Arriving Home

We had our last continental breakfast in Paris at 8am then hopped on the coach and listened to our day song one last time. Some of the family was staying behind due to later flights and some had left sooner due to early flights. It was a sad and empty feeling on the way to the Paris airport. There was only three of us hopping off there, and unmade my way through the coach giving farewell hugs. Kind of sad!! We’ll stay in touch and reminisce.

In the airport Tracey and I found our way, taking the little train to the other terminal. We parted ways then found each other again after security, then parted ways again. I went and sat down at my gate and watched them training the police dogs. They had a little toy that they hid in some people’s bag and then the dog would find it and be so happy! It was pretty cool! I wonder, though, what they make that you smell like. What would the dog be sniffing for once it is fully trained?

The flight from Paris to Montreal was long. I fell asleep right away and missed the complimentary lunch. I was not feeling well! I watched the movie “Arrival”, it was pretty good. I also watched the first three episodes of “People of Earth” (there was an alien theme lol) and it was quite funny.

In Montreal we went through customs. It wasn’t too bad. There was a woman there who was panicking because she thought she would miss her flight. She was on the same one as me. I was coughing of course, and you know she was quite rude to me. She said she was trying to stay away from me because I coughed (understandable, no one wants to get sick) then she said if we had to sit together she would ask to change seats!! Guess what folks, she was just across the isle from me, mwahahahaha! What a nutbar.

After going through customs like 5 people had to scan your boarding pass, that was weird!! Right now there are police to the max at the airports. It wasn’t too long of a wait to get on the next flight. I slept some more, then watched one episode of “Westworld”. That show is crazy!!

I landed in Vancouver and picked up my luggage, then I called the hotel I booked for a shuttle. I got checked into my room, had a nice hot shower, ate some cold chicken wings I bought at the 7/11 in the airport, and drank a neocitran. Then I jumped into the king sized bed, biggest one on the whole trip, and watched a bit of TV until I was too tired. Not very long!

I got up at 6am, got the shuttle back to the airport, checked in my luggage, went through security, got on the plane, and flew home! I was very happy to see the mountains from above, I took an nice picutre. Grandma picked me up at about 8:45am and filled me in on some of the things that happened. She has company for a while, my cousin’s Mom, and the neighbor across the street passed away. It was a shock to me, I thought he was the healthier of the couple.

Then I got a big warm welcome from Bronn! It was funny though because he didn’t meet us at the door. I called for him and nothing. My voice doesn’t sound right though because of the cold. I went and opened the door and called him and he was in the garden. He looked at me, then his tail wagged, then he realized it was me and came running!! It was so funny!! Then when he was called down he dug little Bronn out of my purse and carried him around!

You’ll probably be surprised to know that I am unpacked and my laundry is almost done. I figure once I get it all out of the way I can just relax until Thursday, then all goes back to “normal”…isn’t that weird? I miss my Contiki family though, and the next few weeks there will be a lot of memories and photos being shared. It was a great trip! Which one of you will follow my example and go next?

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Eurotrip Day 11

Today I got to hang out with my friend Anne! It has been 17 years since we last saw each other and I finally made it to her home. I won’t be waiting as long for the next visit, that’s for sure!

She came to get me at my hotel this morning and graciously bought me a transit ticket for the day. Then we headed out for a day walking, talking, and checking out the sights. I got to see the Louvre, of course we didn’t go in because the lines were very very long. 

I’m very sick today though. It’s terrible. Feeling dizzy and still stuffed up. We had a nice lunch together, my chocolate banana tarte was so yummy! Then we walked and met her family at a garden by Norte Dame. They are a very cute family!! I’m glad I met them!

I’m just tired now and resting. Tomorrow I’ll take the bus for the last time with what is left of my Contiki family and head for home. It’s both a sad and happy time!

Eurotrip Day 10

It has been a super long bus day for us! We didn’t have to get up as early, but riding on a coach does make a person tired. I was feeling a bit better but I still fell asleep on the bus. We left the hotel at about 9:10am and did a stop for some souvenirs. Swiss chocolate, Swiss Army knives, Swiss watches…the usual stuff. 

Then we rode and rode for 3 hours or so to a rest stop where we had super yummy burgers that took a long time to eat so we pretty much had to scarf those down. Courtney and Ben got theirs last and pretty much ate on the run! What a silly place.

