Let me say first off that I was absurdly tired though about 90% of this trip especially the buss tour. So while I've put this out I will have to come back and update things as I remember them. There are a lot of gaps that don't make any sense i'm sure but it was at over a week in before I got a nap or a full nights sleep so give me a minute and i'll get caught up eventually. Sorry.
Hours upon hours of planning and research went to waist as a result from not being able to get tickets to the 2018 World Cup. Well at least not tickets to the games that Mexico was playing as that is was the only reason we were making the attempt. And there were also hours spent just trying to get to tickets. But that didn't stop my friend Cruz! She soon after set her sights on a vacation to Europe instead. Besides I was the one doing all the planing ;) . As I wasn't interested in just planning everything myself with a limited amount of time I suggested that if we go it should be with a tour group. After lots of searching Cruz picked one she liked from TopDeck who offer trips for 18-30 somethings. Soon after we had our our dates figured out. I knew that I would most likely want to stay a little longer but once I saw it was much cheaper to fly back later on in August I was sold on the idea. The only problem was figuring out when to come back home. I would have liked to stay until the visas kicked me out but when remembered the bills I would still be paying back at home while not being there. So then it was decided only about a week to force myself to try and cram in all that was possible. But in wanting to do it a little different I've declined in making any solid plan. There are a few rough ideas but nothing set in stone.
Got on our flight from San Fransico to London and was pleasantly surprised. It looked like the plane was practically brand new. I was also sure I wouldn't like the food but I ended up really liking all of it. The dinner was super good.
Then it was time that dreaded moment for me on every long haul flight. It was time to sleep. I surprisingly slept more than I would have thought. I woke up and went back to sleep a lot but somewhere between the Hudson bay and Ireland I got some good sleep in there so I was happy.
Passport check went quick which was nice. Got our bags then off to the hostel.
I'm glad I got a good handle on the trains in Japan because that made me more comfortable thing to figure out London's Underground. Or maybe it is because everything in London is in English.
But with the help of a station worker we had tickets, I was reminded how those things work and we were on our way on the Piccadilly Line.
We stayed at Generator Hostel London. After arranging my bag we headed out to Buckingham Palace. Back the the Piccadilly Line at Kings Cross Station we decided to take the stares because the line for the elevator was packed. I just didn't mention it was about 175 steps until about halfway down the spiral starecase, haha.
But when we got there we found ourselves waiting for multiple delayed trains in a hit station full of people. After a while a lady walked by and pressed a button on a box that I thought was for emergencies. She began to talk with the individual on the other end. She started talking to us for the next 15-20 it took her train to show up. Telling us all sorts of things like how she was late to a dinner party in Chelsea, lots of stuff about the train system, etc. She also mentioned the look of terror I had on my face when she pressed it. In my defense I didn't know you could press the boxes to vet information. I thought they were all just for emergencies. So when she pressed it and the thing made a noise I was thinking something bad had just happened,
Eventually our train came and we crammed in.
Walked around for a little bit saw our first sights of renovation that would be a theme for this trip then headed back to the hostel for food and sleep.
Downstaires of the hostel to meet with our trip leader Daisy then make our way to the bus. Our bus drivers name was Victor.
I didn't take advantage of Paris like I should have.
Telling myself that I was still jet lagged (I definitely still was) and trying to not spend loads of money made an easy excuse to miss out on things.
When we got to Paris we got driving tour around the city followed by a picnic dinner at the Eiffel Tower. They also had escargot for us. I wasn't going to try it. Then I did. And i'll admit. It isn't bad at all.
The Next day it was an early start, the bus dropped a few of us off at The Loove. We walked around there taking pictures all the way to Notre Dame Cathedral then back to the Eiffel. Tower for our bike tour after a short nap on the grounds.
The bike tour was pretty great actually. Other than because of how loose the front end of my bike was it made slow riding quite a bit wobbly but even that was amusing. The guild took us to different sights telling us about different rulers of France and landmarks that remain or the new ones that replaced the ones that existed for the rulers they didn't like.
Next a long drive to Switzerland.
The moment you drive into Switzerland the scenery crazily change just to green mountains. We arrived at our destination in Lauterbrunnen. This little town wedged right in between the mountains.
Our first night there
They provided breakfast and dinner & we stayed in a backpackers cabin place. Little wood cabin rooms big enough to fit wo bunk beds. The weather was always cold, which was nice, very very very nice. The town had a noise curfew. If your noisy after 10 pm or 11 pm they will call the police and you and everyone else will get fined. Lucky they had a noise proof common area for the party people.
