Contiki Day 8 – Paris!

In the morning we took the bus into Paris and got dropped off at the Eiffel tower. We opted not to go to the perfumery in favor of more time in Paris. We walked towards the Eiffel tower to the gift shop. The night before was so rushed I didn’t get to shop! I got keychains and a figurine. Pretty tame shopping if you ask me. Then we walked across the bridge towards the train station. There was a colour run event going on wich reminded me of our last trip to Vegas. 4L1A3854 4L1A3861

We took the train to the Arc de Triumph and walked the Champs-Élysées. We stopped at Laudee to buy macrons. We got pistachio, lemon passion fruit, raspberry and salted caramel. They were good but I wasn’t a fan of lemon passion fruit and I love passion fruit. 4L1A3899 4L1A3904

Our next stop was the Luvre where we took some photos of the palace and triangles before hopping on the metro again to head to Notre Dame. We looked around the church then grabbed lunch nearby at a pizza place before returning to take more photos and go inside. Mass was in service when we returned and the organ music was amazing. 4L1A3917 4L1A3995

After Notre Dame we walked along the Seine river to where the bus picked us up. We went back to the hotel to have a quick nap and change for the evening. The rest of the tour was going to see the Moulin Rouge but we wanted to see more of Paris by night.

The bus left the hotel at 6:30pm and dropped everyone off at the Moulin Rouge. We walked to a nearby church high up on a hill. There was tons of street performers, venders, and views of the city. We then made our way to the eiffle tower again looking for a photo spot. We didn’t find it and I was getting tired again so we headed for the arc de triumph. 4L1A4067 4L1A4121

Before climbing the arc we stopped at a bar to have dinner and a drink. The food was good and drinks a tad strong for my liking.

When we got to the arc de triumph we found that it was closed. There must have been a private event or something because usually it is open in the evening. We took some photos and then headed back to the hotel for the night. We got in a few minutes before the moulin rouge group.

Contiki Day 7 – Paris by night

The drive from Lucerne to Paris took all day. We left at a decent time in the morning and didn’t get into Paris until 8pm. We got checked into our hotel before heading to the hotel resturant for dinner. Dinner was pork chops kinda. They tasted a lot like my marinaded BBQ pork chops but were a cut I didn’t recognize. After dinner we piled onto the bus and they did a nighttime tour of the city. We saw all the major landmarks and got a history of wich famous ruler was responsible. We also saw the place were the Swiss guards were killed.

The tour ended at the eiffle tower. We waited a few minutes and were treated to the light show that happens every hour. After the lights we got in line for tickets. We decided to climb the stairs up but didn’t realize we only had 1-1/2 hours till closing. My legs were shot but we made it up to level two and into the lineup for the elevator to the very top. It was rushed and we didn’t get to see anything on the first two levels. From the top we got to see all of Paris lit up. It was quite pretty but missing the best thing, the eiffle tower. 4L1A3846-Edit 4L1A3737 4L1A3752 4L1A3758 4L1A3760 4L1A3788 4L1A3820 4L1A3825 4L1A3826

We quickly headed back down to catch the bus to the hotel. It was past midnight when we got in and I was exhausted!

Contiki Day 6 – Lucerne

Today we drove from Italy to Switzerland so we had to get up early to make the drive across Italy. On the highway between Italy and Switzerland there is a tunnel through the mountain, it’s 16km long! It really didn’t seem that long when we drove through it but I didn’t try and hold my breath. Once on the other side the country felt like home. The trees the mountains made it felt a lot like BC except that the houses looked odd. When we got to Lake Lucern we stopped in a town called Stans where they have a train and gondola that takes you up to Mt Stanserhorn. 4L1A3409 4L1A34154L1A34564L1A34634L1A34654L1A3472We took the train and gondola up the mountain but it was cloudy so the views from the top were non-existent. Some people from the group did get to see snow for the first time and were quite excited. Also a local saw me and my camera and took me down some trail to see a black grouse. I guess birders can spot other birders regardless of what country you are in. We then made it down the mountain and drove another half hour into Lucern. 4L1A3479 4L1A3486 4L1A3502 4L1A3496 4L1A3494 4L1A3490 4L1A3519 4L1A3542 4L1A3547

