Joined May 2016 Message
  • Day113

    No way..!

    September 21, 2016 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    I actually finished my blog! My 6th overseas trip, and my 3rd attempt at travel blogging, and I think this is the first time I've actually finished one!
    It may be 2 and a half months after getting home, but that means I've had a bit of time to reflect on the trip that was. Everyone has asked what my favourite places were, and it's too difficult to pick just one. We went to so many diverse places, it's really hard to compare any of them. I enjoyed the places I was able to explore alone: London, Budapest and Paris. I had a ball in the unlikely party cities: Krakow and Florence. I adored the places with amazing scenery: the Swiss Alps, Lake Bled and Amsterdam.
    There's not one place I wouldn't like to go back to some day in the future, and not one thing I would change about my trip. I'm grateful for all I experienced, those I met, and everything I learnt about the world, and myself.
    So... Where to next..?
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  • Day32

    Home via Singapore

    July 2, 2016 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    For my final flights, I was seated next to a couple from London, who were visiting some friends in Wangarratta. We had a few drinks together before watching some movies or sleeping, and before long we landed in Singapore.
    I believe it was only supposed to be a short stop to refuel, but after getting off the plane and going through security again, there were delays and we had to wait about an hour before getting back on the plane.
    Eventually we were back on our way and we were finally on the last leg of the trip.
    A couple more beverages, more napping, and a bit of a chat, and we finally landed in Melbourne. Home, sweet home.
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  • Day31

    Dubai Dreaming

    July 1, 2016 in the United Arab Emirates ⋅ ☀️ 38 °C

    The flight was fairly easy, although I was horrified when I first found my seat and was sitting next to a woman and her baby... It was nowhere near as traumatic as I'd assumed - the baby flew quite well, with minimal tantrums! I think I slept most of the way, so when we landed at just after midnight local time, I was ready to spend my 8 spare hours exploring one of the world's largest international airports!
    First off a bathroom break, then I thought I'd figure out where I could spend my free meal voucher. We'd been given vouchers for a meal, I assume to compensate for the long wait between connecting flights. I found a small garden in one of the terminals, and lots of designated smoking areas. They were all small rooms though, and every time someone opened the door, the smokey haze would waft out... Yuck!
    I ended up finding a pizza shop and got my free pizza and drink. It wasn't the greatest I've ever had, but I'm not complaining about free pizza!
    I kept wandering around, eventually stopping at an irish pub for a 3am cider. The pub wasn't that busy, but I was shocked at how busy the rest of the airport was at all hours of the night - I guess it is a bit of a transit airport, so it shouldn't have been surprising.
    I left the pub after using the free wifi, then wandered off to find a Costa Coffee, to get a hot chocolate and use their wifi.
    By now it was nearly 6am, so I made my way to check out the shops, maybe find a puzzle book and some snacks for the next leg.
    I eventually headed to my gate at about 7am, but there was still another hour until boarding, so found a seat for a snooze. It was almost like a lounge, it was shaped so you could lie down.
    I started chatting to the woman next to me who was from perth, but she was at the beginning of her trip, heading to the UK.
    I ended up setting an alarm on my phone, putting my bag under my jumper, my beanie over my eyes and had a 45min nap. I actually slept pretty well! By the time I awoke, I had time for a quick toilet stop before boarding.
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  • Day30

    Homeward bound

    June 30, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    I woke up feeling quite blue - I couldn't believe the holiday was nearly over. My flight wasn't until around 2.30pm at Gatwick airport, so I got up at around 9am to ensure I had plenty of time to get organised and get to the airport.
    I was ready to check out by 10am, and made my way on foot to Kings Cross Station, suitcase in tow. I made my final stop at Pret for breakfast, had my last walk past platform 9 and 3/4, and made my way to catch the Victoria Line to Victoria station, where I was able to change trains to one that would take me to Gatwick.
    The Gatwick train was much more comfortable, more like a V Line train back home. The journey probably only took an hour an a half, so I had plenty of time to check in, pass through security and have a look around the airport.
    While standing in the check in queue, I started to worry if I would be over the bag weight limit, but once I got to the desk, I realised I could have had 30kgs, and I was under 20kgs... What a waste, I could have done so much more shopping!
    I found a bathroom, went through security and found a Harrods store inside! I had managed to miss going to Harrods in London, so at least I got a small dose there!
    I went in search of a bar to have a final Aperol Spritz, and found Union Jacks Bar, which was a part of Jamie's Italian, owned by Jamie Oliver! I sat at a table with my Aperol Spritz, and ended up chatting to a family who were travelling for a wedding. They were actually playing a music quiz, and when they got stuck on an answer I jumped in. They were lovely, but soon had to leave to catch their flight, so I was left to finish my drink.
    By the time I made my way through some of the shops and found my way to my gate, and had another quick bathroom stop, it was almost time to board.
    I made my way onto the plane, and was in an isle seat.
    And just like that, I was leaving London, and ending my European adventure...
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  • Day29

