Published on June 23rd, 2015 | by Emma Hackwood0
Czeching out Europe with Topdeck Travel
Thinking about visiting Amsterdam, Prague or Berlin? Our Travel Consultant Colleen Nelson shares her experience exploring these three amazing cities with Topdeck Travel:
I recently had the opportunity to travel with one of my favourite tour companies, Topdeck Travel! This particular tour not only allowed us to visit Berlin and Prague, but we were going to be in Amsterdam for Kings Day, a huge annual festival that celebrates the King’s birthday.
To give you a bit of insight, Topdeck is a tour operator that runs tours for 18 to 30-somethings. They originated in Australia and are now a global brand. Topdeck makes sure that you have an unforgettable experience on their trips. The three main highlights of Topdeck that set themselves apart from other tour companies are: No tipping, more included meals, and more free time. There was no question that I felt these philosophies were all displayed over the course of the trip. We had the perfect balance of free time, tons of meals were included (and they were great meals), and we did not have to tip our tour guides at all. That makes for a very affordable experience, while still having the time and luxury to do site seeing and exploring on your own. I also felt like there was a great balance on the tour between being with the group and touring the city and learning, yet still offering a fun atmosphere where you get to experience the restaurants and nightlife!
Our first stop was Amsterdam, where we stayed at our hostel, the Stay Okay Zeeburg. The location was a 10 minute train ride to Dam Square, the main central plaza of Amsterdam. The hostel was very clean and well equipped with a restaurant, bar and breakfast was also included.
Once we settled into the city, we set out to see what Amsterdam had to offer. I knew of the canals and the red light district, but of course the city was so much more then that. Topdeck included a bike tour where we rode among the millions of other cyclists in Amsterdam. It was a fabulous way to see the city and our tour leader filled our heads with history and facts, that were very impressive and informative. I loved seeing the famous I AMSTERDAM sign. We also went to Dam Square and I was able to try fries with curry mayo, a recommendation that had been made to me prior to travel. Ketchup will never do me justice after trying this delicious dip.
That night we had a great sunset cruise along the canal; another great way to see the city. And as it was Kings Day, the city was alive with excitement, music, and every shade of orange under the sun.
I highly recommend going to Amsterdam for this day. The festivities invite locals and visitors alike to soak up Amsterdam’s fun. In the streets, canals, parks and everywhere in between, the city is bursting with orange as Amsterdammers enjoy the biggest street party of the year. Amidst orange-pride, live music, DJs, parties and a citywide street market, you’ll find an electric atmosphere not to be missed And don’t worry if you forget to bring your orange – you can buy it anywhere and everywhere!
The day after Kings Day, we left early in the morning for Berlin. I had heard how interesting a city Berlin was an it sure didn’t disappoint. Most of us slept comfortably in the bus as we did the 6 hour drive. We made pit stops ever two hours. One of the highlights of the drive were using the self cleaning washroom in Germany. While you had to pay 2Euros to use them, it was well worth it!
We did a short bus tour of Berlin and learned a few sentences to use in German as we drove to our, Hotel Klassen. This was a fabulous hotel and it was less than 10 minute walk to the Berlin wall. The evening we went to dinner at the Hofbrauhaus house where we enjoyed authentic German cuisine. Everything from pork knuckle, schnitzel and dumplings. And what better to go with our great food then a giant beer!
The next day we went on another bike tour. We learned about Berlin and it’s fascinating history. We stopped at check point Charlie, the Jewish Museum and Hitler’s main office. We learned about the Berlin wall and the controversial history of this fabulous city. We had free time that night and then had the choice to check out a night club. Berlin is known for the nightlife so it was great to experience. Just don’t go to early; things don’t get going till at least midnight.
Our visit to Berlin was quick, and I already want to go back. But our next stop was Prague. We made our way and had our lunch stop in Dresden. Dresden was beautiful and I highly recommend making a day tour to this city. We ate at an Italian restaurant right in the city centre and I and had one of the best pizzas I’ve tried! Then we carried on until finally we were within the walls of Prague. This was the city I had the least expectations for, and this was the city that amazed me the most. It was mesmerizing. I had never seen anything like it. Stunning castles all throughout the city. All I could think was how romantic this city was. It also was very medieval, with a gothic edge.
We went on a walking tour that night where we saw Wencelas Square, Dam Square and the Charles Bridge. The tour probably took double the time it could because we were all snapping photos in awe!
That night we checked out the biggest nightclub in central Europe, the Karlovy Lazne. The club is five stories with each different floor playing a different type of music. There was even an ice bar, which I recommend to check out!!
The next day we had free time and then our final farewell dinner. How did the week go so fast? We had free time that night and I was happy to get a chance to walk up to the Prague Castle to check it out and see it up close!
I already knew that TopDeck is a company I would always recommend, but I was reminded of how fabulous they are! The trip was also very informative. I felt like I learned so much about these three cities. That is one of my favourites part of traveling with a group like Topdeck. Instead of just seeing the Charles Bridge, or Dam square and thinking, “wow how beautiful or neat,” we actually were taught the history of the different monuments and areas you see. And not only was the Fam trip beneficial for me to experience on of our very favourite suppliers, but it also helped me to become comfortable in the cities so that I can make recommendations to clients on where to stay or what to see.
I truly believe that travel through your late teens to mid 30’s is one the most knowledgeable experience you will ever have. Not only will you see amazing places and experience new cultures, but you will learn to travel and live with other people. You will learn about them and their culture and build friendships that will last a life time.
Thank you so much to Topdeck for this wonderful experience! Once again, it was a highlight in my life and one that won’t be forgotten. I can’t wait to go on my next tour.
For more information on travelling with Topdeck or to Amsterdam, Prague or Berlin, contact Colleen Nelson who can be reached online, calling 1-866-299-5614 or visiting her in-person at the Saanich Centre.