It’s a unique experience to visit the town of Brugges, by doing both a walking tour and canal boat ride, alike, as we did both. The canal boat ride was peaceful & relaxing and allowed yourself to unwind while taking in the distinct flavors of Brugges’ architectural building styles, which was quite interesting I thought. Going under the narrow-topped tunnels was kinda neat too! The walking tour is very informative, and you do walk a goodly amount of distance both before the canal boat ride and after.
There are tons of places to shop in Brugges. The most notable shops they boast are chocolate factory stores everywhere. Then there are the Belgium fries and Belgium waffles which you can splurge on in addition to the many chocolate stores we found along the streets. I’d highly recommend visiting Brugges to anyone who’s interested in shopping, eating, and who craves for chocolates, while enjoying the architectural styles of this quaint, charming little village! It was a favorite of mine!! :0)
7.) London, England (via Dover) ~ For this port of call, we chose the tour called “Scenic London & Free Time”.
The amount of free time given was exactly 1 hour and 10 minutes, as I looked at my watch, from 150 PM to 3 PM, and the free time was given at the end of this tour.
Again, just like in Paris, many of the sites you see in London are whilst onboard the motorcoach bus, with only a couple stops made. The first stop we made was at the Tower of London Bridge. Here you had lots of time to take pictures, and make a quick sneak peek inside the Tower shops. We could also take photos of the new city hall, too.
Afterwards, we passed by Big Ben, Parliament Square, and Westminster Abby. No stops were made at these locations, so you had to take pictures from the bus, which was sometimes a challenge. My favorite, most picturesque monuments were at Parliament Square. I’d have liked to had a stop here.
Instead, though, we were given a stop at Buckingham Palace, where we were able to get out of the motorcoach and have a goodly amount of free time to take pictures of the outside of the palace, the gold-topped gate, and fountains in front as well.
After Buckingham Palace we visited Kensington Place where we were dropped off for free time right next to the famed Harrod’s department store. Harrod’s is to London as Saks 5th Avenue is to the United States, just as a point of reference for you to understand. We had 1 hour and 10 minutes of shopping time there in Kensington Place, before we were taken to the Heathrow Airport.
Again, this was what I’d call an “Introductory Tour to London”. It just passes by pointing out the highlights of London mostly from the motorcoach bus, so you’d have to be quick to take pictures from the motorcoach bus.
I’d recommend folks to take an open-air, 2-tiered (double decker) bus, that has no roof, so you won’t have glare on your pictures from any windows, and no roof obstructions to your pictures. Just dress warmly as it is cool in London, but at least you’ll be able to take better pictures on the top 2nd deck of a London red bus, as there won’t be any window glares to your pictures, and you’ll be able to take pictures on the left and right no matter where you’re sitting as there’s no roof to that bus.
Traffic in London was enormous and extremely SEVERE! The streets are terribly slow as there’s a population of 7.25 million inhabitants residing in London, England and about a total of between 11 to 16 million transiting per day!
Our 3rd stop was at Jeronimo’s Monastery, which provided for nice pictures both inside and outside.
Our 4th stop was made at the Tower of Belem, where Portuguese explorers were seen-off. Must hurry at this location as only 10 minutes was given, and it costs money to go up inside the Tower of Belem too, which there was no time given to do this.
Our final 5th stop was made at the Monument of Discoveries on the banks of the Tagus River, erected in 1960. Again, must hurry as you’ll only be given 5 to 10 minutes here.
I was a bit upset at the tour guide for rushing us so quickly on this tour, particularly near the last couple of stops, as we were rushed to get pictures. Overall, just a so-so tour. I could take it or leave it. It’s not the worst tour I’ve taken in my life, but it’s also not the best either.
The drive on motorcoach between the port of Le Havre and Paris takes about 2 hours & 40 minutes to arrive to Paris.
Once we got inside the Paris city district, the first stop was made at a plaza overlooking the fountains in the foreground, followed by the Eiffel Tower in the background. From here, you can take some panoramic photos of the Eiffel Tower & fountains. There were tons of people there, so it’ll be hard to get a photo without others in the way, unless you go up to the ledge to take photos.
After that stop, we spent a long amount of time driving through the streets of Paris. Nearly all the sites we seen were from the windows of the motorcoach. You will pass by the Arc de Triomphe a couple times for pictures, and you’ll also pass by the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and the side of the Louvre. You will NOT get to go inside the Louvre, nor the Cathedral. You also will not be able to go up the Eiffel Tower on this tour either, as the lines are long, and time too short.
We did make one more stop on the streets of Paris, to get a picture stop at one of the monuments, and only were given about 10 minutes to do so.
Otherwise the final 3rd stop was made at the foot of the Eiffel Tower for our River Lunch Cruise on the Seine River.
This was a special & memorable moment. We were served lunch aboard a glass enclosed river boat capsule, which was completely surrounded by glass from roof-to-floor windows. We were very close to the water of the Seine River, maybe only 3 ft from the water sitting very low, but had complete views from floor-to-ceiling windows.
On the Seine River, we were served blueberry champagne, White Wine, Red Wine, and a salad, followed by a main lunch dish of Salmon & stuffed tomato with bell peppers, and then a dessert, which was a pistachio-based ice cream derivative, garnished with warm apricots; quite tasty! The wine was complimentary with the meal! You could consume as much wine as you’d like, & then they’d keep filling up your glass. (That’s what made this tour so expensive, was the all the wines & champagnes!) Some tables went through 4 bottles of wine, I learned!
After visiting and seeing the sites on the Seine River lunch cruise, it returned to the same point on the dock it originally departed from, and we were given 1 hour of time for shopping which was right near the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately this area was NOT embedded within a shopping district, so shopping was very tight. They did have a souvenir store right next to the river boat dock that offered a few samplings of souvenirs, but nothing extravagant.
My advice is that if you’re looking to do some serious shopping in Paris, then do another tour besides this one. Also, if you’re wanting to make many stops to visit many sites, you’ll have to choose another tour other than this one as well, as this tour that I went on, is ONLY what I’d call an “Introductory tour of Paris”. This means most of what you see is while you’re on the motorcoach, and you drive-by many sites without stopping.
The river boat lunch cruise on the famous Paris’ Seine River was definitely a memorable experience, something I won’t forget. I’ve never seen a river boat constructed quite like this before, with floor-to-ceiling windows! Music was played while you ate and cruised the Seine River. A live-playing violinist serenaded your table while you ate and took in the sites along the Seine River. A couple, I saw, even chose to dance on the dance floor, too!
Visiting Paris was 1 of my 3 favorite ports of call I did during our 7 ports of call.