    Marnee the Explorer

    June 29, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    I made sure to have an alarm set, I wasn't going to sleep in on my last day!
    I'd drawn up a rough plan of what I wanted to see throughout the day, so I got up and showered, and headed on my way.
    Roadblock number one - it was a little rainy... Only spitting here and there, so no issue, I continued on my way.
    My first destination was Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. I jumped on the tube and headed to Queensway Station. My plan was to explore Kensington Gardens, find the Princess Di Memorial Fountain and Kensington Palace, and then walk through Hyde Park.
    Well, that seemed like a great plan, but as good as the signs are in the Tube, they were NOT good in the Kensington Gardens. I found the Princess Diana Memorial Playground instantly, but you’re not allowed to go in unless you’re supervising children, and I guess in my rain jacket with a hood on, it may have looked a little suss had I tried to go in... Nevermind, there was a cute little Merry Go Round nearby so I had a look at that, and then headed in search of the fountain.
    The signs seemed to point every which way, so I would be following a sign, then find another pointing in a completely different direction. I got a bit lost, and the rain got a bit heavier, but I continued along anyway. I stumbled across the Albert Memorial, which is a huge gold statue, with many statues around it, and is directly across the road from the Royal Albert Hall. I’m sure many people have played there, but I always think of the live video of Someone Like Me by Adele, which was performed there.
    Eventually, after walking along the edge of the gardens, I found another sign, which said the Memorial Fountain was actually across the road, sort of a part of Hyde Park. It was a little underwhelming, as there were some barricades covering some of the fountain. I took a couple of snaps and headed off.
    I walked along a lake back into Kensington Gardens, with some more swans following me like they did at Lake Bled. I saw a few more different birds, saw some people walking their dogs, found some more statues scattered throughout the gardens, and then crossed back as I realised I’d completed missed Kensington Palace.
    I passed another lake, rain coming and going, and once I found the ‘palace’, I was again a little underwhelmed... I guess I’d imagined something grand, but it just looked like a bricked mansion. Still nice, and certainly bigger than any home I’ll ever be able to afford, but not overly fancy. I didn’t go inside, instead walking through the rose gardens out the front.
    I’d spent a good 2 hours exploring, so whilst I hadn’t really ventured much of Hyde Park, I thought it was time to tick some other places off my list.
    I found a little cafe near the tube station for a quick bite to eat, and then jumped on the train to Tottenham Court Road Station, for a squiz around the infamous Oxford Street. I also thought, seeing as I hadn’t done anywhere near as much shopping as anticipated, that I would check out Victoria’s Secret. Well, this was another disappointment. In the US, you can normally buy 5 pairs of undies for $25-30USD. At this VS it was about £30 for 2 or 3 pair... No thanks!
    Disappointed, I walked out and decided to cheer myself up by heading to Abercrombie and Finch. There’s normally a model out the front and I thought that would be sure to lift my spirits...
    I found the store (I nearly walked past it, it was quite conspicuous), and there was NO model in sight... I later found out they don’t do that anymore, not in London at least...
    Next Stop: Abbey Road! I jumped on the tube to St John’s Wood station, which was about a block away. I arrived and it wasn’t quite as busy as I’d imagined it would be. There rain had cleared for a little bit, so I did the obligatory walk across the road. I took some pictures of Abbey Road Studios, and had a look in the gift shop, then walked back out, walking across the road again, taking selfies as I didn’t have anyone to take the photo for me, and am not very trusting of strangers with my phone!
