Friday, April 2, 2010

My Europe Tour in a nutshell

Here is my Europe tour in a nutshell.

Flew with MAS to Amsterdam for 2 nights on our own. - March 5, 2010

Hotel: NH Schiller via which comes strongly recommended by a friend. It's on Rembrandtplein next to all the bars/ restaurants and a 5 mins walk from Kalverstraat, the shopping street.

I do think they offer some of the most competitive rates around.

Day 1: Tour to Volendam, a fishing village famous for their smoked eels and went to some cheese factory with Lindbergh Tours, costing about E32 for a 1/2 day tour.

Day 2: Walked in Kalverstraat for a full day till the shops closed as it was too cold and mom was reluctant to do anything else.

Day 3: Start of our Spain, Portugal and Morocco 15 days tour with Tralfagar tours. Took the noon flight from Schipol Airport to Madrid and met with the rest of the tour in the hotel.

Day 4: Madrid Sightseeing & At Leisure. After the city tour, we opted for the E43 optional tour to El Escorial, a monastery palace. Very beautiful and definitely a must for everyone going to Madrid. Because of bad weather, we were not able to visit the Valley of the Fallen, which was originally part of the tour as well. An optional dinner was also available that night where we had a lovely 3 course dinner with wine and was entertained by an opera singer in the new city.

Day 5: Travelled south by coach from Madrid to Toledo, the ancient capital of Castille, encircled by the River Tagus, and if not mistaken a UN Heritage.

Day 6: Went southwards again to Granada to visit the Alhambra Palace. That night we went for the optional Gypsy dance night out which was relatively entertaining but I would not exactly call it value for money at Euro 28 with only 1 drink available.

Day 7: Again southbound for Costa Del Sol, the famous Mediterranean resort. I specially loved their very popular grilled sardines.
Again, we did the optional tour to Mijas , a small hill top village in the Andulasia region. I reckon it was more of a shopping stop for my mom.

Day 8: After almost 3 hr drive to the border, Tarifa and a 1 hour ferry ride, we're finally in Morocco. And then yet another, if I remeber clearly, 5 hr ride to Fes, where we spent 2 nights.
Day 9: Visit to the Fes Medina, the biggest in Morocco and you would definitely need some guidance or very well get lost. Truly an eye opener looking at the lives of the people in the Medinas!
That very afternoon, we did the optional tour to Meknes, once a Moroccan imperial city where we had a look at the royal stables, famous mosques and some local handicrafts. Well, I was not really impressed with the sights and sceneries in Meknes but if you have no other plans, why not? Otherwise, just spend your time exploring Fes.
At night we opted for the Belly Dancing as well. Food was great but the belly dancing..heheh, when they say belly dancers, u'd expect dancers with some great abs and flat bellies but....yeah, we're in for a shocker. (By this time, you would have noticed that apart from the city tour, everything else was an option and you had to pay for it! - however, I must add that the hotels we had we're pretty good and comfortable!)

Day 10: Spent 12 hrs on the bus due to some collapsed bridge from Fes to Marrakesh and we had a delay of 3 hrs, I reckon, taking the smaller roads. By the time we got into Marrakesh at 8 at night, I think my ass would have expanded 3 inches! Although on the good sight, the scenery along the way was pretty good.
Day 11: Morning optional tour to Ourika Valley. One of my personal favourites, visiting a Berber village and family where they made exceptionally good bread and mint tea for us. Just something pleasant to see after a tremendously long bus ride the night before.
At about 10 ish, everyone else in the tour headed to the Bahia Palace for more sightseeing and shopping at the Djemma el Fna Square. Hahha, this is where I realized that I actually 'found' my drinking buddy, Cathy.

Day 12: To Casablanca! No the pic below is not where Rick's Cafe from the movie was filmed. I reckon, we could have spent more time here exploring the beautiful beaches.

