as well as the Paris Catacombs in advance and they were both fantastic too.

What was your highlight?
Our highlight was unique as we were in Berlin for New Year’s Eve, so we got to go to the famous Brandenburg Gate NYE Party. It was AMAZING. That was definitely the best night on tour. However, as I said above, Anne Frank was also a huge highlight for us.

Is it enjoyable if you are travelling as a couple?
This tour is frequently recommended to couples, so there should always be at least one other couple on it. On our specific tour we were one of 14 couples, so there were actually more couples than singles. It was very enjoyable and we became what I’m sure will be lifelong friends with three other couples from the very first night.

Is it enjoyable if you don’t drink very much?
I am not much of a drinker at all and I had a great time. I definitely drink more when I am travelling than I do at home, but not that much compared to everyone else. We didn’t go out very many nights at all and we still had a ball. Don’t let the trip manager or other travellers make you feel like you have to go out every night (or even at all!), because you absolutely do not have to. We were always up early in the morning and feeling great because we weren’t constantly hungover. Nothing wrong with getting drunk and partying every night if that’s your thing, but if it’s not? Totally fine. It wasn’t our thing either, and we had a fantastic time.

Did you feel rushed at all?
Yes, we definitely did. It’s just not enough time to see these big beautiful cities that are full of so much history. In saying that, we were constantly thanking our lucky stars that we booked a Discoverer so that we had the double night in each major city. There is a LOT of time spent on the bus. You probably already think you know that… but then you do it and it is next level. Drive days are every second day and I think our shortest drive was something like 6 hours. Drive days are exhausting. On the night when you get to the new city, you have dinner at the hotel followed by the option to go out or go to sleep. The following day (your second night) is the only full day you get in that city so it pays to be super prepared and know exactly what you want to see and do so you don’t run out of time. This trip is FANTASTIC for a taster of Europe, and we now know all the places we want to go back to and where we feel we’ve seen enough of. But if you are only planning to go to Europe once in your life? Maybe reconsider a tour like this, or just book an extra spontaneous month afterwards to do your own exploring through the cities you really loved.

If I go in winter, will I see snow?
We saw the most snow our trip manager had ever seen on a Euro trip. We were so, so lucky. Because it is a natural phenomenon it definitely isn’t promised, but we were there from December 28th to January 22nd and we saw snow more days than we didn’t. It was amazing.


Other things that are just handy to know…

  • Switzerland is SO expensive that nothing you do will prepare you for the shock.
  • Always have coins on you because you will need to pay to use the toilet.
  • Table water will sometimes cost more than your meal.
  • Pickpockets are everywhere and they will be able to tell that you are foreign, so be really switched on and keep an eye on your belongings more than you would at home. If you do that you won’t have a problem.
  • Same kind of warning as the pickpockets – if someone tries to give you a rose or a bracelet for free and they insist you take it, DON’T. I will just drop it on the ground or not even put my hand near them. They will come back about a minute later and tell you to pay for it. Just be really aware of this. It mainly happens in Italy.
  • If you’re going in winter, for the love of all that is good – PACK THERMAL UNDERCLOTHES. Also for the ladies: no heels and no dresses. You won’t wear them, trust me.
  • If you are travelling as a couple – book a photoshoot! We had a one hour session with a photographer in Paris and we are so glad that we did!! The photos are amazing.
  • Probably the most important: Get out of your comfort zone! Do not go halfway across the world just to do the same things you would do at home. Eat the frogs legs, dance with the Italian opera singer, wake up early to see the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum or the Brandenburg gate with the sunset behind it. #noregrets

Now for some quick and easy Pros and Cons of the European Inspiration and travelling with Contiki in general!

  • So efficient – it’s all set out for you, you don’t really have to think. Just be where they tell you when they tell you and off you go!
  • Skipping lines – Contiki will get you into some major attractions much faster than you would be able to if you were travelling alone. The Vatican is a great example of this!
  • Experienced and knowledgable driver and trip manager to pass on tips and tricks you wouldn’t always be able to get from Google.
  • Fellow travellers! You will meet people from all over the world (though on our trip only Australia and New Zealand was represented) and some of them will become lifelong friends.
  • Value for money – I would be interested to do an extensive study on this, but from my experience I feel that you really will save money travelling with Contiki as opposed to trying to do everything that they so expertly manage to fit in on your own.
  • Rushed – it is a whirlwind, you will be tired to the point of exhaustion and you will miss things that you always wanted to see. There is just no way you can fit everything in… even though you do see a LOT.
  • If you go in winter some major attractions will be closed and there will be nothing you can do about that. We couldn’t go up the Eiffel Tower or into the Louvre, for example.
  • Not so comfortable – the bus is pretty cramped and you’ll get sick of sitting, especially if you’ve done a long flight to get there. Also, your feet will get seriously sore if you don’t have awesome shoes… this one is worth it though, in my opinion.

