A detailed recap of the my first ever trip to Europe! 6 countries, 15 days, endless memories and unforgettable experiences.
Between having my first scoop of REAL Italian gelato and climbing the Arc de Triumphe, to getting lost in France after the trains had stopped running and staying in a grimy hotel with loads of other travelers, my first trip to Europe was full of memorable moments, interesting adventures, and new experiences.
Over the course of a short two weeks, my tour group and I traveled to 6 countries, 12 cities, saw all the amazing, famous sites, found the hidden gems, and ate delicious food like there was no tomorrow! Specifically we visited: London, Paris, Antibes, Nice, Monaco, Florence, Rome, Vatican City, Venice, Munich, St. Goar, and Amsterdam.
There are so many things I could say about this trip, and that would take several posts. Instead, I’ve chosen to run through the highlights and main excursions in this post and then feature all the delicious eats I enjoyed for this week’s WIAW. Sound good? GOOD!
But first some facts…
- Our days were one extreme or another. We were either walking all day and on the go or sitting all day on the bus between locations. Obviously, I much preferred the more active, adventurous days, but the driving days were great for chatting with, getting to know, and bonding with my fellow 52 traveling mates.
- I traveled through the company Contiki which is exclusively for travelers 18-35 years old. There was a wide range of ages on the trip, but the majority were in their early to mid 20s. I really had a good time with the group and was able to connect with a lot of people who I’ll definitely be keeping in touch with. My roommate (hey Jasmik!) was especially awesome and we got along really well.
- Travelers on the trip were mostly from South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia with a few from the US and Canada. Needless to say, I was in accent heaven for 15 days!
If you want me to do a more in-depth review of my experience booking through Contiki, specifically the European Highlights tour, let me know in the comments!
Okay. Now let’s get to the fun…
Some of my most memorable experiences include:
- navigating the London Tube on my own
- exploring London and getting caught in a downpour outside of Buckingham Palace
- seeing the Eiffel Tower from the top of the Arc de Triumphe
- eating freshly made crepes along the Champs Elysees in Paris
- getting lost with my roommate on the train back to our hotel in Nice and having to taxi home in the middle of the night
- seeing the Mona Lisa in person
- living like the rich and famous for a night in Moncaco and running into a few celebrities along the way (does any one remember Kimora Lee Simmons?)
- drinking freshly made French wine and sipping champagne by night
- seeing a cabaret show and having a fun, wild night out with the group
- having the best espresso and the WORST coffee of my life (plus going through a coffee detox…the cups are so small abroad!)
- eating the most filling, delicious, authentic 5-course Italian meal of my life (I’ve never been so stuffed and I ate every last bite)
- exploring the Colosseum and the Forum
- enjoying my first scoop of real Italian gelato in Rome (and many more after that!)
- taking a secret walking tour of Venice and getting seasick on the gondola ride (womp. womp.)
- being shocked by how much I loved Germany and falling in love with the bike friendliness of Amsterdam
- biking through the most quaint small town in the Netherlands
- walking through the Dachau Concentration Camp and feeling the weight and enormity of everything that took place there
- going a little overboard with souvenirs for my family: French wine, Dutch chocolates, Italian spices, Dutch cheese, a real beer stein from the second largest beer garden in the world, French perfume, handmade French soap, tulips from Amsterdam, Birkenstocks from the town where they’re made, and much more
- spending WAY too much money, eating WAY too much good food, singing in bus sing-a-longs much too loudly, making amazing new friends from all over the world, and truly having the time of my life
If I didn’t have so much to share, I’d say I was pretty much speechless in regards to this trip. It’s been a long time since I treated myself to a proper vacation and I feel like I enjoyed this trip ten times more since I saved for, planned the whole thing, and was able to really let go while I was on it. I can honestly say I enjoyed myself fully, let go of guilt surrounding food and exercise (I did NO formal exercise while away), and opened myself up to new experiences outside of my comfort zone.
It still doesn’t seem like this really happened and that I had such a great time, but it did and I did. I DID IT. And I am pretty dang proud of myself!
No questions for today…
Instead, do you have any questions for ME regarding my trip?
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