EUNICE ANNABEL

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Contiki Takes Me to Europe! #EuniceAnnabelTravels

(Part 1)

A few blog posts back, I mentioned something about taking risks and travelling on your own. I feel that there is so much to learn from being in a completely different environment and experiencing new cultures or languages, especially when you're doing it all by yourself.  I'm certain many would agree that travelling helps you grow so much as a person. It forces you to be independent to take care of yourself, and it allows you to view the world in a different perspective, and for some of us, it gives us the ability to appreciate our own country as well. 

There is a saying that goes something like "You get a strange feeling when you're about to leave a place. Like you'll not only miss the people you love but you'll miss the person you are now at this time and place because you'll never be this way ever again." I strongly believe that one should never settle for a routine and mundane life. As cliché as this may sound, I urge you to always take the path less travelled and do what you really want, no matter how huge the risk may be.

This is why my collaboration with Contiki is so awesome! It is because we share similar, if not the same, views about life. They're all about living with no excuses and traveling with #NoRegrets, and I couldn't agree more. You see, travelling alone is great but it can be quite scary if it's your first time doing it, especially if the destination is miles away from home, and you're afraid of any hiccups along the way. However, if you travel solo with Contiki, the problem is solved and you don't have to worry about anything.

Following images from http://www.contiki.com/

Contiki is basically a travel group company that offers group travels for people aged between 18 to 35 years old. The group is kept small with up to only 25 travellers from all around the world, thus giving you great opportunities to make new like-minded friends from other countries. Even though you'll be brought around as a group, there will be lots of time for you to explore on your own as well! 

The best part of it all? Contiki takes care of all the boring logistics like booking hotels and transportation, which is a huge bonus for me because I'm not one that enjoys giving my attention to little details. I like to make full use of my time overseas enjoying the country's best offerings, not spending a quarter of the day fussing over how much a taxi ride would cost or finding the best route to my hotel etc. 

 Everyone enjoys different things and we all like to do them differently as well. That's why there are about 8 types of trips offered by Contiki ranging from high energy ones to short stays or in depth travelling. Thus giving you the option of choosing a trip of your preference depending on how and what you'd like to experience. 

Personally, I like to experience things fast, get over them and move on to something new almost immediately. That's why the trip that I was brought on felt perfect for me. 
It's called European Magic where we were brought around Europe, namely Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Rhine Valley (Germany), Munich (Germany), Innsbruck (Austria), Venice (Italy), Lucerne (Switzerland) and Paris (France), over a span of 9 days. It was without a doubt a fast paced trip but I enjoyed waking up in a different city every day. 

All right, I'm going to write a little lesser and let the pictures do the talking ;)


The flight from Singapore to Amsterdam was about 15 to 16 hours, with a little stop over in the middle. I slept almost throughout the flight and arrived in Amsterdam before I even knew it. I met everyone else about 3 to 4 hours later in the hotel lobby and made good friends with my roommate immediately. After the provided dinner, we were brought out to explore Amsterdam in the evening via a canal cruise tour.

The highlight of the tour includes passing by the historical Anne Frank's house. How I wish I could visit it but apparently you have to book tickets weeks in advance due to popular demand.

Everyone mingling and getting to know each other better on the cruise.


Got to try Flugel - a little alcoholic drink that the dutch would apparently consume to mark the start of a party or gathering. It's a symbol of friendship and adds fun to a party.


After the cruise, we were brought around the infamous red light districts of Amsterdam. I presume that we're all adults here so I don't think I'll have to explain what it's about yea? It's a rule that you can't take pictures of the windows and the girls there so I'm sorry boys, I don't have any footages to show you. hehe. A portion of the group went on to watch a live sex show, which I obviously opted out from, so I went off with 3 other girls to get waffles. 

I guess that's what I love most about Amsterdam, that the locals are perfectly fine with discussing about sex and other things that I guess I shouldn't mention here. I enjoy their openness even though it was a little bit of a culture shock in the beginning.


The next day was well spent visiting museums and roaming around the streets of Amsterdam finding the best freshly made Stroopwaffes recommended by our tour manager. We were also given the option of renting a bike and cycling around the city like the locals, but I opted out because I didn't want to be a nuisance to the locals since they're pretty fierce bike riders. I mean they're so used to it, they do it everyday, I was afraid that I'd get in their way.


My touristy shot at the iconic I amsterdam sign. Apparently, the sign is usually crowded with tourists trying to get a shot of them with it. However we got there really early, which explains why there was almost nobody there.


Highlight of the day was finding freshly made Stroopwafles!!! You can get Stroopwafles in ready-made packets in supermarkets but you have to try the freshly made ones to really enjoy them. They're basically thin layers of baked dough with a caramel-syrup like filling in the centre. We only managed to find freshly made ones with the help of our Contiki tour manager who knew almost everything about Amsterdam and all the other countries we visited. 

That's another perk of travelling with Contiki right there! Their trip managers will fill you up with insight knowledge about the destinations which you will have difficulty attaining if you travel on your own.


