I’m just wrapping up my Europe adventure with my sister Ally (I’m in JFK on a 12 hour layover) and to curb my ridiculous depression I’m going to write out every little detail of the trip here on my blog. I must warn you, It’s going to be extremely long.

Let me give the people who don’t want to read about my journey in detail a stat rundown…

Here are the countries we have visited in 2 weeks:

United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Monaco, Italy, The Vatican

And the cities we have visited:

London, Dover, Calais, Paris, Versailles, Beaune, Geneva, Montreux, Sisteron, Cannes, Nice, St. Paul de Vence, Monte-Carlo, Genoa, Pisa, Montecatini (Tuscany), Florence, Venice, Rome, Vatican City

So that’s the breakdown. About 20 cities and 6 countries in 14 days. By motorcoach. Funny thing is we’ve had the same motorcoach the whole way – it crossed the English Channel with us on a huge cruise ship that had an entire level for buses and cars… just drive right on and off… amazing!

We were blessed with wonderful weather except for it being a bit overcast and rainy in London… but when is it not?! That wouldn’t have been true London.

Now a bit about the tour and then I’ll go into the breakdown of the locations. Ally and I decided for our first European trip we wanted all the headache inducing stuff taken care of because we don’t do well with checking into hotels and arranging transportation and staying on a tight schedule as it is…. but we wanted as much stuff as possible and our tiny amount of money to go as far as possible in the 2 weeks I had off.

SO since you get massive discounts and a great deal on everything when you go with large groups of people, a tour was a wonderful way to go. Tours wouldn’t be for everyone, I can tell you that… as our tour director kept saying, they aren’t really a vacation at all… you take your vacation when you rest afterward.

The best part of taking the tour was most definitely meeting all the people on it (about 98% Australians… I just can’t get away from them!) and our tour director, Jelle (pronounced Yell-ah) who has the most amazing accent I’ve ever heard in my life. He’s from Amsterdam… and I’m not sure that all Dutch speak English with the thick, amazing accent he does but if they do I want to move to the Netherlands and make them all speak English to me in their accents. He makes me want to learn to roll my r’s so I can speak exactly the way he does. I’ll be posting many videos so you too can enjoy hearing it. We also had peeps from New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, UK and Dubai on our trip.

I can’t tell you how much fun it is to meet all these wonderful new people from around the world and get to know each and every one of them through the course of the trip… you learn so much and go through so much together in such a short amount of time and it significantly lengthens the trip for you psychologically… it’s amazing! I feel like I was in Europe for a month!

So… the part you’ve been waiting for if you’re still reading this book… the breakdown of the locations!

I’ll go in order of the trip, starting in London, UK. Well, actually, something very exciting happened on what was otherwise a very boring trans-Atlantic flight that I must include in the story…

Kyle MacLachlan was on our flight! We bumped into him exiting the plane and a few more times in the airport. He had an adorable baby too. I guess most people don’t really even know who he is but he starred in my #2 favorite TV show of all time: Twin Peaks. Special agent Dale Cooper holds a very special place in my heart. You may recognize him instead from Desperate Housewives… never watched it but I know he has a pretty big role on that show.

So… we finally arrive at Heathrow international airport after an overnight flight super duper excited thinking of the movie “Love Actually” coming through the international arrivals. We get the shuttle we needed to be on to our hotel… the trip took 30 minutes. London is overcast and rainy… I couldn’t be more thrilled. We are in LONDON!!!! City of knights, jousting, shakespeare, crazy monarchies, amazing art, rich history and most importantly… Hugh Grant! Just kidding. Maybe not.

We check into the hotel and immediately head out onto the streets and our first stop is the London Underground to get a day pass. The very nice employee behind the counter tells us with his thick British accent that there will be a strike the next day for the underground… then proceeds to ask where we’re from and we talk about Florida.

Now for beginner’s travel tip #1… The London Underground SEEMS easy to figure out at first… sort-of… but it’s not. We must have gotten on the wrong train 10 times. In the end, right before we left London we got the hang of it (go figure). We realized the mistake we were making was that some trains leave from the same platform and stop at a lot of the same stations, but don’t have the same FINAL destination, and this is what matters when looking for the right train… finding them by their final destinations. For someone that didn’t grow up with a subway this was Greek to me… maybe not to you!

Ok, now for the London attractions. First stop was Parliament and Big Ben. Totally what they are cracked up to be. So beautiful… you never want to stop staring. We walked all along the river, also fun, dropped by the British Museum (AMAZING!) and got to see all the stuff we had only seen in text books before in person…. we even knew a few of the Egyptian sculptures and paintings by name without reading the plaques… we also had a hilarious moment where we saw a crowd of people up ahead gathered around a very large stone slab… and Ally says “why they heck is everyone gathering around that rock?” So I walked over to it and took a closer look, realized what it was, and said to Ally, “Maybe because it’s the Rosetta Stone?” haha… the highlight for me was seeing the paintings of Nebamun and sculpture of Akhenaten and Nefertiti… my favorite Egyptian art.

In London we also tried to get into a West End play… Hamlet (starring a little known actor named Jude Law) but we were unsuccessful sadly even after multiple good attempts to get tickets… beginners travel tip #2… buy London theater tickets MONTHS in advance. The locals love their theater as much as we love it.

Other highlights included Buckingham Palace, Tragalgar Square, Windsor Castle and the London Eye (the giant Ferris Wheel). Tower of London was a bit overrated but I liked Tower Bridge a lot. Would have probably been better had we made it in time to see the guards (the guys with the funny hats.)

I feel like we probably crammed more than any other tourist ever has into 2 days in London and we still didn’t do 1/2 of what we wished we could have. You need at least 4 days to do London… would have loved to see Stonehenge, Bath, the Peak District and lots of other things outside the city… at least we have plenty to do next time!