So this might be a bit confusing but this entry will be about the second day of my whole summer trip, which is also the first day of the Topdeck tour. For those who may be curious, I went for the Topdeck Europe Express tour, which was from 9-19 August 2013. My trip leader was a very friendly, caring yet stern-at-times (in a good way, of course) lady by the name of Elise, and our driver was Damo, who was from the Netherlands.
I didn’t have much leave to spare, and I wanted to maximise my trip since I knew it was going to be a while before I flew halfway across the world to Europe, so I thought the Europe Express tour was one of the best options. Sure, it’s pretty much a touch-and-go trip, as its name suggests, but I saw it as a chance to experience the places briefly and make mental notes on where to return to, if I wanted a closer look at the place. (On hindsight, places I’d definitely love to return to are Switzerland, Italy, Amsterdam, London and Stockholm!)
In London, JY and I stayed at her student accommodation which was a stone’s throw away from King’s Cross station. Fortunately for us, we had to meet the rest of the group at Clink Hostel, which was walking distance from where JY lived. We got there bright and early, met some people, tried to say hi, though it was a little awkward, and had to fill out tonnes of forms (which took about an hour since there were so many of us and just 2-3 copies of each of the forms).
We set off at about 9 and it took us an hour or so to reach Dover where we had to catch our ferry to Calais, France. Believe it or not, I think this was probably the first time (that I could remember, that is) that I took a ferry. I’m pretty sure I took it in my younger days when going to Indonesia or Sentosa, but I don’t have any memories of that. The ferry ride across the English Channel took us about an hour and a half.
At Calais, we met Damo and boarded the bus which would be our home for the next 11 days. It took us about 3-4 hours to drive into the city of Paris.
Once we were there, we checked into our accommodation, St Christophers Hostel. The hostel was really new, clean and comfy. It also had a restaurant and bar right at the lobby with a clear glass roof, meaning that we could see what was going on below. What I loved about the dorm rooms was that we had individual curtains which was really a plus for privacy. We shared rooms with two other girls – Laura and Mikaela, one from UK and the other from Australia. (Yay for us, we finally got to talk to other people!)
We had dinner at the restaurant downstairs where I tried Escargots for the first time in my life, and then we took a bus around central Paris where all the attractions were. It was so amazing seeing all the French architecture and definitely did get me all excited about exploring the city the following day!
We neared the Eiffel Tower at 9pm. It was truly a magical moment when I saw it sparkle, one of the most beautiful things ever. (Sure wouldn’t mind getting proposed to, right below a sparkling Eiffel Tower!)
For the rest of the evening, we got back, while some of the rest went to a French cabaret. On the other hand, I lazed around a bit in my rooms and popped down to the bar below where I had a couple of beers and chatted with another tour mate, Hyobin, whom I became fast friends with.
Edit: You may be wondering where the rest of my Europe entries have gone. I am not continuing to blog about them for now. Do feel free to email me if you have any questions about Topdeck and the trip! (: