Next three destinations is the discovery of Western Europe as we continue to travel into the middle of the continent! More bus time, more planes and not a lot of sleep – but that is what it is all about right?
The Swiss Alps, wow, incredible, amazing, beautiful – these are some of the words I said a lot during our two nights. The mountains were vast and tall and the snow caps made us forget it was the end of summer.
We stayed at the Contiki campsite and it felt like we were actually on school camp. We shared showers for the two nights and had dinner in the dining hall, but the food was delicious!! One the first night we were created to pork knuckle and on the second, turkey, some of the best meals we had!
Our first night in Switzerland was pretty large at the hostel bar so the next day up on the tallest mountain in Europe was a little tough. The train will take you to the top of the 13,642ft mountain where you can play in the snow, ski, go through ice caves and learn about the history of Jungfrau Mountain.
The train on the way up will amaze you with all the little towns that sit at different peaks of the mountain, you won’t even understand how they were built there, but they are beautiful – just a warning, the train does take over an hour.
One hot tip I will give you – do NOT eat at the food outlets at the top of the mountain, it is very overpriced and not nice! Take your own and have a little picnic.
Once you have finished up the mountain there isn’t a lot to do in town, but it is worth exploring all the cute buildings and taking some time out from the busy cities.
I loved Switzerland and the quiet town of Lauterbrunnenwe stayed in. You can treat to some fondue, have a drink at the Horner Pub, or hang out by the river drinking beers. The Swiss people are efficient, organised and very switched on, plus they live in the most beautiful landscapes in the world!
Definitely add Switzerland to your list and if you can afford it, skydive too!
The city of love! Paris really shocked me with its beauty. I had heard a lot of mixed reviews about Paris, but I LOVED it.
One thing I didn’t love so much was the 14-hour bus ride to get there, Paris traffic is ridiculous!!
Anyway, our first night in Paris we tried escargot before heading off to watch the Eiffel Tower light show and drink some champagne. As for the escargot, I liked it!
Around the Eiffel Tower, LOADS of people will be selling you things, like a lot, so be prepared. If you want to drink by the tower, just remember you can’t actually drink on the streets but we were never caught while we were there. Also, you can buy bottles of wine and champagne under the tower, so get a bottle (take some cups) and watch the specular light show, we did this on the side of a major road under the tower and it was amazing.
Then we headed up to Trocadéro Gardens and watched it again (it goes off every hour and ends at 1am). The Eiffel Tower is was so gorgeous and I was just in awe of it the whole time I was in Paris. After we admired the views we went to Frog XVI for a cheeky drink! It was such a cool bar with really good music.
Day two in Paris was all about adventure and we did A LOT! We started in Play De La Concord and headed to the Louvre to look at the Mona Lisa, a lot of hype for such a little picture. Then we went on to Notre Dame to see what was left, such a beautiful church and hopefully next time I visit I can go inside.
From there we went to the Sorbonne district for some macaroons and a mini-tour of the older part of Paris before we headed to the Eiffel Tower lawn for a picnic. Close by you will find a supermarket to get all your goods, just one thing you might want to remember is a cardboard box to put everything on, we used our shopping bags.
That picnic was a highlight of the trip, so much fun, so relaxed and just one of those moments you feel so grateful.
Our last evening in Paris was spent eating the most amazing dinner at La Mère Catherine. One our way to the restaurant we walked up to Sacré-Cœur for the most beautiful view over Paris, then to follow was a three-course meal of onion soup, duck al’orange and chocolate tart, yum!
Honestly, the duck was the most amazing meal I have had on the trip, it was incredible. After our amazing dinner we headed to the cabaret show La Nouvelle Eve. On our way to the theatre, we walked past the Moulin Rouge, which was pretty underwhelming in size and location… anyway, the show we saw was great! The acts in between sets were so funny, I really enjoyed it and our tour manager liked it better than The Moulne Rouge.
Our last night with our Contiki family was spent at O’Sullivans! Great music, expensive drinks but such a fun night! Did get home at 5am, again. Next stop Amsterdam!
I loved Paris, more than I expected. The buildings were so beautiful, so coordinated and although it was busy, the open spaces made it less suffocating, plus the wine and cheese in France, oh my. I feel like wine in France is very dangerous because it is so delicious! But Paris, I will be back, I’m not done with you yet.
When we hit Amsterdam, we were all on our lonesome to tackle the last duration of our trip.
We first arrived in Amsterdam very warn out from our tour, so we checked into Hostel Via Amsterdam and headed on the metro for 15 minutes into the city centre.
Amsterdam was created on a dam off the Amster sea, hence the name, so there are many canals which run through the city, almost like Venice but a lot more spacious.
Our first night’s restaurant choice was horrendous, I do not recommend. So we took that as an error in judgement and went back to the hostel to go to bed.
Take two in Amsterdam was more of a hit! We had an amazing burger lunch at Charlie’s Kitchen, explored the canals and book some attractions including the prostitute museum, the Casa Rosa show and an hour bike ride for the following day. We did all this at the tourist shop in the city centre, it was super easy.
Then we got a good taste of Amsterdam through the canals of the hour. One thing you will notice about Amsterdam is the number of food places, yeah well in the time we were in the city, we rarely picked a good dinner destination.
Our afternoon on our first full day was spent walking around the city and learning about the postiution industry in the city at the museum. But then it was off to Anne Frank’s to see how the Frank’s, the Van Pels’ lived during WWII. This was definitely a highlight, if you are looking to do it, book in advance and be prepared for busy!
After we explore the house we headed just down the road for a steak, which was okay – like I said we weren’t great at finding good dinner destinations. Amsterdam is also crazy expensive. We experienced the red light district and the Casa Rosa show, which was interesting, to say the least.
Day two and we did what we should have done on day one, a bike tour of the city, which was great with Yellow Bike. We saw the Museum district and learnt a lot about the history.
Did you know? The homes in Amsterdam may seem narrow at the front but they actually expand out at the back. This was because people paid taxes based on how big their house was looking from the street!
Lunch was a winner at Loetje Centraal, the Poke Bowl is incredible, the house cocktails are amazing and you must try the Dutch Balls. Then dessert was at Sweetella, yep we ate a lot this day. The Dutch Pancakes or Poffertjes are what you want to order from these dessert cafes.
More food was also had at In de Waag in a castle, the truffle fries are delicious and the churros with white chocolate and caramel from the dessert place across the street, yum.
Amsterdam is the city of food, nightlight and the reputation of being a “party” city. Yes, this is true, however, the city don’t want to be known for the reasons people visit. There is a lot of history, beautiful buildings and lovely people. They also have a lot of culture and history attached to the city.
A great city and definitely worth adding to the list.
I LOVE Western Europe! Well really I love all of Europe, but Paris really did surprise me how much I loved it. Switzerland was just beautiful and Amsterdam was so much fun!
Once I did finish the tour I noticed my work ethic for the business started to fade, but I still just got the work done I needed to get finished. The lack of good wifi made it very hard to upload my youtube video, post my blog or really get much done – but at the same time I learnt, we all need one last party before we started to grow up.