Then Brooke gave us some prizes. Gifts to the honeymooning couples, the couple expecting a baby, the smiley girl and the biggest instagramer. I won the instagram one, didn’t even know I was posting that much. Just trying to share my experience with you all!! Little Bronn’s experiences too. He’s having a blast and doesn’t want to come home. I’m ready to sleep in my own bed, or at least the king size waiting at the hotel in Vancouver. I am happy that the beds on this trip have been for the most part comfortable. A couple times we lugged our bags up stairs, once there was a tiny two person elevator. Interesting stories!

Brooke also handed out our trip photos and we passed them around for signing. For some reason we never got our coordination on stuff like that. We can pass the trip sheet up then down the coach but things like that get passed across and over and in a circle three times, so I’m not sure everyone signed mine but that’s okay. I wrote down fun facts about everyone in my journal so I’ll remember them.

There was tons of traffic getting in to Paris. We didn’t get to our hotel until 8:20pm and then we had to rush up to have dinner and be on the coach at 8:50pm to go to the Eiffel Tower. The food was awesome, would have been nice to savour. Can’t help the traffic though!

We got passes to get to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower, but most of us bought the connecting pass to go straight to the top! It was amazing! Of course, I used the bathroom up there. I have used bathrooms in so many places now. It was the first one that didn’t have a line up in a while (besides our rooms). Then when I was walking out I heard a girl say she wanted to use the bathroom so she can say she peed at the top of the Eiffel Tower. She may have been my spirit animal. Just kidding!

We didn’t get to see the sparkle show because we got kind of stuck at the second floor, but we say it a bit at 10pm. Will probably catch it at some point tomorrow night. Going up the lifts are cool too, the ones at the bottom are built on an angle! These last two days we’ve been in some pretty high places together!! Sad now that our main time together is over.

I better get some sleep though, going to have a blast with Anne and her family!!

Eurotrip Day 9

Today was a long bus day. A lot of people were hungover and had barely any sleep though, so it was a very quiet ride. I fell asleep a couple of times. My cold seems to have gripped me hard and I hardly have a voice and my nose is so plugged. I’m also having trouble working up an appetite. Had a small breakfast, a small lunch, and a protein bar for dinner. 

We said goodbye to Italy today. It was sad but also exciting to move on to the next country which is Switzerland!! We got stuck in some terrible traffic (I fell asleep during it, it was probably an hour), so our schedule got backed up. We got to Mount Stanserhorn at like 4:30 and we were booked for 2:30. Luckily Brooke was on it and had made arrangements due to the traffic, which the hosts were expecting. 

We took a cute little train halfway up the hill, then we got on a gondola and floated gracefully through the air to the top. There is a little lodge there that sleeps hot drinks and souveniers. The view was beautiful. It was also not as cold as we were expecting.

Lucerne is pretty, but it makes me think of Whistler and Sunpeaks. I feel like aside from all the buildings in Rome, the iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, and the face that Venice is floating, we have similar stuff in Canada. I suppose that is because we are a multicultural country and stuff have been brought over.

I skipped out on the lake cruise tonight so I can get some sleep and hopefully feel better for Paris!! There is nothing I’ll be missing there though, because we get to see the Eiffel Tower and then I have a free day to hang out with Anne and her family which is exciting because it’s been 17 years!! So glad I did this trip!!

Eurotrip Day 8

There is so much to take in on this trip! It feels like we are go, go, go!! Even though I’m sick I still have so much energy. We left Rome at about 8am and headed to Florence. The drive was not nearly as long as some of the ones we’ve been having. About 3 hours. We stopped for lunch before we went in to Florence.

When we got there we went to this amazing view point where we got a group photo done. Tracey suggested we take off our sunglasses, and my eye was watering super bad, so I hope I don’t have a weird look on my face! I’m telling you, I was almost blinded!!

Then we drove into the city and most of the group went to a jewellery and leather shop. I wasn’t that interested in that, so I went shopping with a few of the girls. I got two more dresses and a t-shirt! We also got our Contiki shirts on the bus today. 

We met at the man on the horse for an included walking tour. Our tour guide was Elsa and this time we didn’t have to put the headphones in our ear, she had a little amplifier. She was amazing! We went around and she chatted about the statues, Michelangelo and DaVinci. I actually had a wow moment when I saw the dome up close and the buildings around it! So beautiful!

