Boats of Monaco
A few Euros sitting there - one even had lights undeaneath that lit up the lear water below
Well here we go again, a few more photos and stories from the first few days of Contiki. Grab a coffee and a bikki - this one's huge.
I don't think I mentioned that on our last day of London, we went to the British Museum, where we saw the Rosetta Stone - the actual one. It was amazing to see it in person - the rosetta stone was a block of stone archaeologists used to figure out heiroglyphics - the ancient egyptian writing. Fascinating piece of history indeed.
Anyway, we met up that night 4/5/08 in London for a pre-departure tick and flick session with the tour manager - Dorian Beaver (who had nicknames like Dorito, Dora the Explorer, Dory from Finding Nemo but we all stuck with plain old Beaver) and driver Jimmy and the rest of the group.
The next morning we got our stuff together and left London for Dover and set sail literally across the English Channel to the welcoming grounds of Calais, France. We drove straight to the big smoke Paris and arrived around 3pm for our complementary welcome to contiki pack containing a freshly cooked serving of garden snails
Nice cars everywhere
Not a datsun 120Y to be seen.
and a shot of something really nice to wash it down. Salute!
Without mucking around, we jumped straight back on the bus for a trip into town to check it out by night. Yep, saw Lourve, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Arch de Triomphe, Muse d'Orsay etc. Awesome. We got attacked by souvenir salesmen who bailed us up even before the coach door opened close to the Eiffel Tower selling mini tower keyrings - and everyone knows im a sucker for impulse buys, so I've got about 10,000 of the things. Not back for 2 euros. Shortly after we headed back to the campsite for a few local brews and crashed for the next big day ahead.
6/5/08 - Paris
Free day in Paris where first up we climbed the Eiffel Tower - by steps. There was no queue when we got there - which was unheard of. We made it to the top - all 690something steps and a cardiac arrest to go along with it. For anyone that hasn't seen the tower, it's absolutely massive. Amazing views and an awesome experience. Up the top I met up with some others who had caught the lift up
so I jumped in with them coming down.
Next was a leisurely stroll to the Arch de Triomphe, the arch honors the Napoleon kings. On the inside and the top of the arc there are all of the names of generals and wars fought. Underneath is the tomb of the unknown soldier from World War I. More interestingly is where the arch is positioned. All I can say is we were lucky there was a tunnel entrance to the thing. The roundabout surrounding the arch is CRAZY - by which I mean no lines of traffic, no rules for giving way and about 39483948 cars on it at any one said time. We spent about 10 mins just watching the traffic and trying to comprehend what form of telepathic communication was used to allow for one to enter/exit/survive. Unbelievable.
Next was the close-by Champs-Élysées (Shomps Eleesay), a strip of shops, cafes and stuff - it's one of the most famous streets in the world, and with rents as high as $1.50 million a year for 100msq of space. It's the 2nd most expensive strip of real estate in the world (the first in Europe) after New York City's
Photo dosen't do it justice, but I don't remember what the place looked like anyway.
Fifth Avenue. We walked past Mercedes, H&M, Virgin Megastore - which was massive, D&G, Versace, Louis Vuitton and other overpriced fashion joints. There were amazing restaurants located here, so a mutual group decision was made for lunch - Maccas. Maccas in Europe is awesome. Firstly, when you can find them, they provide reliable food for a decent price. Secondly, you can swap the coke for a beer. Yes, beer at maccas. Infact, Europe is controlled by alcoholics as you can get a bottle of scotch at a train station newsagent. Handy for a contiki trip.
Next we walked down as opposed to up the Champs - as you have to apparently, towards the Lourve and waterfalls where we had a crepe and a heineken in the gardens. Shortly after we walked towards our pickup place the Muse d'Orsay, where we jumped in the bus and dropped off at the Lourve only to use the loos to get ready for dinner and cabaret. It was a Tuesday, and every Tuesday the Lourve is shut. Great.