    My next destination was recommended by a co-worker who lived in London for a short time, Primrose Hill. It didn’t look too far away on the maps, so I decided to walk it. I think it probably took about half an hour by the time I got to the park, and another 5 minute trek up to the top of the hill. By this point the rain had started again, so the view wasn’t completely clear, but it was still a gorgeous sight. You can see all of London, the Eye, the Shard, all the wonderful buildings. I imagine it would be stunning on a warm and sunny day...
    There wasn’t really anywhere to sit as everything was wet, so I didn’t hang around for too long before making my decent, and found my way to Swiss Cottage Station.
    Next up: 10 Downing Street. I knew with all the Brexit news, and resigning of David Cameron, there would be plenty of security around, but what I didn’t realise, is that you can’t actually walk into Downing Street at all, it’s completely blocked off. I should have guessed, you never see anyone walking past when they show the townhouse on the news... So I could barely catch a squiz at all...
    I back tracked and took a couple more photos of the London Eye and Big Ben, and then jumped back on the tube to St Paul’s Station.
    I thought maybe after all the disappointment, I could bring it back to basics, and all the churches and cathedral’s I’d been to throughout the trip had been breathtaking.
    I walked around the outside and it was HUGE! I made it to the front steps with the intention of heading inside, but guess what, another roadblock! They were about to have a service inside, so they weren’t letting anyone in who wasn’t attending the service. I sat on the steps feeling a little defeated, but then it occurred to me to just pretend I was going in for the service... A little sneaky and deceitful (sorry God!), but I was so glad I did, as St Paul’s did not disappoint. I didn’t take any photos inside - Ididn’t want to be disrespectful - but just took a quick look around before heading back out.
    My last stop on my eventful day was back near the Phoenix Theatre where I’d seen Guys and Dolls the night before. Michelle had told me to check out a little shop/gallery around the back of the theatre that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was playing at. From what I gather, it isn’t related to the show at all, but was opened by some artists that worked on the film franchise. Called the House of Minalima, it was full of Harry Potter references and artwork. It was really cool. There were about four levels, so I had a good look around them all, even stopping on one level to have a bit of a chat to a young girl that worked there. She asked about my travels, and once I told her about Contiki, she was so keen to go on an adventure of her own. I hope she does, she’d barely left London before!
    It was around 5pm by this stage, so I headed back to my hotel and got changed, as I was off to meet Michelle for my last night in London!
    We planned to meet at Brixton station at 6.30pm, so I could check out Michelle’s hood! Once I found her at the station exit, we headed off to a pop up venue with food and drinks, which was much like the pop up food truck parks back in Melbourne, but they were all in containers rather than trucks. We had a couple of drinks there, before walking to a cool BBQ restaurant called Brixton Blues Kitchen. It was like an old US blues club, great music, dark lighting, and great food! I even got to try a new Jim Beam variety – Jim Beam Maple! (Months later, I found out it was actually an OLD Jim Beam variety, and you can get it at Dan Murphy’s... But the point is, it was delicious, and complimented the chicken pieces I was eating perfectly!)
    After dinner, Michelle walked me back to Brixton Station, via a mural of David Bowie, which still had an abundance of floral tributes to the musical genius in front of it. It was a little moving, but so nice that Bowie’s home town wasn’t showing any signs of forgetting the legend that was.
    I said my last goodbye for the trip, and jumped on the train to head back to the hotel.
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  • Day28

