By: Kenny Tran, Travel Consultant
I decided to step outside the box and plan my first trip to Europe. For 20 years, I had never really traveled much. On top of that, I had never traveled on my own, so what I was about to do was beyond my comfort level. Through European Dream with Trafalgar, I was going to cover 7 major cities in 4 different countries in 10 days. During the tour, I was going to cover the historic hotspots of Italy, venture to the vast valleys of the Swiss alps, get lost in France’s city of love, and roam through the English capital’s bustling streets.
Three months later:
I never really had a sense of direction, so I walked with a nervous feeling that I was going to get lost in Rome on my first day. After a short trip through a maze of people and many corridors, I was finally met with a warm welcome by a Trafalgar representative. She was helpful with questions on what to expect and directed me to a group of people who were making their way onto our motor coach. Some were experienced travelers while others were first timers such as myself. It did not matter though as we all were going to share this amazing experience for the few days. After months of anticipation, my journey was finally going to start.
Ten days later and five pounds heavier:
As I am awaiting for my return flight in the London Airport, I flipped through the many photos I had taken on my tour and instantly reminisced of the wonderful experiences that I had in Europe. All of the staff members from the tour guide to the driver were spectacular in managing with a group of about 40 travelers. I tried the indigenous foods that were uncharted for me, had sights to breathtaking landmarks and cityscapes, and met some interesting characters on this tour.
I experienced practically everything in Rome that a visitor would want to do. I explored the many majestic rooms of the Vatican, made a wish by the Trevi Fountain, and ate delicious gelato as I overlooked the Spanish Steps. The best part of Rome was my leisurely visit of the Sistine Chapel and walk through the colossal Colosseum. Seeing many of these landmarks and artworks up close was just amazing to imagine that they have managed to survive through the test of time.
We crossed the rural hills of Tuscany and enjoyed fine wine and food in a castle that overlooked the Arno River valley. We then took our journey to the Tuscan capital of Florence where I saw art from the great masters of the Italian Renaissance. The dedication to their craft could be seen throughout the city from the architecture to the surrounding statues.
With the recent flooding that took place in Venice, I was lucky to venture to Italy’s floating city in all of its glory. Venice gives you that sense of escape as you ride through the canals on a gondola. I strolled through Venice’s narrow cobblestone streets admiring the alleyway boutiques and shimmering murano glass. It was where I had my first authentic Italian pizza (with anchovies). The day ended with a stunning view of the St. Mark Basilica and a warm cup of spiced wine for that chilly night.
We journeyed through the Italian and Swiss Lake Districts and made our destination to mountainous city of Lucerne. If you were to choose one optional excursion from this specific tour, I would highly advise you take the cable car up into Mt. Stanserhorn.
This was another lucky moment for me as the entry into mountain would soon close in the next week for the rest of the season. Once there, I can say that I have stood above the clouds. After a short trek and shortness of breath, I got an amazing view from the peak of the mountain.
I could not leave Paris without trying out the country’s well-famed escargot dish. Don’t let the appearance fool you as this was a treat to have. A late night cruise along the Seine River with a landscape view of the Eiffel Tower topped off the visit to France.
The tour came to an end and it was London where I celebrated my travel experiences with my newfound friends. London is where a cold, rainy day is quite normal, but this shouldn’t stop you from missing what this great city has to offer. We were lucky to see the changing of the guard and walk to the famous Tower Bridge.
With everything coming to a close, my newly acquainted friends and I celebrated with fish and chips and toasted with warm spiced cider to an end of our amazing journey.
European Dream with Trafalgar is perfect for both new or experienced travelers who are looking to escape reality and discover Europe’s major highlights. Of course, covering so much ground in a short period of time was very tiresome, but it was one of my most fulfilling experiences. I finally conquered a feat that I wanted to complete for so long. This has opened many doors for me as there is still more to see in this world.
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