There we went to the Swiss watch and knife store to look around. Lucern was the town I was looking the most forward to and had a whole route mapped out for us. We started off going to see the Musseg wall and the Zyt clock tower. The wall was built in 1386 and is mostly intact. The clock in the Zyt tower chimes every hour one minute before all the other clocks in the city. We climbed the tower and saw the inner workings of the clock, then we walked along the wall to another tower where we got back onto the street. We then headed towards the Lion Monument. The monument was carved by Bertel Thorvaldsen for the soldiers that died protecting the French Royal family. Mark Twain described the Lion of Lucerne as the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world, and I must agree. Of all the paintings and sculptures that we saw in Europe this one was the best. It is huge and so detailed. Its a must see. (Read the PDF here for more info: http://www.luzern.com/en/lion-monument ) 4L1A3568 4L1A3574 4L1A3589

After the Lion we headed to the lake and walked along the shore back towards the Chapel Bridge. There were swans along the shore so as it started to rain we went and took photos of them. Chris loured them closer and I got some photos. At times they were to close for the camera to focus and they were making weird noises. It then started pouring so we hurried back to town to get souvenirs and meet back with the group. 4L1A3617 4L1A3633 4L1A3636 4L1A3654 4L1A3672 4L1A3675 4L1A3679 4L1A3694 4L1A3664

The hotel we stayed in that night was an old jail, it was a fairly good hotel by Europe standards and I wasn’t weirded out by being in a jail at all. For dinner we went to an Asian Fondu Restaurant. We didn’t get any fondu but got a bunch of weird little dishes to pass around and try. For dessert we got slices of orange. 4L1A3711 4L1A3705 4L1A3709

Contiki Day 5 – Venice

Today we finally got to go into the city of Venice. After getting in late the night before we had the whole day in the city. We woke up at a decent time and took a train to the islands. Then got a private boat ride to the main square. From there we did a walking tour with a local guide who explained the sites between Piazzo San Marco and the Rialto Bridge.   4L1A3154 4L1A3159 4L1A3161 4L1A3166 4L1A3175 4L1A3176 4L1A3184 4L1A3188 4L1A3192 4L1A3195 4L1A3202 4L1A3204
After the walking tour we went to a glass shop to see a glass blowing demonstration. Everything was really expensive. Like $120 euros for a glass expensive so we didn’t get anything. We then went and explored the city. 4L1A3223 4L1A3227 4L1A3230 4L1A3233 4L1A3234 4L1A3243 4L1A3248 4L1A3266 4L1A3267 4L1A3268 4L1A3269
We took a lift up the campanile or bell tower in the square for views of Venice. It was weird that you couldn’t see any of the canals but it makes sense since they are so narrow. We then walked and saw the bridge of sighs and a couple church’s before we did a gondola ride with the tour. The ride was ok. Nothing to special and our gondolier was to busy talking to the gondolier in front of us to really answer questions or anything. I think the views were just as nice from the bridges. The city was quite busy for the first half of the day due to cruise ships but in the afternoon and evening it quieted down. 4L1A3305 4L1A3311 4L1A3312 4L1A3315 4L1A3325 4L1A3335 4L1A3336 4L1A3337 4L1A3341 4L1A3347 4L1A3349 4L1A3367 4L1A3375 4L1A3378

The tour did an optional meal for dinner but we opted to get our own food so we headed over the Rialto bridge to a quiet neighborhood.  This place had cover and service charges included. You can get charged a small fortune to sit at a resturant in Venice. We both had one of the specials which was a pasta (I had ravioli and Chris lasagna) and a chicken cutlet, Chris also had French fries. It was pretty good. Defiantly a step up from most of our Italian meals. 4L1A3396 4L1A3399 4L1A3397

Once done we met back up with the tour to head back to the hotel.

