European Extravaganza – Guest post!

I’m leaving for my trip to Turkey…so I’ll be MIA for a bit. Here’s  a guest post from an awesome writer, fashionista and now world traveler, Michelle Tung.

Check out her amazing fashion blog: SF Bay Style

This past month I had the trip of a lifetime. My dream place: EUROPE!

Contiki? Trafulgar? Topdeck?

I decided to go with Contiki.  If you don’t know already it provides planned tour extravaganzas for ages 18-35.  Mainly the fact that I always hear about Contiki and the age criteria lead me to my choice.

Now, time to get to the down and dirty.  How was my trip with Contiki?

I’d say that it was well worth the trip more so due to the fact that the planning was like wine tasting.  I didn’t have to plan myself and got to have a little taste of many parts of Europe.

Of course nothing’s perfect.  Some parts of Contiki I was not satisfied with.   I didn’t like that we had so many stops at service stations.  The times when we had a short stop at a little town were amazing.  I wished they provided more of that sort of experience and more time to explore in each place. I kind of felt like we were on military time.
Always rushing.

One part I DEFINITELY will not miss is the drama that came from being with so many random young personalities.  This was not so pleasant. However, this was minor in retrospect to the time that I had experiencing, seeing, smelling, tasting and discovering all that Europe had to offer me.

I wouldn’t say it’s necessary to go with a tour group like Contiki unless you want to:

  • party and see all of Europe at the same time
  • barely get good sleep most days
  • recoup your sleep on fairly long bus rides in very uncomfortable seats
  • possibly get sick and get the “Contiki” cold (I was sick the whole time)

Regardless,  I had some amazing times and met some amazing people. This trip was definitely worth it.  The food in the US is not even close to comparable to the amazing food I had in Europe. You can not go anywhere else and have an experience like dining in Italy. The plazas surround you with amazing architecture and entertaining performances where you can just sit, eat, and bask in the serene ambiance of beauty.  The pizza, pasta, paninis, paella, gelato, and FRENCH ONION SOUP (my fav!) were truly the best there is in Europe.  Not to mention being immersed in such culture and beautiful mind-blowing architecture.

Paris, the city of love and lights, holds true to its name.  It was my favorite place to go.  Although the Eiffel Tower is cliché, being in its presence was sheer awe, especially at night.  This was basically the last stop on our trip; I guess that’s why it’s called save the best for last! Food, sights and museums!  I just can’t get enough of all that the city of love has to offer!  It was exciting walking down Champs-Élysées and through the Arc de Triumph.   Who could forget that the Moulin Rouge is there as well.  I didn’t get to go, but this is definitely something I want to go back for and just experience Paris in general again.

London, was amazing as well.  I definitely want to go back and explore since I was there for less than a day.  The Big Bus was worth it to get a quick transportation and hit all the major tourist attractions. I can’t say that  I enjoyed the pouring rain and fluctuating weather during my limited time there.  By far, my favorite experience in London was the tea room at The Berkeley.

Belgium.  Contiki only brought us there for less than a day.  Everyone must try the Neuhaus pralines.  I am not a chocolate lover, but MAN it was so good!  I wished that the trip stopped here last so we could bring some chocolates back to the states.  And of course, everyone has to try the belgium waffles, which were delish!

I could have done without this stop at St. Goar.  It was nice to walk to a castle and see a wedding couple!

Switzerland was absolutely breathtaking.  Contiki let us stay there for 2 nights, which was just enough to take in everything it had to offer.  To get to the hotel we took lifts.  To get to the snow and go tubing (super fun!) we took lifts and because we were so high up, the water was very clean.  The interesting part was seeing so many people air gliding and all the cows with bells that rang through the day.

Germany wasn’t a top place on my list.  Contiki brought us on a bike tour that landed in a beer garden.  I loved the bike ride! Who knew a brisk bike ride through Germany could be so invigorating, this was a great way to see Germany in a timely fashion.  Going to the beer hall was a nightmare and with horrible service.  I didn’t like that Contiki wouldn’t pick us up from where they dropped us off at times when it wasn’t even late.  The most interesting part would be this river where all these surfers would surf the waves.

Venice the forever sinking city was amazing.  I loved every part of it.  We got to go on a gondola ride through the city while sipping on champagne.  It was truly interesting just to be present and experience all the history of this city.  You are supposed to wander and get lost in the city.  Surprisingly it was quite hard to “get lost,” but it might have been because I have a pretty decent sense of direction.  In terms of the architecture, walking in it was amazing and I really enjoyed going into the St Marks Basilica.

The City of Monaco!  Gorgeous.  Driving through you can tell it’s MONEY!  The water was blue, but I can’t say that it was fun to have pebbles instead of sand.  It was a sight to see naked people laying out on the beach as well.

Barcelona!  Everyone needs to go here.  They have the best fruit blended drinks EVER! The  most beautiful architecture ever by the master architect/ designer GAUDI!  There is also this cute little “tree bar” that everyone should go to.

La Sagrada Familia

Italy was like no other experience.  I have dreamed of the day I would finally get to see the Roman Colosseum and it was worth the wait.

The Trevi Fountain.  Toss 1 coin in and you will come back.  Toss 2 coins and you will meet someone.  Toss 3 coins and you will fall in love.  Remember this because I only tossed one!

Now that I’ve gotten a bit of a grasp of Europe I’d say I wouldn’t need to go with contiki again.

Final Verdict:  good experience.  If you asked me to do it again. I’d say yes but it would have to be not as long (21 days) and in a place I’ve never been. If you’re only interested in “meeting” Europe instead of “meeting” people… Go with some cheaper alternative that still helps you to plan out journeying through Europe fully.


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