The Venice Carnevale is renowned as one of Europe’s grandest, most opulent parties – There was no way Bus2alps was going to pass that up. The response to Venice Carnevale was massive, over 200 students signed up, and anticipation was running high. The weather did not dampen the student’s spirits and all in all it turned out to be one of our biggest, fun filled day trips.
The Venice Carnevale has been running for an eternity and basically began as a way to blur the boundaries of class. It provided everyone with a chance to let their hair down, regardless of their social status and all manner of Europeans flocked here to get their party on. Centuries on the basic hedonistic premise of the carnevale remains unchanged and masquerading in elegant masks is still a requirement. On arrival to Venice, masks, silly string and wine were purchased, then it’s all aboard the water taxis. Next stop – Carnevale!
As soon as the boat docks at the port everyone disperses. Revellers are everywhere and packs of students break off to do their own thing. Some head straight into the cobblestone laneways of Venice, the thumping music and mysterious party goers have proved to alluring. Others opt to gradually work their way into the madness, starting out with a relaxed lunch on the glass blowing island of Murano. Those who make the trek to the other island of Burano are not disappointed. The quaint colourful houses and winding canals provide stunning photo opportunities and it feels like stepping back in time.
Following a long lunch the sun begins to set and it’s time for the main party. By now the festa has gotten into full swing and DJs, rock bands and buskers magically materialize in every piazza. Those attending the 300 Euro masquerade balls now wander through the streets as if on a cat walk. Their elegant costumes hark back to a time when Victorian fashion was at its most decadent and they are more than happy to pose for photos.
The rain seems to know there a party on and decides to disappear. Down by the Ponte Rialto everyone is rocking out to the sounds of an Italian cover band who I swear could give AC/DC a run for their money. The next few hours see people meander through the streets, dancing and refuelling at the many pubs on offer.
Before we know it, the party is over and it’s time to head back home. The beauty of the trip is that Bus2alps whisks everyone away to their warm beds. Why stay in Venice and pay for overpriced accommodation when home is but a bus ride away? It’s been an awesome day trip at the Venice Carnevale and everyone seems more than content. Memories were made and good times had by all.
Will Bus2alps do Carnevale again in 2011? We’re totally already there.
Bus2alps got the semester underway over the last two weekends with our first trips to Interlaken. Although it was early and many students still had not arrived to Europe, we still have had close to two hundred eager kids ready to ski, party and get extreme. There was no way Bus2alps was going to stay in Florence, Rome and Barca when there were so many people keen to get a taste of the Swiss Alps. Cancel the first trips of the semester? Not at Bus2alps.
Fortunately for us the weather gods decided to be kind and it has been and sunshine and/or powder most of the time. The town of Interlaken is a beautiful place, and when bathed in sunshine, it’s even better! There has also been plenty of snow on the mountain and the Bus2alps crew have been able to guide the guests to the powder stashes that are hidden from those lacking local knowledge.
Skydiving, paragliding and Canyon Jumping have all proved extremely popular and a good number of students have opted to get the adrenalin flowing. Be sure to keep your eyes posted to your friend’s facebook accounts as everyone is sure to be posting up their action packed pictures and videos soon. Other Bus2alps guests have decided to make the most of Interlaken’s multiple hiking trails and set off into the mountains to get a birds-eye view of the town.
Once the sun goes down, the adrenalin pumping activities do not stop. Huge numbers of guests have been hurtling through a moonlit Swiss forest on the ever popular night sledding expedition. The experience is then capped off with cheese fondue, followed by wine, wine and more wine. After that it’s off to Balmer’s Metro Bar to get the party started.
Saturday night always sees a full house of Bus2alps crew and Interlaken locals pack out the bar for a wild night. Balmer’s certainly lives up to its reputation as Interlaken’s No.1 nightspot and is packed out till the early hours of the morning. Luckily at Bus2alps we stay right upstairs so gaining entry is never a problem.
To see more pics of the past weekends join the bus2alps group on facebook and also the fan page
Bus2alps has kicked off the semester in Europe with a bang. Every night of the week Bus2alps has been out on the town, meeting and greeting all the newcomers and building hype for what’s set to be the biggest semester yet!
