A Travellerspoint blog

Day one

We're going to Europe!

sunny 20 °C

First day was loooong! However we are the consummate professionals and carried on. Met out our contiki rep- Beccdj_beccy_b.jpg from Perth Oz. A lovely gal who had us set up for a coach tour of London upon arrival, as the hotel rooms would not be available. From the coach, it's important that we don't call it a bus, we see some of the iconic London sights> St. Paul's, the eye, tube stations, and the famous phone booths. london_skyline.jpgred_teleph..oths_london.jpgrussell_sq..tube_london.jpgLondon is a very multi-cultural city with tons of restaurants - a great local for a culinary tour! Free time in the later afternoon and a couple of us blitzed the national gallery. Key highlights- the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin marbles. It's true the Brits did steal everything. Ha ha.
Sat for an IPA at a pub and then back to the hotel for check in pre dinner. We're staying at the Royal National Hotel on Russell square. Close to same name tube station. Huge property 1630 rooms, according to the night manager. It's not the Ritz, but it is very central!!

Posted by alitabrown 06:24 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london Comments (0)

Day 10

Lyon and we didn't see Paul Bocuse.

overcast 16 °C

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We leave the jail hotel, which was the best sleep ever - Not sure what to make of that and head to Lyon. The weather rained and cleared and rained and cleared.
We stop at a chateau owned by contiki in the Beaujolais region. It's gorgeous and they have wine planted on the property to supply contiki at the site and some locals as well.
The house manager Barbara gave us the history of the chateau and the toured us around. We ended up in the wine cellar and were given an opportunity to taste their "vins". Needless to say I purchased a bottle to take home. A little rose for summer.
The chateau also seems like it would be a great place for the students to go for a stage so will be finding up on my return to Calgary.
The tour is getting close to the end. We depart for Paris tomorrow. Hooray!! We arrive sound 5:30, city tour, dinner and tour Eiffel visit. Can't wait

Posted by alitabrown 13:57 Archived in France Tagged to lucerne lyon Comments (0)

Day 9

Venice to Lucerne

rain 10 °C

We leave Italy north wards to Switzerland. As we approach Milan the number of trucks on the road and congestion increases exponentially!!! I find out from Miki, our driver, that in Europe no trucks are allowed from 5 pm Saturday until Monday 6 am. Talk about pent up demand. And the best was the design of the till booths to manage all this - 15 toll entries squeeze into 4 to get back on the autostrada.
However we arrive in lucerne around 3 and we are staying at the jail hotel. Seriously. My room consists of white walls, 2 long twin beds and a shower/toilet. Spartan describes it best. Ha ha.
We are taken to Harry's for shopping straight away because we haven't helped the economy of Europe enough. I certainly find a trend in the merchandising over here. Put out repetitions of the same product in every store and eventually you think you need the Product. I was tempted to buy a cutesy little Swiss Army knife but I didn't. So in the break between the shopping and our lake tour - jona and I headed to a local Rathskeller for a Swiss lager.
The town of Lucerne is picture postcard perfect. House sales and rents are very limited so prices are extremely high.wooden_bridge_Lucerne.jpgLucerne_castle.jpgproperty_a..Lac_Lucerne.jpg TVT student Jody even had a chance to play boat captain. One other interesting fact was that the highest mountain we can see here is only 6,500 tall.
Dinner was at a new joint because the jail hotels food was not good enough for our tour manager. Bless her heart!

Posted by alitabrown 22:02 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

Day 8

overcast 27 °C

The day in Venice. Home of the Doges Palace, Gondolas and masques! We have to take a local driver to the vaporetti drop off and the cost to enter Venice island is 390 euro because the bus is deemed to be "non environmental". Yikes. The boat ride in to pizza San Marco is spectacular as the Weather Gods are on our sides again. We take a walking tour with a knowledge guide Cynthia, take a gondola ride and we have free time. You know what that means...walking and shopping and eating and sampling the beverages such as an Aperol Spritz and non-slushy Bellinis.

Posted by alitabrown 21:44 Archived in Italy Tagged venice Comments (0)

Day 12

Paris

sunny 26 °C

Today us girls decide to leave earlier than the tour and enjoy the sites. We take the metro, which is only a couple of blocks from the hotel, and take it straight to the Champs-Elysee Clemenceau station. This is about the midway point of the glorious road. We head towards the Arc de Triomphe and then double back towards the Louvre. Along the route, most of the stores are still closed as it is before 1000am so we didn't get a chance to walk into the Louis Vuitton flagship store. Bummer. However we did stop at Laderer, the infamous macaron store, and purchased some samples for our stop at the Jardin Tuilleries. I just can't imagine Calgary having chairs placed around the little pond at Eau Claire for the citizens to sit and enjoy the moment. We continue along till we reach the Louvre and take photos of I.M.Pei's pyramid. The last time I was here, the pyramid was yet to exist. We walk along the Seine, oh yes that smell of urine was there for us to enjoy, till we reach the crossing for the Ile de la cite and Notre Dame. This grand old church is 850 years old this year, wow! In front of the church is a huge tent filled with bakers preparing breads, etc in a competition a la skills Alberta. Tasty morsels - I just don't know how you could be gluten intolerant and live in this country! We walk thru the latin quarter and stop for lunch. Sitting facing the traffic as all good Parisiene's are wont to do. We then finish our touring by taking the metro up to Sacre Coeur. Another beautiful vista of the city of lights from this vantage point. It is so sunny and glorious, I just can't believe our weather luck. We take the metro home for a quick change to prepare for our last night dinner cabaret at the Nouvelle Eve Club in Montmarte. This place is less expensive than the Moulin Rouge or the Lido at only 145Euros. However with Contiki's volume pricing we were able to get the dinner for 123Euros. 3 course meal and wine is also included before the show begins. The dancers are young and fit and the music is in true cabaret style...did I mention it was topless? The students went out to O'Sullivan's to formally close their tour of Europe, while the 3 of us went home to pack for our early morning departure back to the airport.
This has been a great tour and I would highly recommend Contiki as company of choice for the 18-35 year old travellers. Thanks to Beccy our tour manager and Miki our driver for their energy and creativity!

Posted by alitabrown 07:47 Archived in France Comments (0)

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