TRAVEL – topdeck’s europe express: swiss alps

travel - topdeck europe express day 3 and 4 swiss alpsAfter two days in the City of Love, it was time for the next stop on the Europe Express tour, the Swiss Alps.

Travelling from one of the busiest cities in the world to the quiet mountains of Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland was a definite contrast. We went from the hustle and bustle of Paris to being surrounded by beautiful mountains and rivers.

travel - swiss alps photo diary - view of swiss alps and river

Instead of a hostel, this time we stayed in Schuetzenbach Backpacker & Camping lodges. The four-bed cabins were tiny (I’m pretty sure our hostel room in Paris was bigger), and there were no keys to lock the doors! Another downside was the communal showers – my first experience! They weren’t actually that bad, although we did have to pay 1/2 swiss franc to use them – if you wanted to shower in hot water that is!

Aside from the cabins and the showers, there was a pretty cool but expensive bar! Note to self – Switzerland is very expensive! Thinking that we could find a cheaper place to drink, a few of us went for a walk around the area. However, we soon realised that there wasn’t a lot to do and the bars we found were just as expensive as ours, so we headed back and joined the rest of our group for some drinking games. I wasn’t feeling very well so I headed to bed for an early night.

travel - swiss alps photo diary - jungfrau train

travel - swiss alps photo diary - view of the swiss alps on the way to jungfrau mountain

We had one full day in the Swiss Alps. Some of the group hiked, whilst others wanted to skydive (unfortunately for them it got cancelled due to the weather) and me and a few others went to Jungfrau Mountain, one of Europe’s highest mountains.

travel - swiss alps photo diary - welcome to jungfrau mountain and me on top of jungfrau

travel - swiss alps photo diary - lindt shop and switzerland snow globe

We took the train there which passed many houses and stations on the way to Jungfrau. We also got a ‘passport’ telling us the history of the mountain and what we were to expect. There was an ice palace and Europe’s highest ever Lindt shop. Safe to say that was one place I definitely visited! It was such a nice experience and the Aussies on the trip got to see snow for the first time!

travel - swiss alps photo diary - cute swiss alps cafe

Once our trip to Jungfrau was over, a few of us headed to a quaint little cafe on the way back to our cabins. I had a delicious hot chocolate and we all used this opportunity to connect to the internet! Let’s just say the area that we were in was very remote and this cafe was one of the only places which provided internet access. That evening, we all got merry at the bar and celebrated our final night in the Alps!

Tune in for my next entry – a short stop in Verona, Italy!

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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