Thursday, 21 June 2012

Our last day on Contiki :(

Hello Everyone,
My girls with Mia and Porfirio at our farwell drinks in London
The girls and I woke up to Jess telling us we only had half an hour to get everything ready and packed for our last coach trip back to London. Our room looked like a bomb hit it and we had crap everywhere and we didn't know where to begin cleaning up. I was literally the last one on the tour to get my bags to the coach that day and I was stressing because I knew the bus couldn't be late for our ferry crossing. I was upset that morning as I knew I would be saying goodbye to the people that were staying on and extending their trip in Amsterdam. I walked out and Porfirio helped me, as he always did put my huge backpack onto the coach. Hummad came around the back of the coach that day and we hugged for the last time as he was staying in Amsterdam with his cousins. We said it definitely wouldn't be the last time we saw each other and I got onto the bus quite upset to be leaving him behind. I cuddled the rest of the group who were staying and as we drove off I couldn't look out the window at them as they were waving us goodbye because leaving them behind was too sad.

We made a quick stop at the airport to drop off people who were flying out of Amsterdam and just before Taylor got off the bus I was crying like a baby as he cried and hugged me so tight for the last time. Saying goodbye to Taylor was one of the hardest goodbyes as he was going back to Canada. I filmed him on my iphone and made him do sing his 'Tay Tay Bootay Tay' theme song one last time, I was crying and laughing at the same time while he shook his little booty. I remember all of the people at the airport crying while they waved us goodbye. After saying goodbye to all of the people that had either got dropped off at the airport or stayed in Amsterdam I couldn't help but reminisce on all of the good times we spent together over the past month. The bus felt so empty and I actually had two seats to myself for a change. I cried for at least two hours after we left Amsterdam and hated saying goodbye to everyone and especially Hamed, Steven and Taylor.

I already missed turning around to Taylor on the bus and him making me laugh with one of his silly faces in two seconds. I loved him singing quirky songs he made up on the spot and his fun loving personality. I missed his crazy hair and watching him sleep with his eyes opened with his head against the window. I hated the fact that I wasn't going to see him for years after becoming so close to him. He is one of a kind that boy and one of the most unique characters I have ever met. Since leaving Contiki Taylor and I have kept in contact and he has sent me a video of 'I love London' for me to remember him by which is so cool. Taylor it was an absolute pleasure travelling with you on Contiki and I will never forget you. Love you xxx

I also missed having someone I clicked with and found attractive on the bus. I missed listening to Hamed break out with his crazy over used sayings such as 'hoonay, your hair is in the air' and 'if I don't get internet'. I missed his strong cologne and knowing when he was around because he packed it on so much. I missed having someone who looked around to see where I was on the trip. I never expected to meet someone I actually formed feelings for and Hamed showed me that I could actually have fun with a guy again. I loved the fact that even after seeing me look hung-over with no makeup and my hair not done he still liked me for who I was. He showed me how to let go of some of my hate towards men again and actually give him a chance. I always looked out for him on the bus and loved how he took pride in his appearance and liked to look his best when he went out. I loved how he was different to any other guy I'd ever met before. I liked the fact he was Persian with a unique culture and could speak and write in another language. I liked the fact he was extremely outgoing and crazy but was also smart and had a degree in accounting. I liked the fact that he was super talented and passionate about music and also played at well known clubs in Sydney. I liked the fact that when it was just the two of us we could have deep and mature conversations but he could also make me laugh. We have stayed in contact since leaving Contiki and had a couple of drunk phone calls which makes me miss him even more but I know that we will catch up back in Australia when I return. I am so glad I met you Hamed and thank you for making me feel special throughout the Contiki trip. It wouldn't have been the same without you and I hope you are having the time of your life back in Sydney x

Mia and Porfirio had explained that as part of their work they didn't actually get paid that well and tipping was a huge part of how they earned their money. It was not compulsory to tip them but they suggested that 1-2 Euros per day for all of the extra work they did for us was adequate. I ended up paying Mia and Porfirio with pleasure as without these two my experience would not have been as amazing as it was. They also gave us a piece of paper each to write them a message along with our tips on the bus that day. I was already emotional enough as it was and writing my farewell messages to these two special people was so hard to do without crying.

Mia and Porfirio showed me the trip and experience of a lifetime and I honestly cannot thank them enough. Over 25 days we visited 11 countries and so many famous cities and sites. Porfirio clocked well over 7000 kms on the coach and I always felt safe and confident in his driving abilities. He was a beautiful and funny man who treated us all the same; he carried our bags, partied with us and made us laugh over and over every day with his funny stories and sayings on the coach microphone. I find it amazing that he can speak over 5 languages, lives in Portugal and drives around Europe on Contiki. He was the coolest coach driver I've ever met and his charismatic personality made him so like able.

