Grand Northern 2014 – Badlands National Park, Mt. Rushmore, Keystone, Deadwood and Cody

Friday, June 6th-

Today was a very long bus day. There was a short trip to our first stop, Mitchell, South Dakota to the Corn Palace.

A very country vibe and quite a cool place indeed 🙂

The whole building was covered in corn and the pictures and designs we made from, you guessed it, CORN! So cool!

 

I loved visiting this place! We shopped and took some silly photos. It was such a unique place and a very quirky American icon, not to be missed 🙂

From there it was another couple of hours on the bus playing celebrity heads and eating lots and lots of candy.

When we reached Badlands Naitonal Park, it was like we were free children in a playground. We were able to get out doors and breath in some fresh country air!

We drove through the park listening to ‘The Lion King’ music and admiring the amazing scenery.

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It is hard to explain the beauty of nature in a place like this. Even though the day was overcast and dark, the colours on the rock were like nothing else in this world. We even stopped in for a little picnic in the park 🙂

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That afternoon, we stopped in at the cute little town of Wall Drug to pick up supplies for the rodeo in Cody and took some fun photos around in the unique town.

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Finally the day was drawing to an end as we headed to our final destination for the day; Keystone, to tourist one stop town for anyone visiting Mt. Rushmore. Our contiki accomodation that night was the Washington Inn and Suites.

That evening our dinner was buffet style at the Keystone House Restaurant next door. I won’t beat around the bush, it wasn’t the best meal I’d had on tour. It was included though so nothing to complain about. I stocked up on the fruit and snacks for the bus trips.

I managed to sneak in some ‘in-the-sink- laundry and hang up some spare clothes before calling it a night.

Saturday, June 7th

This was one of the most exciting days that I had really been looking forward to out of the whole trip. I am sure that most of you reading could agree; visiting Mt. Rushmore is way up there on the bucket list when visiting the USA!

The morning started off cold and gloomy in Keystone and we were worried if we would even be able to see anything by the time we reached the Black Hills and Mt. Rushmore. However our luck rolled in as the clouds rolled away and we squeezed in some great typical tourist shots.

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CONTIKI!!!

 

 

We unfortunately did’t have the same luck when we headed to the Crazy Horse Memorial. The whole moutain was covered and we could barely see maybe 5 metres in front of us.

There was a lot to learn though. The Crazy Horse Memorial has an incredible story. It is not as well heard of because it is still a work in progress and it is tributed to the Native American’s. Back in the 1940’s and 1950’s, work began on the statue after Mt. Rushmore had been completed and to this stay is still privately funded. If it is to ever be completed, it would be one of the world’s largest statues.

It was great that Contiki included this in the tour, as most tourist’s I guess would not know about it otherwise, and I loved exploring through the museum.

 

The afternoon was spent in the historic town of Deadwood. Have you ever heard of Calamity Jane? Well her travels through this town was a huge part of her story. We had found the Wild West! A small group of us found the No. 10 Saloon to watch the reenacment of of the shooting of Wild Bill Hickok and enjoy a cold beverage after all of our running around. Yes, what do you expect, we were drinking every day on Contiki!

The evening came to an end exploring back in Keystone in a local’s secret pub, Halley’s 1880 Store. This one is difficult to explain unless you’ve been there! They had only a few select beers and mixers, but not only was this place a bar, but a mixture of that and a thrift shop/ Vinnies. But cooler! As I was sipping on my lolly water drink, I ventured down to the basement where spare car parts, jars and chest of drawers. The basement kind of gave me to creeps, so I went up to the attic, where I swear I saw a ghost! But noy only that (ghosts and spirits don’t bother me too much) but household items galore. Bicycles, crockery, books, clothes, board games…

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This place is a hoarders heaven! They had everything

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Some say it was the lighting, others say its a ghost, the owner says her name is Lucy!

 

It wasn’t until about 2am and after going through old business journals and ledgers, launghing over the adventures that had already been, that we all decided it was time to call it a night. Tomorrow, we had rodeo!

Sunday, June 8th

Well today I decided to sit up the front of the bus, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. This one is for all of the Aussie’s that have never seen snow before.

