I woke up to my cellphone buzzing and it was so cold in the room. Surprised at this I stumbled out of my eerily empty room and went to take a shower. Unfortunately the shower near my room had no hot water and the next one was the same. I debated whether to skip showering that morning but since I wanted to smell nice for my fellow topdeckers I gritted my teeth and jumped under the cold water. A few minutes later shivering like crazy I got dressed and packed my luggage. Shortly before 6AM I went downstairs and found the reception was packed full of people. There were 3 tours leaving that morning and over a hundred people had to fill out 3 forms they laid out for us. At this point I took a gander at the people in the room and I noticed there seemed a lot more women than men. Later I did a hard count of the numbers on the bus. Kate (Tasmania) who was our tour leader directed European Wonder to go outside and down the street.
First seatmate was Andrew (Australia) and we chatted a bit before we got to Dover and I
First Dinner Together
Ken, Zakiyya, Kelsey, Rachael, Kelly, and Me
would say he was nice, laid back kinda guy. Kate introduced herself and told us everyone was entitled to have a good time and she would not tolerate any bitching and bullying. She just came off another tour which was full of bitching and bullying and she would not hesitate to leave someone behind if they behaved like that. Now I was a bit worried and I actually did a glance around the bus and wondered who would be the bitches and bullies. She asked if we had any questions and we asked a bit about her background and we found out that she had been doing this for 2 years and had done a topdeck tour years ago and decided she wanted to be a tour leader shortly thereafter. One of the questions was a lot of people must want the job and what makes her special for this job. Kate smiled at this point and told us she hoped we could tell her the answer by the end of the tour.
We got to the ferry stop in Dover in about 2 hours and we had a bit of time before the ferry loaded. So we spent
some time getting snacks and getting money from the ATM. I met a few more people MJ (South Korea) was our only person from Asia and was a friendly guy even thought his English was not that strong, Hilori (Canada) was the other Canadian in the group besides myself. The tour group was mostly Australians and New Zealanders which is fairly common for these types of tours. The exact breakdown was this, 3 Americans, 2 Canadians, 2 South Africans, 1 South Korean, 1 English, 3 Mexicans and 36 Australians/New Zealanders.
After our short break we loaded into the ferry and we were on our way to the continent. I wanted to get some pictures of the white cliffs of Dover so I went on the observation deck. The wind was really blowing so we only stayed topside for a short period of time. I went back downstairs and sat down with Romy, Rachael, Kelly, Amanda and Debbie (Australia). I will say about Debbie, even in a bus full of gorgeous women she stood out as a tall, thin, dark haired beauty with breasts that seemed to defy gravity. I honestly thought we had a supermodel on tour. Considering the body she had I was surprised to find out she had 2 children. Debbie and Amanda would actually become good friends during the tour. Debbie later told me how they first met. On the ferry Amanda had commented out loud that something smells fishy and Debbie replied back close your legs than. They were inseparable after that and would be one of the close groupings I noticed on the tour.
During the one hour or so ferry ride I took the opportunity to change some Pounds to Euro coins for the paid bathrooms on the continent. We exited the ferry and met Mike (Australia) who would be our bus driver for the duration of the tour. It was the first time Kate had ever worked with Mike and that was actually an important clue about Mike later on in the tour.
We now had a 5 hour bus ride to Paris and my busmate for this leg was Romy. I chatted with her during the long drive and found out she was on her gap year and would be heading to University soon. I enjoyed the drive to Paris and liked the fact we drove near Vimy Ridge which I remembered learning about in school. As we neared Paris Kate handed out optional activity sheets which let us choose which activities we wanted to go on for each stop. For Paris it was bike rides and cabaret shows and I decided to do both of them. I found out my roommate would be the one guy waiting in Paris for us. I had done a count of the men and women on the bus and with 2 women and 1 man waiting for us in Paris the count came to this. 38 women and 10 men and I was surprised the gender imbalance was that high.
We arrived at our first and only hotel for this tour Ibis Budget Paris. There we met the 3 remaining members of our tour. Kelsey (America), Zakiyya (South Africa) and Ken (South Africa). Kelsey who we nicknamed Nebraska (obvious reasons) was in her 20's but honestly looked a lot younger. Zakiyya was an always smiling person and I loved her positive attitude on this tour. She was a Halal vegetarian which occasionally caused problems for her. Ken would be my roommate for the rest of the tour. His family was originally from Kenya so people called him Ken from Kenya. He had a great sense a humour and was very witty as well and was a great roommate.
After we had settled in our room we went to dinner at a Italian restaurant in Paris (Irony). I felt a little slovenly as most of the ladies were dressed up but that would be a common theme on this tour. Dinner included snails which I had eaten before but was new for a lot of us.
We left the restaurant and got back onto the coach and had a nice tour of the city. Kate gave me facts about the city that even I with 3 visits prior was not aware of. At this point Kate had a little fun with us and told us we were going to pass a restaurant where Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were having dinner. I admit now that I did fall for it but it was a clever way to distract us before we got to the Eiffel tower in time for the sparkling.
We got back to the Hotel after this and some people went to bed while others went to a nearby bar. I was tired enough to just go to bed. I did try to help one of my bus mates get her travel adapter working without success thought. I had realized I hadn't actually asked her name even though I and others were trying to help her for 15 minutes. So I went to bed after that and thought today had a been a good day and everyone I talked to so far had been nice. I was looking forward to tomorrow.
Tot: 3.166s; Tpl: 0.045s; cc: 6; qc: 45; dbt: 0.0359s; 3; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb