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Europe 2002

Last year I went to Europe for 3 whole weeks and had the time of my life.  I kept meaning to post highlights of my trip on this web site, but never got around to it.  I suppose it is better late than never as they say.

Day 1 - London

I arrived in London around mid-day.  It was really hot and Christina and I had to take a train from Gatwick to Victoria station.  From Victoria, we had to take the tube to Russell Square to get to our hotel.  It was so incredibly hot that day and we struggled all the way to our hotel.  First we kept getting pushed around on the overcrowded underground, then we had to walk with our heavy bags to the hotel.  By the time we got there, we were dead tired.  Christina napped for a bit, but I was too wound up and wanted to make the most of the day.  So I let her sleep for about an hour and then off we went exploring on our own.  We went to Trafalgar Square, Big Ben and Picadilly Circus.  I had already been to London, so it was nothing new to me, but it was great being there again.  Later that night we went to Contiki's pre-tour meeting and met up with some really nice fellow Canadians there.  I had been e-mailing back and forth with one of them already, so it was nice to finally meet in person.  Later on, we met our Japanese room mate.  I kept getting her name wrong though.  She was so nice and funny though and we knew we weren't going to have any problems with her.  

Day 2 - London - Amsterdam
We had to get up REALLY early for the start of the tour.  I am not a morning person, so this was really hard for me.  We made it on the bus though on time and it was great to be on the coach heading for Dover.  I was really excited to have this trip underway as Christina and I had been anticipating and planning this trip for months.  On the ferry ride over we ran into an unexpected problem - motion sickness!  I never had a problem before, and neither had Christina so we were both really unprepared for the ferry ride over.  We had to try and scramble to get some gravol.  We arrived in Amsterdam in the evening.  Our accommodations weren't the greatest, but we expected that.  We had to carry our suitcases up a flight of stairs.  Luckily, I packed light compared to some of the others that had big, massive suitcases.  

On the ferry over
(L-R) Megan, Marissa, Me, Yoshimi

We went on a canal cruise which was really nice.  It was a lot colder than expected, so we were trying to enjoy ourselves, but were freezing at the same time.  Afterwards, we went to the Red Light District.  This was quite the eye opening experience!  People had told me what the Red Light District would be like, but I think you really have to see it to believe it.  Afterwards, Christina, Megan, Marissa and I walked around trying to find a decent club to go to.  Sadly, we couldn't find one, so just ended up going back to the hotel.  It was sort of a disappointing way to end the night.  

(L-R) Christina, Clayton, Marissa, Megan, Me

Day 3 - Amsterdam - Rhine Valley

We got up really early and decided to go to the Anne Frank's house.  This was the one thing that I felt that I could not miss.  Christina and I had problems finding it, but luckily we ran into some other people from the tour and followed them.  Being at Anne Frank's house was an amazing experience.  It is definitely not to be missed if you are ever in Amsterdam.  

We had to meet up with our tour around noon, so we didn't think we'd have any time left to go anywhere else.  So we just walked down this street and bought some souvenirs.  We were later discovered that we probably could have made it to more than one place.

The Rhine Valley was just so beautiful.  Lot's of green hills and castles everywhere.  I wish we could have stopped and explored a castle.  Our accommodation in St. Goar wasn't bad at all.  It was very clean and well kept.  There was the option of going wine tasting, but Christina and I passed.  

Day 4 - Rhine Valley - Munich
In the morning we went to see how beersteins were created.  I wanted to get one, but as I was on a budget, I couldn't.  Bought some more souvenirs instead.  Then it was time to head off to Munich.  I wasn't sure what to expect with Munich.  I basically just knew that it was in Germany.  We arrived in Munich late in the afternoon, so unfortunately there wasn't much time to do anything.  We managed to run to a church, the Frauenkirche which was destroyed in the war and then re-built.  We then had to run and get some souvenirs and then meet up with the tour again at the Glockenspiel.  I can definitely say that I wished we had more time in Munich.  It had so much more to offer and we just saw a fraction of it.  Later we headed off to the beerhall, which was a fun experience.  Loads of happy, drunk people and good entertainment.  Had a late night out.

                                                                          At the beerhall
                                                                                                   At the beerhall in Munich

Day 5 - Munich - Vienna
As an extra, we got taken to Mathausen, a concentration camp.  I can't describe the experience.  I had read and learned about concentration camps in history class, but to actually be there and see it all was very different.  Needless to say that when we got back on the bus, the mood had turned quite somber.

Arrived in Vienna late afternoon.  Some of us headed off for the Mozart concert.  It was lovely.  An extra, but definitely well worth it.  But then again I suppose it depends on what you're into and if you like classical music.

                                                                         At a stop over in Austria... incredible view!

Day 6 - Vienna
Had a whole day in Vienna today.  I wasn't sure what to expect with Vienna either.  Megan, Marissa, Christina and I headed off to the Kaiser apartments.  We didn't have nearly enough time to see everything properly.  Afterwards, we walked to the Sacher Cafe for the famous Sacher torte.  Our tour manager kept telling us about the Sacher torte, so we figured we had to try it.  The thing about the day was that it was really, really hot.  It felt like 40 degrees and we had to try and walk around from place to place. I almost felt like giving up, but we had one full day there, so we had to make the most of it.  We walked around the ring and managed to go to a park with statues of famous composers.  We then headed off to a cathedral.  Unfortunately, we overestimated the amount of time we had and basically had to run back to the designated meeting spot.  I think we managed to get lost on the way as well.  Anyway, the bus nearly left without us!!!  Megan and Christina had started running and were way ahead of Marissa and I.  By the time we got there, the bus was gone and we were left stranded.  Luckily Marissa was with me, because I don't know what I would have done if I were alone.  Well I'm sure I would have managed to get back to the hotel, but it wouldn't have been a very good experience.  Anyway, luckily Megan and Christina were on the bus, as they told everyone that we were on our way.... and to our relief, the bus turned back!  

Afterwards we went to the Schonburg Palace.  But by this point I was really exhausted and didn't feel like doing much.  So I just sort of sat and waited for everyone else.  We went to the Schnapps museum afterwards and sampled some schnapps.  By this time I was feeling really ill.  Then we headed off to the restaurant for an authentic Viennese meal.  I couldn't really enjoy my dinner though because I was feeling so terrible.  But I managed to have a pretty good time still.  It was Yoshimi's 21st birthday, so it was a special night.  

                                                                         Schonburg Palace
                                                       We were standing behind water at the Schonburg.  This picture of the palace was taken behind the water.

Day 7 - Vienna - Venice
Pretty much spent the whole day driving from Vienna to Venice.  Not fun.  The campsite was actually quite nice.  But it's a bit of a pain because when you go to the washroom, if you forget toilet paper, you have to walk all the way back.  Or if you're going to take a shower, and you forget your shampoo or towel, you have to walk all the way back to your cabin.

More Europe 2002