Mia was one the most professional and knowledgeable people I have ever met. She was nothing but organised and informative throughout the whole trip and we always knew what was coming next. Her office (coach seat) was at the front of the coach and she worked pretty much the whole time organising rooms, tours and collecting money from us the whole trip while the majority of us caught up on sleep. While we visited the sites of Europe on our free days she would be banking money or organising our tour. She taught me soo much about the world and the countries I visited and I owe a majority of the factual information I wrote about in my blogs to her. She always treated everyone equally and with such respect. In return we showed her the same and we all loved her not only as a tour guide but as a friend. Mia had high expectations for herself and said it was her job to make this European Escapade the experience of a lifetime. She was always so enthusiastic about the places we visited and had the motto and the attitude of 'No Regrets' on the tour. She encouraged us to try and do as many things as we could on the trip as for some of us, would be the only time we would ever be in some of these countries again. Mia you honestly were an amazing tour guide and this tour was the trip of my life!I had so many amazing experiences and saw and learnt so much about Europe and myself thanks to you.

Back to the bus trip home....We had our first services stop and I was so excited we were finally stopping at one that had a McDonalds!I needed to eat something because I felt so sick!As soon as I got off the bus I stayed true to my Vomitron form and spewed in the Maccas garden and then ran through the restaurant and into the toilets. I felt like I was going to vomit all over the floor and I ran straight into what I thought was the women’s and vomited all in the basin. After I finished I raised my head to find a man at the trough staring at me in disgust lol Gross I know!I got my Maccas and sat with Ken as I knew it would be the last time I would be able to spend time with him. He was on wi-fi as usual and we enjoyed chatting and eating our Maccas together that day. We travelled on for a few more hours until we reached the boarder where we had to board our Ferry back to London.

The girls and I exchanged our Euros back into pounds and headed straight for the cafeteria. The girls and I reminisced about the first day we all met all those weeks ago crossing over to France from Dover. We were all so nervous and excited about our Contiki tour and had no idea of how much this experience would change our lives. We were all so close now and we thought it was interesting the same girls (Sharni, Tara, Tamara and Rachael) with the addition of Jess, sat together on that very first ferry crossing were still together and friends travelling on the same ferry at the end. The ferry took about 2 hours to reach the boarder of England and the trip went so fast. We had to cross through boarder protection after travelling back into London and we all had to get off the coach and line up along with lots of other people entering the country. The people at customs looked so serious and the lines were massive. We all passed through with ease however Ken had some troubles as he was born in Asia, lives in Australia but has a New Zealand passport ha He had some questions to answer that took him awhile to pass back through customs and into the country.

The last leg of the trip was around 2 hours and involved everyone from Contiki speaking on the coach microphone about their favourite memories and countries on the trip. Every single person that was left on the coach thanked everyone for making their trip so special and fun. It was amazing listening to everyone’s views on the trip and we all agreed that we had an amazing group of people. Lots of us talked about coming out of our comfort zones and trying new things as well as becoming friends with a wide range of people you normally wouldn't have met in our daily lives. We got to know so many people with different personalities and views on life. We got to know people for who they were over our time on the trip rather than just judging them off first impressions. I met so many beautiful people who were so different to the friends I usually hang around and through this got to meet so many different people and have so many fun memories with them over my time on the trip. Michael’s speech sticks out in my mind as he talked about the fact that although we had our close groups of friends on the trip we were all a Contiki family. We all looked out for each other and got to know everyone on the trip in some way. I don't think any of us expected to form real and lifelong friendships prior to starting this trip and we came out with amazing friends and so many amazing memories.

Driving back into the Royal National Hotel in London was so sad and it felt like the trip went so fast. I was looking out of the coach window at the same place we first left London and couldn't believe how close everyone had become since then. The girls and I said goodbye to the remaining people of the trip which was sad. Lots of people from the group were travelling onto other countries in Europe after Contiki and a small few have stayed on in London. That night lots of people were staying at the Royal National for an extra night or two and we all had drinks at the bar that night. Lots of us were crying as we said our goodbyes to Mia and Porfirio.

The girls and I didn't want to leave each other so Rachael and I decided to stay another night with the girls in their room. We had all become so close over the course of the trip and become almost like sisters. I slept in a single bed with Tara and Jess slept in with Tamara that night. Rachael had one last night with her mystery man and Sharni hung out with us but had already booked and paid for her own room. We were all in the same room chatting and hanging out and the lady across the hallway made a noise complaint about us that night. We all stayed up really late and chatted and laughed a lot as we always did until we fell asleep.

I know I have probably over used the word amazing throughout my blogs but that’s because everything in Europe and on our Contiki trip was AMAZING! Contiki was seriously the most amazing experience of my life. Initially I came onto Contiki alone and so nervous about the trip ahead and meeting new people. I never expected to meet so many amazing people and make life long friendships with the girls I travelled with. I got to experience amazing cities around Europe and party with the best group of people ever. I have come back from my trip with a lot more weight on my body than I started lol but with memories and experiences I will never forget. I learnt so much about myself and others on this trip and I will have memories, photos and this blog to remind me of my travels for the rest of my life.

Love The Europe Loving Backpacker

1 comment:

  1. Hi Karissa! I stumbled upon your blog from a Google search because I am planning on going on the same Contiki tour this year! I would love to chat with you about your experiences and see if you have any advice or tips. Your blog has been very helpful and has made me so excited for the trip! Great job documenting everything! I will send you an email as well. Thank you in advance!