The first few weeks of the study abroad experience can be overwhelming to say the least! Housing situations, uncooperative landlords and information overload, all combined with frustrating language barriers. It can all get too much for students, so what better to relax than to head out for a night on the town. Throughout Rome, Florence and Barcelona, Bus2alps has been organizing activities galore to help students relax, meet new friends and get settled into their surroundings. Our nights out have been a massive success and look forward to meeting everyone else who is touching down soon.
The city of Florence sleeps during winter, but come January the town morphs into life as thousands of students arrive. Bus2alps was in Florence ready and waiting to welcome the students and wasted no time in getting the party started. The first pub crawl of the semester was a staggering success with over one hundred students getting together for a sensational night. Bus2alps teamed up with the boys at Florence Tonight Nightlife and took students on a tour of Florence’s best bars and clubs. Throughout the course of the night we gave away prizes to numerous party goers. The two luckiest kids won Bus2alps two signature spring break trips: Spring Break Greece and The Northern Loop (Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris). They certainly weren’t expecting to walk away with free spring break vacations either. “I can’t believe I won”, yelled a stoked Ryan of Kent State. “I never win anything…This is friggin awesome”.
The culinary delights of food and wine are a big reason many people come to Italy. With this in mind, Bus2alps teamed up with Il Gatto e la Volpe to offer students a giant family style dinner. Over the course of the night “Fat John” and his waiters brought out tray after tray of mouth watering antipasti and delicious pastas. The wine flowed like water and soon enough the party continued next door to the adjoining bar. Sophie Villani was the lucky one of the night, winning herself a free trip to Interlaken this coming weekend. There’s always free trips on offer at Bus2alps events.
If you are in Florence and missed out on the pub crawl or welcome dinner, don’t despair as we’ll be running everything again in the coming weeks.
The next pub crawl will be Saturday 23rd January. Meet at 8.00pm for an 8.30pm start, or 9.00pm for a 9.30pm start on the steps of the Duomo.
The next welcome dinner will Wednesday February 3rd. Come down to Il Gatto e la Volpe inbetween 8.15pm and 9.00pm to be seated.
Meanwhile in Rome things have also been popping as the students continue to roll into Bus2alps town. Bus2alps crew members Amanda and Dylan have been out on the town, partying with students in Campo de Fiori at all the big student bars. The Scholar’s Lounge in continually packed with everyone watching sports and the Colosseum Pub Crawl was a night to remember. Bus2alps have also struck up a special deal with the Colosseum Pub Crawl where our travellers get a better deal. Hit up Amanda@bus2alps.com for more info.
Joey and Matty have Barcelona on lockdown and have been regulars on the Tapas/NFL/Clubbing circuits. The weather may not have been kind to the students but spirits are high and everyone is settling into the Spanish way of life… “Manana…manana”. In the coming weeks Bus2alps will launch a football night and get the Bus2alps Bike Tour started. Free trips and prizes will be awarded at these events so stay tuned to make sure you don’t miss out.
INTERLAKEN THIS WEEKEND
This really is shaping up to be the best Bus2alps semester so far. We already have 100 students coming up to Interlaken this weekend (January 21st – 24th) from all our respective departure cities. Whilst competitors are struggling to fill buses, Bus2alps is ordering up extras – Proof that we are Europe’s No.1 student travel company. There’s another trip to Interlaken next week and the Venice Carnival and Munich Fruhlingsfest are fast approaching. Check out Bus2alps and get excited!
Thanksgiving 2009 will be one to remember for the 150 study abroad students who celebrated in Interlaken this past weekend. We were thankful for epic snow conditions and bluebird skies. We were thankful for heart pounding activities like skydiving and bungy jumping. We were thankful for wild parties and awesome staff at Balmers and Metro Bar. All in all it was one of the best Bus2alps trips this semester and with many students soon returning home, it was great to go out on such a high.
