|Sep 07, 2004|
Great Britain Contiki Sept 04
I got into London at 6.25am Wednesday morning. Lana and I got lost in Heathrow airport so we sat down had a coffee, changed into cooler clothes (it was fricken hot!!) and then started again for the exit. We finally found the underground and Helenas bag split! Haha pretty funny but she got all upset so had to hide the laughter for a minute while I helped carry all her stuff onto the tube. It was a long tube ride into Russell Square, which is where the Royal National Hotel was. When we finally got there we carried all of our stuff off and thank god there was a street vendor selling bags right outside so Lana got a new 100 litre bag for 30 quid, bargain! YAY! No more carrying for me aside my own shit!
Got to the hotel checked in, found it was a dump! Can't believe we paid each for a night in that thing! Well it was only for 1 night but we were staying there again after our contiki tour so we were a bit bummed. After freshening up a bit it was time to become tourists! Cameras in hand we walked out of the hotel and got offered a ticket to go on a double decker bus tour around London for 16 pounds. Sure! So on we hopped and it took us around London and showed us all the sights! Pretty amazing! London is so beautiful, had always heard it was dirty-ish. We got off in Leicester square and got some lunch. Guess what it was? McDonalds hahaha but there menu is way cooler than ours! I had a Quorn premier, not completely sure what it was but it was fricken tasty! Hope OZ gets them soon.
After a feed we bought a few souvenirs and i got groped by an Indian man at his stall. Was really funny and i think he thought he was being discreet. I asked for directions on a map so he ehld the map and was leaning in and his arm was touching my chest. I just laughed the whole time cos he didnt move at all. Lana thought i was just crazy til i told her. We took some photos aorund the area and then walked to Buckingham Palace to see the Queen for a cuppa tea! The Palace is so big and beautiful! Unfortunately the Queen wasn’t in so we’ll have to reschedule our morning tea. Took plenty of pics! All the gardens surrounding it belong to the palace and they have these huge big black and gold gates with Guards everywhere (hehe the guards are so cute) Took a pic with the Bill and me! haha! First time with the coppers when I’ve actually been innocent. Then we headed on to Trafalgar Square. On the way a cute African guy stopped me for a chat! He was lovely. Got his phone number and we were going to meet up for a drink later that night in the London Pub! Had to go cos he got in trouble by his boss (haha) so we walked on to Trafalgar square. Not bad, been in the country less than 4 hrs and already im in! haha! So back to Trafalgar square, It was so cool! And the breeze was carrying water from the fountain onto us, which was such a nice relief as it was so hot! Who'd have thought I’d be melting in London haha??
Took some more pics, scared all the pigeons and then walked back to Leicester square to get the bus back to the Hotel.
We had a Contiki meeting at 6pm so we went to that and sussed out our fellow travellers! Seems to be lots of young people so sweet! Our TM is Pete and Driver is Howie. Said G'day to a few people and chatted a bit to an American named John! He was awesome, sounded a bit like me (scary) but that’s cool cos I knew we'd get along great.
After the meeting Lana and I wandered back to Leicester Square for dinner. We found a cute little café off the main road called Cagneys. Apparently it's after some famous guy but I don’t know. Anyway the menu on the street said 2 courses for 7.90 and it was soup of the day and the main was lamp chops and potato. So we thought sweet we’re in for that. We went over and sat down and ordered the 2 course meal. The waiters were so not friendly haha. Anyway our soup came out with some bread almost instantly. It was the worst soup ever haha really dodgy packet mix and I’m serious about it being a packet. It had dregs at the bottom of the bowl, and there was powder floaties in it hehe. Hoping that was the worst of it we looked forward to our mains but they were worse. The lamb chops were fried and only about an inch in size and the potato was French fries haha. Really funny, well at least I thought, we hardly ate a thing and didn’t tip when we left the money with the bill on the table. So a dodgy first meal in London, what a great start! Should have had Indian!
We started walking back to the Hotel, I was craving my first pint in England (couldnt believe i hadn't already had 6 that day) so we were going to the London Pub just downstairs of the Hotel. It was so nice walking through London. Ran into a little shop across from the hotel and got some munchies for the tour and checked out some cool souvenirs.
We got to the London pub, found a table and I ordered the first round. Lana said she wanted a beer, which really shocked me, since she never drinks beer. So I went and got two pints. Thinking maybe I should have gotten Lana just a 1/2. I think she drank maybe ¼ of it while I had downed my whole pint and went and got a 2nd one. Ran into John at the bar chatted to him for about 10mins and met his mate who was going on another tour. Had a laugh and a bit of a bet to see who would have the worst hang over in the morning. Went back to the table and finished that pint while Lana still had only drunk her ¼. I told her it was probably getting warm and she should really hurry and drink it but she said she couldn’t. Pussy! Haha nah that was cool, cos then I got to drink it and surprisingly it wasn’t too warm. Went back to the bar and got another pint for me, a soco for Lana and had a shot with John and his mate. He was pretty pissed by then, which was funny. I knew instantly we’d be drinking mates on tour haha and he said the same.
So Lana and I finished our drinks and then headed to Bed. I was a bit happy after 5 pints (well 4 ¾) and a shot but was ok. Pretty sure I wasn’t going to have a hangover but then again I could get a wave of jet lag as well and that could be carnage. Uh oh! Contiki starts in the morning, Great Britain here comes Emma! I can’t believe I’m in England!
Woke up very early this morning, scoffed down some food we bought at the shop last night, showered, checked we had everything packed and headed out of the hotel to the meeting spot at London Coffee. 3 tours were departing this morning so it was pretty hectic with lots of travellers everywhere all piled up with their luggage. There’s a 20kg weight limit for Contiki so we all weighed our bags (mine was 17.6kg) and if we were under 20kgs they put a sticker on your bag saying ‘Contiki checked’. U then had to go check in with your tour manager and find out which bus you were going to be living on for the next week or 2. We had a blue bus, so we hauled our bags over to the coach along with a heap of other people and got chatting straight away to some people. Lana and I chatted to John again and a little Japanese girl named Yuki.
