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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.