By Contikivacations | October 17, 2011
Today's guest blog post is from Victoria Dillivan, the winner of the Contiki & Forever 21 "London & Paris" dream vacation! She recently returned from her Contiki London & Paris adventure (AND she took her brother as her guest! Talk about sibling love!) Read below as she shares her Contiki experience with everyone!
I just want to say “Thank You” to everyone involved, I truly had such a wonderful time! I brought my brother, Vince, who had never been outside of the U.S. I thought we could have a “bonding” trip and create some memories, which we did. From the moment our flight took off until the moment we landed, it was definitely an experience. We were so lucky to have both fantastic people and weather.
As soon as we arrived in London we sought out fish and chips near our hotel and some warm English beer…fish and chips, delicious…warm beer, not. That night, we met our Contiki group and some really great people we hung out with for the rest of the trip. We were very excited to be on vacation our first night and definitely took advantage, crawling into bed about 3am. The next day we rushed to make the bus to Stonehenge and Bath, which were both beautiful. Below is a picture of us, and I’m wearing a shirt (under my jacket) that I purchased with my Forever 21 gift certificate!
Now our second night in London, we decided to hit Camden Street for live music with our new friends. We danced all night long and laughed and laughed (no pictures needed). The next day was ours to do with as we pleased, so we decided to hit Abbey Road (my brother’s reason for living!), Oxford Street and the London Tower. Unfortunately, did you know there is a tube stop called “Abbey Road” that IS NOT Abbey Road!?!? Well, we learned that the hard way and had a nice little tour of a town called West Ham before a local laughed at us and told us we were 30 minutes on the wrong side of London. No worries, we hopped back on the tube, which we were now pros at, and made it to the correct Abbey Road before the rain started.
Now already on our final night in London, we were able to see "Legally Blonde" in the West End with our Contiki group. The musical was great and the Savoy Theater was just beautiful. We met up with everyone to celebrate a travel mate’s birthday at a Canadian bar, but decided to call it a decently early night and head back to the hotel bar so we could not miss the bus to Paris in the morning!
Bright and early we started our bus journey to the Cliffs of Dover to hop on the ferry across to France. Again, it was great weather, and we spent the trip outside watching England disappear into the fog and France approaching the ferry, quite an experience.
Once we arrived in Paris, we wasted no time! We had our night bus tour with the group, which was just gorgeous. It truly is the City of Light, so beautiful. Once our tour was over, we were dropped off at the Eiffel Tower, and believe me, it was so nice to be with Contiki and bypass the entire line, felt very VIP
After the Eiffel Tower we went out with the group to drink wine, eat crepes, sit outside, and enjoy Paris. The next day we began my favorite day of the trip (and I would guess the same for many others of the group). We signed up for a bike ride through the streets, and the weather was perfect! A few in the group were a bit nervous about navigating the congested streets on bicycles, but our guide was fantastic! He had 25 of us to control, and he was brilliant! Not a cloud in the sky, we took over the streets like we were riding in the Tour de France. He took us to see so much, but let us pause in the middle to buy some wine and cheese and sit on a beautiful overlook in the middle of the Seine to rest, relax, and take it all in. Then he let us loose in the courtyard of the Louvre…we took over!
After our exhausting 4 hour bike ride, we ran home, got ready and headed back out, there was no time to waste. A few of us decided to take in a true Parisian meal on recommendation from our bicycle guide. We enjoyed escargot, foie gras, bone marrow, steak tartar, and lots of vin rouge! Once the rest of the tour group was done at Moulin Rouge, we met up with them at the bar next door. Again we danced the night away, and had a great time (no need for pictures). Unfortunately, our scheduled tour of the perfumery the next day, just wasn’t in the cards. In lieu of that, we hopped on the Metro and headed to the Louvre. There would not be enough hours in a year to see everything available. We took in only a microscopic dose because we had to meet the bus again and head to Versailles, which of course was grandiose and beautiful, but seriously, why so much gold? Once we got back to the hotel, it sunk in that this was our last night. We got ready and headed to Montmartre and Sacre Coeur, which is one of the most scenic sites in the city. Here we had our last meal with our new friends, and joked and laughed about the last 6 days we’d spent together.
As our night wound down, our new group of friends became melancholy and decided to grab a couple bottles of wine, paper cups and just sit on the back steps of Montmartre and let everything we’d been through sink in.
My brother and I had the times of our lives; we’d do it again in a second. I’m already planning a trip back. Our tour guide, Krista, and our driver, Yorkie, were phenomenal. Krista was incredibly knowledgeable and I couldn’t believe some of the places Yorkie got us in and out of.
Again, I want to thank Forever 21 and Contiki for such a fantastic experience. I’ve tried to put the trip into words, but a linguist, I’m not. Please accept my sincere gratitude and thank you again.
Vicky and Vince - “A trip of a lifetime”