Once the luggage was stowed underneath and we were all aboard, Howie did ‘The Talk’ well it was his ‘the talk’ cos Pete later gave his talk. Howies’ was about the bus, keeping the windows clean, rubbish in the bags, if you’re going to be sick use the bags. He demonstrated the art of putting the handles over your ears haha very funny! Hoping I’m not going to need to use that technique this trip but knowing my drinking habits (and I do) I probably will eventually.
So Howie had his talk and then we got going on our way to Windsor. Whilst driving Pete gave his ‘Talk’. He told us what to expect from contiki and what contiki expects of us. I loved his description of contiki as ‘Every nights a Saturday and everyday is a Monday morning’. A saying we all soon agreed too.
As we drove through the cities of Westminster and London, Pete gave us a history lesson. It was pretty amazing, never knew half the stuff he told us. He pointed out landmarks along the way, we saw Trafalgar Square, London Eye, London Bridge, Cleopatra’s Obelisque. What that’s doing in England is beyond me but apparently all of Europe looted Egypt for these kinds of monuments. Poor Egypt!
We saw a really cool pub called Hung, Drawn and Quartered. Apparently back in the day that was the most popular execution. Its where they hang the bad dude, slice a cross in his (or her) torso and then I think (if memory serves me correctly) they pull his limbs and the desired effect is of course, being disembowelled into 4 sections. Kind of drastic but that’s the way it was done and in its honour they named the pub after it. What a story! Was hoping to have a pint in there b4 I head back down under in 6.5 weeks time!
So onwards to Windsor. Didn’t take too long at all. Once there we got a little talk, a departure time and then got set free in the little town. It’s a real pretty town, looked like a scene from Emmerdale or one of those UK shows. The majority of us headed to a cafe for a feed! John and I were dying for a greasy feed! So we ordered up on the bacon and egg paninis and fresh OJ. Met a few other folks. Stu from OZ, but with a Canadian accent. Was very confused. Later found out he had been living in Canada for a year or so. Got it!
Mecha, another aussie from the blue mts, Danielle, aussie again from Brissy, Sarah a Canadian and Lisa another Aussie from way over in Perth! Brekkie took ages but when it came out, god it was good. The Juice was real too not this Sunny D crap the Pomes seem to love.
After Brekky, John, Lana, Danielle and I headed up to Windsor Castle. We took a few photo shots, took a fun one of me with a lady all dressed in old timer gear (had to pay 1pound tho) then went to take a few more shots and my camera stuffed it! Was really pissed off cos I had only bought that a few weeks b4 leaving OZ! Tried to fiddle around with it with Lana and in doing so lost John and Danielle. We headed inside the castle for a tour and joined a guided walking tour that had just started. The guide was a lovely and very funny old man. Made wise jokes about the Queen and the royal family and tourists aswell.
We saw the change of the guard (Just like London) Very cool! Got some video footage. That’s a lot of men haha!
We had to leave the guided tour early as we were running out of time and I was dying to see St George’s Cathedral. Very Cool! Wicked stained glass windows and all the crypts of past Kings and Queens were there. We even saw The Queens Mother and King George where they were buried. A quick stop in the souvenir shop and a little donation for the church and we ran back to the coach. 3 mins late. A tradition in the making here for myself haha. I really would have liked to have see Eton College but ah well, the boys are a bit young for me anyway haha.
Back on the bus, I chatted to John behind me all the way to Oxford. We arrived in Oxford just in time for our guided walking tour. As getting off the bus though a lady tripped and fell into John, he didn’t really notice (or else thought it was just me, bastard! Haha) So I helped her steady herself and asked if she was ok. She went on a rant then about bloody Americans. And was really angry with me. The first of many occasions where I’d be called an American. Knew I should have bought a Wallabies Jersey!
So anyway back to Oxford itself, I was pretty excited because I knew a lot about Oxford and couldn’t believe I was seeing it all for myself. I was also pissed off because I didn’t have a camera to get any photos. Our Tour guide was a little old Lady. She walked us around the town and pointed out all the Colleges. We past Christchurch college, we saw the hospital wing for Harry Potter which was actually one of the oldest Oxford Buildings. We got to see the Library too, which also was used in the Harry Potter films. We stopped a lot to take pictures and got told off by the guide for wasting time and we could have just sat at home and played with our cameras and downloaded pictures of Oxford off the net. From then on she was to be known as the Camera Nazi. Or just plain old ‘Bitch from Oxford’
After our tour we had free time, so we all went and got a feed, (I was still stuffed from brekkie so just a coke for me) and then went our separate ways. We were going to meet up in an hour to go to a pub Pete had told us about on the waters edge. So Lana and I headed straight to a camera shop. I handed my camera over to a man in Jessops and told him what happened and showed him the photos that it took. They were all green and Wobbly. Very funny and artistic actually but not what I wanted haha. He took one look and laughed. I asked if it was Buggered and he laughed again and said ‘yes u could say that’. Note to self, I’m going to guess that not exactly an appropriate thing to say haha. Whoops! Dam Aussies!
So I asked for a replacement and he got me the next model up 169 pounds. Ouch! Not something I wanted to fork out for but it was well worth it in the end. So I paid the moolah and thanked the man and Lana and I left Jessops. We went into one of the Oxford Universities souvenir shops and bought a few things. I got a really neat polo shirt, a Frisbee (holiday must) and I scored a free hat! Wahoo!
After that we walked around Oxford a bit and then went back to the bus and met everyone. A few were quite drunk having gone to that pub. Wish I had gone, dam camera!
Howie drove us to our Hotel for the night. The Holiday Inn Express. It was a fairly new hotel, which surprised me. Had this awful vision of a hostel I had once stayed in Kings Cross. But it was gorgeous! Lana and I were roomies as we would be for the rest of the trip. We got spruced up and then all boarded the bus again to go back into central Oxford for our first dinner together. We ate in a nice modern bar in the upstairs part. We had the whole floor to ourselves. It was arranged in little tables all over the place. Helena and I grabbed a table and we were soon joined by Stu, Shawn (USA) and Claude (Montreal) After quick intros, Stu, Claude and I headed to the bar. Stu and I went straight for the Stellas whilst Claude for some unknown reason bought a pint of Fosters! Haha we had a laugh at him and he said he thought we all drank it was trying to fit in with Aussies! So cute so we forgave him but after one mouthful he soon realised why we laughed. So onto the Stella he went! The food was great! We got soup, a roast dinner and then dessert was some deliciously looking creamy cake and me being the lactose intolerant one got stuck with fruit. But I was the envy of all because apparently it tasted like shite!
