European Vista - First Trip to Europe with Contiki May 2005

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TOUR Travelogue for the Contiki  European Vista trip 2005



      April 28 2005
En Route to London, England

Today I fly to London to start my Trip to Europe!

  • This is my first trip overseas and my first tour with Contiki.  I'm super pumped!
  • I fly out from Thunder Bay (boring) Ontario, Canada, to London, England at approximately 11:00 am Thunder Bay time.
  • Rock On!  See you in four weeks.



April 29 2005
London, England

Today, I arrive in London, England.

  • I departed Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada at ~11:00 am central time and I arrived in Heathrow Airport in London, England at ~630 am Greenwich Mean time.
  • I made my way through customs easily, however it was long wait.
    Took about an hour to clear customs due to a line up of over 1000 other people, 4 other flights landed at same time. Eventually I picked up my luggage.
  • I found the London Underground (subway) and caught the correct train to the correct stop at Russell Station 
  • I checked into The Imperial Hotel which was ok in comparison to the surrounding hotels.
  • I have a nice small single room.
  • I watched the BBC a bit before heading out to walk around Bloomsbury a bit.  There a ton of shops and stores around the hotel.
  • I went to the alternate Contiki Hotel, The Royal National, to the Basement (contiki tourist office)o get some info about London to plan my day of sight seeing.
  •  All the employees at Contiki's Basement are Aussies.

London Observations:

  • Awesome Cars - Tons of Audis, Mercedes Benzes and Lexuses.
  • The English drive very fast.
  • The English love Reality TV.

Sights done in London: The British Museum, Big Ben, Tower of London, London Bridge, Hyde Park, London Eye, London Bridge, Trafalgar Square, Piccadily Circus.

Supper at pub at the Imperial Hotel, tried first hand at traditional fish and chips, all good.



April 30 2005
London, England

Exploring London, England on my own.  I'm looking forward to it!

  • Ate fish and chips at a pub near The Imperial Hotel.
  • I walked through Bloomsbury into the West End going through Covent Garden, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.
  • Used London Underground to Madame Tussards wax museum.
  • I saw
    • Trafalgar Square
    • Madame Tussards wax museum
    • The American Embassy
    • The Canadian Embassy
    • Canadian Pacific Building
    • Lots of old houses
    • The financial district in Westminster
    • Hyde Park and Speakers Corner
    • Buckingham Palace.
    • St. Paul's Cathedral
    • The Tower of London and The Tower Bridge
    • Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
    • The Marble Arch
    • Westminster Abbey
    • Parliament
    • Speaker's Corner [It's called Speakers Corner because public executions were performed there and people were allowed to talk / speak their mind before getting the chop.]
    • - Madame Tussards wax museum was a big disappointment I found all the statues don’t look real. Very over rated and  a waste of my time and money.
  • London is a cool city.  I found my way around pretty well.  It was little though getting back to the Imperial Hotel though. :)
  • London is full of people.
  • London is full of shops and stores.
  • A large number of people going to work were dressed in suits. 
  • Downside is all london pubs close at 11pm!!

= Evening at the London Pub �" a few beers ok price, 2 pounds a pint.




May 1st 2005
London �" outskirts tour

Today, I do a tour with company called Evan Evans to see the Windsor Castle, city of Baths- Roman Baths and to Stonehenge.

Day tour includes sights of: Windsor Castle, Roman Baths, Baths and Stonehenge.

Total Time 12 hours.


May 2nd 2005                                                                                    


Venture on Underground to Harrods Mall.

Evening �" attend pretour meeting for Contiki tour that starts next day the European Vista at the Royal National Hotel.

Attend London Pub with other people from meeting who are also on same tour.


May 3rd 2005

Start of Contiki tour Enroute to Paris

Make way to Royal National Hotel to pick up Contiki tour, get suitcase weighed.

= passed!!!

  • Driving through England was cool.  The White Cliffs of Dover were incredible. 
  • The weather was foggy at the White Cliffs of Dover and the cliffs really were a bright white.
  • Today was the first day on the Contiki Coach.
  • Tour manager was Renee and driver is Tommo
  • I learned our tour consists of the following people:
    • 11 Canucks [Canadians]
    • 1 Yanks [American}
    • 2 South Africans
    • 1 Mexican
    • One Kiwi [New Zealander]
    • 25 Aussies [Australians]

Total 41 people

Ferry ride across channel just lasted under 90 minutes. Was foggy so could not see the beaches of Normandy.

