I am currently in the Paris airport waiting a crazy amount of time before our flight back to Rome. (We are meeting up with my parents to explore Southern Italy including Amalfi Coast, Calabria, Sicily). Our final two cities/countries we visited were a blast.
After leaving Cinque Terre we arrived in Lucerne, Switzerland. Other than being politically neutral, pretty expensive and home of the Swiss Alps, I didn’t know much about Switzerland. The city of Lucerne is surrounded by mountains (my favourite). Upon our arrival we visited shops in town including swiss brands like Swatch, and Swiss Army (I splurged a little on myself). We basked in the sun on a boat cruise on the river, enjoying drinks and the endless views around us. After a quick dinner at our hotel we walked along the river at night and saw the true beauty of the city. On our second day we discovered the natural beauty of Lucerne by taking a gondola up Mount Pilatus (2218 m above sea level), and reflected on our trip atop the mountain surrounded by snow capped mountains and lakes below. The view was absolutely breath taking. Contiki has made a solid effort of ensuring that while travelling we learn about the local traditions and cultural customs of the place we are visiting. To learn about the traditions of Switzerland we went to a lovely lunch with a folklore show, showcasing horn blowing, yodeling and traditional dance. After lunch we had a free afternoon which we totally took advantage of! Half of our contiki group took to the river and rented paddle boats, paddling out to the middle of the river and taking a dip in the fresh water. It was so much fun being together as a group and enjoying Switzerland in such a simple way. Two amazing days in Lucerne came to an end so quickly.
Before we knew it we were reaching the end of our Contiki tour. We had arrived at our final city of exploration: Paris! The city of lights! Our timing could have not been better, France was playing Belgium in the semi finals of the world cup for a coveted spot in the finals. Thank goodness the metro was so easy to use. We were able to check out the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and stroll down the Champs Elysee. How French is this: walking down the Champs Elysee, visiting Laudree, getting macaroons and eating them in front of the Arc de Triomphe! Evening made! Unfortunately we were not able to go to the top of the Arc because the city was shutting down in preparation for a semi final win. You could feel the excitement mounting as we walked the streets. As we made our way to the Eiffel tower the city became alive. People running in the streets, horns blaring, flares flying, chanting echoing in our ears. It was absolutely insane! We arrived at the Eiffel Tower just in time for the light show at the top of the hour, and we watched in awe as we devoured warm crepes. With such an eventful evening we were excited for what was in store for our final day in Paris. Our day began early with a guided tour of the Perfumery Museum. The stellar metro system whisked us straight to the Louvre, where we saw the smirk of the Mona Lisa. We savoured a quintessential Parisian lunch at the Cafe de Flore (highly recommend, thanks Hayley) and finished our afternoon at the Notre Dame. Our final evening in Paris was at the cabaret. We watched a tasteful show of dancing and elaborate costumes. The icing on top of the cake was dancing all together as a big contiki family to our trip song: Born to be Yours by Kygo at a local bar.
This morning getting on to a half empty bus was bittersweet. Some people were staying in Paris. Some like us were heading to the airport and the others were being driven back to London.
Considering we are from different continents we have promised to stay in touch. It will be weird not waking up to bring our bags to the coach as a group of 45 on this crazy trip through Europe. Thanks Contiki for the incredible memories and the amazing new friends I have made. This ain’t goodbye, it’s a see you later. (Already planning my trip to Australia!)