Contiki: 6 things to know before you go

Let your restless feet wander

It has become apparent to me that approximately 60.5% of my Facebook friends (sample size approximately 500) have indeed been on or are about to endeavour on a Contiki tour, the other  39.5%  are either teen mums or people in their 20’s getting married (These are legitimate and mathematically calculated guestimations). As a two time Contiki tour traveller I am ecstatic that going on Contiki has become almost a right of passage for Australian people in their late teens and early 20’s. It seems that Contiki to Australians has become what Rumspringa is to the Amish, therefore for my first official blog I have decided to discuss the six things I believe everyone should know before they go on Contiki.   

 

1. You will not be on a holiday

If you want to lay around all morning drinking cocktails and having massages on the beach then Contiki is not for you. Most mornings on Contiki are like a boot…

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…because i’m a twentysomething

today was meaningful

when i was thirteen, i couldn’t wait to be eighteen.  i thought i’d know it all by then- have all the answers and that prized freedom. and when i was sixteen, i planned to be married by age twenty-three with two kids. i’ll always smile to myself when i think about how time changes things. and when i turned twenty four i made a list of as many goals as i had in years. by my 25th birthday, i’d accomplished them all.

and a funny thing happens about the time you turn twenty.five. people start asking about marriage and kids and houses. and you begin to worry about savings, retirement, and health insurance.  you start spending your money on plates.pots.new tires. short term sacrifices for long term gains, right? and sometimes you start to compare your 25 years with everyone else’s. you wonder if you’re on the right track because…

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16 Things We Forget To Thank Our Moms For

Thought Catalog

1. All the times she had to double as best friend/counselor/therapist/costume designer/hair stylist/coach/all-around-solver-of-every-problem-ever. I remain unconvinced that moms aren’t actually superheroes in disguise.

2. Forgiving us when we forget to call.

3. Listening to all our pointless dramas when we do remember.

4. Being the kind of person that we actually do want to become — because as we all know, it’s inevitable.

5. Having the incredible prowess only a mother whose babes have been scorned could — mama bear protects her cubs, sometimes excessively, but we love it, let’s be honest.

6. All those times we yelled “MOOOOMMM!!” through the house to find out where our white shirt was or what time so-and-so was getting home and all the other questions we just couldn’t go to Dad for.

7. All the things she reluctantly bought us at the cash register of any given store, all the clothes and things…

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All this time I was finding myself, and I didn’t know I was lost.

Four months ago this day seemed so far away. Finally my last day is here and I never imagined how bittersweet it would be. There’s such a mix of emotions going on right now it’s almost impossible to explain. As much as I’m ready to go home, there are so many things about this place I will miss. I’m beyond amazed at the experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve met, and the memories I’ve made.

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 I can’t thank the Addison family enough for inviting me into their home and making feel like a part of the family.  Four months doesn’t seem that long, but it feels like I’ve been here for much longer! Looking back to when this summer was just an idea, I had so much hesitation and contemplated it for so long. Who knew just taking the plunge would be the best decision I could have ever made for myself. Now, I would consider myself pretty independent, but this summer was definitely testing. However because of it, I feel like a whole different person; and I couldn’t be happier. This experience has opened my eyes to so many possibilities and I have definitely caught the travel bug. Already looking for my next journey abroad!

Although going home means back to the usual routine of school, I’m so excited to be starting my final year of my undergrad and spending it with friends and family that I have missed beyond words! So many more experiences and decisions still in store and I can’t wait to see where they’ll take me! Thanks to everyone who followed me on my journey this summer! Stay tuned for the next adventure!

I’M COMING HOME!

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Contiki Magic

What an incredible 9 days. When I signed up for this tour I knew it would be fast paced and an experience of a lifetime, but what I did know was that I’d meet so many amazing people and create so many unforgettable memories. My trip began on the 3rd, where I met with some of the tour group the night before. I was extremely relieved to find I wasn’t the only one traveling on my own and we were all looking to make the best of it! I apologize in advance for the length of this post, I’m still trying to remember everything I’ve seen and done myself!