Remember, it is June in the USA and we are all in thongs and shorts and what ever is comfy for our bus trip. As the contiki bus climbed into the mountains of Wyoming, little by little on the side of the road, specs of white began appearing in the shrubs. All of the Aussie’s that were awake including myself begged Marv, our driver to pull over for just 5 minutes. 80% of the Australians on the bus had never seen snow before!

 

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Yep, I’m standing in the snow in thongs!

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We were simply blessed to see snow. Real snow! Not something seen where most of us were from in the land down under. Just awesome.

Our contiki accomodation for that evening was at Buffalo Bill’s Antler Inn. We continued the contiki ritual of drinking and quickly getting ready with the 15 minutes we had left before heading out for yet another night in a new town.

Our contiki group had a very warm welcome at the local Cody Rodeo. Yeehaw!

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Such a cheesy group photo!

I even managed a beer and a gross American hotdog at the rodeo. When then ended the night at the Silver Dollar Bar where we all probably drank way too much (surprise surprise) and requested all of the classic travel songs from the old jukebox in the corner.

 

Grand Northern 2014 – Madison & Sioux Falls

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I saw this on a building in Milwaukee and I knew I had to take a snap of it

Wednesday June 4th-

Today we left Chicago in the rain and picked up a few new contikians that were doing the second half of the trip with us.

We stopped in at Milwaukee for lunch then over to the Miller Brewing Company for a contiki included beer tour 🙂

Not that I drink beer but it was still exciting. I was going to at least try what they gave us, just to say I tried it.

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The Miller Brewing Company was originally founded in 1855, by Mr. Frederick Miller with a special brewers yeast and an ambition to brew confoundly good beers! For 160 years now, the brewing company has been said to be leaders in the brewing industry and still to this day calls Millwaukee home.

We toured through the historic caves and packaging factories and ended the tour in the sampling pub where we each tried about 4 different beers. I tried a sip of each of mine as they came out then I passed mine on discretely to the next person for them to enjoy 🙂

On our way to Madison after the brewery tour, there were a couple of tipsy individuals who really endulged in their beer at the brewery haha.

That night our contiki accomodation was at the Econolodge Madison.

My plan for that evening was to stay in and do a serious catch up of laundry after dinner! Things were getting dire in the clothing department.

We had dinner at the Hometown Buffet ( I don’t know why I am bothering tagging the restaurant link for this one, as yet another place that is closed since the contiki lol)

The contiki bus driver was going to drop everyone who wanted to go out for the night to a local bar and everyone else was to stay on the bus to go back to the hotel. Well, originally, my plan was the latter. HOWEVER!

As per usual contiki style, I was very easily convinced by my new contiki friends to come out and not be a homebody.

This new thing called, FOMO (fear of missing out) was real. I really didn’t want to miss out on all of the fun that my friends were having if I was stuck back at the hotel doing boring laundry. Hmm, yeah laundry can wait haha.

The bar that night was the Red Rock Saloon, the cutest cowboy bar I had ever seen 🙂

There was a local duo playing country music up on the stage and our bartender was very generous on her free pour. In return, I know she made her tips that night. The more we tipped, the stronger the next drink became.

The evening continued with turns on the mecahnical bull in the corner and everyone busting a move on the dance floor to the country music 🙂

The next day, we left Madison very early on the bus to head to the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota.

After our brief stop at the museum, we had a very long bus afternoon ahead of us, travelling 315 kilometers from Austin, Minnesota to Siuox Falls, South Dakota.

It was such a pretty city and of course we stopped at the Falls Park before checking in to our one nighter stay contiki accomodation at the Baymont Inn and Suites, Sioux Falls.

Our dinne that night wasn’t contiki included but we chose to go to the local ‘Outback Steakhouse. Our contiki manager recommended it so that we could have a bit of local home experience for us Australians. Haha, well I know ‘cheese fries’ and ‘shrimps’ are far from Australian, but nice try!

Finally that night after dinner, we all mutually agreed that it was time for some chill out time. Some went to see a movie, others stayed in and caught up on laundry and others just phoned home to check in.

Contiki 2014 – Grand Northern USA

Grand Northern 2014 – Cleveland & Chicago

Sunday, June 1st-

Today, we bid farwell to Canada and crossed over the border back to the United States. It was about midday when we were going through customs and stocked up on some goodies at the HUGE duty free store.