After dinner, we headed downstairs for a few more rounds. A few people left (about 6) and went home on the coach but the rest of us animals stayed on for more rounds and mingling. We were all best of mates in seconds, amazing what grog does to you haha. We decided to leave the bar and find a club. We found a really packed one and thought it must be good so we went to go in but little Canadian Sarah didn’t have ID so we dissed that idea and found another one with free entry and no ID checking.
Once inside the bar every one made a beeline for the bar. They went to the left of the bar and went to the right a bit. Whist standing there I chatted to a few local fellas who claimed to be in a band. I fell for it hook, line and sinker. Apparently this was their pick up line cos ‘Chicks dig musicians’ As they said. I told them I was more into football players and low and behold, one of them played for Oxford Untied FC. Not a bad looking chap I must admit. Had a few rounds with these fellas, a few photos and then I remembered I was with people so I said goodbye, gave a quick kiss the Oxford FC player and headed over to the contiki gang. They were all dancing around and drinking having a laugh. It was so surreal to watch them and think, I have to live with these animal for the next week. SHIT! Well better join them and I did. We got into the shots pretty soon afterwards, Mecha introduced us to Apple Sours. They were so good! Slammed a few of those down and went back to boogie on the dance floor. Danced around with Mecha a bit and for some unknown reason, I licked the side of his face haha. Got photos to prove it. He loved it! From then on it was our thing to lick each other, knew this guy was going to be fun! Danced around ‘clueless’ style with Shawn from Philly. He’s such a laugh, reminded me so much of a mate back home.
After dancing around a bit I met another group of local lads and got chatting to them, One of them grabbed me after a bit and snogged me. I was very unprepared but went with the flow as you do.
Had a few photos with everyone and then we decided it was time to leave. I don’t really remember what happened once we got outside but I was told I gave Mecha a piggy back up the street and then I stacked it and lay on the ground for a while until someone had to pick me up! We got into a black cab and went back to the hotel. Wish I remembered the cab ride home, I always wanted to go into a black cab.
Once back at the hotel, the partying continued! We had a few pints at the hotel bar (costly) and then took them upstairs into John and Shawns room. Took heaps of drunken photos and kept on drinking which is all I remember. Next thing I know I’m waking up to the wake up call in my own bed. How the hell I get in here??
Had a nice hot shower and packed up my stuff this morning b4 heading down to brekkie. Was very bright and chirpy. Thinking I may have still been drunk. Met Shawn at the brekkie area and joined his table for a feed. Cereals, toast, Yoghurt and fruit as well as coffee/tea and juice was available. I grabbed some bread and used my vegemite, which I had brought along to have vegemite sandwiches for brekkie. Lots of Vitamin B baby, yeah! Got Shawn to try a bit of vegemite, he didn’t like it but that could be because I lather it on like you wouldn’t believe. I love vegemite! Sorry Shawn.
So today’s plan was to head north onwards to York. Europe or Britain’s most haunted City (someone correct me please!) Wasn’t too long of a journey, we had a lunch stop on the way where we all ate KFC or Maccas. Mmmm… KFC twister. They taste so different over here. Anyway after a feed I went into the little shop with Clarissa to buy some munchies for the bus, got some Lollies and a bottle of water. Then I went outside and chatted to Jen (USA) and Shane (Aus). Wishing I had brought my Frisbee off the bus cos there was a big stretch of grass and still ½ hr to go til we had to leave. Bugger! A few more people came out and chatted with us all. It was cool fun, we all knew each other by that morning from last night, so amazing that I learnt 46 peoples names in 24hrs. God bless beer and what it does for strangers hey?
We got into York early afternoon and had a quick walk around with Pete. We saw York Minister, which was very grand in its architecture. We then had free time til dinner so we a few of us headed to the Vikings gondola ride thingy that Pete had told us about. It ended up being a joke, it was just a chair lift thing going through Viking ages with Doll things on either side doing Vikings things, and one of them was even taking a shit in a toilet, really charming! Sound effects and all haha. Thank god there was no smell, which we were all worried about as they managed to get the other smells down pat, pig sty’s, smelly streets, YUCK!
After the ride, we went to the Wall around York. We walked along took a few pictures and then I spotted a Squirrel. I had been waiting for this ever since I booked my trip! SQUIRREL!! I yelled and everyone ran to the edge and started zooming in and taking pictures, they’re so cute!
Got an American lady to take a few pics of us all and then we were on our way. Walked down the Shambles and checked out a few stores b4 we starting heading back to the hotel to change for dinner. We were having dinner in a pub near the water and then going on a guided Ghost story walk.
Dinner was roast beef with all the sides including Yorkshire pudding. Was pretty tasty but I’ve had better in OZ I think. Had a few rounds there, Mecha introduced us to another drink called a snakebite. Its Lager, Cider topped with Blackcurrant. I thought it was feral but the others got hooked. Including Lana, she was pissed after one! I’ll just stick to beer I think fellas!
After dinner we went on our ghost walking tour. Pretty creepy stuff! At one point he was telling us a story and I was really interested and listening closely. Next thing Mecha grabs and goes RAAA! Scared the Bejesus out of me! Everyone else thought it was hilarious. Think its time to let everyone know I have a mild heart condition, don’t you? Haha
A few more ghost stories later, including a dirty one about a certain street (Grape Lane) We were in a tight alley way where a girls body had been thrown after she was raped and killed. The guide was telling the story and then he slapped the wall. At the his moment Pete and Howie jumped up from behind the wall and yelled. We all shit ourselves! Bastards!
After the Ghost story walk, we all said Cheers to the guide and then headed to a pub! Not long in there til we headed to the 80’s Bar which was conveniently located across the road form our beautiful hotel, the Ramada. It was a gorgeous Hotel! Top points to Contiki!
