Here’s part 2 of our Europe trip with Contiki!
Venice, ItalyThe second half of the trip becomes even more exciting; like a fairytale come true. It was only a pity that Venice was a little wet but it was less crowded.
Is it true that Venice is sinking? Yes indeed! Flooding here is quite apparent, and the water level seems to rise. There were even platforms build so that people can walk on higher grounds.
The Gondola looks big, and during winter, the boatmen wear winter coats instead of the striped shirts with a red scarf tied around with the neck.
Our boatman looks a little like an underground cover or maffia but no offence, he looks cool in all black. He even sang a little tune for us.
A lot of the buildings in Europe seem to be under construction while we were there.
Old, quaint and rustic beauty.
How could you not sit in a gondola when you are in Venice?
Venetian Masquerade Masks.Plenty of these elaborated masks here.
We rested in this cafe for lunch/dinner. We also met up with Daphne’s friend, Catz.
Italian pizza! I would say it’s extra cheesy as compared to the pizzas sold here. The crust is thin and ingredients used were fresh.
Catz brought us to Venice, and we enjoyed walking through the narrow streets of Venice. You will get lost here because even the Google maps are not accurate. We met two China tourists who were lost and worse still, they had a ferry to catch to head back. Thankfully, there was an American tourist who helped them to find their way again. I hope and pray for their safety as well as the American tourists who have a kind heart.
Breakfast in our hotel somewhere out of Venice
Off to Rome!
We were welcomed with a mugging incident where a guy just hopes into the shuttle bus and took our tour manager’s bag of valuables, ran off and hop into the moving car. I didn’t see it happening with my own eyes, but from the stories I’ve heard, it’s almost like a scene happening in those action movies. Too fast, too furious. You got to be careful when you are in Rome!
But I felt safe in the central parts of Rome where they were many tourists, and everyone seemed to be taking pictures and enjoying the scenic view. The place didn’t look dodgy, but still, we had to be on guard at all times!
Dinner at a restaurant near the Colosseum
It was a simple dinner affair by Contiki because we only had salads and four slices of cheesy pizza. It’s enough for me but probably not for the meat eaters. Also, the pizzas were all slightly charred.
The supposedly famous gelato shop in Rome – Di San Crispino. It was a treat by Contiki, but I had no idea why the tour manager said the gelato was on him. It tasted alright, but it was not the best we had!
We spent two days in Rome, so we had time to comb this city. The next day, we went for a guided tour of the Vatican City. It was super crowded! And thank goodness we didn’t have to wait because we have particular priority passes to enter. That’s one of the plus points of travelling with Contiki.
The guide was patient and friendly, but the tour ended quite quickly.
The ColosseumWe skipped the Colosseum tour and went around Rome on ourselves instead.
But if you have a chance, you should enter the Colosseum grounds.
Got excited when I spotted a fruit store along the streets of Rome! Couldn’t resist buying fruit from them!
It’s somewhat tad expensive to purchase one banana for 1 euro when I could purchase a bunch for 1 euro, but I was craving for some fruits then.
The ravioli was excellent but the portion was meagre. I was like, are you kidding me? Like eight pieces of ravioli?
I bought some scented soap bars and Eau de toilette from a mega beauty store in Rome.
Next up was Florence!Salad for lunch at a service stop.
We did a walking tour here in Florence, but I was feeling a little-bored listening to the guide rambling off about its history. It’s somewhat like attending a lecture where you just tend to drift off because your attention span is short. Bad girl!
It was super crowded in Florence!
Hotel in Florence
This was pleasant! Wynne and I decided that their breakfast should be very impressive too but was disappointed as we were limited to a few breakfast items since we were in a ‘tour group’.
For dinner that evening, we had a feast at the Tuscany Hills. It was an optional dinner. Food was plenty but not that fantastic I would say.
Anti pesto for vegetarians.
Risotto and pasta.
Dessert.This is obviously those store-bought ice cream. Man, why are we eating Cornetto ice cream in an Italian restaurant? Is this for real?
Breakfast.I realised we have been eating quite a lot during this trip and did minimal walking as we spent most of our time on the bus.
Salad! I’m officially a green bunny.
On our way to Switzerland, we passed by the Swiss Alps, and it was snowing!
Had a ball of a time playing snow but it was DARN COLD!
Lucern, SwitzerlandHere in Switzerland, they use Francs to pay. It’s an expensive city but clean and safe.
One of the Swiss specialities is Swiss cheese fondue and chocolate fondue! So we ordered both! It was tough finding a restaurant that serves fondue, but we were lucky when we met a waiter outside a restaurant who directed us to this restaurant called Restaurant Fritschi.
That evening, we stayed at the Jail hotel. Not a very good choice to stay here even with this novelty of being in jail. It’s super small, stuffy and lacked essential amenities like a hair dryer.
There was a toilet in each cell, but that’s about it. Beds and toilet. Voila. C’est Tout.
On the contrary, the breakfast selection was pretty good.
We stayed at Ibis Hotel Paris. It was a proper hotel with gym and pool facilities, but we didn’t get to enjoy them because we were so exhausted during the trip, rushing from one place to another and it doesn’t help when some of the people on the trip with us were sick! The spread of the flu bug was imminent.
Last and final stop PARIS!It felt home to be back here in Paris. It’s been three years ever since I last visited Paris. Sometimes remain the same while others changed.
There seemed to be more tourists now and gypsies, asking for tourists to sign the petitions to distract them.
The best part of the tour in Paris is the trip up to the Eiffel tower which I have never been up before.
The next day, we had the whole day to ourselves to explore Paris, but I wasn’t quite into it as I’ve already been there and done that.
The girls spend an hour at Long Champ shopping for branded bags and the whole day seemed so dreary suddenly so I decided I should head out on my own to explore the city. So we went separate ways, and I just decided to walk randomly around the town.I would have done my bit of research on the things to do if I have known that I got plenty of time or maybe even catch up with some friends living in Paris for dinner. Instead, I had my encounter with those gypsy girls who tried to steal a churro from my bag of churros. She just plunged her hand into the bag after I ignored her calls for me to sign the petition. I turned mad and grabbed the bag of churros away from her. I was taken aback by my sudden reaction, and they were, too. Maybe they thought I was all alone and could do something nasty, but I need I had to stay fierce. ROARRR!!!
Walking aimlessly has led me to this mob of protesters near La Fayette Galleria.
It was a peaceful protest, but the whole street is guarded by police officers.Made a slow walk back to the hotel but got lost in the metro after dinner. Thankfully, I met a Chinese girl who led me back to the right station and walked quickly back to the hotel to take a bubble bath and catch on some sleep. I was on the verge of catching a cold then.
Before leaving Paris, I bought lotsa chocolates for the family and perfumes for myself. It’s so much cheaper to get duty free products like fragrances at Charles De Gaul airport.
It was a fulfilling trip but not quite fun as I think it would be.
Worthwhile but this time, I would probably want to venture other exotic cities.
Maybe on my own the next time.