We arrived into Cleveland that afternoon where we went straight to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame.

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We only had about 3 hours to explore the 6 floors of the amaxing building. The hisory, the memorabilia, the film clips and the overall atmosphere of the place, it was just so cool! There is no other word for it, COOL!

Our hotel in Cleveland was the Comfort Inn Downtown.

A lot of us were pretty worn out from a massive few nights, so after a small dinner, we went bowling for a quiet and tame night.

Our stay over in Cleveland was only for one night, because next up was the one and only, windy city, Chicago!

On route to Chicago, we stopped in at Amish Acres (yes this place even has its own website).

It was an Amish farm that is open for tourists and school groups for education. It was really quite interesting learning about the history and lifestyle. No televisions or technology (the website and business side of things are run seperately). It was described as very family orientated with group church every Sunday and rumspringer is a real thing.

Although our guide told us it was Ok to take photos, I didn’t in respect of the fact that it is against Amish beliefs to have your photo taken. I did by a souvenir shot glass at the gift shop though.

Later that afternoon, we arrived into Chicago where we had our city tour that included the only 2 remianing original buildings left after the 1871 Great Chicago Fire that killed up to 300 people, destroyed 9 square kms and left more than 100,000 Chicago residents homeless.

The evenings events consisted of some famous Chicago deep pan pizza pie from Giordano’s.

Talk about getting a taste of the local food! Wow, those pizza pies were MASSIVE and had so much stuffing. I only needed a couple of pieces with some salad and I was set haha. Myself and a couple of other girls shared a few bottles of wine between us.

In true contiki style, we proceeded to head out for the night to adventure. Considering it was only a Monday night, it seemed that we would have to make our own party somewhere. Craig, the contiki manager reccomended an old mafia pub, Bootleggers. It was small but so cute! It had a karaoke machine set up in one corner, a giant Jenga in the other corner and up the back was even a beer pong table.

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The night continued with lots of jenga and karaoke again.

I would highly reccomend this place, but I was sad to find out that it has actually recently closed down 😦

Our hotel in Chicago was The Best Western Grant Park.

Needless to say, in true contiki style, both myself and my room mate were excessively hungover. Room mates stick together haha.

A couple of other fellow contikians managed to motivate us, messaging us that we had by 11am to get our butts down to the lobby to make the most of the warm beautiful day. And that is exactly what we did!

My roomie and I had lunch down at the Navy Pier while the rest of the group with us wandered around the peer, looking at the shops and attractions. After exploring for a little longer, we went into Macy’s to fill in some more time before the baseball game that night.

 

That night, I got to see my first live baseball game at Wrigley Field.

I don’t think I had ever even seen a game in general before. But in America, because it such a popular game, I knew it was something that I couldn’t miss out on.

The game went for a couple of hours before it felt like anything was happening, but it was part of the fun. We could see plenty of the field from where we were sitting, but there were also televisions above us for a clearer view.

After about the 3rd hour, some of the fellow contikians left to go the bar across the road, Sluggers.

Myself and a few others decided to stay. I know I didn’t want to miss anything incase anything exciting did happen!

On about the 4th hour, the Chicago Cubs gave the crowd some excitement, with a home run or two, they won the game right at the end!! And well didn’t the crowd just go wild. Us Australians even joined in once we learnt the words of the teams victory song. The words shined out infront of us on the huge televisions around the statdium, so it wasn’t hard to keep up.

“Go, Cubs, go
Go, Cubs, go
Hey, Chicago, what do you say
The Cubs are gonna win today.”

We joined the rest of the group at the bar, where we managed to get our own section before all the locals arrived due to the others that left the game early grabbing us a few tables 🙂

We even had table service so that we didn’t have to wait in line for an hour to get a drink!

No need to say that it was another typical contiki night on tour! The DJ had many Australian requests and all the locals were fascinated by our accents.

“G’day Mate”, they would ask us to say haha.

To check out the next place we visited- follow here 😉

#no regrets Contiki Grand Northern 2014

Grand Northern 2014 – Toronto & Niagara Falls

Thursday May 29th-

Today we left Montreal for Toronto.

