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 – 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

 

Friday September 2nd 2016 – Seattle

Well, my morning started at about 4.30am this morning when my first alarm went off. I hit snooze and rolled back over. by 4.45am, I knew I just had to get up. I had to shower, have atleast one coffee, finish packing my bag and walk to the bus stop at the front of the hotel, all by 6am.

Today was the day that I got to see my parents for the first time in a year! I have the next 9 days off work to spend with them. They have been travelling around the north west of the United Stated and an Alaskan cruise and now they will be travelling around Canada with me.

First stop, Seattle!

That is why I had to be at the bus stop at 6am, to catch the bus to Calgary airport and fly out at 1pm to Seattle where I was meeting them.

With the one hour time difference, I arrived at about 2.3pm and still had an hour or so before they were meeting me at the airport. So worked on some old blogs for a little while until they arrived.

Finally when they did, it was an emotional reunion and Mum and Dad had to say goodbye to friends that they had dropped off at the airport.

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During the afternoon in Seattle, we stopped in at The Fairmont Olympic Hotel Seattle (unfortunately, they were fully booked out and we didn’t stay there)

 

It was turning into a wet and chilly afternoon with the weather turning. Apparently Seattle is famour for it though. It didn’t dampen our spirits and we made our way to the Space Needle 🙂

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You are pretty cool Seattle!

Wednesday May 11th 2016 – The Canadian Fairmont Bucket List

Since having started working for this company, I have decided to make a-

‘Canadian Fairmont Bucket List’ 

A list of Fairmont Hotel’s that I want to spend at least one night in at some point for here in Canada as well as the United States (since its just down the road)!

  • Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise ✔️

Monday April 18th 2016 – The stayover

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  • Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel ✔️

The reason I want to stay here, and honestly I already have twice, I just haven’t written about it yet, is because it is only 45 minutes away from Lake Louise. Having a passion for spa, the iconic Willow Stream Spa is one thing I certainly will be checking out! I will potentially stay here with my parents, will see 😉

  • Fairmont Palliser, Calgary ✔️

Tuesday, March 15th 2016 – 48 Hours in Calgary

  • Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

I will be staying here in September with my parents when they visit! So I shall keep you informed 🙂

  • Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, Edmonton
  • The Fairmont Waterfront, Vancouver

Again, in September, my parents will be lucky enough to check this place out with me!

  • The Fairmont Pacific Rim, Vancouver

I would love more than anything to be able to stay here!!! They have by what I have heard, the best high tea next to The Savoy in London! They also have a Willow Stream Spa 😍 The only reason I couldn’t book here is because the staff rate wasn’t available for when my parents are visiting 😦  Doesn’t mean we can’t pop over to check it out!

  • The Fairmont Waterfront Vancouver

Here I will be staying with my parents!! Woohoo

  • Fairmont Empress, Victoria

Victoria is a stone throw away from Vancouver and the hotel sits right on the waterfront. It is also home to another Willow Stream Spa

  • Fairmont Chateau Whistler

It’s Whistler, need I say anymore? And yes I will be staying here in September! 😁☺️😆

Americas-

  • Fairmont Southampton, Bermuda

Palm Trees, Beach and Willow Stream Spa. Ah, sounds like heaven! This place is very high up on the bucket list for a holiday getaway!

  • Fairmont Mayakoba, Mexico

I nearly made it here in January when I went on my Mexican trip with G Adventures! Friday January 15th 2016 – Cancun. There were no staff rates, so I didn’t book. But next time!!!

  • Fairmont Copley Plaza, Boston

I honestly love Boston! I was here in 2014 when I went on my first contiki trip, the Grand Northern. (I am yet to blog about it by the way. This trip was before I started blogging!) The historic city of Boston honestly fascinates me and I would go back there in a heartbeat to visit again. The Fairmont Copley Plaza is also recognized as one of the Historic Hotels of America, since its grand opening in 1912.

  • Fairmont Dallas

Dear god, I will never be able to explain in words how much I loved visiting Texas! Take me back!

Day 22 Monday 31st August- “Things do not happen, things are made to happen” JFK

Day 23 Tuesday 1st September – “Brace your backbone and forget your wishbone”

  • Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii

The Fairmont Orchid is home to The Spa Without Walls. Imagine laying there getting a facial with the sound of the water trickling from the waterfall and stream only meters away. And stepping out of the door from your room straight onto the beach. Sounds like heaven to me. And I’ve never been yet to Hawaii.

  • The Plaza, New York

Day 4 Thursday 13th August- Sex and the city

New York is without a doubt my favorite city in the whole world! Not only was it the starting place of both of my contiki trips, which literally changed my life both times, but the city itself is so incredibly diverse and cultured. You walk in one direction to one neighborhood to see Wall Street and skyscrapers, and in another direction you are in the middle of suburbia eating local cupcakes in the park that looks like something out of the “Forrest Gump” movie.

And The Plaza, well is speaks for itself. Do you remember watching ‘Home Alone 2 Lost In New York’ as a kid? Yes, this is the same place! Central Park is right next door (and no its not as scary as the movie makes it out to be) And for those Australians, Crocodile Dundee when he arrives in New York ( you know the scene) his hotel suite is bigger than my whole apartment!

I won’t go on any further, we all know The Plaza.

  • Fairmont Grand Del Mar, San Diego

Even though I had 2 trips to the United States, San Diego is one destination I am yet to get to.

  • Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Arizona

This place is also very high on the bucket list. If I am to one day able to work in the States and get a working Visa for there, here is the place to be! Home to the Well & Being Spa, a holistic overall wellness spa with a fitness center and the works. Right in the middle of Arizona where it is nice and warm, just how I like it!

  • Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Seattle

I will be meeting my parents in Seattle in September when I see them for the first time in a whole 12 months! I tried to book here with the staff rate, but with no luck. We may just have to pop in for a visit though during out day in Seattle.

Eventually I will make my way to all of these incredible destinations. I know it won’t be any time soon, but one day in years to come, I will look back on this list and know just how achievable it really is!

Thank you Fairmont for being such an incredible place to work 💜

 

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 27 Saturday 5th September – “Not I, not anyone else, can travel that road for you. You must travel it for yourself” Walt Whitman

The Grand Canyon is one of the marvels of the world that, only when you see it in the flesh, do you appreciate its enormity.

People can go places and see things, and when you get home, you tell your friends and family and you show them photos.

But there are some things, that no matter in how much detail, or how many pixels your camera is, somethings just need to be seen for themselves.

The Grand Canyon is one of these things.

“Not I, not anyone else, can travel that road for you. You must travel is for yourself” said Walt Whitman.


This morning started off with doing laundry which was desperately overdue!

Others had helicopter rides over the grand canyon which I decided not to do, as I had done it last year and decided to keep my money for other optionals.

When everyone got back from the helicopters, Monique and myself went to the village shopping centre to get supplies for the sunset picnic we had planned this evening with the group.

Once the shopping was complete, Leigh and myself took a walk to the Bright Angel Trailhead at the canyon to explore the amazing view and get some cool touristy snaps 🙂

  
  

After an afternoon of exploring, we headed back to the cabins to get our things together and head to Mohave Point for the sunset picnic 🙂

When we arrived, we took a few sneaky photos at the point!


  

Unfortunately, it turned very cold and very windy quite quickly, so we all headed back to the cabins and gathered up for a couple of room gatherings before our big journey tomorrow to the one and only, Viva Las Vegas 😉