Arrived in France �" short stop at border and continue on way. The first thing we noticed on arrival in France was that we were now driving on the right side of the road, it was all very weird considering we were driving on the left in the UK. Now all the cars drive on the proper side of the road.

Arrive in Paris �" Hotel, which was abit small.

Had dinner with group, at hotel, the first arranged dinner, which was some type of pork, and it was nothing special..

 We went on a night illumination tour of Paris with Renee as the tour guide. We drove into the main part of the city and unfortunately it was raining, we started first going up the famous Eiffel Tower

  • Tommo  [The Contiki Tour Driver] drove around into the Arc de Triomphe round-a-bout.  He drove straight into the center of the traffic circle with the huge Contiki Coach and all the other cards had to back off.  It was sweet!  Tommo played Kenny Login's Danger Zone song as we drove into the circle.
  • The night tour was awesome.  Paris at night is very beautiful.
  • He pointed out the French are very proud, intelligent and intolerant of people ignorant of France's achievements and overall greatest.
  • The French love France.
  • The French love Napoleon.
  •   We went up to Eiffel Tower at night and it was very cool.  The view was spectacular and it was cool to see the city light up at night.
  • The Champs-Elysees was very cool at night.  The street was lined with white lights and all the shops had white signs. Very beautiful!
  • At approximately 10:30 pm, the Eiffel Tower started sparkling.  It was covered in lights that started flashing on and off and it was an incredible sight.

We arrived back to the hotel, and some of us were going to head to the pub down the street. Never happened, as we ended up raiding the beer in the vending machine in the downstairs lobby.  




May 4th 2005
Paris, France

Today is a free day to explore Paris, France on our own! We were told that Paris is all about seeing and being seen so I wore my cap.

  • Started at the Arc de Triomphe. 
  • Walked down the Champs-Elysees.
  • Went to the Louvre and saw some brilliant artwork.  We saw the Mona Lisa and the Venus De Milo.
  • Went to Notre Dame and took pictures.
  • Went to the Military Museum.
  • Went to Napoleon's Tomb. .
  • Went to Nouvelle Eve French Cabaret.  It was an awesome experience!
  • Paris is incredible.  It's big, beautiful and full of history.
  • The Arc de Triomphe is huge.  We went up to the top of it and took a lot of pictures.  It's a different view of Paris.  Very cool.
  • The Champs-Elysees was tres cool as well.  Lots of hip expensive shops.  I looked in a few car shops, a Swatch shop and a few other stores.
  • Next up was the Louvre.  En Route to the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo I experienced a very rich artistic experience.
  • The Mona Lisa is very overrated.  It's a small painting that isn't any better than many other nice paintings.
  • The Louvre was a very beautiful palace.  It's full of marble and grand architecture.  It's a huge place too.
  • We at lunch at a Café on the Champs-Elysees and I ordered a French pizza which passed all my expectations.
  • Notre Dame was the highlight of the sightseeing.  The Gothic Architecture is very striking.  The fine level of detail was incredible.  The stained glass windows, the marble / stone statutes, the sharp architecture lines, the dark colours were amazing.  I've never seen anything like it before!
  • Napoleon's tomb was very grand.  It had a very beautiful ceiling
  • The Nouvelle Eye show had a fine French dinner which was fun!  A lot of free wine was available to a lot of the people and many took great advantage to get hammered.  I counted my last glass around 12, I think?
  • The dinner featured fine food, entertainment, lots of lots of unlimited wine, and many of the tour group getting loud!
  • The French Cabaret was great.  It featured risqué singing and dancing girls, comedy and cool performers.
  • Martin, who was in our tour group, volunteered to go on stage during a juggling performance.  The performers sat him down in a chair and through juggling "bowling" pins at a high speed.  Then they put a hat, plastic glasses on him and a cigarette in his mouth.  They then proceeded to knock the items off his head as he sat dead still.  I didn't think they would knock the hat or glasses off but they did and it was different.
  • After the show, several of us dragged our drunken asses to some Irish pub, we ended up at an Irish Pub, what would you figure, an irish pub in France?
  • The groups first official drinking night out.


May 5th, 2005
En Route to Lyon, France

The day primarily consisted of traveling from Paris to Lyon with a few stops on the way.

  • Contiki Travelers:
    • Renee, Tour Manager ,Brisbane, Australia
    • Tommo, driver ,Melbourne, Australia

People on the tour:

    • Kate, Queensland,Australia
    • Jeremy, Sydney, Australia
    • Sara, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    • Adri, Montreal, Canada
    • George, Toronto, Canada
    • Melissa, Brisbane, Australia
    • Olivia, Victoria, Australia
    • Jacqui, Tasmania, Australia
    • Bianca, Perth, Australia
    • Craig, Perth Australia
    • Lousia, Melbourne, Australia
    • Juanine, Johannesburg, South Africa
    • Angela, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    • Jason, Melbourne, Australia
    • Jordan, Mexico City, Mexico
    • Megan, St.
      John, New Brunswick, Canada
    • Cherie, Australia
    • Emily, Washington DC, USA
    • Kerry, Christchurch, New Zealand
    • Beth, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
    • Martin, Queensland, Australia
    • Ellie, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
    • Sarah, St. John, New Brunswick, Canada
    • Brett, Perth, Australia
    • Richard, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    • Nicole G, Johannesburg, South Africa
    • Marnie, Sydney, Australia
    • Carolyn, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    • Courtney, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
    • Melanie, Sydney, Australia
    • Amy, Perth, Australia
    • Megan L, Australia
    • Sharon, Queensland, Australia
    • Eden, Queensland, Australia
    • Nicole F, Melbourne, Australia
    • Lim, Melbourne, Australia
    • Laura, Australia
    • Nicole R, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • We stopped in Fontainebleau.
  • We also went for a wine tasting demonstrations in the Boulegois wine region.
  • We arrived in Lyon in the early evening.
  • A number of different groups went off for a walk about dinner.
  • I went to dinner with a few bunch from the tour group in the older part of Lyon.
  • Tried the famous French meal of snails(escargo), and it was tasted like lots of garlic.



May 6th, 2005
Route to Nice, France

The day consisted of traveling through the French Burgundy Wine Region to the French Rivera.

  • Ate breakfast at the Contiki Hotel.
  • Ate lunch in Avignon.
  • Ate dinner ???
  • Driving through the burgundy wine region.
  • Stopped in Avignon which was a quiet little town.
  • Avigon, France the valley of the popes  and saw Napoleon's home.  It's a huge beautiful mansion in a small village.  It was the starting point of all of Napoleon's wars.
  • I walked around with a bunch and ate at a small cafe.  I had a chicken, tomato, mozzarella panni and it was fantastic!
  • We had dinner in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
      It was excellent!  I ate dinner with Jason and Nicole, unemployed Brett, Kerry and Tracey."  I had a nice salad and salmon in a light cream sauce.  I also ate Kerry and Tracey’s left over chicken.  Also included was several glasses of wine at dinner.
  • Next, we went to a casino in Monte Carlo.  The highlights were the rich people looking like a million dollars and their cars!  Naturally, I fit right in! :)
  • Then back in Nice, we went to a ok pub with live music and had a few drinks.


May 7th, 2005
Nice, France

Today is a free day to explore Nice, France on our own! 

  • Ate nothing for breakfast.
  • Ate a french sandwich for lunch.
  • Ate a bad meal at the Contiki Hotel for dinner.  Dodgy!
  • Of all the cities I've ever visited, Nice has the most beautiful women in world!  However, I have not been to the Czech Republic or Australia! :)
  • We walked down to the beach via the main street - Avenue Jean Medecin.
  • We stopped at an Internet cafe.
  • We went to the Le Chateau overlooking the beach front to get a great view of the city and take pictures.
  • Went to the beach and experienced a piece of French Culture - topless sunbathers.  It was cool at first but the novelty wore off.  It's nothing I haven't seen before. !
  • We walked around all of the hip streets and really got a feel for the city.
  • Couldn’t go swimming in the Mediterrean Sea cause the water was way too cold.
  • In the evening, after dinner went to a karaoke bar named Waynes Bar which was an Australian bar, not a French bar.
  • It was a relaxing evening!
  • Today was definitely a great day off.  A true vacation day in the beautiful French Riviera. 
  • Aussie Words:
    • Sunnies - Sun Glasses
    • Dodgy - Bad
    • Skull - Drink a shot
    • Slab - 24 can flat of beer
    • Nackered - Tired
    • Togs - Swim Suit
    • Simmers - Swim Suit
    • Ocka - Very Australian
    • Snog - Kiss
  •        O  rubbish - garbage




