Contiki – Munich to Austria

Munich was alright. If I could’ve skipped any of the stops it would’ve been this one. Just more big old beautiful buildings and tales of Germans being dicks. To be fair, we did only have one night here so we didn’t have a chance to see much. I do plan to return for Oktoberfest and get a better feel for the city then.

One awesome thing I saw in Munich was on a city bike tour we did. The first official stop on the tour was a beer garden. Where most of us opted for 1L steins of beer to help us through the ride. Just before this stop we saw a river that was creating a natural wave. A bunch of guys were there surfing it like a wave machine. This alone is motivation enough for me to get back to Munich again someday.

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The wave

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Contiki – Berlin, Dachau concentration camp and Prague

Berlin was a city bursting with history. We learnt much about world war two and the Berlin war. Very interesting, but very messed up. Germany has had some terrible ideas. For each city we visit we do a walking tour. One stop was a carpark. It was below that carpark that Hitler and his wife took cyanide pills then shot themselves as the Russian army was coming into the city. In that carpark was where Hitler had his men burn his body to save him from having his corpse humiliated. There was nothing but a small sign to indicate what had happened there and the bunker was gone. There was no memorial here because the Germans are very careful not to provide neo Nazis with a place to worship Hitler.

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Contiki – London to Amsterdam

Okay so Contiki has now been and gone. What a trip. I wrote this enter on day 16/18. I’m going to be writing about this trip in catch up mode. Probably due to the ridiculous amount of action and alcohol that was consumed; my memories are a little fuzzy.

So night 0 was our meet and greet night in London. Straight off the bat our group seemed rad. However like myself we all seemed to be kicking off the trip with already depleted energy levels. So not much excitement on the first night. However there was enough for one new friend, Jack John, to miss the coach to Amsterdam the following morning. I still haven’t figured out which name out of Jack and John is his real and which is his nickname. So I call him both to cover my bases. Jack John had to catch a rather expensive last minute flight to Amsterdam to catch the group.

Night #1 in Amsterdam was kicked off by a sober sex show. An event I believe shouldn’t be attended sober. I had enthusiastically made the front row then spent much of the show in fear of being dragged up on stage. Luckily I dodged that bullet! The sex show was very different from the ones Thailand has to offer. Where as Thailand has the cringe worthy “oh no she didn’t just do that!!” acts, this one was made up of mainly just sex. I was pleased to hear that most of the actors (I suppose that’s what they’re called), are actual couple’s, so the chemistry is natural. So we spent an hour there then processed to rampage around Amsterdam for the night.

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Day #2 in Amsterdam was one of my favourites. We visited the Heineken brewery and took a trip to Edam. Which is funnily enough the home of Edam cheese. There we did a cheese and clog tour. We also took a bike ride out to see some windmills and a dyke. Not a lesbian but the water level control system the Dutch use to stop their country flooding. However later that day we did see plenty of the lesbian type of dykes. We were super lucky as it happened to be gay pride. I had never been to a pride event and it did not disappoint. The whole procession was on water with the rivers lined with spectators. It truly was a spectacle with the local gays taking their usual flamboyancy to a whole new level. It was great to see big companies such as Google also showing their support by sponsoring floats.

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Later that night we met up with the group and did an overpriced (£32) dinner then a nice canal acruise. The prices in Europe are killing me. Especially after coming from Asia. At this rate I’ll be extremely lucky to have much money left after these four months. Contiki has a bunch of overpriced optionals. I opted for most of the first ones for the reason of getting to know the group. Later on in the trip I skipped most of them and instead did other, cheaper and usually better things with a few of the other guys.

Contiki – an 18 day tour of Europe

On July 31st Simon, myself and about 50 other like-minded travellers met in London. For the next 18 days we will all get to know each other very well on a trip through Europe. Contiki is a tour company that is famous for its crazy party style of travel. They also limit the age of travelers to 18-35 year olds. Our itinerary is:

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One other very special man that is joining us on the trip is a work colleague, Karl. Better known as Krumm. Krumm is a machine. I don’t know anyone else that parties as hard as this man. He really is ridiculous. He showed up in London still on a three day hangover from Tomorrowland. Sporting a busted knee and cut nose. I really do hope he doesn’t end up killing himself on this trip.

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So I suspect my next few posts will be about this trip. I’m currently sitting on the bus. We’re stuck in traffic on the border crossing from Austria to Italy. Which gives you an idea of how far behind I’m already getting on this blog. Plus I can’t post this till I get decent WiFi. I’ll be more diligent after the craziness of Contiki is over.

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Krumm and Chloe's interesting sleeping positions on the coach

Simon’s drunken injury

Our host in Glasgow, Pete, had been busy for the majority of the visit as he was a volunteer at the games. However on the Monday night he had finally got the chance to party with us. Clearly there was a lot of excitement in the air. He was also very excited about the fact a famous NRL star, Cecil Martin, was staying at his friends place through Air BnB. Cecil had agreed to party with us one night so a hoard of us turned up at Pete’s friends place for pre drinks.

