Through Ablania I Must Go

AlbaniaAlbaniaA country I never thought I’d ever visit is Albania. The quickest way to get to Montenegro and Croatia is through Albania so my Topdeck tour had me driving through Albania and staying in Tirana to experience a little taste of a fairly new country with a complicated political, religious, and communist past. If I weren’t doing a Topdeck tour, I wouldn’t visit Albania on my own; however, I am happy that I got the opportunity to visit a place outside of my comfort zone. Albania is a country that was once war-struck, yet is the country where Mother Theresa came from (Tirana’s airport is named after her), a country that has 27 different words for mustache (funny), and a country where surprisingly, 90% of the population drives a Mercedes (who would have thought?). Albania is working actively toward erasing its tainted history, and the tourism industry is growing each year, especially with more and more Topdeck buses (among other tour operators) driving through. The 20th century has brought many positive changes to Albania. My quick visit in Albania was an eye opening experience. Continue reading

Rome, the Greatest City in the World

Rome, Italy

Rome, ItalyRome is probably my favorite European city (so far) because it’s a mighty city that has everything from culture, food, nature, architecture, art, history, and charisma. Rome captured my heart from the moment I laid eyes on the grand Trevi Fountain (even though it was under construction). The Trevi fountain is 25.9 metres high and 18.9 metres wide; the fountain is huge and is one of the ancient aqueducts that supplied water to ancient Rome. Rome was bigger and better than I ever expected and I couldn’t believe that I had the opportunity to visit the world famous historical city and landmark. Continue reading

Walking Florence, the Home of Michelangelo’s David

Florence, Italy

After driving further into Italy, I could see more of the country’s endless lush green houses, farms, flower fields, wine groves, and colourful yellow roofs standing out in the cliffs, valleys, and hillside. After stopping in Pisa, Italy for a quick snap of the Leaning Tower, I headed straight for Florence. Florence was my first city to explore and real cultural  experience in Italy. With each place I visit in Italy it gets better and better.  Florence is one of Italy’s most traditional and recognized cities. Continue reading

Touching the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Pisa, Italy

Pisa is popular for its leaning tower, yet there is nothing else in the small town but its famous leaning tower. Pisa is pretty much in the middle of nowhere in Italy surrounded by farmland and wine groves,  yet millions flock to see the leaning tower in person. It is one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions after Paris’ Eiffel Tower. I was lucky enough to stop in Pisa to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa on my way to Florence. After a short detour, I was able to see it in person myself. Continue reading

Living Like the Rich and Famous in Monaco

Monaco

Palais Royal, the palace of the prince of Monaco

I had the opportunity to visit the second smallest country in the world (the smallest being Vatican City): Monaco. Monaco is also one of the richest principalities in the world. Only the rich and famous live in Monaco with many popular American celebrities being granted citizenship to Monaco (yet many get denied as well including Arnold Swartzenager for example). Million dollar cars drive the narrow street, while multi-million dollar mansions tower from above. I, a visitor or tourist so to speak, walked the streets as an outside, an imposter. Which one of these things does not belong? I knew, and everyone around me knew that I did not belong. Amongst my group of travelers we happily snapped photos in awe of the money being flashed before our very wayfaring eyes. Continue reading

Turquoise Life in Nice, France

I’ve never been more excited to wake up in a turquoise destination. I quickly got ready and set off for the day. I slowly walked along the Promenade des Anglais by the Mediterranean Sea on the Bay of Angles trying to comprehend the fact that I made it to Nice, France, one of the world’s most famous turquoise European cities. I floated along to the monument aux morts, one of Europe’s most impressive and imposing World War I/World War II monuments. The impressive white stone memorial faced the sea in the same way that I would for my entire time in Nice.

Nice, France

monument aux morts

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Crossing Three Borders in One Day

Switzerland

Brienzersee Lake, Switzerland

Saying farewell to Switzerland was hard, but I knew my day would be exciting crossing three borders to get to Nice, France: Switzerland, Italy, and France. The drive from Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland to the Italian border was incredible. We drove through numerous alpine towns: Sulward Isenfluh, Gstergwiler, Matten, and Interlaken and past the green-turquoise Brienzersee Lake. Endless tunnels took us through mountains and past waterfalls, rivers, lakes, and typical Swiss towns. My desire to return grew the more I saw of Switzerland. Once we crossed the Italian border, surprisingly, the scenery quickly started to change. Continue reading

Keeping the Eiffel Tower in Sight

Paris

I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be able to visit one of the world’s most famous cities–yet, my travels led me to Europe and landed me in Paris. The iconic grand Eiffel Tower stood in the distance as I walked all corners of the city. From the corner of my eye, I could always see the Eiffel Tower as if reminding me that I made it. Knowing that I wouldn’t have forever in Paris I kept the Eiffel Tower in sight to engrain the memory in my mind forever. Seeing the tower from all corners of the city reminded me at each moment of just how blessed I am. With only a couple days in Paris I needed to see all that I could see in the shortest amount of time. I zoomed around the city seeing all the main sights by foot, alongside other visitors and Parisians. The famous city was bustling, busy, and alive with tourists scattered about amongst locals. Paris was an extremely easy city to get around by foot. All of the main tourist attractions are fairly close together (especially if you enjoy walking). With a good pair of walking shoes on and a croissant in hand, I was good to go, seeing Paris by day and lit at night. Continue reading

Perfectly Parisian in Paris

Paris

As soon as we arrived in Paris we left no time to waste and started touring Paris at dusk. The architecturally beautiful city started to light up in front of my very own eyes. I think this is one of the oldest cities I have ever seen before, if not the oldest. Driving around Paris and seeing places I have only seen in movies was a dream come true. The more I saw the more my eyes widened. Continue reading

From London to Paris in One Day

Paris

After leaving the white chalk-like cliffs of Dover, England, I embarked on a ferry which would take me to France. 90 minutes later, I arrived in Calais, France and after an afternoon of driving I arrived in Paris at dusk. It’s hard to believe just how close everything is in Europe and how just a day before Paris I was in London on my own. One day into my month tour of Europe with TopdecK I knew my trip would be a fast paced whirl wind adventure. Right from the beginning, we left London on a mission and arrived in Paris the same day. Although I didn’t have the amount of time I wanted in each destination, I knew that Topdeck could easily take me to places which would otherwise be difficult for a single female traveler like me (i.e Albania for example). I will consider this trip of Europe a tease and accept the fact that I will want to see more, stay longer, and come back. It is what to be expected from a 30 day tour of Europe while visiting over 15 countries and staying no more than 3 days in each country. Continue reading