May 8th, 2005
En Route to Florence, Italy


  • Ate breakfast at the Contiki Hotel
  • Ate lunch at a rest stop in Italy - delicious Italian Pizza
  • Ate dinner at Certosa.
  • En route to Florence, we stopped in Pisa and checked out the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  The Tower itself is pretty cool.  I took a ton of pictures there.
  • Pisa is the capital of crappy souvenirs.  People are selling crappy souvenirs like no where else. Like fake Oakley sunglasses and fake Rolexes.
  • Florence is an awesome city.  My introduction to the city started with a trip to our hotel.  It's a probably so far the nicest hotel of the tour so far, with a shower that has no frame.  It's completely open to the rest of the bathroom.
  • We had our group photo and everyone looked pretty flash. In front of the city skyline of Florence
  • It turns out the group photo did not turn out. Well as my face is missing from the photo.
  • That evening we had dinner up in the Tuscany hills and it was a special Italian dinner that is done for normal Italian weddings.
  •  The dinner was excellent. It was as follows.
    • First course - antipastos and lots of wine, unlimited.
    • Second Course - Lasagna and noodles and lots of wine, unlimited.
    • Third Course - Beef and Potatoes and lots of wine, unlimited.
    • Fourth Course �" some kind of brownie and of course, lots of wine.
    • Fifth course - Espresso
  • During dinner, we were entertained by a variety of entertainers, from 2 opera singers to an old man at a piano wearing a hat.
  • After dinner, we were offered more wine. And bit more wine after that.
  • Then dinner was over and our tour manager that as a surprise, we were going  to a night club afterwards.
  • Next, we went to the Super Space Disco - the premiere club in Florence. :)
  • At the club, we drank, danced and had a good time.
  • !




May 9th, 2005
En Route to Rome, Italy

The first of two magic days in Rome, Italy!

  • Ate breakfast at the hotel.
  • Ate dinner at a sidewalk restaurant in the Piazza Norma in Rome.  Magic!
  • The day started rough by waking up early to travel to spend the morning in Florence.
  • We walked around Florence all morning and then traveled to Rome.
  • The day started with a leather demonstration and after that. I had two gelatos (ice cream) and they are delicious!  They are way better in Italy than anywhere else in the world.
  • I walked around the streets and around the waterfront.  It's a very cool city.
  • We saw cool buildings, monuments and made it to see the real statue of David.
  • We drove to Rome and received a very long history lecture from Renee.  Very cool stuff.
  • From the history lecture, I learned Romans were very interesting people.  They had some great leaders and some terrible ones.
  • We went in to Rome for a walk about dinner.
  • Renee gave us a short night tour too.
  • We saw the following sites:
    • The Spanish Steps
    • Very Cool Shops (Gucci, Prada etc)
    • Trevi Fountain
    • Pantheon
    • Piazza Navona
    • Victoria Monument
    • The Coliseum
  • I an awesome dinner.
      I had fettucini with a tomatoe saw and meatballs.  The sauce has cheese mixed in and it was delicious.
  • It's an incredible feeling to sit at a restaurant in a piazza with historic sites all around, great traditional live music and great company 

May 10, 2005
Rome, Italy

The second of two days in Rome, Italy!  Rome is cool!

  • Ate a four star breakfast at the Roma Cassia Hotel.  Good stuff!