Day 13: Headed back to the capital, Rabat then to Tangier at the border of Morocco to board the ferry back to Sevilla in Spain. The pic below is where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic.

Day 14: The ferry arrived in Tarifa and again we took a couple of hours to get to Sevilla, where we spent 2 nights. This has got to be by far my favourite place during the tour so far simply because it is so beautiful. We were treated to a splendid Tapas dinner in a typical bodega restaurant with Spanish wines. Yummmm!!!
That night, we again opted for the Flamenco - a must to see when you're in Sevilla. Priced at Euro 36 with one free drink, I would say this one is definitely worth the watch.
Day 15: A walk in the Maria Luisa Park on a chilly morning is the best way to start our tour of Sevilla. We then went to Christopher Columbus' tomb and very proudly, our guide announced that this is the REAL tomb! Since the afternoon was free ( or yet again some other optional), we went SHOOPPINNG. Cathy commented later in the trip, somewhere in Portugal, that she has at least gone into 5 different Zara with me. Oopppps! But with the Euro dropping everyday, it's kinda hard to resist right. From 4.74 to 4.46 when I left Amsterdam on the 27th.
That very night, we had a superb Andulasian dinner in some restaurant after a 1 hr cruise along the Guadalquivir River. The cruise had probably got to be the best way for us to see the city considering the time constraint.
That very night, we checked out the bars in Sevilla. There had to be at least like 100 bars along the river in some street which I forgot the name. But in case you're there and wanna check out the bars, tell the people the row of bars by the river. Should not be hard. It took us about a Euro 6 cab ride from our hotel to the street.

Day 16: 2 more nights in Lisbon before the tour ends. Time does fly when you're having fun. From Sevilla to Lison, the journey is about 5 1/2 hours with some toilet and a lunch stop in between ( 400++ km). We did the city tour thing again of course to Vasco Da Gama's tomb, Belem Tower, amongst others.
That night, we had an optional dinner and Fado (portugese entertainment), which I assure you probably had to be the most boring thing I've come across during the tour. Right after dinner, Cathy and myself went out of the restaurant and continued our nonsensical talks.

Day 17: Last day! Sad sad sad. Did the optional tour to Sintra, Cascais and Estoril Coast. Did the usual sightseeing of the summer palace, beautiful beaches, shopping ya da da!

That night, we had a farewell dinner in some Portugese restaurant, which was obviously way much better than the Fado dinner. Time to bid farewell to our fellow tourmates.
Of coz, the night was not over for some of us who continued round 2 at the Mariott, our best and last hotel.

Day 18/19/20: I come! Staying at the Astore Saint Honore hotel recommended by Angeline. I never got a chance to try their breakfast although she was raving abt their croissants! Did the usual sightseeing for 2 days on the hop on hop off bus costing Euro 32. Had some French food and lots and lots and lots of shopping! I'm definitely paying through my nose when my bills arrive.

Day 21/22: Because we still did some last minute shopping, mom and myself, I nearly missed the damn train from the Nord to Amsterdam on the 25th. Thank god the train was delayed. A 3hr 20 minutes ride, lots to look see - passing by Antwerp, Brussels etc.
Met up with Cal and Yugin for the next 2 nights and had lots of fun walking past the red light districts (yeah, photo snapping was not allowed and u had to do it discreetly or get bashed!), almost falling asleep on the canal tour, touring the Heineken Brewery, boring ourselves at Van Gogh musuem and having a few drinks at the ice bar.

Day 23: Back to KL. I must say this has truly been the trip of a lifetime for me and I vow to shop less this year, save more money and hahahahaha go back visit Europe again in 2011. Let's just see!


J said...

Wow. What a trip! Looks like you had a lot of fun. :)

(Hey, *squints* I think that's the same flamenco place I went to before! It's so cool right? Loved it too....)

Siao Yue said...

J: but u know i kiknda almsot fell asleep with all the wine and sangria and stuff..haha