TRAVEL – topdeck’s europe express: bruges

travel - topdeck europe express day 11 brugesAfter a crazy and final night in Amsterdam, it was time to head back to reality and back to London – but not before stopping by Bruges for chocolate, chocolate and did someone say… chocolate?

Leaving behind the debauchery in Amsterdam, Bruges was the perfect place to unwind, relax and recover from last night. Looking just as picturesque as it does in a travel brochure, Bruges is filled with amazing architecture, beautiful scenery and plenty of points of interest.

travel - topdeck europe express day 11 bruges - view

travel - topdeck europe express day 11 bruges - building

As we only had a few hours before heading back onto the ferry to England, Marshall took us on a small walking tour to see the Parliament Building (below), the Church of our Lady (first image) and all around the cute chocolate shops and cafes. We then split off into little groups to explore Bruges, grab some lunch or head into the attractions.travel - topdeck europe express day 11 bruges - town hall

travel - topdeck europe express day 11 bruges - gruuthuse hof

After a couple of hours exploring, we all met back up and headed onto the coach to say a fond farewell to Bruges and depart for our final destination – London.

travel - topdeck europe express - the family

To say that there were nearly 50 of us on this trip and from countries all around the world, it was such a fun and interesting experience! We all stepped outside our comfort zones and embraced each place that we were in. I have to say that I was a tad nervous about this trip, thinking ‘oh why did I book it?’ but I’m glad I did as it reassured me that travel is a huge passion of mine and hey, it even spurred me on to travel to America this summer!

If you’re ever thinking of doing a group tour, I would really recommend Topdeck. You will make memories to last a lifetime and of course new friends! To catch up with my Europe Express adventures click on the cities: Paris, Swiss Alps, Verona, Venice, Dachau, Munich, Rhine Valley and Amsterdam. And if you have any questions about the tour or Topdeck comment below and I will do my best to answer them!

sigyhl

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TRAVEL – topdeck’s europe express: amsterdam

travel - topdeck europe express day 9-10 amsterdamAfter a chilled night of playing drinking games in a Rhine Valley castle, it was onto our penultimate stop; Amsterdam!

One thing I was really looking forward to on this tour was the cheese and clog demonstration (I know, how cheesy of me). So when we arrived at this quaint cheese and clog shop on the way to Amsterdam, I was so excited to try on the clogs and of course, sample the cheese! The guide was so hilarious, and definitely added that extra special touch to the demonstration. After our cheesy and cloggy encounter, we headed back onto the coach and made our way to our final hostel on the tour – Stayokay Zeeburg.

travel - topdeck europe express day 9-10 amsterdam - cheese and clogs factoryAfter checking in and dropping our luggage off, Marshall took us for a short walking tour of the city centre. Luckily whilst we were there, there was a carnival in Dam Square, so we all took the opportunity to have a go on the rides before exploring the streets. We then visited the famous Condom Shop to quickly grab some souvenirs before heading to a sex show (aha when in Amsterdam).

travel - topdeck europe express day 9-10 amsterdam - fair and condom shopThe sex show was such a funny experience! I won’t go into too much detail, but let’s say it was definitely a night to remember! It was also one of the guy’s birthdays on our trip, and let’s just say he got the night of his life! After a tour of the Red Light District, we all headed back to the hostel and called it a night.

travel - topdeck europe express day 9-10 amsterdam - sex showThe next day, we all split off into groups to explore the city. A few people went to the Anne Frank Museum, whilst me and the girls decided to do a bit of shopping! After a relaxing day with the girls, that night we all headed to a Chinese buffet on the river for a farewell dinner before boarding a sightseeing canal cruise. It was then onto the clubs where we all got merry (some more than others) and spent our last family night together.

Amsterdam definitely lived up to everyone’s expectations, and with some of us waking up not feeling to great, it was onto Bruges for chocolate, castles and our final goodbyes!

sigyhl

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TRAVEL – topdeck’s europe express: munich

travel - topdeck europe express day 7 munichAfter a sombre experience at Dachau, we arrived into Munich – just in time to check into the hostel and explore the city!

Our hostel, the A & O Hackerbruecke, was just a short walk away from the city centre – which was perfect considering we only had the night to explore Munich! After we dropped our bags off, Marshall took us on a little walking tour to Marienplatz to see the famous Glockenspiel. The photo below doesn’t do it justice – it was such a beautiful clock tower! We then headed to Am Platz to visit popular beer hall; Hofbrauhaus!

travel - topdeck europe express day 7 munich - glockenspiel

travel - topdeck europe express day 7 munich - beer hausUnfortunately when we got there, the Hofbrauhaus was so busy and packed (it also happened to be one of Munich’s most famous beer halls), that a few of us decided to wander around and find somewhere else to eat instead. After scanning various restaurants we came across quaint cafe Am Marienplutz. With quirky decor and a variety of food on offer, we were all really happy with our choice. I went for a ‘traditional Bavarian meal’ – Hanover beef with potato rossi and sauerkraut in a rich beef sauce. The portion sizes were massive, and it was so filling! But it was absolutely delicious!

travel - topdeck europe express day 7 munich - traditional bavarian food

As nice as our short time was in Munich, it would of been amazing to have spent more time there! However, saying that, I would definitely come back!

After our meal, we then headed back to the hostel to have an early night – as tomorrow we would be on our way to the Rhine Valley!

sigyhl

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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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