The sightseeing onslaught begins!

4:00AM Wake-up call

4:45AM Downstairs for breakfast

5:30AM On the bus

6:00AM Meet at tour company headquarters for trip info and money exchange.

6:30AM On the road again. Snooze on the bus....

9:05AM Arrive at Dover on the Southern Coast of London to take a ferry across the English Channel to Calais, France. Had breakfast on the ferry.

1:30PM Move into a new time zone and arrive in France. Head for Amsterdam, Netherlands. More snoozing on the bus.....

2:00PM Stop on the Belgium/Netherlands border for coffee break

2:30PM Continue on. Still more snoozing on the bus.....

4:00PM Arrive in Amsterdam. Take a tour of the Dassan Diamond Company. See a very brief demonstration of diamond cutting & polishing. Fell in love with a beautiful 0.26 carat Wellington Color SI 99% Brilliance Pave Ring. Mom dragged me out of store before I spent an entire month's paycheck... Oh it was calling my name... and I'm not THAT much of a jewelry girl.....

5:00PM Tour of Amsterdam via boat. Got an interesting view of the city from some of its canals.

6:30PM Dinner and sovenir shopping in Amsterdam's main street area. Had the most enormous order of fries I've ever seen with mustard. (Mustard is very sweet here in Amsterdam.) Stores really do sell everything under the sun. They had clogs, t-shirts, bongs, vibrators, marijuana seeds, "magic" mushrooms, condoms, edible underwear, etc. etc. If it had to do with tourism or the "pleasure" industry, they had it for sale.

8:00PM Walking tour of "Red Light" district. It is as racy as one can imagine... and we were out there early...The girls are young and beautiful...The men walking around are horny and rowdy. If you think Vegas is a wild time, go to Amsterdam. It makes Vegas look like a kindergarten. They have pissoirs on the street corners. Pissoir = public urinal without any covering. Men just walk up and handle their business. The funny part about this portion of the show is that my mom was so embarrassed... I was waiting for her to faint from embarrassment.

9:00PM Arrive at the hotel. I am pooped. According to our tour guide, Kevin this is the longest day of our trip. The rest of the days are not supposed to be this gruelling. (I'm not inclined to believe him since we're supposed to be up and out by 7:45AM tomorrow....)

4 Countries in one day = very tired Anne... Goodnight...zzzzzzz

Chinatown & Apple Store London

We finally did some light sightseeing. We decided to take the bus into Central London to have a look around and shop. We ended up in London's Theatre Distric & Chinatown. I did even know that London had a Chinatown! While my mom, aunt, & uncle hung around Chinatown, I made a mad dash for the Apple Store near Picadilly Circus. It was the longest walk of my life! I went to purchase a digital camera adapter for my ipod. The Apple Store in London was like the hottest place to be. It had two stories and had the music blasting. I had never seen so many young and attractive people all in one place. They had security guys at the door and for a split second I thought they were going to card me. All they need was a bar serving cocktails and that would have been it for me... It would have been nerd heaven! hahahahahah.

Side note
Although I brought my digital equipment with me, I don't think uploading will possible. I'm still looking into it.. At worst, I'll post the accompanying photos when I get back.

1st Stop - London

I'm in London at the moment and will be here until Friday. The flight from Southern Cal to here was exhausting. My aunt, uncle and I flew from Orange County to Dallas, Dallas to Chicago, & finally Chicago to London. From the time the plane left the ground in Orange County to thie time I set foot in London, it took about 17 hours including layovers. Luckily for me, I didn't sleep the night before. This made it easy for me to snooze away the majority of my flights. I think I woke up twice to have the micro-meal the airline serves and to have a beverage. Otherwise, I was completely unconscious. I hope I wasn't snoring too loudly..hahahaha..

Good news is my dad is okay. He just won't be able to travel for quite some time.. Even better news is that my mom was able to go after all.. In fact, she arrived here at 9:15 this morning. She's snoozing soundly in our hotel room as I speak.

I've been in London for about 1.5 days and haven't really gotten to see much. The jet lag is terrible. The time difference between here and Los Angeles is 9 hours. We had planned to go around yesterday, but ended up sleeping most of the day. Thankfully, our tour doesn't officialy start until Friday. Currently, I've been walking around some my hotel which is in the Islington section of London. This is considered North London. Hopefully, I'll actually get to see some sights today.. I will post more later:)

Change of Plans

I got a call from my mom that my dad was sick. She took him to the Emergency Room. As it turned out, some new medication he was taking aggravated an ulcer he has had for years... only it turned it into a bleeding ulcer. Long story, short. My dad won't be going on the trip. It's uncertain if my mom will make it either. . . She's waiting to see what the doctor says about my dad's condition. The tour doesn't start until Wednesday. So, shes hoping to catch up with us... We'll see.