I can't remember what day it was then but the shops were mostly closed so we were recommended to use the time wisely with visiting museums instead. Amsterdam has a wide array of museums and I was ecstatic to find out that they have an art museum dedicated to the works of Vincent van Gogh, my favourite painter if you didn't know.


That's Karmen, my roommate from South Africa! I spent almost every minute with her on the trip and learnt so much from her. We're now good friends and have to thank Contiki enormously for that.



By evening, we were back on the coach and made our way out of The Netherlands and into Germany! First stop in Germany was the Rhine Valley. It is known famously for its wine villages and old-time German atmosphere. It was a good break away from Amsterdam, which is pretty much as over crowded as Singapore is. You can say the Rhine Valley is a little more rustic and the view along the river was stunning.

I mean all I could see were valleys, hills, acres of land and agriculture but I found it to be so beautiful because we don't get sights like that in Singapore at all.


We spent a night at the Rhine Valley learning how beer steins are made. What's interesting was that they were selling beer steins with a fragment of the Berlin wall attached to them. What is Berlin wall right? Well, I was pretty much lost at the start. I am not a history student so I went on this trip with almost zero knowledge about Europe and the wars, but I came back with so much information and newfound interest in history. And I have to thank my Contiki tour manager for sparking this curiosity in me, because she was so knowledgeable and I just wanna know as much as she does. So I've been reading and watching videos nonstop about Europe's history ever since I came back. You see! Contiki trips aren't just about having fun, it's educational too! I came back a different person. hahaha.


We spent a small fraction of our time travelling together to another city via a coach. This took a heavy weight off our shoulders, as we didn't have to think too much about how to get from one location to another. Contiki makes travelling way easier and without a doubt, much cheaper too ;)


By afternoon the next day, we arrived in Munich and managed to see the iconic Marienplatz. It is basically the city's main square since 1158, and it houses the Mariensäule. I won't go into too much details regarding that for fear that I may bore you guys. hahaha. However, what caught my interest was the building's gothic facade that was inspired by the Black Death. That's the amazing thing about Europe. It is so rich in history and culture, and that is reflected in almost everything around.


A few moments later, we went on a bike tour around Munich. I agreed to ride a bike in a foreign land this time because Munich's much less crowded than Amsterdam and it was the best way to view the city in a short span of time anyway, plus everyone was doing it and I didn't want to be left out. If you're in Munich, I suggest you sign up for one of these tours via https://www.mikesbiketours.com/munich/ too! You'll see and learn so much more than you would from just walking.


Inside St. Michael's church. 


We cycled through the Englischer Garten, one of Europe's largest urban public parks, and found some surfer dudes catching waves in the garden's river! It was freezing out there and they had nothing but their body suits on and were surfing out in the open without a care in the world. That was one of the more memorable things that happened while we were in Munich, and I guess that's another reason why it's great to travel with Contiki. They make sure that you don't miss out on iconic gotta-sees or local secrets.


By evening, we had dinner and some beers at Hofbräuhaus - Munich's traditional and popular destination to enjoy beer.


Bought a huge pretzel from one of the girls walking around in German's customary dirndls.


Had the opportunity to sit back, relax and learn more about my other travel mates.


As night fell, we went back to our hotel for a good night sleep and prepared for a long bus ride to Venice the next day! Before our arrival at the enchanting Venice, we made a quick stop in Innsbruck, Austria where we could enjoy the stunning sceneries of the Bavarian Alps.


Wouldn't it be nice to live in such a environment?


Innsbruck is a chill little town in Austria where you can enjoy the best strudels. Out of all the cities we visited, it also had the best weather. So you could get a strudel, sit by the river with a friend and enjoy the scenery together. Which reminds me, you can actually travel on a Contiki trip as a couple or with a bunch of friends! It makes everything more fun because you'll get to enjoy moments and share memories with your loved ones too! Oh yeah, you could save some money if you book a trip with your friends. Head over to http://www.contiki.com/deals to find out more!


We left Innsbruck about 4 to 5 hours later and continued on our long drive to Venice. Now I know that may sound boring but I assure you the bus rides are nothing but fun too! In fact, I really enjoyed them because that's when our trip manager fills us in with more information about the history of the next destination we're visiting or she'll tell us what to look out for when we get there so we'll be more prepared. We also played games and watched videos on the rides so we never got bored.

I'm going to stop here and blog about my experience in Venice, Lucerne and Paris in the next post alright? Do check that out because it'll come with a vlog as well ;)

If you're already feeling hyped up and are thinking of going on a Contiki adventure, you may want to read about this!

Contiki is offering my followers an exclusive $50SGD off all trips! Simply call +65 6337 8166  or email contact@contiki.com and quote my name: 
Eunice Annabel. 

For more information or to learn more about the countries they cover and the trips they offer, head over to http://www.contiki.com/

Life’s an adventure – make it count with absolutely #NOREGRETS.


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