Ok, where to start..... have just completed the 18 day Contiki European Whirl and it totally lives up to the name ´whirl´. I would actually call it more of a Blur. I am hoping I can remember exactly what we did for those 18 days, luckily I have photos to jog the hazey memories. The tour left from London on the morning of the 28th of July. The night before we had checked in with the Contiki crew and met Deniz and Kelly (fellow Contiki travellers) and instead of having a quiet night as we probabbly should of, headed out to Piccadilly Circus and to an American bar for a fairly loose night of shots, pool and ripping up a sweaty dance floor. Needless to say, felt fairly average come 6.30 the next morning hiking up to the departure point.
Being in my very ordinary state of mind the next morning, I committed my first (of probabbly many) naive stupid traveller mistakes, probabbly the worst one I could of. My ipod was dead flat, and as the bus was leaving in the next half hour, I decided to go inside the hotel it we were at to put it on charge, and leave it close to the Contiki Reps that were there signing us in. FAIL. It was on charge for no more then 5 minutes when I turned back to see my ipod along with charger and adaptor nowhere to be seen. As you can imagine, I was absolutely ropeable and could of actually lost my mind at that point. This made me realise that yes, I am overseas, and people are not as honest and moral as I think they might be. So to put this in perspective, I just completed an 18 day bus ride around Europe, with drives of more then 8 hours some days, without my beloved Ipod or the 1500 songs I loaded onto it before I left. Devo. Believe me, theres only so much self pondering you can do in a hungover state.
Anyway, not dragging on about that too much as it is in the past, and makes me a tad sad to think about still. We were loaded onto the bus and off to Amsterdam. We had around 6 hours on the bus in which people pretty much all kept to themselves. We arrived in Amsterdam in the afternoon, got ready and headed off to the Red Light District. Now, I have been to Vegas so I thought I would have a bit of an idea of the trashyness and tackyness that could be found at the RLD. But no, no comparison what so ever. The RLD is in a world of its own, and has to be seen to be believed. We were booked into a Contiki group visit to the Ballet that night. Ballet = live sex show. The group went off to sample some of the fine goods sold at the many `Coffee Shops´ located in the RLD, and then off to the show. A live sex show, whilst slightly inebriated by legalised marijuana has to be the best way to break the ice with a new group of people. As you can imagine with a live sex show, was quite confronting, it did involve cigar smoking, bananna eating and a gorilla with a strap on penis to put it lightly....
Anyway, theres not really that much to write about Amsterdam, it is a very cool city and wacky and different. We did a canal cruise (where we saw nothing) and had dinner onboard a floating Chinese restaurant. Then an epic night out at a few locals bars. But to be honest I hardly remember much of the place except for a lot of confusing canals at night and Anne Franks house. After two nights in Amsterdam the group had slowly started to mould together and meet each other. The next destination on our tour was Berlin.....
After a fairly painful bus ride through Germany, we were in Berlin. Once again, being the second destination on our tour, and a massive party city..... we all had dinner and got stuck into sampling the local beverages. We were all fairly intrigued to see that in Germany you can bring all your own alcohol down to the local park and drink it there in a big a group, so after the people of the hostel kicked out our group for being too noisy we headed down to the local park across the road. Funnily enough, we were also later kicked out of the park for being too noisy. We headed to a club called `Weekends´, which was pretty much a shady looking hotel building with 3 bouncers out the front and no lights or signage. Walked on through to an elevator to the top floor, two steps out of the lift and the music is so intense I swear it was beating my heart for me. Lost the group we were with in about two seconds once the lights went out. One good thing was, as noone there was drinking, didnt take more then 2 minutes to ever get a drink (score). Bad news was the girl couldnt understand what I was ordering so every time I ordered I got some form of a glass of vodka with a nip of mixer in the top. Yum. haha. The club was totally insane, even more so was the fact there was a Rooftop part, which was just as big but more chilled out. We stayed drinking and partying on that Roof until 6am to watch the sun rise over Berlin. Amazing.
The next day we had a planned walking tour of Berlin. In all honesty staying out to 6am the night before was a terrible choice. But luckily, there was 30 other people in the same boat as me. The tour was absolute agony, we saw a bunch of Nazi places, somewhere Hitler did something... blah blah. I took a heap of photos of building I no longer remember what they were. Our tour guide was even hungover and almost hurled at one stage, so I dont feel so bad for the state I was in. I will need to go back to Berlin at some stage and do the tour properly, as I dont feel I got a whole lot out of it. The Berlin wall was amazing to see however. The artwork that lines the wall is unreal. The 2 days in Berlin, much like Amsterdam, were incredibly fast paced and intense. From what I can remember though, it is a very cool, hip city with a lot going on, and I am defintely keen to go back to soon.
(Seeing as I visited 9 or 10 countries in 18 days and so many different cities, I think its best I write this blog with 3 cities at a time. So I can remember it all and dont just write one long slurred blurb about everything and bore the s*** out of whoever poor sack is reading it)
From Berlin we headed to Prague. Another painful bus ride (shock horror). Prague is a very cool medieval European city. I should proabbly point out, on Contiki we had our Tour Guide (Kelly), a loud Australian who was pretty cool but could lose her cool at the drop of a hat and our Coach Driver (Joe) a fairly strange eastern European individual that I am fairly sure is either gay or bisexual. Anyway, the hostel in Prague was amazing, had an inside pool that was set at around the 10 degrees mark, making it the best hangover cure to the weary Contiki traveller. We hit up the bar at the hostel the first night.....and Joe, our driver, managed to sink around 14 Absinth shots before sexually abusing pretty much everyone on the tour and falling off a stool at end of night to smash his head on concrete. Drinking fail. For anyone who hasnt tried the potent drink that is Absinth in Czech Repub, try it. It goes down like absolute nails and I am fairly sure it could power a Space Shuttle. No hallucinations were had though, unfortunately. The second day we had a day to ourselves, so ventured into town... went to the Sex Machines museum. Europeans are incredibly weird. As you can imagine there was some messed up stuff in there, watched the first ever porno film made, back in 1920 something.... not sure how we managed to populate the planet back then as people did not know what they were doing. Glad to see they figured it out in years to come. A cute dutch girl recruiting people for a pub crawl managed to twist my arm (shock horror) and we formed a Contiki group of about 25 or so and headed off for a pub crawl around Prague on the 2nd night.
First stop off, free shots for an hour and a half. Need I say more? there should be a fair few photos surfacing on facebook in days to come that will explain the night better then I can. It was an insane night, that I most likely wont ever remember.... but it was a good night and got to meet a lot of people on the tour I had yet to. Got back to the hostel at around 5am, hit up the coke machine for a drink and got a whole hour sleep. That night out set me up for quite possibly the worst leg of the bus rides from the entire tour. I was in all kinds of pain and spent the first 2 hours of the trip mustering every bit of strength I had not to throw up on that bus...... to my suprise, I didnt!....Good times.
To sum up the first 6 days of my Contiki experience. We visited three of the most hectic party cities in Europe, it involved a hell of a lot of drinking and partying with the Contiki crew, hungover painful walking tours of cities and even worse bus rides. You can see a bit of a trend occuring here and most likely think all we did on this tour was get drunk and drunkily stumble around looking at monuments and sights (this is partly true) but we did actually see some sights and take in some culture once we got away from the first few destinations. I will end this blog here, as it already is incredibly long and I am sure half the people who attempted to read it have drifted off. Understandable. I will carry on with Munich, Austria and Italy in the next installment.