I promised you about two months ago that I would have a new post up within a week or two. Well, as my mother so kindly pointed out (see comments of previous post), that didn’t exactly happen. So here I am, mid-late November, finally writing to you again. Ohhh how I’ve missed thee.
Here’s the bad news. This is not the grandiose, life-changing, philosophical summary post that I promised you all. No, that may never come.
However, I do have good news! This post is going to be rather exciting, and quite helpful for anyone thinking about going abroad in the future… I’m looking at you Jacqueline and Meredith…
During my four-month stint abroad, I traveled quite a bit. Well, that’s an understatement. I traveled quite a LOT. A lot a lot a lot a lot. (Allow me to introduce you to my friend, the Alot monster: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/04/alot-is-better-than-you-at-everything.html) Because my friends and I were novice travelers, we often made use of what else, TOURS! to help us see the magnificent cities of Europe. Some of the tours were free, some were not. Some involved walking, others riding in buses, still others biking. Thanks to these tours, I saw monuments, parks, beaches, buildings, and much much more that I probably (definitely) would have missed had I relied upon my own map-reading and time-management skills. All in all, they were pretty dang phenomenal, and you can thank them for the majority of the beautiful pictures I posted on Facebook last May.
And so, without further ado, I’d like to present you with the top # tours I took in Europe:
1. We Hate Tourism Tours!!: Lisbon, Portugal
Guys, this was freaking amazing. An open-Jeep tour of beautiful Lisbon, Portugal + surrounding cities, led by a native Portuguese- pastries, beaches, castles, sunshine… need I say more? Seriously, do this tour. You won’t regret it.
2. Galway Tour Company: Cliffs of Moher and the Burren, Ireland
This was quite possibly the best bang for our buck. Our tour bus picked us up from Dublin and drove us all the way cross-country to the Cliffs of Moher near Galway and back in one day. Phew! For anyone traveling to Ireland- the Cliffs are NOT to be missed, and this is the best way to see them. Trust me, you’d never make it through the Burren on your own. They throw in an adorable, elderly leprechan-like tourguide for free, too.
3. Scavi Tour: Vatican City, Italy
If not the coolest thing I did all semester, it was pretty darn close. Yes, you have to make a request to the Excavation Office of Vatican City to get on this tour. Yes, it is kind of a secret. Yes, it takes you underneath St. Peter’s Basilica to see up-close and personal many of the original Catholic catacombs. I don’t care if you’re Catholic or not. Seeing the alleged bones of St. Peter is spine-tingling.
4. Fat Tire Bike Tours: Paris, France
Okay, let’s be real. Who hasn’t dreamt of riding around Paris on a bicycle? It’s just sOoOoO romantic! Yes, it was freezing cold, but it was also awesome and hilarious and probably the best way to quickly see much of the city. If small children could do this tour, so can you!
5. Viator: Cinque Terre, Italy
The Cinque Terre is absolutely the most beautiful place on earth. I’m certain of that fact. If you travel to Italy, you’re not gonna wanna miss these five cities. Yes, you have to hike between them (or you could take the tram teehee), so why not have a guide to help you along and to point out the best gelato shops? I guarantee I would have been lost in the CT without this tour.
6. The Original London Sightseeing Tour: London, UK
When you think London, what do you think? If you said double-deckers, then you’re right! If you said something else, well, it better have been fish n’ chips. This tour was sweet mainly because a) We got to see the city from two-stories up, and b) It was hop-on-hop-off 2 days for 1, which was exceedingly helpful when the student protestors stopped traffic and the cab drivers refused to take passengers…
7. 100 Highlights Tour: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam is quite possibly the most difficult city in the world to navigate. Not kidding. There are beautiful canals everywhere, and the city offers so many sights, but it’s hard to find them without help. Take this super-inexpensive boat tour, and you won’t miss out!
8. Sandeman’s New Europe
This company offers free walking tours of 14 major European cities. Yup, you read that right. FREE. ABSOLUTELY NO COST TO YOU! (save your aching feet) We took advantage of these tours in Dublin, Ireland and in our very own hometown Madrid, Spain, and they were well worth our money! Ha ha, get it? FREE. In all seriousness though, this is such a great thing they have going, and I urge you all to jump right in!
9. And last but not least, I just want to give a shout-out to the tours put on by none other than St. Louis University. During the first two weekends that I traveled I was able to attend four day trips to Spanish cities (Salamanca, El Escorial, Toledo, and Segovia), all thanks to the university. It was the perfect way for me to ease weekend travels, and was a great way to see more of my home country, Spain.
Well, that’s all folks! Let me know if you have any more questions about the tours!