Then we had a bit of time. A few of us we’re going to climb the dome, but it was booked up for two days! So instead a few of us went to the top of the department store and checked out the view. I had a cappuccino. 

Then we went back to the hotel and got ready for our Tuscan evening dinner and the space disco. The drive to the dinner was pretty cool, and getting in to the entrance was a super tight squeeze but Rasto managed it like a pro (which he is).

The dinner was great! They gave us lots of appetizer things. I had the roast chicken for my main course, and tirimisu for dessert. There was live music. An opera singer and a pianist. They had us up doing the Macarena and gnatbush (or something lol) and something like the tora. It was good times!

Then on to the space disco! It was pretty cool. Downstairs was a karaoke bar. Basically there was music playing and the words were up on a screen. Everyone was singing to it! Then the upstairs opened and it was a dance party. I think everyone had a good time!

At the end of the night I felt a little emotional, had a bit of a cry if I’m being honest. I guess I’m just tired, sick and was a bit drunk. I’m hoping to have an early night in Lucerne. Then on to Paris!! I can’t believe we’re getting to the end of the trip already! Bittersweet!

Eurotrip Day 7

I still have a cold but I’m trooping through it!! Not going to miss a moment in these amazing places with these awesome people! This morning we were very stoked to be staying in a hotel for more than a day! At the same time we’re starting to get sad that we only have 4 full days left!! Whatever will I blog about after? (I will keep doing them if you are following me, though they might not be daily)

We had breakfast at 8am and then headed to a shuttle bus at 8:30am to head to Vatican City!! So exciting, this is the place I have always wanted to see in my life!! For some reason though, in my imagination, it was sort of in a different direction. That doesn’t make any sense at all, but it does to me! 

We took a few trains and then got to the Vatican City at about 9:30am. It was so cool because the Pope was doing as blessing. People pay but bucks to be there when they are doing their ceremony’s!! He spoke in Latin but there was a priest who spoke in English who kind of explained what the Pope was about to do. It was really really awesome!! I bought a rosary. Just a souvenier one but I love it!!

Then we went on to our Vatican Tour. The tour guide was okay but I think there were so many other guides that the channels were all interfering because most of us could barely hear her and we were so confused!! Beautiful paintings and the Sistine Chapel is so stunning!! Way too much to take in!

Afterwards we stopped at a place that had takeaway pizza and pasta but it everyone ate. So during our free time a bunch of us went to a food place. I had the amazing pizza so I just had drinks. Then we met at the Colosseum for our tour. It was pretty cool but mostly old ruins. However, to imagine it when it was in its prime would have been crazy!!! So small of an area and such exquisite buildings!! Patricia was our tour guide. We could hear her way better!!

Not everyone wanted to leave so Courtney and I went outside with all the audio vox’s. Or whatever they’re called. Brooke was waiting for us 🙂 then we waiting for the girls we were hanging out with but no one decided where to go so I said I’m going that way and a few of us left. 

We actually decided to go back to the meeting train station and then find a place to eat. We found a restaurant that was authentic. Basically it was a restaurant where the people of Roma eat but tourists never find. It was so cool!! The food wasamazing too!! Then we weren’t late for our meeting to get the shuttle back to the hotel.

A few of us had drinks at the bar in the hotel. Courtney, Ben and I got t-shirts! Good times!! Tomorrow…Florence!! 

Eurotrip Day 6

Bad news guys, I woke up with a cold this morning! My throat was sore and my head was foggy. I’m still not feeling great but I took some medicine and I’m going to bed early again. 

We had our breakfast at the hotel at 8am and left Venice at 9:15 for another long bus ride. Everyone is getting sick of riding in the coach, but at the same time it gives us the opportunity to chill or nap if we had a big night before. I didn’t nap today though, kind of read my book and listened to music.

We stopped for lunch at a big place! There was two floors! This was a nice stop though because the bathrooms were free and had toilet seats. I had a giant slice of pizza. Rachel and I wanted Burger King but the line was too long and not moving. It was yummy though.

Then we did something a bit different and watched a movie! The Italian Job…the one with Mark Wahlberg! Good choice hey? I’ve seen it before but it was still good. 