Anyway, the 80’s bar! It had a rotating dance floor, which was awesome. There was a pole to which Peter (aka Carlos) took out later that night haha. We drank it up big time again that night, took lotsa photos and flashed my home made undies to all. They are blue with an iron patch that has a koala on it staying ‘G’day from Brisbane, Australia’ Big hit! Few people took pics. My undies are famous! Haha anyhoo, got a wee bit too drunk and decided it was for the best to bail for a moment and return after a feed. Went across the road with Lana and Stu into a kebab shop. Weirdest fricken kebab I’ve ever seen! Hardly ate a thing but I did find a nice pair of shoes on the floor. Finders keepers! Decided to head back to my room for a bit with Stu and Lana and drink a bit of the soco I had stashed up there. We realised our window overlooked the bar which was awesome. We decided to stay in the room and when contiki people came out, we’d call out to them to come up! So we did! 15mins later, everyone was partying in our room. Soco went down well. I had a little wallabies footy that we were all throwing around. Fricken Jai tho pegged it out the window and we had to get an English couple to throw it back up. As soon as we got it back up Jai pegged it again but this time it split and showered the room with its inside bean things. Good one Jai! Definately wasn't going to pull my frisbee out now.
With nothing to play with we just kept on drinking and laughing away. Jai ended up passing out on a bed but we woke him up when everyone was leaving. Two huge nights in a row and six more to go. I’m loving this tour!
Today we were heading into Scotland. Brekkie was again simular to yesterdays but a few people were a bit subdued. Most of us were still drunk including John and I haha. On the bus today I sat with Shawn today and Lana behind with Carlos. Had a lovely chat with Shawn and I think we had a little nap to along the way.
Our first stop was Hadrian’s wall. It was very cold outside. We got to run around and take pics on a fort that was left in ruins there. Good fun. Having just seen the Movie King Arthur, it was cool to see Hadrians wall even though it was now only about 2 feet high. Took a few photos with Cheryl and Robin and then it was back on the bus. Not long afterwards we stopped at the English/Scottish Border. Pete jumped up to chat to us wearing a Scottish hat with orange hair attached to it. Very amusing! He got lots of cheers!
The Border was a boulder on the side of the road. One side said England and the other Scotland. It was absolutely freezing out there. Trees were nearly parallel to the ground with the wind force, so needless to say this was a very quick photo stop.
Back on the bus, we had the proclaimers going off on the stereo with everyone belting out, ‘And I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more’ U know the rest.
A nice drive into Scotland, it’s very pretty and green! We stopped for lunch a little over the border where I had a big bowl of hot soup. So good and very much needed, as it was very cold. After a feed, we all got some souvenirs. A few of us, including myself, bought hats just like Petes but some (mine) sang a Scottish song if u pressed a button ha! Very cool! Got some scotch and few other goodies and then we were back on the bus. We were going to Airth where we would be staying for next 2 nights. Its right near Edinburgh. Our Hotel was actually Airth Castle. We couldn’t believe it! After we all found our rooms we had free time til dinner so Lana and I grabbed our cameras and checked out the Castle. A wedding was going on so we got to see the bride and groom and family and friends march down from the castle to the reception area. It was so beautiful and there were bagpipes! My first time hearing real Scottish bagpipes! Very exciting!
After we watched that, we chatted to Matt (Aussie) for a wee bit, returned our cameras, grabbed the Frisbee and headed to the pool. A few people were in there so we hung out there for a bit. We threw the Frisbee about for a while until too many other guests came in and we thought we had better stop. Dinner was in the hotel and tonight would be when we first get to meet our Scottish travellers. They were joining us for the time we spent in Scotland only. We met Josh and Larry from USA. Lana and I joined their table and had a lovely chat. I learnt a lot about American history, which was good fun. Didn’t know a thing haha but now I do.
After dinner Pete had found us a karaoke bar just down the road. After a few drinks at the hotel bar we headed down to the pub. Jai, Lana and I got a bit lost but found it eventually haha. Everyone was inside already. It was the cutest, tiniest little pub id ever seen and lots of locals had turned up. We all hit the bar first and then joined the rest of contiki at the tables they had scored right up the front near the stage area. I needed to go to the loo so I found out where it was and went. They were through a games room so in I walked and woah! It was full of young sexy local lads playing pool! Definitely coming to the toilet more often haha. After I did my business I ran out grabbed a few girls and made them go have a look. All were impressed with my find. Then I grabbed Philly Shawn and made him have a look! He loved it!
Anyway we were there for Karaoke not boys so back to the singing haha. We all were pretty drunk and singing songs like bohemian rhapsody, man I feel like a woman. Pete (aka Carlos) did a brilliant show of Roxanne, which had him screaming Roxanne like a maniac! He then did an excellent show for Eye of the Tiger. Top Show!
Howie had a coach free night that night so he was out drinking away with us for a while. It wasn’t long til one of the local lass’s came over and snatched him up for dance. Go son! I moved over and chatted with Larry and Jai. The local lass did her rounds on all the guys from our tour it was classic. She even gave Stu the stud a kiss on the cheek. What a doll!
A great night had by all I’m sure, but unfortunately the night came to an end and we stumbled on back to the hotel but not b4 I managed to snog one of the local hotties in the pool room. YAY! Go me!
John Piggy backed me out of the bar and then I think I carried Sarah half way back to the hotel. Haha not too sure. Back at the hotel the partying continued. Don’t remember if this was the night of room service or the next night was. Haha will have to confirm with someone.
Today was our free day in Edinburgh. I unfortunately missed brekkie which is a bitch cos it was a full English fry up! Bugger it! Anyway onto the bus we hopped. We did a quick driving tour of Edinburgh with Pete pointing out all the main sights for us. Then we were given Maps, a meeting time and place and then we were set free. Jai and I were dying for a beer so our plan was to find a pub first, get a cheeky one and then go from there. Lana joined us and we were off in search of a pub. Unfortunately pubs don’t open or sell grog till 12.30pm as to not compete with church. We were there just after 11am so we had to wait but that was cool cos Jai and I had missed brekkie so we ordered a feed in and drank some juice until 12.30pm when we could get beers! We got 2 each in the 1st round, to make up for having to wait so long. (Good excuse we thought) We met Danielle in there so she joined us. We were thinking about what sights we were gonna see. Edinburgh castle was first. Then suddenly I looked out the window, guess what we saw? Edinburgh Castle. Ha! No need to go, just stick your camera out the window, zoom in and bob’s your uncle, a beautiful close up pic of the whole Castle! That was good enough for Jai and I so another round was ordered. Lana was getting shitty tho so we thought that maybe we should go have a squizz. On the way out tho I noticed the Internet so I quickly checked my e-mails, checked out a web site that Jai was on and then we headed to the Castle. It was pretty cool, the military tattoo stands were still up though. We were going to go inside but it was 10quid so we thought stuff that. We met an American couple who thought the same so we had a laugh with them, took some pics out the front and moved on. Helena was busy taking pics of some building so Jai and I hid from her as a joke. Bugger it she saw us haha!