Contiki Day 4 – Stop in Innsbruck on way to Venice

4L1A3131This morning we were on the coach at 8:45 so we could drive from Munich Germany to Venice Italy. After 3 hours we arrived in Innsbruck Austria and stopped for a few hours to have lunch. The town is very small and quiet but also very cute. Our first stop was Swarovski crystals which started in a town nearby. We looked at all the expensive art, scopes, and jewelry before leaving with a small Christmas ornament. We then went to a schnapps shop to try some locally made schnapps. I got a sweet apricot one to bring home.4L1A3106 4L1A3104 4L1A3101

We then stopped at Piano where we had lunch. It’s a little cafe on the main drag. We all tried an Almdudler, which is an Austrian pop, and found that it tasted very similar to ginger ale but with more of a citrus flavor. I had potatoes with bacon and cheese. It was like super amazing breakfast hash browns covered in cordon blu stuffing. Chris had schnitzel which he says is very similar to what we get at home. 4L1A3111 4L1A3113 4L1A3115

After lunch we went to find me a key chain and stopped at the strudel shop to get strudels. We haven’t had a chance to eat them yet since we’re planning to save them for later. We then got back on the bus to finish driving to Venice. 4L1A3117 4L1A3116 4L1A3098 4L1A3099

Our hotel is a ways out of the city and typically Italian. We got in pretty late so we dumped out stuff in the room and went to dinner. It was blah. They started with lettuce with no dressing that was super bitter. Then lasagna that had very little meat or sauce. The noodles were so over cooked they were indistinguishable from the cheese. Then we had ice cream. One was lemon which is super popular but very strong and not yellow so it catches you by surprise. We then went to bed since we will spend a full day in Venice tomorrow.

Contiki Day 3 – Munich

In the morning we had breakfast in the hotel then met at the shop next door where we saw a beer stein demonstration. The shops then opened for us and we could buy beer steins, coco clocks and Birkenstock. I got a pair of Birkenstock before we took the coach from St. Goar to Munich.4L1A2979

In Munich we did a bicycle tour of the city. It was 3hr long but we stopped often and had lunch at a beer garden in one of the parks. We shared a pork knuckle, potatoes and a pretzel which were really good. Chris tried some German beer while I had a spritzi which is fanta and cola mixed together. I really liked my pop but Chris’ beer was pretty awful, he didn’t think so though. This was also the cheapest place in the city to buy beer glasses so Chris did the rest of the tour with two 1L beer glasses in the basket on his bike. When the tour ended we walked down to the beer house but decided to go inside later and instead went looking for a key  chain. We wandered around for awhile but it was so late everything was closed, plus the glasses were heavy. So we went back to the beer house and in their gift shop I found my key chain.4L1A3008 4L1A3013 4L1A3014 4L1A3016 4L1A3019 4L1A3020 4L1A3024 4L1A3029 4L1A3033 4L1A3036 4L1A3038 4L1A3044 4L1A3048 4L1A3056 4L1A3057

The bus then took us back to the hotel for the night.

Contiki Day 2 – Amsterdam and to St.Goar

The second day after breakfast we went back into Amsterdam. Our goal was to see the Anne Frank house, I Amsterdam sign and some churches. The tour bus dropped us off at Anne Frank were we immediately got in line, we were told the line would be about 20 min. Some 2.5 hours later we made it inside but due to time we had to rush thru the museum. I was able to stop in the bookstore and pickup a copy of the diary of Anne Frank. 4L1A2849 4L1A2850 4L1A2859 4L1A2864 4L1A2871 4L1A2872 4L1A2883

On the way back to the bus we grabbed some stroopwafels, sausage bun things, and a key-chain. Then we were back on the bus for the drive to St.Goar. Along the drive we saw many castles on the hillsides. Since we spent time in the morning in Amsterdam we got into St.Goar around dinner time. Dinner was at the hotel and was pork roast, spetzle, and gravy. It was good but not a very large meal, also the server was really sticky about manners. If you looked at your phone or didn’t say thank you he gave you attitude. 4L1A2893 4L1A2898 4L1A2916 4L1A2927 4L1A2928 4L1A2933

After dinner we walked around St.Goar, it was very quiet. We saw next to no one and all you could hear was the bell tower at the church. On one street as we went back to the hotel there was a class in a nearby building playing polka music. After so many big cities it almost seemed like we were the only people alive.4L1A2935 4L1A2939 4L1A2948 4L1A2954 4L1A2962 4L1A2964 4L1A2968

The hotel room was very simple. Cream walls and sheets, the bed was two twins pushed together with two comforters folded on top. No top sheet. The beds were new but it was odd.

