S: Europe 2010
BC: DEPARTED | Europe | 2010
1: Europe The summer after I graduated from Purdue I decided to go on a European tour with a group of students from Purdue University, and North Carolina State University. There were also a few couples from BC, New Zealand and Australia. There were over 30 of us all together.
2: May 18 After Realizing my flight was a day earlier than I thought I rushed to get everything packed and headed to the airport. There was some concern that the airports would be closed due to the ash cloud from Iceland but luckily they remained open. My friend Rachel, who I volunteered with in Madagascar in 2009, met me at the Piccadilly train stop close to her apartment. Once I got settled in we walked around Camden. We ate lunch at a pub and afterwards we went to the British Museum until it closed. We walked around Holburn a bit longer and we saw the BBC headquarters and then went to Covent Garden. After a long day of traveling and walking around we decided to head home for dinner. We watched Black Books and played boggle. May 19 We woke up early this morning and headed to the tower of London. We saw all the armory and crown jewels. After the Tower of London we jumped on a city boat and road to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. After looking around for a while we decided to walk along the river. We passed the Eye of London and had pizza for lunch. We went to the Tate Museum and to Shakespeare's Globe and Rose Theater. While walking back to a train station we decided to visit London Bridge. It was a haunted bridge and was a lot of fun! We had a couple drinks before we headed home for a rest. Later that night we met up with some of Rachel's friends who were doing a comedy skit. After the show we went to a place called Harry's and had a few drinks. We talked to a guy from Indiana and a "Made from England" guy. He was a total jerk and we left quickly after taking to him. | May 18 We headed to Trafalgar Square this morning and then went to Buckingham Palace. We passed through St. James Park and saw lots of waterfowl. It was beautiful! We had lunch in the park and saw a small palace parade. I thought it was the royal family but it was just a parade. We went to Richmond and rented a row boat. It was lovely spending time with Rachel but it was time for me to pack up and meet with the group of people I would be traveling with over the next couple of weeks. I said goodbye and made my way to Russel Square. May 21 When I checked in last night I realized my tour start date wasn't for another day! So I slept in this morning and then I went to the Contiki Office to check in for my tour. After I checked in I went to the post office. I had packed way too much stuff and needed to send some things home. My bags were too heavy! I had lunch at a nice café close to my hotel. After lunch I decided to pull my tourist card and go on the London Eye. It was beautiful. I met a man named Baldev Lamba, a professor at Temple University. We started talking and decided to go to the London Wetland Center together. We saw many endangered waterfowl. It was a really cool center. We headed back to Central London and said goodbye to each other. I then met with my travel group. We all relaxed for the evening. It would be an early start tomorrow!
5: Tower of | London
10: Big Ben
11: Westminster Abbey
12: Trafalgar Square
14: Buckingham Palace
17: Row boating | Richmond
18: The London Eye
19: Amsterdam May 22 I woke up really early this morning, got my things together and went to meet my tour group. After weighing our bags and checking in we started our 2-3 hour drive to Dover. Once we got to Dover we got onto a ferry and made our way to France. We saw the Cliffs of Dover. The ferry trip took about 2 hours. Once we got to France we drove through Belgium and finally made it to the Netherlands. Once we arrived in Amsterdam we checked into our hotel and ate dinner. We went on a sunset cruise on the canals. We saw the Anne Frank house, the crooked house and a few other interesting spots. After the cruise most of the group headed to the red light district. We went to a sex show at Cassa Rosso. A few of our tour group members got on stage to participate, harmless stuff compared to the rest of the show! After the show a group of us went to a "coffee shop". We bought some "coffee" and sat for about a half hour. One of the girls on our tour got a little carried away with her "coffee" and ended up passing out. I got us a taxi and took us back to the hotel. May 23 After breakfast we headed into town. Most of us started at the Anne Frank house. It was really interesting seeing everything, especially her actual diary. After the museum we walked around central Amsterdam for a while. We saw the National Monument and the Royal Palace. It was under construction but still cool to see. We shopped a little bit and then ran into Cindy, our tour host, at a cafe. We decided to try traditional Netherland food. I had a cheese pancake, very good! It had ham and cheese layered on a European pancake. | We also tried poffertjes. These are small dough balls covered with butter and powdered sugar. We bought stoopwaffles, a waffle cookie with carmel in the middle. Supposedly these are really good when heated with a cup of coffee or tea. We jumped on the bus and made our way to St. Goar Germany.
