13 countries in 24 days.......... the rushed version! ( just to get you up to date!)
Am currently in Berlin so thought I would give a brief update on the last 20 ( yes can you believe it!) 20 days.
London to paris
We crossed over on the ferry at dover and journeyed through the french countryside arriving in paris in the afternoon. That night we went out to a french resturant ( and yes I had escargot) for a three course meal and then on to the MOULIN ROUGE! was a lot of fun. We also viewed the city by night which was beautiful.
The next day is a free day ( which in contiki language means you can do whatever you want and happens in all the cities we go to) So bron and I with Andrew and Vanessa set off to explore gay pari. We saw all the main sites, did a river cruise and took a lot of photos.
That night we went back to the eiffle tower and can I just say it is nothing during the day however at night...........its totally magic! so we went up to the very top and I had a wine on the tower!
Paris to Lucerne
Well everzone has heard that switzerland is beautiful, and it is exactly that. The people are so nice and friendly ( especially after comming from france!) we explored the old town of Lucerne and went and vistited the lion monument ( when the french revoloution happened louis the 16th had swiss guards however when the peasants stormed the castle he ordered the guards not to hurt a single french man which meant that 700 swiss guards died in front of the palace) this was the sadest thing- the lion is carved into the rock and he is dying and the look on his face is just tragic.
After that Bron, Jeremy, Vanessa and I went up via cable to MT PILATUS at 7000ft is was a fair height! The view from up there was amazing! I got so many photos. We had lunch at the top of the mountain.
That night we went out in lucerne , it was a lot of fun. There are 42 of us in the group on contiki and the guys to girl ratio is fairly even which is good.
Lucerne to Lyon
This was basically a one nighter to break the trip between Lucerne and barcelona. We stopped in Geneva for lunch and arrived in Lyon in the afternoon. That night we all went into the old town part for dinner and for dessert we had choclate crepes. A bunch of us missed the pick up bus so it was a fun experiance working out how to get to the hotel but we mangaged!
Lyon to Barcelona
We arrived in Barcelona and went immediatly to the Gaudi church which was very cool.They have been building this church for 200 years and its still not finished. The expected finish date is 2025. That night was a big night in terms of room parties and I got to bed around 4am. The next day we explored Barcelona. Barcelona is an intresting city its a place I don´t think I would go back to but I am glad I have visited. That night bron and I had dinner with a friend that lives in Barcelona and she cooked us spanish omelette and then we met the rest of the contiki bunch out at a club. It was another night of fun!
Barcelona to Nice
From Barcelona we travelled back into france to the french riveria. Nice is a beautiful town nestled in beetween snow capped peaks and the sea you can understand why it is such a big holiday destination. We explored the town and the sites, we also visited a french perfumery and learnt the art ( and expense) of making good perfume! That night we went to Monaco and the city of Monte carlo. This is a beautiful little city. We went up and saw the castle and then had dinner before heading to the grand casino ( which was where they filmed some of casino royale)I am sad to say I lost 10 euro but the guy beside me was having 5000 euro bets......whoa!
Nice to Florence
Travelling along the coast to italy and I never realised how hilly italy was! it was really beautiful and the tuscan area especially so. That night we went out to a lovely resturant and was serenaded by an italian opera singer. The next day we had a leather making demonstration ( as florence is famous for its leather work) and then we had a walking tour through florence. Florence is a beautiful city and somewhere I would definatley like to come back to.From florence on the way to rome we travelled via piza and saw the leaning tower ( which isn't leaning that much) our tour guide was giving a bottle of wine to someone who could come up with the best photo with the tower ( most imaginitive ) and I am proud to say I came up with the idea and bron and I ( with jeremy also) won. Will dsiplay the picture when I get a chance. We had a night out that night too in a space disco in florence.... :-)
Well there is one word about rome.... WOW so much history! we visited the ancient ruins, saw the actual place where julius ceaser was cremeted, visited the pantheon, the trevi fountain, the colleseum( thats not spelt right!) and all the other sites. We went on a walking tour with a local guide who gave us all the intersting history behind the sites.
At 12 pm we all went to the vatican city ( which is its own country) and got blessed by the pope who was actually in town that weekend! ( he has been away all year apparently) We then went to the spanish steps and then back to the vatican city ( once the line had gone down) to go into the St Peters catherdral which was amazing. There is no other word to describe it you will have to see the pictures.
Rome to Venice
Well Venice is a wonderful city that is sinking 1mm a year so one day it will no longer be there. We went to a glass blowing demonstration ( as venice is of course famous for its glass) and then we went to a lace demonstration ( as its also famous for its lace) lace making is a craft which nearly died out but luckily 25 years ago local benefacters started up the lace school we visited and now they currently have 900 lace makers working for them. We went for a gondola ride which was lovely and that evening had dinner in a little italian resturant.
Venice to Vienna ( via San Marino)
Well today we made it 12 countries as we visited the tiny town of san marino. This little country is the third smallest country in europe after the vatican city and monaco ( both of which I have been to now!) We were lucky as they had a market day on so we wandered around for a few hours learning about san marino and browsing the stalls.
We then travelled on to Vienna and arrived in the evening. Bron and I went to an austrian resturant and had the best dinner! yum!The next day we explored the city of vienna saw the summer and winter palace, the crazy house ( will explain later with photos) and just enjoyed the city.We visited a local schnapps museum and working factory that still uses the old methods. This was really cool as the man that owns it talked us through the process. I bought a bottle of gold liquer that has real gold flakes in it. You add a shot to a glass of dry champayne and it makes it sweet as well as the bubbles swirl the gold around. Am bringing it back home to use for a special occasion as the owner says that is what it is intended for.
That night we snuck across the boarder to Hungary ( home of our tour manager) and had a Hungarian dinner and cheap cheap drinks this is how we made it to thirteen countries ( originally the tour was 11 countries in 24 days)
Vienna to Munich
On the way to munich we visited the concentration camp of Mathausen. This was the last concentration camp to be liberated and was mainly a camp for execution. We watched a video about this particular camp and then walked around the camp. This was something I would only ever do once, it really touched me deeply that people can do that to other humans and I would never want to visit another concentration camp again. Needless to say the mood on the bus after was very very somber.
Finally we arrived in Munich the beer capital of the world! and so we visited the famous beer hall. Unfortuently everyone else in munich had the same idea! So Bron, Vanessa and I wanderered around the Munich christmas markets in the snow drinking hot mulled wine and eating bratwurst sausage. It was pure magick. I got my german mixed up a bit but the food ladies were happy to point out what I was supposed to say, they said they were happy I was trying.
Munich to Prague
Today we arrived in the city of prague and went to the castle and walked along the famous bridge. The next day we explored this beautiful city from foot and from river cruise. Prague was not bombed during the 2nd world war ( however the americans did get the co ordinates wrong and let a few stray ones go) and there is a large jewish sector here that is completely intact. Hitler being as whacked as he was loved prague and wanted to keep the jewish sector as sort of a living museum as I said whacked.
Prague to Berlin via Dresden
Today we travelled to berlin via the cute city of Dresden which we wandered around. Dresden was heavily bombed and 35 000 people were killed. They have rebuilt everything that was deystroyed and it all looks as though it has been there for ever.
Now I am in Berlin! lol so hope you are a bit up to speed with what I have been doing! This is of course the rushed version but you get the idea!