Munich 

To start off our day we enjoyed a guided bike ride around Munich with Mikes bikes. The guys were really down to earth and liked a laugh which made the tour enjoyable.First we stopped off at a lovely waterfall for … Continue reading

Dachau 

Before arriving at Dachau concentration camp (situated near Munich) we were given an overview of the history of the atrocities of WWII and the nazi party, which was handy for me as I didn’t know a great deal, only the basic facts. The mood was sombre on the coach, and I have to admit I was a little nervous as I entered the unknown.

The camp was industrial in scale, a place of systematic evil.

All of the visitors were respectful in the grounds, either quiet or silent, trying to take the scale of the historical importance in. All but two of the dormitories have been demolished, with gravel stones filling in the area of where each of the buildings once stood.
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This photograph ^ is just of one side of the camp dorms.

There was a fence surrounding the camp, lower than I thought. A small moat lay on the outside of one of the fences, for any inmate who did make it that far. Anyone did try to escape, they were shot on sight from a soldier from one of the seven watchtowers that lined the perimeter of the camp. Killed. Many chose this way out. On their terms, at least.
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Over a small bridge to the left hand side of the camp, were the furnaces and gas chamber.

I was horrified to see the size of each oven. They weren’t industrious in size, as you may think, but rather they were the only things in the place that were individual. Imagine being a soldier there and knowingly being  part of the evil of the nazi party, looking into the whites of the eyes, seeing each persons individual human features, before placing them onto a conveabelt of cremation.

We learnt that more of these furnaces had to be built to keep up with the amount of death taking place.

There was also a church in the camp, which I found odd, a refuge I didn’t think would be allowed. Though maybe it was a sick joke on the people of the camp, who mainly would have been Jewish.

After leaving the camp we headed on to Munich.

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Munich 

Coming into the city its beauty was clear to see. It is a real bustling international city. Firstly we stopped by a statue of a lady where we were told to rub her gold boob for good luck!

After being put off a couple of traditional German pubs due to questionable home delicacies, we decided on a (German still) pub to eat, that served normal pub food as well. We both had burger and chips. It was one of the best burgers I’ve had in my life! If only I could remember the name of the place I would give them a positive review on their website!

The indigenous couple on the table next to us seemed to enjoy our accents and our poor attempts to speak german, as they often looked at us and smiled to themselves.

On our way down to Hofbräuhaus we stopped off at the famous clock tower to see the ‘show’. It was getting dark at the time so the view of the spectacle was somewhat impeded. It was amazing to see all the people that were all there gazing up at the clock tower.
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Hofbräuhaus is huge! Long wooden tables and benches lay lined up row after row and filled the building. They were all made of solid oak. If you didn’t like beer then you weren’t well catered for! The place was full of people having a laugh, joke, and in deep conversation – all while swigging on their steins.
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There was a real community feel as well. People would be talking to others they didn’t know as if they were long lost friends, people old and young were mixing, and it was just a memorable place to be.
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IMG_7379 The hall would intermittently erupt into choruses of traditional German nursery rhymes, too.
IMG_7377Paul said the beer was strong as well. A couple of steins and you’d be well on your way. A great way to end a contrasting day.

Prague

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Prague was one of my favourite places in Europe so be prepared for a whole load of photographs!
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Although I do thoroughly enjoy doing all the extra activities and adventures involved with contiki tours, what I love most is when you get a complete free day to explore a town. And Prague turned about to be a perfect place to do that. I have to say, there’s something about being in a town totally unknown and unrecognisable, just wandering around with your best friend. It’s the best feeling.
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So anyway after a great night out with our new Canadian friends we got a lovely lie in before heading for a Starbucks breakfast. I do love a bagel with cream cheese (saying that, I will now watch how many I eat whilst being away since I found out 1 bagel is equivalent to 5 slices of bread!!). After our breakfast we caught the underground into town. I am so lucky that my other half is well co-ordinated and has a good sense of direction otherwise our travels to, from and around town would not go quite so smoothly.
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After enduring days of rain and cold (not that I’m not used to that weather, because I am… but I’m not used to that weather in summer clothing! For anyone planning on traveling Europe take a range of clothing the weather is unpredictable!) it was finally sunny! Lovely weather for a long day of walking 🙂 we set off across the bridge which was full of artists selling their work, handmade jewellery and musicians.
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First up, we walked to the Lennon wall, admiring the beautiful scenery along the way. It wasn’t to difficult to find, and was definitely worth the visit. When we got there, there was a guy playing Lennon songs on his guitar while others added their own graffiti to the wall. We spent a few moments appreciating the street art before heading for lunch.
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For lunch, we found this cute outside Italian restaurant, that had a band playing and a relaxed atmosphere. It was located right at the end of the bridge so even though we had our private space seated under huge umbrellas we could still watch the vibrancy of the town passing by. We ordered pizza which turned out to be delicious. During our time at the restaurant we got on talking to an older couple who were seated next to us. They told us that they’re now retired and have basically traveled the world. Everywhere we said we would love to go, they had been. It was motivating to hear of a couple that are married, own a home, have children, grandchildren and have been to so many places. People say you travel while your young then settle down. But I want to do both, travel now and continue traveling even when I own a home and have a family. Yeah it’ll be very hard, I don’t doubt that, but not impossible.
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After lunch we went to the medieval museum of torture. It was interesting to learn about the punishments back in the day but sickening to think people went through some serious pain just for petty crimes. An hour or so later we are out and about again, we had to try the local delicacy which is a Trdelnik, this is a pastry covered in cinnamon with chocolate, ice cream and strawberries inside. It was nice although next time I would pass on the chocolate as it wasn’t great. It was no Cadburys or Galaxy. Whilst walking down the street we came across the babushka doll shop, they sold a wide variety of different decorated dolls. Paul bought a set that was the Sunderland football team.
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Later that afternoon we met back up with our group and went down into one of the old nuclear bunkers. I was a bit  nervous at first incase it was claustrophobic and had limited air but it was surprisingly bigger than I thought with a staircase leading you underground to many different rooms and corridors. It wasn’t so big that it would allow you personal space once everyone was down there but I was kinda expecting having to crawl through at some point like a mine but definitely not. There was very limited furniture and no room for privacy, not even when using the bathroom. We got a guided tour once we were down there and were told all about communism and the Cold War. (I did take a couple of photographs down in the bunker but it doesn’t feel right posting photographers where a lot of suffering took place.)
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Once the tour ended we headed back into town where we went for a quick drink in the coyote ugly bar. I was so excited when I spotted it! It looked exactly like it does in the movie but when I asked the barmaid she said it wasn’t the original.
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On our way back to meet up with our group we stopped by the clock tour. This is a big tourist attraction where hundreds of people crowd around the clock to watch it chime. To be honest I think it’s extremely over rated.
For dinner we went on a river boat cruise. It was a lovely calm way to see the beautiful Prague all lit up at night. Whilst eating we had a guide come and tell our group about some local traditions. She told us that, at Easter, men whip women with twigs. This is supposed to bring health and youth to anyone who is whipped. She also told us everyone has a second birthday, or otherwise known as their name day. Because my name is Amy, my second birthday would be January 24th, which isn’t far off my actual birthday. IMG_7306
After enjoying the rest of our ride along the river we headed back to our hotel. All in all we had a perfect day! I would love to go back to Prague and would recommend it to anyone 🙂

Dresden

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When arriving in Dresden we were pleasantly surprised. We hadn’t heard anything about this little town so had no expectations but we ended up having the best morning! Dresden is a beautiful place, it has colourful buildings, lovely weather and a great atmosphere. You’ll probably hear me saying this about most places we went on our trip but that’s because each place was so unique that it made it easy to find beauty in every city. We only had a couple of hours here in Dresden, so we grabbed some lunch and went to rome the streets… Today was classed as one of our long driving days as we had to make the trip from Germany to the Dominican republic but making stop offs at places like this really does make traveling and being on the road the most enjoyable experience.
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What I remember about Dresden is the shops were filled with handmade treats, beautifully crafted jewellery and prettily decorated dining wear. I would have loved to have purchased some if it wasn’t for the worry of how to get it back home in one piece.   
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A few hours later we jumped back on the coach and headed to Prague!
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As soon as we arrived in Prague we headed for a walking tour so we could see the local landmarks and get our bearings. When rounding the corner of where the coach was parked we come face to face with this church were we had one of our many ‘wow moments’, this photograph doesn’t really do it justice, but really, the architecture is just something else. It reminded me of the Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona.
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^^ When walking by the palace we couldn’t resist… Bucket list must: take a selfie with a palace guard.
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The views over the town were yet another ‘wow moment’ for me, I think this was the start of my love for Prague ❤
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Later that evening we went to a local bar that was self service, we all sat around a table where you could help yourself to beer. There were beer pumps and screens where you could order other drinks to be delivered straight to your table.
IMG_7219It was pretty fun, even though I don’t like beer. There was also a place to wash your glass once you were finished. It was like being a barmaid for a night.
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We made some great memories this night, making friends with people from our tour. We had some long conversations and got to know each other better. What I will remember most about this night was talking to two of our new friends that were from Canada about our different cultures and local lingo. We all had such a laugh teaching each other different ‘slang’ words/phrases and perfecting each others accents. It’s amazing how we all speak English but during conversation words will come up that the other doesn’t understand.
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^^ Tried it, yep, still don’t like it.
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We got a shock when our bill came! ^^ haha but once we split it between everyone on our table and worked out the exchange rate, it actually worked out cheaper than a night out at home. After the bar we headed to a club were we danced to a few songs before heading back to the hotel for the night. What a fantastic introduction to Prague it was! 

Street Art

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Berlin has some of the best street art i’ve seen. We went on a tour called ‘Berlin by night’ where we were showed some of the best pieces by the most famous artist/gangs. Some pieces of artwork had a meaning or story behind them, others were just a territorial mark. I enjoyed this tour because it showed us a different side to Berlin, there was more culture and vibrancy when walking about the streets and seeing more of what the locals see.
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At night one of the buildings across from this one ^^ projects an american flag (that is precisely placed into the astronauts hand) onto the building to complete the artwork. Pretty cool huh? I wish we had gotten to see that, but it wasn’t dark enough and our guide said he thinks it may be broken at the minute. Shame!
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I do love a clear blue sky ^^
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For dinner that evening we stopped by a local cafe were we had a schnitzel. The cafe was cool, it linked in with the whole street art tour. Myself and Paul left our mark there by adding our names to the wall.
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Once the tour ended we headed to the pirates bar where we hung out for an hour, before heading back to our hotel for the night.
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Berlin

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During our long drive from the Netherlands to Germany we stopped by the check point Charlie museum, looked around then headed for some lunch. When we talk about traveling people often ask if we get bored or uncomfortable during the long driving days, but the truth is I kinda like it. Sitting on the coach watching the world go by, it’s also a great way to catch up on sleep and get to know your travelling buddies better. We also stop off every few hours so once you’ve watch a movie, listened to some music or read some of your book, there’s really no time to get restless. Once we arrived in Berlin we drove around looking at the famous landmarks before getting off to see the rest by foot.
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The Reichstag building – (the german parliament) ^^
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What was surprising to me is how Germany’s history of the war and communism still feels like it’s very much on the surface. There’s so many reminders around the city that it feels like they are still getting over the global devastation that happened almost 70 years ago. Around the city we saw remains of the Berlin wall, memorials and paintings dedicated to all those lives lost.
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The bear is the city’s mascot so there are many dotted around town in different positions and colours. I kinda wish I had counted how many we saw and got my picture taken with each one.
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When walking around the city we noticed these pipes above our heads, they are painted different colours to try and make them more attractive. It turns out that during construction the water was to close to the surface, so these pipes were made to carry the water away.
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Berlin actually has a whole shop dedicated to their ‘Ampelmann’ (the safety man that lights up when crossing the road) He has a different stance compared to anywhere else in the world and is wearing a hat! ^^
Later that afternoon we headed to our hotel to get changed for our evening meal. We went for dinner at a local restaurant were we tried 4 different types of sausage. It was pretty good 🙂

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The next day we went for a walking tour, we were told more in depth about what happened during the communism and Hitler times. It was very interesting learning new facts but hard to process all the information.
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The Berlin Wall.
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The Holocaust Memorial ^^
A memorial dedicated to all the Jews that were killed. The architect left no explanation as to what the blocks represent, he left it up to the public to decide. No block is the same, everyone is a different width or size. Some people interrupted this to represent every individual that was killed, others see each block as a tomb stone.
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After our tour we went exploring and stumbled across a photobooth!
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One of Berlin’s delicacies is the currywurst, I am now a big fan! German sausage topped with a tomato sauce and curry powder. It was delicious.   
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After shopping (to buy an extra layer because it was chilly) we headed inside the Berlin cathedral were we walked up lots of stairs inside the dome to get the best views over the city.
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One of my favourite things about Berlin was the street art but I took so many pictures it deserves a post of it’s own 🙂

Amsterdam

IMG_7094After meeting up with our tour group and getting settled onto the coach we headed down to Dover where we caught the ferry cross to France. I love being out at sea, I like watching the waves and seeing nothing but water as far as the eye can see. Once we were back on land we hit the road, heading straight for the Netherlands. On our way we stopped off at a chocolate factory in Belgium where we tried and bought some chocolate.
IMG_7855As soon as we arrived in Amsterdam we went exploring, we walked the streets learning about it’s history and local culture. Walking around the streets of Amsterdam reminded me of York actually, cobbled streets with old crooked buildings. It wasn’t the greatest weather whilst we were out and about, it was overcast and dull but you could still see what a beautiful city this place is. I wasn’t really excited for Amsterdam because it’s reputation is not my thing but now i’ve been I definitely want to go back one day. It’s a lovely place with the prettiest buildings and canals. I also love the fact there is more bikes than people!


Later that night we went to the Casa Rosso theatre were we watched a show, before heading back to our hotel for an early night due to our very busy schedule the next day.

The next day we headed to a clog and cheese farm in Edam. It was so much fun, we had a demonstration on how to make cheese and clogs before we were given time to taste the cheese and try/buy some clogs. The cheese was nice, but my favourite thing to come out of that factory is stroop waffles! For anyone who doesn’t know, a stroop waffle is the exact size and shape of the top of your coffee cup, this is so that you can balance the waffle onto your hot cup and when the steam raises it melts the caramel inside the waffle. It’s delicious!
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After the factory we headed to ‘Bike a Dijk’ where we got kitted up with a waterproof (because it kept raining) and a bike. We went riding around Edam, it was such a pretty place! 
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On more than one occasion we got caught in torrential rain – up until a couple of days ago it was the worst downpour i’d ever seen. It was actually so bad I could not see for the most part. The rain was streaming down our faces, I had clouded vision like when you swim under water.  
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When the rain stopped it was pretty impressive thought right?!
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WINDMILL!!
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After our bike ride we headed back into town were we had the famous Pomfrits with garlic dip, they were pretty good I have to admit. We then shopped, looked in museums and stopped by the Anne Frank house, although we didn’t go inside because the que was soo long. After a full afternoon we ran into starbucks for a hot chocolate to try and warm our insides!
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Stroop waffles! ^^ 🙂
After getting a warm indoors we decided to head back to our hotel, after being in soaking wet clothes and squelching shoes all day it was a relief to get a hot shower. We got ready for the evening then headed to a little fishing village where we had a three course meal. For the main I tried the catfish, something I’d never eaten before, and boy am I glad I did. It was literally the best fish I had ever eaten. It was cooked to perfection in a butter sauce then served with vegetables. Probably one of the best meals of the entire trip.
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The meal was a great way to get to know everyone better and to start making new friends. We had a good chat before heading out for the night to a local bar that sold over 250 different shots. We all danced the night away with not a care in the world.