20: Cliffs of Dover
21: Driving to Amsterdam
28: St. Goar May 23 Our hotel is right along the Rhine Valley and was surrounded by lots of cute shops! The country side in Germany is so beautiful. We had dinner at the hotel and then went wine tasting. It was my first time trying iced wine, I bought a bottle to send home. May 24 Today was a bank holiday so the majority of the shops were closed but a few knew we were in town so they opened their shops. I bought birkenstocks, beer steins and a cuckoo clock. We got on the bus and drove to Munich.
34: Munich May 24 We left St. Goar and made our way to Munich. We checked into our hotel and immediately went into town. We walked around for a little bit before we went on a bike tour. Two guys, Will and James, led the tour. We saw a lot of neat buildings, rode through an English garden, stopped at the second largest biergarden and saw surfers surfing in a canal. After the tour we went to Hofbrauhaus for dinner and beer. I am not a fan a beer, but being in Germany I thought it was necessary to try some. We all sat around and chatted after dinner. Will and James showed up and we went to an Irish pub where we stayed for the rest of the night.
44: Austrian Tyrol May 25 The drive to Austria was beautiful! We saw a lot of cows with bells around their necks and a lot of mountains! Rich, the bus driver, stopped at a vista and let us take pictures. We finally arrived at the white water rafting location. After getting our gear we separated into four rafts and began our 14k trip. A few of the rapid names were, Forplay, Iron Rapids (Iron Bridge), Fallout (people tend to fall out), and Tongue Bite. We made it through all the rapids without anyone falling out of our raft. One raft flipped over completely and we had to turn back and rescue four people. Everybody was fine, just a little shaken up. After the final set of rapids we were allowed to jump into the freezing cold water. Our guide was helping us back into the raft. when it was my turn to get pulled back in he said "1..2..3.." and then dunked me under water. We made it to the end and grabbed lunch and took pictures. It was so much fun and so beautiful! After rafting we headed to the Swarovski museum. The beginning was pretty neat but the rest wasn't that great. I ended up buying a bracelet and two necklaces. After the museum Cindy played the sound of music song while we were driving to our hotel. She video taped us dancing, while one of the guys on the tour video taped her video taping us. She didn't notice until the end that she was being taped. It was funny! We arrived at our hotel, walked around a little bit and relaxed before dinner. Dinner was amazing! The hotel is owned by Contiki so the Contiki staff, including Rich, made us dinner. We had turkey schnitzels with salad, potato salad and apple strudels. Right after dinner we went to a bar called the Silver Bullet and hung out for the night.
50: White Water Rafting
56: Venice May 26 The country side is absolutely beautiful. We arrived in Venice around 2pm. We took a ferry to the main part of the city. We immediately began our walking tour. After the tour we we able to shop around for a little bit. I bought a mask and a painting. | We then went to a glass blowing demonstration, very cool! I bought glass earrings and a necklace. Next we went on a gondola ride. We drank sparkling white wine and enjoyed the views of the city from the water. After the ride we went to dinner and then headed back to the hotel.
60: Glass Blowing Demonstration
61: Gondola Ride
68: Sunset in Venice
69: Rome May 27 We arrived in Rome in the afternoon. We immediately had our walking tour. We saw the Tomb of the unknown soldier, Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. We then made our way to Piazza Nanova where we had gelato and shopped around. After that we went to a nice little restaurant where we had pasta, pasta and more pasta! After dinner drove to the coliseum and took some pictures. Rome May 28th 2010, We all woke up, ate breakfast and headed into town. The whole group went to the Vatican, but since I'd already been there before I decided to walk around a little bit. I tried to find a fountain and monument but I couldn't find the right road. So I just walked around the city. After the group finished in the Vatican we went to a small pizza place for lunch. We had gelato for desert. After lunch Kayla, Hannah, Annie, Marilyn and I went to the Vatican post office. Once we mailed a few postcards we went to the Castle de Angelo. After looking around the castle we went to Piazza Nanova to buy some art. We then went to Via del Corso to shop some more. We wandered upon the Spanish Steps and then went to the Capuchin cemetery. It is a building with a few rooms covered with 2,000 monk bones. We then went to the Forum and Coliseum. We didn't make it in time to go into the Coliseum but we walked around outside for a bit. We went to dinner at a cute restaurant down the street from the Coliseum called Collorna.
