Topdeck European Wonder trip: June 2013 – Part 1!

Last month I undertook a Topdeck trip around Europe. I’ve always wanted to travel and I booked this trip when I finally felt I had the freedom and independence to do so alone. The trip itself was amazing and it was great to finally see more of the continent which  I live in! I also got to tick a number of items off my bucket list which is pretty amazing in itself!

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Day 1: London

The first day of my two week long trip around Europe started with me travelling to London to stay at the Clink Hostel, where my trip would officially begin the next day. Having arrived, I quickly dropped my bags in my room, I had a wander around the local area and  then went to meet up with some fellow Topdeckers for a few drinks at a local pub. After chatting about our past travel experiences and our expectations for the trip, we decided to head to the Apollo Victoria to see Wicked. The was great and put my mind at ease about spending the next two weeks in Europe with a group of strangers!

Wicked

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Day 2: London to Paris

The first official day of my trip started with a very early start. I was up at 5am, after waking up almost every hour due to a mixture of excitement and being anxious that I’d miss my early wake up! After a quick breakfast we all jumped on the bus and headed to Dover to catch our ferry to Calais, in order to head to our first destination-Paris! I quickly discovered I was the only English person on the whole trip, and that the majority of the other travellers were Australian! This was a little different from what I expected and it took a bit of getting used to! After a long drive day (something I would eventually get used to!) we arrived in Paris. We all headed out to a local restaurant for tea, where red wine and snails were in abundance! This was the first real opportunity we had all had to sit down and get to know who we would be spending the next two weeks with!

Following dinner we headed out on a City Lights tour of Paris. Our driver Mike and our tour guide Kate took us on a long drive around the sights of the city, recommending venues along the way and giving us a good overview of the layout of Paris. We ended the tour at the Eiffel Tower, just in time for the lights to be switched on- an amazing end to our first night!

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Eiffel Tower © 2013

Day 3: Paris

On our first and only full day in Paris, we headed into the city to see the sights. I headed to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa along with a few others from the group. The museum was huge and after we had had a good wander around we headed for lunch at a local restaurant. Post-lunch we wandered down the Champs Elysees then I split from the group to do a bit of exploring on my own. I came across a museum which had Japanese gardens attached to it. The museum itself had some beautiful scultpures of Hindu and Buddhist gods and goddesses, which I found to be an interesting departure from the Parisian atmosphere outside. Next I headed to the Eiffel Tower. By the time I had climbed to the second floor I could feel the structure shaking and my fear of heights got the best of me, so I decided not to wait in the rather long queue for the elevator to the top. The views from the second floor of the city were breathtaking and it was possible to see a large part of the city from this height. As it was a hot day I spent the rest of the day chilling at the Champ de Mars park, just underneath the Eiffel Tower, followed by a picnic with the rest of the group. After our picnic in these amazing surrounding we all jumped onto the bus in order to get ready for the cabaret show that evening. 30 plus women on a bus all attempting to change and refresh their make up was rather a squeeze, but everyone looked great!

We all headed across to the Latin Quarter of the city to Paradis Latin where red wine, half-naked women and dancing were all in abundance, alongside a scam artist and an oversized unicyle!

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The Louvre pyramid © 2013

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View from the Eiffel Tower © 2013

Day 4: Paris to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

We awoke early on day 4 to head to Lauterbrunnen in the Swiss Alps. Although I was pretty tired, the views were amazing and kept getting more and more beautiful the closer we got to our destination. As we arrived late I headed for an incredibly quick shower, complete with a countdown feature lasting a mere 5 minutes! and some yummy dinner as prepared by the on site Topdeck chefs.

After an incredibly long day on the bus I headed to the on site bar for a few drinks with my new travel buddies. We joined in a drinking game that involved hammering nails into a log with a mini axe….as dangerous as it sounds!

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Trummelbach Falls © 2013

Day 5: Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

Day 5 was spent heading up to the Jungfrau summit, also known as ‘The rooftop of Europe’. It was strange to find out that many of the Australians on the trip had never touched or even seen snow! It was also quite amazing to go from a hot day at the base of the mountain, up to a freezing cold environment at the top. The sculptures in the ice palace were an amazing sight, and the hot chocolate I got was definitely welcome!

On heading to the base of the summit I had a wander around the small town of Lauterbrunnen before heading back to camp for a quick nap and dinner. A small group of us headed up to the Trummelbach Falls after dinner. Standing behind the waterfall looking out over the Alpine countryside was definitely one of my favourite experiences of the trip!

After a refreshing drink of Alpine water, we headed back to the site for a drink of a different kind, and joined in the tradition of signing and hanging a coaster from the ceiling of the bar.

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Day 6: Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland to Florence via Pisa

The next day we woke up to a misty morning and bundled onto the bus for our first destination of the day, Pisa. Pisa was exactly what I expected it to be, and as we only had an hour to look around I headed to a local cafe for my gelato fix, as per Kate’s gelato rule- one a day for every day we were in Italy! I decided on Tiramisu and chocolate, a combination of all the good things! We then jumped back on the bus for another couple of hours to Florence in time for dinner and cocktails!

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© 2013

Day 7: Florence

Florence was probably the place that most surprised me on this trip, as I had no expectations of it other than possibly being surrounded by the Italian countryside. On the 7th day of my trip, we all headed out on a walking tour of the city, taking in the Duomo, Pontevecchio bridge and other examples of Florence’s amazing architecture. The history behind the buildings and statues was fascinating, and we got to make a wish at the famous Porcellino boar statue. Fingers crossed that my wish comes true anyway as my coin missed the grate all three times I tried to make a wish! We then headed to a leather demonstration and spent the rest of the afternoon shopping, taking in more of the sights and sampling the beautiful Italian cuisine, before jumping back on the coach for Rome!

Eventually arriving in Rome I decided it was time to try some Limoncello (much stronger than I expected) along with dinner for the night. I then headed to bed to get some rest before heading into the city the following day!

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Firenze © 2013

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Check out Part 2 here!

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