Not far out of Montreal though, we stopped in at a little town, Gananoque where the contiki optional ‘1000 Island Boat Cruise’ is held.

I decided not to sign up for this as well as maybe 20 or so others. We sat on the grassy knoll by the water and wached the boat sail off. I played some music through my phone and sunbaked while a few of the guys threw a football around. It was nice to relax outdoors for a bit before getting back on the bus after the boat cruise had finished, and we continued onto Toronto.

By mid afternoon, we were checked into our hotel, The Bond Place Hotel. This place was so cute! I loved it ❤

We showered and changed for our contiki included dinner at The Pickel Barrel after a tour in the bus of the city! It reminded my of New York, but a Canadian version I guess.

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Oh my! The food at The Pickle Barrel was amazing! It was by far the best food that I had had on tour. The cocktails of course were reasonably priced, so we had one or two!

By now I am sure that it was suggested that we start attending A.A meetings haha.

After a mouthwatering dinner, we wandered over to a karaoke bar, Crocodile Rock.

I am certain that a few of us had gained a little bit of liquid courage from the cheap shots to grace our prescence on stage to belt out the classic ballads. So much contiki bonding! haha. I entertained our contiki group with rendition of “Man, I feel like a woman”, by Shania Twain. We danced and sang and played pool all night until we were kicked out at closing time.

The following morning was rusty for most of us to say the least. I opted for a rest day and went to find a spa to get a good massage. The time on the bus had started to take its toll and my back wasn’t in the best shape.

After lunch, I headed to down town Toronto on my own to check out the CN Tower and the aquarium. I didn’t end up going up to the top of the tower, but I wish I had.

Next time 😉

That night, we had a school bus pub crawl organised. A contiki optional was to go to the Second City Comedy Show, where the bus would pick us up. Myself and a new friend of mine, Elissa, hadn’t gone to the show.

So instead we had dinner from the hotel in our room before getting ready for the night. We hopped on the bus from the hotel and went to pick everyone else from the comedy show to begin the pub crawl.

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The first stop of the bus tour was McVeigh’s Irish Pub!

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Thank god that the next place, Cube bar wasn’t far from the hotel. Myself and aother girl ran back to the hotel to change out of our stinking heels and into party flats. I’m really not a fan of heels anyway!

Finally we ended the night at Gravity Soundbar where I received the most uncomfortable patdown by the female security guard. I get it, they dont want things snuck in, but Wow! This place is no longer open now and I probably wouldn’t rate it anyway. The music was good but the place was pretty rundown, especially the toilets downstairs and the drinks were extremely overpriced.

Still a good night had by all! Lots of contiki bonding and a bit of home sickness in there as well.

By 2am, the bus was ready to take back whoever was ready to leave. So back on we went and found a late night feed somewhere near the hotel.

The next day, Saturday May 31st, Niagara Falls was our next destination!

On the hour and a half drive from Toronto to Niagara, every single person slept to recover from the night before and we all stocked up on gatorade. Dehydration had begun to set in.

The power nap was just what I needed and when we got off the bus and walked down to the dock for the boat tour, I had began to feel as good as new!

The night before, I had worn shorts on the pub crawl and a few people had noticed my scars by then. Up until then, I hadn’t really showed them off. It’s not that I am emabarrased or ashamed of my scars, but typically with new people, I can be a little more hesitant about people seeing the scars. But the contiki bonding that had formed over the last few days, made me feel a lot more comfortable. I got a few questions along the way to the boat cruise, which I was more than happy to answer. I would much prefer it over the people that just stare.

When we reached the dock, we waited in line where rain ponchos were handed out to us. On the boat, it was such spectacular scenery. We got sprayed a few times from the mist of the falls but I really enjoyed it. Another one ticked off of the bucket list 🙂

 

During the afternoon after the boat cruise, we still had a few hours before the bus was coming back to pick us up so we got lunch up town and explored the quirky town of Niagara. The main street was full of ‘Ripley’s Believe It Or Not’s, wax museums, game arcades, bowling alleys and putt putt golf courses. It was huge for the tourists after the falls being the main attraction of course.

For dinner that evening, we headed back into Toronto for yet another contiki included dinner (YES! my back account thanks you haha) at Spring Rolls in down town Toronto. Still to this day was some of the best sushi I have ever had. Yum Yum!

