After working full time through the summer of 2011, I decided to go travelling before I went back to uni. I only had a fortnight spare and didn’t want to go on my own. My solution? Topdeck
I chose to travel from London to Rome through France, Switzerland, Spain, Monaco and Italy. Before I went I was told the coach would be full of aussies and kiwis wanting to experience Europe. They weren’t wrong! I was dubbed the token Brit and loved every minute of my trip! Everyone was so nice and after I went back to uni I even had my friend, Gina, come to stay with me for a few days before she flew back to New Zealand.
I’d been to Paris before but naturally I went to the Louvre, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Eiffel Tower and did all the touristy stuff. What was actually my favourite part of being in Paris was none of those things. I had heard of this little clothes boutique and decided to go there. I caught the metro and followed the map till I found it. Turns out it didn’t open for another half an hour so I sat in a little cafe opposite and had a Coke, a croissant and people watched. After discovering the shop was hideously expensive I made my way to the Champs-Elysees, wandered all the way up and sat in another cafe. With my €7 coffee I sat there for an hour and a half reading a book, and people watching. That was my best day in Paris.
Lauterbrunnen is a little town near Interlaken, Switzerland. It was here that I made one of my most memorable experiences ever. I skydived. It cost me £355 and was worth every penny. We went up in a helicopter to some-I-can’t-remember-thousand feet up and, strapped to this Swiss guy, we leapt (leaned) out. The first 2 seconds of leaning and falling gave me butterflies. From then on it was a pure rush. No butterflies just the wind in my face and the best view I’d ever seen.
Barcelona. Oh Barcelona. This place has the most buzz out of anywhere I’ve ever been. I saw a flamenco show, drank copious amounts of Sangria and had an amazing time. This, however, was the fateful place my bag was stolen. My phone, some money, cards, my bag; gone. And I didn’t even notice initially. What bugs me most was that my camera was stolen. I had some amazing photos of the places I had been and it meant not only did I not have them; I couldn’t have any more. Cry, but onwards and upwards to…
Nice and Monte Carlo
In Nice I went parasailing. Unfortunately for me I didn’t manage to get in the harness properly and spent the journey half dangling, much to the amusement of my friend Gina. I ended up with massive red strap marks across my bum, but who cares when a fit French bloke catches you as you ‘fly’ towards him on the beach.
In Monte Carlo we, of course, all dressed up and went to the Grand Casino. I made the executive decision not to bet and bought a €14 Long Island Iced Tea instead. I’m a high flyer. After the Casino we needed to get some dinner. Given it was Monte Carlo and we were all dressed up…we went to McDonalds. I am genuinely ashamed to admit I went to McDonalds while travelling around Europe but a €40 pizza just isn’t doable.
Pisa and Florence
Pisa is kind of dull. I’d seen the leaning tower before and personally I don’t think Pisa’s got much to offer apart from that, so we spent the afternoon posing for pictures with the Tower of
In Florence we visited a leather goods factory and walking through the cobbled streets with the smell of real leather is where it’s at. I’m a bit of a foodie as well so I was lapping up the pasta and pizza. Yum.
I had never been to Rome so became the classic tourist. Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, although I didn’t manage to make the Vatican – it’s closed on Sundays… The highlight, however, was getting tomato juice in my eyes as part of the campsite’s own La Tomatina.