London

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And so our journey begins … off we go to London. We headed down there by train as it’s only a few hours away and keeps the cost down if your travelling with a budget. Once we got there we checked into our hotel then went to chill out in the park with a picnic, it was a lovely sunny day. We have both lucky been to London a few times now and have seen the common tourist attractions so it was nice to just lie back and people watch. London is a very busy place and you always feel like your rushing from A to B, so it was a nice change to just stroll along with nothing in particular to do, you almost feel guilty! But we figured with us having a busy time ahead we shouldn’t feel too bad. We had originally planned to go to Harry Potter World but when we went to book (a couple of weeks in advance) it was fully booked! So a word of advice, I’d say book at least a month in advance. We are going to make another trip down London soon to go because it’s been something I’ve fancied doing for a while now. I’ve also always wanted to go and eat in chinatown! But just before our tour I got really poorly so didn’t want to risk eating a heavy spicy meal incase it made the sickness worse. So we will hopefully get the chance to do that some other time too.
IMG_7087IMG_7082We ate out for tea in an old English traditional pub, it had a vibrant beer garden where many people were in good spirits due to the weather. After food we headed for the tube and met up with a local guide as we had pre-booked onto a Jack the Ripper tour. For someone who didn’t know a lot about Jack the Ripper, the tour was very interesting and informative, the guide took us on a walking tour to each spot where Ripper murdered his victims, it lasted a couple of hours and is something I would recommend if you had some spare time.
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After the tour ended we headed straight back to the hotel ready for our early start the next day. We were so excited to start our 19 day tour around Europe! For anyone aged 18 to 35 that want to travel stress free take a look at Contiki, we’ve been with them twice now and love it! They organise everything and I personally think it’s the best value for money.

Crimdon Dene

DSC_0028Every year myself and my family head to Crimdon Dene
where we stay in a caravan for a week, it’s so much fun!
We go on long walks everyday, through the dean, on the beach and over the cliff tops.
Poppy and Cassie absolutely love it, they enjoy running for the ball on the big wide open fields and going for a swim in the sea…
well Cassie likes going for a swim, Poppy on the other hand
will avoid the water as much as possible.
My favourite part of being out walking is probably the conversations, getting to know each other better and having a laugh.
We talk for hours about totally different things,
ranging from what we want to do in the future and where we want to go,
down to what our favourite food or animal is.
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On an afternoon we tend to chill out in the caravan, take a nap, read a book or watch a movie before heading out for our tea time walk.
Another thing I love about the caravan is the food! BBQ’s, s’mores, picnic dinners and hot chocolate … the list is endless.
We go all out when we are on our holidays.
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Our homemade English version of s’mores …
Chocolate digestives containing 1 melted marshmallow that’s covered in melted galaxy chocolate
mmm!
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After our second walk of the day we head back for tea then chill out for the night…
this week consisted of watching a movie a night from  the twilight saga, so you wouldn’t have heard my complaining.
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A week relaxing at the caravan with my favourite people was the perfect way to start my summer holidays.

The countdown has begun …

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19 days
4 hours
32 minutes
30 seconds

Till myself and Paul head off on another summer adventure.
We have booked to go travelling around Europe!
We are both so excited.
There are so many things I love about travelling;
the culture, the food, the heat, the history,
the new friends you make along the way,
the unexpected moments, the beautiful sights, the adventure.
But what I love the most is the feeling of being blissfully happy and totally free.
Being on the road is so liberating. 
I have to admit after travelling America last summer I have now become a little obsessed with travelling.
I constantly think about where I want to go next.
Anyway just incase any of you are interested, we have planned to visit;
London
Dover
Calais
Edam, Amsterdam
Berlin, Dresden
Prague
Dachau, Munich
Tyrol
Brenner Pass
Venice
Florence
Rome, Vatican City
Chianti Region, Pisa
Lake Como
Lucerne, Swiss Alps
Burgundy Region
Paris, Valley of the Somme
Scotland

If any of you have any suggestions on great places to eat, visit or fun activities at any of these stop off’s, please let me know!

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