First stop: London
This marks our first trip with Contiki to Europe. After 14 hours long of a flight from Singapore, we were more than happy to touch down at London. It was a pleasant flight though as I manage to catch some sleep and watch ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ onboard Singapore Airlines. I also had a good raw vegan meal which doesn’t seem as ‘raw’ as it should be. But at least, they serve raw vegetables with fruits to fill my tummy.
Going on a tour with Contiki is an impromptu decision made by my friend and I while we ( Wynne and I) were shopping for tour packages at NATAS travel fair held in Singapore this year. It all seems enticing enough that we will be spending time with people between 18 to 35 years old and hopefully more like-minded people of the same age group. We didn’t realise that the age gap between 18 to 35 could be pretty big and each of us might very well come from different eras. But maybe the cold in winter can keep all things together – even people. You can read more about Contiki’s 12-Day European Discovery Tour here.
Every day, there will be a day sheet prepared for us where all the essential timings and information were written down. It would be posted on a noticeboard at our hotels each night, and each of us would take a snap shot of it with our phones.
During this trip, we had a day song called Rather Be by Clean Bandit where our tour manager would play every morning so that the song could be part of this beautiful memory of our trip to Europe. It was a fantastic idea to link a song with the places you’ve been too. When I listen to this particular song, I would think of my Europe trip with Contiki.
We also had a ‘wake up’ song where Nihar would play it like an alarm to wake us up before reaching any destination or service stops. It was one irritating song but catchy! This song is sure to wake anyone up.
There was another hidden optional tour which was not told to us until we were on the Contiki Bus with our tour manager, Nihar. It was a live sex show where you get to see couples performing sexual acts together. It’s called Casso Rosso and according to our tour manager, it’s a very popular live sex show in Amsterdam. I would give it a miss since I probably think that it was something raunchy but something piqued my curiosity and my friend’s too. And so we went. Period. It was down right dirty, raunchy and somewhat disgusting too. It was emotionless and too choreographed. No passion, no fever. There were more female acts than couple acts. By the way, those couples were real couple in real life. So, thank god, no cheating here! But it was intriguing. Girls receive a penis-shaped lollipop while guys receive a boob-shaped lollipop. I would say, enter only after you turn 21!
Anyway, it was a fascinating insight into this dark, crazy and adult world. It can be a taboo but not in Amsterdam. Prostitution is a profession here, and at the red light district itself, you will see rows of single cubicles with scantily-clad women in it, beckoning men to enter their rooms. And before I forget, don’t go about taking pictures in the red light district because it is not allowed! Someone might just appear and smash your camera/phone if you do.
Sniffing on drugs was not much of an issue here. But it does depend on what type of drugs. They sell mainly soft drugs in coffee shops.
Very poetic indeed.We also visited Anne Frank Museum which is a must if you are at Amsterdam. Witness how this young girl documents her life of two years in hiding during the Nazi occupation in the Netherlands. It just made me realise how powerful diaries were. People write stories in it that will reveal about the past and also things we can all learn from it. I could make sense of it because I am pretty much like Anne Frank, writing about my life, except that I type it out and publish them on this blog. It’s my diary, a book of my personal stories.
Everyone’s eating chips on the street, so we had to sink our teeth into it too!
It was nice to enjoy some hot chips (or potato fries) with the various types of creamy sauces.
Our stay at St.Goar was a concise one. It was up to the hilly area in a tiny town. There were only a few shops, and we rested at a bed and breakfast place for the night. It was clean and comfy. But it was so darn cold at St.Goar.
As usual, we always reach a new place in the evenings. It was dinner time!
I had a vegetarian meal, and I was glad that they had vegetarian options. Others have chicken while I had my veggie potato patty that tasted just as nice. We had Spätzle for the sides too. It was a three meal course where we had soup as well as a home made black forest cake.
We signed up for an optional wine tasting at a cool wine cellar. I spent some time getting to know the rest of the people on the tour while sipping onto to some good wine and ice wines. I was not quite a fan of alcohol, so I gave my wine glass to the alcoholics.
Hearty warm breakfast
Birth place of Birkenstock.
Oldest Beer steins shop in Germany!
We were allocated to Hotel NH München Am Ring, and it was the best hotel we have stayed in for this whole trip! Not only the rooms are bigger and has excellent quality bedding, but their breakfast spread also rocks my socks off!
Night tour with Mike’s Bike Tours
It was supposed to be a bike tour, but it was too cold to ride a bike, so we set of on foot instead. It was great news because I couldn’t ride a bike anyway.
It was cold in Munich, and I couldn’t quite concentrate on what the guide was saying as I was fidgeting and hopping about to generate heat to warm myself.
The buildings in Munich were so majestic, and everything seems to beso huge.
We also walked into a church which is under some construction, but the interior was beautiful. I found that European churches are well-maintained and preserved. It just felt like I’ve walked into an 18th-century church.
While shopping for souvenirs, we saw these furry hats that come with a pair of attached gloves. It was cute, so we decided to buy one each for 22 euros. Not too sure if it was a good buy because we hardly wear it during the trip plus I might grow out of it as I age. But who cares? It’s better than to act cute now than it’s too late or never.
Three furry animals are strolling down the streets.
Swarovski Christmas tree!
We didn’t know there was something magical under the Christmas tree till a kind lady approached us and got us to take a peek!
Read my next post on the second half of my Europe Trip here.
Check out other Contiki Tours on their website.