Since we got back, almost every single person we have spoken to has asked what the best thing was about our tour. For me there was no single best thing. I can honestly say I enjoyed everything about it... except Lucerne, and even though it pains me to say it, I have to admit that there were things about Lucerne that I did quite enjoy too, just a little bit ;-)
If I had to choose a favourite city, it would be a tie between Rome and Paris. A place I wouldn't rush back to would be Cologne and heaven help me, Ludwigshafen!
I've also been asked if I would recommend this particular tour. Definitely. If you're looking to see an awful lot, in a really short space of time, this is the tour for you. BUT if you're looking for a leisurely ramble through Europe, don't pick this tour! If you want 5 star hotels, complete with room service....think again! If you don't know what it means to be punctual, for the sake of your fellow travellers, don't do this tour!
This tour whets your appetite. It gives you just enough to leave you wanting a whole lot more. I now know for sure that I will die if I don't get back to Italy in the next 24 months!
So many things on this tour surprised me: Amsterdam was lovely - I totally didn't expect that, I had this image in my head of a druggie-infested, sex-pit of a place. Not so! I loved Amsterdam. I had been to Paris before and disliked it intensely, this time round I fell in love. Can't wait to go back there. I knew I'd love Italy and I did. Love it, love it, love it. I had been told that the Italian drivers were maniacs and the traffic was a mess, quite frankly the South African drivers make the Italians look like senior citizens on a Sunday afternoon stroll. I'd been warned that Venice was smelly and disgusting, totally not the case at all. Everywhere we went there was something unexpected and surprising.
I have to admit that I wondered how Rox, Paula and I would cope sharing a room and spending such a lot of time together. Although we get along really well, we don't live in each other's pockets as a rule and we like to have our own space and privacy. As it turned out, I needn't have worried, we had such a fun time together, the three of us! I haven't laughed so much in years.
But I think what surprised me most of all was me! Truth be told, the whole family, myself included, wondered how I was going to cope with the tour experience. I am extremely anti-social, I don't do boats (I had to get off a booze cruise on the lake at Sun City in April because I was sea-sick!), I have a new, but intense, fear of flying, in fact I have a fear of any form of transport other than my own two feet, I detest public toilets and I have the smallest bladder on the planet. How the hell was I going to manage, for 12 days, on a bus, with a whole bunch of strangers, river cruises, gondolas, infrequent toilet stops.....?
I loved every minute of it, even though I was waaay outside of my comfort zone! I have to be honest and admit that I hated the flying part though, but I would get on that plane again tomorrow, quite willingly, if I could do it all over again.