    No Business Like Show Business

    June 28, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    I decided not to set an alarm this morning, thinking I'd wake at around 8am, 9 at the latest, but as it turns out, I needed the sleep and didn't wake up until 10! Having a room with no windows didn't help, it was pitch black!
    Once I realised the time, I got up, showered and organised, and made my way to Leicester Square. The plan for the day was to see a show or 2, and there's a TKTS stall in Leicester square, where you can buy same day show tickets, often discounted.
    I ended up settling on a matinee of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and also bought a ticket to Guys and Dolls for that night.
    I had plenty of time to spare before the show, so I decided to explore the area, and find something for lunch.
    I found the Royal Opera House and Drury Lane, then stopped for a burger at Byron Hamburgers. I had a delicious burger and a 'hard shake' - a chocolate thickshake with Baileys, yummmmmm!
    By then it was time to find the Aldwych Theatre for my first show of the day, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. I chose this one because I'd seen it win a few Tony Awards a few years back, so I knew it would be good!
    Beautiful follows the life of Carole King, from being a young girl with a dream, to an extremely successful songwriter, to a star in her own right. She suffered a bit of heartache, but the music is truly spectacular - I actually didn't realise how many CK songs I knew! I sang and danced and laughed and cried all the way through it, and I really hope it comes to Melbourne so I can take Mum to see it. I have seen it's coming to Sydney, so hopefully it's only a matter of time!
    I came out of the show at around 5pm, so I had a couple of hours to race back to the hotel, grab a coat and head back out again.
    On my way to the Phoenix Theatre, I stopped and grabbed dinner at NY Fold, a New York style pizza shop - my favourite! I sat down to eat my pizza slice, then headed across the road to see Guys and Dolls.
    I picked this musical for 2 reasons, the obvious being it's star - Rebel Wilson! The Aussie girl gone Hollywood starlet now has her name in lights on London's West End. The other reason was that Guys and Dolls is a Broadway classic which I've never before had the opportunity to see.
    It was everything I'd hoped for and more - Rebel was wonderful, and it was perfectly over the top and colourful. Plus I nearly cried when the cast sang 'Sit Down You're Rocking The Boat'. We performed that song when I did dancing as a kid, and I didn't realise it was from this musical. An extremely exciting surprise!
    After the curtain call was over, I thought I'd see if there was much of a crowd surrounding the stage door to meet Rebel, and there was! I hung around for about 20 minutes, and there were around 30 or so people around when she finally came out. She was so kind and gracious, saying hi to fans, taking selfies and signing autographs. I tried to say something about being a fellow Aussie when I handed over my program for her to sign, but I don't think she heard me!
    On a high after my huge day of shows and 'meeting' Rebel, I jumped on the tube and headed back to my hotel.
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  • Day27

    Old Contiki Meets New Contiki

    June 27, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Having a double bed and whole room to myself, complimented by a relatively early night, meant I had the best sleep I'd had this whole trip! I had agreed to meet with Charli and explore London, and I said I'd meet her at her hotel at 9. I was running late, but got there around 9.15... Charli wasn't in the lobby and had lost her phone in Paris so I was at a bit of a loss as what to do. I eventually went up to reception, and they gave me a phone to call her, and I was able to wake her up! No phone = no alarm, but she was ready in a flash and we went off in search of food and a cheap replacement phone.
    I got a warm ham, cheese and tomato croissant from Pret (sooooo tasty - I miss them so much now I'm home!), and Charli got some food and coffee from Starbucks.
    We headed for Carphone Warehouse, who apparently had cheap prepaid phones. Charli got one, set it up and we were on our way!
    We wanted to check out Notting Hill, so we jumped on the tube to Notting Hill Gate station and came out right on Portobello Road. We walked up through the Portobello Markets, checking out lots of nic-nac shops, and found a crepe stand in the middle. Delicious!
    We kept exploring, eventually finding the blue door from Notting Hill (the movie) and took a couple of photos.
    We grabbed some more coffee/hot chocolate at a cafe on the corner and decided what to do next.
    We decided to head back up Portobello Rd towards the tube station, and found a pub on the way for lunch.
    The pub was called Sun in Splendor and had the most beautiful 'pub dog' named Bruno. He looked like he was only a puppy, and was the manager's dog. He just kept walking around getting the patrons to play with him - adorable!
    We had some food and a drink and decided to head to Camden to check out the markets there.
    Back on the tube and we arrived at this vibrant little suburb. We found an Urban Outfitters (one of my favourite stores in the US) and spent some time in there before making our way through the makets.
    It's like a maze, you could really get lost in amongst the stalls. Most stalls also have similar clothes and products, so you feel like you're walking in circles. I can only imagine what it would be like on a weekend!
    We made our way out, checking out a few more stores along the main road before finding another pub, time for another drink!
    The Buck's Head had some great cocktails on the menu, so we ordered one each. We got to watch a little bit of Wimbledon, before heading back to our hotels to get ready for our night ahead.
    We'd made plans to meet up with a friend from my 2009 USA contiki, Michelle! She suggested we meet at a pub in Convent Garden, the Punch and Judy. Charli and I arrived first, then Michelle, then Charli's friend Doug met us also.
    The 4 of us had a couple of drinks on the balcony overlooking some buskers, one of whom was an Aussie (but kinda terrible...). We then went in search of food, stopping at Bella Italia for some pizza and pasta, and of course some more Aperol Spritz!
    After a few more drinks we headed for our final destination of the night, Roadhouse.
    This was a really cool bar, an American style venue with neon signs everywhere. There was a live band, and they announced they were going to have a bandaoke contest!
    The first girl that got up was ok, but Michelle, Charli and Doug thought she was amazing... So me being the complete diva I am, decided to show off...
    I got up and sang Katy Perry's I Kissed A Girl, and apart from a small bit in the middle where I momentarily forgot the tune, I think I could say it was pretty good. Always fun to sing with a band!
    Fairly confident the others weren't expecting much when I went up there, so I hope I entertained!
    More performers gave it a shot, and after some deliberations, a winner and runner up were announced... And that runner up was me!! By this point Michelle had gone home as it was a Monday night and she had to work the following day, but Charli and Doug got to share my MONSTER of a cocktail with me. It was HUGE and the 3 of us couldn't finish it, enlisting the help of some other girls near by.
    We continued to dance the night away before deciding to call it a night. We attempted to catch the tube home, before realising it was closed, and decided to walk home instead... It probably only took half an hour or so... Maybe an hour!
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  • Day26