#noregrets Contiki Grand Northern 2014

 

Grand Northern 2014 – Quebec City & Montreal

As we ended our time in Boston, us rowdy contikians once again managed to crawl back onto the bus to head into Canada eh!

We spent quite a few hours of the morning on the bus and having introductions and making our first stop at a Walmart to stock up on some goodies for the bus 🙂

Our first stop was Quebec City! We had a city tour on the bus where we had a chance to see ‘Old Quebec’, a beautiful historic part of the city with cobblestone lanes and little French boutiques.

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Our first night in Canada was spent in Quebec City where we dined at Cosmo’s Café in the heart of the city before hitting the town once more.

We partied at the night club, Dagobert. At first when we arrived, the place was a little empty so we started off with an all round contiki shot. By 10.30pm, the place really started to fill up with locals and it was a night full of vodka and dancing!

The next day was a free day which I spent exploring the shops and amazing old buildings in the area. I hadn’t really made any friends yet on contiki and I was happy doing my own thing on free days.

I managed to squeeze in a load of washing back at the hotel that afternoon and I played cards with a few of my new friends before we went out for a buffet dinner.

The following day, Tuesday May 27th, we said fairwell to our Quebec City hotel, the Hotel Le Voyageur and journeyed over to Montreal.

Sightseeing of the city was first on the list.

We drove up to the lookout at Mt Royal to get some shots of the city.

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Unfortunately, the day was cold and over cast. After the stop at the lookout, we had a Jet Boating tour booked on the St Lawrence river as a contiki optional ( I can’t remember the price I paid for this, but worth every cent!) I am sure that most of us were quite nervous and hesitant, given the gloomy weather conditions.

But we pushed and on arrival of Saute Jet-Boating , we were changed into layers and layers of jumpers and waterproof overalls as well as water shoes and a life jacket. They were well equiped for the fact that we were about to be soaked going through the rapids!

We were out in the rapids for close to an hour and it was the most fun I’d had in quite a long time! It really was an adrenaline rush and I would highly recommend these guys any day for something cool to do in Montreal!

That night our accomodation was in the Sandman Hotel, Montreal.

It was close to downtown which was great, because of course, we dressed up to the nines and headed out on the town again after a contiki included dinner.

The contiki tour manager had recommended a local bar named Winston Churchill Bar.

The local hockey team was playing in some pre season finals on the TV’s around the sports bar and of course after their win, all of the locals decided to make it quite a party!

There were celebrations all round (and of course all of us contikians were always up for a party).

There were $2.50 jeigerbomb shot specials and with all of the partying, it was much easier to buy a round each time and do a group shot! Haha oh dear contiki, what are you doing to me?

With far too many shots in our bellies, we left as a group and safely back to our hotel with a stop of takeaway pizza along the way 🙂

The next day was extremely uneventful as most of us nursed our sore heads and headed to the underground shopping centres to grab some souvenirs and appropriate hangover food.

Next stop, Toronto and Niagara Falls!

#noregrets Contiki Grand Northern 2014

Grand Northern 2014 – Boston

Well the first few days of my very first contiki was quite interesting!

I remember thinking, if this is what the next four weeks has to bring, then this is going to be one hell of an adventure 🙂

We left New York City bright and early on our contiki bus, all 50 of us crammed in, one traveler already asleep on the ground after a big night of partying as we left the city limits of the Big Apple.

Our first stop for lunch and to stretch our legs was New Haven, Connecticut. While we were there, a few of us wondered around the Yale University campus only to discover that it wasn’t open for tours due to a graduation ceremony.

As we made our way around the outside walls, we discovered a an open back door that we snuck in through to get some quick pictures.

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When we went to leave out the door that we came in, it had since closed! We had locked ourselves inside Yale University with no way of getting back out. Fortunately, a student was walking by and saw a group of very lost looking ladies panicking about being locked in. He took some fun pictures with us before letting us back out of the campus with his student card. We then had quite a funny story to tell on the bus on the way to Boston.

That evening, we arrived into Boston where we had a city tour on the bus and dinner at Dick’s Last Resort. An entertaining evening full of sarcastic waiters and dirty named shots.. (I am sure you can use your imagination for that one)

The evening ended with a few more drinks at a small bar called the 6B Lounge. It was a cute quiet corner bar and restaurant that turned into the local hot spot on a Friday night!