70: Tomb of the unknown soldier
73: Castle de Angelo
78: The Forum
89: May 29 We made our way to Florence today. Once we arrived we headed to the Leonardo leather shop and learned how they make leather. We shopped around for about an hour then began our walking tour. We shopped some more and headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner and Space Electronic Disco. Dinner was amazing. There was a guy playing the piano, violin accordion and an opera singer. After dinner most of us went to the space disco electronic for drinks.
94: May 30 We began our five and a half hour drive to Lucerne today. Once we hit the Switzerland border the scenery was unbelievable. We finally arrived in Lucerne and immediately drove to Stanserhorn mountain. We took a train to the first peak and a tram to the top. It was extremely windy, we had to stop the tram a few times for the wind to stop. We walked around the top of the mountain for about a half hour then headed back down. We headed into town to do some shopping. I bought swiss army knives, a watch, chocolate and a few other souvenirs. After we finished shopping we had dinner at our jail-turned hotel. This hotel is really eerie and creepy. There are motion detector lights in the main hallways, so most of the time it is dark. | There are bars on the windows and steal/wooden doors with a sliding door opening where the guards would slide food through. We slept on cots and our bathroom/shower was very small. After dinner we went on a cruise on Lake Lucerne. It was nice, but it was rainy and cloudy. After the cruise Cindy took us to this amazing lion monument. We headed back to the hotel and went to bed. Paris tomorrow!
108: Jail hotel room
109: May 31 We drove for at least six hours today. Once we finally arrived in Paris we checked into the hotel and went on a driving tour. We saw everything! The arch de Triumph, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and many other wonderful and beautiful sites. After the driving tour Rich and Cindy dropped us off at the Eiffel Tower. It was beautifully lit up. The tallest point was closed off for the evening so we went up to the second level to take some pictures. After that we went back to the hotel and went to bed. June 1 We woke up early this morning and headed to a perfumarie. While the group got a demonstation I went to the post office to mail my souvenirs home. Hopefully they will all arrive in one piece! After shopping for perfume we decided to check out the Arch de Triumph & Eiffel Tower. Both of the lines were way too long, so we headed to the catacombs. We stopped for lunch at this cute cafe right across the street from the Catacombs. | My friend Ian met up with us! After lunch we went to the Catacomb entrance only to find it was closed due to a water flood. So we decided to walk through the Latin Quater towards Notre Dame. We stopped for crepes. I got nutella, banana & coco (thinking it would be chocolate)...It was coconut. Luckily Ian was there to eat it for me! The line for the Notre Dame was too long so we headed off to the Montmatre where there was a cool church, beautiful Paris view and local art for sale. Once we got in the general area we had a really hard time finding the piazza. We finally gave up and headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner and a cabaret show! We decided to get a taxi and almost got hit by a dump truck. We drove to the Moulin Rouge district for our dinner and show! After the show we all said our goodbyes and headed to bed. | June 2 I woke up this morning and immediately headed to the Notre Dame. It was absolutely beautiful. I jumped on the metro and headed to Montmatre. That's when my day turned to shit. The metro I was supposed to switch on to stopped running so I tried to find a taxi. That didn't work. So I grabbed breakfast and finally found the longest, and slowest que for taxis. I waited for five minutes and decided to hoof it to the next metro stop. By the time I found one I was running out of time so I headed back to the hotel and got ready to leave for the airport. I absolutely loved every minute of this trip. I got to visit a lot of amazing places and met a lot of amazing people! It was short but sweet.
115: Location of Princess Diana accident
122: What an incredible trip! Cindy and Rich were absolutely amazing tour guides/drivers. This was the best way to end my college career!