In 2007 I booked a coach holiday with a friend of mine. We looked at a few brochures to decide which destination we preferred, and eventually went for a trip that would take us around 6 countries in eight days. The tour would start in London; from there we’d travel to Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, and France. It sounded really interesting and we were sure we’d enjoy it.
When we arrived at the departure point in London we met some of our fellow travellers, then boarded the coach that would take us to Dover, where we boarded the ferry for the short crossing to Calais. After we met our guide in Calais, we finally realised that this was not going to be the relaxing holiday that we’d anticipated. Our guide talked us through the ‘house rules’ (so to speak) and we found out that we’d mostly be getting up at 6 am, with the occasional lie in until the decadently late time of 6:30. We’d also be spending a lot of time on the bus. My grasp of geography must have been pretty poor because up until then I hadn’t realised that.
After disembarking at Calais, getting on the coach, and paying a visit to the ‘magic room’ (the guide’s expression for ‘the toilet’) we travelled to Brussels, where we had an hour and a half to explore the Grande Place and get some food, before heading to our hotel. The next morning, we had a drive through the city before moving on across the Belgian/German border to a town called Boppard. We had 45 minutes at the most to look around before leaving for a cruise down the Rhine (which was actually quite nice because we got to see vineyards and castles as we sailed along the river) so we had some coffee and cake before rejoining the rest of the group. After the cruise, we got back on board the coach and went to our hotel which was on the outskirts Frankfurt. Some of the group decided to take the S-bahn into the city, but my friend and I decided to stay behind to make use of the sauna/steam room (we were also very tired which played a part in our decision).
After a delicious breakfast the next morning, we went to a beautiful little town called Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which is very picturesque with cobbled streets and historic houses. We had some free time to explore, then got back on the bus for our journey to our hotel for the night which was in Innsbruck. (Yes, we did spend a lot of time on the bus that day). We saw some beautiful scenery on the way.
After leaving Innsbruck the following morning we crossed the border between Austria and Italy, and headed for the next stop on our tour, which was Venice. It was very hot there, but they did have nice ice-cream and I enjoyed looking around the museums and the Doge’s Palace (most of the group had gone on a gondola tour, which I had little interest in doing). After spending the day in the city and seeing some pretty cool things like medieval weaponry and the stunning interior of the Doge’s Palace but also getting quite dehydrated I was glad to get back on the bus and go to our hotel.
The following day we went to Verona and saw Juliet’s balcony, before travelling to Lucerne in Switzerland, our next destination. It’s a beautiful city. My favourite things about it were the wooden bridge, the lake, and the Hofkirche. From there, we travelled to France, where we stayed one night outside the town of Dole, which is in the Franche-Comte region. We then travelled to Paris, where we had a guided tour of the city and saw the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and a few other places of interest. For dinner that evening we went to a restaurant which for some reason I’m convinced was in the 4th arrondissement, although I have no specific reason for this belief. Memory is interesting sometimes.
The next morning we packed our suitcases for the final time and got on the coach for the journey back to Calais after a very tiring eight days.