We got to Rome (or Roma) at about 4:30pm and checked into our rooms. It’s exciting that we get to stay in the same place for two nights! My luggage is everywhere right now, hahaha!

At 5:15pm we headed into the city and started seeing the sights. It was just the quick things. We walked around and then got to our dinner place where we had pretty much a 5 course meal. It was a salad, then 4 different slices of pizza, then a sorbet I think it was. It was very good. For some reason they didn’t cut it right all the time so Blake and I had to fight to get our slices apart. Basically they brought a medium sized pizza for 4 people and we each took a slice, then another pizza would come. By the time pizza number 4 came we were starting to think we were just going to sit there eating pizza after pizza all night!

After dinner we started a little walking tour. It was raining and windy for a bit, then it calmed down but was still cold. We stopped and some of us threw coins into the Trevi Fountain. It was a very busy place! Then we stopped and got some gelato. 

We came back to the hotel and some people went to bed, some went down to the hotel bar to have some drinks with Rasto because he gets tomorrow off and can actually have some drinks! I went down to chat with him and then came back up to the room to rest and feel better because tomorrow is a very big day!!

Eurotrip Day 5

I’m very tired as I’m writing this tonight. It was a late night last night as I got lost with a new friend (too schnapy I suppose). We actually took a cab back when we finally found one and it was so close it only cost us 5 euros. I think that’s pretty funny. A lot of these cities are like little labrynths. 

The wonderful Contiki extended family cooked us breakfast at 7am and we had to put our bags on the coach and load up for 7:30. We drove for about 3 1/2 hours (I had a bit of a nap) and then we stopped for a rest and lunch. I wasn’t that hungry, but had something anyways. There was a beagle in the store so I petted him. It was mutual enjoyment.

That is something about Europe too. The dogs are allowed everywhere. I know Bronn would be in his glory. They’re even in some restaurants!!

It took us about an hour and a half after that stop to get to Venice. Rasto parked the coach and we got out and got a boat over to the floating city. It is definitely very beautiful! Apparently it is sinking though and could be gone in like 13 years or something. So if you want to go, make it happen!!

It took us about half an hour to get across to the city, then we had a walking tour. They have us little boxes with one ear piece and the guide talked into a microphone while we walked. Pretty neat!! We got to keep the ear piece for a souvenir. 

We had a bit of free time after so our usual group of girls went to have a snack. I tried a cannoli…it is very sweet! Kind of made my tummy hurt. It was okay though because I had a small gelato to make it better. It was called Orient Express and it was a ginger, cinnamon and caramel flavouring. Very yummy!!

Then we met at the lion and went for our gondola ride! These small boats feel very rocky when you get on. The gondolier steers and paddles with one paddle that they rest on this big wooden hook thing. The boats are beautifully decorated. There were also motorboats going around so it got rocky at times. We went through a couple canals. He did not sing to us. They chatted to each other the whole time. They also put their foot out of they get to close to a wall.

We had a bit more free time. Ellie bought a dress and I bought two. Tracey bought one during our first break. Inexpensive stores. It was quite fun but a really quick shop as we only had half an hour until our Venitian dinner. 

The dinner was pretty great. It was 4 courses. They gave us a peach Bellini when we walked in (they are not cold here) and there were 2 litre wine bottles of red and white at our table, as well as water of course! The first plate was a little bit of appetizers. Calamari, eggplant, zucchini, panchetta and bruschetta. The next plate was a carbonara pasta. The third was a share plate of squid ink risotto. I tried some, it wasn’t too bad! It was tastey but to be honest I had a hard time getting past the fact that it was ink! Then we had our main course. I had a roasted chicken, with potatoes and a salad. Was almost too full to eat that, but of course I ate my tiramisu!! It took us almost 2 hours to have dinner. A man came and played a saxophone for us!! He was good. He made us do the chicken dance. The waitress kept getting us to sing along. Great atmosphere!

They let us take what was left over in the bottles. So it was a rowdie boat ride on the upper deck, with a bunch of girls chilling on the bottom. Then the bus ride home was a bit of a dance party! We got to the hotel to check in at about 9pm. 

Planning on getting a good sleep because tomorrow we are off to Rome for two days!!!

