DAY 1 – 9

Arriving in London
We arrived in the city around 6.30am, after catching the train to our accommodation, the Royal National Hotel. We stored our bags, freshened up after the long 24 hours of flying and then set off towards the London Eye. We were super early so we got some photos and saw Big Ben, which seemed unreal. We were one of the first in line to get on the Eye, which was great as the lines got longer and longer. The Eye was awesome, we got amazing views of the city and took advantage of our selfie sticks haha.

After that we walked back past Big Ben, saw the changing of the guards on the horses, saw Westminster Abbey and Trafalgar Square. We found a nice little English pub/café where we ate burgers for lunch before heading back to the hotel.

It was 4pm and we planned to nap for an hour before getting ready for our Contiki meeting, which was at 7pm. Although I set an alarm we somehow slept through til almost 11pm, which meant we missed our Contiki meeting! We were devastated that we missed the opportunity to meet everyone else on the tour before it started, but also found it quite funny that we managed to take a 7 hour ‘nap.’ #jetlagged. We showered and got organized before trying to sleep again.

DAY 1: London to Paris
Unfortunately we messed up our body clocks which meant we awoke at about 3am and were wide awake, unable to get back to sleep. We ended up eating pizza shapes and chocolate until we got ready to meet the group at 6am. Meeting everyone was quite awkward at first, as I felt like everyone already knew each other. I can be so bad at introducing myself sometimes but not long after we got on the bus the Tour manager got us to play ‘speed dating’ which was good to get to know people. Most of the people I spoke to seemed really nice although I got the impression that some were a little loud/stuck up, but I guess there will always be a few people like that in such a large group. We got to the white cliffs of Dover where we hopped on the ferry over to France! We got to know people a bit better as we chatted on the ferry before we got back on the bus in France. When we arrived at our hotel in Paris, it was located right next to a ghetto gypsy market where the gypsies sell all the stuff they’ve stolen, dodgy! We had dinner at a restaurant next door, which included snails. It was interesting to say the least! It took me about 5 tries before I had the guts to put in in my mouth, and I can only describe it as chewy because I was so focused on just eating it quickly. It’s safe to say snails are not my favourite food. It was a lovely dinner, as we got to know some of the other girls on the tour before we hopped on the bus for a night tour of Paris itself! We stopped at the Eiffel Tower and took some photos before heading back to the hotel for some rest.
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DAY 2: Paris
We started today with a trip to the Palace of Versailles but the lines were so long that we only got to see the gardens, which were quite large and lovely. There were even mazes inside it!
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After spending a couple of hours there, we then went back into Paris, ate some Macca’s for lunch (thought it would be the quickest option), before climbing the stairs of the Arc De Triomphe, which is a massive stone arch in the middle of a crazy round-a-bout. There are tunnels from the footpath to the arch in the middle as it is too dangerous to even cross the road! Once we reached the top, the view was incredible. You could see the Eiffel Tower in the distance and down the Champs Elysees, a famous street with shops and eateries. We spent a while there taking photos and just admiring how wonderful the 360 degree views were.

Next we decided to head down the Champs-Elysees to look at some stores, including the awesome Abercrombie and Fitch store. We then found a Citroen (car) store, which had a slide that went down about 5 levels. We couldn’t resist so we paid a couple of Euro to have a ride down it, which was fun. Unfortunately we missed the bus back to the hotel so looked around a bit more before catching the metro back instead. It was lucky the boys knew where to go! We had an average dinner at the same restaurant again, before going up the Eiffel tower. We bought tickets and waited in the long line to get all the way to the top. We got to stop at the first level before going to the top and the views were amazing. I didn’t even realize how high it truly was until I was at the very top.

When we got back to the hotel I went to bed at around 1am as I was quite tired, but I think some people had drinks in the bar/restaurant next door.

DAY 3: Paris
Today was a free day so Izzy and I made our way to Notre Dame, stopping at the iconic love lock bridge to have a look and take some photos. No I did not put a lock on, haha. We got nutella crepes right near the Notre Dame, which were crunchy but delicious. The church was quite amazing and there was a mass on as we walked inside it.

We then went to Saint Chappelle, another church, which had beautiful stained glass windows in colours of pink and purple. We then caught the metro to the area of Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur (another church), which was on top of a large hill. The view from the top was great and the architecture of the church itself was crazy, especially from the outside. After looking around the church we went to see the famous pyramid of the louvre, but didn’t have time to actually go inside.

We then made our way back to the hotel on the metro to get ready for the night. We started off with a three-course meal in a lovely restaurant, where I ate quiche and duck l’orange. Unfortunately for me the meal included a lot of wine, which I over took advantage of and accidentally got super drunk. I don’t remember the cabaret or the Irish Pub that followed after dinner but apparently I got a little wild!