Our full day of Rome sightseeing would be one of the hottest we would experience during the whole trip. It certainly didn't help that we all had to wear pants, as we were visiting the Vatican City this morning with a local tour guide. As with many churches and cathedrals in Italy, the rules stipulated no bare legs or shoulders allowed. To the casual visitor, the Vatican City would appear more like a museum than anything else, with Michaelangelo's paintings seemingly covering every ceiling and wall inside, and statues situated in almost every nook and cranny. The most magnificent of these paintings was the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. Unfortunately, photography and video of the Chapel were completely forbidden. Of note is that the Vatican City is actually its own country, the smallest in the world, with its own police and its own postal system

  • The Pope (new Pope, Benedict) was giving a mass in St.
    Peter's Square.  I took a few pictures of the event.
  • Next, I went into the Vatican Museum to see the Sistine Chapel.  En route to the chapel, you go through tons of beautiful rooms. 
  • Rafael's rooms are incredible - the artwork is stunning.  I've never seen anything like it before.
  • The Sistine Chapel is brilliant.  I shuffled in and then turned around and viewed the painting.  The detail is mesmerizing.  You could spend days looking at everything.
  • The Pope was giving a mass in St. Peter's Square.  I took a few pictures of the event.
  • After the Vatican City, we went for lunch and then bought some water.  It was a nice break.
  • Next, we went Coloseum which was unbelievable.  The sheer size and magnificence was very unbelievable.  It's hard to describe. 
  • Then we visited the ancient ruins of Rome.
  • Next, we had a gelato.  And some pasta.
  • Next, we walked down the main shopping street and looked in a few shops.
  • We then hit the Spanish Steps to rest and let everything soak in.
  • .
    Then we went for a gelato.  I had a chocolate gelato shake and it was great! 
  • We walked up to the Vatican City again and took the subway and train home..  In all, this was definitely our most active day, with Rome overall being one the most vibrant and exciting cities on the whole trip.
  • Later in the evening there was a group party on the roof of the hotel.




 May 11th, 2005
En Route to Venice, Italy

Another travel day.

  • Ate breakfast at the Contiki Hotel
  • Ate lunch in Assisi at a small pizza place.
  • Ate dinner at the Contiki Hotel outside Venice [!]
  • Stopped in Verona, Italy to see the balcony of where the story of Romeo and Juliett happened �" waste of my time.
  • We ate lunch at a pizza place that had a very friendly shop owner.
  • We hit a small bakery to buy some treats.
  • We arrived in Venice late and ate dinner in the hotel.  Dinner was ok. Lots of pasta.
  • We all had a few drinks after dinner at a pub nearby.



May 12, 2005
Venice, Italy.

Today is a full free day to explore Venice on our own.

  • Ate 14 corn flakes for breakfast at the Contiki Hotel [Mario's Hotel!]
  • We took a boat over to Venice bright and early.
  • Watched a glass blowing demonstration and view some Venice glass. Very nice and very expensive. .
  • I bought a Ferrari shrit in a sports shop.
  • We went into Doges Palace and it was ok.  It was huge and some very large extravagant rooms.  It was very dark and felt cold.
  • We walked all around the city and it was an interesting experience.  No cars, dirty water, some beautiful buildings and some very old buildings in poor shape.
  • Tons of people.  Venice is a busy place.
  • I went on a Gondola ride with Jason,Nicole and Canadian Nicole and Richard and Mexico Jordan. We made sure to get some bottles of wine for the ride prior to leaving.
  • The gondola ride was very nice floating down the quiet streets but it was very busy on the grand canal.
  •  We went for some type of Venice dinner afterwards and its was ok, but thank god it had wine offered.
  • The Piazza di San Marco in Venice was very cool and filled with pigeons.  It was crazy!  It's tough to walk around as the pigeons are everywhere.



May 13th, 2005
En Route to Vienna, Austria

Today we entered Austria and the land of pork!