We decided to walk down to main street Edinburgh cos we could see Burger King (BK’s) in the distance and we were starved! The only way down was along a really narrow path but it was so long and winding we thought we’d skip it and just slide down the hill. Easy said then done. I watched Jai go first, took a photo of him falling then I attempted it but freaked out when I went the wrong way and was looking at about a 2metre drop so I climbed my chicken ass back up and walked the path with Lana. Once we got down we had a sit for a sec in the park. Took a photo and then headed across the road to BK’s. Got a feed in there and then Jai and I both felt we needed a pick me up so we were on a pub search! Found one, had a quick drink and then we were off again. Went to a chemist for Lana and then i needed to pee so we found another pub, went to the loo, had a cheeky one, Jai was a bit crook but ok and then we headed off again. We decided to hit Princes Street and check out some shops! We found a scotch shop and stocked up on the good stuff! Bought one of the Guinness world records smallest bottles of scotch for my dad. Then we headed down to Holyrood Palace. Couldn’t really see it very well and it cost too much to go in so we headed back up Princes street towards Starbucks as we had to meet there soon. Had to do a loo run again so into another pub and another cheeky one again b4 we went to Starbucks. A few people were there already so we all chatted and showed each other our purchases. I went and got a coffee and when I got back everyone was there. Pete came along not long after and led us to the three sisters. The place where we’d be having our Scottish feast.
I blew up one of Scotch flavoured condoms I bought from a souvo shop and showed everyone haha. They were not surprised that I would buy such a thing. What are you guys trying to say?
We got a free drink that night, Beer me! Beer in hand I headed down to chat to the Canberra gals that were only here for the Scotland part of the trip. Had a great old chat for ages. Had to dash off though when my entree was served. Mmmmm Haggis! It was beautifully presented. I took a picture of it and then took a bite. It was the best thing I’d ever tasted! Couldn’t get enough of it. I was wishing someone didn’t like theirs and they could pass it my way but everyone loved it!
After entree was a main and I had ordered Steak! God it was good. My dessert was again fruit salad but it was really good and tasty that I didn’t mind at all. Did a quick loo run where I met Andy! He was going to be our entertainment for the night. He was bagpiper and had played for the queen a few times. Very impressive. I told him I went to a Scottish school called Macgregor back home and we had a good old chat about the Macgregor Clan. On the way back from the loo I had a quick chat to Pete and Howie and then took my seat as Andy was about to start.
He was the funniest guy, he told us all these jokes, stories and a lot about Scotland and its history. Very interesting! He also played the bagpipes a lot for us too. At the end we all got picture’s with him and then we headed off back to the coach to take us back home to Airth for our last night there.
Today we said goodbye to Edinburgh and Airth and headed into the Scottish Highlands. Very exciting stuff! Our first stop Was Glenshee. Famous for its ski slopes and rent a dogs! We had yummy hot soup in there, a beer and quick look at the souvos. I had to buy some lemsip as I was coming down with the dreaded contiki cough. Uh oh!
We passed Balmoral Castle on our drive up to a Whisky Distillery. Glenlivet Distillery. It was awesome! We got a guided tour through the distillery and shown how to make it and then we got smell the big vats that had whisky in them at different stages of the distilling process. Some smelt great and others made you gag and dry retch haha. After the tour we got to taste it! The best part of all brewery/distillery tours! I tasted 12yr and 18 yr. The 18yr was better, very nice but apparently it’s not too common. The man, seeing I wasn’t too keen on drinking it straight introduced me to scotch with water, very pleasant. I don’t mind a Jameson 12yr straight but this was a lot different haha.
So a quick stop in the gift shop where I stocked up for dad and a quick photo with Lisa outside the Sign and we were back onto the bus continuing our way to Laggan, our home for night.
Laggan was absolutely beautiful. The hills and all the surrounding area were breath taking, not to mention chilly haha. We found our rooms and Lana and mines was HUGE! Very country house looking with gorgeous oak furniture. I loved it. That night we had dinner in the dining room. Lana and I sat with Larry, Josh and the Japanese girls. We had a very fun dinner all chatting and learning things about each other’s cultures. The food was great too and very filling.
After dinner everyone went to the bar and sat in little groups playing cards and drinking games. I played with Aussie Kobi and Americans, Robin, Jason, John, Shawn, Larry and Josh. The Americans taught us Aussies to play Asshole. It was a very fun game. The aim of the game is to become president. That was the top position and lowest was the Asshole, the Asshole had to do whatever the president said. It was good fun! On the first round Kobi got president and I got vie president. Then the next 3 games afterwards I was president and Kobi was Vice! Go the Aussies haha, bet you the Americans are sorry they taught us that game haha.
After the rounds everyone was sick of seeing the Aussies top (just kidding) so we headed into the bar to see what everyone else was doing. Everyone seemed to be in there so the barmaid decided we should play games.
First, we had to do some shots called cement mixers. I remember one was baileys but the other I’m lost but anyway u put the baileys in your mouth first, then the other one. You mix it around in your mouth and then you swallow. Mine curdled (don’t know if anyone else’s did) and it was disgusting! Anyway then we hopped into 2 lines and she blew up two balloons and we had to pass them up and down the lines using our necks and who ever finished the quickest won. We lost because the balloon burst between John and I haha. Whoops! Next game we did a simular thing but this time it was passing it with our knees. We won that one. Can’t remember how this came about but Jess walked down the road in her undies haha! Well done!
Next game was everyone dancing around and when the music stopped, u have to sit! After a vicious stand off with John I eventually won that game and scored a free pint! Wahoo! Next game you had to have a partner and sit across form them. Each pair was given a number and the barmaid then told a story and when she said your number you had to get up, round the pairs, then through the pairs and sit back down again. I had Mecha and I swear he cheated haha! Many tumbles later, it was decided we should move on to another game.