I hope this has been helpful! Don’t forget to leave a comment if I’ve missed anything you would like to know! Or, if you’ve done this trip already, did you agree with everything I said? Let me know!

Also, check out our trip video below for a look at all the incredible adventures we had. The whole video was filmed on our GoPros, so you’ll almost feel like you’ve been there too!




What to Expect at Walt Disney World

It’s known worldwide as “the happiest place on Earth” but what should you really expect from Disney World? I love Disney just as much as the next millennial but after working at an Australian theme park for over two years I definitely wondered how magical I would really find the famed parks in Orlando, Florida.



Well, first of all – it’s busy.
You’re probably thinking: “Well obviously Katie, are you daft?” But don’t worry, I absolutely expected it to be busy. I just didn’t expect it to be THAT busy. There is a level of busy that one cannot understand until they experience it. That, my friends, is Disney Busy.

My top tip for surviving the hustle and bustle would be to book your breakfast, lunch, and dinner as soon as you possibly can. The group I travelled with didn’t wish to book any food times – and that’s fine, some people prefer to not be locked into any time constraints – but the one night we did book? We walked in, sat down, ate our food, walked out. That easy, that simple. I enjoyed that meal the most. Most other nights I didn’t eat very well nor did I eat very much. The days were spent lining up for 30 minutes to an hour or more for one waffle or hotdog. I have vowed that if I ever return to Disney I will book food times religiously. Katie has to eat well to be chirpy, I’ll tell you that much!

Another awesome tip: get there first! Even if it’s an hour before the park opens, I recommend you get there first. You will be able to do SO much more in those early hours than any other time and you will be grateful you did it.

You will gain a new talent: Queueing.
If you are not from the United States, let me tell you a thing: Americans are VERY good at lining up for stuff. You too will become very good at queueing once you have had your Disney adventure. Lines are meticulously crafted by the Disney gods to get you to the front of and back out of every character viewing, food stand, ride, show, and shop. This does not mean they are any faster… it just means you don’t need to constantly say “Oh sorry, we were actually next” to every person you see.

My top tip for getting through queues without ripping your hair out is go in a group so one of you can get food/hold your spot while you pee/talk to you to pass time. At the VERY least bring an external battery because if you are a solo traveller you may use every bar of your phone battery trying to pass the time. I make it sound terrible, I know, but it really is quite bearable. The only time I really truly noticed the wait was when we stood in line for TWO hours to meet Mickey Mouse for five minutes. But it is true that if someone can pop out and get food for you all no one will accuse them of jumping the line when they try to get back in. Everyone understands how hard it is to stand there for so long and they will let your friend join you again. We spent way too long worrying that people would think we were pushing in when we should’ve just realised that everyone was doing it and, to be perfectly honest, it really is a great time to eat.

Disney can’t be done in a day.
I’m sure this goes without saying, but just in case: it CANNOT be done in a day. You will probably find that even one park can’t be done in a day. Disney World is made up of four parks, two water parks, a bunch of resorts, Disney Springs and Downtown Disney. If you put Disney World on a map it would cover the entire city of San Francisco. Disney is GIANT. During our winter visit the water parks were closed so we only really had to worry about the four main parks: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. I can honestly say that I didn’t completely see all of any one park.

The best tip here would just be do your homework and make some plans. The reality is that you probably won’t get to see everything unless you’re planning to spend a couple of weeks at Disney. So just be prepared to miss out on a few things. Be extra-thoughtful about what attractions, characters and rides you really want to see and do and make sure you see and do them. Disney requires monumental levels of organisation and as long as you’re prepared you will feel fulfilled.

But with those points out of the way, let’s talk about 5 things I loved at Disney!

  1. Disney is okay with outside food and drink! So you don’t have to queue all day!
  2. FastPass+ is awesome! You get three FastPasses in advance for every day you’re at Disney. Use them to skip the queues on the most popular rides! Just be mindful to book them early as the spots can fill up up to three months in advance for the really popular rides (Avatar’s Flight of Passage…).
  3. Adults can still ride even if the kids can’t! Take advantage of the parent swap option so you don’t miss out on your favourite rides just because your little ones are a little too little.
  4. The characters are great. Disney has a superior standard of characters when it comes to theme parks. They know everything there is to know about the character they’re playing, so go ahead: ask Ariel how Flounder is doing, ask Alice about the cheshire cat, and ask Gaston how many times Belle has decline his marriage proposal. Just don’t tell Woody that Andy is coming… he knows he’s gone to college.
  5. World isn’t just the name – you are literally stepping into a Whole New World (pun intended). Disney World is full of incredible architecture and magical sceneries. You will realise exactly how big this Disney phenomenon is just by looking at everything that surrounds you. You will be blown away time and time again by the way you are transported to different countries and different times. That, to me, is by far the most awe inducing part of the Disney experience.

