Published on April 27th, 2011 | by Flight Centre Staff1
From Backpacker to Tour Enthusiast
A former backpacker, our Flightie Norine experienced her very first tour with Contiki through Europe. From the amazing food, to the friends she made on tour, Norim shares with us her experience touring with a group for the first time and doing it all in merely 10 days:
As I stepped off the plane in Paris, I had no idea what to expect. I 26 years old, was about to embark on my first Contiki tour through France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany (and touring was a whole new concept to me). All my previous travels have consisted of a backpack, a guide book, and a prayer. Little did I know that I was about to fall in love, wind up in jail, and go home a completely different person.
Our tour group was made up of 42 people from various parts of Canada and Australia along with our incredibly knowledgeable tour director and fantastic bus driver. Over the next 10 days we would set foot in 5 different countries and make 41 new best friends.
Starting off in Paris, I discovered the simple pleasure of sitting at a sunny table at a sidewalk cafe sipping a cafe au lait and watching the people stroll by. Paris stole my heart; the art, the history, the culture! I was a long way from home and it was perfect.
Altogether too soon, we were off to spend the night in Contiki’s 16th century Chateau de Cruix in Lyon. Nestled in the Beaujolais region this was the perfect place for us to relax and soak in the French country side. Along with a few glasses of wine of course!
The next morning we made our way to Switzerland in our beloved Contiki coach and arrived in Lucerne. Picturesque and rich in history it’s no wonder this is the 5th most popular tourist destination in the world. Once we’d seen the Chapel Bridge, the most photographed bridge in the world, we went to check in to our accommodations for the evening: Jail. Luckily for us, Jail was a hotel originally built in 1862 and used as a prison until the late 90’s until it was converted into a novel boutique hotel.
Out next stop was Hopfgarten, Austria. A quaint little town we got to explore on an afternoon bike tour. Seeing the sun bathed Swiss Alps while peddling through bright green meadows took my breath away. But after a few drinks and a nights rest at Contiki’s Gasthof Schöneck, it was time to leave our idyllic surroundings and head to Germany to enjoy what it had to offer.
In Munich, we of course enjoyed the local specialty: Beer! But since one can’t exist on beer alone we also tried the traditional German dish of pig’s knuckle. That’s right… Pig’s Knuckle! And since this was going to be our last night all together as a group we decided to take the party from the beer hall to the lively entertainment district of Schwabing. Sometime before dawn we made it back to the hotel just in time to get back on the plane home.
What I experienced on this trip could never be adequately translated into a few words. The people I met and the memories I made will stay with me forever. I never thought we would be able to fit 5 countries into 10 days, nor did I think that a tour could give me the experience of traveling alone but also the knowledge and value of a well trained tour director. How wrong was I! After an incredible experience with some incredible people I can’t wait until I can get back on the road!
Want more information about this tour? Contact Norine Shim, an International Travel Consultant with Flight Centre based in Vancouver, who can be reached at 1 866 643 4104. We’ve got Europe on sale until April 30th, so now is the time to book your European getaway!