This time, we were in Pairs again (I was with Jai) and the barmaid would say something and you had to hop into a position that resembled it. The funniest was a sexual position. Our group sure is creative haha!
After that one we played pass the coaster. When the music stopped and you had the coaster you had to take something off. We started off with a fairly large group but a few people chickened out and it was left to Me, Stu, Jai, Claude and Mecha to keep things going. In the end I got down to a bra and an apron, Stu had a flag covering him and the rest were in their boxers. Well Jai and Claude were, Mecha had lovely red jocks on haha. He reckons it was Laundry day. Yeah right!
Very drunk now but the bar closed so everyone left. About 10 people came up to mine and Lanas Huge room. We all gave each other massages and chatted. Watched as Jai and Mecha wrestled each other and then I got in on it. After a while it was just Mecha, Lana, Jai and myself left. Jai was too drunk to remember his room and Mecha was dead on Lanas bed. So Jai and I shared a bed and Mecha and Lana did.
Woke up the next morning to Mecha and Lana waking me up and nearly shit myself because id forgot Jai was there too haha. Got up, showered and ran down for brekkie cos apparently we were a bit late getting up. Found out at brekkie (full English YUM) that Jai and I were snoring really loud so Lana and Mecha slept in the bathroom to get away from us haha. Whoops! Bad point of drunkenness is snoring!
After brekkie we loaded up the coach and we were on our way. We were heading for Inverness this morning. Home Loch Ness and its notorious monster, Nessie. We got to stop off and get some photos and put our hands or feet in the Loch itself. Then it was back on the bus to Inverness. We stopped at the tourist stop where there was a huge Nessie Model which we all got pictures with. Then it was inside for souvos and a quick go on the net, then back on the bus to Loch Lomond. We were having a cruise that afternoon on the Loch and it was forecasted to rain. Uh oh! On our way to Loch Lomond though we drove through Glencoe where we stopped for photos with the beautiful surrounds. I stacked it and got soaked and bruised though. Good laugh had by all, thanks guys for helping me up! NOT! We stopped again a short while later at Ben Nevis, Britain’s Highest Mountain. Pretty Impressive. Then we continued to Loch Lomond. It started to rain just before we arrived so we knew it was going to be a wet one. What an understatement that was! It absolutely poured down on us but we were ok, a few beers into us and a couple of umbrellas and we were apples mate!
It was a longish drive to Glasgow but scenic. Pete gave us a chat and informed us that tomorrow at Gretna Green we would be having our own mock wedding and Sarah and Stu would be the bride and groom. Which then made Glasgow our night to have our Hens night and Buck’s night! Sweet! Craig, Matt and I had actually planned on trying to get tickets for the champions league game that night in Glasgow for Celtic V Barcelona but by the time we got into Glasgow we were too late.
We were staying in a hotel right in the centre of the city and it was packed full of Celtic fans! We had free time for a bit in which to catch and kill our own grub for tea before we had to meet for our hens and bucks parties. Lana, Sarah, Stu and I headed to the pool/spa area. It was a tiny pool but very relaxing to just sit and float! Then we hopped into the spa, Very nice! Then it was into the sauna before Lana and I left to go shower up for the big night ahead. We showered and dressed quickly then went on the look out for a quick cheap feed! Found a take away shop across the road so in we went. I got a meat pie with tommy sauce. It was the most disgusting pie, it was deep fried and cold! Who the hell does that to a meat pie? Murderers! So in the bin that baby went and back to the hotel I went, tummy rumbling and all. Everyone met in the foyer and then Howie took the lads off and Pete took us girls to a nearby bar, they had Stellas for 1.50 so Lisa and I were in heaven. The other girls got stuck into the cocktails. Lana and Danielle, our two token Cadbury’s, were wiped after one! Quite funny! Tamra and Meg got 1 pound off all us gals and disappeared for a moment and came back with presents for the bride to be. They got a blow up penis and a little vibrator haha! They found a vending machine in the ladies called naughty vend that sold them for 2pound each. Ha! Crazy! So we blew up the penis and I blew up a condom! Once the penis was done we all put lipstick on and kissed it, leaving our marks!
Was good fun with just the girls though I have to admit I probably paid more attention to Celtic losing to Barcelona than I did the girls. Whoops! Sorry gals!
After a few rounds in there it was time to meet back with the lads in the Walkabout An aussie bar that has chains all over Britain. Renee and I were starving though so on the way we stopped at BK’s for a quick fix and then we headed in. It was like dying and going to heaven once you walked to the bar! They had Tooheys!!! They even had VB, XXXX, Carlton, Fosters (ick!) and even Bundy Rum! It was excellent. We grooved the night away to funky tunes for ages. Then we decided to leave there and go to a big club Pete was telling us about.
We walked a few blocks till we got to The Shack. It cost a tenner to get in I think, actually it may have been 7. Haha cant remember (someone tell me) Was pretty funky in there but wasn’t very big, had a few shots of apple sours with Stu and then tried to find room on the floor to bust a move. We finally found space, dumped our stuff in the middle of us and grooved away but got told off by security. You can’t put your bags down. So we moved away from there and found some stairs going up. Up we go and that’s where we found the huge club. Bloody hell it was big! From what I remember (I was very drunk) it kind of reminded me of an old warehouse. So we danced away all night, me stumbling and dropping a few drinks as I usually did and then I passed out nearly in pain from my heart and Jai and a few others got me into a cab to go home. Cheers guys!
Today I woke up with a bit of a hangover, my first one all tour! But it was gone after I had a feed of rice bubbles and juice!
We all clambered onto the bus and headed to Gretna Green. While on the bus I discovered that Lisa, my DB got left behind in the Walkabout last night. Oops! I felt terrible cos she is my drinking buddy (hence DB) and we’re supposed to look out for each other! I love you Lisa and I’m so sorry!
We got to Gretna Green nice and early which meant Jai, Shane and I had time for a quick feed b4 the wedding. We got huge big sausages, eggs and bacon as well as juice for a good price. We got stuck into fairly quickly. It was the best sausage I had ever tasted! I love the sausages in the UK, so much better than the ones back in OZ! After the brekkie we ran to the Blacksmith which is where the wedding was taking place. Sarah was decked out in a veil and Stu a top hat. Jess and Dave were the brides parents. Jess had a bonnet and Dave a top hat and a huge shotgun, which was aimed at Stu haha!