  • Ate breakfast at a rest stop.  I had a Schnitzel and it was delicious!
  • Ate lunch at another rest stop.  I had a simple sandwich and it was ok.
  • Ate dinner at Vienna.  I had a grilled Schnitzel and tons of veggies. The scenery was beautiful driving through Austria.  We saw several Castles along the side of the road and tons of small villages in the mountains.
  • The mountains are pretty similar to the Rockies but they are covered in different different trees and seem less jagged.
  • After arriving at the hotel in Vienna, we had some free time. 
  • The hotel was a 4 1/2 * business hotel so we took advantage of the amenities Next, we went into Vienna for a walk about dinner.  We tried to go to the best schnitzel place in the world but it was too busy.  So the tour went to another restaurant.
  • After dinner, we went to a Mozart Concert at the Vienna Opera House.  The performance was awesome.  The orchestra was dressed up in traditional Mozart costumers and wigs.  It was such an awesome experience.
  • I characterize the performance as a "Best of Mozart" and it was excellent.  It was a mix of classical performances and classical performance with opera singers. 
  • Our evening ended with many of the group having drinks in the hotel cocktail bar, good specials on pina colatas.


May 14th, 2005
Vienna, Austria

Today is a day to explore Vienna. Ate a quick breakfast at the Contiki Hotel. Which was great.

  • Ate lunch at a fast food fish place in Central Vienna.  I had a smoked salmon sandwich.
  • Ate dinner at Rieglerhutte Family Restaurant and it was delcious.
    • First Course - Salad
    • Second Course - Soup
    • Third Course - Schnitzel
    • Fourth Course - Apple Strudel
    • Fifth Course - Beer. :)
  • After driving into Vienna, we saw some historical sites and then were given a few hours of free time.
  • We hit an internet café and did some emails.
  • We had a organized tour of the main area of Vienna and it was very cool. 
  • Vienna is a beautiful city and has a great atmosphere.
      It has a great blend of old and new and a lot of open space.  The people are very nice too!
  • The weather was beautiful.
  • Language was not a problem was most people spoke English.
  • We visited Frans Joseph's Palace in Vienna.  It was beautiful!  It was much smaller than the other palaces but it's by far the most magnificent.
  • It featured beautiful room with gold trim everywhere.  The highlight was the ballroom which was very grand and exquisite.  I can just imagine some of the sweet parties held there. :)
  • In addition to the palace, we walked around the palace gardens.  It was very cool!
  • We had a schnapps history and tasting event and it was great.  An Austrian man named Gary gave us a tour and explained how all of the schnapps were made.
  • We had an opportunity to taste a few of the schnapps.  I tried the following schnapps:
    • Strawberry (Milk) Schnapps
    • Vienna Blood Mix Schnapps
    • Cherry Wiskey
    • Apricot Schnapps
    • Gold Schnapps
    • Sips of a few others
  • Vienna Blood Drink Mix:
    • Orange Juice
    • Grapefruit Juice
    • Lemon or Lime
    • Crushed Ice
    • Vienna Blood Schnapps


After that we  went back to the hotel, swam in the nice pool there.

Had a racquetball tournament. Then went to hotel bar for happy hour, then had dinner in the restaurant.

That evening all the Canadians watched the hockey game on tv in the lobby of Canada vs Czech republic. Unfortuantely Canada lost 3 �" 0!!



May 15th, 2005
En Route to Munich, Germany


  • Ate breakfast at the Contiki Hotel.
  • Ate a nice sandwich at a rest stop in Austria
  • Evening we drank beer and had dinner at a bavarian beer hall in Munich, Germany.
  • En route to Munich, we stopped at a concentration camp in Austria.  We watched a video and then walked around the camp. Quite a different place to walk about, I think it's good that Germany and Austria remember this terrible part of their history.
  • There was beautiful scenery while driving through Austria and Germany.
      It was very green and very cool.
  • We took a break at a rest stop near a lake and it was very beautiful.  We arrived in Munich in the late afternoon.  After a very short stop at the hotel, we went in to Munich and did a quick tour of the main area down town.
  • The city is quite modern looking.  Lots of old and new buildings.
  • We saw the famous Glockenspiel and it was cool. .
  • There were tons of shops selling all kinds of food like bratwurst, apple strudel, pretzels etc. 
  • The beer halls were electric with a great atmosphere and great people. Good evening, we drank lots of beer.


May 16th, 2005
En Route to Austrian Tyrol.