We headed off to some crazy french restaurant with a psycho waiter and a cross dressing guitarist who thought he was the next best
Chateau de Cruix
Our accommodation in Beaujolais
thing after hanson. Dinner was great - snails again for entree, as you do, and a steak to clean the sand infested palette. We then skipped across to the cabaret, which was the most amazing show I think everyone in the group had seen. Full of all the French glitz and glamor, including a 50 year old lady that could basically tie herself in and out of a double truckie knot and lots of laughs from an old guy balancing on about 15 paint tins.
After getting ourselves together we headed back to the campsite for drinks - Kronenbrau Beer - a nice drop.
It was Paris where I had left my towel too, which made for an interesting 21 nights ahead, but not once was I left to drip-dry.
7/5/08 - Paris to Chateau
This morning we said a collective goodbye to Paris and headed off to the French wine region. Our contiki 'day song' was decided upon by our manager, Kanye West's Stronger. The day song was played first thing in the morning before Beaver did his morning speal about the day that follows. He excited us all that because we were running ahead
Monte Carlo Grand Casino, Monaco
of schedule that it was indeed Wednesday and the Lourve would be open and we would be walking in about 10 mins from now. Sweet!
The Lourve is absolutely massive. We only had an hour or so inside, which was plenty considering you need about a week to see the big bits and about 9 months to see everything. We walked straight to Mona Lisa, which is about the size of a pizza box - crazy. Saw many other sculptures and paintings too.
We arrived at the Chateau de Cruix - a special Contiki only chateau right in the heart of the wine region at about 2pm. We had a wine tasting and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon taking in the views and chatting with the group. That night we headed to 'the cave' - a downstairs, well, cave, decorated with UV lights and extreme colours which was the venue for that night's beach party. It was bought to the attention of the tour manager that at the stroke of midnight it would be my birthday. So, about 200 sloshed Aussies and about 50 Canadians and a handfull of others sang their guts out in an interesting multi-cultural version
of happy birthday. I was given a present from contiki, a belt which was handy and an interesting European scarf type balaclava thing, which came in handy in Switzerland. I was also shouted to a number of shots containing 80% alc made from wine production runoff - and it also had a snake in the bottle. Nasty stuff and needless to say the night was a great one from what I remember.
8/5/08 - My Birthday!
Yay! Today was a relaxing day around the French wine region. We had a reasonably late start to the morning, and today we headed up the hill for a picnic lunch. We were given little picnic baskets with lunch and a bottle of French wine, and I had an extra one from Beaver for my Bday - good bloke. After a relaxing few hours taking in the view, we stumbled back down the steep rocky hill through a little French village called Beaujolais, and headed back to the Chateau for chats and a beer or 6. A couple of us went for a sunset walk through the vineyards behind the chateau which was unreal, the sunset looked amazing. Tonight was a good
night to crash early.
9/5/08 - Beaujolais to Antebes, French Riviera
Today was a big drive through the countryside of France down to the coastal town of Antebes. We arrived at the campsite at 4pm and got dressed straight away to head down to Monaco to grab some dinner and see if the pokies pay as well in the Monte Carlo Grand Casino as they do at the Capalaba Bowls Club. I'll tell you now, they do not. We headed down the street from the Monte Carlo to some Pizza place for a bowl of Spag Bolg (20euros - about 35 bucks). We headed straight back to the Monte Carlo, which even before you get in they scan your passport and snatch 10 euros off you. Inside was nice, huge building, but not too many game tables though. We got bored quickly, and headed down to the Monaco Grand Prix starting grids where we saw the setup for the race that we missed by about 10 days. Bugger! Everything was ready to go though, all they needed were cars. We then had a little walk along the Mediterranean Sea and back up towards the Piano Bar where we
were meeting the group to head back to the campsite. Unfortunately I forgot my camera when we went to Monaco so I'll pinch some photos off someone else and chuck them up.
That was it for France, next will be Italy. Auvoir!
Tot: 0.092s; Tpl: 0.014s; cc: 10; qc: 45; dbt: 0.0636s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (10.17.0.13); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb
What the huge building probably was
The huge building you couldn't identify looks like Versailles palace. You would know it by the swamps of tourists. Up close, and inside, you can't snap a photo at all unless it is of the ceilings.
I think its Versailles as well!!