Barcelona - Contiki bus
Barcelona – Contiki bus

I took a fabulous trip in summer 2010 with “Contiki” a tour company that accommodates 18-35 year olds.  Contiki includes different ways of travel; such as Superior (hotels), Superior Easy Pace (hotels & relaxed pace), Budget (cabins, hostels, and budget hotels), and Camping.  Contiki travels worldwide. Of the 260 tours of varying lengths, they offer different sightseeing experiences, excursions, some meals, and optional excursions.

Amsterdam To Barcelona - Barcelona
Amsterdam To Barcelona – Barcelona
Amsterdam - In a Shoe at Cheese Farm
Amsterdam – In a Shoe at Cheese Farm

Our Contiki trip called “Amsterdam to Barcelona” was awesome and I came home with 36 new facebook friends and a lifetime of memories I will treasure forever.  Our tour group was like a family as we set out to explore sights, experience activities, and taste food.  My husband and I celebrated our five year wedding anniversary on this trip!

Amsterdam - Manneken Pis
Amsterdam – Manneken Pis
Amsterdam - Ann Frank House
Amsterdam – Anne Frank House
Paris - Eiffel tower mid air
Paris – Eiffel tower mid air

We added three days in England at the beginning of our trip, an extra day in Amsterdam, and 2 days in Barcelona.  It is economical to add on days because Contiki has pre-purchased hotel rates.  We also only paid $1800 by booking with Affordable Tours.  (Awesome company with discount travel rates).

Paris - Moulin Rouge Show France
Paris – Moulin Rouge Show France

In London, we discovered a Contiki office and found out these are in most cities for Contiki travelers.  There is a lounge area, free wifi, and staff that can assist you in your journeys.

Nice - Surrogate Candian Daughters Nice-Monaco
Nice – Surrogate Candian Daughters Nice-Monaco
Lucerne Lowen Graben Jail hotel Lucerne, Switzerland
Lucerne Lowen Graben Jail hotel Lucerne, Switzerland

Our Contiki group started in the Netherlands and we hit up the Heineken Brewery. For $15, we saw how beer was made, made a video singing Dutch music, and got 2 beers.  At night, we went on an unlimited buffet and drinks canal cruise and then went to the Red Light District. The following day we went to a cheese farm & clog maker’s house and we took a bike tour through the city of Edam.

Nice - Dinner in Nice, France
Nice – Dinner in Nice, France

We arrived in Paris by night and explored.  Our day in Paris was a day at leisure and my husband and I decided to seek out Jim Morrison’s grave which was an adventure in itself to find… At night we enjoyed the Moulin Rouge Dinner Show with the group.  This was a fabulous night to remember and we all trekked into a local bar following the show and had a blast!

Nice -Monaco anniversary 5
Nice -Monaco anniversary 5
Barcelona, Basc De Las Fades Cafe
Barcelona, Basc De Las Fades Cafe

The next stop was Lucerne, Switzerland where we stayed in a hotel that was a former jail called the Lowengraben.  Upon arrival, we went on a cruise around Lake Lucerne which was some of the most breathtaking views of the city!!  In the evening we walked through the cobblestone streets to a local dance bar.

Nice on the Beach
Nice on the Beach

Upon arriving in Chamonix in the French Alps, there were gorgeous mountains and an opportunity to take a cable car to the top of the mountain to check out the view. This place was one of my favorites.

Lucerne Switzerland Boat tour
Lucerne Switzerland Boat tour
Paris- Escargot
Paris- Escargot

On the way to Nice, France along the gorgeous French Riviera, we stopped at a French Perfumery called Fragonard and got to sample and buy products.  In Nice, we wandered around the city and hit the gorgeous beaches (these are nude beaches might I add.)  There is one bar in particular that we all fell in love with called, “Ma Nolan’s” and we got to party with our tour guide, Emmo and our bus driver, Hans!

Monaco  Happy Anniversary 5
Monaco Happy Anniversary 5
Chamonix - Mont Blanc
Chamonix – Mont Blanc

A close drive from Nice is Monaco, where we saw the Monte Carlo Casino and the port of Monaco with many boats and blue waters.  We had a great anniversary dinner there to celebrate our five years of marriage 🙂

Barcelona -Magic Fountains
Barcelona -Magic Fountains

Our last city was Barcelona and we stopped at the Sagrada Familia Catholic Church designed by Antoni Gaudi that has been under construction since 1852.  Our hotel was in the Catalonia area and by La Rambla, a long street packed with street acts, shopping, tapas & sangria cafes that had some of the best food!

Barcelona Sagrada Familia Catholic Church
Barcelona Sagrada Familia Catholic Church
Barcelona Good byes in the train
Barcelona Good byes in the train

It was hard to say goodbye to our new friends upon leaving.  I recommend Contiki to anyone in the 18-35 age groups that is interested in travelling with a fun group of like minded people that want to enjoy both day and night activities.

This article is also featured on the Contiki Blog & can be found here:  Contiki Blog

I also have a longer version of this article that can be found here: Longer version

Barcelona-funny group shot
Barcelona-funny group shot
Mont Blanc - hotel party mont blanc
Mont Blanc – hotel party mont blanc

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