03/05/2016

The Best Tours I've Been On (So Far)

I've only been to a few places in this huge world but one thing I love is a good tour. I don't mean a hop on/hop off bus around the city type of tour (although I have done that..) I mean a full day on a coach where you spend a few hours driving back equally buzzing and miserable from the long day you've just had.

#4 - Amsterdam - The Cheese Factory, Clog Makers and Windmills. (October 2014)
This tour was my first ever tour and it was very last minute.
How did it come about? we were walking around town and saw one of the many tourist hubs and literally said "Shall we go to this one? we do like cheese.." and that was that! We set off the next morning following our very bubbly tour guide and took our seats on the coach. Our first stop was the cheese factory in Volendam. We got a brief tour of the factory and then we got to taste everything they had to offer. We were given an hour and a half free time after we'd finished tasting and decided to explore the little town. We got to stop off for lunch at a cute little place across the path from the factory. While everybody from the tour had Fish and chips (we were in a fishermans village after all) I went for the wiser choice of Nutella and Banana Crepes. After a little wander, we hopped on a boat across the water to Marken, where the Clog Workshop is. We walked through the villiage and went into the little factory where we watched a woman make some clogs right there and then (I had to half watch, I sat right near the front and she advised me to shield my eyes occasionally from the wood flying every where!) Our last part of the journey was to the traditional windmills of Amsterdam! We luckily managed to get inside one where they make nut oils and chocolate. It was a very busy day and quite a few families got swept up in it all and didn't make it back to the coach in time..we had to leave them behind!


#3 - Rome - Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius (October 2015)
Meeting bright and early, we jumped straight in to the tour and headed to Pompeii. I'm not sure what I was expecting from this tour but it was quite an emotional and surreal experience. We were actually in Pompeii! It was a very surreal feeling walking around houses that still had their art work and seeing Mount Vesuvius looming in the distance. We were guided around the womans section of the baths, the original red light district and the shop section, where soup counters were still there. I thoroughly enjoyed learning properly about the history of it all. I didn't take History in school and shamefully the only information I had was from that one Doctor Who episode and the film where Kit Harrington has his top off the entire time.. oops! But I'm so glad I went and actually, I feel it was a tick off the bucket list. Next up was a short hike up Mount Vesivius, another tick off the bucket list! Now, I am not the healthiest person and my other half is scared of heights but looking back, as terrifying as it was (we were up really high) I'm so glad I did it! I did take a little volcanic rock as a souvenir too!

#2 - Iceland - The Golden Circle Tour (December 2015)
Now, I am a big kid when it comes to Christmas so try to imagine how excited I was that I was going to Iceland!? Every time I remember it I get all giddy again. It was -2 when we arrived and 11pm at night and I don't want to sound obvious here but it really was very icy. It was pitch black when we started the drive for our tour. The sun doesn't rise in Iceland until around 10.30/11 in December so the drive on the coach was nice and peaceful and full of sleepy people. As there was nothing to see, we were told about the Christmas traditions over there and I've never heard something so ridiculous and amazing in my life. If you've not heard of the 13 trolls, definitely google it! On our drive we past several churches all lit up and something I'll never forget is driving past one and all the graves had Christmas lights on them! Several hours later we arrived at The Gullfoss Waterfall and let me tell you. I have never been so cold in my entire life. I had my thick parker on, thermals, two pairs of trousers, 3 pairs of socks, boots, gloves and a scarf covering my face and I was still shiving. I lost all feeling in my toes! We had a little wander around the shop while everyone ate lunch to try and warm up, trying volcanic salt and being horrified at real fur pelts. We then went straight on to the Geyser. We had a set time and the Geyser only went off every 8 minutes. Now if you don't know me, I am 5ft and trying to see it through the crowds was a struggle but we got there and it was honestly quite amazing. Also, it is worth noting that yes, it is true, it obviously does smell of eggs around there! There was another stop on the tour, the Thingvellir National Park where the tectonic plates are pulling apart... but at this point I was so cold, wet, tired and miserable that I didn't really pay attention! Something I now regret but I got to see the best parts at least! There would of been another tour included on this page but unfortunately Icelandic weather did not permit it! We had a boat tour for the previous day to go out into the water at night and watch the northern lights with some wine but it was cancelled twice due to the snow. One day I'll see them!

#1 - Barcelona - Montserrat and Wine Tasting Tour - (May 2015)
My absolute favourite tour so far! A completely unforgettable experience. For some reason, my partner and I did not have high hopes for this tour and magically that always turns out for the best. This time around we opted for a private personal tour of just 8 of us. We had a really lovely tour guide called Dan who apparently used to live 20 minutes from me! Small world. He moved to Barcelona 10 years ago and hasn't come back since. Who could blame him when he has views like this on a daily basis?! We hopped in a minivan chatting away and everyone got on like we'd known each other for years and headed straight to Mount Montserrat. After taking in the amazing views and sitting in the shade we had two options.. climb higher or to head down to the personal little chapel and 6 of us opted for that. When we got there, Dan told us he was licensed to marry couples and not going to lie.. my partner and I considered it and then decided not to as my mum would kill me! We ran to the cart up the mountain and got there just in time. I wish I could of enjoyed the view more but we'd run so far and fast around a mountain, we just couldn't! After meeting back up with everyone we stopped for lunch in a little village just below and just enjoyed the company and good food. We then headed off to the farm and the wine tasting. When we arrived we were greeted by a young gentleman who gave us a tour of the vineyards which also grew cherries. He said help yourself and we did! The view was incredible and there was a dog there that just so excited to see us. I honestly was treated like a local who had been there for years. The final part of the tour was the little shed where the wines were kept and made and a barrel of goodies. We learnt alot about the wines and ended up taking two bottles of Clar home for £10! I'm not really a drinker but that wine was SO good. The tour was inturrupted several times by cats being in season and the dog going nuts but it all added to the experience and this tour was truly one I will never forget.


Are there any tours that you've taken that were unforgettable for the right (or even wrong) reasons? Let me know in the comments.
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