Contiki Day 1 – London to Amsterdam

Today we woke up extra early so we could pack our things and make it to the bus. We made it one time and so far our luggage is under weight. We then all boarded and took our seats but two people hadn’t arrived yet. At the last minute one arrived but we were ten minutes late so we left without the other one. 4L1A2768 4L1A2779

We drove to Dover where we caught a ferry across the channel to France. When the ferry left we got a good view of the white cliffs of Dover and Dover castle. Once back on land we drove through France and Belgium to the Neatherlands. We got into Amsterdam I the evening where we checked into the hotel and had dinner at the hotel. Nothing Dutch and all very salty. After dinner the bus took us into Amsterdam where we got onto a boat for a cruise of the canals. It was neat to see all the houses and shops from the water. 4L1A28074L1A2831 4L1A2830 4L1A2824 4L1A2817 4L1A2815 4L1A2816

After our canal cruise out tour our tour manger took us through the red light district. It reminded me a lot of Vegas. In Vegas they have men handing out little cards with a picture advertising women. In Amsterdam the women are just standing in the window. It was odd though. The rest of the group continued on to see a live sex show but we made our way by tram back to the hotel.4L1A2837 4L1A2835 4L1A2842

London Day 2

Our first full day in London we slept in since the ticket office for the London Passes didn’t open until 10am. Then we went and picked them up and headed past Tafalfar square to Wearminster Palace and Westminster Abby. Since it was raining there would be no changing of the guards so we skipped Buckingham palace. After our walk through of the Abby we headed across the Thames to the London Eye. I bought day and night tickets so we could go twice and see London in both lights. The views were quite amazing and the capsule you are in didn’t rock or sway at all. 4L1A2492 4L1A2494 4L1A2510 4L1A2517 4L1A2533 4L1A2527 4L1A2541 4L1A25434L1A2557 4L1A2564 4L1A2590 4L1A2596 4L1A2600

Once I got some nice pictures and the ride was over we went on a boat tour on the Thames. The boat took us from the London Eye to the Tower Bridge with commentary along the way. 4L1A2604 4L1A2644

On land we toured the Tower of London and saw the Crown Jewels before heading to the Tower Bridge. There we climbed up the bridge and walked along a platform connecting the two sides of the bridge. 4L1A2663 4L1A2677 4L1A2680 4L1A2685 4L1A2688 4L1A2694 4L1A2698

As soon as we finished we rushed back to the metro to make it to our first Contiki meeting. It took over an hour and like four lines to make it but we did. We got our instructions for the next day then left. Since it was now dark we went back out to the London Eye to ride again and take more photos. 4L1A2746

For dinner we tracked down (on Google) where some fish and chips were, the nearest happened to be a Indian restaurant.

London Day 1

Our last morning in Rome we tried to sleep in but our neighbors decided to throw suitcases down the hallway (like I said Rome=rude). But once they left we fell back asleep. We ate breakfast at the hotel and got ready to leave. Our driver arrived early so we scrambled a bit but made it to the airport with plenty of time. We had to be bussed to our plane since all the terminals were open but Rome just seems to not like British Airways. The flight was good. Our pilot told us where we were and what we would see.

We flew over Nice and the French alps.

The night before we left we realized we were given directions on how to get from Heathrow to the hotel in London but our flights actually landed in Gatwick. So we had to take a train into London transfer to the metro and then walk to our hotel. Once checked in we took the train to Harrods were we looked around and then shared a pizza and had a pop. We were not told to buy pounds so we didn’t have any and used the credit card. We saw the exchange rate later and realized we paid $60 for a pizza.

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After the pizza we walked to see Big Ben and some of the sights before heading back to the hotel for the night.

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