Europe road journey in brief
After taking my first major road trip in North America, I decided, it was time to take another road trip and Europe was one place that came into mind. I decided to take a premium coach tour in Europe with Trafalgar Tour Company. This was the best way to scratch my travel itch and most economical way to see Europe in a short length of time. This tour company can get prices that no individual tourist/traveller can match. Choosing a good premium coach trip came with the best option of travelling in comfort and all inclusive. This way, someone else handled the wheels and I get to relax and enjoy the views from the comfort of my coach window.
My European coach road trip was to start and end in London with Trafalgar for 15 days. This tour was to discover Europe’s highlights with London, England and take me through Amsterdam, Netherlands and seven other countries in Europe. The tour include visiting some of the major sights, landmarks and places from Buckingham Palace, Eiffel Tower, Colosseum, Venice to Red-Light District and Swiss Alps. This road trip included all accommodation as well as an expert guide, meals, transport and more.
After an amazing road trip and visiting so many great places on my first Great American Road Trip I decided to take another road in Europe. Without a doubt, Europe is one place that has enormous amount of road trips and I wanted to do this route for years. I get to pass through more than one country in a day. It is true that travelling around Europe on the road is certainly made for coach journeys and this was a must-do for me before I die. Wether, I was visiting Europe for the first or the hundredth time, the diversity and uniqueness amidst the cities and towns makes it difficult to decide where to go, especially I was short on time. However, it was history, culture, architectural structures and monuments and natural wonders that I admire.
This road trip was going to provide me with a flavour of the diverse countries and the best way to immerse myself and understand this medieval cities. I was able to see all the major sights and get to stop and go through little quant villages if we wanted to. This made up my Europe journey and was a great introduction to some of the European cities and towns.
London – England
My Great European Road Trip began with a long-haul flight from Brisbane, Australia to Heathrow Airport in London with a short stop-over in Bangkok before arriving in London around 5-am. Been familiar with London and knowing exactly where my hotel was, I took the Heathrow Express train using my London Pass card to London Paddington station before transiting to Kensington station via underground tube. My hotel was located less than 15-minutes walk from the station. The London Pass card is the ultimate sightseeing package that has been tailor-made, especially for its visitors. It gives holders the ability to visit top sights and attractions in London whilst saving time, money and stress. Heathrow Express offers the fastest journey time and is one of the most popular and efficient ways to travel between the airport and London Paddington.
Since, arriving in London, it was my first taste of heavy traffic, cold and miserable London weather. I was in London for two days earlier, prior to my coach journey and I was already beginning to enjoy London’s high end. Although, I was enjoying London’s hospitality, yet I was starting to get tired of the cold weather and I was ready and couldn’t wait to leave the dreary weather of London. I knew that better weather was outside London.
The road trip
Most starting points for coach varies for multi-country tour of Europe. However, most tours start in London and travel further and beyond. Like the cruise-ships, most coach tours visit variety of places for short time or even for one or two days before continuing. The coach tours gives you a brief introduction to popular destinations and see major sights and hoping many will return and revisit the places for longer in their own time and pace.
Like most coach tours, I began in London and headed to Amsterdam for my first night. We headed out of London’s dreary weather and busy London centre after meeting my Trafalgar tour family, the guide and coach driver. We left passing through fabulous UK countryside with fields of canola, sunflower and more to port of Dove where we caught the ferry across the English channel to Calais in France. Dove, located in the county of Kent in the south east of England is the port of Dover. The town lies on the English Channel coast at its narrowest point between England and France. This narrow stretch of the English Channel is called the Strait of Dover.
Amsterdam – The Netherlands
A few hours of Ferry ride across the English channel to Calais with minor rough seas, we disembarked and onto our waiting coach for a long road ride to Amsterdam, for our first stop and night for the start of our 15 day tour of Europe. Amsterdam, renowned for its uniqueness and colourful flavours is famously known for its Red-Light District. This was the introduction to the flavours to Europe and what are great way to start the tour and what was ahead.