    This Is Our Last Goodbye...

    June 26, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    A very early 7am breakfast, as we wanted to actually leave on time. It was going to be a very empty bus, with only 15 of us leaving Paris to end our tour in London. A few people got up early to say goodbye, and there were many tears as we pulled away at 8am. Tamara played our day song for the final time, and to say I was a little teary would be an understatement... I was a blubbering mess!
    Our first stop was at Paris airport, where we said more goodbyes to Matt, Jim and Colin who were flying out of Paris to continue their travels.
    We continued on for a while, everyone pretty much keeping to themselves before we had a service stop on the outskirts of France.
    Terryanne and I took some photos with the bus before jumping back on, and we were headed for the ferry to Dover. Tamara handed out some cards for us to fill in for immigration.  I also spent some time drafting what I was going to write on cards to give to Jo and Tamara once it came time to say our goodbyes.
    We lined up for the ferry, had to pass through immigration, and boarded the boat. Terryanne and I figured we'd taken enough pictures of the white cliffs on the way over, so we found some comfy couches and attempted to log onto the ferry wifi. Terryanne wasn't successful so she had a bit of a snooze, I tried unsuccessfully to call mum, then decided to actually write out my cards.
    It seemed a short trip and we were in Dover, so we jumped back on the coach and we were on our way.
    As we drove into London, Tamara put on our Day song again and more tears ensued. She also mentioned she had some souvenirs for the few of us that were left, and I got a cute little dinosaur in a dome... Which I soon realised was made out of a condom! A souvenir from Amsterdam, no doubt!
    We drove into the Royal National Hotel in Russell Square, departed the bus, collected our bags and said more goodbyes. There were more tears, and Terryanne and I set off on the walk to my hotel and Kings Cross Station, where Terryanne was going to be jumping on a train out to her grandparents home.
    More teary goodbyes, and I made it to the Tune Hotel.
    I checked into my hotel room, which was in the basement of the building, and layed straight down on the bed! It was a tiny room, but the bed was comfy and it was only me, so it was perfect.
    That joyful moment lasted all of about 10 minutes, then I realised I was lonely, so I messaged a few of the others who were staying in London and we agreed to meet at the pub at the Contiki hotel.
    I made my way there, found a seat and had a cider, and listened to all the groups around me, who were all clearly contikians meeting before their tours were to begin. All of the feels!
    Before long Charli, James, Travis, Tani and Divya had joined me. We had a couple of drinks there before deciding to head to Kings Cross for a bite to eat.
    We found a buffet place which had a bit of variety - Indian, pizza and everything in between.
    We stayed for about an hour or so, by which time I was feeling positively exhausted, so I said my last goodbyes, and headed back to my hotel for some much needed rest.
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  • Day25

