Travel & Me
My first ever trip to Europe was in 2006, I had 5 weeks pre-arranged leave and although I mostly cherished the thought of spending my time in France I thought ‘what if I never make it again in my lifetime?’ And so, I researched a package tour to a few other places to give me an idea of Europe of places I would like to see this encompassed 11 days of my time and then I would spend 3 weeks in France!
The carrot for the tour I decided on was mostly that we would arrive in Paris on my birthday the 10th of June, but aside from that it took in sights of places one romanticized about. Here is the high speed itinerary of the tour;
Day 1; Depart London for the ferry in Dover at the disgustingly unsociable hour of 4am! Catch the ferry to Calais and drive to Brussels for the evening. Then take in the beautiful architecture and cosy atmosphere of an old city.
Day 2; Depart Brussels for Lake Lucerne via insufferably conservative Luxembourg.
Day 3; Wake up to snow on the 2nd June and head up the Stanzerhorn rail car to picture perfect virgin powder snow! Then heading over to Venice and it’s wonders! Arriving in Venice late evening
Day 4; Spend the day exploring Venice – the famous Murano Glass, the amazing architecture, the Gondolas, Gondoliers, Singers, St Marks Square as well as the tranquility and amazing cuisine of the island of Burano!
Day 5; Head to Rome arrive in the afternoon, take in the Spanish Steps and the beautiful Trevi Fountain followed by an entertaining dinner out with theatrical waiters wooing the ladies!
Day 6; Up early to join the queues at the Vatican and enjoy the brief tour culminating in the wonderment of the Cistine Chapel. Then off to explore the Roman Forum and experience the enormity of the Coliseum!
Day 7; off to Naples to the sound of Dean Martin and Arrivederci Roma! Through the impoverished streets of Napoli to the port we take the ferry to the beautiful Island of Capri for a treacherous bus ride up the steep cliffs and to find a panoramic cliff top restaurant with great food and wine for lunch before devouring the sights of Ana Capri. Then back to the town of Capri for unseasonable torrential rain and hail before squishing into the funicular and sheltering in a café while drinking delicious hot chocolate and taking the ferry back to Napoli then checking in at a hotel on the outskirts.
Day 8; Pompeii imagining the inexplicable terror of the eruption, a brief insight into the lives of those in ancient Pompeii and unbelievable astonishment at the size of the local lemons – bigger than a man’s head!! Then off to Florence arriving in the evening having a wonderful meal and propositioned by the exceptionally attentive waiter for a midnight rendezvous (which I declined)!
Day 9; Florence, a wonderful park Piazzale Michelangelo overlooking Florence’s Ponte Vecchio then the Piazza Della Signoria, Uffizi Gallery (and David) and Santa Maria Del Fiore. Then off to Pizza for the Leaning Tower and some great Gelati before nestling into a quite night in Arrezano just outside of Genoa before our next day’s adventure!
Day 10; Early start through the Mont Blanc tunnel and Geneva Switzerland for the night. With fantastic weather paragliders treated us to a show of their daring skills and the Swiss show us their quiet contemplation of chess.
Day 11; My birthday! We are heading to Paris! We arrive in the early afternoon for a date with the Mona Lisa whom we are introduced by our guide Vincent who I think is the doppelganger of Vincent van Gogh fiery red hair and a passion for art! We see an early evening tribute and wreath laying at the Arch de Triumph, go for a river cruise on the Seine, scale the heights of the Eiffel Tower, then watch the light show at 10pm before a few glasses of champagne then bed.
Day 12; The next day my tour group are off to London, we have a quick bus around and they drop me for my next adventure in the heart of St Germaine de Pres – I now have 3 weeks to visit France at my leisure! What fun!!