15.06.2010 - 09.07.2010
I can’t really remember every little detail of what happened the past 25 days it has been a blur. Partly due to being drunk, part to excitement, part to sleep deprivation and mostly because keeping an accurate dairy was about the last thing on my mind with all the fun going on. Plus if I was to be recalling every detail it would take much too long to read.
So in 25 days I covered about 8000km and 19countries. Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, France, England.
Those of us that joined in Athens joined a tour that had started three weeks earlier in London and combined it meant there were 46 campers with 3 Contiki road crew all crammed on the coach with NO spare seats. People from everywhere: Kiwis, Canadians, South Africans, Americans, Korean, Japanese, English and of course Australian.
The highlights of the trip were so many and so here are some that I considered most memorable for all manner of reasons.
Gallipoli and Anzac Cove – Just the second day on tour and you could see and feel just how important and emotional these places were for all the Anzacs. The slopes up to Chunuk Bair and away from Anzac Cove blow your mind at how they could consider attempting to take them and then more ridiculous is how, in places, they achieved.
Istanbul – East meets West and we wandered around the Grand Baazar which is the most massive and confusing maze of shops I have ever seen. Everyone seems to sell the same stuff as the shops either side of it and how anyone makes money I don’t know. Went to a sheesah bar and had a massive night drinking beer towers, fishbowls and raki finally got to bed at 5am. Saw the Blue Mosque and then had a traditional dinner with belly dancers and all.
“The Pearl of the Adriatic” Dubrovnik is the most amazing fortified town. We walked along the top of the city walls where every photo was worthy of a postcard. The Hole in the Wall bar sits outside the city walls on the ocean and we had a few beers there and jumped the 12m or so to the water below. Awesome fun! Saw Australia beat Serbia in the football world cup which proved popular in Croatia. Went for a cruise to some of the neighbouring islands where, thru a dare, I was made to sing the Titanic theme from the front of the boat. Sing, mumble, yell I’m not too sure. Dubrovnik was crazy. Skinny dipping, random late night walks, museums, beer, buckets of cocktails hopefully I can be back there soon.
Vienna – Arrived and headed to the famous amusement park, Prater Park. Spent a lot of euros on the rides and with the exception of Extasy all the rides were a lot of fun and we had an awesome evening. Went to a schnaps museum and got happy on the free samples. Explored the city and its impressive architecture, found an Australian pub but the beer tasted like feet and then in the final evening some of us dressed up and got cultured at a Mozart and Strauss concert in the palace where Mozart had lived, written and performed.
Prague – Walked around the city and enjoyed the sights of Charles Bridge, Hradcany Castle before a lunchtime river cruise on the river. Played on paddle boats in the afternoon and then went on an epic pub crawl that included a few of us getting lost, drunk, in the streets of Prague. 5 storey mega club with each floor dedicated to a different type of music and then 4am back to the tents for yet another night with less than 4hours sleep. Thank god for travel days and sleeping on the coach!
Munich – Had the chance to see the Glockenspiel in Marienplatz although it was a bit anticlimactic. Headed out to a traditional Bavarian beer hall and the 1L steins flowed freely as we feasted on pork knuckle. It was an impressive double up with the pub crawl the night before and the bike ride the morning after did its best to continue it with lunch in the 2nd largest beer hall in Munich and the world. Dachau most certainly sobered people up though. Walking around and trying to understand and comprehend the extent of suffering that had occurred without any reason. Germany thumped Argentina in the world cup 4-0 so Munich was electric tonight, yet another big one!
Swiss Alps – The drive in was stunning and better yet the chance to get to the roof of Europe. Jungfraujoch the highest station in Europe, 3500m. The 90minute cog rail journey went thru the mountain and climbed more than 2km upwards. Incredible views and we spent the best part of the day up there. It’s the highest I had been and a few people felt light headed at that height. Played in the snow with sleds and all and got back to camp with soaking wet shoes. Saw some base jumpers and some awesome waterfalls as we wandered around our campsite nestled in the Swiss Alps.
Amsterdam – A lot of stuff happened in Amsterdam…
And with that the final very long coach day into London where sadly we said our goodbyes and enjoyed one final drink together. After gypsy-ing all around Europe we had got to know each other and I think we all look forward to a reunion at some point in the near future. Contiki camping is a kick ass way to travel you meet a lot of cool people, eat well, party heaps, see the most incredible sights and just have the best time you can imagine.
I have no idea what I am doing next but I know there are so many activities that I want to do! I bought the official beer stein of the 2010 Munich Oktoberfest (in its 200th year) so I have to go to that now. Ireland sounds cool, Croatia might be back on the cards and maybe Xmas in Sweden, Norway or back in the Swiss Alps??? I will try to keep you all posted but I just don’t know…