Everyone arrived throughout the night with students coming in from all over Europe. The next morning we awoke to our first glimpses of the mighty Swiss Alps. Renowned the world over, the mountains surrounding the hostel are some of the most spectacular in the world. Throughout the day groups of students hiked the mountains to take in the postcard views and soak up the mountain air. Others opted to test their agility and strength on the ropes course which was suspended 20 meters above the ground. There was also Skydiving on offer and hordes of students returned back to the Hostel with Adrenaline still pulsing after losing their ‘first jump’ virginity. Many of them couldn’t wait to strap back in and do it again!
That night the crew at Balmers stepped up to put on a Thanksgiving feast of epic proportions. The delicious meal with all the trimmings was served out whilst wine flowed like water. It was the ultimate pre game for the Inaugral Movember Moustache Gala Party downstairs at Metro Bar. Here prizes were awarded to those who had been cultivating moustaches over the last month which made for some very ‘interesting’ party goers. Music blared and fists pumped throughout the night and well into the wee hours of the morning. Everyone went to bed happy, knowing that tomorrow would be even more action packed.
On Saturday the Ski/Snowboard participants awoke before sunrise for the bus ride to the Saas Fee Glacier, where they were guaranteed powder turns and steep groomed runs. On arrival at the mountain everyone was in awe. It was November and there was fresh snow aplenty! The whole mountain was open and the sun was shining! Back in Interlaken a large group embarked to a nearby gletscherschlucht gorge to launch themselves off a cliff – An activity not for the faint hearted. Basically the participants propel themselves off a cliff affixed to rope and swing down through the gully at a death defying pace. After everyone got their adrenaline fix it was back to the bar for some more partying – Swiss style.
Sunday was departure day and it was clear no one wanted to leave. In the final hours groups took to the streets of Interlaken to hunt for those hard-to-find Christmas presents. Before we knew it, time was up and we were on buses to our respective cities. It had been a jam packed weekend and no doubt a Thanksgiving that everyone will remember for years to come.
Austria is a nation of many layers- stunning architecture and a turbulent history are contrasted by breathtaking mountains and nature. It is considered to be one of the Europe’s premier destinations and it’s shaped like a guitar for a reason – it rocks. This past weekend Bus2alps took 26 students to the nation’s capital, Vienna, and then onto Salzburg, gateway to the mighty European Alps.
First stop was Vienna (pronounced ‘Wien’ in German). After a quick nap we headed off to explore a city that is renowned as one of Europe’s cultural epicentres. The city centre of Vienna is a UNESCO listed world heritage site and the streets are dotted with opulent architecture from a bygone era. We wandered through the grounds of the Hofburg Palace and marvelled at the size and grandeur of the complex which had everything from a library to its own horse riding school. The building has housed the most powerful people in Austrian history and is certainly ‘fit for a king’.
Following this we headed to St Stephens Church and spent the day soaking up the infectious Christmas atmosphere.
In the evening a large group of people headed back into the town to view a performance by the Wien Imperial Orchestra. Post opera we rendezvoused with the other B2A crew and cruised to the famous ‘Bermuda Triangle’ party zone to drink up some more culture.
Saturday morning everyone awoke bright and early to explore the Schönbrunn Palace – An important cultural monument and Vienna’s definitive tourist attraction. The Palace was established in 1569 and through the centuries has been renovated and expanded by successive dynasties. The gardens and buildings that make up the palace are nothing short of amazing. Just wandering around makes you feel like royalty.
After a quick lunch it was time to make the quick three hour traverse to Salzburg – the gateway to the Alps, and home of the Von Trapp Family. Salzburg is the fourth largest city in Austria and is world famous for its alpine setting and baroque architecture. Arriving on dusk, we immediately set off to the Xmas markets where we indulged in some pre dinner gluwein (mulled wine) before heading up to the Stieglkeller restaurant. Here we gorged ourselves on traditional Austrian fare whilst overlooking the lit up fairytale town beneath us.
On Sunday we were greeted by unseasonal warm sunshine, ideal for the days scheduled ‘Sound of Music Tour’. We were picked up by our friendly guide Johan and driven all around Salzburg and surrounding areas. During the day we saw all the sites where the famous movie was filmed, in addition to some of Salzburg’s historical sites. It was a prerequisite to sing along on the bus and everyone got into the spirit and relived their childhood memories.