Les Miserables | REVIEW

Les Miserables has been showing at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney since March and I’ve only just been to see it! Since it is now in it’s final week I decided it was better late than never and booked myself a ticket! (I actually bought two tickets because there was a 2-4-$60.01 deal which I thought was hilariously genius! But unfortunately I was unable to find someone to take the second ticket, so I just went On My Own – pun very much intended.)

Les Mis is one of my favourite musicals but before today I had never seen it live! The only way I had gotten to see the story come together, even after loving the songs for years, was when the movie came out with Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe. I was super excited to have my first theatrical experience with Les Mis and it just so happened to be the Australian cast’s 500th show!

I hurried in with only 10 minutes to spare before the show started due to my dawdling around the theatre foyer. The Capitol Theatre is my favourite theatre so I always enjoy walking through it and around it whenever I get a chance. I had seats in Row E of the dress circle and I was very happy with my selection. I have only ever had tickets in the dress circle though, so hopefully the next show I see I can find some good seats down in the stalls. This visit was only my 5th time at the Capitol, having seen both The Addams Family and Wicked twice previously.

The orchestra was FLAWLESS. I wish I could rave more about them. The opening sequence had my body covered in goosebumps! They had the most incredible sound and it was all SO spot on. I unfortunately didn’t buy a program, so I can’t be sure exactly who I saw in each role onstage. I plan to head back in this week to the theatre just to pick a program up – I never see a show without buying one.

I thought all of the main and supporting characters were brilliant. I particularly loved Fantine and Eponine (and of course the Thenardiers!). I found Cosette to be a very different vocal tone to what I had imagined and at first it distracted me a little but I fell in love with her after A Heart Full of Love. Eponine, I have finally decided, is my dream role out of the choice of characters in Les Mis. I always thought it would be Cosette because I am that kind of soprano, but I was weeping every time Eponine sang and it just cemented the fact that I identify with her character so much more. A Little Fall of Rain had me crying my eyes out, and I LOVE that about theatre!

I thought Valjean, Javert and Marius were all very strong and their vocals suited what I had expected, so I liked that a lot. Valjean is my favourite character because Bring Him Home thoroughly touches the very depths of my heart. I have never heard the song performed and not cried – and I have heard Bring Him Home performed quite a number of times now… it is the pinnacle of the show for me personally, and I thought our Aussie cast absolutely did it justice. The simplicity in the movement was perfect. It was exactly what I wanted from that piece and I was so relieved.

Unfortunately the entire row in front of me was made up of bouncing lively children and the entire row behind me was made up of chatty British tourists… normally this would be no problem, but in a show like Les Mis, with all the quiet touching moments that you just want to let yourself feel it is frustrating to have everyone behind you coughing and whispering about how cold they are and everyone in front of you jumping up and down and standing up and talking to each other… but I guess that’s what you get by going to a matinee! Oops, my bad.

All in all it was an enjoyable show and some parts of it really hit the spot… but it’s just no flying Elphaba! Now that was a theatrical moment that had me crying into my hands and believing that my sole purpose in life was to work in music theatre… It’d be good to have another one of those moments some time soon, but since Wicked has just been released for amateur societies to do I think we can kiss that blissful experience goodbye for a while.

Quick, go get your tickets before Les Miserables leaves for Brisbane (or if you live in Brisbane, book those tickets!) – you won’t regret seeing this show.

Rugby League the Musical | REVIEW

Maybe I shouldn’t have put myself in the position of being a Queenslander in this audience the day before the all Queensland NRL Grand Final… Regardless, it was a hilarious show and I would highly recommend it for any people who enjoy sportsball (even if I did have to get up and bang coconuts together as the ‘QLD Percussion Section’).

Tonight was my first trip to the Sydney Fringe Festival for this year which is terrible since it finishes up tomorrow night. I chose to see Denis Carnahan’s Rugby League the Musical in appreciation of the fact the the NRL Grand Final is happening tomorrow, and both of my teams are playing! Hawthorn had just won it’s third straight premiership in the AFL and I thought the only way to deal with that disappointment was to book a last minute ticket to something that would remind that no matter what happens in tomorrows Grand Final, I win!