Today was a nice slow day after Oktoberfest in Munich. :)

  • Ate breakfast at the Contiki Hotel in Munich.
  • At dinner in Hopfgarten in Austrian Tyrol at the Contiki Hotel.
  • We left Munich, Germany mid-morning and surprising no one had hangovers.  German beer is great! :)
  • We ate lunch at a cafe with a:)  It was pretty tasty food!
  • After lunch, we drove to the River Inns and went White Water Rafting.  It was great.  First time for me to raft in Austria and the water was ice cold. 
  • The weather was pretty cold and it was raining.  I jumped in the river a few times and I was pushed in several more times.  The river was ice cold!
  • During the rafting we joined up rafts and pushed each other into the frigid water.
  • We arrived in Hopfgarten at dinner time and enjoyed a reasonable home cooked meal.
  • In the evening, we drank at the hotel bar and then went to a local pub called the Silver Bullet.


May 17th, 2005

Today was a chilly day in Hopfgarten.

  Our activities for the day got cancelled due to heavy rain.

  • Ate a nice breakfast at the Contiki Hotel.
  • A few of us decided to take the train to the city of Innsbruck to explore it abit as Hopfgarten is nothing but a small village with nothing to do.
  • Spent a few hours in Innsbruck and made it back to the hotel for supper.
  •  After supper, we started drinking in the hotel pub and I had a few beers and shots.
  • After the pub closed, we went to the Silver Bullet pub where there was loud music, dancing and Karaoke.
  • We had a few more beers and other drinks and played pool. It was a great time.


May 18th, 2005
En route to Lucerne, Switzerland

Today was a enjoyable day of driving through beautiful Austria and Switzerland.

  • Ate breakfast at the Contiki Hotel.
  • Ate lunch in Lichtenstein.
      I tried a kebab and it was delicious!
  • Ate dinner at the Contiki Hotel at the top of Mount Pilatus. To our hotel at 7000ft!!
  • We left Hopfgarten and drove through Lichtenstein into Switzerland.
  • The scenery was beautiful.  It was very green and the mountains were spectacular. 
  • The Swiss Alps really reminded me of the Rocky Mountains.  The Swiss Alps are a bigger but not a lot.

 The scenery along the drive to Lucerne was absolutely breathtaking. Huge mountains constantly dwarfed us as we weaved through the hills and valleys. Often we were driving on the edge of huge gorges overlooking rushing rivers below. Lucerne was a huge contrast to Paris. Small and peaceful, it was situated by a lakeshore and surrounded by mountains

  • We arrived in Lucerne and proceeded to take the gondola up to Mount Pilatus.  Mount Pilatus is the name of the hotel and the mountain it resides on.  It's Europe's highest hotel.
  • It was a very long gondola ride in a tiny car. :)  It provided very nice views of the surrounding area. the top of Mount Pilatus, a mountain that overlooks Lucerne 7,000 feet above sea level.
    Our tour manager purposely had us wake up extra early so we could make it in time for the last gondola up the mountain. After going up halfway in 4-person cable cars, we all piled into a larger tram and continued up to the top. All the way up, we saw brown cows grazing in the fields with their ringing bells around their necks. In the larger tram, we passed over a sharp cliff that dropped off so quickly and far below that many stomachs inside the tram did somersaults
  • After checking into the hotel, we went for a short hike to the Matterhorn II Peak near Mount Pilatus.  It was an awesome little hike.  It was somewhat strenuous as there was a short descent from Mount Pilatus and then a strong ascent to the to the peak.  I found it tough to hike in my running shoes but I really loved the activity..
  • We took a lot of pictures at the top of the The Matterhorn II Peak but it was a little overcast.
  • The mountains and surrounding area really reminded me of the Canadian Rockies.
  • After dinner, we had a group theme party called “dress your head up night” everyone did something different to be unique with the theme.

May 19th, 2005
Lucerne, Switzerland

Today was a awesome day of exploring Lucerne on our own.

  • Ate a horrible breakfast at the Mount Pilatus hotel.
  • Ate some bratwurst in the city of Zurich.
  • Ate an ok dinner at the Mount Pilatus hotel.
  • We took the gondola down to Lucerne and  proceeded to the train station to go to the City of Zurich which is the largest city in Switzerland.
  • IN Zurich, we discovered that a big mac at mcdonalds cost like 25 swiss francs of 26 canadian dollars.
  • Lucerne really was a beautiful little city.  It was a nice relaxing day of walking and shopping.  The cruise really showed off the beauty of the surrounding area.
  • After the cruise, we returned to Mount Pilatus and did another easy hike.  Most people went along and it was a lot of fun.
  • We watched a movie in the evening and that was it.


