MAGICAL - That's a word I'll use if I had to choose one word to describe the second half of my Europe trip. Venice and Paris were always cities on my must-visit bucket list, I knew I'll get there some day, I just didn't think it would happen this quick! So thank you Contiki for helping me attain that, and for making the trip a lot more enjoyable by taking care of all the boring logistics and transportation costs. For more information on how Contiki works, read part one here ---->
http://euniceannabel.blogspot.sg/2016/05/contiki-takes-me-to-europe.html or head over to http://www.contiki.com/.
To be honest, I was a little reluctant to take videos on this trip. I didn't want to focus too much on getting enough footages, and end up forgetting to relax and enjoy my time. I mean I was in Europe! I wanted it to be a wholesome experience without much distraction. I wanted to interact with my fellow travel buddies instead of running off alone to take pictures and videos of the cities. But I thought I'll do it anyway since the idea of a vlog sounded nice, I could share my experience better with you guys. So here it is, please do not expect much, but enjoy :)
Visiting Venice felt like a dream. I still can't believe I went there! I've heard so much about her from friends and history books in secondary school, it truly felt surreal being there personally. Since our hotel was quite a distance away from Venice, we had to get up and leave pretty early that day. It was quite a journey since the trip to Venice required us to catch a train and a boat. I wasn't complaining initially until it started pouring heavily and we didn't have any umbrellas or ponchos with us, hence we ended up drenched and shivering in the cold. That may not sound so bad, but just think about how it must have felt like if you're soaked and it's 13 degree celsius outside.
It was quite an unpleasant experience but Contiki managed to make it better by leading us to a nearby H&M to change into dry clothes. That wouldn't have been possible if we went there on our own, because we'll have no idea where the nearby store with affordable clothes was. The sky cleared up about an hour or two later, and we set off on a walking tour around Venice.
I love the gothic facades of these buildings.
This is the beautiful Catedrale Basilica San Marco aka Saint Mark's Basilica.
If I could turn back time, I would have taken the opportunity to enter the church. So if ever visit Venice, please head inside and tell me how it goes!:)
The bell tower that my roomie and I "climbed" to get a birds-eye view of the city. Apparently this isn't the original building. The real one was torn down due to a fire, so this new one was built to take its place, hence it came with a lift, so we didn't have to climb all the way up. hehehe.
I can't say this enough, but there's something different about Venice that makes her so beautiful. Being there physically felt like walking on set of a huge Hollywood blockbuster film, she was perfect in every way, regardless of the vast amount of tourists. You have to visit Venice if you ever get the chance, and don't worry too much about planning your route around her. Venice is a playground so the best way to enjoy your time there is to get lost on purpose. Every corner you turn, and every alley you choose to take, surprises you with different sceneries.
A flight of spiral stairs that reflect the beautiful facades of Italy.
Venice is known for their gorgeous masks, so I bought a bunch home as souvenirs and gifts.
The best part of my time in Venice was being able to roam around freely for the entire day with my roomie, Karmen. By this time, we've already travelled to about 3-4 cities, but we only truly bonded during our time in Venice. When everyone else opted to indulge in an expensive Venetian dinner, Karmen and I chose to dine at an affordable but authentic Italian restaurant instead. We had the best pasta and pizza, drank iconic Italian cocktails - Bellini and Limoncello - and finished it off with Sicily Cannolis and Tiramisus.
We both agreed that that was the most memorable part of the trip for both of us. And I guess that's what makes Contiki trips so special - the fact that you get to make great friends with someone from a totally different background from another country. I enjoyed Karmen's company and I sure do miss her now as I'm typing this :(
BEST CARBONARA EVER!!!
Before the sun went down, we went on a Gondola ride! One does not leave Venice without taking one of those rides. If you don't mind spending a little more money, get a boat that comes with a singer for maximum Italian experience.
It may not look like it, but I was FREEZINGGGGGG!
The view from the bell tower.
I have nothing but good words to say about Venice, and I will DEFINITELY be back for more next time. It's the best place to go to for a honeymoon ;) You can say it was my favourite city out of all the cities we visited on this Contiki trip. I LOVEEEEEE ITALY.
The trip only got better when we arrived in Paris. The city everyone wants to visit some day, and I cannot believe I've already been there. I will be forever grateful to Contiki for making it happen. It was a pretty long drive from Italy to Paris, with a couple of stops along the highway, so we got there close to evening and only had time to visit the Eiffel Tower. It was freezing though, if I can recall, I think it was about 1 degree celsius.
Quick dinner before we headed to the Eiffel Tower!
Can't help but think of Ratatouille the movie, when I saw this! hehehe.
And there she was, the magnificent Effiel Tower! Up till now, I still can't believe I got to see her up close, and climb all 3 floors (324 metres). The experience was amazing, if I had a choice, I'd love to share the moment with my loved ones.
I also wished I had warmer clothes on. hehehe. When you're that high up, the wind is hasher and temperatures drop lower than you can expect. My nose was as red as Rudolph's and I literally couldn't feel my hands anymore. I took just ONE selfie and ran back in for warmth. hahaha.
The tower sparkles every hour, so be sure to catch that! It's gorgeous.
The next day, we were free to roam around Paris on our own. We only had one day to visit all of the attraction sites so we had to ensure that we were taking the right route. With the help of our Contiki tour manager, we managed to visit all the places in time without much difficulty with navigation.
Found the Luxor Obelisk at the centre of Place de la Concorde.
It was a beautiful day, the sky was so blue and clear which made touring around the city such a great experience.
Karmen and I <3
The Lourve Museum! Made famous by the movie The Da Vinci Code, we had to visit it for ourselves. It's probably the biggest art museum around, housing thousands and thousands of paintings and sculptures, including the iconic Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. We were told that it would take months to view every single gallery.
Just look at how massive the painting by Leonardo da Vinci is! Every single one of them was beautiful, I wish I had more time to admire them at my own pace. Totally worth visiting if you're an art and history freak like me. hehehe.
Behold, the 1517 Mona Lisa painting. Large crowds were gathered to snap pictures of it, so I only managed to get ONE proper photo before someone else shovelled me aside. It was way smaller than I expected though.
French onion soup for lunch!
Little stores all around the city where you can purchase art pieces, books and souvenirs. How lovely!
Next, we visited the Notre Dame Cathedral which felt super surreal because of the cartoon I watched when I little - The Hunchback of Notre Dame! I could imaging Quasimodo lingering among the pillars of the church as we walked in. It was really dark inside, just as how the cartoon depicted it. I didn't take any photos inside since it is still a church after all, people were praying so I tried to be a little more respectful.
We found a bridge with all these padlocks on it. I'm not sure if it's the original Love Lock Bridge since I heard that it collapsed due to the weight of all the locks, but it was still amazing to see it.
The next day we had to bid goodbye to one another and fly home :( My European Magic trip ends here but the memories made will always stay with me. This wouldn't have been possible without Contiki! Once again, thank you so much for sending me to Europe to experience an unforgettable trip. I've not only checked a ton of things off my bucket list, but I've also made new friends from around the world. Will I do it again? Sure! This time I'll make sure to bring my friends and loved ones along with me.
Thinking of going on a Contiki adventure already? Read below for an extra perk ;)
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