Meanwhile, I leave in two hours and I'm still packing!!

Preparations & Explanations

So, I'm taking my First trip to Europe. I'm going with my mom, dad, aunt & uncle. It's not exactly the backpacking trip I had wanted to do years ago with my girlfriends. This, however, is a start. We're going with a tour company. The rest of my family is not nearly as adventurous as I am. So, the thought of just "winging it" and just going on a trip without a tour guide completely escapes them. I have nightmares about the last trip I took with my family where I spent an ENTIRE vacation in Hawaii on a tour bus. In this instance, I'm told that being with a tour company makes museum visits and language barriers that much less of a hassle... We shall see...

Here's an overview of the trip.

Here's the pretty little map that the tour group provides.

And here's my itinerary... They make it all sound so exciting....

Day 1

Depart USA. Overnight transatlantic flight to London.

Day 2

Arrive London (2nights). Time to relax after checking into your Trafalgar hotel.

Day 3

London at leisure. Enjoy a full day at leisure to explore Britain's exciting capital. (Continental breakfast)

Day 4

London - Amsterdam. A warm welcome from our Tour Diector as we drive to Dover bidding farewell to the White Cliffs on our sea crossing to Calais in France. Here we continue through Belgium to Amsterdam. (Continental breakfast)

Day 5

Amsterdam - Mannheim. Our morning orientation tour reveals its canals, bridges and we stop to visit a diamond-cutting factory. Then via Arnhem to the German border stopping in Cologne to see its Cathedral. We enjoy a Rhine cruise, disembarking in St. Goar before stopping to view Heidelberg castle and continuing to our hotel. (Continental breakfast / Dinner)

Day 6

Mannheim -Innsbruck. After breakfast we drive to Munich where an orientation tour shows us the Olympic Stadium and Marienplatz. Next a scenic drive brings us into Austria as we head to Innsbruck. (Continental breakfast / Dinner)

Day 7

Innsbruck - Venice (Marghera). Morning orientation includes the famous Golden Roof. Then we cross the Europa Bridge to the Brenner Pass. We cross into Italy via the foothills of the Dolomites to Venice. (Continental breakfast / Dinner)

Day 8
Venice (Marghera)- Florence (Incisa). This morning we cruise along the canals and visit a glass- blowing factory. Then there time at leisure, perhaps enjoy a cruise to the islands of the Venetian Lagoon, before we drive to Renaissance Florence for the night.(Continental breakfast / Dinner)

Day 9

Florence (Incisa) - Italian Lakes. In the morning there is time to shop or explore further. As we leave Florence we gain a scenic view from Piazzale Michelangelo, before setting off for the Italian and Swiss Lake Districts. Later, we reach our hotel in the Italian Lake District. (Continental breakfast / Dinner)

Day 10

Italian Lakes - Lucerne. Today's drive takes us via Lugano in Switzerland and on St. Gotthard highway. From here we descend to lakeside Lucerne, where orientation includes the Lion Monument. (Continental breakfast / Dinner)

Day 11

Lucerne - Paris (2nights). After breakfast this morning we will drive to Basel and cross the French border to the wine-producing area of Burgundy. Then we continue en route to romantic Paris. (Continental breakfast)

Day 12

Paris sightseeing & at leisure. This morning's sightseeing tour includes views of the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysées and of course Notre Dame. Your afternoon is at leisure in this fabulous city.(Continental breakfast)

Day 13

Paris - London Today we pass the Battlefields of two World Wars as we make our way to Calais. Here we board the ferry to Dover and continue on by coach to London. (Continental breakfast)

Day 14

London - USA. This morning there's time to bid farewell to Britian on your return flight to the USA. (Continental breakfast)


Day 14... Did you catch that? That's two whole weeks on the road. Did I mention that I have done absolutely nothing to prepare? I really had hoped to read some nice guide books, pick up a few language phrasebooks, & shop for a great wardrobe. I really didn't want to be one of those obnoxious Americans that stumbles around foreign countries speaking English loudly in the hopes that I would be understood... Nada... Not a chance. Got nothing ready... I guess I'm going to have to resort to gesticulating wildly with my hands. After all, body language is universal, right?

I'm leaving in two days and I have nothing prepared. Somehow, I had started a new job & moved into a new rental all within about a month of my leaving for this trip. I had it all perfectly planned... And all those plans went to hell in basket... Work became hectic & the move did not go smoothly at all... In fact, I'm going to have to unpack my boxes only to have to repack all my clothes into my suitcase. Not to mention, I'm going to spend the next two days scrambling to buy all the appropriate clothing, shoes (heaven only knows I do NOT want to look like an American tourist), & suitcase for my two week adventure... Wish me luck... I think surviving the next two days will be an adventure....