An organized tour can take the stress out of planning your own vacation. For Hayley, travelling to Europe for the first time with Topdeck gave her an experience she would not have been able to have on her own. She shares her trip with us today on the blog:
I have just returned from a European tour with Topdeck Travel and it was such a great experience. The good thing about Topdeck is the location of the accommodations they choose, the free time and all the included extras. This was the first time I have travelled to Europe so I was quite excited for every moment of the trip.
Our journey started in London. We drove from the city of London down to Dover to board our ferry to Paris. On our journey to Dover we had a great tour guide that gave us so much information and history on each place we passed. I would have to say the highlight of this tour for me was the knowledge of our tour guide. It is such a different experience travelling into a new city and just seeing the buildings, rather than travelling into a city and hearing the history and importance of each particular building. I learned a great amount from this tour guide and was amazed at how much she knew. After the ferry, we drove into Paris and the drive in between countries was quite beautiful and it was a great way to socialize with fellow travellers on the bus.
On our arrival into Paris we checked into a great little B&B. This tour was based on the Euroclub style which consisted of hostels, bungalows, castles and even yachts.
The next day in Paris we had some free time to explore the city. It was great to be on a tour and still get a day to ourselves. However, we did meet at lunch to have a picnic under the Eiffel Tower. This was no ordinary picnic though. The picnics that Topdeck host are amazing! Having champagne, baguettes, cheese, pastries and much more under the Eiffel Tower was such a great moment I will never forget.
On from Paris, we went to the Swiss Alps which made for absolutely gorgeous scenery. We stayed in a little town called Lauterbrunnen, and our accommodations were log cabins. I was a bit nervous of staying in a log cabin in the cold weather, but these cabins were adorable and had such great heating. There was also a great on-site bar where fellow Topdeck travellers had written on the tables. We did the Jungfrau rail up to the top of the mountain, which had gorgeous views. I recommend for people to take their time once they are up on top of the mountain as the altitude can really get to you if you move around quick. You run up one flight of stairs but it feels like you have run up 10 flights of stairs.
From the Swiss Alps we went to Avignon. Unfortunately, I didn’t take motion sickness tablets on this day so I didn’t get to experience the city of Avignon, due to being ill in the hotel room. Gravol became my best friend from then on and I was no longer sick on the rest of the journey. Anyone that can get car sickness, I highly recommended to take motion sickness tablets with you; I am very prone to motion sickness and didn’t get sick at all once I took Gravol.
On from Avignon we went to Barcelona. I was the most excited for the Spain part of the tour, and it definitely lived up to my expectations. We stayed in a hostel in Barcelona but the location couldn’t have been better. This hostel also came with private bathrooms in the rooms. The first night in Barcelona, we went and had seafood paella and sangria. Sangria was a bit sweet for me but was a hit with the rest of the travellers. After dinner we went and watched some Spanish dancing and hit a local bar. We walked down Las Ramblas on the way home, which was such an entertaining place to be with so much going on. The only downfall for this strip is pick-pockets; you have to make sure you have nothing in your pockets and you hold onto everything tight. I was quite surprised at how obvious some of the pick-pockets were though.
The next day in Barcelona we went to Park Guell (Gaudi Park) which was absolutely beautiful. We did this early in the morning which was great, as not many tourists were there. When we exited the park, it became a bit of a mayhem as tourists were everywhere pushing to take photos. So going to the park in the morning is highly recommended. After Park Guell, we were a bit disappointed to hear that in Barcelona, the majority of stores are generally closed on Sundays. So, instead of hitting the shops like we had planned, we went and had pizza at a tiny cafe on the back streets. I find the best places to eat are off the beaten path. This cafe was so quaint in the middle of a small intersection of local traffic. It was lovely to sit there and watch the locals. The rest of the day we spent at the zoo. Barcelona zoo is actually a lovely zoo and the animals looked like they were all well treated and kept well.
This tour was a great way to see Europe for someone who hasn’t been before. I wouldn’t have learned so much if I did this on my own, nor would I have been able to make such a great group of friends.