“While I loved the itinerary, the prompt organisation and other travellers, I was very disappointed with my tour leader. This was my third Topdeck trip and while my first 2 leaders were great at effectively communicating and being friendly and professional to all travellers, this was not the case with Cate (Felix). While she was very organised, had adequate knowledge of the places we visited and bonded with some of the travellers who began the trip in London, I and the vast majority of travellers who commenced the trip at different destinations, felt she was at times quite rude, disinterested and made little to no effort with any of these new members.
I was the only traveller to join the trip in Dubrovnik, Croatia. The bus was 2hrs late to the hostel - albiet this was not their fault - however, when Felix met me she asked if I had done a Topdeck before and then proceeded to give me no information and requested I send her my details via Facebook messenger to "speed things up". At the welcome dinner I was not introduced to the group and Felix separated herself so she could spend time a male bus driver on another Topdeck allowing no time for me to ask questions. She proceeded to priorise this man throughout our time in Dubrovnik.
I felt she was extrememly '2 faced'. Each morning on the bus she presented an over happy persona which was very different to the way she acted on a 1to1 basis. As a new comer there appeared to be 'rules' I was unaware of. When I 'broke' these rules obliviously (eg. brought my bag down to reception before breakfast/put my feet on the adjacent bus seat) she used my fault as a poor example in front of the entire group making me feel uncomfortable. I did not want to be best friends with her, but I did feel as if I had to respect her when she did not respect me. Nor did she ever initiate a conversation with me.
One day she was collecting money on the bus for an optional activity. As it was in a country specific currency, she conveniently rounded up the price by 10. When I asked for change she rudely stated that it was worth very little and made me feel pathetic for asking for it. A few days later when another traveller paid for the same optional in coins, I kindly asked whether I could have my change back. Even though it was sitting in her hand, she reluctantly handed it over and suggested how pathetic I was for wanting it back. Subsequently, the total amount of change equated to over $AUD20 which did not belong to her. The morning after the optional activity she told everyone on the bus someone said she was ripping everyone off and had decided to give the change back. After talking to other passengers who awaited the change, it was never returned. This was not the only time she was rude, unprofessional and condescending, and thus I would recommend she be assigned shorter trips where all travellers join on the first day. For example, when she would pass inappropriate comments such as you missed out on a great night if we did something other than her suggestion. Or even worse, talked about passengers behind their back.
In Budapest a friend of mind grew gravely ill and required hospital assistance. She approached Felix for help for which Felix acted drunk and prioritised going to the clubs with the rest of the group. This was particularly disappointing given shed gloated the previous day about how many connections she had all over Europe having been a guide for 6 years.
When crossing the Serbian border my bag was pulled aside and I was questioned by border security. While the issue was resolved, it was not Felix who stood by me in support, but the bus driver Pete who was very kind throughout the entire trip.
At times Felix also made the trip feel like a school excursion. For example, one night when a small group of us were leaving an optional dinner to return to the hostel, she rudely asked why we werent waiting for the rest of the group. We had to remind her that this was, in fact, a Topdeck and not a primary school camp. While the Mega Europe was 49days and some of the participants on the 49day drip were more dependent on her leadership than those of us who joined later, she did not cater for character differences. Finally, towards the end of the trip her walking tours were underprepared and frankly quite boring.
For such a good group of people and a fabulous itinerary, it was disappointing that this trip was assigned such a poor, unprofessional leader. Nonetheless, I still had a great trip which I was determined not to let her ruin. I made some lovely friends and was able to explore Eastern Europe is a fast-paced manner which allowed me to experience so much.”