A funny Scotsman came in and told us the history of the Gretna Green weddings and then performed the traditional ceremony for Sarah and Stu. Complete with a lucky anvil for the bride and marriage certificates for the pair of them.
After the wedding we had free time again. Into the souvos for a sec, then outside to see a bagpiper. Took some more photos with a few people and then we were back onto the coach heading southwest for Liverpool! The one stop I was dying to see. Being the die-hard Liverpool fan that I am, all I cared about was Anfield. Stuff the Beatles stuff. Thank god Matt and Craig shared my view. As soon as we got into Liverpool, we checked into the Britannia Adelphi, changed into our Liverpool and gear and ran to Anfield Stadium because, as our luck would have it, a champions league match was on that night against Monaco and we wanted tickets. We took some photos outside the Kop end of the stadium and then headed over to the ticket line. We couldn’t believe we got tickets! 30 quid each and worth every penny! After we got our tickets and calmed down a bit, we headed into the museum for a gander at all the silverware and history of Liverpool FC. Then we headed into the shop. That was dangerous, so much stuff I wanted but I can get it on line when I get back in OZ so I wanted things I knew I couldn’t get at home. I settled for a Liverpool teddy and a pair of Michael Owen socks. I know Owen doesn’t play for Liverpool any more but I loved him!
After our purchases we went outside and I tried to ring Lana to let her know I had a ticket for her if she wanted to come. I stacked it spectacularly on the main road. Very embarrassing. All Matt and Craig could do was laugh. Cheers fellas! After leaving a message with Mecha for Lana, we headed over the road to the pub, was still a good few hours til the game started so we figured a few pints would be lovely! Got our pints and headed out he back to the beer garden. We were the only people out there but that didn’t last. Soon, it was packed full with local scousers decked out in their reds gear. People were coming through selling stuff. I bought a game badge, some currency with reds players on it and game programme. We got chatting to some locals there who told us all about Liverpool stuff including curry and chips and scouse pies! I liked the sound of those scouse pies! The atmosphere in the pub was unreal. The local fella told us it was famous for songs being made up in here. I felt like I was apart of history!
Lana finally made it in and then we headed over to the Stadium with all the others. It was so exciting walking through with all the reds fans singing at the top of their lungs. Worse even more awesome once inside and we got our seats. We were in the old stand, right behind the dug out! I could see the back of Rafas head I was excited! I wanted to throw something at him to get his attention but I refrained! Haha
I got a scouse pie and it was heaven! I wanted more but I apparently got the last one. Bugger!
As the game drew nearer the atmosphere got bigger and better. The singing was so loud I could feel my ears ringing. I felt sorry for the neighbours but then thought they would all probably be here in the crowd. A huge flag went down over the crowd in the Kop end of the stadium! I felt so amazed to be looking at the Kop. Always loved watching them on telly but never thought I’d be 80metres from them. Very surreal!
The Players were training on the field, I had out my camera and was zooming in on all the action. I nearly wet myself when Stevie G came on to the pitch! Couldn’t believe I was seeing my favourite player in the flesh at Anfield stadium!
We all gave the hugest cheer when Harry Kewell came on to the pitch! Go you good thing! The locals laughed at us and knew we were Aussies from then on, they had a good laugh with us a few times and took a great pic of the 4 of us with the pitch in the background.
The Game got under way with Liverpool kicking off. We were all cheering and going nuts. We learnt the words to most of the songs while we were in the pub across the street so when they started we were singing our hearts out along with the locals. It was fantastic. My favourite song was ‘There’s only one Harry Kewell’ He played an excellent game, they all did. I was very excited to see Alonso and Garcia in action as I had never seen them play, not even on telly. They were excellent!
There was a small stringent of Monaco supporters but the majority of the stadium was a Red Sea!
The Game was so much faster than I thought, Monaco were pretty good but Liverpool were too good and ended up winning 2-0. We were so excited! We left the stadium still singing away and waving our scarfs everywhere like maniacs. Anfield Rd was full of supporters all hanging to get back into that pub. We however, got on a bus and headed back to the hotel to change and meet the others in town. We had to change because UK has a rule where you cannot wear football gear into the pubs.
After a quick change we were on our way to a bar near the Cavern where everyone was. We got lost a bit but found it in the end. It was another karaoke bar! In we went and hugs all round as we had not seen these people in about 9hrs. Went and got drinks and chatted with everyone to see how the Beatles night was and to let them know how the footy was. I sang karaoke with Lana and Christine of Germany! We sang Tina Turners’ ‘Simply the best’ And I dedicated it to LFC for the triumphant defeat of Monaco. The whole pub roared with cheers! And we sang away to our hearts content. When we finished we got a huge applause! YAY! I’m a star haha. I went up to the bar afterwards to buy more beer, and all these local lads came up to me. Dude, I should dedicate songs to the local team all the time!
After many drinks, more songs and lots of laughter Lana and I were the only ones left. She was very drunk so we got into a cab and headed back to the Adelphi. Once we got there we found Jai wasted, out the front of the Hotel. He said he was hungry so we crossed the street to a fried chicken place and all got a feed. I was starved as all I ate that day was big sausage at Gretna, a scouse pie, bout 2 packets of chips and fifty or so beers! Got a fried chicken burger and a drink and we went back to the Adelphi. We sat in the foyer and ate it all. Then I walked up into the lounge and found Lisa and Mecha up there drinking and chatting! Went and got Jai and Lana and we went up and sat with them. John came up as well and the drinking began! Well continued I should say. After a while everyone went to bed except Jai and I. We stayed up for ages just talking about stuff. Then we decided to go for a walk around the hotel.
We found the kitchen and went in and checked it out, found some bread roll. Jai was just checking out something else when two employees walked in. With some quick thinking, we told them we were looking for the bar and they pointed us in the right direction. Haha close call!