It was very clever and awfully entertaining. Carnahan took on many different roles from players, to referees, to the businessmen behind the league. The songs were all original parodies, and many involved catchy choruses that were easy to remember which had the audience singing along in delight. There was one part involving audience participation. When he asked for the Queenslanders to come up to the stage, I stayed put as I was worried for what was to come. However, I was ratted out by a lady sitting two rows behind me who must’ve paid attention when earlier in the show he had asked who was a Queensland fan and I raised my hand. I had to stand at the front of the stage and bang coconuts together with two other guys who were equally as afraid. Turns out we were just the percussion section and nothing else, so the Queensland shaming didn’t last for too long! (Of course, it was all in good fun – no Queenslanders were harmed in the making of this show! Let’s be honest though – if we come up with slogans like “Seven in Heaven” and “Eight Straight” to promote our Origin wins, it’s safe to say we like to be the centre of attention… so Carnahan really just did us a favour!)

His final song was a reprise of his claim to fame ditty, ‘That’s in Queensland’ – originally a satirical number about the process of how players are selected for State of Origin. For this finale he changed the lyrics to create a 2015 Grand Final Prediction. I will leave you with his parting lyrics –

“Where’s Brisbane? That’s in Queensland. Where’s Townsville? That’s in Queensland. Where’s the premiership? Not in New South Wales.”

The Bear Pack | REVIEW

Made up of Steen Raskopoulos (Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Barry Award Nominee 2015, National Theatresports Champion) and Carlo Ritchie (One Man Yarns), The Bear Pack is an outstanding comedy improv duo. Now there are a lot of things in life that I really enjoy and speak highly of, but The Bear Pack are on a level where I can’t even figure out praise high enough to worship them with.

I have been attending The Bear Pack’s performances since their debut show at The Giant Dwarf Theatre which happened on February 26th last year. I was taken there on a date and it was marvellous. After that, I went to almost every single show they performed, only missing a couple this year (which was super unfortunate and now that I’m leaving I am full of regret about).

This photo was taken during their first show at The Giant Dwarf. Before the Bear Pack performed, a few other improv comedians got up and played in a format called The Pitch which was developed by Steen. This photo was when the brilliant Pat Magee instructed us all to ‘lift up our dream spoons’. I remember the night so clearly! That’s me, right there at the beginning of the second row. I remember laughing and laughing this particular night. One of the best dates I’ve ever been on!

Growing up I did a lot of drama both at school and extracurricular and I absolutely loved improv and theatresports. However, the Sydney improv scene gave me a deeper love for it. I had no idea how many things were possible just because of improvisational talent! I began my Sydney improv education with the weekly Full Body Contact No Love Tennis shows at The Roxbury in Glebe. That was where I first had the privilege of watching both Steen and Carlo (and many of the other actors and comedians I now look up to and massively respect).

A quick lowdown of what to expect at a Bear Pack show: During the first half there is always some kind of show made up of other brilliant improvisers. Last night was an edition of the Improv Theatre Sydney Soap Opera which is an improv’d (and improved if you ask me) version of shows like The Bold and The Beautiful. It’s some very funny stuff! Last night’s fantastic cast was made up of Will Erimya, Jon Williams, Bridie Connell, Cale Bain, Tom Walker, Jack Scott and Jane Watt. There is then a quick interval.

The second half is the main event! Steen and Carlo start by asking the audience for a location suggestion – they’ve used a graveyard, a supermarket, an abattoir, etc. Last night was on Candy Mountain! Then they ask a question to which the answer will be an object – last night’s question: “What is something you buy in a bag?”, the chosen answer was a chicken. They usually choose the first answer they hear clearly. They then perform a 55-minute improv called a ‘yarn’ that takes place in the location that was suggested and somewhere within the 55 minutes they weave the suggested object into the story. These guys are pure genius! Focused, clever, and completely in sync with each other. They also always have a highly talented musician improv along with them. Last night’s musical accompanist was Heather Lloyd on strings.

I wish I had the eloquence to put together a paragraph that truly did this duo justice. But since I don’t and can’t imagine even trying, please, if you live in Sydney or if you’re ever passing through, do yourself a favour and look these guys up and see if they’ve got a show on. You will never be disappointed by them. In my humble opinion, a Bear Pack show is the #1 must do activity in Sydney (apparently also in the Sydney Morning Herald’s humble opinion!)

Tonight I attended what I thought would be my last Bear Pack show, but to my delight they have another show on in two weeks time, 10 days before I leave! It will be one of the things I miss most when I leave Sydney, and I hope that this reaches at least one new person who can enjoy them as much as I have! They are now so popular that people are turned away if they haven’t bought a ticket online – so please book in advance!

You can like their pages on Facebook to keep up with any new shows they may have happening!

Click on each name below for the link:

The Bear PackSteen Raskopoulos and Carlo Ritchie.

Again, I cannot stress enough how worth it these guys are. I just can’t recommend them enough.

Disclaimer: all photos used in this post have been taken either by me or from The Bear Pack facebook page. No copyright infringements intended.