Since it was my first time escaping the borders of my home country, America, I felt nothing short of intimidated. Sure, I’m a spontaneous spirited, independent woman who seeks adventure at every turn, but… leaving my comfort zone so completely and plopping myself down in foreign lands loaded with foreign currencies, languages, and customs, I felt it would be best if I met up with a tour group rather than just going at it alone… and I’m so happy that I did!
I booked my European Magic Tour through TourRadar, a website I love to window shop on during cold dreary days in Wyoming’s unending winter. The price tag, locations, and inclusions screamed “book me!” when I stumbled across it this last November, and so I did! The great thing about TourRadar is that they allow you to put a small deposit on the tour upfront so you have a little time to pay off the whole package (and book your flights!)
TourRadar is simply a holding place for tour companies, much like Expedia or Orbitz are for flights and hotels, and the interface is super easy to navigate, but that’s not why we are here…
My tour was hosted by Indigo Travel, a company headed by a husband and wife who just so happened to be our guides during our coach tour of Western Europe. To break it down, we spent eleven days traveling via bus to 9 cities in 7 countries!
Where We Went:
We adventured forth from London, England straight to Paris, France where we explored the inner city, celebrated Christmas at our hotel, scaled the Eiffel Tower, tried frog legs and escargot, and really had a chance to introduce ourselves to our new temporary travel family.
Milan followed Paris, and then Venice before we left Italy and stretched our legs in Salzburg, Austria with spellbinding views of the Austrian Alps. Prague, Czech Republic was next and a full day exploring this incredible city on our own. Berlin, Germany‘s once in a lifetime New Years Eve Party was chilly, but invigorating, and the Berlin Wall will strike compassion into the heart. An overnight drive to Amsterdam, Netherlands had everyone ready to go for a walk along the canals and partake in Amsterdam’s festivities. Brussels, Belgium capped off our trip with delicious waffles and chocolate before we arrived back in London on our last day together.
My friends have asked me what cities I liked the most and my answers came much easier than I thought they would. “Easily,” I would say, “Prague and Venice. I would go back in a heartbeat!” I need to sneak Paris in there as well because I need at least two more days exploring and soaking in The Louvre.
Prague was such a beautiful city filled with wonderful people. The architecture was everything you imagine old Europe would be and the cobblestone alleys and streets add to the quaint, small village in a big city feel. The food? Delicious! And the prices, unbeatable! Since the Czech Republic uses the Krona rather than Euros, the conversion was much in our favor knocking prices down to manageable, while at the same time making you feel like a complete and total baller. (Do we still use the term “baller”?) For example, the meal to the right was for three people and included coffees and entrees for each. Though it is listed at 903 kronas, it is actually about 35 euros, which, for us Americans, is about $36. Not too shabby. Oh, and you don’t have to leave a tip. We were able to do the conversions simply in our heads, too, because we realized about 25 kronas were equal to one euro, making it an easy way to see exactly how much we were spending while buying souvenirs and food!
Venice, oh Venice. My heart was left in a Venice leather shop… And yes, that’s probably the main reason why I would go back… for the leather. For the bags! OH THE BAGS!!! I had no idea I had a “thing” for purses and bags until I set foot off that ferry boat and onto the concrete slabs of that island city. My friends practically had to drag me out of the store before I bought it all, but I was able to walk away with three pieces I don’t think I will ever be able to live without! The best thing about it? The bags were so unbelievably affordable! I’m not even kidding! Next on my list is to get a pair of boots. I guess I’ll have to go back, and soon!
OK, bags and boots aside, the city itself was pretty marvelous. We ponied up for a gondola ride, because how can you not? And ate pizza, cannoli, and tried spritzers. There will definitely be more to follow as I dive deeper into this city in a future post.
Where do I begin? It was amazing
Andrea and Omar, owners and operators of Indigo Travel and our tour guides, did an amazing job keeping 57 people as happy as is humanly possible! With so much travel and so many different personalities and needs to satisfy, I’m blown away at their ability to make this trip one we will all remember for the rest of our lives. The bus drivers, Fraser and Joe, were excellent at getting us from point A to point B safely and in as timely a manner as possible… and with a crazy sense of humor to boot! Candies and soft drinks were provided throughout the trip so you were never really without access to refreshments, and the coach was always clean when we came back from our daily excursions.
Granted, not everyone is going to get along out of 57 people, but Andrea and Omar both made for successful mediators and problem solvers. Our hotel rooms were always clean and comfortable, the breakfasts filling and delicious, the brief walking tours informative and pertinent.
Overall, it was a great experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I highly recommend this tour company to anyone looking to travel and get a sample of some of the best cities Western Europe has to offer!