Life is always just a little bit finer in Europe. Exquisite foods, adventures inspired by the world’s greatest artists, brushes with nature and night time mischief are all on the agenda as you cruise your way along the mighty Seine. Isn't that with any 21-45 aged traveller really wants?
Check-in to your hotel after 2pm and the remainder of the day is free to relax before meeting your fellow travellers for your Kickstart meeting this evening. Afterwards why not grab some dinner at one of the local restaurants or take a short walk to explore nearby Covent Garden
Meet up with your Contiki Team before we hit the road and take a ferry past the White Cliffs of Dover. Next stop: the buzzing, free-wheeling city of Amsterdam. Check out Amsterdam’s eye-opening Red Light District, where the creative and wacky come together on narrow cobbled streets.
Motor down the autobahn and get ready for a dose of uber-cool Berlin. We’ll give you the background on Berlin’s troubled history on a driving city tour. Learn about the East/West split at the Berlin Wall and check out the controversial Reichstag (German Parliament) as well as Tiergarten (one the world’s biggest parks), while you Trip Manager points out the little details and peels back the layers of history. With two nights in this historical hot spot, you’ve got time to find out what makes Germany’s capital one of the most cutting-edge cities in the world. It’s hard to believe that this funky town has had such a troubled past.
Fuel up on breakfast this morning as we've got one big ol' day of Berlin exploring ahead of us. First up, we'll tour the city's best bits, stopping for photo ops at the Holocaust memorial, the Brandenburg gate and Checkpoint Charlie. We'll then take a humbling trip out to Sachsenhausen, a Nazi concentration camp where prisoners were kept from 1936-1945. Here we'll discover more about the brutal Nazi regime, documenting the experience in poignant black and white photography. Once back in the city you'll then have the afternoon free to wander and shoot as you please. Maybe you'll feel yourself graviating towards trendy Mitte or the hipster haven of Kreuzberg, or perhaps our optional Berlin tour is more your jam - think street art photography that includes the East Side Gallery, plus a progressive dinner that will see you eating at various stops throughout the city.
Heading south, we roll on to the region of Dresden, often dubbed 'Florence of the North' because of its beauty. This town completely rebuilt itself after being flattened in World War II. Your Trip Manager will show you Dresden’s signature buildings, like the Opera House, the domed Frauenkirche, the Royal Residence – once home to the Saxon Kings – and the massive Zwinger Palace, where the royals went to party! Lunchtime! Go local and hang out in a cafe, order some hearty German dishes with regional specialities like sour roast and potato soup. Then we head over the border and into the Czech Republic to Prague.
The early bird may well capture the worm, but so does the photographer. Wake up bright and early for our sunrise photography session to learn the trick to capturing the first golden rays of the day. Heading back to the hotel for breakfast, you've then got an entirely free day to explore your fariytale surrounds. Do your own thing, or opt to join our cycling trip through the city, stopping off for regular shooting ops on route.
Prague Stock up on breakfast treats, then it's eyes to the green and grassy horizon as we make for Salzburg. Berchtesgaden Lunch stops don't come much more picturesque than this. Nestled in the Bavarian Alps on the Austrian border, Berchtesgaden is the town best known for the Eagle's Nest - a teahouse that was built for Adolf Hitler, and a work of engineering mastery thanks to it's elevation of 1834m above sea level. Today, you can take the specially adapted mountain bus up to the nest to enjoy 360 degree panoramic views of the surrounding alps. Next up: storybook Austria. Salzburg is famed for two things, Mozart and The Sound of Music, but you'll soon realise this magical town deserves your praise entirely in its own right. Our evening walking tour, accompanied by a Local Guide, will take us through Mirabel Gardens and into the streets of the old town, where classical music drifts from open windows. We'll stop by the resplendent Hohensalzburg castle lit up in all its night time glory (read - photographers dream), then dinner tonight is on us, with an optional food photography lesson for those who are keen. If you're looking to up your Insta food game, this is your chance.
Austria you’re an overwhelming beauty. Although it would be nice to stay forever, it’s time for us to cross the border and prepare to stuff ourselves full of all things pizza & pasta. Yes, traveller we’re making our way to Italy!
Today we’ll cross the Apennines mountain range on the way to the ancient city of Rome. Stylish Rome oozes energy and overflows with relics from another age. Our special access coach tour gets you right into the thriving atmosphere of this living timeline as your Trip Manager shows you the Colosseum and Piazza Venezia. Continue on foot to check out the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. Honour tradition at the Trevi Fountain and throw a coin in the fountain’s waters (it’s meant to improve your chances of returning to Rome!) or maybe hang out with your new friends at the Spanish Steps, sit back with a few slices of pizza and people watch.
This morning, make the most of our Local Guide’s inside knowledge with an optional guided tour of the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. Take off into the city and absorb the atmosphere, as Vespas flash past timeworn monuments that are surrounded by fountains, pizzerias, cafés and bars. Before you hit the shops, let your Trip Manager point you in the right direction with some tips on the best buys. In your free time, live the local lifestyle by indulging in a long lunch on a paved piazza or knock back a shot of espresso at the bar, like the Romans do.
Next up: Umbria’s rustic hills and many vineyards. Travel past the iconic cypress trees of this olive oil producing region, to the Renaissance city of Florence. The scene-stealing Duomo Cathedral rises above the city. Get the inside track on Florence’s cultural beginnings from our Local Guide as the group explores streets crammed with artworks from masters like Michelangelo. Then, take a look into a skilful demonstration of Florentine leather making and understand this region’s traditional art. The city’s markets are a great place to hang out and bargain. Grab a gelato in your free time and enjoy the feel of this gorgeous city. Tonight there’s a choice of a group dinner – an authentic Italian feast in the Tuscan hillsides, where you’ll get to indulge in regional dishes & sip on local Chianti wine. Afterwards, take it up a notch & opt to head with the group to one of Florence’s top clubs where you can show off your moves on the dance floor.
Today, journey to Pisa and get up close to its most famous monument, the Leaning Tower. Later, it’s onto the to the national park and UNESCO World Heritage site of Cinque Terre, where colourful coastal villages dot 18km of ragged cliffs and old walled vineyards reach the water’s edge. As we ride the train along the coast, take in the atmospheric scenes and watch the locals fishing along the shore. Rub shoulders with the rich and famous in Portovenere and check out picture-perfect Monterosso. Some ideas for your free time in the area include walking the legendary Via dell’Amore (Lover’s Lane) for amazing sea views. If you want to just chill out and get into the good life, grab a table at a beachfront cafe and try some mouthwatering pesto or foccacia bread.
Walk away from the Italian Riviera with plans to come back here for a few weeks or months, why not?
With covered wooden bridges, cobbled lanes and quaint buildings, Lucerne’s centre is perfect to explore on foot. Also to stock up on lots of genuine Swiss chocolate! Your Trip Manager can give you pointers on where to pick up the best-priced watches Switzerland is so famous for. This afternoon, choose an optional cruise on one of Europe’s most striking lakes, where stunning scenes of the Swiss Alps reflect back across the water.
With down-time on the coach, plug in your MP3, chill out to some music and chat with friends while travelling through the scenic wine producing region of Burgundy. Tonight, the group kick-starts Paris with the ‘Tour of Illuminations’, which shows off the French capital’s transformation into the “City of Lights”. Lamp-lit bridges and cool little cafés give us a real taste of Paris’ romance. Your Tour Manager will fill you in on the world’s most-recognised monuments, like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.
This town is loaded with possibilities. Discover its many bistros, museums, tree-lined avenues and diverse quartiers (neighbourhoods). Get a feel for French flair by window shopping on the Left Bank. Step into the Notre Dame or explore the endless galleries of the Louvre, where you can get up close to the famous Mona Lisa. Try indulging in some delicious pastries and relax in one of Paris’ many green spaces. Tonight is the last night with your friends, so make it special. Treat yourself to the full Parisian experience with a cabaret show, complete with can-can girls, dinner and Champagne. But don’t stop there – afterwards hit the clubs and finish up your travels with a big Parisian night out.
Say goodbye to your land-fairing mates as you meet up with your river roaming crew aboard The B, and prepare yourselves for 7 nights of the finest French everything. We'll be kicking things off as we mean to go on, with a welcome reception and dinner. Who's pumped? Prosecco glow on high, we'll then head out for our first taste of Paris by night. If you've ever seen the film 'Midnight in Paris', the movie magic will be kicking in right about now as you join a local host to get the low down. Wandering along the banks of the Seine as dusk approaches, you'll catch your first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, illuminated in all her glory. Oh hello, butterflies...
