France, Switzerland and Spain - Week 16

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August 29th 2013
Published: August 29th 2013
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<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 105 – Paris - France

A new trip started this morning. The <strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">BIG Grand European. I got up at 4:45am (ridiculous) and we were at our starting point by 6am. We then sat around for 45mins so who knows why we had to get there so bloody early. Our tour guide is Irishman Kevin and there are 31 people on the bus. A good number because that means there are spare seats. Kel and I managed to both score a double seat to spread out on. A few people are only doing the first half of our trip and get off in Rome. Not sure if we gain anymore people along the way.

We took a ferry to France and drove a few hours to get to Paris. Usually TopDeck stay just outside the city but they’re trying out a new place which is right next to Gard De Nord. It’s closer to everything but it still took half an hour on the bus to get to the centre with traffic. We had a meal at our hostel where we all got to try escargot. I ate it. It was chewy and I’m glad there was only one to eat.

After dinner we had a driving tour which took us everywhere. It went for about 3 hours with stops. Our guide played silly buggers with us all. We were all staring out the right side of the bus trying to find this teddy bear he said was in one of the buildings windows and meanwhile the bloody Eiffel Tower is out on the left hand side, sparkling away, looking amazing. So stupid. We jumped off the bus as quick as we could to get shots before it stopped the sparkle.

<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 106 – Paris

A free day to explore today so Kel and I headed to Palais Garnier (Opera House). We went inside to check out the theatre and foyer areas. They are incredible. We tried to get tickets to an opera or ballet the last time we were in Paris but the season doesn’t start until September. Pity. On our walk down to the river I grabbed a crepe (can’t get enough of those things) and some macaroons.

We took a ferry boat ride along the river for an hour and got to see a few things from a different perspective. I devoured my macaroons and basked in the sunlight. It was quite a warm day and I’m sporting a rockin’ singlet tan now. As we got off the boat there was this massive smoke cloud rising up above the buildings. It looked like a building had imploded or something and it wasn’t too far from the Eiffel Tower. We found out later it was just a construction site that had caught fire but it had everyone scrambling for their phones to find out what was happening.

Next up I went on a 3 hour bike tour. It was a lot of fun. Quite a few TopDeck people did it and we cruised around town, dominating the roads when we could. We had a beer break 15 mins in (no idea why we needed the break quite so soon) and paddled our feet in a fountain. We had one bike stack but he was drunk so it just made it funnier. We even peddled past the fire but we couldn’t get too close to the area. For dinner TopDeck set up a picnic near the Eiffel Tower. It was a nice feed and good to sit down for while. Paris has left me buggered.

<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 107 – Lauterbrunnen – Switzerland

A long bus drive today with two movies to keep us occupied. Driving into Switzerland was just incredible. It is so, so beautiful. Our campsite is like a postcard. Massive mountains either side with waterfalls running down them. Snowcapped peaks in the distance. Amazing!

For dinner we had some fondue provided by the TopDeck crew and some other yummy stuff. Can’t wait to get into some snow tomorrow.

<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 108 – Lauterbrunnen

Amazing day today! Majority of our group and I took the train to Jungfrau Mountain which is considered the ‘Top of Europe’. A few others went sky diving instead. It took almost two hours on the train but we passed some incredible scenery along the way. The Swiss Alps are just amazing. I’ll come back here some day for sure. Once you get to the top there is the Jungfraujoch centre which has restaurants, shopping and cool little experiences. We started by heading outside to the snow (Yippee!!!) and the sledge park on Aletsch Glacier. Emma, Nat and myself hired sledges and had an amazing time skimming down the slope again and again. We were out there for about an hour. It was surprisingly hot in the sun even though we were as high as 11 333 feet. We got a few cool jump shots in before heading back inside.

After some lunch we went up through the centre in a lift to the Sphinx Terrace. They have incredible 360 degree views up there. Got some great photos. Next up was the Alpine Sensation which has a little bit about the Jungfrau region and railway construction. It leads into the Ice Palace which is minus three degrees and even the floors are made of ice. They have ice sculptures of eagles, penguins, bears and more. This lead out onto the Glacier Plateau where I froze to death. This side of the mountain was in a cloud and so, so cold. My hands and face were burning from being in the elements.

We headed back down the mountain on the train, had a look at some Swiss watches and pocket knives before getting back to camp. The sky divers had all enjoyed their little adventure. We had another nice dinner, a few drinks and headed to bed.

<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 109 – Avignon – France

A long bus trip today. We hit traffic so it took longer than it was supposed too. We got through two movies, a game and countless songs. We arrived in Avignon around 6pm. We had a walking tour of the town before grabbing some dinner. The town used to be the residence of five popes. It’s very pretty with its large walls, cobbled streets and old architecture.

<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 110 – Barcelona – Spain

We headed to Spain today. On the way we stopped at Pont du Gard. This is a Roman Aqueduct which is nearly 2000 years old. Once we arrived in Barcelona we had a tour of the city including Antoni Gaudi’s famous Cathedral which still has decades to go before it will be finished. We drove past the Olympic stadium and got out for some incredible views of the port and city. We had a group dinner tonight of tapas and paella before heading to a flamenco show. The singing was a bit loud and made me cringe but the show was not too bad. The sangria was even better. We all went out for a bit of a boogie after the show.

<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 111 – Barcelona

A really dreary day in Barcelona today. It’s overcast and raining on and off. Our plan was to do the hop on/hop off bus but who wants to sit up the top of a bus while it’s cold and wet. We did it anyway cause Barcelona is so huge to get around but it wasn’t making us like the city much. We took one of the bus routes to Park Guell which has some more works of art by Gaudi. We had a bit of a wander around before jumping back on the bus and continuing on the route. Eventually hunger kicked in so us girls stopped for some more tapas and sangria. Why not!

After lunch some people had a siesta and Kel and I did washing. Exciting stuff. Once we had completed our domestic duties we got back on the bus and took a different route around the city. The weather was still awful but it was better than staying in our rooms. We drove past the port which I would have loved to explore more. It looked like a nice area to stay in. We saw the beach and then got off at the Gothic Quarter. It was getting late by this stage so we had a walk through some shops, grabbed some dinner, more sangria and called it a night.


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