The tour took in sweeping views of the rugged mountains and spectacular lakes. It is no wonder Hollywood so often uses the location. Rumour had it that Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise were in town filming a new movie. Unfortunately we didn’t see them, much to the dismay of many girls. Nevertheless, the chocolate, Apple Strudel and doughnuts more than made up for it and no one was complaining as we hit the road for Florence.
Dankeschön Austria…See you next time.
Next up we are heading to Interlaken and also to Munich for the famous Xmas Markets…
Prague has been the political, cultural, and economic centre of the Czech state for more than 1100 years and since the demise of communism it has come out of its shell to be one of Europe’s premier destinations. It is a city of great diversity that draws comparisons with Paris, London and other famed locations. This past weekend Bus2alps (B2A) spent two days in this historic city and was able to see a side of the city that is not accessible to most tourists. It was a jam packed weekend that gave everyone a taste of the Czech Republic.
We departed on Thursday for an overnight bus ride and the journey was made comfortable by our new Busabout Buses. Reclined in style, we awoke the next morning to be welcomed by the former communist city. After fuelling up on the monstrous Czech Inn breakfast we rendezvoused with Issac, our guide, for Prague’s most politically incorrect walking tour. We spent the next few hours wandering the city whilst having all the sites of interest pointed out to us. The Astromical Clock, the Charles Bride, Lennon Wall and everything in between. Issac combined history and culture and sprinkled it with inappropriate banter. It was a walking tour more akin to a comedy act and the B2A posse were in stiches all day long.
Day quickly rolled into night and suddenly it was time for the Clock Tower Pub Crawl. With a slogan stating “The best night you will never remember…”, everyone knew what was in store. First stop was Mollley Malones. Here the B2A crew mixed with other students and travellers from all over the world and got acquainted over a few beers. After this it was onward to three more bars, but only four out of 150 revellers remained at the end. For others, the temptation of Macdonalds and KFC proved too tempting.
The next day was spent at leisure and most people took the opportunity to shop and ‘Czech out’ Prague’s historical castles for a more in depth look. Others chose to visit the Prague Zoo (voted the fourth best in the world) whilst some of the more curious paid a visit to the Sex Museum. History, Sea lions and 1800s porn. Does it get any more diverse?
That night everyone gathered together at the Beer Factory for some goulash and good times. The tables all came equipped with their own beer tap, meaning that you could fill up whenever you wanted. A giant screen on the wall kept a running total of how much beer each table consumed and by the end everyone has mastered the art of pouring pints. Next up it was time to enter Prague’s underground bar scene. Over the course of the night we went to a punk rock concert, sampled some Absinthe and wound up in a high class casino. Variety is the spice of life, and nowhere more than Prague embodies this notion.
It astounds me how much we could fit in two days. The whole crew got to the see the best parts of Prague, as well as some of the hidden gems. Bus2alps guides pride themselves on knowing cities inside out and with this knowledge we were able to escape the tourist traps and discover the real Prauge. Something most people cannot do in two days.
Greece is a country of beauty. A country where culture and good times await around every corner. It is also a country that was about to have a huge mob of Bus2alps (B2A) students unleashed upon it for a week of sheer awesomeness. Toga parties and booze cruising at the Pink Palace in Corfu, discovering ancient ruins in Athens, relaxing beachside and working on tans. B2A was about you serve it all up and everyone was more than hungry.
Saturday Morning 9AM: Florence’s October skies are grey and its’ raining – Time to escape to the sun drenched paradise that is Greece. The crew of students’ rock up to Santa Maria Novella Train Station for departure. Luxury Bus. Check. Coffee in hand. Check. Passports. Check. Inhibitions. Left behind. The sun breaks out over the rolling green hills of Tuscany and within hours the Ferry is due east on the Adriatic Sea. Next stop. Greece.