    Parlez Vous Francais

    June 25, 2016 in France ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Hotel breakfast was at 8am today, with most of us jumping on the bus at 8.45 for a city tour with Tamara and Jo. Tamara shared her wealth of knowledge about this gorgeous city with us, as we did multiple laps of the Arc De Triomphe. There is an enternal flame lit at the Tomb of the unknown soldier, which has apparently only ever gone out once, and of course it was because an Aussie couple tried to cook a sausage on it... Straya, mate!
    We drove down the Champs Elysees, where all of the expensive shops are, your Louis Vuitton, Prada etc, as well as a bunch of car showrooms. We drove through the Place de la Concorde, the largest public square in Paris, and through Opera House and shopping district. We passed the Lourve, and also the Notre Dame cathedral. We finally stopped at a french perfumery, called Fragonard, where we had an included tour.
    We met our guide and she took us through Fragonard's history, how perfume is made and the history of the fancy perfume bottles. Frangonard's perfume can only be bought at Fragonard's stores, and they are only in France. Of course this sucked us all into buying a few bottles, so I picked one I liked to give to Mum.
    From here it was a free day to explore Paris, so I headed off with Jacinda, Alex, Ali, Brooke and Nicolette in search of some proper French crepes and croissants. It ended up being too hard a decision so we split again and Brooke, Nicolette and I wandered the city. We ended up getting crepes from a little food place in a park just off the Champs Elysees. Nutella and banana - Delicious!!
    We walked up the Champs Elysees, venturing into different shops, before making our way into Laduree, a bakery famous for their macarons. The queue was nearly out the door (always a good sign), so we jumped on the end and made the difficult decision of what to buy, and what size. I'm not a huge macaron fan, but these were something else - believe the hype!
    We made our way back outside and I decided to part ways with the girls, too much to see and I didn't want to drag them along!
    I made my way to the Metro station, then realising how close I was to the Arc De Triomphe, ran up and took some photos.
    I headed to Charles de Gaulle Etoile metro station, worked out how to buy a ticket (easy enough), and followed the signs to the correct platform. It would be difficult to get it wrong, the signage was fantastic! I only had to wait about 2 minutes and my train arrived, and 8 or so stops later I was at the Hotel de Ville station. I got off the train and found my way out of the station, and tried to get my bearings. It was a little difficult, as my maps on my phone weren't loading properly without data, but I figured it out and headed on my way to the Notre Dame.
    It was such a beautiful day to be walking through the city. I finally made it to the cathedral and there was security and signs everywhere - no entry into the cathedral until 4.30pm. It was currently around 1.30 or so, and we were supposed to be meeting Tamara at 4.30. I won't lie, I was a little shattered... It's not like I hadn't seen enough churches along the way, but second to the Vatican, it was the one I was most looking forward to!
    Nevermind, I took plenty of photos out the front and headed towards another catherdral recommended by Tamara - Sainte-Chapelle. This one doesnt look like much from the outside, but there was a line and a €6 fee to get in, so I figured it must have been alright. The queue moved fairly quickly, and I walked inside to see some nice stained glass windows. I wasn't overly impressed, and thought to myself that Tamara may have over exaggerated how nice it was, until I found a small staircase in the back corner. I walked up and was completely blown away by the room upstairs. There was 15 huge stained glass windows surrounding the room, the sun was shining brightly through them, I think I actually gasped when I walked in. I wandered around, took some photos, then headed back down the stairs.
    I had about an hour to head back to the meeting spot, so I decided to continue walking, hoping to pass by the Lourve and take a couple of token photos. I crossed the river and walked along it, then started to panic a little that I wouldn't make it back in time, so upped the pace. By the time I got to the Lourve, walked in the wrong entrance and got stuck behind a gate, I could only take a quick picture and then walked through the gardens on the property, finally arriving back at the Place de la Concorde with about 15 minutes to spare.
    We jumped on the bus and headed back to the hostel, where we had a couple of hours to get ready for our final night on tour.
    We jumped on the bus at 6.45, on our way to our parisian dinner at Restaurant La Mère Catherine. Jo dropped us on the main road, and we hiked (in our fancy clothes) up to the top of the hill to Sacre Coeur Basilica. What a view! We took some photos, then made our way to the restaurant.
    There was a duo singing in the corner, what started as some lovely french tunes, turned into some cracking Katy Perry and Britney Spears covers.
    I had the french onion soup (delicious) followed by chicken with french fries.
    Jacinda, Charli, Brooke, Sharne, Nicolette and I had booked the Moulin Rouge, rather than the contiki cabaret choice, so we had to bail before the end of dinner, so we rushed a few goodbyes to people we may not see again, then hiked back down the hill to the main street.
    We made it just in the nic of time, walking in and finding our table during the opening number.
    My initial thoughts were that it was a little tacky, but once you embrace the over the top smiles, all of the boobs out and about, the true corniness of it all, it's actually quite spectacular! In between all the dance numbers, there are some truely incredible acts. A ventriloquist who was hilarious, a lady in a pool with pythons, and my favourites, 2 people on roller skates, on a tiny platform doing some amazing acrobatics! Many gasps from the crowd during their performance!
    After the show was over, we grabbed our programs and headed to the bar next door, O'Sullivans. Tamara had told us the rest of the group would be meeting there after their show.
    Well, thanks to the Euro cup, and the Ireland V Wales game, this Irish pub was packed. It was the most disgusting place I've ever walked into. I have no doubt in normal circumstances it's great, but we walked through so many sweaty welshmen, the place had the stench of poo and vomit. That's not an exaggeration. In the time we were there, Wales won and the Welsh got even rowdier, and a few others showed up. We tried to message Tamara to find somewhere else to meet, but by the time the rest of the group arrived we gave in and found an area on our own. We drank away the disaster of the final night, I think I headed out on the dance floor for a while with Natalie, and eventually ubered home with Nicole, Jono and James.
    I snuck into my hotel room trying not to wake Terryanne, and went to bed for the last time on Contiki!
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  • Day24

