Sunday, May 20, 2012

Trip to Europe (May 2012)

Kristin and I had a wonderful opportunity to travel several European countries as part of a group bus tour. This was the first time experience for us and it was a good one.

We joined Expat Explore's 26-day Ultimate Europe tour only for the first half for 13 days. The itinerary was as follows:

  • The tour began in London, UK, stopped over Brugge, Belgium and stayed two nights in Amsterdam, Netherlands. We joined the group in Amsterdam, but we missed the trip part because we had to recover our back packs that were stolen on the train to Amsterdam but miraculously recovered through a detective in den Haag (The Hague). Please refer to for this story. The lodging was wonderfully unique with a lot of antiques displayed in the huge hotel lobby.
  • It continued to Berlin, Germany and stayed there for two nights. Noteworthy was the Berlin Wall, paintings on the wall, Checkpoint Charlie, curry sausage, canals, memorial center for murdered Jews, Brandenburg Square, Goddess of Peace (later Victory), glass dome (parliament), Weiner Schnitzel, German beer etc.
  • The tour continued to Prague, Czek Republic and stayed for two nights. Noteworthy were Praha Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral in Praha Castle, Astronomical Clock, Jewish cemetery, Charles Bridge, River Vltava etc. It is a place we may consider living for a short time later. 
  • The group stopped over at Bratislava, Slovakia for a walking tour and lunch, and continued traveling to Vienna, Austria where we ate dinner and had a walking tour in the evening. In Bratislava, things were small and cute. Queen Maria Theresa, Danube River, UFO restaurant over the extension bridge were noteworthy. In Vienna, the city was too big to experience in a 3-hour time, but the stay in Vienna has been cut short due to high costs.  
  • After one night sleep in Vienna, the tour continued with a stopover at Ljubljana, Slovenia for lunch and a walking tour. Ljublijana was a lovely place with 250K. People were welcoming and friendly. We discussed about the possibility of living there for a short time later. The group arrived in Venice, Italy. We stayed two nights there. In Venice, there was a walking tour in the afternoon and the next day was a free day. Kristin and I visited Murano and Burano. Murano is famous for creative glass works and Burano is famous for sea food restaurants and many retail shops. We had a delicious sea food lunch in Burano. Noteworthy were gondolas, Rialto Bridge, water buses, expensive water taxis, St. Marcos Square, St. Marcos Basilica, Library Tower, Murano glass, Lido as the venue for Venice Film Festival.
  • After two nights in Venice, the tour continued to Rome, Italy and stayed there for three nights.
  • A total of five people stopped their tour in Rome but the group picked up additional 13 people in Rome and moved on to Florence, French Riviera, Monaco, Barcelona, Paris, Jungfrau etc and back to London.
  • While we were in Rome, we did a hop-on hop-off bus tour, Vatican Museum, St. Peter Basilica and Square, Piazza Venezia, Fontana Trevi, Coliseum, Roman Forum and Imperial Forum. We also traveled to Amalfi, a beautiful town as part of Sorrento, via a train to Salerno and a boat to Amalfi. On the way back from Amalfi, we took a bus that ran on narrow roads on cliffs. We did not have time to visit Positano that is similar to Amalfi but a boat trip from Amalfi to Positano was told to be beautiful. 
  • We took a resting day and took off Rome via EasyJet flight that cost us Euro 100 for two, including luggage charges. Not bad.
  • It was an interesting and exciting tour that we enjoyed very much. Thank you, Lord, for the opportunity! - Jeffrey

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