Meet Elenore Giles, a 23-year old fashion blogger from Gloucester, United Kingdom. Elenore and her partner joined us on our European Highlights tour in August 2017. They decided to join the tour because they had a passion for exploring multiple places in Europe. Read her story on her first experience of being on a coach tour!
I like to travel to new places to explore new cultures and experiences. Additionally, I also like to share what I have encountered during my trip with others back home. It’s so nice to share photos and stories with others. I am only 23 and have already been to South China, Hong Kong, Canada, New York and all the places on the 10-day Europe highlights tour! It’s a lot when I sit and think about it.
I heard about Expat Explore through a friend who had already been on three of their trips and thoroughly recommended them. However, even though I had already had a good recommendation for the tours, my expectations were low as I assumed it would be budget-friendly, given it is a coach tour. I was totally wrong about this and actually the standards from Expat Explore were really high. The coach was spotless and Jo (our coach driver) always made sure it was clean every evening before we started a new day.
As well as the coach, the hotels were immaculate and in good locations. No horror stories of being dropped off in the middle of nowhere and having to shower in a grotty bathroom. They were lush! No youth hostels either – a private room for all of your party. I never had a bad night’s sleep in any of the hotels we stayed in either; I just didn’t get enough sleep because of the early mornings. In fact, I could quite easily have stayed in those beds a lot longer if we didn’t have a coach to catch in the morning!
I wanted to do the 10-day Europe Highlights tour because I had a desire to see so many places in Europe but I knew I could not afford to do them all separately. Additionally, I was also short of time with working an office job full time and other commitments, so I just wanted it all organised for me. And that’s where Expat Explore come in with an organised, jam-packed tour at an exceptionally good price. Expat Explore also states on their website that all tours depart regardless of the number of people who have booked. Our tour was fully booked so we had a nice full coach of 50 people.
At first, it can be quite daunting to think you will be spending the next 10 days with these strangers. However, once the tour began and our tour guide had us introduce ourselves to everyone, it helped break the ice and we all started to feel like a big family. Whilst we couldn’t possibly spend time with every single person on the coach, myself and my partner grew particularly close with a couple from Australia – Jorgi and Leanne. They were a lot like ourselves, a young couple who lived together and had no children so we could relate to very well. Jorgi was also a plus-size blogger like myself, so we had lots to talk about during our trips on the coach. At end of the tour I felt bittersweet, because I was happy I had connected with these people but sad I had to say goodbye. I think if we didn’t live on completely different sides of the world we’d definitely be seeing each other on a regular basis!
The days were long and jam-packed, but we saw it all and the tour was was amazingly organised by Expat Explore. The tour guide, called Gustavo, was amazingly brilliant and his knowledge of every single place we went to was outstanding! You could not fault his level of customer service. He always made sure you were okay and so accommodating to your needs. Gustavo, originally from Portugal, knew how to speak English, Spanish, Italian, a little bit of French as well as his native language, Portuguese! How amazingly wonderful is that? So you really did feel safe and secure knowing that if you cannot communicate with the locals, someone is on standby for help.
For our journey, we had a lovely German driver called Jo, and boy did he have some tough drives. After driving through the mountains in Switzerland and having a massive tailback of cars behind because we were driving slow (a coach doesn’t go that fast uphill yano!), it was on to Paris, where he had to navigate the small, tight streets of French capital.
The best moment of the trip for me was seeing the Eiffel Tower, both in the day and lit up at night. I just couldn’t get enough of it and was in awe when I saw it. I still have a picture of the tower lit up as my background photo on my phone and it’s been set as that for months! I just love it. Coming in close second place is definitely the Swiss Alps and travelling up to the Jungrachrou region. Those views were stunning and we got to touch the Swiss flag at the highest point in Europe – so cool! What was even better is that we got to share this moment with our new friends that we had met made on the tour. It was amazing.
If you’ve never travelled before what I would tell you to embrace everything, pack comfy shoes and don’t worry. There were a few single travellers on our trip and by the end of it they told us they did not feel alone in the slightest! How lovely is that? While every traveller is different, I’d say that during my coach trip I became a different person. I really thought by about day two or three I’d be exhausted from the late nights and early starts but I wasn’t. I just got on with it and made the most of my time. If you’re considering doing a tour but aren’t too sure, just go for it. Expat Explore organises everything and all you have to do is turn up with a smile. You experience so many new things and for such a good price. Don’t debate it, just do it! Your new adventure could be just around the corner.
So if you are ever thinking of doing a coach trip or are wanting to explore Europe, please consider Expat Explore. I couldn’t recommend them enough. If you don’t believe me, have a look at just some of the amazing photos I took during our 10-day trip.