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The tour started bright and early (as did every other day for the next week), and we headed to Dover where we took the Ferry across the English Channel to Calais. We passed through 4 countries in a matter of 8 hours (England, France, Belgium and Netherlands) and finally arrived in Amsterdam. On our first night we took a Canal Cruise through the city, and what a great way to get to know everyone! After that we explored the city (you can probably guess where we ended up) and lets just say it was an experience for everyone!

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We spent the next morning walking around the city. We didn’t have much time but managed to make a quick stop at the Anne Frank house and the I amsterdam sign. Back on the bus for about 5 hours and after a beautiful drive through Rhine Valley we arrived in St. Goar, Germany for the night. We visited the local shops which included authentic German Biersteins and Cuckoo Clocks. After dinner at the hotel we did a wine tasting just down the road in a 14th century wine cellar and ended the night with drinks at the hotel bar.

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The next morning we headed for Munich for the night where we did a guided bike tour of the city, a quick jump into the Isar river and dinner at the Beer Gardens. We ended the night at Kultfabrik, an area of nightclubs.

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After a very rough night for pretty much all of us, we headed to Austria bright and early where we visited the previous Olympic Bobsledding track. Not the ideal day to test out the track but it was still an amazing experience! Probably not something I would ever do again, but huge respect for those athletes! After the track we stopped in Innsbruck, for lunch and a few pictures of the Golden Roof, Royal Palace and surrounding mountains. We arrived in Venice later that night for dinner and called it an early night.

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We spent the next day exploring the ‘floating city’. After a group gondola ride, and guided walking tour we had the rest of the afternoon to ourselves. The rest of the day was spent exploring alleyways, canals, shops, bars and markets and a second (much more beautiful) gondola ride. We then visited a glass shop where we watched a demonstration and then had a traditional Italian dinner.

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The next day we drove on to Switzerland and made a stop and Mt. Stanserhorn. We probably picked the worst day to get a mountain top view but it was still amazing! After the train and cable car ride we headed to Lucerne for the night. We joined another contiki tour group for a cruise on lake Lucerne. Now coming from a small town surrounded by flat farm fields.. the view definitely took my breath away. Hard to believe that people actually get to live in such beautiful places! After the cruise we finished the night with a pubcrawl!

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We spent the majority of our 7th day traveling (about 8 hours) and when we finally arrived in paris we did a quick bus tour and stayed out for the rest of the night! Finally our last day in paris. In the morning we visited a perfumery and then had a free day. We made a visit to the Lourve, ate some escargot and climbed the Eiffel Tower. For our final night we enjoyed a dinner and a show at the Moulin Rouge, then over to the pub next door. A perfect way to end the trip!

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Although I’m over a week behind on sleep and the comforts of home, this trip has been an experience of a lifetime. So many laughs, incredible sights and memories with new friends that I will never forget. Already looking for my next Contiki tour!

Summer Fun

The countdown is on! Officially less than a month until my incredible summer is over. (Exciting, but very sad!) Normally right now I would be sitting on the beach, drink in my hand, feet in the sand, making memories with my closest friends and family. For anyone that knows about this annual trip, attendance on Manitoulin Island is not taken lightly. In fact, I’ll be the first kid to miss a year in 23 years! Although I’m terribly jealous and am going to miss  those two weeks like crazy, I know it’ll be waiting for me next year!

PicMonkey Collage

These past two weeks have been pretty low key. After all the traveling I’ve been doing it was nice to take a break! Last week the kids started their school holidays so I have lots to keep busy! Our days consist of crafts, colouring, building forts, and if the weather keeps up..many more trips to the park!

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After next week, it’s vacation time! While my host family is enjoying camping in France I will be going on my own adventure. I’ve booked a trip with Contiki Tours and I am SO excited! 7 countries in 9 days…Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and France. A bit of a whirlwind trip, but what better way to get a taste of each country while I’m already here! I will be traveling on my own (apparently I’m a big girl now), however there are quite a few others from all over the world who will also be on their own. It’s going to be one long and busy week but an even more incredible experience! Prepare for an obnoxious amount of photos to follow this post when I get back! 🙂