Personal, Travel

Topdeck: Winter Spirit Tour – France, Switerland

Topdeck trip – Winter Spirit

I am now on break between the two professional development trips with first one being in Toronto Canada, and second part being in United Kingdom.  I chose the 24 days tour through Europe, which visits the following countries: France, Switerland, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia Czech Republic, Poland, Germany and Belgium.

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Day 1 – Leaving from London, United Kingdom to Paris, France

I stayed at Clink78 overnight after my flight from Toronto to London.  The hostel is clean and safe as it is just a bed and a roof over my head.  This hostel offers gaol experience with luxury.  I don’t mind it however I rather not have to press the button on the shower all the time (5 times which means 5 minutes of shower), just to have a good decent shower after a long day.

I met the tour guide and she was not informed of a deaf person boarding the bus.  The travel agent has informed the Topdeck management team that I am Deaf and will be on the tour.  Previously, when I have told a tour company that I will be on the tour, they were always accommodating and provided information sheets and stories of each places. Not this time so I has to explain to her what is best for me.

We left Clink78 and London toward to Dover Port to catch a ferry to cross the English Channel to France.  English Channel … interesting experience and I wouldn’t repeat it again … I prefer the Eurostar train than crossing the English Channel.  Maybe from Belgium will be different.

Once we arrived in France, we were on road for 4 hours … I slept most of the way.  When we arrived in Paris … OMG!  I completely forgotten what the traffic was like and it is worse being on the bus looking at the crazy traffic! Took us about 45 minutes to get to our hostel – St Christopher’s Inn in 9th Arr. It was nice and each bed has it own curtain to close to block out the lights.  Plus bit of privacy sleeping.

We had French dinner:

  • Entrée: French Onion Soup and 1 garlic and parsley snail
  • Main: Beef Stew on mashed potato

Snail sort of taste like mussels … I liked it.  At least I was open-minded about it.  🙂

After dinner, we went on city light tour with our tour guide – interesting as it is Christmas soon so lots of Christmas lights were out and we saw the Christmas markets.  We stopped at the war museum to take photo of Eiffel Tower, which has Mandela name on it with his birth and death date.  Interesting night.

Day 2: Paris, France

While most has decided to do the touristy things that are popular in Paris, I have decided to visit the International Visual Theatre.  While I was walking to the train station, I was walking through the Indian/Ukrainian/Nepal cultural hub.  It was eye opening and I apologize that I didn’t take any photos. I enjoyed looking at the Indian Hindu clothes – wedding, formal and casual clothes.

I caught the train to where the International Visual Theatre which is another arts cultural hub with other countries around the area. There was even German restaurant and South African restaurant … these are being hidden.  I am glad I made the decision to visit International Visual Theatre as it allows me to see the hidden gems of Paris.

International Visual Theatre was open due to school holiday and they were putting on shows for children – both deaf and hearing.  This theatre is not just for Deaf community but for theatre community and this was disappointing for me.  I was liaising with a Deaf guy – I forgot his name already … Sorry.  He mentioned that there are not many Deaf performers breaking through to become successful in theatre field.   Also there is not enough professional development for Deaf performers.   There are only 3 deaf theatres in Europe and its France, Sweden and Norway.  Shocking.  I thought there would be more than that but the reality hit home for me.

I also noticed the common occurrence of issues with career progression – I feel the same way, as I want to be educated as a Deaf performer rather than a hearing performer with deafness. I hope that make sense?

Made me think a lot after my visit to International Visual Theatre.

I decided to head to Opera suburb to do some shopping before I head to Notre Dame to meet with others participants for dinner.  I bought a nice summer dress and a winter top from Desigual … my favourite fashion brand.  😀

For dinner, I had:

  • 6 garlic and parsley snails
  • Beef with R… Cheese sauce
  • Caramelised custard

Headed back to hostel for an early night while some went to cabaret.  It was a long day for me as I did a lot of walking throughout the day.

Day 3: Paris, France to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

All day driving on the bus – nothing excited happened on the road.

During the evening, we partied the night away!!  Woooo!! Haha!

Day 4: Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

I decided on one of the optional activities to visit the Jungfrau, which is the highest mountain in Europe.  I can’t even put it in word about this experience.  It is one of the most beautiful nature experiences I ever had!  Top of the mountain seeing everything below is just … WOW!  You have to do this activity and I really mean it.  You will regret it if you don’t.

I visited the Ice Palace, which contains ice sculpture and fantastic ice arts.

I can’t really explain how I have experienced this as it is breathtaking … You just have to go and see it yourself.

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