…And we're on the move. We'll be casting off from Paris super early this morning, but chances are you'll still be snoozing peacefully. Them's the joys of a river cruise! Journeying North West of central Paris, we'll be pulling up in the pretty town of Conflans Sainte Honorine. If you think this town is picture perfect, your opinion is shared by the likes of Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh, who all famously painted this landscape. Speaking of Van Gogh, this afternoon you'll have the chance to walk in the great artist's footsteps in the quintessentially French village of Auvers-sur-Oise, where he spent the last months of his life. After something a little more regal? The palace of Versailles and its immaculate gardens should do the trick. Back on board tonight, we're getting the cocktails on ice and preparing for a night of dancing, under the starry starry night...
Feeling fuzzy from the night before? Our early morning yoga class on deck, followed by fresh croissants and a strong coffee, should see you right. And you'll need every ounce of energy for today, as it's a busy one. If you're a history head, today is your day; we'll be stepping back in time to June 6, 1944, recounting the monumental events of the D-Day landings in Normandy. If you're more of a foodie, have we got a treat in store; we'll be taking you on a medieval walking tour of Rouen, stopping by the food market with our on board chef to pick up local treats for lunch. Back on board, he'll then turn those local flavours into a local feast, dishing you up a traditional Normandy lunch to munch on the galley. What more for today? Well, we've got our Optional Old city pub crawl this afternoon, and then this evening yet more goodness in the form of a sound and light show at the Rouen Cathedral, a favourite of Monet. How do you top off a great day? By getting a local DJ to ease us in to the early morning, that's how...
They say half the fun of the journey is getting there, and that's sure as hell the case for Honfleur - it's connected to Le Havre by a 7000-foot-long cable stayed bridge, which you can walk to the centre of and stand 700 feet above sea level. Eek. Once in the pretty seaside town, you've got some tasty looking options on how to spend the day. Maybe you'll opt for our Cliffs of Étretat day trip for a glimpse of France's Alabaster Coastline, or maybe your sweet tooth will win out, in which case you'll love visiting Normandy's famous apple orchards on a visit to a cider farm, complete with home cooked lunch. Decisions, decisions...
Travelling overnight, we'll pull up in Vernon around breakfast time. Yet another quaint riverside town with higgledy piggledy houses and picturesque winding lanes, you'll be itching to get on land to explore. What's better than two feet? Two wheels, obvs, so this morning we'll be taking advantage of our free to use on board bikes, cycling the easy 5 mile route along the Seine from Vernon to the artist's hamlet of Giverny. Once here, budding Instagrammers will likely love our Optional photography class, held in Claude Monet's iconic gardens. Hungering for something a little more physical? Kayaking along the Seine or paragliding in the Vexin National Park should get the blood cells pumping.
Another overnight journey will see us pulling into Paris super early, so expect to wake up in the midst of Parisian life. How best to explore this city? Our advice - by BatoBus (hop on, hop off), or by bike, and our on board bikes should feel pretty familiar by now. On board today we've got some fun activities bubbling away, think lectures on French lifestyle and a champagne cocktail mixology class, or if you prefer to get out and about, our street art walking tour or cuisine culinary tour are both good options, and both led by locals. Tonight, we're getting raunchy, rowdy and utterly hedonistic, as we make our way to the Moulin Rouge. Complete with can-can dancers, feathers, acrobatics and sights that certainly surprise, this is a Parisian must.
It's our last day as a river roaming pack today, so let's go out in style. After one final early morning yoga sesh on deck, another day of Parisian roaming is in store. If you haven't already, of course a visit to The Louvre should be well up there, and going with a guide seriously helps to enrich an otherwise quite overwhelming experience. Or, maybe you're looking to shoot the City of Lights from a different angle, in which case our Parisian rooftops Optional was basically made for you (and you'll be following the lead of some of the greatest writers and artists of all time). As sun sets, there's really only one place to be; the Palace of Versailles, for one seriously impressive night time fountains show - the perfect end to one helluva trip.
After one more blissful sleep, we're sad to say it's all over. River cruising, you're our new favourite way of travelling…
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Trip Name: European Encounter plus the Seine Experience
Duration: 24 Days
From Price: $5,759
Supplier Tour ID: CEHXSE/205403
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