All those who were going walked to the train station to go to Jungfrau. It's called the “Top of Europe” because it's the highest train station in Europe. The train took roughly an hour I think. Cruz walked off to look at souvenirs as soon as we were let free. Then, they had a path to follow and we made our way through. Eventually ate our provided packed lunch and headed back down the mountain. We opted to not see everything one part because we were tired, one part because it was a bit of a walk and I think mostly outside and I was sure I would burn if i spent any more time outside at the top of that mountain, haha.
Cruz went back to her cabin and I wandered around taking pictures for a bit. Then we made our way through town and went to the waterfall. There is a path carved in the mountain you can walk up and walk behind the waterfall. We then went back to the cabins and walked into town with Jenny. They made a stop at the grocery store and then we stopped at a store Daisy said had the best brownies and she was not wrong. They only had 2 brownies though. And there were 3 of us. Jenny said she didn't want any. Then Jenny decided to get on for Daisy, so she wouldn't miss out. We bought the last brownies and watched as a few others in our group search for the brownie only to find out we stole the last ones, sorry guys. Soon enough Daisy came in search for the brownie so luckily Jenny is so gennours cause Daisy was stoked to find out she was still able to get one after they were sold out. I also then realized that Cruz and I should have made Jenny share the brownie we split but of course I'm a buffoon and it was gone by then, sorry Jenny. After we headed back to the cabins then i went to walk around the town to take more pictures.
On the way out of Switzerland to Italy Victor (Bus Driver) made a few stops for us where we could take some cool pictures.
In Rome is when I realized, or maybe just admitted to myself that this is just a too fast paced trip is a bit much just to fast to truly enjoy any one place.
Descending from Switzerland into Italy was strange with how drastic the change from in weather was form a nice and too to hot seemingly all right along the border.
On the way to Florence we had a stop over in Pisa. A 20 Minute stop.
We arrived in Florence
That night I really just wanted to sleep but there was a Karaoke thing our trip guild was going to walk everyone who wanted to go there. I mostly went just because I was hoping to see some good sights on the way there as it was a 20 minute walk. And I was not disappointed. There was plenty to see all lit up at night. After a little while of laughing at and singing along a few of us got a taxi back and called it a night.
In the morning we got a walking tour of Florence. Then lunch and on the bus to Rome.
We arrived in Rome and started walking tour. The next day was an early wake up for the Vatican tour. Our tour guild was awesome, fun, energetic. The Vatican was ... Eh.
After we ended up meeting with some others headed to to Colosseum to try and take a tour of the inside. But by the time we got there it was so hot and we were all tiered that we just took some pictures from a different angle then went back the the hostel/campsite.
I slept for a few hours.
That was probably the most amount of sleep I got so far on the trip.
Then I think I just waited until dinner and relaxed.
Dinner was good with some questionable items on the menu but it was all good.
Then after dinner there was a pool party that most people went to. I wasn't interested in swimming so I just tried convince Jenny to get in while I sat there in my jeans. I think Cruz showed up and eventually pushed her in.
Then I went to bed earlyish as the next day was another early start.
Though that didn't stop many from being rowdy to the wee hours in the morning . With this group there were alot of late nights.
The next day.
An early morning quick complimentary breakfast then on the bus for the next city
Arrived in Venice and got a quick walking tour on the way to the gondolas. Everyone taking pictures along the way.
After the gondolas I walked around took pictures bought some souvenirs. Then grabbed some pizza. Then went on the hunt for some gelato, but I ended up with ice cream somehow.
Then we grouped up to take a water taxi back since it was included with the trip instead of trying to find our way back to the “people mover”.
Then off the Munich. --
When we got to munich we dropped our backs off at the hostel and headed onto the bus with another topdeck group. We got dropped off and walked around the area that used to be old Munich.
They walked us around telling us about different sights and buildings along the way. Near the beginning of the tour I almost managed to get lost following a random crowd staring up at buildings but got saved by Andrew from our group keeping me from wandering off aimlessly.
They took us to an old church the tallest building in Munich. Our trip leader told us a story about how there was a man who wanted to impress a lady so he wanted to build the church for her to impress her. But he didn't have the money or means to do it. Then he made a deal with the devil but the only rule was that the devil did t want any windows. After the set timeframe the church was finished and the devil came to inspect the work. He was impressed but when he looked behind the altar he found a small window that let a small amount if light in. This made the devil so mad that he stomped his food down and it made in indent in the floor. And maybe the church fell she said I don’t remember. But the foot print is still there they said. Then they had us go in to look at it so we could see for ourselves. And we got kicked out because there was a service going on.