The following day, we were all a little seedy from the previous nights shenanigans full of shots and making new friends. Nothing gets a good conversation going like a drink and a dance.

We had an organized tour at Harvard University.

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There were no Elle Woods moments, but a very interesting story about the history of the campus. Our tour guide was a student who was studying law and had been at school for four years, and still had another three to go!

She loved doing the tours and had such passion for Harvard. She made it fun and entertaining.

Harvard has an extensive history with the university being founded in the 1630’s, all without buildings, with out teachers and without students!

We stopped at the ‘Statue of John Harvard’, otherwise known as ‘The Statue of 3 Lies’.

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The three lies being-

  1. John Harvard is the founder of Harvard University.  LIE!

    The statue claims that John Harvard is the founder of the school, when actually he donated half of his estate and a lot of money to the university when he died 2 years after it was originally founded by a vote by the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony

     

  2. Harvard University was founded in 1638. LIE AGAIN

    It was actually founded in 636, which makes it the oldest institution of higher education in the United States.

  3. The statue is of John Harvard. HAHA Third LIE

    No one actually knows what the real John Harvard looked like and there is no records of what he may have looked like. A one Sherman Hoar sat for the statue, who later  went on to became a member of Congress and US District Attorney.

 

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That afternoon, we headed back into central Boston where we caught the street car around to see some more local sights 🙂

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That night ended in a ‘room gathering’ of drinks and snacks before having an early night.

During our visit in Boston we stayed at the Ramada Hotel.

To check out the next place we visited, hope on over to the next post 🙂

Contiki Grand Northern 2014

 

Day 30 Tuesday 8th September – “Home is now behind you, the world is ahead” Gandalf the Great/ Contiki Charity

It is always a sad day when contiki comes to an end.

You spend a month with incredible people, getting to know their ins and outs, see their ups and downs, and overall, become friends that will last a lifetime.

Travel isn’t about the places you see, it’s about who you travel with along the way. Contiki brings out the best people who are all looking to meet other fellow travelers.

On the final day of contiki, I realized that it’s not the places that we visited, or the hotels we stayed in or the food we ate, but the laughs that were shared along the way that will be missed the most.

On the very first day of your, everyone was nervous and shy about getting to know everyone else.

But we all pushed each other out of our comfort zones, to make the most of the opportunities that lay ahead.

After 26 days of being together, we knew that the reason it is so sad, is that we had all become so comfortable with each other, being around each other everyday or waking up to the company of your room mate.

The first day and last day of contiki are the most important to an individual.

The in between, we learn to push ourselves. But it is truly on the last day, where we have to say goodbye to everything that we know. Say goodbye to the life of the last 26 days and accept the fact that, life goes on.

For most of us, there will always be another trip or another contiki. Which means inevitably, more fellow travellers.

As Gandalf the Great, or our very own Contiki Charity once said, “Home is now behind you, the world is ahead”.

Each trip, or new chapter in the book, we are leaving what we know behind, and starting again.

I want to thank each and every one of amazing people that I travelled with during not only the 26 days of the Grand Southern, but the 4 days in New York as well.

What a journey it has been!



xx

Day 29 Monday 7th September – Don’t be sad that it’s over, be happy that it happened 

 

 Well I must say for the most part of today, I didn’t do a whole lot except sleep!

I didn’t get in til 6.30am this morning after drinking with an old contiki friend back at the hotel! It was great to catch up!

So after sleeping til about noon, I managed to get myself up, get some food and begun getting ready for the last night of contiki 😦

Myself and a few of the girls went to the ‘High Roller’ Ferris Wheel to check out Vegas from a new view.

And as you can see from above, I’m sure Vegas got a view of its own 😉 haha, don’t worry no one saw anything, it was just for fun!


  
  
After the Ferris Wheel, we all met at MGM Grande for our Limo with champagne ride before heading to the club of the night, XS at The Encore, with 3 other contikians!!!

It was really cool to see people that I was in New York with nearly a month ago, I’d missed them so much.