May 20, 2005
En Route to Rhine Valley, Germany

Today was a slow day of driving to St.

Goar, Germany in the Rhine Valley.  A highlight was a cruise along the Rhine Valley.

  • Ate breakfast at the Mount Pilatus.
  • Ate lunch at rest stop in Germany.
  • Ate dinner at the Contiki Hotel in St. Goar, Germany.
  • We left Mount Pilatus and took the cog railway down the mountain.
  • We drove to the Rhine Valley in Germany stopping at the Hockenheimring racing track.
  • We arrived in St. Goar..
  • We went on a cruise in the Rhine Valley and it was nice. There were several castles all around and the green mountain sides were nice.
  • We had a great pork dinner with vegetables and potatoes in the Contiki Hotel.
  • We went to a wine tasting after dinner and sampled several German white wines.
  • After the wine tasting, it was time to drink.  The tour broke the record for the most number of vodka shots in the hotel bar.  The winner number was 600shots!
  • If u were able to spit your bottle cap into a bird feeder you got a free shot.
  • Only 3 people won free shots, all others failed, but bought many.


May 21, 2005
En Route to Amsterdam, Holland

Today was a slow day of driving and experiencing Amsterdam, Holland at night.

  • Ate breakfast at the Contiki Hotel.
  • Ate lunch at a crappy rest stop en route to Amsterdam.
  • Ate dinner at the Contiki Hotel.
  • We arrived in Amsterdam and saw a cheese and clog demonstration.  We got to taste various Dutch cheeses and they were quite tasty.  My favourites were pepper cheese and smoked pepper cheese.
  • We had some free time before dinner so we walked around an old town near our hotel.  It was a Sunday so most stores were closed but it was pretty cool.
  • In the evening, we went to the Red Light District and it was a very interesting experience.
  • The Red Light District smells like Mary Jane as there were several pot bars in the area.
  • It was incredible to see all the prostitutes standing the building windows soliciting themselves
  • As an unofficial portion of the tour, most of the people attended a cultural experience, a sex show at the Casso Rossa, very funny show.
  • One hour show of 6 different acts, with audience participation, bananas and cigars.

May 22nd, 2005
Amsterdam, Holland

Today was a full day of exploring Amsterdam on our own and then a fantastic tour wrap up dinner and party.

  • Ate breakfast at the Contiki Hotel.
  • WE at lunch at Teasers which is the dutch version to Hooters.
  • I had some curry chicken thing and and some dutch beer.
  • Ate dinner at a Dutch restaurant including salad, soup, steak and veggies.
  • Next, we went to Anne Frank's house.  It was an incredible experience. Even thought I have not read Anne Frank's diary.
  • We walked to the Rijksmuseum and walked around it.  It holds the second most valuable painting in the world - A Rembrandt Painting that I had never seen before.
  • We then walked all around the city and it was very cool.  The city has a very cool fell or atmosphere.  Lots of friendly people.  The people all seemed to be dressed up very hip.
  • Amsterdam - Cool City by Day, Crazy City by Night.
  • Evening we did a final farewell dinner.
  • Then we did a 2 hour cruise of the Amsterdam canals, and had unlimited drinks
  • Then we all went back to the hotel for a final party in the hotel pub/bar.

May 23rd
En Route to London, England

The tour is wrapping up and today we drive through Belgium to France and then take the ferry back to England.


  • Ate breakfast at the Contiki Hotel in Amsterdam.
  • Ate lunch at in Belgium.
  • Ate a
  • The Contiki Tour is wrapping up.  It was an incredible experience.
  • Today, we drove through Belgium to France and then took the ferry back to England.
  • We were taking a lot of pictures on the ferry back as its the last chance to take pictures with the tour.
  • Then several of us that evening had a few last beers at the London pub at the Royal National Hotel.



End of Tour


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a big clog
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A really big clog. I don't know i…
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hotel room in Imperial Hotel
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