Eurotrip Day 4

I have a few things to chat about before I go into the day. The one thing is the toilets. So they are all pretty normal except the fact that you have to pay for a lot of them, but I’ve been there in Cuba. There was a weird toilet on the canal cruise in Amsterdam the toilet was so high I had to jump on it!! The one here in Austria you like use it, and it’s flat and then it flushes down into a hole. Different from our where it goes into the hole and not the bowl…if you get my meaning.

Okay, back to the trip!

We left Munich at 8:45-9ish and rode on the bus for a while. It being Easter Sunday the traffic was light so we got to Innsbruck early which was cool because there was a big market going on! We got there near 11:30 and had 1 1/2 hrs to explore! 

We went to the Swarovski store which is pretty much the home place of the crystal so there was some amazing things in there! I may or may not have gotten some gifts. So beautiful!! 

We then toured around the small city centre. There is a golden roof there where a king bought it for his wife and they sat under it and watched the goings on in the court yard. So sweet! We had some sandwiches of meat and cheese for lunch, got some souveniers and then hopped on the bus to Hopfgarten.

It’s a sweet town with lots of hills and we hiked up one and made videos of us twirling to the Sound of Music song. So cute!! But boy was it a hike up!! Pretty little trails though.

We found a little cafe that was open and had a sweet lady, her daughter who was probably 11, and her husband. We had some coffee and bought some chocolate (for adults probably). It was relaxing!

Afterward the big Contiki family here made us an amazing dinner of goulash soup, turkey schnitzel with potato salad, and apple strudel with custard for dessert! Best meal so far!! Then we just hung out and had schnaps and went to a pub and got lost and generally had a good time!!

Eurotrip Day 3

Today I am very tired. I did wake up with a bit of a headache at 4:30am so I took a Tylenol. The shot of Jaegermeister was maybe not the best idea. I felt better when I got up at 7am though. We had a quick breakfast and were on the road again by 8am. This time we were headed for Munich.

We stopped halfway for lunch and a bunch of us had Burger King. How funny is it that their stops have the same fast food as we often find in ours? It’s also kind of comforting though, because then you have something familiar, especially since what we are eating at night is usually authentic to the region we are in.

We arrived at our hotel in Munich at about 2:30pm and had an hour to get organized. Thandeka grabbed the key for our room, and I didn’t even look at the room list. I got in the elevator first so she passed me the key and took the next one. I went up to the room and put my bags down and was waiting for her to come. The next thing I know Greg and Warren were asking me why I was in their room. They had gotten a second key because the key wasn’t there but they both were. Thandeka had grabbed the wrong one! It was funny and embarrassing…I’m glad I wasn’t in the toilet when they came in!!

One thing that is strange about the rooms is that the twin beds are pushed together. They have separate blankets so it’s two individual beds, but you’d think there would be a space between them. 

All the hotels have been nice so far. They each have their own quirky things too. Last night they had old keys instead of key cards, and there was a place where you just hang them up on your way out. This hotel has the nicest bathroom so far. The one in Amsterdam you had to put your key into this little panel on the wall to use the lights. The tubs are all high to step in. It has been interesting, but the beds have been comfy and the water is all safe to drink so that’s what matters to me!

At 3:30pm we headed into Munich. Here it is called MĂźnchen. That is kind of neat. Courtney, Ellie and I were going to check out the Dachau concentration camp but it closed at 5pm. We figured out what train to take and where to take it to, but we couldn’t figure out how to pay for the ticket. The kiosk didn’t want to take our cards or our euros. We gave up because we’d not have gotten there in time. We wandered around for a bit until we came upon Museum FĂźnf Kontinente, so we went and checked that out. It was strange because it didn’t have anything to do with Germany. It was Oceana and Mayan stuff. It took up some time though. Everyone else went on a bike tour but we chose not to do that one.

Everyone was going to meet after at Hofbräuhaus so we went around until we found it. We went through the back door and walked around trying to see if we knew anyone in there yet and we didn’t see anyone. So then we decided to find a different place. We came upon Zum DĂźmbräu which was more quiet and had more room. We had a nice dinner and a beer. We headed back to see if we could get into the beer hall again but the line was huge so we took a taxicab back to the hotel.

It’s a good night to relax and go to bed early. This isn’t my favourite place so far. There wasn’t much English to help us and we kept getting lost. Tomorrow we head to Austria. There the hills should be alive with the sound of music. 😉