DAY 4: Paris to French countryside
I woke up feeling super seedy today which was not ideal for our long drive to Lyon. I vommed too many times on the bus which was embarrassing, but it made me feel a bit better that I wasn’t the only one sick from the night before. We stopped at the Contiki Chateaux for wine tasting (which I did not do!), but we didn’t stay there because we got a ‘hotel upgrade,’ which I can only describe as disappointing. We were all very excited to stay at the Chateaux, which holds fun parties and has amazing views of the French countryside. Apparently there were too many tours staying there so we got bumped off. The only good thing about staying in a motel/ hotel was that the group got to have an outing to Lyon that night for dinner, however I was still feeling too sick. Instead I took a nap and woke up to some bed bugs crawling around the pillow area near my face! I tried to explain this to reception who did not understand my English so I had to try and draw a picture. He eventually understood and we got upgraded to a single room each, which was nice. When everyone got back from Lyon I went down the street and got Chinese take away which wasn’t very good. I do regret not going into Lyon although most tours don’t have the opportunity to do this anyway.

DAY 5: French countryside
After another breakfast of croissants we got ready and headed back to the Contiki Chateaux for a picnic. We split into groups and each got a picnic basket and map which led us to walk through a cute little village before we hiked up massive rocky hills (so not worth it), but the views were nice.

We ate the food in our picnic basket (baguettes etc.) in the hot sun before trekking back down to the Chateaux. We went swimming in the pool to cool off which made for a nice afternoon. After relaxing in the shade for a while we left and I really wished we had been able to stay there, as the views were beautiful.

Tonight we had dinner at a pub where I ate a burger, which wasn’t too bad. Then the Tour Manager suggested we all go bowling, which wasn’t that great. It definitely did not compare to the party they were having at the Chateaux that night.

DAY 6: Driving to Barcelona!
We woke up early today for a long days drive to Barcelona! The tour has been very tiring so I napped on and off on the bus, and we had a couple of service stops in between. The service stops generally have a store and a large cafeteria-style restaurant in them, which is usually overpriced. I think I paid around 10 euro for a plate of pasta or something. We finally arrived at our hostel, which was really cool and right in the heart of the city, although the 4-bed dorm was quite small and it took ages to get 50 people checked in. We had a nice dinner in the hostel consisting of paella, sausage and salad before we got ready to go out. We caught the metro to a small bar/ club first, which had fairly cheap drinks and was situated in a strip of bars near the waterfront.
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I made sure not to drink too much this time. We then headed onto a large nightclub, which was fun but the drinks were super expensive. I ended up catching a cab back to the hostel after 3am with a group of people and we hung out for a while before heading to bed.

DAY 7: Barcelona!
We woke up after only about 4 hours sleep and felt surprisingly good! Izzy and I got ready and headed straight for La Ramblas, getting distracted on the way because there were so many cool stores to look at! I ended up buying quite a bit including a few tops, a bag, a necklace and purse. They even had urban outfitters, one of my favourite stores! We were getting pretty hungry so we walked down further to find the market, which was amazing! There were stalls filled with fresh seafood, meat, fruits and juice everywhere.
We ended up getting 3 juices each as we walked through the market because they were so cheap and delicious. Hint: the juices at the front of the market are more expensive which we soon found out! We had lunch right next to the market where I ate awesome paella and Izzy had fresh salmon.

After wandering around some more we headed back down La Rambla and found some churros with nutella. Surely a trip to Spain is not complete without churros! We walked down to the Gaudi apartments and took some photos but I wish we had of gone inside because it looked amazing!

We then went up to Park Guell but couldn’t get tickets for ages so we wandered around and caught the metro back, almost getting lost. We got ready at the hostel to go to a flamenco show where we had yummy tapas and sangria, which tasted okay once you got used to it. The flamenco dancing on the stage was interesting but got a little boring and I think I enjoyed the food more. Some of us got dropped off at the Sagrada Familia on the way home. It was so amazing and grand and I’m glad I got to see it, even if it was only from the outside!
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DAY 8: Driving to the French Riviera
Today was another long day of driving and I slept on and off on the bus. It was weird coming back into France after being in Spain and having to remember all of the French words again. We arrived at the campsite and had a nice dinner of wraps and salad. They also brought out frogs legs for everyone to try which were delicious! I thought they tasted like a mix of chicken and fish. We then headed to a fun park called Antibes Land and went on a few rides, which was fun. After that, we headed down to the pebbly beach and a few people went swimming. We walked back to the campsite and had some drinks (sex on the beach) and chatted to people on the other Contiki tour. We ended up staying up pretty late, and I went back to my cabin at around 4am.

DAY 9: French Riviera – Nice and the Monaco
I hadn’t had much sleep but got up to go to Nice. We stopped at a perfumery on the way, which was quite boring and then we arrived in Nice around lunchtime. I decided to try the steak tartare which is raw seasoned beef served with potatoes. It was actually quite delicious although I didn’t finish it because it was so big. After that we went to Macca’s before heading down to the beach.

We hired beach chairs and umbrellas and went swimming a few times as it was a nice hot day. We ordered ice creams and drinks and ate them while lying on our beach lounges. The beach was absolutely beautiful although it was really hard to get in and out of the water because the pebbles were so hard to walk on.

We got back to the campsite and had turkey steaks for dinner before heading to Monaco, one of the richest principalities in the world! As we wandered through the beautiful streets I noticed how clean and empty they were. We paid to get inside the famous Monte Carlo casino and I lost 5 euro on the pokies. The casino was small but amazing and we got gelato across the street before meeting to get the bus back to the campsite.
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