It was a great night and Cecil was an awesome dude. I hadn’t previously heard of him, but he was quite the charmer. He had all the girls giddy around him.

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Later in the night another friend I had met in Vietnam with Pete, Ben, was being sick in the bathroom. Simon decided he urgently needed to investigate. He was outside the club at the time so went running for the front door. Unfortunately a pot hole was in his way which he dodged with only half his foot. His ankle rolled and he ate shit in front of the thirty odd people that were hanging outside. I doubt it was his proudest moment.

The following day Simon’s ankle looked no better than the swollen mess it was the night before so we headed for the A&E. I also took this opportunity to get an infected toe looked at. Making this the fifth country I’ve visited a hospital in. Hopefully I don’t add to that list any further this trip.

The hospital system in Scotland was amazing. We were in and out within two hours and it was all completely free. No insurance needed. I got free antibiotics and Simon got free crutches. Highly recommend getting injured in Scotland if you’re going to do it somewhere.

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Questionable icing technique

This was horrible timing for Simon to get injured as we were due to start Contiki in two days time. He came very close to pulling pin. Luckily he was only diagnosed with a sprain so he decided to man up and still do the tour.

Rugby sevens

We had pre purchased tickets to the rugby sevens. We went along Sunday evening for the final ten or so matches of the tournament. Simon and I made sure we looked awesome as seen in the photos below.
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We recruited Sam to be a kiwi for the night too

As New Zealand is a small, underdog country we usually get a lot of love abroad. No one has any problems with us and everyone speaks of wanting to travel there if they haven’t already. However on this night there was a very different tune in the air. New Zealand hadn’t lost a single commonwealth games rugby 7s match. Ever! Plus from what people were saying, we were a little rough on the host team with some bad tackles during a pool match. So there was a lot of people wanting to see our winning streak ended.

We breezed through to the finals where we were up against South Africa. It was immediately obvious that 97% of the stadium was supporting South Africa. Our calls of support were only backed up by two young boys a few rows in front. The other few hundred people around us saved their cheers for South Africa. I do like to think our passion levels equated to about 40 of the surrounding spectators though. We did make quite a racket.

Surely enough we lost to South Africa. All of a sudden everyone felt an obligation to talk to us, when previously there has been only a few. Luckily I can’t understand much of what Scottish people say so it wasn’t too bad. We made our way as swiftly as possible to the nearest bar and luckily found some fellow kiwis to console with. A few beers later I remembered I didn’t really care about sport results and managed to have another good night out in the beautiful Scottish city.

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We later realised the dude with his mouth open wide is a friend of an x girlfriend from high school. Small world!

London, Glasgow and the Commonwealth Games

Arriving in London we spent the first night in the countryside at Simon’s mums place. Where Simon had the pleasure of meeting his new future step dad. An encounter Simon chose to walk into after eight vodka drinks on the flight from Dubai.

The next day I took off to London to go exploring. Simon stayed with his Mum. I spent the next three nights staying with friends who were kind enough to save me from ridiculously priced hostels. London was London. Pretty much exactly what I expected and very homely after spending time in the middle East and Asia. However it was lacking the wow factor that I had come accustomed to over the last few weeks. It was still great to finally get there after hearing so many stories from friend who had lived and visited there.

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After three nights in London I teamed up with Simon again and we caught a bus to Glasgow in Scotland. Here we went straight to a lovely man named Pete’s house. I met Pete and his friend Ben in a hostel in Vietnam. So I was taking Pete up on his offer of some floor space. It turns out that Pete would come to be one of the greatest hosts I’ve had the pleasure of staying with. His place is right in the middle of downtown. But I got given shit for using the term downtown in Scotland. So let’s say his place was in central Glasgow.

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One of the big motivations for this excursion was the commonwealth games! We arrived right in the middle of all of the excitement and Glasgow was booming. Almost every street in “central Glasgow” would be littered with street vendors, sport supporters and bands.

We wondered down to the ticket office, hoping to find some tickets to an interesting event. However almost everything was sold out. We met some cocky British guys by the ticket office who were looking to sell off some squash tickets. We made a bet with them on the ticket price. We would pay full price if they could guess where in New Zealand our accents were from. Obviously we were pretty confident considering we are from the virtually internationally unknown city of Tauranga and my accent has been heavily diluted over the last few years of travelling. Surely enough they failed and we got the tickets for half price and set off to spend the afternoon watching squash.

I’m struggling to recall the correct order of events as I’m writing this a week after the fact. I believe it was on the Tuesday we took a day trip to Edinburgh. Edinburgh was exactly like I hoped Scottish cities to look like. Packed full of history and style. Built over a hill with a cattle at the top. We spent most of our time there exploring the castle.

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At 1pm each day this cannon is fired. It's to let the costs know they can come in to moore when it's too foggy to see the indicators

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Errr... Not sure what they're aiming at here

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