With a boat that came equipped with a duty free bar, things were bound to get wild, and they did. Within minutes the tunes blared out of the stereo and it was evident this was going to be a trip to remember. After a mouth watering buffet dinner to keep the engines running it was time to get freaky at the Boats nautical disco. The DJ got the party started with club classics, then mixed in some obligatory eighties cheese. The crowd rocked out right up until bedtime (Or breakfast time, depending on who you asked)
Once docked at Corfu we were greeted by the infamous Pink Palace buses and whisked away to a true Greek island paradise. The sheer beauty of Corfu shook off any tiredness and everyone made a mad scramble for the Hotel’s private beach. Sitting on the beach, you take in lush green hills and rocky cliffs cascading downward toward the sparkling blue Mediterranean. The scenery can best be described as something out of Jurassic Park. The ocean has been warmed by the sun all summer, giving the water that perfect swimming temperature.
As the sun set the Pink Palace staff gathered everyone for some special Pink Palace style volleyball. When they arrived to the court with cases of beer and bottles of ouzo in hand, people were confused. As the game got underway it was clear this was not your average volleyball match. Shots were consumed. Beers were chugged. Cross dressing took place. Players were playing for pride, T shirts and Free ATV rental. They were also playing for their sobriety. It was a fitting end to a perfect day, and an ideal precursor to the night’s debauchery.
Monday saw everyone awake to bright blue skies and perfect beach weather. After fuelling up on bacon, eggs and coffee is was time for the Pink Palace’s internationally renowned ‘Booze Cruise’. The Pink Palace staff assembled the B2A crew and headed for the high seas. Think Pirates of the Caribbean meets Cancun, or something equally as insane. Throughout the course of the day the boat navigated Corfu’s stunning grottos and cliffs, giving the ‘Pirates’ a chance to cliff jump, dive and explore uninhabited beaches.
Once docked it was time for much anticipated ‘Toga Party’. No rest for the wicked, especially at the Pink Palace. Everyone was decked out in Pink Togas and the night started off with a banquet that would have made the ancient Greeks proud. As the drinks flowed and tunes bopped everyone let their hair down and hedonism reigned supreme. It was a truly memorable night amongst the pillars of the Palladium.
The next day saw everyone awake bleary eyed, but ready to see what else Corfu had to offer. At around midday the Quad Safari tour departed. The B2A Bikie gang was rolling out. Corfu is known as Greece’s lushest, greenest island and tour allowed the crew to see this magnificent beauty close up. On return to the Pink Palace everyone assembled for a final group dinner, and with tears in eyes, departed this unreal wonderland. Next stop: Athens.
The first day in Athens was spent taking in the cities historical sites. The Acropolis, Zeus’s temple and numerous other ruins were all examined with commentary and facts provided by B2A Chief, Mike Laporta (An encyclopaedia on all things Greek). After a hearty lunch of gyros it was time for the ladies to get their shop on. The afternoon was spent zig zagging in and out of Athens charming little streets, stocking up on world famous Poet Sandals (as worn by Jackie O and John Lennon), bags and clothing. No matter how tired girls are, there is always energy to shop!
That night we all headed out a typical Greek dinner which included seven lip smacking courses and unlimited wine. All for just thirteen Euros. Pretty good bang for your buck. After that it was onward to the Hookah Bar and Spirit Nightclub. It was here that B2A took control of the dance floor and partied till the wee hours of the morning.
Next day everyone awoke for and set sail from Athens port for a day trip to the Island of Aegina. This was the Greece everyone was expecting, complete with the requisite white buildings that everyone sees on postcards. Motor scooters and ATVs provided the ideal transport to circumnavigate the Islands winding hills. Olive trees and well preserved ruins dotted the rugged Island and the views of the glistening sea were jaw dropping. On return home it was everyone’s last night in Athens. Time to break out the Ouzo again. Yamas!
Good times were had. Good friends made. The trip has been one to remember and as everyone is sad to depart. Prague, Vienna and Interlaken await us for the rest of semester. Skiing, Baroque architecture, Absinthe and Thanksgiving are on the horizon…The fun ain’t over yet.
In the following weeks we have trips to Budapest, Venice, Verona, Vienna, Salzburg. And don’t forget about Interlaken this Thanksgiving (with departures from cities throughout Europe)