Then off the Hofbräuhaus. An old and i guess original eer house.
Everyone had to decide and conquer because even though they had loads of seating there wasn't enough space for us all to sit together. Sat with a few folks in our group. I ended us with a pretzel the size of your face and pork schnitzel. Both soo good!
Afterwords we went back on the train to to hostel and got lost on the way back to a park/garden, next to feeding area for deer that was a easy distraction for the girls. Then I got lost along the way but soon enough found the group and not too much later it was time to go look at the blood moon so we checked that out on the way home. It's too bad I forgot my camera so all I could do was get a shot from my phone. Then back to the hostel for an early morning start the next day.
On the Road to Berlin.
Daisey told us again about the happening in Berlin. The day we get there is going to be in Berlin a huge pride festival. Which means loads of extra people to crowd the streets I assumed. And after the crowds we’ve had to deal with already I wasn’t super excited about that. I tend to like my pictures free of people. We got there after the parade ended around 4pm but there is something else happening later when we get there that Daisy said she was going to go hunt for glitter and other stuff to decorate us with. But due to bad weather that got canceled. It looked like there might be thunderstorms so that wasn’t too surprising. I think we stayed at the hostel that evening. But I think I may be wrong about that.
Our fee day in Berlin was our second day.
A 3rd reich tour to start the day. And what I thought was just going to be just a night tour of art but come to find out after the night tour is a bar crawl. I'm wasn’t so interested but we pay for the excursions a day or two in advance
A small group of us walked around. Cruz, Jenny, Shakia, Eliza & myself. We looked at a berlin wall holocaust memorial. I think Jenny disappeared to go find a toilet. Then while they slowly looked at the memorial I Rushed through it a bit as much of it i've read about a time or two and began to take pictures. there was a inside area with info that i walked through before meeting up with the crew.
We walked around a bit trying to see what Jenny wanted to eat for lunch as it was her Birthday. In the midst of that there was a fight that broke out in front of Checkpoint Charlie. Our tour guide for the 3rd reich tour had told us that the people playing a hide the ball game with little matchstick sized boxes were part of a mob and there was no way to win. well it looked like a rival group started a argument with some guys playing this game for tourists. They started fighting and eventually a knife was pulled. shortly after they ran off and as we walked down the street still trying ti see what the un decisive Jenny wanted to eat the Police showed up and started searching some buildings and circling the block. The girls decided on McDonalds. Im my disgust over their food choice i wandered off to a hotdog stand we passed by and got their classic style.
The walking art tour wasn't really that great.
Off to Amsterdam
We stopped at clogg and cheese maker shop before we got into Amsterdam. They showed us how they make those iconic wooden shoes and explained how they make the cheese also. But the fun didn't end there though. They had sooo many different types for us to try and they were all sooooo good. It was all a ploy to get us to buy some of course. And it almost worked, I was ready to buy at least one of everything but got scared off when I started to read stuff about people having issues bringing cheese into the US. Late came to find out I could have managed to do it without issue.
We got to Amsterdam and Daisy gave us a little walking tour. Then later after getting seperated from Cruz and some others while they tried to go shopping I wandered around taking pictures in the way back to the hostel.
The next day bike ride, which wasn't that great. The guy who put on our bike tour was ... well trash. He wasn't really interested in
They again wanted to shop
I again took pictures, took a nap, took pictures.
Party music said goodbyes to people staying in Amsterdam and not coming back to London.
Hit the road to London.
Got to hostel
Showed jenny where the train station is.
Came back and ate at the hostel with most the rest of the group and visited for a few hours. Until we seemed to one by one disappear.
I was so hungry and tired that evening that while i waited for my fish and chips I stared off into the abyss that was someone eating pizza. Not awkward at all when they noticed waved and then I didn't even realize what actually had happened until the next day...
Even though I was tired I didn't sleep great and around 7am realized the Cruz's flight got Canceled.
So I had to wake her up, no simple task mind you. But the good news was that There was a direct flight available so no layover for her, a few hours earlier too. Got ourselves together and eventually got her to the bus station and off she went.
I waited until checkout then headed to my next hostel where I got settled in and rested a bit before starting my solo adventures. Those to follow in the other post.