Many people may book a Topdeck tour months or even a year in advance. Given my circumstance, I didn’t have that luxury and the doctor advised to just go for the first 2 weeks, not the full 5 weeks. At the start of the second week, I felt like I was keeping the fatigue at bay and could manage it, so asked if I could stay on for 4 weeks. I would still miss the final week as I would have to get back to Manchester for my 6month catch-up with my neurosurgeon, Dr Karabatsou. The amazing team at Topdeck helped me facilitate this and we continued on after Rome (what was meant to be the end of my two weeks), and I stayed with the group continuing to Greece where we kicked on with 3 days of sailing the Greek Islands.
The month of travelling around Europe were some of the best days I could have imagined, and was exactly what I needed to help me recover. Some people joined, others left, but we always had around 40 people on the tour bus and at each camp site. Everyone got along so well and it just made for an extraordinary 4 weeks of travelling Europe. The places we visited are below, not including the 5th week where I was back in Manchester.
Top 3 cities – Dubrovnik (Croatia), Budapest (Hungary) and Florence (Italy)
Country for the best food – hands down, Italy
Most memorable moments – the sunset at Dubrovnik (Croatia) and sailing in Greece
See the last few locations on our trip below for the adventures of my favourite cities/towns.
‘Continue Reading’ by clicking below…
Paris, France. 2 nights – a beautifully chaotic city which we cycled around, had a tour of the main attractions, picnicked in the park and saw a cabaret show. Most people visit Paris on a Europe trip so I wont go into too much detail.
Lauterbrunnen, Swiss Alps. 2 nights – camping in the valley, encased by waterfalls and sights up to Jungfraujoch Mountain, 3,571m (11,782ft) above sea level were some sights picture just do not capture. We caught the train up to the top and adventured around the peak and played in the snow before the clouds and mist set in.
Avignon, France. 1 night – a walking tour of the old city and had a picnic dinner along the river looking back at the old city and the bridges.
Pont de Gard, France. A quick tour and history lesson on the old aqueduct. This aqueduct is over 2,000 years old and is still standing, allowing people the chance to walk along such a magnificent structure.
Barcelona, Spain. 2n – a tour of the city and its main attractions, including Gaudi’s breathtaking la Sagrada Familia. The markets and old alleyways were buzzing and we went to see a Flamenco (dance) show. Somehow, we got tickets to a Barcelona football match (vs. Athletico) where Barcelona won 2-0. Both goals scored by Neymar Jr (Brazilian superstar) when I came on in the last 20 minutes. The atmosphere at the game was better than any sporting event I have ever been to. Not surprising given their passion for football and being the largest (I think) football stadium in Europe holding circa 100,000 people.
Antibes, Nice and Monaco, French Riviera. 2n – the South of France has some great pebble beaches, historic old villages and great scenery. Not to mention the money and glamour of Monaco and the Monte Carlo casino.
Venice, Italy. 2n – a walking tour of the city and a venetian boat tour of the canal system. Famous also for its lace making and glass blowing, we had a tour of both the lace and glass making factories (looked more like someones house). We played ‘the coin game’ and lost ourselves in the narrow alleyways and canals. To play, at every corner (the are thousands in the grid of alleyways and canals) you flip a coin… tails you go left, heads you go right and let the coin direct your adventures around Venice!
Pisa, Italy. A quick tour and history lesson on the town and the stages of construction that lead to the angle of the lean of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Florence, Italy. 1n – One of my favourite cities, we went on a walking tour around the town, followed by a visit to the Ponte Vecclio Bridge and a leatherworks demonstration and a visit to see the replica statue of Michaelangelo’s ‘David’. Lunch was amazing, a 1.2kg Florentine T-bone steak, washed down with some of the best local red wine and fished with some delicious gelato. A freak hailstorm quickly rolled in, damaging cars and outdoor furniture. The cyclonic hailstorm then left as quick as it came in and we were on our way to Rome.
Rome, Italy. 2n – we went on a dusk walking tour into the eve. Unfortunately the famous Trevi Fountain was hidden under scaffolding, closed for renovations for the next few years. The other key attractions we saw on the walking tour were still amazing by night. In the following days we went back to town to see them by day, including a tour of Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel, exploring in and around the Colosseum and surrounding Roman Forum ruins and adventuring around the historic city of Rome.
This was meant to be the end of my trip, the end of the first 2 weeks. But as I was able to manage the fatigue, and it was wearing off, I continued on for another 2 weeks travelling Europe with Topdeck. These travelling adventures are on the next blog post…