Well there’s not much to say about the night, other than it was huge like the night before 🙂

I’m pretty sure there was a compliment drink with our entry, and we all ordered Long Island Iced Teas, I know I didn’t need another after that.

All in all, it was sad to say, but contiki has all but come to an end 😦

xx

Day 28 Sunday 6th September – “Birthday Celebrations”

 

 

Good Morning Ya’ll :)So yeah… As you can guess, today is MY BIRTHDAY!

And today, we are off to Las Vegas, the original sin city 🙂

This morning we left and on the way to Las Vegas, we stopped in at a little town on Route 66.


It was a hot town in the middle of the desert full of quirky signs and attractions.


  
The bus journey was a fun one with party music and games for an amazing day ahead.

We played plenty of Calvin Harris, because tonight, myself and the girls are heading to Hakassan at the MGM Grande to see him live in Las Vegas!

When we arrived at Las Vegas mid afternoon, we unpacked all of our luggage and headed up to the rooms.

Some went shopping while others began pre drinking.

I headed down to the salon at the hotel to get my hair done for my birthday 🙂

After getting all dolled up for the night, I returned back to the room to find a beautiful surprise waiting for me…


And there was so much more confetti throughout that what is in that picture!

My contiki girls are amazing and I love you all for making my birthday such a special night 😀

We had dinner at the Planet Hollywood at Caesars Palace Forum Shops.

After we finished our meals, I was given a birthday ice cream with a sparkler and everyone sang happy birthday.

It was beautiful 😊


We left Planet Hollywood and hopped on the bus to do a Las Vegas city tour and stop at the infamous sign at the end of the strip!


We spent an amazing night visiting an Elvis chapel and visiting the lights on Freemont Street and partying on the bus along the way.

Finally, we ended up at MGM Grande where we continued to party it up and see the one and only Calvin Harris 😍

xx

Day 26 Friday 4th September – “You’ve got to put the past behind you, before you can move on” Forrest Gump

I’ve been traveling so far for 25 days now, and a full on ride since the beginning with no doubt. There has been many ups, really great days, moments and experiences with people. But what comes with travelling, there has also been downs, being home sick, missing my friends and family at home, tired, run down and exhausted from travelling.

But thanks to the amazing people that you travel with along the way, they will always pick you back up.

You have to remember that, although you are allowed to miss your friends and family, you are in an incredible place that you may only ever get one chance to experience, to just keep moving forward.

As Forrert Gump would say “My Mumma always said, you’ve got to put the past behind you, before you can move on”

This morning was cold, wet and drizzly morning in Durango.

I made my way to breakfast early to beat the rush. My bags were all ready to go along with my travel pillow and bus blanket for a sleepy day on the bus.

As we left Durango, we knew it was going to be quite a drive today along the way to the Grand Canyon, through Monument Valley along the way!


After a couple of hours on the road, we reached our first destination, the road on Monument Valley.

We all stopped for amazing photos and to admire the scenery.

This is the road that we all know so well, that was made more famous than it already was in the movie Forrest Gump.

The scene where Forrest is doing his running scene, and at the end of his run after over 2 years of running through the country, he turns around to the crowd behind him and says “I’m pretty tired, think I’ll go home now”

We decided while on at the side of the road, to reanact a famous Forrest Gump scene.

One of the girls had a Bubba Gump hat and poncho so she was put at the front while everyone else ‘ran’ behind 🙂

After our stop on the road, we headed to the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, the visitors centre that is on Indian land.

A really great place for more incredible photo moments.



  
  
It was also extremely windy so getting a good photo with the flag was a challenge haha.

Once we finished having photos, we headed through the rest of the valley, and on our way to the Grand Canyon!


It was still early in the afternoon when we arrived at the Grand Canyon National Park!!

Even though I’ve been to the Grand Canyon before, it was just as impressive as it was before. Last time I had been in the North Rim on my previous contiki.

This time, we were on the South Rim and even lucky enough to have two nights in the Grand Canyon 🙂


  
Haha I even attempted the almighty contiki jump!

That night, we had an included dinner at the cafeteria at the Maswik Lodges we were staying at.

A few people were having ‘room drinks’ but myself and my room mate decided to have a night in watching The Lion King on my laptop!

A good quiet night in 🙂

xx