Amsterdam, capital city of the Netherlands is located in North-West Europe between Germany in the east, Belgium in the south and the North Sea in the north and west. This city is where you think twice, why everything happens here – from legalised prostitute areas to legalise drug cafes but there is plenty more to this liberal city than most visitors realise. We went on sightseeing in Amsterdam with our guide pointing out the city highlights including the Red Light District, a well-known prostitute area, legalised drug cafes and more. We then went on a Canal cruise to see the town from water level. By afternoon, we had time to explore on our own or join other optional excursion and back to out hotel after having dinner at a local cuisine restaurant.
Cologne – German
The following morning, we continued our coach journey to the city of Cologne in Germany for our second night. Cologne is the largest city in the German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. History states that, in medieval times Cologne was the largest city of the Holy Roman Empire but today, it is one of the nation’s media, tourism and business hotspot. It is known to be one of the most liberal cities in Germany.
Arriving in the early hours of the day, we dispersed for free time where I had the opportunity to explore this city on my own. As I love history, historical monuments, shopping, unique cathedrals and nature, this gave me great opportunity to spent time visiting Cologne’s famous Gothic Cathedral for hours before having a mad-rush on my favourite brand clothing shops from Paul & Shark, Gant, Tommy Hilfiguer, Ralph & Lauren and many more. This city was definitely a shoppers paradise and I could see why. I went ballistic on shopping and I was only in early stages of my tour. In the evening, we went on a sunset cruise along the Rhine River with vistas of the Lorelei rock, hilltop castles, half-timbered wine villages and terraced vineyards. The was incredibly unforgettable to me and was romantic for others.
Innsbruck – Austria
After enjoying the unforgettable sunset cruise along Rhine River and endless shopping opportunities in this vibrant and liberal city of Cologne, we continued the roady journey to the city of Innsbruck in Austria. Innsbruck is the capital of Austria’s western state of Tyrol and is a city in the Alps that’s long been a destination for winter sports. This city is known for its Imperial and modern architecture.
During the journey, we came across some mild to severe weathers but I found Innsbruck weather, to be extreme and it was totally freezing for me, including many Australian travellers who are not exposed to such extreme weather. It was my first taste of extreme European winter after living in tropical climate most of my life. I was glad to leave this cold weather behind and we continued our road trip to Venice, Italy.
Venice – Italy
Leaving Innsbruck, we cross the border into Italy to the unique floating city of Venice, with clear blue skies without a storm in sight nor extreme cold weather. Venice, a capital of northern Italy’s Veneto region is built on more than 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. It is a city of canals and bridges and has no roads – just canals, including the Grand Canal thoroughfare – lined with renaissance and Gothic palaces. We took a boat ride to St. Mark’s Square, followed by a visit to a traditional glass-blowing. I didn’t want to miss out on the romantic optional gondola trip, I jumped onto one of the gondola gliding along the picturesque canals with a local troubadour to serenade me. What a thrilling place this is and will take your breathe away in every turn.
Rome – Italy
From the city of canals – Venice, we continued to Italy’s capital- Rome. This “eternal city” is steeped in history. Rome is a sprawling, cosmopolitan, vibrantly alive and exciting city and absolutely unique. A city that comes with influential art, architecture and culture that is on display. Ancient ruins such as the Forum and the Colosseum evoke the power of the former Roman Empire. From Vatican City, headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, has St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, which house masterpieces such Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes to semi ruins of Colosseum, known as the Flavian Amphitheatre kept me mesmerising.
I couldn’t hardly think of a city as inspiring as Rome. I was totally blown away by St. Peter’s Square and Basilica, the Spanish Steps, the iconic Colosseum, the largest amphitheater ever built, Circus Maximus and the Trevi Fountain. Rome is a city that offers endless list of major historical sights which are incredibly amazing and one that has to explore this city with limited time is impossible. There was so much to do and learn.
