TRAVEL – topdeck’s europe express: rhine valley

travel - topdeck europe express day 8 rhine valleyAfter a night of exploring Munich, we packed up our suitcases and headed onto the coach so we could visit our next stop; Rhine Valley.

Famous for its beautiful landscapes and ‘romantic setting’, Germany’s Rhine Valley region was a quaint and picturesque place. We had the option of taking a cruise along the Rhine, where we all got a free drink (I tried the Riesling, naturally), and despite the overcast weather we still had majestic views!

travel - topdeck europe express day 8 rhine valley - view
travel - topdeck europe express day 8 rhine valley - tourist trainAfter the cruise, we headed into town and stopped off at a cuckoo clock shop to hear how they were made and to have a look around. As touristy as it was, it was so cool to see so many cuckoo clocks in once place! They also had plenty of other souvenirs – I got some Schnapps for Ali and an authentic Stieff bear for his nan. We then walked across to the stein shop for a stein demonstration – Topdeck even have their own stein for people to buy there!
travel - topdeck europe express day 8 rhine valley - cuckoo shopAfter exploring the Rhine, we were all pretty tired and wanted to head to the hostel – but this wasn’t just any old hostel we would be staying in tonight – nope, it was a 12th century castle! It looked like it was just taken out of a fairytale! As nice as the castle was, it was in a very remote place so there was nothing really to do but play drinking games in the boys room to pass the time. Also the shower cubicles were see-through. (Luckily we had all gotten to know each other pretty well up until this point, so it was a case of having a buddy to hold a towel over the door to keep your modesty in tact!) Despite the shower situation, our stay in the Rhine was an amazing experience, and something to tick off the ol’ bucket list!

After a great couple of days in Germany, it was time for the place everyone had been looking forward to going this whole trip – Amsterdam!

sigyhl

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TRAVEL – topdeck’s europe express: paris

travel - topdeck europe express day 1 and 2 parisIt’s finally here! Here is a photo diary of my first stop on the Europe Express tour – Paris!

After a long journey from London (we set off at 7.30am in the morning) we arrived at the first destination on our tour, Paris, and the first of many hostels. We stayed at The St Christopher’s Inn in Gare Du Nord which was a great first hostel for a newbie like me. We had our own ensuite (although there were communal showers on every floor) and we even had our own under-bed locker space, curtain and plug socket! Aside from the room, the hostel, which has chains in Amsterdam and Barcelona, had two bars (great for getting to know other travellers) and was only a stone’s throw away from Gare Du Nord train station.

Travel - paris photo diary - St Christophers Inn and escargot

After checking out the rooms we headed down to dinner and one delicacy which I ticked off my list was escargot! Marinated in a garlic sauce, it surprisingly tasted really nice! We ended the night with a bit of group bonding (i.e drinking games) and partied in the downstairs bar.

travel - paris photo diary - opera national de paris and arc de triomphe

While some people were in bed recovering from the night before, the next day I got up early and joined a few others on the coach for a whistlestop tour of Paris.  I had been to Paris once before and visited most of the attractions such as the Louvre and Notre Dame. This time around I aimed to soak up more of what the ‘City of Love’ had to offer besides the Eiffel Tower! On our coach tour we got to pass the Opera National de Paris and the Arc de Triomphe (two other sites ticked off my list) before finally arriving at the Eiffel Tower.

Travel post - Paris photo diary - Notre Dame and Eiffel Tower

After taking lots of Eiffel Tower selfies (standard), we split off into smaller groups and did our own thing. Me and a couple of others decided to walk down the River Seine to Notre Dame. The two hour walk was so refreshing as we got to take in the beautiful surroundings on both sides of the river, such as the Musee d’Orsay and we came across a cool ‘be your own DJ’ music system under one of the bridges. You could connect your Bluetooth on your phone and play your music through the speakers – there was even a disco ball!

Travel post - Paris photo diary - Bridge on the River Seine

On our tour we had the choice to take part in optional activities. One activity I couldn’t recommend more was the bike tour. We all hired bikes and got to see the city through someone else’s eyes. We went past an old military school and cycled along the River Seine before making our way back to the Eiffel Tower for a delicious group picnic!

travel - paris photo diary - dj system, bike tour, old military school and group picnic at eiffel tower

When the picnic finished, some of us opted for an early night, as the next day we would be waking up early to visit our next stop on the tour – the Swiss Alps!

Look out for the next installment of my Europe Express series. I’d love to know what you think!

sigyhl

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