    Bonjour Paris

    June 24, 2016 in France ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    It's fairly safe to say some of us weren't feeling spectacular today as we boarded the bus at 8am for the final part of our tour - Paris, we're coming for you!
    Swiss Alps to Paris was set to be our longest drive yet, so the stops were short and uneventful, and we ended up checking into our hotel at around 7. I was with Terryanne again, and I had a quick shower before we headed down for our included dinner at the hotel at around 8pm. This was a fun one, with cheese and champagne, snails and chicken (no, I did not try the snails!)
    Most people decided they wanted to check the Eiffel Tower off the list straight away, so Terryanne and I decided to run up to our room and get organised, then met Alli and Alyx in the lobby to catch an uber there.
    The drive was entertaining - I don't think any of us could actually believe we were in Paris. And then there it was...
    We thanked our Uber driver and jumped out of the car. This is where we really had our 'Oh my God' moments. For Alli, Paris is what this whole trip had been leading up to, so she was stoked. Terryanne and I had been more excited for other places, but now that we were standing under the Eiffel Tower... This was something else... I don't think I can really put words to the feeling, only that I felt the same back in 2009 when standing by the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Just and overwhelming feeling of "Holy crap - I'm really here!"
    We decided to head up, and there are 2 entrances, stairs or elevators. We intended on finding the elevators but all of a sudden, here we were climbing up 600 stairs. Extremely exhausting, but so worth it. What a view! And we were ON THE EIFFEL TOWER!!!
    It was dusk when we arrived, so the sun had set once were up there and we got some great views of the city lights. We bought some souvenirs at a shop inside, and eventually decided it was time to head back down (thankfully by elevator this time).
    We decided it would be easier to uber a little bit away from the main area, so we walked along the river, crossed it, took some more photos then ordered it.
    We had an awkward moment where we almost got into a random persons car, thinking it was our uber (whoops!), but were soon on our way back to the hotel. I think we got in around 1am.
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