Continued from Part One here.
Day 12 Venice to Pag Island, Croatia (n.b. the most recent change I am aware of is to Pula, Croatia)
The next morning we woke up early and drove to Pag Island in Croatia. The drive to Pag was long and took most of the day, however we got to see plenty of the Croatian coast from the coach window. Pag is a sparsely populated island known for its party scene. The town in which we stayed had a few small bars and restaurants, and after a swim in the warm clear waters just by our hotel (Hotel Biser) we checked a few of them out.
If you plan on heading to Zrće Beach on the first night I would highly recommend that you book your taxis in advance. The beach is about 20km away, so not exactly walkable for a night out.
Day 13 Pag Island, Croatia
Today we spent our time chilling out on the beach close to the hotel, and visited Zrće Beach in the afternoon which had plenty of reasonably priced watersports (jet skis, inflatable rings etc), bars and even an option to do a bungee jump. Its worth going even if it’s just to chill out by and have a few drinks. Things liven up a lot more at around 5pm, so I’d recommend heading down from late afternoon if you like to party.
Day 14 Pag Island, Croatia to Ljubljana, Slovenia
On Day 14 we set off from Pag to Ljubljana, visiting Postojna Caves on the way. The cave tour involves a train ride and a walking tour led by a guide. Even if you’ve been in a cave before I would definitely recommend visiting this one. The caves are pretty big, the train ride is fun and the Concert Hall at the end is a magnificent sight. I’d definitely take a jacket as the caves are a slightly cool 10°C!sal
After spending a few hours at the caves, we carried on to Ljubljana where we dropped our bags off at the Park Hotel before setting off on a walking tour of the city. The city is pretty green and relaxed, and we saw plenty of the city’s emblematic dragon statues. The rest of the evening is yours to explore, and we took the funicular up to Ljubljana Castle. The castle itself is fairly small but worth going up for the views over Ljubljana and funiculars are always fun! After the castle we visited Cantina Mexicana for dinner. The food is great and they give you a free shot will your bill!
Day 15 Ljubljana to Salzburg, Austria
The next morning we visited Lake Bled, which is absolutely stunning. We hired a rowing boat with a few others from our tour group and rowed to Bled island (you can hire someone else to row the boat for you if you feel like a more relaxed journey!). On Bled Island the main attraction is the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria, where you can ring the bell for luck in love. I’d also recommend trying Bled cream cake before you leave!
After spending the morning in Bled, it’s back on the coach for a drive to Salzburg. Following a walking tour, visiting spots such as Mozart’s birthplace we headed to a beerhouse for dinner with the group. That evening we stayed at the Hotel Haunspergerhof Hof.
Day 16 Salzburg to Prague, Czech Republic
Day 16 is a fairly emotional and educational day. We travelled to Prague via Mauthausen concentration camp. The stories you will read and the things you see at the camp will stay with you, and no doubt change your perception in some way. What happened should never be forgotten so however upsetting the visit is, this is an experience I think everyone should have.
The rest of the day is spent travelling to Prague, where we stayed at the My Hotel Apollon. The hotel is slightly out of the city centre, but it is easy enough to get around, with a tram stop just over the road. That evening we were given a walking tour of the city, visiting the Lennon Wall, the Charles Bridge and other more alternative sights. We also stopped in Old Town Square and saw the famous Astronomical Clock.
After the tour we went for a group dinner and there was the choice to head out to a few bars and to go back and rest up at the hotel, which we chose to do so that we could get up early and see the city the next day.
Day 17 Prague
The next day is a completely free day. We set off on the tram for Prague Castle. The castle is quite big and you can spend a reasonable amount of time wandering around, as well as seeing incredible views of the city. We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around Prague, visting the markets and the recommended Vytopna Railway Restaurant for a drink. We also caught a 3×3 FIBA World Tour game – a great way to chill out after a hot and busy day.
Day 18 Prague to Berlin, Germany
On day 18 is the drive from Prague to Berlin, stopping at Dresden on the way. Dresden has an interesting history, which you’ll get to hear on your walk round with the tour guide. You’ll also get time for lunch in Dresden. After visiting one of the Thai restaurants I would recommend that you absolutely AVOID rice unless you know that it has been freshly cooked. We both got food poisoning which we felt the effects of until the end of the trip and were completely unable to eat and could barely move the whole of the next day. Not what you want when there is no air con in your hotel room and the temperature is over 30°C.
Upon arrival in Berlin we got the chance to visit the Berlin Wall, which is full of really interesting images, followed by a driving tour of Berlin, which is a huge city. The tour is great for giving you an idea of all the sights you can visit the following day.
The driving tour ends at Hofbräuhaus where we had a group dinner and tried beer in one of the huge steins. That evening we stayed at the Hotel Klassik.
Day 19 Berlin
The following day was spent in the hotel due to the aforementioned food poisoning. There is so much to see in Berlin and we would both love to go back, especially after hearing how much fun everyone else had. There are a few optionals including a pub crawl and a Third Reich walking tour, which a few people mentioned was really good even if you aren’t that into history. A few others from our group organised to go to Dinner in the Dark which sounds like a fun experience if you’re looking for something else new to try.
Day 20 Berlin to Amsterdam, Netherlands
The next stop on the trip is a visit to a local Dutch farm to see how cheese and clogs are made. This is pretty interesting if you haven’t seen anything like it before and the clog maker is a bit of a joker.
After dropping your bags off at the Amstel Botel at NDSM- PIER 3 we headed into the city to see Amsterdam, and to try out the traditional mayo-dipped fries. The walking tour takes you to Dam Square and the National Monument and, of course, the infamous Red Light District. There is the option to see a sex show (which is more than a bit awkward and not necessarily recommended).
Day 21 Amsterdam
On the second to last day there is the choice to do a bicycle tour of Amsterdam. As I had already had two accidents involving bikes on the trip, and had already done a bike tour on a previous trip to Amsterdam, I decided to give this a miss. However, I’d recommend the bike tour as you get to see some alternative parts of the city that you otherwise probably wouldn’t know about.
Today is a completely free day and there is plenty to do. As this was my third time in Amsterdam I decided to check out some of the side streets and shops, before heading to a Moroccan cafe for mint tea and a stroopwaffel (these are yummy, especially when warmed up and made all melty over a hot drink, so make sure you try at least one!).
We spent the rest of the day wandering the streets of Amsterdam (there is so much to see) before joining the rest of the group for a farewell dinner on a cruise boat. I’d definitely recommend a cruise around the canals of Amsterdam whilst you are here as you get to see the city from a different side.
Day 22 Amsterdam to London, UK
Our last day was a full day trip back to London, stopping at Bruges on the way.
Setting off early from Amsterdam we arrived in Bruges in time for lunch. We had time to try traditional pancakes at a restaurant on the Market Place (which was super nice!) before checking out all the chocolate shops for gifts for people back at home (and ourselves of course!).
The rest of the day was spent on the coach and ferry, and we arrived back at the departure hotel in London in the early evening. I would recommend booking the departure hotel as recommended by Topdeck for this evening as it is easy and you don’t have to worry about getting around London after a long day travelling. A fair few of our tripmates booked back into the departure hotel as well and we headed out for dinner that evening which was a nice way to round off the trip.
What’s included: Accommodation (hotels), most breakfasts and some dinners, Guide, Travel (does not include flights), sightseeing walking tours of all major cities
Cost: Around £2k (depending on the time of year you book and when you want to go)
I hope you found this review useful and it helps you to decide if a Topdeck tour is for you!