We ran upstairs and found a porters trolley round one corner. I hopped on and Jai pushed me around, he pushed me into a wall and I stacked it. Ouch! We left the trolley and bolted for my room, which was closest. Lana was asleep inside. I said Jai, ‘stacks on?’ And we tore into the room and jumped on her yelling for her to wake up! She was unimpressed to say the least. She told us to get out (a few choice words were added) and so we left the room laughing. A soon as we got out we looked at each other and said ‘again?’ and in we went again! Absolute classic! Helena hit the roof! This time I thought I’d better stay in as it was nearing 5am and we had to get up in just over and hour. So I said goodnight to Jai and climbed into bed. Lana was awake now so we chatted for a bit. It was my last night on the tour and by far the best!
Woke up still drunk! Had a shower and packed all my stuff up. Had a bad case of the giggles like you wouldn’t believe. Went down for brekkie and then boarded the bus. Said goodbye to Liverpool city a bit more than what I did travelling to and from Anfield.
We went to Chester this morning, a Roman city near the Welsh border. We had a guided walking tour where we got to see excavations of more roman ruins which have recently been discovered. It was really cool watching them sieve through dirt and muddy water and pick things out that obviously were something although to my blurry, bloodshot and untrained eyes thought it was just rocks and stuff.
We also go to see a Huge clock which is on a bridge over the main road. It was really cool. Chester was a very pretty little town. After the tour we had free time b4 we had to meet back for the coach so Jai and I, keeping our tradition alive, headed off in search of a pub for a cheeky one. You wouldn’t believe how hard a task that was. We couldn’t find one anywhere and they say there’s a pub on every corner in England. HA! Not Chester that’s for sure. Finally we found a little pub and raced in, it was so tiny but hey it served beer. Pickers can’t be choosers as they say.
We went to the barman and asked for 2 beers but they didn’t serve any beer we’d ever heard of. Really cool! I had a cider and it was soooo tasty! Jai had a beer still, not sure which one tho and I doubt Jai would remember. We had less than 10 mins b4 we had to get back to the coach and we had no idea where we were so we skulled the drinks (probably not a great idea) and then scooted out of the pub in search for our meeting place. We walked round and round in circles trying to remember where to go but we had no memory. Thank god i grabbed a few peoples mobile numbers tho so I rang my DB Lisa and she directed us back. We were the last ones there as usual and Pete asked us where we’d been and about 10 people from our group said at the same time “The Pub!” I think they’re on to us Jai haha
Howie came and picked us up and we said goodbye to Chester and England as we headed west into Northern Wales. This is where I would be dropped off along with a few others and we would be saying goodbye to our tour and heading back to London on a different coach. The others were going to be hanging around Wales for the afternoon before crossing the channel over to the Emerald Isle, Ireland.
It was going to be a sad day I think. We got into Wales at about midday and we had about 1.5hrs til the other coach came to whisk us away. John, Shawn, Lana, Jai and I headed for the pub for one last cheeky one and a good counter lunch. Unfortunately by the time we found one all I had time for was a pint and I had to leave. I said quick goodbyes to them with kisses and hugs and then I piss bolted back to the coach, stopping on the way to buy a few souvenirs. Got to the coach and most of our tour was there to say goodbye to those of us who were leaving, except of course the drunks in the pub I had just left haha. A few people were in tears and it was very sad, I was ok though because I knew I was catching up with them all again in Dublin in a weeks time for their last night of the tour. After many photos, last licks and lots of kisses and hugs with everyone, I said goodbye and boarded the other coach and said goodbye with a memorable moon to everyone outside! Definately stopped their tears for a moment but then they started again. Sorry guys, I know its not pretty but you don’t need to cry about it haha. I was sitting with Danielle as she too was heading back to London. We waved goodbye as the coach departed, I felt so empty then, I had just left my family behind in a foreign country. I was very depressed. It was amazing how close you get to strangers after 8 days but we did get close. As we drove through Wales and back into England on the way to London I kept giggling as I remembered all the good times I had on tour with the best group of people ever. So many memories to keep with me always. Very special bonds and private jokes with new friends that I hope to see again.
Our coach was very depressing as the group that was on there was fighting. It never crossed my mind about fighting on tour because we never did. We were all the best of friends, everyone was so nice and friendly and fun, and to sit on that coach with that all around was horrible. I went to use the bathroom at one stage and a girl told me not to because I wasn’t allowed too. That was fine and that was all she needed to say but then she went on a rant about it and that I should have asked first yada yada. I said fine ill just wait til the next stop and then her and her friend argued about whether or not she was being a bitch! Ooh let me answer that one haha!
We finally stopped just over the border for about 45mins to get a feed and a toilet for me! Inside, us Great Britain people sat together and chatted and were amazed at how evil the other tour was. There was a catfight in the loos and then a stand off in the food court, you’d have thought they were high school girls, seriously but the guys were in on it too!
So 4 depressing hours later, we finally reached London and god off the evil coach. We grabbed our bags and went to check in to the Royal national or the Imperial (where ever anyone was staying really) and met back down at the London Pub at 9pm for a last round together. We had a good little chat and a few rounds b4 people slowly started to depart. It was very sad to see the little Japanese girls go because I don’t know when I’d ever see them again. Thank god for e-mails though. Got photos with everyone before they left. Renee unfortunately had to go to Hospital as her knee swelled up for an unknown reason. A few people left with her and then it was just Jason, Penelope, Bob and Julie and me! We were all starving so off to find a feed was our mission! We eventually decided on Pizza Hut and we went in and ordered a couple of pizzas, garlic bread and a couple of beers! We had such a good chat and a laugh about everything. This trip had been Julie and Bob’s honeymoon and they said they had a great time on tour. Penelope and Jason had had their wedding anniversary when we in Glasgow.
Julie Bob were heading home the next morning and Jason and Penelope were heading to Ireland as I was but unfortunately in different directions so we wouldn’t cross paths.
After dinner we wandered back to our hotels, said goodbye to Julie and Bob at the Imperial and then said goodbye to Jason and Penelope in the Royal. I had a room to myself as Helena had stayed on the tour so it was a very quiet and lonely night. Looked at all my photos b4 I went to sleep and watched my video. Text my DB and then went to bed with the best memories rushing through my mind. I had the best tour with the best people, I’m going to miss them so much! Nig thanks to everyone involved especially contiki. You guys do a top job and the best tours. I started to drift off to sleep and got excited because in the morning I would be flying to Ireland to visit my friends! Another Journey for me, and more drinking to be had! Bring on the Guinness!