Florence – Italy
From Italy’s capital city to Rome to another Italy’s regional city of Florence. This city is located in central Italy and is the capital city of the Tuscan region is surrounded by rolling hills that are covered with villas, vineyards and orchards. Florence is a cosmopolitan city that didn’t lost its historical side. It is true that Florence is the centre of Italian Renaissance and one of the most cultural, artistic and expensive cities in Italy.
For those who are interested in Renaissance culture, history and art, this city is the destination that one must come to see. It is not a very big city and you can visit the city centre with its historical architecture within a day or two. You can walk in the area within a day and feel the typical artistic atmosphere. One of the most important and beautiful monuments is the Dome, one of the biggest cathedral in the world and the Uffizi museum and many more which many visitors come to see.
Lucerne – Switzerland
Leaving the beautiful city of Florence, we crossed the border into Switzerland for a two day stay in the Swiss Alps, the city of Lucerne. We arrived mid-morning and the remainder of the day was free to start exploring this delightful town on the Reuss River including a visit to Chapel Bridge, the Water Tower and Jesuit Church.
The next day, I went on my special excursion to Mt. Pilatus, one of the major tourist draw card to the area. There is nothing more exciting than going on a journey almost 7000 feet (2,132 m) up for a spectacular view over central Switzerland. The view was beyond my dreams and nothing compared to towers like Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Empire State Building in New York. This was just phenomenal.
Paris – France
For the last leg of my European road tour, Paris was the last city we visited before taking the ferry back from Calais to Dover port and onto London by coach. The city of Paris is France’s capital and is a major European city and a global centre for art, fashion, gastronomy and culture. Paris, famous for its landmarks as the Eiffel Tower and the 12th-century, Gothic Notre-Dame Cathedral, this city is known for its cafe culture and designer boutiques along the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honor’e.
Apart from attending the amazing Moulin Rouge show, the city lights of Paris, Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame that took my breath-away. Here I get to enjoy my city tour, exploring all the main sites such as the Lourve, Champs Elysees, Notre Dame and along the River Seine. This, Paris’s famous iconic building, seeing it on television, travel brochures and magazines gives you a different perspective than authentically standing on top of it. The stunning views of Paris from above was incredibly breathtaking but the night-lights creates the place, even more romantic place to be.
It is entirely possible to travel around Europe to visit many cities and its major attractions whether in a rented vehicle, train or coach tours. If you have limited time, I prefer to go on a coach tour where someone else is driving and get away with less stress whilst you enjoy the views along the way. However, if you have the time,I recommend, hire a car and do a self-drive tour around Europe and explore many Europe’s countryside, villages, cities and its popular attractions on your own time. Driving around Europe is straightforward as long as you keep your wits about you and don’t mind the locals who drive much faster than wary tourists. When visiting new areas, be aware of no-drive zones and one-way streets.
WOW factor cannot be denied as you travel around Europe. I certainly feel so attached to almost every cities and villages I visited. Without a doubt, Europe is a continent that is filled with history, culture and abundance of fun but so much to see and learn. From visiting Buckingham Palace in London, taking a walk through world renowned Red-light District in Amsterdam, marvelling St. Marks Square in Venice, visiting the Colosseum and Vatican city in Rome, absorbing the breathtaking views on top of Mt Pilatus in Lucerne to stunning views of Paris on top of Eiffel Tower gives you an ultimate satisfaction of Europe in its splendour.
Taking a coach tour with Trafalgar tours just proves why Trafalgar was my ultimate choice. The Trafalgar coach tours have been designed to unlock the cities and sites to its customers and offer some great things to do and at the same time, saving time and money. The routes that Trafalgar offers has taken me to some of the best iconic sites, attractions and restaurants in various cities along the way. Most importantly, I had time to myself by day or night, where I had a chance to mingle and chat to the locals and learn about what each country truly has to offer. It will certainly leave you hungry for more